Sunday, January 16, 2011

Not Just for Hippies

A year or so ago, I posted an article on the use of medical cannabis (marijuana) for treatment of hyperemesis gravidarum. At the time, I had not really given much thought to the issue of medical marijuana, so I did not have a position on it.

Since then, I have given it considerable thought, and I have come to believe that medical marijuana has the potential for legitimate use in the treatment of hyperemesis and other medical concerns.

What do you think?

The issue came up both in this past year's elections, when Arizona voted by a tiny margin to approve the use of medical marijuana, and when I came across this excellent and thought-provoking article concerning medical marijuana for the treatment specifically of hyperemesis gravidarum:

When Getting Baked Means More Than a Bun in the Oven

I've examined all of the arguments against medical marijuana, and have found that most of them don't stand up for scrutiny: The objections brought up are either artificial cultural constructions (marijuana is illegal (easy to change!), marijuana is associated with hippies, marijuana is a "street drug", marijuana has negative cultural connotations), or objections that could be just as true of legal pharmaceutical drugs (marijuana has side effects, marijuana is addictive, marijuana can act as a gateway drug, etc.).

There is a very good summary paper here that you can view to read up on objections to medical marijuana, along with answers:

Potential Objections to Medical Marijuana

I think that the objections to medical marijuana can be summed up in the following: (1) We're used to thinking of marijuana as illegal, (2) We have cultural biases against it, regarding it as a "hippie" drug, and (3) being that marijuana, as a natural substance, puts no profit into the drug companies, and does not have millions of dollars behind it in advertising and advocacy.

We're also used to thinking of "pharmaceuticals from the pharmacy are safe" and "street drugs are evil" - when in reality, it's a question of context and usage.

Here's a story from my family:

We have one family member who has put our family through the mill with a long-standing drug addiction. We've dealt with a dysfunctional family situation and family dynamics, drug-induced theft and violence, jail, the court system, probation, and two rounds of drug rehab. It was an exhausting drama that lasted for years.

What was the drug involved? Cocaine, meth, marijuana, etc?

Nope. Prescription pain killers. Vicodin and Percocet, mostly, with a cocktail of others thrown in.

The point - it's not the drug, it's the usage. We need to get over cultural biases (that drug-store drugs are necessarily good, and recreational drugs are necessarily evil) and look at the root of the matter.

The real issue - is it safe for the baby? Well, no drug is tested directly on pregnant women. Studies (to my best knowledge, correct me if I'm wrong) are either done on animals or retrospectively on women who used any said drug (outside of a study). The above article discusses safety, and marijuana seems to have as good a safety record as any. Is further study warranted? My guess is yes!

As always, it's a matter of personal belief, comfort, and preference. Some HG women refuse to take any drugs (brave, brave women!). Some prefer to stick with Unisom, some are comfortable only with Zofran. Regardless, it is an intensely personal issue, and each mother must have peace with her own decisions as to what she will take for her NVP/HG. No one should feel pressured either way. And I know that there are some women out there who would never feel comfortable taking marijuana for NVP. That's fine. But I think that it should be a legal option.

What do you all think? I welcome conversations that are kind, thoughtful, and civil.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so behind on my blog reading... I just read this. We were having this discussion at my house a while back. Of course, my concern would be for the baby, but if I knew it was as safe as anything (or safer), I know I would have taken it... I would have taken just about anything!!! Since (in my weird-o case) I had the post partum nausea, I KNOW I would have taken it then (no baby worries.) Anyway, it's thought provoking to say the least.


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