This is a patient story submitted from a physician via email…
J was an unsophisticated, wheelchair-bound 18 year old boy who recently passed after a life-long, painful struggle with a disfiguring illness.
At the age of 17 he applied for a medical marijuana card in accordance with state law.
His mother said she supported his request to use marijuana despite his doctor’s concern that smoking would impair his lung capacity because “it made him calm”; “he is a totally different person when he is on his medicine” – “he can forget his pain” “he looks happier” – “he wants to do things” – “he eats better”
I remember feeling awe at the sight of this kid with severe contractures zipping down busy sidewalks on his motorized wheelchair with a smile on his face. His activity level was quite high until the last 4 weeks of his life.
His doctor, as permitted by state law, gave him access to a lethal amount of medication to allow him to choose suicide if his suffering became unbearable.
The family stated that whenever they reminded him of the suicide option, he asked to smoke marijuana rather than accept the exit strategy, which was never used.
One of J’s last questions to his caregiver was “will they have my medicine (marijuana) in heaven?”
His last wish was that his ashes be scattered among the marijuana “mother” plants grown by the dispensary which supported him (the wish was granted)
As his family could not afford the cost of burial, local medical marijuana businesses contributed to make one possible.
J’s caregiver is setting up a foundation named after the boy that will take donations to make cannabis available at no cost to hospice patients.
In my three decades as a physician I have never encountered a dying patient being comforted by the thought that he could receive opiates, stimulants, sedatives, or the usual polypharmacy given in the end stages of life, in heaven.
I have never heard of anyone asking that his ashes be scattered in the laboratories of Eli Lilly or Pfizer. The federal government still has marijuana sheduled as a drug with no known medical uses.
Local opponents of medical marijuana still fear that the drug will destroy the moral fabric of society, and claim that there is no evidence that this drug works.