Book Review: ‘Prescription Pot’ Sparks Controversy

Today in the United States there are only five patients who receive medical marijuana legally through the federal government’s Compassionate Investigational New Drug, or IND program. One of these five patients, George McMahon, has made remarkable strides as an advocate for medical marijuana.
‘Prescription Pot: A Leading Advocate’s Heroic Battle to Legalize Medical Marijuana’ is the biography of McMahon. Together with social activist Christopher Largen, McMahon wrote this book to provide interested individuals a historical timeline of where marijuana has stood while in the hands of government officials and the patients whose lives depend on gaining access to it.
McMahon was born with a rare genetic condition called Nail Patella Syndrome. It was not until sometime after 1987, when McMahon was declared disabled, that his lifelong condition finally had a name of its own.
The syndrome’s makeup includes renal disease which is a form of kidney failure, dystrophic nails as well as hypoplastic or absent patellae (irregularly-sized or absent knee caps) just to name a few.
After reading McMahon’s story it is remarkable to think that he is still alive today. This man has gone through a list of surgeries, has taken countless medications that have done little for his medical conditions, and has had a few near death experiences. McMahon did not stumble upon marijuana until that eventful night when he was told he had only hours left to live. A cancer patient in the same hospital as McMahon asked if he could swap his joint for one of McMahon’s cigarettes and a deal was made.
For the first time in his life he did not feel the torment of pain running through every muscle of his body, both while he smoked and the hours that followed.
Since his recovery McMahon tried everything in his power to gain legal access to marijuana as a medicine for his conditions, and finally his answer came with the help of a current IND patient.
He obtained the tedious paperwork work to become part of the IND program and with the help of his doctor and nurse he was able to obtain legal medical marijuana. However, he had to become a lab rat for several months while his doctor wrote detailed descriptions of his condition with and without the aid of marijuana. He then sent these results to the IND.
Under former president George Bush, the IND was told to stop accepting applications right when the program was finally beginning to gain momentum and receive numerous applications. The government simply shut their doors to hundreds of patients in desperate need of medicine. As a consequence, these patients had to resort to other means of obtaining marijuana, which more or less meant the black market. Since then McMahon has become a prominent advocate for legalizing medical marijuana.
Through the course of the book McMahon is taking a trip with his wife Margaret, Largen and a documentary crew to Arkansas’ State Capitol to meet with the public, a congressman and state senators. McMahon does not see himself as anything special, just someone who is in a rare enough position to make a difference. A few congressmen are already behind his mission but it is not enough, so he travels to different places trying to convince others to see the situation in his own eyes.
Throughout his journey he goes back several times to reminisce about his past; life growing up in what seemed like just hospital beds and the many obstacles and sacrifices he and his family have made to get him to where he is today. However, the transitions from present to past become predictable and readers will be able to catch the changeovers easily.
Throughout the book McMahon does not try to make an argument or overindulge readers as to why they should support his charge towards legalizing medical marijuana. Nevertheless, it is obvious that he is in support of it especially when his group begins their trip and as more stories from his past are revealed. McMahon today stands as a true advocate for his cause because he is one of only a few remaining who can appear before others and share his experiences and do it legally without being seen as a criminal.
In just this article, it would be difficult to fully comprehend who McMahon is, his struggles and triumphs. Yet there are hundreds of others in the country who do not have the medical relief he has and are suffering day in and day out. His point is to get medical marijuana legalized so patients who really need it in order to survive, like him, get it. McMahon wants the government to help them just as they have helped him.
The book entails not only a sense of understanding where one man is coming from but also a feeling of sadness. A book like this can inspire, move and motivate others to go out and make a difference in the world.
It is not McMahon’s soapbox to preach about what he thinks the government should do in order to sway readers to join his side of the battle.
Instead, it is a biography of a man who is a son, husband, father, patient and advocate all rolled into this one human being. It is a life where in the last 12 years and counting, he hopes to have somehow reached out to others willing to listen and until his ‘borrowed time’ expires he will continue ‘to fight for those suffering who cannot speak for themselves and whose pain may be alleviated like mine