MARIJUANA TEA PROVIDED RELIEF FOR GROWER'S MOTHER
by David Emslie
22 Jan 2003
After much research, Don Bain found a form of medication that gave his
mother relief from the agitation brought on from alzheimer's disease. The
only problem is, that medication remains illegal in Canada.
But despite his arrest in December on charges of producing a controlled
substance and possessing a controlled substance for the purpose of
trafficking, the Huron East man has no regrets that he took the time and
effort to grow marijuana for treatment of his 85-year-old mother's ailment.
During an interview at the kitchen table of his Vanastra home, Bain was
forthright in admitting that he was growing cannabis plants, and explained
how he used those plants to make tea as medication in an effort to keep his
The founder of the Ontario Cannabis Alliance, Bain said he began making
marijuana tea for his mother just over a year ago, after researching the
use of the plant to combat the effects of alzheimer's disease.
"Looking for alternative uses of cannabis as an alternative to some of the
current medications was primal for me, because I saw what these medications
my mother takes do to her," he said.
Deciding to use marijuana as a treatment was a risk, but it was a risk that
Bain was willing to take.
"We were open with most of the people involved with her life with what we
were doing. Which was kind of a risk, I suppose, to a certain degree, but I
thought it was a necessary evil," he said. "I thought they had to know. And
I wasn't hiding the fact what I was doing. And it had to be done. Something
had to be done."
Among the information Bain produces while discussing the topic is comment
on a study on the effect of cannabinoids on alzheimer's disease, which
shows treatment leads to decreased severity of disturbed behaviour, along
with the fact that some patients in Oregon are permitted to use small
amounts of marijuana once they are registered with the state's health
department. "So it's not without research that I made my decision. It was
not without input telling me it was an okay thing."
He said that he feels the medical community has little to offer those
suffering from alzheimer's disease, aside from a continuing flow of
medications, to add to an already heavy load of drugs. He said that his
mother has to take so many medications, that she has to take stool softeners.
"You're taking dope to cure the dope. At least the cannabis didn't give her
that problem," he said. "You have to be responsible and that's what I did.
I stepped up and I took my chance."
Noting that he spoke to both his family doctor and the home care providers
who help to care for his mother about using marijuana as a treatment, Bain
discussed the symptoms of the disease he was trying to combat. He made
comment on a condition that is part of alzheimer's disease known as
sundowner's syndrome, noting that when the days gets longer and the evening
comes in, people with alzheimer's disease will become fidgety. "They can't
rest. They are forever doing something. They lose their appetite because
they can't concentrate on eating."
However, the use of cannabis tea helps increase appetite, Bain said,
adding, "You are at peace with yourself. You don't have to be fidgeting -
going somewhere, going somewhere, going somewhere. My mother will beat a
trail if she is without it ( she is currently without it ). She will beat a
trail from her bedroom to the bathroom - back and forth - 20, 30 times a
day, because she has this agitation."
Not only will his mother beat a trail without her tea, he said, but,
"Without that medication, she gets aggressive...physically aggressive,
verbally aggressive. I'm not saying...it didn't cure anything I don't
believe. But it made her quality of life better so she could stay at home.
Probably now I'm going to have to put her in a nursing home."
Once a resident in Huronview, Bain's mother hated being there, he said.
"She cried and cried and cried, and we brought her home. When she came home
is when we started looking at the cannabis..."
Bain made efforts to ensure that the treatment he chose to follow for his
mother was a safe one. "Nobody's ever overdosed from cannabis before in the
world," he said, adding, "There has never been a recorded case anywhere of
Still, he said he started making the tea using a one gram dose, and seeing
if that had the desired effect, progressively increasing the amount until
he found the level he was looking for - three grams. He also tested the tea
himself, to see just what he was dealing with. Again pointing out there
have been no recorded cases of overdose from ingestion, he said, "I looked
for that. I wanted to find out what the limits were...how far could you go."
Once he settled on the proper dosage, Bain said they administered the
medication for six weeks on and six weeks off for the first six or seven
months. "We decided the on times were better than the off times. There were
no negative results," he said, adding that taken in tea form, there were
none of the negative ramifications involved with smoking. "So then, we
administered as required. We certainly didn't give it to her just for the
sake of giving it to her."
Taken in tea form, it would take the cannabis about 30 minutes to take
effect. "She would become more pleasant, less aggressive. The pacing,
fidgeting, the agitation left or subsided," he said.
Some days, if his mother was having a bad enough day to warrant a tea, but
there wasn't a "going, going, going aggression," he said, the tea would
work great. "She would be able to sit down and enjoy a TV program."
As the person holding both her medical and personal power of attorney, Bain
said that he thought he was bound by morals to do what he could for his
mother. "And so, I don't see where the crime was. I did what I had to do,
and I think anybody in my situation would do that."
He later noted, "There was no fear factor, I guess, in administration of
the cannabis. What did I have to lose?" The tea gave his mother 25 per cent
more enjoyable evenings, he said, and out of a 30 day month, she would end
up with the tea 10 days out of the month. "So those were 10 more days that
were more enjoyable for her than they would have been without it."
He stressed again the importance of attempting to keep his mother at home,
rather than having to move her to an institution for care, and said that
the administration of the tea was a viable means of meeting that goal. "And
now that she's not getting it, we're going to continue to keep on trying to
keep her at home and we'll have to use whatever means necessary to do that,
because it's her quality of life that we're trying to keep," he said.
The only regrets Bain voiced were with some of the information reported
regarding his arrest. It was reported that cocaine was seized in the home,
and Bain was adamant this was not the case. "There was absolutely no
cocaine. The powder they found they are sending away for a lab to be
analyzed and they have not received results yet. But I'm sure the results
will show it was not cocaine. It will be talcum powder, which is exactly
what it was."
He will also argue about the amount of cannabis found in the home, refuting
claims that there was more than $23,000 worth. "In reality, there was a
quarter pound of marijuana found, in various stages of being either a
living plant, a partly cured plant or cured medication, with a street
retail value of between $600 and $800."
Those arguments aside, Bain said, "I don't regret what happened. I would do
it again if I had to."
Expressing the hope that in the future, it will be easier for people to
obtain medical marijuana, Bain said, "On one hand, I'm happy that this is
out, and now I can talk about it freely...and I can get people to
understand what it did for alzheimer's and why it's important that it be
allowed for alzheimer's and why a secured source be available. Because if
it wasn't for ( me )...my 85-year-old mother could not have got this medication."
Adding, "You have to do what you gotta do, and that's what we had to do,"
Bain suggested there are many people out there who could benefit from the
use of medical marijuana who are not getting it.
"Hopefully, out of all this, when it's all said and done, something good
comes of it. Perhaps they'll make access to it more reasonable," he said,
noting that currently, there is a 25-page application that has to be filled
out to possess medical marijuana, which has to be signed by three specialists.
In the long run, he said, his goal is to keep his mother at home, and "to
secure a decision that will allow her to go back on cannabis tea."
MAP posted-by: Beth