It’s OK to try medical marijuana after you’re already dead

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So, midlife, this is what you’re throwing at me next? Arthritis?


It’s still in the early stages, but it’s there. Knees, hips, shoulders, hands, back — they’re all complaining over the most innocuous activities, like walking or bending over, or even getting up after I’ve been sitting awhile.

Sitting hurts! How pathetic is that!

And let’s get this straight. I am not pathetic. I am descended from Vikings on my mother’s side! Warriors who roared and rumbled through enemy lines, crushing everyone and everything in their path! Their blood runs in my veins! They didn’t sit down mid-pillage to rub their aching knees. Apparently my knees descended from my father’s side, however — Italian. They’d rather kick back and sip Sambuca.

Knees be damned, I’m channeling my inner Warrior Princess to keep my slowly increasing stiffness at bay — yoga, massage, supplements, and learning about inflammation — but I can tell, little by little, it’s creeping up on me. One recent day, the grind of chronic low-grade pain got to me. Heck with it. I reached for the Advil, and there in the medicine cabinet discovered some Naprosyn (naproxen) left over from my foot injury.

Why not?

I took it, and 24 hours later, I was pain-free, head to toe. Oh, sweet elation! I’d forgotten what “pain-free” felt like.


With medication, there’s always a “but.”

After 48 hours taking Naprosyn, my stomach started complaining. I turned to Dr. Internet to find out why, and discovered that was the least of my concerns.

Not only is stomach distress a side effect, I can’t drink wine! Ever! (And my Italian genes wept.) It gets worse: Naprosyn can cause liver and kidney failure, and if that wasn’t enough to obsess over, sudden death from cardiac arrest.

And of course, another Naprosyn did not cross my lips. I’d rather be stiff than be a stiff. Oh well, at least I can still enjoy a glass of wine at Turkovich, which was just what I was doing when a gal who’d recently spoke at a city council meeting in defense of medical marijuana (MM) dispensaries walked in.

A stage four breast cancer patient, she’d explained to the council that MM was the only thing that eased her pain and nausea, and disputed the myths surrounding MM use, such as, you aren’t interested in getting high when you’re dying. I waved her over to compliment her for her public bravery, and while chatting, I commented, “Pity it doesn’t work on arthritis.”

“Oh it does,” she replied.

Say what?

She explained that different strains of MM ease different types of pain, including arthritis. And, you don’t have to smoke it to get medical benefits. It comes in other forms, like tea and butter.

Hmmm. I’d never given MM any serious consideration, because I hate smoking, regardless of the substance. But as nice, calorie-free tea before bedtime? Which might, as a side benefit, knock down my wicked insomnia? Definitely worth investigating.

I fired off an email to my doc, which followed on the heels of several emails about my Naprosyn concerns. I asked for her opinion on MM. Well, she shot that idea down like a fat goose from a hunting blind, responding that she didn’t think it was a positive thing to go through life high, and further, MM is only considered as a last resort. Clearly, she wasn’t willing to go there with me.

I guess I’m not surprised. My doc is part of a healthcare system that rejects chiropractic care or massage as medically legitimate (what’s the point of that silliness when they’ve got all that injectable cortisone lying around, and all those orthopedic surgeons with scalpels at the ready), so it’s certainly not going to embrace MM. And, this healthcare system functions within the larger medical industry paradigm (and the medical industry is in a big, juicy lip-lock with the pharmaceutical industry, which certainly doesn’t want people growing their own medicine in the back yard for free), and I’ll bet even considering MM could cost my doc her job. So, I have to give her a pass.

I found the “last resort” comment interesting, however. I guess it’s OK to wreck your liver and/or kidneys and then try MM (which wouldn’t have wrecked your liver and/or kidneys in the first place) or consider trying MM after you’ve dropped dead from Naprosyn-induced cardiac arrest.


Considering my incredible success with self-treating other medical problems (most notably, macular degeneration) with natural supplements and herbs, I’m curious to know if MM would do the same. And, if our city council ultimately approves MM dispensaries, it might be really easy to find out, assuming I can get a prescription outside the medical industry box.

At the very least, I should have the right to make this decision for myself, shouldn’t I? To explore a natural solution rather than be forced to take drugs that may damage my kidneys, liver or heart? Some folks in town don’t think so. Some folks practically had kittens over the prospect of an MM dispensary coming to Winters.

And here’s the rub: Nobody’s forcing anyone who doesn’t want to go to an MM dispensary to do so. So why should they have the right to force me to take drugs I don’t want to take? Or, with no other reasonable option, to tell my doc (as I did), “Never mind — it’s less complicated to just live with the pain.”

Less complicated, yes. Fair, no.

— Follow Debra DeAngelo on Twitter. Links are posted at and Find Debra’s columns online at, and


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