Like Sandra Drew, Gilford resident Ellen McClung has used marijuana to cope with the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis (MS). The 55-year-old language instructor has suffered from MS symptoms since 1976, but her diagnosis was not confirmed until 1995, when an MRI made damage to her spinal cord and brain visible.
Ellen spent 10 years taking a standard MS treatment to combat the ongoing effects of the disease, but after the painful physiological and physical side-effects were drastically improved during a vacation in Canada (where marijuana is legally given to MS patients), to her relief her doctor put her on another long-term drug. However, because of residual damage from past attacks, she still suffers “neck to knee” spasticity. Over the years, she has been prescribed a number of drugs to combat the spasms, but has found that they either didn’t work or worked so “well” that they interfered with her ability to function.
Marijuana has reduced Ellen’s muscle spasms, helped her manage pain, and calmed her fears about the ongoing disease process. However, when she tried to talk to one of her doctors about the possible benefits of marijuana use, he became frustrated. “I can’t get in trouble for you,” he told her. Based on this example, it is clear that seriously ill patients who use marijuana are not the only ones whose anxiety would be reduced by passage of a medical-marijuana law; medical professionals would also benefit from such a reform.