The story of Debbie Talshir (Marihuana the Forbidden Medicine)

Image of "Marihuana the Forbidden Medicine" retrieved from Erowid on May 4th, 2013.

Debbie Talshir is a thirty-nine-year-old divorced woman who has treated her multiple sclerosis with cannabis for fourteen years. She tells her story:

" I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1977. One of its first symptoms was optic neuropathy. The optic nerve connects the brain and eye, and optic neuropathy is a degeneration of that connection. It can cause partial blindness. First a big cloud appeared in my vision and I could not see so well; the cloud then became black in the right eye.

For the neuropathy I was given ACTH. I gained about 100 pounds because I retained water and my appetite increased dramatically (I was always starving). The ACTH also caused mood swings that made me intolerable to my co-workers and friends. Even I was frightened by them. Finally they subsided, only to return a year and a half later, along with the optic neuropathy. This time a co-worker recommended marihuana and I smoked a couple of cigarettes daily. I didn't gain weight or have mood swings, and the optic neuropathy subsided in three weeks.

As the MS progressed, I was given Lioresal (baclofen) for muscle spasms. Yes, it caused side effects: drowsiness and just general lethargy. I found that marijuana stopped the spasms and relaxed my muscles, but not so much that they became useless. My neurologist at Masshesetts General Hospital, where I was first Diagnosed, and my current neurologist here on Cape Cod know that I use Marijuana to manage those symptoms and others. It is on my record, but they won't (cannot) supply legal prescriptions- very disheartening, but understandable in the present climate of the drug war. I cannot eat unless I smoke some marihuana first; it relaxes the sphincter muscles in my stomach and esophagus. My loss of appetite is profound, but if I smoke a Marihuana cigarette I am relaxed and can hold food down. Often I have difficultly breathing. I don't understand why smoking anything would relax the breathing mechanisms, but marihuana does.

To me, Marihuana is essential. I don't shake anymore, I can eat, I can breathe, It even has a very good effect on my neurogenic bladder - a neurological disorder in which a person loses control of the sphincter muscles of the bladder. If there is even a drop of urine in the bladder, the sphincter muscles go into spasm and you lose urine. Marihuana doesn't cure it, but it helps. I generally smoke five marihuana cigarettes a day.

I am very angry that I have to deal with people whom I wouldn't ordinarily socialize with, such as drug dealers. I also have to save my pennies if I am going to get any marijuana, and it is getting increasingly difficult to find. I find myself running around, making phone calls, and spending most of my time looking for it. "

Excerpt from pages 75-78 of Marihuana the Forbidden Medicine by Lester Grinspoon, M.D., and James B. Bakalar

Marijuana the Forbidden Medicine