Mary Jane to take the Pain Away

When you think of narcotics, which do you think of as worse, marijuana, or heroin? Surprisingly enough, the federal government and many state governments seem to think that marijuana is not only the worst, but the least-useful substance. For decades, cancer patients and patients with chronic pain have been prescribed opiate-based pain relievers such as Percocet, Oxycontin and even methodone and morphine. These drugs, in essence, are synthetic heroin. They are addicting, cause horrible side effects such as nausea and depression and are being wantonly prescribed to those who may not even need them. Yet there is an alternative, which you may know as the devil’s lettuce, Mary-Jane, cheeba, cannabis or simply weed. Luckily for those patients suffering, the Vermont Legislature is currently in the process of voting to allow medical marijuana dispensaries to open in the state, and I say it is about damn time. Since 2004, Vermont has had a medical marijuana registry, which allows patients with a doctor’s waiver to sign up and be allowed to grow their own supply of the drug. However, many patients do not have the gardening expertise necessary to grow the plants or the wherewithal to acquire seeds to even start. Thus, they are relegated to sticking with prescription drugs, or with purchasing from an illegal source. The fact that Vermont, a state relatively well known for being accepting of alternative healing, has not already endorsed dispensaries seems ludicrous. By implementing these areas of business, Vermont will simultaneously prosper from tax money and improve the quality of life of thousands of pain sufferers who are sick of their ailments and their pain medications. Ultimately, when compared to the synthetic smack being shoved down patients’ throats, a drug whose major side effects include the giggles, an increased appetite, peace of mind and a love of the Grateful Dead seems downright magical. This issue is not about the freedom to smoke weed everyday. It is not about getting high and sticking it to the man. It is about a non habit-forming medicine that can truly improve the quality of life for those who need it. So let us all hope that the great state of Vermont lets this helpful plant make its Green Mountains just a little more green and help its patients live happier, pain-free lives. P.S. Other side effects may include: forgetting where your keys are; talking to plants; watching the Wizard of Oz synched up with Dark Side of the Moon, stoned pets and repeating the phrase “whooaaa duuude”