This is a hard post to write, because it will upset my parents. And I do not like to upset my parents. At all. (Even though I frequently do so.) It’ll doubtless upset other people too, for a variety of reasons. But it’s a touchy subject that I feel I have to deal with as candidly as possible while I wrestle with its implications.
I’m sitting here an hour and a half after downing my chemo meds.* They’re a standard treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis, and if you’re diagnosed with this malady chances are that you will eventually spend some time on Methotrexate. Or “MTX” as we call it. That MTX reminds me of the airport codes I had to memorise for my five year career as a travel agent. Even now when I write it I think of these as the drugs that take me through a Massively Traumatic eXperience. A city on the edge of hell you can only get to by riding these tiny pink puddle-jumpers. And like any bad flight you feel sick and sweaty when you stumble off.
I hate these drugs. But they are the things that allow me to have 4 ‘good’ days a week instead of one and a half. They’re the drugs that let me spend Saturdays walking around the Library instead of curled up on the couch. It’s a trade-off.
Researchers are turning in new studies almost weekly it seems. And time after time these studies all say the same thing. Cannaboids are a wonder drug for arthritis sufferers like me. People have known for years that it kills pain and relieves the horrible nausea caused by the pain itself and the chemo drugs designed to retard the disease. But now studies are showing that these same cannaboids can actually themselves be used to retard disease progression and damage.
Modern research on cannabidiol (CBD), one of the non-psychoactive components of cannabis, has found that it suppresses the immune response in mice and rats that is responsible for a disease resembling arthritis, protecting them from severe damage to their joints and markedly improving their condition. [...]
Medical researchers at Hebrew University in Jerusalem found that when Cannabidiol is metabolized, one result is the creation of an acid with potent anti-inflammatory action comparable to the drug indomethacin, but without the considerable gastrointestinal side effects associated with that drug.
So, there exists on this planet a class of medication which is relatively clean (having little or no side-effects), eases pain and retards disease progression. It is in many ways the ideal class of drugs for arthritis sufferers. Unlike NSAIDS it causes little or no cardiac or GI damage. Unlike DMARDS (such as my lovely chemo med MTX) it causes little or no nausea in most patients.
But this class of medication is illegal in all states under the Federal law, and in most states it is also illegal under state law. Two of those states are Indiana, where I grew up and my now-irritated parents live and Tennessee, where I live now in a sort of half-life.
The real problem at this point is that while I’d dearly love to campaign for better access to Cannaboids for RA patients, I don’t want to be lumped in with the 420 crowd. Let’s face it. If you say you’re pro-cannaboids (the term I now use instead of “marijuana”, because it’s like saying “defecation” instead of “poo” or “s—”. Means the same thing but sounds more educated and polite.) people chuckle knowingly and walk away thinking you’re a loser with no goals or skills. And face it, that’s the image a lot of the 420 crowd puts out there. And with friends like these….
Sadly, though, the truth is that most days I DO feel a bit like a loser. I can no longer hold down a grown-up job. Many days I don’t get out of bed for anything other than to take care of my dogs. (Those would be the days I’m on the MTX). It’s not the go-getter life most politicians, law-makers, and top-of-their-game professionals think highly of. And it’s so hard to change anything from here in the cheap seats, when the people with the power and access to change them have already written you off.