I will be the first to admit, I have little background experience with marijuana. Apart from a few dalliances in college, I was never much of a fan of the leafy substance. After graduating, getting a job, and starting a family, I never figured that I would ever consume pot again. That was until I was given some shocking news by a doctor earlier in the month. March 5th, 2013 is a day that I will never forget. I had been experiencing some back pain for about a year and a half, but also recently began losing my balance and dropping things. Thinking that it wasn’t a big deal, I went to my doctor who gave me a series of MRIs and other tests before referring me to see a clinical neurologist.

That doctor sent me for an additional MRI, blood work, and gave me a nerve conduction test. He was very concerned about my hyper reflexes, sensitivity, lack of balance, and difficulty completing simple motor tests. The follow up appointment changed my life when the doctor uttered the following sentence:  “I can’t diagnose you yet, but I am pretty sure that you have a disease called Primary Lateral Sclerosis.” Primary Lateral Sclerosis? I had never heard of this. “Don’t be surprised,” the doctor said when I gave him a confused look. “This is a rare disease, and there are only between 1,500 to 2,000 people in the United States with it.”

Primary Lateral Sclerosis is a neuromuscular disease that affects motor function. It is thought to be related to the devastating ALS or Lou Gherig’s Disease, although not nearly as bad. Many people with PLS get cramps, spasms, and have trouble walking. Many end up using a cane, walker, or end up in a wheelchair. The average age of someone diagnosed with this disease is older than 50. I am 28. I have been given an anti-spasm medicine called Baclofen to help treat my back spasms, but I am always twitching and getting random cramps. What could be used to treat this? My research led me to a leafy green substance that we all know as marijuana.

I did not come to the decision to use medical marijuana lightly. I thought that pills were the answer, but my research has led me to believe that medical cannabis is probably much less harmful than the pills ever could be. After looking into it, I decided to pick up the phone and schedule an appointment with a doctor who could prescribe me medical marijuana and help get me certified. It was one of the better decisions I have made in the last several years. Medical marijuana has helped solve my cramps, and even though I had Baclofen for spasms, I feel that cannabis is more efficient at stopping the spasms. I partake when I feel that I am having “one of those days” (ie, when my back starts seizing up or I get an initial cramp in my thigh).

It’s not a cheap remedy, but it definitely helps a lot better than pills.