a few years ago i researched medical marijuana. at that time, a favorite aunt lay dying of pancreatic cancer. she had survived not one, but two separate occurrences of breast cancer several years apart, while continuing not only her daily routine, but doing meals on wheels and spending time coordinating events for her large and loving family as well. but the pancreatic cancer was different. she seemed to fade a bit every day, and as her appetite waned, so did her strength and her gusto. no matter what her husband would buy to tempt her, she just couldn’t choke down more than a few bites. between the pain and the weakness, it wasn’t too long before she ended up in hospice.

her husband, a long-time hard-core libertarian urged her to use medical marijuana. she tried marinol, the synthetic THC that some doctors promised would give the same benefits as actual marijuana without the supposed “risks” of the real thing. but no matter how much he begged her, the stigma of marijuana was just too much for her to wrap her mind around, and even though she most certainly would have died in the end regardless, i honestly believe that her family was robbed of an extra few weeks of quality interaction with her because of her hesitation about trying marijuana.

after she died my sense of urgency about marijuana died too, and i just stayed on my cocktail of the big 3 anti-nausea meds and figured it was the best i could do. sometimes it works ok. sometimes it keeps me functioning. sometimes i hit that sweet spot where i take them at just the right time to stop the nausea in its tracks and i’m golden, at least for a few blissful hours. i have a peek at how regular people live, and i’m always more than a little envious that this is their regular life. and i’m always more than a little resentful that it isn’t mine. i’d like to be more enlightened than that, but i’m human, so there ya go.

sometimes i wait too long to take the meds, and it’s not great. *h is always disappointed when i have to throw up, and the kids’ reactions range from here-we-go-again to will-mommy-ever-be-ok? to huh??? once in a while, and thank goodness it’s fairly rare, the throwing up will set off a chain reaction where i can’t really stop, and i’ll just be bedridden with a trash can for a day or two, trying my best to stay out of the ER. those times are bad. really really bad.

which brings us to today’s post.

because i’ve been looking into medical marijuana again.

the glorious state of washington has legal medical marijuana, and lots of people seem to have a friend of a friend, or a brother of a cousin, or a relative of a neighbor- and they all have scrips for medical marijuana. they all agree to talk to me- most on strict promises of confidentiality. they all agree without exception that it is a wonder-med. it has changed their lives. it has made their world a better place. it gives them the best relief with the least side effects. it allows them to work. it helps them to function at home. by using it, they can cut down on their other more scary/addictive/toxic prescription medications.

but they use it in the garage. or only after the kids go to bed. or in the car. or at a friend’s house. or at the clinic. or in their bedroom with the door locked.

so, here’s what i don’t get. marijuana is a safe legal drug. it’s a heck of a lot safer than most of the other stuff i (and most of the folks i spoke to) have been prescribed. you don’t have to smoke it; in fact, it comes in like a gazillion forms. i’m not saying you have to wave it around in front of your teenagers. but i wouldn’t wave around my percocet or my vicodin either. but i darn sure wouldn’t be sneaking off to the garage to take it. or keeping a stash of it at my friend’s house. because if i am taking something for a legitimate medical condition (all of the people i spoke to are. they really are.), then why should i hide that i am taking medication for it? i don’t discuss the specific medications i take, but my pills are on the counter, and if my kids had questions about any of them, i would certainly answer them. if they are having friends over who i don’t know well, i put my pills away in my bedroom somewhere. i know how many pills i have and how many i take.

so what’s with the unique shame around marijuana?

honestly, i hesitated to even get a scrip for it because of the stigma.

honestly, i haven’t filled the scrip because of the stigma.

honestly, i spoke to my older kids about it before i even spoke to my doctor about it (but after *h and i had spoken privately about it a number of times)- just in case they had issues with it that we needed to resolve.

and i’m still not sure when i’ll fill the scrip.

or why i’m buying into the whole shame game.

so, what do you guys think?