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by David Emslie
22 Jan 2003
Clinton News-Record

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 mother comfortable. 

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 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 cannabis poisoning."

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 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 ) 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."

Powered by MAPMAP posted-by: Beth

Pubdate: Wed, 22 Jan 2003
Source: Clinton News-Record (CN ON)
Copyright: 2003 Clinton News-Record
Author: David Emslie
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - Canada)

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