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Medical ‘Mary-Jane’ could benefit Mississippi cancer patients

JACKSON, MISS– House Bill 179, filed by Representative Joel Bomgar, would allow the therapeutic use of marijuana for those with debilitating medical conditions. 

Also known as the Mississippi Medical Marijuana Pilot Program Act, this legislation would create dispensaries and testing facilities to be state ran and evaluated, and create a registry of those allowed to access the medical cannabis. Those who are allowed to have medical marijuana would receive identification cards that would indicate the doctor’s orders for the administration of the drugs.

University of Mississippi Medical Center Cancer Institute director, Dr. John Ruckdeschel spoke with News Mississippi about the benefits his patients would see if medical marijuana were legalized.

“At its best, what it would do, if it is prescribed as part of the medical process, it could be a big plus,” Dr. Ruckdeschel said. “It’s pretty clear that it helps in pain relief, nausea control, and anxiety control.. I think that data’s pretty good.”

Dr. Ruckdeschel added that medical marijuana is by no means a miracle drug.

“There are differences in response based on how you socialize,” said the doctor. “If you’ve had it before with someone and had a pleasant experience, then taking it again when you don’t feel well could bring back those pleasant experiences.”

However, not all would be guaranteed to respond positively.

“If you’ve never had it before, it could be an awkward experience,” Dr. Ruckdeschel said. “It could be a feeling of spaciness you’re not comfortable with.”

While Dr. Ruckdeschel acknowledges the benefits of medical marijuana, he doubts that the current wording of this bill would be work in getting the law passed.

“It would be less effective if it was just throw open with various dispensaries and said ‘here’s a prescription, go get it,” Dr. Ruckdeschel said. “A lot of states have this as something that is written as a prescription that can be filled. It could be beneficial.”

Dr. Ruckdeschel added that it is possible that medical marijuana could reduce the number prescriptions a cancer patient has to take as it would help with multiple ailments.

“There is currently no drug where we say ‘take this’ and you’re cured of all symptoms,” Dr. Ruckdeschel said. “There are a dozen medications for anxiety, dozens more for nausea and vomiting, and several hundred for pain relief.”

The doctor said at that point, physicians are faced with a mix-and-match process of finding medications that work to help keep a patient comfortable.

“I can give a patient enough morphine to keep them comfortable,” Dr. Ruckdeschel said. “But they may not be able to interact, and they’ll never going to have a bowl movement again.”

Because one drug can have such powerful impacts on the body, Dr. Ruckdeschel said finding the right mix can be an ongoing fight.

“One of the weapons in that group is medical marijuana,” said the doctor.

See the full bill here.

News Mississippi will continue to follow HB 179 as it works through the legislative session.

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