Fighting AIDS with medical marijuana

December 08, 2011

In response to the Reuters report that appeared in your newspaper about the global fight against HIV/AIDS, I'm writing to raise awareness of the usefulness of medical marijuana in AIDS treatment ("Obama raises U.S. goal on fighting AIDS," Dec. 1).

While antiretroviral drugs are known to slow the production rate of HIV, these drugs have terrible side effects, especially when used in combination, that include twitching, tremors, drooling, problems with balance, restlessness, seizures, nausea, flu symptoms, joint pain and swelling, fainting, dizziness, headaches, etc.

Jim Barnes, an AIDS victim, told Peter Gorman of "High Times" magazine he used marijuana to help calm himself and to stimulate his appetite. And a study conducted and funded by the state of New Mexico found that marijuana is effective as an anti-nausea drug and is far more superior to Compazine, the best available "conventional" drug.

Marijuana is also far less addictive and less subject to abuse than many drugs now used as muscle relaxants, hypnotics and analgesics. Consumer Reports states that for patients with advanced AIDS "the apparent benefits some derive from smoking marijuana far outweighs any of the negatives."

Medical marijuana can also provide relief for other symptoms of HIV/AIDS, disease or treatment related. AIDS and its treatment isn't about politics, it's about people. If marijuana can save a life or at least alleviate the pain, there is no reason why it shouldn't be made available to those who need it.

Rachel Orsie, Baltimore

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