Recently, Louisiana suffered the loss of a former leader. Kathleen Blanco left a lasting impact on the state and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette both in life and in death that Louisiana historians will examine for years to come.
Our own Brianne Hendricks wrote such a great article last week on the former governor’s life, especially her relationship with UL Lafayette, that I simply cannot add to it. However, in death Blanco gave a glimpse of a progressing Louisiana in an unexpected way.
Tyler Bridges of The Advocate recently put out an article that caught my attention concerning the final days of Blanco combating her terminal cancer.
In “excruciating pain,” the article says, “and appear[ing] to be on the verge of death,” she and her family came to the decision to try the newly legalized medical use of marijuana. The immediate effects of which, according to her family, sent her quality of life into a 180 spin that they say may have extended her life for two weeks.
This is another article I could not do justice for and would highly recommend reading in order to see the full impact this medicine had for her and her family (warning: your heart may warm in excess from the touching family stories).
Instead, I will briefly discuss how I feel about Blanco’s final treatment as being a testimony to marijuana’s use as a palliative treatment and my hopes of Louisiana recognizing the potential for this plant’s uses. But as most people know, Louisiana has had a dreadfully long history of barring any sort of access, whether medical or not, to this historically useful and socially significant drug.
According to an (albeit somewhat out-of-date) article from nola.com, cannabis was legalized for medicinal purposes in 1978 when Gov. Edwin Edwards signed into law a limited medical marijuana bill that was essentially never put into effect. In 1992 this law was amended to include a few more conditions, but a framework for actually dispensing the drugs was never put in place.
Fast forward to 2015 and Gov. Bobby Jindal signed into law one bill dealing with semi-decriminalization of marijuana and another setting up t
he crucial framework for actual medical marijuana dispensing.
This leads us to today where all but three states have allowed some sort of marijuana or THC uses to treat medical conditions. These conditions range from symptom stymieing (like reducing nausea, reducing pain and increasing appetite) to actual treatment of neurological conditions like epilepsy.
As seen in the former governor’s case, alleviating the side effects of cancer treatment can be a major morale boost for the ailed person and their loved ones, even if it won’t cure the specific disease causing the pain. Palliative uses like this alone are reason enough for me to support it, never minding the fact that it is shown to treat ailments as well.
I would sincerely hope that Louisiana continues on this track to full medical uses of marijuana so that more energy and resources can be dedicated to finding out how we can best treat and care for the sick.
Blanco’s passing was a loss to her family and to her state, but it was also a testament to the abilities of marijuana as a medical tool rather than just a despised drug. As in death so in life, Louisiana moves forward because of her.