PRO: Texas should legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes

Emilie Gardner supports legalizing medicinal marijuana in Texas.

The 56-year-old endured eight weeks of chemotherapy and four weeks of radiation for her stage 2 breast cancer in 2008.

"Knowing that it was there, I would've have been glad to have it," she said.

Cancer patients who undergo chemotherapy often suffer loss of appetite and chronic pain. Marijuana could help to revive patients' appetites while reducing nausea and pain, said Dr. Bruce Bauknight, a semi-retired Victoria oncologist.

While Bauknight has never seen results showing effects of medical marijuana use, he has witnessed results from the use of Marinol, a pill that has the same psycho-active ingredient found in marijuana.

"If there was a government, agency or company you could trust that you got the real thing from, I wouldn't mind," he said.

In prescribing Marinol for some of his cancer patients, Bauknight found that older people did not deal with the drug as well as younger cancer patients did.

Some older patients did not like the mental effects that go with it, and some even had hallucinations, he said. Several other drugs, however, can be used to deal with a patient's pain and nausea.

"It's a controlled drug," he said about Marinol. "I didn't find it that effective when I (prescribed) it."

That is not to say that Bauknight fully supports legalizing marijuana, he said.

So far, 14 states have legalized medicinal marijuana. New Jersey is the most recent to legalize the drug for medicinal purposes, and use of such marijuana is likely to be allowed there in June.

Gardner, the cancer survivor, largely avoided a loss of appetite, unlike some of her friends and survivors. They formed Breast Friends, a group of Crossroads breast cancer sufferers and survivors.

"I was lucky; I didn't have pain," she said.

Each person deals with pain differently, though, she said, and thus there comes a time when using medical marijuana is OK.

"When the pain is so intense, that if you cut your arm off it would feel better," she said.

Related story: CON: Other alternatives available to avoid legalizing medicinal marijuana