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When OTs Wore White Shoes

Medical Marijuana and Occupational Therapy

Published September 2, 2014 9:15 AM by Debra Karplus
 At a dinner party last week, my friend Nancy shared details of her recent vacation to Colorado vacation, a state where marijuana, both medical and recreational, is now legal.  Nancy has had a long history of chronic pain.  She bought some weed legally at a shop that sells only marijuana, and ingested the small amount that she purchased.  She claims that within a short amount of time, she felt better than she had felt in a long time.

Medical marijuana is becoming legal in a growing number of states, twenty-three at the time of this writing.  And Colorado is one of the first to legalize its use beyond medicinal.  In Colorado, there are legitimate stores statewide where an adult can buy what they need to use as they choose.  The price isn't cheap; there are several taxes affixed to the cost also.  That's because its safety is regulated, unlike the marijuana one can buy illegally.  Nancy showed us some photos she'd taken of the marijuana shop, which resembled the apothecaries of the past.

Pain management is a growing area in the practice of medicine, with many neurologists and other physicians, specializing in caring for patients with chronic pain.  Consequently, we as occupational therapists are seeing more patients dealing with chronic pain.  OTs need to stay well-informed of some techniques that doctors are using with our patients to alleviate pain, including prescription marijuana.

Somehow, I managed to get thought the sixties and seventies without being a marijuana smoker; I am an anomaly according to my same-aged peers, especially since I started and operated a local health food store in my town for several years in the 1970s and was in very close proximity to the "pot smoking culture".  But I have always embraced alternative healing techniques.  I have high regard for the practice of chiropractic for many, but not all, ailments.  And when I am not feeling up to par, I aim for the herbal tea and spices and other natural remedies before I head to the nearby pharmacy.

When I have had more chronic situations, I've tried some of the recommended alternative healers, certain foods, for example, before I submitted to getting a prescription filled.  Some foods such as blueberries, tomatoes, and broccoli seem to appear on lists of so-called "healthy foods" time and again.  And spices such as cinnamon, garlic, ginger and turmeric, and mint, have a long history of being used medicinally as well as making foods tastier.

Since most of my work as an occupational therapist has been in schools in recent work, I am not likely to be providing my services to patients who use marijuana medicinally.  So, I would enjoy hearing from blog readers about their professional experience with medical marijuana.  I think the legalization of marijuana is the way to go.  Like any other substance to make us feel better, it must be used properly, and making it legal, especially for people who are ailing, may be the best medicine.

What are your thoughts?

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I am in favor of using the Cannibus plant for medicnal use.  I am not in favor of smoking however. I do not like the "hippie" or "getting stoned" stigma that goes with it.  There should be a way to administer this medicine that would offer a more dignified approach.  I happen to struggle with chronic pain assoc. w/ fibro and RA. I do embrace finding alternative therapies. I am also successfully using the mainstream mothods. I am blessed to be able to keep serving my pts.30hrs/wk. there is something to be said about the natural endorphins released in my body when I help others! I know some parents that went to Madison to get the serum, non hallucingen parat to help their son suffer less seizures. I hope it passes.  I am not for legalizing it for Recreational use. There are way too many people out there struggling from addictions. Lets get more programs, more support grps. and mental health services to help people cope more effectively. This would open up more areas for OT's to become involved in!

Teresa, acute and rehab - OTA, hospital September 25, 2014 3:49 PM
Milwaukee WI

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