Overwhelmed by medical expenses, Stephen and Wade accepted the offer of a friend to set up a GoFundMe page for them.
She adds: “In the state of Massachusetts, where I live, the Massachusetts Medical Society sent a letter to doctors stating that they could recommend cannabis when it was made legal there, but that they were at risk for losing their license. ‘We don’t know what will happen, but the federal government may take action,’ the letter essentially said. We do know that physicians at any hospital that’s federally funded will be terminated if they recommend medical marijuana to a patient. That’s made physicians understandably very reluctant. I do get angry because this should be easy and it’s not. We need to fix it!”
In New York state, medication comes primarily in the form of pills, vapes, oils and lotions. Dispensaries can’t distribute edibles because it’s much harder to control the doses a patient receives in them. Every dose at Columbia Care New York is consistent and titrated, meaning it’s increased, if need be, slowly over time.
Rosemary Mazanet, an oncologist by original training, is chief scientific officer for Columbia Care. “When I think about the disconnect between the enormous promise that cannabis products bring and the fact that there’s such an air about it that makes it tawdry, it comes down to the fact that it’s federally illegal.”
I decided to document Stephen’s life because his story had something valuable to remind us all about the gap between the abstract moralizing of politicians and the needs of the people they represent.
The use of marijuana and cannabinoid drugs for medicinal purposes, such as controlling pain and stimulating appetite in cancer patients, have been and continue to be studied in the lab and in clinics. Consequently, conflicting information has been reported in clinical studies using cannabinoids as pain relievers or appetite stimulants for cancer patients.
It is important for patients to speak with their doctor to determine if marijuana would be helpful in their fight against pancreatic cancer. According to Anne-Marie Duliege, MD, PanCAN’s Chief Medical Officer, “Since there has not been sufficient data generated yet to produce consistent clinical results about the benefits of medical marijuana for patients, we encourage patients to discuss problems such as pain and appetite stimulation with their doctor to determine the right medications to help control such issues.”
Some studies have reported that patients regained appetite and sense of taste, while others reported cannabinoids are no more helpful than other prescription appetite stimulant medications. Likewise, some studies about pain relief report promising results, while others have shown cannabinoids are no more helpful than prescription medications for controlling pain.
This map shows U.S. states and territories where marijuana is legal for medical purposes.
(Image courtesy of the National Cancer Institute.)
Cancer patients have reported finding pain relief and appetite stimulation from the use of medical marijuana, also known as cannabis. In fact, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s (PanCAN) Patient Services, which provides free, in-depth and personalized resources and information about pancreatic cancer, has received many questions about the use and effects of medical marijuana. For example, how is marijuana derived and how can it be used by cancer patients?