Medical Marijuana

Posted: March 9, 2012 in Politics, history, Public Health

I just listened to Democracy Now and the discussion about the war on drugs, Mexico, and the fact that President Obama’s and Att’y Gen’l Holder’s favorite television show is The Wire – apparently very critical of the war on drugs. (I don’t have cable.) From the images on the local and national news, medical marijuana looks like it’s used by potheads of all ages, lighting up bongs, blowing smoke defiantly at cameras.

But anyone who has AIDs or cancer undergoing chemotherapy or other appetite-suppressing diseases and treatments, knows the value of a proven appetite stimulant. Many significant people in my life had HIV before protease inhibitors were available, including my beloved late brother Robert. The staff at SF General told me he needed 5,000 calories a day to maintain his weight – not to gain but to maintain. This was in 1989-90. I had a healthy heart recipe book with alternating good and bad recipes. The bad recipes were loaded with calories, so I used those. Robert had no appetite so smoked a joint half an hour to an hour before eating, and it worked. It wasn’t about getting high but about survival. He had tried marinol, the synthetic marijuana with THC (active ingredient), and hated the taste – it was a capsule with the THC suspended in something tasting like sesame oil. But reliably a short while after having the joint, he was able to actually enjoy eating, whereas before he either had no appetite or was nauseated.

This usage is true medical marijuana – a drug that helps with a debilitating condition. There is no reason why it should not be legal at the federal level. As with any drug, restrictions can be put on its use – e.g not around schools, not congregating on the street, not using it in an “in your face” manner. But those who flaunt it disserve those who truly need the drug, and there should be no legal hassle about it.


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