I recently became ill with symptoms of chest pain, jaw pain/tooth pain, and scapular pain. Since those can be signs of a heart attack, I thought I should pay attention. I decided a long time ago, that while most Western Medicine practices just aren’t for me, I would go to the hospital if I had these particular symptoms. With my genetics, family history, and personal history of heart disease it is the wisest thing to do.
Going to the hospital is stressful in itself, but in my case, as in the case of the more than 2 million legal cannabis users nationwide (http://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=005889), the stress is magnified because it is unlikely that the hospital will honor a legal user’s card and allow their medicine. In my experience, they hide behind two policies. The first is that noone is allowed to bring in medicine of any kind from home. While this is likely a good policy in many cases, the problem in this case is that you can’t bring it from home, and they don’t have it in their formulary for you either. When I asked the MD in the ER at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester about it, she stated that they had “pharmaceutical drugs that acted the same way”. That is not accurate information. You just cannot replace the whole plant effect by isolating some of its compounds and administering them to the patient. Here is an explanation from Leafscience.com, Sept. 2014:
“Marijuana, unlike most modern day medicine, contains a wide range of chemical compounds. Scientists have identified over 60 unique molecules in cannabis known as cannabinoids, which include THC and CBD. Many other non-cannabinoid compounds are produced by the plant that also have regulatory effects.
For example, terpenes, the molecules responsible for marijuana’s smell, have been shown to block some cannabinoid receptor sites in the brain while promoting cannabinoid binding in others. As a result, terpenes are believed to affect many aspects of how the brain takes in THC or CBD, while offering various benefits of their own.
In fact, while THC has gotten most of the attention, studies suggest many of the compounds in marijuana work together to produce a synergy of effects. This is known as the ‘entourage effect.’”
The fact is, there is not one pill or injection in their formulary that can do what use of the whole plant cannabis can do for anxiety, depression, pain and inflammation. But the doctors are still not educated on this fact despite the growing number of patients who utilize it daily for their health.
The other policy that they hide behind is their nonsmoking policy. The health professionals simply do not understand that there are other very effective routes to take with the medicine. Again, education of physicians is sorely needed to catch up with this important medicine and its health effects.
By the time I had left the hospital after my 5 day stay, my anxiety was at an all time high. In the beginning, loved ones brought me tincture to take to keep the medicine in my system and doing its job. But it was frightening when a nurse suggested that she smelled cannabis one night, so I stopped its
use. I really needed them to continue to determine what was wrong with my heart and complete their plan of care on that. And I was afraid that they would ask me to leave. It just wasn’t the time to put up an argument about it.
Sure, I could have requested Valium or Xanax or something else that they had available. For me though, that would have been a step backwards. And while those pills may reduce the anxiety in the moment, the benefit to my health when taking them, just does not outweigh the risk, nor is the effect as therapeutic.
I’ve got to hand it to them though, if you need surgery on your heart, they sure know what they are doing. Why not step up the treatment and not deny people necessary medicine for their other ailments when in the hospital? It hardly was therapeutic for me to feel anxiety, fear and body pain during this problem with my heart. I did take the opiods they offered once I realized I just wasn’t going to have the medicine I really needed. I did so only when I really couldn’t bear the joint pain from the arthritis any longer. I was in bed much more than I ever would have been at home. I was also unable to exercise, and my body was letting me know it wasn’t happy. It makes little sense, and seems to me that the doctors just aren’t following their oath to “do no harm” when they deny a patient their prescribed necessary medicine and instead offer alternatives that can be very harmful.
I called the hospital after I left to get a clarification as to their exact policy on legal card carrying medicinal cannabis users. After being bounced around department to department, I finally was sent to the patient advocacy office. The person I spoke with did not know what the policy was. She was very polite and took my information though. Upon her return call, she informed me that she took the question all the way to the top, and that “St. Vincent Hospital at this time does not allow medicinal cannabis of any kind in the hospital, even from a legal patient who is registered with the state and has a prescription”.
I feel it is time that we stand up together, demand better, and fix this problem. After all, my experience was simply one example of what is happening across the U.S. in legal states. A legal cannabis patient should not be made to go without prescribed medicine for any reason, especially in a medical institution. The medical establishment wouldn’t consider this for any other medication.
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Take back your health America!
Wendy Love Edge