Melissa Etheridge speaks out in support for medical marijuana

Marijuana. The word conjures up images such as college-aged slackers passing around a water bong, American tourists in Amsterdam laughing uncontrollably after munching on spacecakes, or Snoop Dogg “rollin’ down the street smoking endo, sippin’ on gin and juice.”

You’ve heard that using cannabis makes you stupid and forgetful. Remember the Afroman song, “Because I Got High,” in which he lamented becoming a paraplegic and ended up sleeping on the sidewalk, because he got high?

With all of the slacker burnout imagery surrounding marijuana, it is no wonder that proponents of using marijuana for medical purposes still have an uphill climb in convincing policymakers and the public of its healing qualities.

However, the movement to legalize medical marijuana has recently picked up a high-profile advocate in Melissa Etheridge, who is most certainly neither a slacker nor a burnout. In target=”_Blank”>an interview with Anderson Cooper, Etheridge said that she used marijuana during her recovery from cancer and that it was extremely effective at muting the side effects of cancer treatment.

Here’s part of the interview:

Some other highlights:

Cooper: What is the pain [of chemotherapy] like?

Etheridge: It was just a general pain of your body dying, of all your cells dying. Your appetite is gone. And you are nauseous. And your hair is falling out. Your skin — it’s like death. And the only thing I could do is lay there. I can’t — it hurt to — light hurt, sound hurt. I couldn’t read anything. I just laid there.

Etheridge said she did not want to use Vicodin or other prescription pills.

Etheridge: All of these things have side effects. So, the steroids and the pain relief that they give you on that first day when you go into chemotherapy causes constipation. So they will — here is a pill for the constipation which will give you diarrhea. And you get huge side effects from all of this.

Cooper: The first time you did [marijuana], it made a big difference?

Etheridge: Instantly — and instantly within a minute relieves the nausea, relieves the pain. And all of a sudden I was normal. You don’t take medicinal marijuana to get high.

Cooper: So you weren’t getting high?

Etheridge: No you don’t get a high. No it’s not a high. It was normal. And I could — all of a sudden I could get out of bed. I could go see my kid. And it was amazing. (Etheridge often didn’t smoke; the marijuana was mixed into butter and spread on food, or run through a vaporizer.)

A few states have legalized medical marijuana, but California is the only state with medical marijuana dispensaries. However, in 2005 the Supreme Court ruled in Gonzales v. Raich that the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution gave the federal government the power to enforce federal marijuana laws even in states where medical marijuana is legal. Since the decision, the DEA has conducted over 150 raids against dispensaries in California.

What do you think: Will Melissa Etheridge’s comments influence you or anyone else in terms of medicinal marijuana becoming legalized?