Many of the world’s drugs now considered dangerous and illicit either once had or still do have significant medical value. However, as a result of widespread abuse of these substances and the corresponding public health issues that arise, many of these valuable chemicals have been tainted in the minds of the general populace.
This is unfortunate because in some cases, people who really need these drugs may have to fight to get them, or they may face serious controversy and possibly even harassment. Understanding what can happen when good drugs get bad reputations is critical in order to be able to properly address those that have legitimate medical needs.
One of the most significant examples of a good drug gone horribly wrong in the public eye is marijuana. Used as a medicine and for spiritual purposes for thousands of years, today marijuana is considered a dangerous drug that has few medical implications. This is Washington’s viewpoint in spite of the growing movement to legalize marijuana for medical use. In fact, while 16 states have some type of medical marijuana legislation on their books, most do not. In the states where cannabis is approved for medical use, it is prescribed to treat everything from AIDS and HIV to cancer to glaucoma and much more. But unless you live in one of these states, the bad reputation forced onto marijuana applies to you.
The negative reputation for marijuana comes about as a result of propaganda that has been widely distributed since the 1930′s and 1940′s, as well as images broadcast all over television, in print and on the web depicting the violence and destruction brought about by the US’s War on Drugs. These scenes are often accompanied by images of burning marijuana or fields of the plant being chopped down. But while the drug gangs and marijuana eradication efforts are largely responsible for the bad reputation of marijuana, said reputation is also intensified in the media.
The entertainment industry produces an incredible amount of marijuana-related programs, often depicting marijuana users in outlandish, comedic ways. But despite the often lighthearted nature with which the media treats marijuana, the fact of the matter is that some people who need this drug are unable to get it because of its negative reputation.
Consider a story reported KXLY.com in April of 2011 where a father secretly gave his 2 year old son cannabis in order to help ease the pain of the child’s chemotherapy. The boy was dying from a brain tumor that had wrapped itself around the optic nerve – surgery was unsuccessful and only removed 10% of the mass. Instead the boy was put through massive doses of chemotherapy, which made him even sicker than he had been previously.
After some time, the boy’s father began secretly placing cannabis oil in his feeding tube, which resulted in significant improvements. The child was almost immediately removed from all drugs and was able to eat for the first time in 40 days. Doctors were amazed, but they were not aware of the cannabis oil. The boy made a full recovery, though the story was not without controversy, as it was eventually revealed what the father had done, resulting in an outpouring of both public outcry and support.
The evidence in this case suggests that marijuana may very well have saved the boy’s life, but because of the negative perception of marijuana caused by people who wantonly abuse the drug, the father had to act illegally in order to help ease his child’s suffering.
James F. Davis
James F. Davis, CAS, is a Board Certified Interventionist and the founder of Recovery First. Inc. Davis is also an expert on Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) – the leading cause of relapse among addicts and alcoholics.