I am intensely curious about the origins of quite random things — from Post-Its and sushi to wooden shoes and certain psychotropic drugs.
Really, who was the first person to think that smoking a plant was a good idea? The thought never would have occurred to me.
Cannabis sativa. Known colloquially as marijuana. Also goes by pot, weed, reefer. mary jane.
Think Hemp tuxedo. The Dude. Brownies. High Times.
And medical marijuana.
Those magical properties that give partakers the munchies, red eyes and a fascination with black light posters also help those with such diseases as multiple sclerosis deal with some of the painful, debilitating symptoms.
One of those symptoms is spasticity, in which muscles stiffen and sometimes lock up in a contracted state because the brain signal to relax never gets to them.
Sure, there are drugs of the pharmaceutical variety to take for these symptoms, but the side effects make them almost not worth it. The choice, if you can call it that, becomes deal with the spasticity or take the pill and enter a somnolent state shortly thereafter. It’s no way to go about life.
But there’s hope. Eight countries in Europe as well as Canada have approved a spray-under-the-tongue drug called Sativex (see the etymology at play here?) to help with this condition.
In the U.S.? Not happening. The drug has not been approved here, and it is doubtful it will ever be.
Sure, California and a handful of other states have legalized medical marijuana. In 2009, a Denver alt-weekly got thousands of applications for its pot critic job opening. Pot has almost become mainstream.
The official line of the National MS Society on medical marijuana is that more research is needed. It says study results are mixed and reported successes are largely anecdotal.
So for now, a lot of MS patients are waiting to inhale.