For Some Chronically Ill Patients, Pot Succeeds Where Painkillers Fail

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Marijuana is keeping Clayton Holton alive. Holton, 23, has a rapidly worsening form of muscular dystrophy that has kept him wheelchair-bound for 16 years.

There is no treatment for his condition and he lives in "a great deal of pain," he said.

Doctors have tried all manner of legal painkillers to help him get through the day: OxyContin, Norco, Vicodin, Percocet. All had the side effects of vomiting, passing out, falling over and basically "making it more difficult to live my life independently."

With marijuana use, Holton said, after taking a dose, "I get hungry and eat a couple pounds of food." He also feels better than when using prescription pain relief.

"I'm in complete control, of my thoughts and actions," he said. "With prescriptions, it's a constant state of being drugged, out of control and feeling like you just want to lean against a wall all day."

He was first introduced to marijuana as a teen in high school. When Holton lived in a nursing home, "they had a big problem keeping my weight up" from his inability to keep food down while on OxyContin. After living in California and growing his own cannabis, he had gained 8 pounds in two months - a lifesaving amount for a man who, at 6 feet tall, had wasted away to 79 pounds from the disease.

Patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy are not usually expected to live past age 16. Turning 24 in March, Holton says "my doctors are extremely confused" as to what is keeping him alive.

Holton is not. He is currently up 15 pounds.

"I think it's ridiculous that I'm labeled a criminal by my government for using something that's keeping me alive," Holton stated.

Source: For some chronically ill patients, pot succeeds where painkillers fail - NashuaTelegraph.com