If NBC Can See the Need for Medical Marijuana, Why Can’t Obama?

 – Executive Director, Americans for Safe Access

Thank you to the show Parenthood for your portrayal of someone becoming a medical marijuana patient.
During the Thanksgiving holiday, my procrastination on home projects led me to getting caught up on the fall season of a few shows, including NBC’s Parenthood. I was moved to watch the main characters Kristina and Adam Braverman and their family struggling with her cancer and all that the disease brings. At my patients’ advocacy organization, Americans for Safe Access (ASA), we see thousands of our members and families embark on a similar struggle. The story of Kristina Braverman’s cancer spills into several story lines as the family experiences the news in their own ways.
In the episode “One More Weekend with You,” aired November 20, Kristina Braverman’s character, played by Monica Potter, tries to stay strong for her family, but becomes violently ill after receiving chemotherapy. Her husband Adam, played by Peter Krause, finds her on the bathroom floor and panics. He cleans her up and then packs all the kids into the car to visit his musician-producer brother, the first person he could think of who might have marijuana. His brother produces some from his sock drawer and warns that it was not the same pot from when they were kids, it was “genetically engineered” (a common misunderstanding of the decades of modern breeding of the plant for human consumption).
In the next scene Kristina Braverman’s character is laying in bed smoking a joint. She is visibly better. She says it is strong and puts it out, saying “Save that for later.” Her husband asked if it helped, and he is visibly relieved to see her smile. She acknowledges the relief she’s found from marijuana, and says her husband will need to get “a lot more.” She settles back into her pillow and finally sleeps.
This episode reflects a situation that thousands of cancer patients and their caregivers are experiencing, but not always with the same ending. As a medical cannabis advocate I see this story play out in many ways. Many caregivers don’t have a pot-smoking brother and instead find themselves asking for marijuana from friends, family members or even their children. Over the past decades I have heard heartbreaking stories of people having no idea where to look and who to ask for this medicine.
But even for those patients who can find a supply of marijuana for their needs, many questions still arise. What if their source runs out? What if their source gets into a legal entanglement? What if there is mold or mildew on the medicine? What should they do if they live in public housing?
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