A giant sweet-smelling storm cloud looms over the
medical profession and in recent months it has begun to rain
down on doctors, patients, medical associations, and Federal
and State lawmakers.
The twister in question is the issue of marijuana as
medicine, and if certain pot-for-health advocates have their
way, the age-old, leafy green weed will be reclassified from
Schudule I to Schedule II of the U.S. Drug Enforcement
Agency's Controlled Substance Act, essentially meaning that
physicians in the United States would no longer violate
Federal law by prescribing it to their patients for
legitimate therapeutic purposes.
But are we ready for giggly migraine sufferers, chilled-out
chemo recipients and absurdly inspired asthmatics?
"Without a doubt," insists Los Angeles filmmaker Marc
Ostrick, director of PRESSURE DROP, the upcoming comedy
feature film about the elderly Jewish man whose grandson
turns him on to a hip Manhattan senior citizens' pot den
advertized on the Internet.
Says Ostrick, the NYU film school grad who originally
co-produced an award-winning 18-minute version of PRESSURE
DROP as his college thesis, "any chronically ill person
should have medical-marijuana as an option as they struggle
to reduce their suffering - and they should not have to run
the risk of getting thrown in prison for it. It's a question
of dignity, not legality."
Cannabis, over-the-counter or not, has been proven to
possess a surprisingly wide variety of medical benefits.
There are historical texts confirming the plant's use as a
therapeutic agent dating back to, among other cultures, 15th
century B.C. China, 10th century B.C. India, England in the
1800s, and the United States where it was listed in the
American Medical Association's pharmacopeia until 1941. Just
a few of the conditions it served to treat ranged from
arthritis to depression, and alcohol addiction to multiple
sclerosis. So how long will it actually take to relegalize
it for medical purposes?
Ostrick offers an optimistic assessment. "In California and
Arizona the people have spoken and Proposition 215 has
passed, so it's legal there already. As long as Clinton
doesn't step in and have the doctors and patients arrested,
within a few years we may see similar landmark propositions
sprouting up across the U.S. and Canada."
If PRESSURE DROP, to be shot in New York in early fall by
Ostrick's LA-Montreal venture Mensch Films has any say, it
will be the senior members of our communities who will help
most to advance the growing pot-for-health movement.
"The marijuana plant is not just an alternative to
conventional medications, it's an alternative to the
difficult, often painful times the elderly face when their
mortality looks them in the eye and says, 'hey, you're
comin' with me.' Soon enough we'll all find ourselves in
that position and personally, I think it would be a lot more
pleasant to go out with a buzz than to go out with a