Thursday, July 24, 2014

Marijuana and Seizures

Since this blog is about health and wellness, I am going to talk about something a little different this week. I am going to talk about pot! I know there has been controversy over the use of this substance for years and currently in my state (Kansas) it is still illegal.

Personally, as a recreational substance....I am not a fan. I have debated, argued and had down right fights with family and friends over this drug and my view of the drug of its recreational use. Now I am not a hypocrite. I did try weed when I was young. For me, it never did anything but make me sick. To this day, I can smell weed on someone and it will immediately give me a headache and make me nauseous. My reaction to it though is not why I am not on the weed bandwagon. My reasons come from what I have seen it do to people personally. I have a couple of friends who are now my age and started smoking in high school. For them it was not a passing phase. For them it became a lifestyle choice that has affected their lives all these years. One has kept and maintained the same job all these years because he works in a place where they all smoke weed. He smokes before he goes to work and the second he gets off work, he heads straight home to spend the evening......with just he and his bong. He doesn't date, he doesn't go out and the only friends he has are his pot buddies who on occasion come to his house and get high with him. He turned 50 this year and one time when he was not high, he told me that he hated his life because he was so lonely. When I suggested he give up weed and get out in the world, he became very angry with me. We haven't spoken since.

Another friend who started in high school....just to be social, also has never stopped. She has lost marriages, her kids and jobs....all because of weed and what it has done to her. She has been in and out of the courts and jail due to drug charges, she has used money that was suppose to go to bills and the house payment to buy weed and random drug tests have caused her to get suspended or  lose jobs. It has been thirty years of this and still she chooses weed over everything else. And they say it is not addictive. 

I have had other run ins with weed and people I care about. It changes their attitudes, their incentive and their ambition if they use it regularly and the sad thing is.....they simply don't see it. They deny to the end that it affects them and make excuses for the fact that one day they wake up and the only friends they have left are their pot buddies, they can't hold a job for more than five minutes and they don't have the ambition to get off the couch. They go into defense mode and defend the new love of their life weed and get beyond angry if you don't both see their view and agree with it. Eventually, weed becomes the barrier between them and the rest of the world and they never see it.

While I could go on for days and pages about what I know to be true about weed, I know there are going to be those out there that take offense and become defensive over just reading this. Let's suffice it to say that I don't think pot should be legalized for a lot of reasons and because of the above personal experiences, I don't see that ever changing. That being said though, I do feel differently about medical marijuana(mm).

I know that mm has been used by people with cancer going through chemo for sometime now. It is my understanding that it helps the pain and other side effects caused by both the cancer and the chemo. My interest in mm though was peaked when I started hearing about cannabis being used to help seizures. I had been hearing about it for awhile and after the first of the year when my son David's seizures had come back with a vengeance, a facebook friend of mine was asking me if I had heard all of the advances they were making with the use of mm on seizure disorders. I decided to start doing some research.

I learned that there are different strains of cannabis and the strain that is used in mm to help seizures is cannabidiol. This strain has a non-psychoactive ingredient that targets the brain without making the user high. The mm can be given in pill form, liquid form or in edibles such as brownies, cookies and candy for kids. The research showed that there was great promise with mm and seizure reduction in epileptics and people with all kinds of seizures. Learning this, I decided to go to the people I consider experts in the field. So the last time David had a neurology appointment, I cornered the physician assistant and asked about mm. I was surprised at what I learned. According to her, mm is currently being tested on seizure patients as a last ditch effort, meaning patients who have been tried on a whole cocktail of different seizure medications and still have found no relief from their seizures. What they have found is that cannabis does in fact give these patients relief from their seizures and in many cases makes them seizure free.

The possibilities behind mm helping and even saving lives in seizure patients are endless and amazing. Even in those like David, who have their seizures controlled by medication, the side effects can still be awful. They can cause extreme drowsiness, weight loss, weight gain and aggression just to hit the tip of the ice berg. Apparently cannabidiol has none of these side effects. Currently though, if a patient has seizures controlled by medication, they won't even consider putting them in a trial for mm. Right now it is only for those who can't be helped any other way. That is why several that I know who suffer from seizures are making the trek west to Colorado and self medicating that way. It is not the safest route to go, but to them it is better than continuing to suffer and quite honestly.....I can't fault them a bit.

Please don't get me wrong. I think cannabis has great possibilities in the medical world. I have also read that not only is it helpful with chemo and seizures, but it is looking like it could help eradicate certain cancers in time. No...I would not support the legalization of pot for recreational use (go ahead and say what you want about me) but if it ever became legal in Kansas for mm to fight seizures, you can bet....I would have David at the head of the line!

1 comment:

  1. First, great blog. But I'm against the legalization of pot. It turns the government into the taxing drug dealer. And I believe we are safer as a nation with the back alley dealer over the bureaucratic drug dealer. Enough with the politics.

    I saw first hand what drugs can do to somebody. And that was my brother. It started with beer and pot and escalated. And a few years later at the age of 23, he was gone. That was a long time ago. The drugs themselves didn't take his life, but it was the choices and the situations that lead him to a place that ultimately ended his life.

    The pain of losing him has never ended. It's gotten easier with time to let go. But he is still missed dearly. Pot is not a victimless drug. Its only the beginning and it's long term effects last a lifetime not only for the user, but also for the families and the friends of the user.