Friday, October 1, 2010

Give Me the Straight Dope

I am wending my way through the labyrinth of Oregon's Medical Marijuana Program.  Wow, was someone high when they put this together?

As you may have gathered, I don't feel very good a lot of the time.  Cancer cells have this way of robbing energy from your body to fuel their own selfish little orgies-- where they produce even more cancer cells.  In Sherwin B. Nuland's remarkable book, How We Die, he characterizes cancer cells as rebellious juvenile delinquents:  They never take on the adult responsibilities that mature cells perform in whatever community they are born into (the breast, the liver, what have you).  Instead they stay forever young and are only interested in partying and reproducing.  (My friend said, "Oh, they're Oklahoma teen-agers!" She's an Okie, okay? So, don't hate, appreciate...)

But as I was saying:  Cancer cells don't play nice.  And when they decide to party at your place they go after the good stuff: They want your protein, ie, lean muscle mass-- they are not interested in your cheap and...uh... possibly abundant flab.  So that "energy" (aka the entire back catalog of previously consumed M&M's) that your super-smart body has been "storing up" (in the form of body fat) for just such a rainy day?  Cancer is NOT interested.  So cancer patients can starve and still shop at the fat lady shop.  The disease that keeps on giving....

What does this have to do with my God-given and State-sanctioned right to spark a doobie?
Cachexia (from Greek kakos and hexia: bad condition) or wasting syndrome:   Loss of weight, muscle atrophy, fatigue, weakness and significant loss of appetite... The formal definition of cachexia is the loss of body mass that cannot be reversed nutritionally: even if the affected patient eats more calories, lean body mass will be lost, indicating there is a fundamental pathology in place.   
It is a positive risk factor for death—meaning that if the patient has cachexia, the chance of death from the underlying condition is increased dramatically.
Here's the rub:
Currently, there are no widely accepted drugs to treat cachexia and there are no FDA-approved drugs to treat cancer cachexia.
What does seem to help?  Uh-huh.  Marijuana.  It may not be curative, but, as jazz musicians through out history can attest, shit sure is palliative.  And in the advanced cancer game, that's what we've got to work with: treatable, not curable.

Granted, that is a bit of a conundrum.  Maybe that's what inspired Oregon's current Medical Marijuana laws, which grant me the legal right to possess dope, but not to acquire it.   I have to tell the state who and where my grower is (as they are subject to a criminal background check), but the state will in no way help me find a single seed to grow the stuff myself....  Under these laws who else except a criminal could possibly supply me with my medicine?

Put on your crazy hats, everybody, cause I'm gonna try to find out:  The very nice lady on the other end of the phone is trying to help me, I can tell.  It's just that I haven't had to interpret this kind of  "oded-cay anguage-lay" since I was about seventeen.  The pass word seems to be "networking."  Once I "ill-fay  out my orm-fay"and send it (along with a check or money order for $100), the state will issue me a number and mail me a card.  Then the nice lady can help me find places to "network" with "donors."  Jesus, this sounds like some kind of nightmare mash-up of speed-dating and sperm banking.  I hate networking!

Truly, if I didn't have some prior knowledge of the underground recreational drug-use community (Research, people!  I was an actor doing research!) I might be flummoxed by all this wackness.  All I can say is I better score some killer chronic, man-- for real.

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