I’m working on a show about a lot of things, not the least of which is medical marijuana. It’s called “Elvira, the Druggist,” after St. Elvira of Spain, one of the first women in that country to earn a degree in pharmacology, who was later executed for protecting those who stood up against the tyrannical government that was then in power. If you’re interested there is more information here.
In the play, opponents of medical marijuana worry that patients who take it to alleviate the symptoms and complications from seizures, multiple sclerosis, pain, glaucoma, AIDS, mental illness, and cancer will experience a high. Explore this with me. The fear is that some pleasure might come from a plant that could provide relief from some of the most painful and debilitating conditions to affect humans?
Must medicine be — medicine? Must it be chemo and radiation that cause hair to fall out, crushing fatigue, and a weakened immune system? Must it be giant pills that cause indigestion and heartburn? Must it be a pharmacy in a bag of dozens of medications daily, which cause additional symptoms, which are alleviated by another pill, all of which costs hundreds or thousands of dollars each month, which patients often do not have because they miss a lot of work, or they cannot go to work, due to the original sickness and the sickness from the cure.
Does it sound paranoid to believe big pharma can be harmful? The pharmaceutical industry has done a lot of good, and there are miracle drugs on the market.
There are also killers. Andy Behrman, author of Electroboy, started out as a spokesman for Bristol Meyers Squibb, makers of Abilify. Behrman’s fight with BMS is covered well in this Wall Street Journal article.
Behrman experienced nearly all of the possible side effects of Abilify in his first several days of taking the drug. He made a YouTube video that went viral, cautioning against Abilify. http://youtu.be/9VzMZX4nBz8
Abilify is a researched, FDA approved pill. Behrman stopped taking Abilify because he “didn’t want to experience the final side effect — death.”
Back to medical marijuana. THC is the ingredient in cannabis that causes a high. Medical marijuana has lowered concentrations of THC, which means it is virtually impossible to be high on the medical strains. It is difficult to find a non-biased source for breed and formula information about medical marijuana, but here, the group Safe Access Now discusses the various forms of cannabis available with pros and cons of each.
What if there was a high? What if a person with chronic seizures, with pain from cancer, with deadly depressions, with debilitating multiple sclerosis, had a pleasurable effect from the bit of THC? Does medicine always have to be something we choke down? Can there never be a positive side effect to a medicinal product? Whom is cleared to judge a patient who experiences more than the intended symptom relief? Why would it be such a bad thing?
All my creative works involve three components: the artistry, which I strive to make top-notch; the investigative and biographical studies on the historical people and the 21st century issues; and the public service part — I hope the entire audience cast and crew will get out and do something about it.
For now: what do you think of medical marijuana? Do you think making darn sure no one is getting a buzz should be the main concern?