When I first started working in homecare my primary area was the drug district of the county. Crack was just coming onto the drug scene and the dealers would literally hold the bags of crack out hawking the price when I drove by. Once they learned that I was a nurse and in the area only to do a job they began watching out for me. But that is another story. I am telling you this so you will understand why Mrs. Boone and the director picked me to be their information source.
Mrs. Boone was a nurse who had come out of retirement when her husband retired. She was an older woman who always wore a skirt and did not work on Tuesdays because that was when her Bible study group met. She was the kind of person who never had to tell you she was a Christian and never judged anyone who was not. We all liked and respected her.
One morning as I arrived at work the director opened her office door and motioned me to enter. Sitting inside was Mrs. Boone. Before I could even say good morning, Mrs. Boone asked me, “Do you know where I can buy some pot?” My mouth literally hung open and I could not utter a single word. Mrs. Boone and the director both laughed at my reaction and I know it took me a full minute before I could say a word. That was the last question I expected!
Mrs. Boone usually volunteered to take on the most challenging of patients, one of whom was a young mother dieing of breast cancer. The mom was not handling the morphine well, could not eat and was always nauseated. Mrs. Boone had talked with the doctor and they had tried everything they knew. But the idea that Mrs. Boone would even consider recommending marijuana much less purchasing it herself was completely beyond my comprehension.
I told her to talk to the lady’s teenage daughter. She would know where to get it and if she got caught, the worst she would get would be a slap on the wrist. No way was I gonna buy it and I knew Mrs. Boone was not sneaky enough. I assumed she followed my advice because when I asked her later, the patient had acquired the pot and was doing well with it.
Our director was a former hospice nurse and she had seen how well marijuana worked for some people. It helps reduce pain, stimulates the appetite and lowers nausea. It also can produce a feeling of euphoria and help to combat depression. (I have to admit that I get somewhat amused at the literature that lists a feeling of euphoria as a side effect as if that is a bad thing.)
I once took care of a quadriplegic who saved the Valium his doctor gave him to control his severe muscle spasms for when he could not obtain pot. He claimed the pot worked better and he was concerned about becoming addicted to the Valium. And in all honesty, after I had seen the severity of his muscle spasms and how quickly the pot worked I only requested he not smoke it while I was there. AIDS patients, those with multiple sclerosis, sufferers of depression, people with Chron’s disease and whole list of other illnesses claim to be helped by smoking pot.
It is not legal to use marijuana for medicinal purposes in my state but that does not stop healthcare professionals from quietly recommending it to some patients. We look the other way when a patient tells us that they smoke pot because we understand that for some people, it really is a viable treatment option. We just do not admit that out loud.
Like any medication there is not guarantee that marijuana will help and is not without potential side effects such as paranoia, short-term memory impairment, difficulty learning, loss of coordination, increased heart rate or the exacerbation of an already existing lung condition. And of course the previously mentioned euphoria. Most of these, however, only last a short while.
Unfortunately, our current political climate is not conducive to scientific testing of pot and its usefulness, so most evidence is anecdotal. It may be just producing a placebo effect for those who claim it helps them. However, there is some research available and a website that offers a more balanced look at the use of medical marijuana.
Just remember, it is not legal for medical use in all states. If you live in a state where it is legal for medicinal purposes, you must have a prescription and most other states will not honor it. Also, it is still a federal offense no matter where you live.