The Dope on Marijuana: Medical Alternative or Gateway Drug?

When I was a child, smoking weed was something I saw every day. My mother married a man who used & sold it. I was too young to know him well, but he turned out to be on things other than marijuana.

As a teen, I hung out with people who smoked and sold marijuana, but rarely tried it myself.

When I got married, the only drug I eventually tolerated my husband using was marijuana, and then only outside the confines of our house. I had almost zero tolerance for drugs of any kind. I didn’t even like taking prescriptions.

Along this time, I was studying traditional herbs, their uses and preparations. I mellowed considerably in the years following the end of my marriage, to the point where I would hit a fatty or smoke a bowl if it was offered.

As an herbalist, I know there are opiates and such that are wonderful for pain, and legal to obtain and consume. I spent a decent amount of time researching cannabis as well. I’m no longer intolerant of its use. I even occasionally use it myself. Chronic pain and General Anxiety Disorder combined with claustrophobia and agoraphobia are the main reasons. After one particularly vicious panic attack, my girlfriend packed a bowl and lit it for me. In about 20 minutes, I stopped shaking, stopped crying and I was able to sleep that night.

Thousands of people suffering from a wide spectrum of illnesses from chronic pain to glaucoma, cancer & AIDS to MS, find that marijuana does for them what prescriptions can’t.

It makes the pain bearable. It doesn’t make them violent and it doesn’t cost them a whole lot of money. It makes getting through their day that much easier. The pain fades to a manageable level. These people don’t want to change the world. I agree with legalizing marijuana. It should be available for pain management or for severe anxiety disorders, like mine.

Unlike harsher, unnatural substances -crack, for instance- marijuana is not physically addicting. The body doesn’t suffer withdrawals when weed isn’t available. The plant itself is useful for more than just the leaves. It’s used to make rope, jewelry and cloth, even paper. You may have heard of it; it’s called Hemp.

Growing up, I was always taught that weed is a “gateway drug“. Which simply means that it’s just the first in a line of worse substances. What this implies is that the “high” one gets from weed eventually is not enough, and the user is driven to try something stronger.

In all the years I’ve smoked it off and on, I’ve never been interested in getting a “higher high”. I don’t smoke it to get high. I smoke to equalize myself, to mellow the anxiety and settle my pain when it gets out of control. Every minute of every day I hurt somewhere. I’m so used to being in pain, I think I’d need a week to get over it if medical science ever finds a cure-all. I don’t complain about it, and I don’t let it control my life. I just get on with my day. When the pain is intense, I take more pills. If I hit my max on the pills and the pain is still out of tolerable limits, I hit the pipe if we have any. If not, I just deal.

With the anxiety, getting on with my day is harder to do. I worry about little stupid things. In my mind, stuff gets bigger and worse than it really is. I’m afraid for my kids. I’m afraid of traffic. I hate being crowded. I hate leaving the house if I don’t have to. Even when I have to, I don’t want to. I told my shrink today I do use marijuana occasionally, and he didn’t bat an eye.

Actor Woody Harrelson was arrested in 1996 for planting 4 hemp seeds He was acquitted of drug charges.

Talk show host and decorated Marine, Montel Williams was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1999. Mr. Williams expressed his support for medical marijuana before the New Jersey state Senate. According to Williams, marijuana relieves his chronic pain better than oxycotin.

In October 2005, a medical report was published stating marijuana is not as harmful to the human brain as previously thought. In fact, the report found that the active ingredients in marijuana actually benefit the hippocampus. The hippocampi are small areas of the human brain responsible for memory & coordination. In Alzheimer’s patients, the hippocampi are among the first areas of the brain to suffer damage

The US government grows marijuana at a heavily guarded site in Mississippi. The point of this cultivation is an ongoing project to judge the effects of marijuana on seriously and terminally ill patients. .

All in all, I cannot help but believe the continued prohibition against this herb is pointless. There will always be those who abuse something. Some people abuse food. Others abuse sugar. These things are not considered as harmful as marijuana and they are as readily available to the people who want it, instead of need it.

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