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Suffering Patients Need Medical Marijuana Essay

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Suffering Patients Need Medical Marijuana

If a doctor told you that you could either go blind in three years from glaucoma or break the law by smoking pot, which would you choose? If marijuana could prolong your life by allowing you to continue cancer chemotherapy without the unending vomiting and nausea, would you consider it? If cannabis could stop epileptic seizures that had plagued you since childhood, would you use it? This medicine can benefit patients suffering from these and many other afflictions, but it is being withheld; they are being denied a right granted to all living things—that of self-preservation.

“It’s not about drugs, it’s about letting men fight,” George McMahon told me when I was fortunate enough to speak with him about cannabis prohibition. McMahon is one of the last eight people in the United States currently receiving medical marijuana from the federal government. George was born with the need for drugs to help his condition—Nail Patella Syndrome (a rare neurological disorder). By the age of one he was being given beer, opiates before the age three, and had two forced addictions, to codeine and morphine, by the age of fourteen. He’s had every drug in the book, but marijuana is the one that helps: “This is damn good medicine, and it works the same every time.”

George was able to obtain marijuana through the federally regulated Investigational New Drug (IND) program, but it took him over two years to get past the repetitious paperwork. Few individuals were lucky enough to enter the program, and many didn’t last through the application period: “A lot of people tried to get in, and most of them have died,” says George. Later, 34 patients were approved for the program but were de...

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...eting and Interviews (CBC). San Francisco, June 7, 1996.

Gorman, Peter. “Marijuana and AIDS.” High Times Dec. 1994: 26+.

Grinspoon, Lester, M.D., and James B. Bakalar. Marihuana: The Forbidden Medicine. New Haven: Yale UP, 1993.

Leveritt, Mara. “Reefer Madness: Pot’s Tab in the War On Drugs.” The Arkansas Times. 16 September, 1993: 11-12. Available:

“Medical Marijuana in Australia.” Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics News. Spring 1995. Available:

McMahon, George. Telephone Interview, May 30, 1996.

National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). Marijuana Prohibition: A Colossal Failure. Washington D.C., 1995.

Young, Francis L. “In The Matter of MDMA Scheduling.” Docket No. 84-48. May 22, 1986. Available:

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