NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Election Connection

October 15, 2012

Question 3: Sham vs. lifesaver

Patient comfort, legality play into medical marijuana ballot vote

(Continued)

She added that even in states having problems, “doctors aren’t arrested. Patients aren’t arrested. They (the DEA) are after rogue pot shops.”

Chestnut Hill’s Dr. Karen Munkacy, an anesthesiologist who is also trained in pain management, said “physicians have to recommend this for medical reasons. If they do it for non-medical reasons, they can have their licenses removed.”

A cancer survivor herself, Munkacy said the question should be passed because marijuana is “uniquely beneficial for patients undergoing cancer treatments and need chemotherapy. Many drugs in use now still cause vomiting and make you feel horrible.

“In those cases, medical marijuana is the only anti-vomiting drug that increases appetite. For cancer patients, that’s important. Cancer patients are often very thin, and this can help them with that.”

Broadhurst and others opposed to the law argue that medical marijuana needs to be vetted through the regulatory process, like any pharmaceutical, before being used as medicine to treat patients.

“We have other medications, in trials or in use for 15 years,” he said. “There are medications, derived from marijuana, coming down the line. Those are the prescriptions I’ll write, because I’ll have the data I need.”

That may be too long to wait for some patients.

Hawkes said she doesn’t need medical marijuana every day, but would miss it if it were gone, because the pain would return and she would be forced to turn to pharmaceutical drugs. She said she hopes the law passes.

“The message to my kids is, ‘Why does my mom have to be labeled a criminal, when this helps her so much more, and she is more active in our lives?’” she said. “If you’re sick and dying in our society, we should make sure you have the safest and most effective medicine available to you.”

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