Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Seeing the benefits of marijuana


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For about ten years Faye (not her real name) has been using marijuana – smoking it and drinking it as tea.
But she’s not your average user.
This 40-something-year-old woman says she uses it for medicinal reasons, convinced that it helps lower the pressure in her eyes.
Faye was diagnosed with glaucoma in her late twenties, a condition that causes damage to the eye’s optic nerve and gets worse over time. The condition is hereditary and she quips that it was “a gift” left by her grandmother.
She conceded that when she first started using marijuana, it was for recreational purposes when she was involved with a weed smoker.
After that relationship ended, so too did the habit.
“I wanted to be ‘in the do’ at the time,” she said. “Even then I tried not to smoke too much because I didn’t want to lose control.” 
Years after having no marijuana contact, Faye was diagnosed with glaucoma, which is often associated with a build-up of pressure inside the eye.
She remembered the day she got that news: “I woke up that day and my eyes felt itchy. It felt like there was sand in my eyes and even though I washed them over and over, nothing changed. In fact, it got worse.”
Even though Faye grew up wearing glasses, the news that she had glaucoma was jarring.
“When the doctor diagnosed me, I remember saying ‘but I don’t feel anything’. I was asking myself ‘what is glaucoma’ and I was even upset about it,” she recalled.
Faye had to be on eye drops – three times a day and also had to go through a number of field tests.
She had 90 per cent vision in one of her eyes and her peripheral vision was not good.
Medicinal value
Faye got into research mode and quickly read information about the medicinal values and benefits of marijuana as they related to glaucoma and helping to reduce pressure in the eyes.
“Some people were even coming out of the woodwork and telling me of the benefits of using marijuana to help me with the glaucoma.”
Today, in addition to her eye drops, Faye drinks marijuana tea, up to four cups a day.
That’s the maximum use for her and that’s only when she is getting closer to a doctor’s appointment.
She has “tested and proven” that her pressure goes down with both “medicines”; it doesn’t when she uses the drops only.
This was not an easy road for a woman who grew up believing “smoking is bad”.
“It took me a while to understand and embrace marijuana”, she said, chuckling as she recalled that after seeking a second opinion on the condition of her eyes, the first thing the doctor asked was if she ever thought about smoking marijuana.
Faye was quick to insist that she is not hooked on the drug and has gone long periods of time not ingesting it.
As for the supply, she has been to some “holes and some very dark places” to obtain the drug. “I went that route and I hate it,” adding she was now more comfortable with how she gets the drug.
Faye said the pressure in her eyes was now stable between ten and 11 points, compared to 28 to 29 points when she was first diagnosed.
Adding her voice to the global debate on the legalization of marijuana, Faye said Barbadians needed to be able to discuss the issue.
“It has been proven that marijuana can assist people medically. I don’t see why it is always put in the category where it is a bad thing. We need to have the discussion so we can take away the evilness about it,” she said, pointing out that some pharmaceutical companies were selling drugs with dangerous side effects.
She still has some concerns about some American states like Colorado that have already legalised marijuana.
“I am wary of legalisation for recreational purposes. I am scared for children and some who many not know as much as they should about the drug or who may not have done the research and just got information from a friend.” 
While Faye would like to see marijuana become legal in Barbados for medical reasons, she believes there should be restrictions.


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