Court lacks compassion
July 15, 2011
As a person who has dealt with chronic pain for more than five years, I found the decision to deny Nathan Benner the right to use medical marijuana for his shoulder pain disturbing.
While I understand that Mr. Benner has a history of drug abuse, he’s also in pain. Since when does being in trouble with the law constitute a denial of the treatment of pain?
In addition, Judge Gail Nichols is a judge, not a doctor. What gives a judge authority decide how old someone must be to suffer from pain? Since when does a judge decide just how much pain a person is in, how much pain they can handle, and how to best treat it? As for stating that Benner can take up yoga as a way to deal with pain, what are the judge’s qualifications in recommending yoga for a shoulder injury? This recommendation may not be what Mr. Benner needs, and suggesting that yoga is a cure for pain further harms and stigmatizes those who suffer from pain by saying that if a person in pain would just do this or that (drink more water, do yoga, take herbs and oils, gets massage, use mind over matter, ad nauseam), the pain will go away. Yoga is only one tool used in the fight against chronic pain, but it is not a panacea.
That Benner, and anyone in pain, should be told how to manage their pain by someone not qualified to do so, and who likely has no idea what it means to live with pain, is laughable at best. The decisions made regarding how to treat pain should be between patient and caregiver or treating physician and not left to a judge to decide. In the right, measured form, such as an edible or tincture, medical marijuana can help considerably in easing physical pain, and if it works best for an individual, that individual should be allowed that choice. That is what we voted for in 2000.
A level of understanding and compassion by those who are not in pain would also go a long way in healing the mental, psychological and spiritual stresses associated with chronic pain, not only for Mr. Benner, but everyone whose lives are negatively affected by pain. Sadly, I’m afraid, our society has a long way to go in recognizing its prejudices against those in pain, and the decisions made in this case is one step backwards.
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