Stigmatized: Will Medical Marijuana Ever Become Acceptable?

Image: File photo of a medical marijuana starter plant 

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When Gaston Miron was diagnosed with a lung tumor, the doctors said he only had 18 months to live at most. One of his prescribed medications was Iressa, a drug that attacks cancerous cells and prevents them from further growing and spreading.

Though Iressa made his tumor shrink by 30 percent in just two months, it brought about one huge problem: pain. Miron suffered from side effects like body aches, stomach pain, headache, and itchy rashes. To ease the pain, he had to take 400 milligrams of Ibuprofen every morning, and it still wouldn’t be enough.

Turning to weed

“I just wanted to cope. I have three girls at home under the age of 12. Just to be with them is fantastic,” Miron said.

This prompted him to turn to medical marijuana, which is considered legal in his hometown in Alberta, Canada. But legal doesn’t mean it didn’t come with a stigma.

Miron found it hard to find a doctor who would prescribe him medical marijuana. Even his general practitioner and oncologist didn’t want to, although they both expressed support in his decision.

When he eventually found a doctor who was willing to give him a prescription, then came the problem of sourcing the weed. Surprisingly, he got it from his eldest son, Adam.

Battling with the stigma

Adam is the owner of a medical marijuana dispensary in Gatineau, Quebec. According to him, he opened his dispensary in order to make medical marijuana a more acceptable pain relief alternative for both patients and doctors, hence removing the stigma that his father was up against. But even if he was selling a legal product, Adam also felt the stigma surrounding the use of legal pot.

For instance, one of the measures that his company had to do for the sake of anonymity was to mask the return address on their shipments. That way, family members and neighbors won’t know where the package came from.

Adam hopes that this precaution would one day become unnecessary, with marijuana being treated just like any other medical product. He hopes this initiative would come from the people he was able to help.

“It’s going to come from people like my dad telling his story. It’s going to come from people like his general practitioner,” he said.

After all, medical marijuana worked excellently for Miron. Now, he’s sleeping better and is in less pain during daytime, enabling him to bond with his three little girls. He’s not even taking as much marijuana as his doctor prescribed.

And ultimately, he and his son hope that the stigma on medical marijuana will soon disappear so that more people can benefit from this legal and effective product.

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