Medical marijuana: a painful issue all around

Courtesy of is 46, a breast cancer survivor for four long years, a regular user of medical marijuana. She told me — as we were introduced by a mutual friend and she was updating the friend — a horror story too ridiculous even for an ‘Only in California’ tale. Her name is not Emily, but I’ll call her Emily to protect the innocent.

Emily has a solid career in social services with a California nonprofit. For years their funding has come partly through federal grants. This has been fine with Emily’s regular use of medical marijuana, which is legal in California and which keeps her chronic pain — a result of cancer and several other issues — under control. She smokes one joint in the morning, and four at night. (An editorial caveat here: I’ve not tried marijuana, which is wise since I’m addicted to anything that comes down the pike, so I know from nothing about dosages, etc. I’m just repeating what she explained.)

Not long ago, a new project was offered Emily’s organization and she was named as its head. Only problem? Everyone would have to take the federally-mandated drug test. Only solution? get Emily off of the weed for six weeks in order for her to pass the test. She had done that, finishing it all and passing the test and starting the project, a few months earlier. It was not fun.

“In order to get through all this,” she said, “I was prescribed a total of six different pain-relief drugs which I took every day. They were expensive, but the only way I could have made it. So for six weeks I poured six different toxins into my system at an obscene cost, both financially and physically. But hey, you do what you have to do.”

Emily is now back to growing, and smoking, her own.

California voters, thanks to a ballot issue certified yesterday by our secretary of state, will decide next November whether to legalize marijuana for any adult use. The issue is being rather hotly debated elsewhere on True/Slant and I frankly have no idea where I’ll come down when the dust settles and I read the whole business. Friends tell me it’s fine, others tell me it’s addictive, the state needs the money, who knows where legalization and regulation could lead? Neither does much to curb alcohol abuse, but then, I quit drinking years ago so it’s easy to be holy about alcohol abuse; some of us can handle the booze, some of us can’t.

But all of us need pain relief. Marijuana is a proven pain-relief drug. Why in the world it should be denied those who need it boggles this increasingly boggled mind.


  1. Fran,all one has to do,like with everything else that has no obvious answer,is follow the money trail. You know for sure the big pharma companies are against weed for obvious reasons. They would loose billions from their pain killer sales. It’s not important,of course, that they are all extremely addictive and cause many,many desasterous side affects. The other major group of nay-sayers is of course the fanatical,do-gooder bible thumpers who think they now best for everyone even though most have absolutely no clue of the affects and/or advantages of weed. Of course there are those who will abuse weed if given a chance,just like they do pain killers,but that’s not a good reason to completely ban them from everyone. Also,Ron (above) is correct about drunk drivers. They kill millions. When have you ever heard of a death on the road caused by a weed smoker ???? By the way,I’m not a weed smoker,I have tried it,don’t like it and I don’t encourage it. I am,however,against the FED’s super over-hyped,anti-weed campaign to scare uninformed people just to further their so called “war on drugs” agenda.What a joke. The politicians will never vote to legalize weed as long as they are getting their pockets lined with money from big pharma,period.

    1. I share your dismay over the power of Big Pharma, Cato, because I think the public interest often takes a back seat to the almighty dollar. But in this instance the public may well be the deciding factor, if enough people join the effort to legalize a known, relatively harmless natural pain reliever. Thanks for weighing in.

  2. Hello Fran,

    Would Emily be willing to tell her story on camera? I trying to document the use of medical marijuana. I’m in Los Angeles. Is she in this area?

    You can email me at daileypike at

  3. Historic statewide initiative in California to legalize, control, and tax cannabis. Help build national support for the movement. Sign up on the website, join the campaign!

  4. This is where I go from liberal to libertarian. For me, the idea of medical marijuana is undebatable. If this is the treatment that best delivers relief and certainly appears to have fewer serious side affects that most prescription drugs, then under what humane authority could there be objections. As far as “recreational” use is concerned, unless the government is prepared to deny people wine (and they have tried this before with disastrous results), there are no logical reasons to single out marijuana as something to be banned. Though I’m not personally interested and haven’t been for probably 30 years, I’d rather ride with someone under the influence of pot than alcohol any day. And while there are no doubt some physical payment that must be made for chronic (obsessive?) use, can it be as remotely harmful as other, legal substances.

    If we want to tax marijuana as we do alcohol, so be it. If we reduce the prison population by eliminating possession laws, we also save money and lives. Might it be addictive? Sure. I’ve had a problem with Hagan Daz Swiss Almond for years, which proved to be a gateway ice cream to pistachio.

    1. Actually, we could reduce the prison population AND bring in some taxes for a rehabilitation program or two, and maybe reduce the current 70% (!) recidivism rate in CA. Now, as to that ice cream addiction business… you have gone to meddling here.

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