The following is an edited version of the interview.
Melissa Etheridge: I'm actually grateful for my cancer diagnosis.
Anderson Cooper: Grateful because it changed your life?
Etheridge: It changed my life; woke me up totally.
Cooper: What is the pain [of chemotherapy] like?
Etheridge: It was just a general pain of your body dying, of all your cells dying. Your appetite is gone. And you are nauseous. And your hair is falling out. Your skin -- it's like death. And the only thing I could do is lay there. I can't -- it hurt to -- light hurt, sound hurt. I couldn't read anything. I just laid there.
(Etheridge didn't want to use Vicodin or other prescription pills, she said.)
All of these things have side effects. So, the steroids and the pain relief that they give you on that first day when you go into chemotherapy causes constipation. So they will -- here is a pill for the constipation which will give you diarrhea. And you get huge side effects from all of this.
Cooper: The first time you did [marijuana], it made a big difference?
Etheridge: Instantly -- and instantly within a minute relieves the nausea, relieves the pain. And all of a sudden I was normal. You don't take medicinal marijuana to get high.
Cooper: So you weren't getting high?
Etheridge: No you don't get a high. No it's not a high. It was normal. And I could -- all of a sudden I could get out of bed. I could go see my kid. And it was amazing. (Etheridge often didn't smoke; the marijuana was mixed into butter and spread on food, or run through a vaporizer.)
Cooper: Did you ever worry about becoming addicted? They were saying this is a gateway drug?
Etheridge: No. Not at all. If you were on that side, you would understand what I mean. It is almost laughable to think that you could be addicted. This is not at all.
Cooper: You mention you still have a prescription. Do you still use marijuana?
Etheridge: Yes, I do. The effects on my gastrointestinal system leave me with a real intolerance for acid of any kind, and so acid reflux is a constant problem. I don't want to take the little pills that they give you that have all the side effects to help with that.
And I do use it -- I'm one of the users that would like in a stressful situation or maybe when I've eaten that cheese pizza with my kids that I will do that and it settles -- totally completely settles all that.
Cooper: Most people eat the cheese pizza after the marijuana.
Etheridge: That is true.
Cooper: You've got it backwards.
Etheridge: No. It's not like that. I know.Cooper: There's more than, I think, 200,000 people in California who are registered to receive medicinal marijuana. Do you really believe that all those people though have legitimate reasons to be getting marijuana? Etheridge: Yes. Who are we to say what a legitimate reason is? If it helps somebody at the end of the day instead of drinking a couple of glasses of wine, to have a few tokes, who are we to say? Why must we in this country be so judgmental about this? These people are not hurting anybody. They are not hurting themselves.
Taking a step further, scientific research has uncovered more hope in the fight against breast cancer. This study was published in the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics and primarily funded by the California Breast Cancer Research Program.
Marijuana Compound Shows Promise In Fighting Breast Cancer
ScienceDaily (Nov. 26, 2007) "A compound found in cannabis may prove to be effective at helping stop the spread of breast cancer cells throughout the body. The study, by scientists at the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute, is raising hope that CBD, a compound found in Cannabis sativa, could be the first non-toxic agent to show promise in treating metastatic forms of breast cancer.
“Right now we have a limited range of options in treating aggressive forms of cancer,” says Sean D. McAllister, Ph.D., a cancer researcher at CPMCRI and the lead author of the study. “Those treatments, such as chemotherapy, can be effective but they can also be extremely toxic and difficult for patients. This compound offers the hope of a non-toxic therapy that could achieve the same results without any of the painful side effects.”
For more information on cannabis, breast cancer and medical research studies regarding this miracle plant fighting many more forms of cancer, please visit ShowMeTheFacts.org
To this day, the DEA and FDA dismiss Medical Benefit From Marijuana, regardless of DEA Administrative Law Judge Francis Young's monumental decision that cannabis (marijuana) should rightfully be placed in Schedule II or lower of the Controlled Substances Act to make it available by prescription. Nonetheless, the factual findings of his decision remain permanently on the record, and serve as a testimonial to his honest pursuit of the medical issues surrounding cannabis.
- In strict medical terms marijuana is far safer than many foods we commonly consume. For example, eating 10 raw potatoes can result in toxic response. By comparison, it is physically impossible to eat enough cannabis to induce death.
- Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis cannabis can be safely used with a supervised routine of medical care.- A smoker would theoretically have to consume nearly 1,500 pounds of cannabis within about 15 minutes to induce a lethal response. In practical terms, cannabis cannot induce a lethal response as a result of drug-related toxicity.
- The evidence in this record clearly shows that cannabis has been accepted as capable of relieving the distress from great numbers of very ill people, and doing so with safety under medical supervision. It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for the DEA to continue to stand between those sufferers and the benefits of this substance in light of the evidence in this record.
The administrative law judge recommends that the Administrator conclude that the cannabis plant consid-ered as a whole has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, that there is no lack of accepted safety for use of it under medical supervision and that it may law-fully be transferred from Schedule I to Schedule II. The judge recommends that the Administrator transfer cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule II.