Remove the Negative Connotation

There are so many helpful benefits to medical marijuana, some we see or experience ourselves, and others we just hear about. It seems like the number of medical treatments it helps grows by the day. Marijuana has the potential to heal so many people in need, yet it is so far from reaching it full full potential as a medicine.

Moving to a medical state has changed my idea of what it means to medicate. At first I was a bit apprehensive about this term, because I came from a town that wasn't too fond of marijuana. I was labelled as a "pothead" and a “stoner” and was told to “get my life in order”. Little did they know, I was, in fact, getting my life in order. I was using marijuana to get over a horrible depression and marijuana helped me! What a “Wild place!”

The negative connotation that marijuana carries is a burden on society and has done so much damage. It has prevented millions from taking advantage of medical benefits of marijuana including my father. He has been diagnosed with MS, which could ruin his ability to live a full life. MS is a very rough disease that breaks down your central nervous system, leaving you completely disabled or even leading to early death. There haven't been any super successful stories yet curing or even reversing the disease, so the sooner you know the sooner you get treatment. Hence those two words, “treat it"! That means, the medicine recommended for patients with MS can help slow it down, maybe even stop it from progressing, or it could do nothing at all. Yet, all of these drugs can really impact the body, and in some cases lead to horrible side effects. The side effects include nausea, fatigue, feeling of needles and pins throughout the body, appetite loss, and many other problems. If you are a patient, and use medical marijuana, then you know that these side effects can be controlled with marijuana. It is very close to resembling what cancer patients go through with chemo-therapy. Many researchers have found that the use of medical marijuana with MS can be a great alternative treatment to the daily or monthly treatments of MS medicines.

I have seen many of these side effects take over my father’s normal functions, prohibiting him from living to his fullest. He can no longer enjoy a lot of activities that he use to do, such as golfing and golfing, due to tremors, or his inability to fully control the his voluntary movements. His central nervous system is slowly cutting off some of these connections between his brain and the rest of his body. This can also cause a form of depression, due to his inability to do things he once could. I’ve tried numerous times to educate my father about the medical benefits marijuana could provide him, like the benefits it can have in mitigating the negative side effects of his treatment. Yet, due to Pennsylvania not being a medical marijuana state, it limits my full potential to help him see what this could offer. He doesn’t smoke, but as all medical marijuana users know, smoking is not the only way to use marijuana. A tincture or some kind of edible could be used instead. Yet, I still have not found a way to reason with him, or find someone who could convince him of the medical benefits of marijuana.

However, just recently, I met someone who has MS and has been medical marijuana along with their traditional treatment. The purpose of the cannabis medicine in this instance it to help overcome the negative side effects, or completely absolve the negative side effects of the traditional treatment. She has trouble moving around the house, like walking from floor to floor because of the fatigue and lack of energy that result from MS treatments. But when she medicates correctly, she feels a relief because she can move again. These pain and aches aren’t as intense as they could be, allowing her body to gain much more movement then before. The eating side effect, for the most part, is completely nonexistent. Overall, she seems much happier and alive, because of the positive results that medical marijuana affords her. She can move again, still not as much as before she had MS, but it’s also helping with her emotional and physical state. It isn’t a perfect solution or miracle cure, but it offers a great deal of relief for those with this nasty disease.

I believe we need to continue to research this medicine and find out more about its positive applications, so we can, most importantly, strip this medicine of its negative connotation so that people like my father and many others with life threatening illnesses can lead happier, healthier lives. That's why our work is so important, and why we must lead by example. So that, instead of viewing marijuana as a recreational gateway drug with no health benefits, the masses begin to see it as a bonafide medicine and begin to use it themselves.

Rocco Levine