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May 05, 2009

I used marijuana, but didn’t inhale

Marinol I recently saw an interesting blog post about a man who became addicted to medical-use marijuana. He was a seemingly normal individual who was suffering from a myriad of mental and emotional problems. He quickly became addicted to a smoked form of medical marijuana that was poorly prescribed and terribly monitored.

Having personal experience with medicinal marijuana, I want to shed some light on the agenda behind further legalizing illicit drugs. Also, with depression and other medical conditions on the rise in the U.S., and some people’s desire to solve all the world’s problems with marijuana, it is important to look at some of the options being presented and assess whether or not the benefit is worth the cost. 

In 2002 I was given a drug called Marinol. Marinol is a pharmaceutical product that is available, mostly through prescription, in the form of a pill. And it's derived from marijuana. To make Marinol, the harmful substances in marijuana are filtered out.

When I was undergoing extreme levels of chemotherapy to fight cancer at the age of 16, the nausea I was experiencing was starting to endanger my throat and vocal cords. The pain from throwing up blood and bile for days was taking its toll and I was desperate for a solution. Many anti-nausea medications had been tried in the past, but none seemed to be the silver bullet. 

On one occasion I was admitted to the emergency room soon after being released from a week-long chemotherapy treatment. The doctors, concerned for my throat, gave me Marinol. This drug calmed my nausea and vomiting and allowed me some much needed rest.  After staying in the hospital for another day or so, I was released. 

The next day at school I was speaking with some friends about the incident and they were truly concerned. They also found it interesting that I had been given prescriptive marijuana. I was a straitlaced young man who was known for abstaining from sex, drugs, and alcohol. The idea of me using marijuana made most of my friends chuckle. 

Word spread about what I had been given, and a young woman who had a different reputation from mine came up and asked how I was feeling. Since I didn’t know her very well at all and she hadn’t shown interest in my well-being prior to that day, I knew something was up. She suddenly asked if it was true that I had been prescribed Marinol. I was infuriated because I realized she thought I might actually give or sell her some—and perhaps some people would have. My eyes grew red with frustration and I responded with a simple “No.” She said, “OK, well, it’s good to see you're feeling better. Bye.” 

If medicinal marijuana as a pill can be manipulated so easily, I can’t even imagine what the harsher forms, such as smoking, could do to society. 

Why hasn’t the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the smoked version yet? Maybe it’s because, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration, it “contains more than 400 different chemicals, including most of the hazardous chemicals found in tobacco smoke.” Also, “there are no FDA-approved medications that are smoked.” Smoking any sort of medication doesn’t sound like the safest or most effective way to administer medication—because it isn’t! For the same reason opiates are administered by pill or injection, marijuana should be left to the evidence-based form of pills.

There is an agenda here that is rarely brought to light. The DEA has fought legalizing the smoked form of marijuana, but assisted in the research and promotion of the diluted pill form. Legalizing the smoked version of marijuana is going to create a market for both addicts and patients. If the pill known as Marinol doesn’t satisfy those who want to legalize marijuana, then what will? They want what is currently illegal—easy access to illicit drugs. 

When the standards of suffering are driven so low that the mildest forms of depression constitute a prescription for drugs, we need to seriously re-evaluate the underlying agenda. I am completely in favor of medicinal marijuana. Lucky for me, we currently have it. It’s a pill called Marinol and it works. 

(Image courtesy of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration)

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Mike D'Virgilio

In my humble opinion, the war on drugs has caused far more death and pain and suffering than legalizing drugs ever would.

Rolley Haggard

Mike said, “In my humble opinion, the war on drugs has caused far more death and pain and suffering than legalizing drugs ever would.”

Yeah, and dropping the atom bomb caused a lot more deaths than would have occurred if America had simply surrendered on December 8, 1941.

There’s this little thing called “principle”, Mike. The only reason the war on drugs has caused so much death and pain and suffering is because evil people – i.e. people who don’t give a dump what drugs do to others - have insisted on using deadly force to circumvent the law (i.e. principle) in order to enrich themselves.

Peace at any price is ultimately a capitulation to evil. Some things are worth fighting for, regardless of the outcome.

Ben W

I have to agree with Mike. I'm extremely wary of harder drugs like heroin or cocaine, but I can't understand why alcohol is legal but marijuana is not. How often do you hear of people causing car accidents or starting fights while high on weed?


PS - I've never done weed nor have interest, I just think our gov't's policies are a bit backward.

Rolley Haggard

Mike, apologies for the strident tone. It's just that I've seen one too many good friends' lives destroyed by drugs.

Mike D'Virgilio

Rolley, thank you for your comments. I can certainly can sympathize with your feelings. I was a typical conservative war on drugs supporter until I read an entire issue of National Review dedicated to the issue some years ago. I never thought I would think this war was creating more harm than it solved until I read that.

Certainly some people would take drugs who otherwise wouldn't if they were legal, but I don't think most would. The fact is that those who now want drugs will get them regardless of the law. The illegality of drugs has created a huge amount of death and destruction solely based on the fact that they are illegal. The question is would more pain and suffering ensue if they were legalized than is now caused by them being illegal. I'm just not convinced that would be the case.

jason taylor

Some things are worth fighting for Rolley, but we have to decide which ones.

As Frederick the Great pointed out, "If you defend everything, you defend nothing".

That does not mean that I am necessarily for legalizing drugs. However making every difficulty a point of honor is not being honorable but simply quarrelsome.

jason taylor

"Mike, apologies for the strident tone. It's just that I've seen one too many good friends' lives destroyed by drugs."

Oops, apologies for my strident tone. If I had seen that line, I would have commented differently.

viking mother

The war on drugs means---afew less babies born on drugs who have to go thru painful withdrawal...

A few less persons murdered...

A few less dangerous neighborhood corners...

If we keep retreating from fighting serious crime...we would eventually have anarchy.

viking mother

Maybe the whole cycle of drug use should be studied.

(I am not an expert here---just have seen the effects of drugs on young females and their offspring thru the foster care program...)

Babies with full time nurses due to drug abuse before birth by Mom (actually some also due to fetal alcohol syndrome also---which due to to abortion rights is a legal way to abuse your child---until it is born & acquires legal rights---when THEN the state can finally step in!!!)

Children with PERMANENT learning disabilities due to substance abuse. Forgive MY strident tone---but one foster mom had no answer when the half grown child wondered "Why did my birth mom abuse me????" If you want drugs legalized, YOU should be prepared to justify it to these abused kids!!!

Young girls on the streets - prostitutes - Are they selling themselves for drug money? Or are they taking drugs to blot out the emotional horror of their self-destroying lifestyle?

The list of horrors could go on. (A cop or social worker could fill it out....!)

Jason Taylor

Be that as it may, it is almost as much a weakness for Conservatives to say "some things are worth fighting for" unthinkingly as it is for liberals to say "violence never solves anything" with equal lack of thought. My point was not about drugs per se but about being careful with thoughts and words.

prescription drug abuse

Marijuana is a very common street and recreational drug that comes from the marijuana plant.The plant that produces marijuana, as is well known, is the hemp plant cannabis sativa. The pharmacologically active ingredient in marijuana is tetra-hydro-cannabinol.
Marijuana is used to heighten perception, affect mood and relax. It is estimated that about 30% of adults in the U.S. use marijuana.Many people think marijuana is harmless. It is not. Signs of marijuana use include red eyes, lethargy and uncoordinated body movements. The long-term effects may include decrease in motivation and harmful effects on the brain, heart, lung and reproductive system.


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