Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Medical marijuana gets a big thumbs-up

Reaction to judges' decision 95% positive

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Were the judges right or wrong? A man suffered spinal injuries in a car accident, leaving him with chronic pain only relieved by marijuana. His insurance company refused to pay for this medication. But Quebec judges believed that "personal experience" must be considered when deciding if a patient is helped by medication. They ruled his company must pay $5,000 so he could grow his own marijuana. When I wrote about this, I asked for your opinion.

DJ from Sherbrooke, Que., responded: "Congratulations for bringing this matter to the public's attention. My father is dying of cancer and this is the one remedy that helps to control his pain and nausea. It's ludicrous he has to obtain this illegally, but there is so much red tape to get it legally. It seems that the government and drug companies would sooner have him addicted to painkillers such as oxycodone."

From Toronto:, "I wonder why the government promotes alcohol, but throws people in jail for having marijuana in their pocket to relieve pain and anxiety. It's not just patients with cancer who need this medication."

A reader from Winnipeg says: "It's good to see some common-sense thinking about the medical use of marijuana. My son suffers from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. We have found that after trying other remedies, smoking marijuana offers the most relief from his anxiety and pain."

Another from Calgary reports: "My mother has metastatic cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy. Doctors have prescribed several drugs to counteract the nausea, but marijuana is far superior."

From Sault Ste Marie, Ont.: "I enjoyed reading your article on the need for weed. I have rods and bolts in my spine following a car accident years ago. I have been in chronic pain, which affects my entire life. For years I required large doses of morphine, but marijuana has eased the pain and I can finally sleep through the night."

The most tragic response was from a reader in Lethbridge, Alta. During a hysterectomy, her bladder was severely injured. Since this complication, she has undergone 22 bladder operations, resulting in scar tissue and pain. Finally, the entire bladder was removed, with all the unpleasant consequences. She says her only help is marijuana, but the doctor who prescribed it has retired. Now she's unable to find another physician willing to prescribe it. Surely there must be a physician in that city who has the compassion to do it. If so, contact me. I'll send her the name.

Many readers mentioned they suffered from depression, anxiety and/or stress and had been prescribed increasing doses of antidepressants that made them feel funny or suicidal. Marijuana was the only medication that eased their nerves, calmed the stomach, helped them concentrate and be happy.

Ninety-five per cent of readers applauded the Quebec judges. Others believed increased use of marijuana would lead to other problems. One man remarked: "If a doctor prescribes marijuana, he should also be in a position to cancel their driving licence. I don't want to have my family injured by some pot-smoking driver."

My recent column on diagnosing colon cancer by stool-sniffing dogs also resulted in many emails. Readers asked where they could send stool samples in order to bypass colonoscopy. But these dogs were part of research studies and to my knowledge no commercial testing by dogs is available.

To learn more about cancer, see the website www.docgiff.com For comments, info@docgiff.com

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 1, 2011 A23

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