Friday, October 14, 2005

Etheridge: I Used Medicinal Marijuana


Melissa Etheridge says she smoked medicinal marijuana to help with the side effects of chemotherapy during her treatment for breast cancer.

The 44-year-old singer, who was diagnosed over a year ago, is now cancer-free.

"Instead of taking five or six of the prescriptions, I decided to go a natural route and smoke marijuana," Etheridge says in an interview to air Sunday on "Dateline NBC" (7 p.m. EDT).

When asked how her doctors reacted, Etheridge says, "Every single one was, `Oh, yeah. That's the best help for the effects of chemotherapy.'"

The singer said she smoked marijuana every day for her pain and symptoms and "the minute I didn't feel it, I stopped."

The use of marijuana with a doctor's recommendation is legal in California and nine other states, but is against federal law. Asked if she was concerned about federal prosecution, Etheridge replied, "No, I didn't worry. But it was worth it."

She recently released a new greatest hits album, "The Road Less Traveled," including the new song "I Run for Life," which is dedicated to the fight against breast cancer.


Anonymous Sandy said...

Melissa Etheridge? Didn’t I see her on some awards show, singing her guts out? Was it the Grammies? Or the Oscars? I think her head was shaved, if I’m not mistaken. A brave lady, facing her illness with courage.

It’s important for celebrities to speak out and admit to smoking medpot, otherwise we’ll never win the fight to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana in every state of the union. Right now eleven states allow it and a couple are leaning towards it. Some say that Illinois is going to be next.

Surprisingly, New York has yet to pass its medpot law. Many health professionals cross-country are speaking out in favor of marijuana as medicine. Thirteen nurses associations, including the California, Virginia, and New York State Nurses Associations, as well as the prestigious American Nurses Association have come out in favor of medpot.

I am a home care nurse, working in an urban center in southern California. How does the old saying go—“physician, heal thyself?” We Californians voted to legalize medicinal marijuana in a referendum in 1996. I’ve been recommending medpot to cancer and AIDS patients, and people suffering from chronic pain, ever since.

Now it’s my turn. I was diagnosed with leukemia six months ago. I was terrified of the ravages of chemotherapy. Even though I knew that it was my only chance, I even considered foregoing chemo, but luckily my colleagues talked me out of such foolishness.

I am on a regimen of anti-cancer drugs with IV chemo, which I receive as an outpatient. I couldn’t continue my stressful occupation, so I’m on extended leave. I had to shave my head, since my hair started falling out in patches. I am not the type to wear a wig, but a Canadian friend gave me a toque—a knitted cap—and I wear it everywhere, even to bed.

Because of a Supreme Court decision, federal law enforcement officials can still hassle people for using medpot, even in the states that allow it. My nausea wouldn’t allow me to smoke the stuff, but the compassion club in my neighborhood told me about a vapor inhaler. It heats up the marijuana on an electric pad and you inhale the vapors. It works for me, and the ravages of chemo are much easier to take.

Shortly after I started visiting them, the compassion club got busted. Now I’m faced with either obtaining medpot from an unlicensed grower, or driving to the next county. I decided to grow my own and researched this possibility on the Internet. I found a very helpful website, which gives good advice to licensed medpot growers.

In an urban setting, the only choice I have is to grow the plants indoors. I’m going to use some savings to buy a 400W High Pressure Sodium lighting fixture, with ballast and turn my extra bedroom into an indoor grow room. I learned all about ventilation, temperature and humidity control, and even introducing a CO2 generator, to insure healthy, vigorous marijuana plants.

I’ll start off with four plants in large pots and grow in a mixture of perlite and rich, black potting soil. The soil has to be sterilized to keep out pests. I’m going to use Harvest Pride (9-6-6) fertilizer, because it’s designed for container gardening and will provide my pot plants with just the right blend of organic and synthetic macro and micro nutrients. By the way the three numbers indicate the percentage of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium compounds in the plant food. Live and learn.

I could have gotten a hydroponic system, but I’m not sure what’s going to happen with work, so I didn’t want to blow all my savings. Because of my daily sessions inhaling medpot, my nausea has subsided, my appetite has returned, and I’m starting to feel stronger.

There are other products made by Advanced Nutrients Medical that help make pot plants grow strong and guarantee the formation of plentiful buds. They have exotic names such as Tarantula and Piranha. A garden shop in my area carries these and the owner can’t help but be enthusiastic about them. I look forward to using them.

Many of my former patients have heard about my diagnosis and have contacted my employer with their good wishes. One of them enclosed a joint in her get well card. I was touched by that. I was tempted to smoke it, but I thought better of it, so I broke it up and used it in the vaporizer.

Am I concerned about federal authorities coming after me? Sure, it crosses my mind, but I still have full-blown leukemia and until it goes into remission, I’m willing to try anything to be able to live with this devastating disease. I’m past the denial stage, now I’m into anger. I got to beat this, and using medical marijuana to do it seems like the wisest thing to do.

4/05/2006 07:32:00 AM  

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