Doctors are hesitant to prescribe certain medications, or high enough dosages of them -especially pain medications that are narcotics, such as Oxycontin and Vicodin- because they fear repercussions from lawsuits if a patient mixes the wrong prescriptions, becomes addicted, or overdoses. Can we blame the doctors? No. Between Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Demi Moore, Charlie Sheen and Lindsey Lohan (among others), there are valid reasons to be wary. Don’t get me wrong, these people are well respected and loved for their entertainment value. But they are all big time celebrities whose money enables them to get away with many things that other people can’t, like recreational drug use, or taking powerful drugs for minor problems. In the case of common, everyday citizens, many people with chronic pain are turning to medical marijuana as an alternative to replace other medicines that they are unable to get, so what are the reasons for making marijuana nearly impossible to access as well?
Since Prop 215 was passed in 1996, medical marijuana is legal in California with a prescription, but all of the dispensaries that have been opened in our area have been shut down. Compare this situation to having a town and several surrounding towns without a pharmacy; it’s completely unreasonable. It seems that medical marijuana prescriptions are being given out faster than candy on Halloween, and yet the medication itself isn’t available without a taking 45 minute drive, not to mention that it is expensive and insurance companies won’t cover it. One of the big advantages of medical marijuana is that most of it is grown naturally, without harmful chemicals. People with prescriptions do have the right to grow their own marijuana, but growing is a science, and many people don’t have the time, materials, or knowledge to grow it themselves.
The people who truly need this medication for pain or nausea -such as transplant patients, chemotherapy patients, and people with other severe disabilities- endure enough because of their pain and sickness already, without having to jump through hoops to get something that has been proven beneficial to them. Our area does, however, have a delivery service but many people don’t utilize it because it’s expensive, it takes a long time, and the quality isn’t guaranteed. With the closest dispensaries being in Natomas or Grass Valley, it’s no wonder so many people in our area are still buying marijuana illegally on the streets.
Derek Farrell is a twenty-three year old English major at Yuba College. He has a progressive nerve disease called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD). RSD causes migraines, depression, chronic pain, and other severe disabilities. He also has Fibromyalgia. According to the American Chronic Pain Association, Fibromyalgia is described as “a medically unexplained syndrome characterized by chronic widespread pain and a heightened and painful response to pressure (allodynia). Other core symptoms are debilitating fatigue, sleep disturbance, and joint stiffness.”
Farrell says that driving or riding is extremely painful for him. He used to have people give him rides to dispensaries in Sacramento or Roseville but he quit going, explaining that “I didn’t want the risk of being robbed due to others’ want of weed. I also didn’t want to be associated with pot heads or people claiming false disabilities so they could be legal.” Even though he said the marijuana helped a lot with the pain, it just wasn’t worth the trouble.
To run their businesses, medical marijuana dispensaries are doling out high tax dollars which are being used to improve schools, roads, and many other things, so you would think that Yuba-Sutter area would be taking advantage of dispensaries and cashing in. What is holding us back from something so obviously medically and financially beneficial? People debate about the side effects of marijuana, for example like the weakening of your short term memory; have these people looked at the commercials for any prescription medication lately? About 90% of them have worse side effects than the problem that they are being used to treat, and some even cause death. You cannot overdose or die from marijuana use. It is not addicting. The theory that marijuana is a gateway drug was disproved long ago, and the theory that smoking marijuana has the same cancer-causing effects as smoking tobacco has recently been disproved after a twenty year government study conducted by the University of California, San Francisco.
If medical marijuana is legal in this state, the goal should be to make the medication itself more readily available. Doctors give hundreds of marijuana prescriptions out to suffering people, which just leads to more suffering due to the hassle and aggravations of going through the motions of trying to put the prescriptions to use.
***NOTE From The Author*** After this article was edited several times, proofed, and laid out for our print edition, This Person –> DW: As it will appear in the paper <– signed this to my article after making changes and adding incorrect and misspelled words; mistakes including but not limited to: misspelling San Franciso, and glaucoma, and changing “without them having to jump through hoops” to “they should have to jump through hoops.” This article, among others, were not on the pages that the front page of our print edition advertised, due to another error from another person. We are taking steps to prevent these errors from happening in future editions. I apologize on behalf of The Prospector.
The article posted above was my original version.