Question Of The Month

Q: Why deny relief to people in pain?

December 25, 2004

Marijuana should be legalized for medicinal use because it provides many suffering patients relief that they do not get from other medications.

Granted, there are serious possible side effects, including dependency and impairment of memory, concentration and motor coordination.

However, many legally prescribed sedatives, painkillers, cough suppressants and tranquilizers have similar and other serious and undesirable effects. If unintended harmful effects are not reason enough to prohibit the use of codeine, morphine and other beneficial drugs, why should similar effects be reason to prohibit marijuana?

Perhaps it is because marijuana is also used as a recreational drug, and many people associate its use with lifestyles that do not conform to traditionally acceptable norms.

But marijuana should not be denied to patients who need it just because some use it for recreation.

It is inhumane to allow a patient to suffer when there is an available drug that can alleviate his or her symptoms.

Whether the potential harm of a drug outweighs the benefits should not be determined by the government. That decision is best left to physician and patient.

Elaine Bind

Pikesville

Yes, I most definitely agree that the use of marijuana as a medicine should be legal.

Marijuana and other herbs have been used for centuries as a form of medicine. They are not like heroin, cocaine and other drugs.

My son passed away 10 years ago. The last two years of his life were spent in increasing suffering each day.

One of his friends brought him some brownies and told me how much they would help my son. Well, I found out they had marijuana in them. And, yes, they did help him.

He also smoked marijuana during the last year of his suffering. It really helped him with the nausea that was a side effect of the medications he had to take.

It also helped him at times when he was filled with great distress because he knew there was nothing that could be done about his illness.

Why can't the government see that there is a big difference between people using marijuana as a form of medicine and people using drugs to get high?

Kathy Riley

Baltimore

To deny people suffering from pain and nausea access to a treatment that would provide relief is simply hateful and foolish.

And in a society in which drugs such as alcohol and nicotine cause such suffering and, in the case of alcohol, so much antisocial behavior, to hold marijuana up as some unique danger is almost comical.

When will our nation wake up to the reality of the terrible failure of the "war on drugs" and realize that the many billions of dollars spent on policing, jails and "aid" to countries such as Colombia to slow the influx of drugs to the United States could be better spent?

Better spent on drug treatment to be sure, but also on education, health care, research on the mechanics of addiction and just about anything else besides prisons.

Kathryn Parke

Baltimore

I absolutely believe that the medicinal use of marijuana should be legal.

If medicinal marijuana would give a patient some relief when he or she is undergoing chemotherapy and suffering from extreme nausea, it should be made available.

I watched two of my dearest friends and my father-in-law suffer terribly.

They all knew that their prognosis was fatal. And if they could have had a way to get through those periods of pain and suffering, it would have made the final months of their lives so much more bearable.

It is heart-wrenching to watch a loved one endure such agony and not be able to afford them moments of comfort and give them their dignity.

Beverly Carrigan

Woodbine

Without question, physicians should have the authority to prescribe marijuana to patients who might benefit from its use.

We're not talking about the general population here. We're talking about patients with serious disabilities that would warrant a physician prescribing a drug to ease their pain or provide some other benefit.

Think about it. We allow physicians to prescribe pharmaceutical drugs by the millions that are far more powerful and addictive than marijuana. We trust their judgment in choosing what's best for our care.

So why take the option of marijuana out of their arsenal?

Richard Wheeler

Hanover

Positively, yes. The use of medical marijuana should be strictly a decision made by a medical professional.

Relief of such pain and suffering is too important to be denied to any patient who can benefit from it.

Unless and until it can be proved medically and scientifically that the claims for marijuana are all a farce, and that marijuana is of absolutely no solace, and proved by law enforcement that it causes a drastic escalation of the use of hard drugs, marijuana should be treated like any other pain-killing medicine given to gravely ill or terminal patients.

Harry E. Bennett

Baltimore

I have limited tolerance for pain -- for myself or anyone else.

Thus it seems to me inhumane and even unethical to withhold any measure of relief from those who have chronic, unrelenting pain.

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