by Samantha McCann
Marcy Dolin, of Rohnert Park, California, smokes eight joints (marijuana cigarettes) every day, and eats a marijuana cookie before he goes to bed every night. He prefers the peanut-butter cookies.
A 71-year-old man who has struggled with multiple-sclerosis for over half his life, Dolin is not the typical drug user often parodied in popular culture. He does not smoke recreationally, but rather because marijuana is the only thing that takes away the pain and stops the muscles spasms.
Dolin is not alone. Across the United States, people struggling with chronic illness increasingly are questioning US policy toward marijuana, a homeopathic substance that until 1937 was, for the most part, legal nd regulated. Friday marks the 40th anniversary of the “war on drugs.” And what do we have as a result?
Hundreds of billions of dollars wasted in the midst of a fragile economy, the financial and social cost of imprisoning hundreds of thousands of offenders annually, and patients like Dolin who continue to suffer due to our failed policies. When compared to other drugs, recent clinical trials have shown that marijuana is exceedingly successful in relieving pain, without the serious side-effects that often plague users of other medications.
“I used to take a drug called Neurontin, and I just never stopped crying,” Dolin continues. “I was in a fog, totally depressed. I told my doctor that I was going back to just marijuana; he said he would have me arrested if he could. What are they going to do? I’m 71 years old. Are they going to put me in jail? I’m not hurting anybody. It’s just here in my own house.”
Debilitating pain in the nervous system can be caused by cancer, HIV/Aids, multiple sclerosis, and diabetes; this pain can also be a side-effect of the recommended treatments for these various conditions. About a third of patients with HIV/Aids suffer from this excruciating pain in their nervous system – much of it a response to the antiretroviral therapy that is the initial treatment for HIV patients. Yet there is no adequate approved treatment to mitigate the pain. As a result, some patients reduce or discontinue treatment because they can neither tolerate nor eliminate the debilitating side-effects. Marijuana has been proven to alleviate the effects of both the illness itself, and the prescribed medication used to treat it.
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