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Marijuana is not the miracle drug pot pushers claim

By Ada Slivinski, 24 Hours Vancouver

Marijuana at the 420 celebration in Vancouver is pictured in this April 20, 2013 file photo. (CARMINE MARINELLI/Postmedia Network files)

Marijuana at the 420 celebration in Vancouver is pictured in this April 20, 2013 file photo. (CARMINE MARINELLI/Postmedia Network files)

There are some pretty substantial medicinal claims around marijuana. Children who no longer have seizures thanks to cannabis oil, symptoms of multiple sclerosis stalled or in some cases reversed thanks to the drug.

I’ve spoken with many people who say marijuana has drastically changed their lives for the better and that they would not be functioning at anywhere near the level they are today without it.

I spent one afternoon with Chris Nelson, the co-owner of Weeds South Van, and he spoke openly and frankly about the desperation that led him to try giving his wife cannabis oil and the drastic way it has changed both of their lives for the better. While I was at the shop I also met a young man who became addicted to opioids after his leg was amputated and doctors prescribed him meds for the pain. He credits pot with helping him kick the habit by easing some of the downsickness that comes with withdrawal. He now works at Weeds and says many of the people who come through the door have used marijuana for the same reason.

I asked Nelson how he feels about the recreational push and protest parties like 420 in light of the serious reasons that brought him to pot. He said he sees them all as one push. “It’s all medicinal,” he told me. In his eyes, everyone who uses marijuana does so to self-medicate, whether they know it or not.

This is where the medical pot argument stops making sense. I may be an optimist, but I’m not naive enough to think solving life’s problems is as easy as taking a toke. Window advertisements for dispensaries list an extremely broad list of ailments – from loss of appetite, to trouble sleeping, to back pain. Everybody has something that in theory could be treated by marijuana and this is where the message gets confusing – especially for kids. If marijuana is a miracle drug that can help not only the most ill MS patients, but can correct every other minor ailment, what’s the problem with using the drug? This is exactly what I’ve heard from preteens and teenagers in the schoolyard. The message is confusing. And, as the federal government gets set to legalize the drug by next summer, they better make sure they have some clear messaging in place because there are some serious risks and side effects we can’t ignore.