Mother's Day

Sister Mary Jane


Over Christmas, I encouraged my mother to try medical marijuana as a way to deal with nausea and discomfort from chemotherapy.  Studies have shown conclusively that marijuana has been effective in increasing appetite, combatting nausea and improving the well-being of patients. It's hard not to write about marijuana without getting into the politics of the situation.  While I am no expert, it appears that the laws in the US have been driven without regard for the benefits of medical marijuana in treating terminal diseases such as cancer. 

Since medical marijuana is not technically available in Florida, there were a few challenges along the way.  Not only is marijuana illegal, but if you're seventy-three, it's just not that easy to come by.  There are no medical marijuana distribution centers in Florida, no compassion centers, no network that we knew of.  Unlike say, Colorado, where pot is easily acquired by patients , Florida laws are tough and posession of 20 g (less than an ounce) is a felony, so it is very hard for a stranger to buy pot there.  But a friend of my mother's had offered her marijuana a couple of years earlier when she was previously going through chemotherapy.  I told my mother, "if she offers again, take her up on it."

My mother was initally uncomfortable with the idea of smoking marijuana, but the side-effects of her anti-nausea medicine were sometimes severe and conventional treatment wasn't working.  She had qualms about using an illegal drug, but my parents read a study by Safe Access Now  and we read up on some sites by some local activists.  We also spoke to some doctors and none said it would be a bad idea.  She tried it and it relieved pain and it helped stimulate appetite.

Later in January, doctors gave her a prescription for Marinol, a synthetic form of THC, one of the ingredients in marijuana.  Marinol is more expensive than marijuana, at about $900 a month and unfortunately less effective.  My mother said the Marinol was helpful for a few days.  Shortly after, it seemed less effective than smoking pot, she said.  Compared to natural marijuana, its psychoactive effects are sometimes overwhelming.  Once my mother started with the hospice program in late January, they refused to cover the expense of Marinol, so my parents gave up on it, and used medical marijuana instead.

Through friends of friends, cryptic conversations and stealth package drops from unidentified sources, my mother was able to get a small but steady supply of marijuana.  She had smoked cigarettes for many years, so she was able to take a couple of puffs once in a while as required.  I don't think she ever got "high" from it --she never had cravings for Cherry Garcia ice cream --but it worked better than any of the prescription drugs at relieving nausea and pain.  She said it was a god send.  We teased her about smoking pot and got her a tie-dye t-shirt and an ash tray with the "Flying Nun" picture by Santa Cruz artist Janet Ellinger, shown above.

Thank you for all those anonymous people who helped out with this project.  You made my mother's final months more bearable.

Think what you will about whether marijuana should be legalized or whether it's better or worse for society than alcohol or tobacco.  But for medical purposes I defy anyone to look a cancer patient undergoing chemotherapy in the eye and deny them access to the one drug that is proven to help them.  For those seeking more information, I have listed several links below which may be helpful. 

I chose not to write about my mother's use of medical marijuana until after she died.  I asked her on one of my visits if she was ok with me writing about it and she agreed.


Carol Hoeg

Mark, Thanks for sharing this information about medical marijuana. More people should be aware of the positive effect it has on patients. I am a nurse in a chronic care hospital. Two of our MS patients have been smoking marijuana for several years with a Doctor's presciption obtained after the Doctor had obtained government permission. The problem for them is the difficulty to obtain a constant supply as it is still an ilegal substance. We see the positive effect it has on the painful spasms they experience.


I've always been bothered by people who go out of their way to protest things "THEY" don't agree with,thinking they are doing the right thing.If someone is on death row these individuals would never think to send a card to surviors of horrific unspeakable crimes,but they will light candles at a prison gate trying to call light to capital punishment as cruel.
When a loved one anguishes over the decision of life support,people not even involved protest,get lawyers,and try to keep people alive..even though they are in agony,because they feel it's their business.
Although I have never used marijuana or any other illegal drug I am not opposed to using it for medical purposes.Cancer,is an ugly,devastating disease.I witnessed first hand the pain and nausea that our loved ones suffer with.They should not have to seek permission from any one to use this drug to relieve unspeakable pain and suffering.
No one should be denied any drug that can give them some relief.

You have nothing to feel guilty for.How sad we have people more concerned about finding new drugs for "male enhancement" then for pain relief..
Several years ago my grandmother had a roomate in her nursing home.She was a very old Indian woman.She said little..but when she spoke,was very wise.I recall her telling my mother"Someday they will find the cure for cancer,in something as simple as a blade of grass." (I don't think the grass she spoke of was Marijuana.."smiles".)..but I am sure she is right.
Thanks for the post,hope you are all doing a little better.

Children Anxiety Disorder

i cant understood why the people can see the marihuana had good benefits too!!!

Affiliate Promotion

Everyone can used a mom, a nun, a cancer patient, an astmatic patient... the cannabis got good things... and as other medications side effects but isnt bad all...

Joshua Giesegh

I'm working with a group here in Florida trying to legalize medical marijuana for the patients in need. It is absolutely absurd to see what our government is doing to our patients. I lived with my grandfather as he died of cancer having no knowledge of marijuana other than the naive view DARE and my parents pushed on me. Shortly after his death I was doing research and found these facts out. More people need to be aware of these facts and we need to change our laws, that is why I joined the all volunteer group, People United For Medical Marijuana to bring compassion to Florida.

how to get rid of termites guru

Thank you fot this very informative post. Marijuana is by default neither good or bad. It really depends on a person'spercepion and action towards it. I really appreciate this post.

The comments to this entry are closed.