Marijuana. As soon as you mention it, images of a bunch of stoner uni students sitting around in a share house with the play station fired up smoking bongs is conjured. But I am not talking about the recreational use of the drug. I am talking about the medicinal purpose of the drug. I am talking about Marinol.
Now if you had asked me my to give my opinion on medical marijuana (MMJ) three months ago I would simply told you that I believe if it did have a genuine medical benefit there is no reason why it shouldn't be used but I would also counter it by saying that I have never researched it so my opinion would not be extremely valid and it has never been a viable treatment option for me. Or has it?
Personally I think my opinion on the subject of MMJ has become a lot more valid in the last four weeks. Why? Because I was treated with marinol during my stem cell transplant and it worked great. I was given a plethora of anti-nausea meds during my hospitalisation and although they did work, the only thing that would allow me to tolerate any food what so ever was marinol. And during the procedure it is important to eat to maintain your energy levels.
So my question is if it worked so well why has it never been offered to me as a viable option in Australia? I understand it would need strict regulation but we prescribe far more addictive drugs for far less all the time. In hospitals narcotic based analgesia is the go to medication for anyone with pain and addictive anti-depressants are being shelled out like M and M's. However, I have been in hospital in Australia and suffering severe nausea and although this drug would most likely have helped I was not offered it. I don't even know if it is available over here
But MMJ has such a negative spin. People always think of pot smoking hippies when you think of marijuana but just because you take the drug medicinally does not mean you'll turn into a pot smoking hippy, just like morphine for pain will not turn you into a heroine junkie.
Now I had the marinol for one reason. Post chemotherapy nausea. There are many reported medicinal benefits of MMJ. We could prescribe it, monitor it, control it and make sure that the product is used safely and for its maximum benefit. Or we could simply let patients suffer or force them to illegally purchase an uncontrolled substance that is not regulated for quality.
At the end of the day it comes down to patient welfare. If it can help don't we have a responsibility to prescribe it responsibly as we do with any prescription drug. Society needs to let go of the stigma associated with marijuana and start thinking about medical benefits. Then we can start using it for improvement of the lives and easing the suffering of the people that need it. Until next time, stay well:)