A doctor defends the benefits of medical marijuana


Talyr Hall, 30, a Brookhaven native and resident physician at Wesley Medical Center in Hattiesburg, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2016 while in medical school.

Since then, her life has been a painful cycle of intensive treatments and medications that have life-altering side effects. One of the most painful symptoms of multiple sclerosis is spasticity, or abnormal muscle tension due to prolonged contraction. The spasticity was not corrected by a stem cell transplant she underwent in 2018, and the side effects were not fully alleviated by powerful prescription drugs.

“A lot of patients have side effects (from the drugs) that most people don’t want to deal with,” Hall said. “Some of the side effects are worse than the treatment.”

While taking immunosuppressive medication, Hall was sick weekly for about three months. She said she had contracted every contagious disease her patients had.

“I didn’t have an immune system to fight anything, so it was frustrating,” she said. Hall also had a slow heart rate as a side effect of the drug – her heart rate never exceeded 50, which left her physically weak.

But after Mississippi lawmakers legalized medical marijuana in February, Hall sees promise for both herself and many of her patients.

Hall says she would be a medical marijuana patient if it weren’t for her job, which currently prohibits the use of the drug. She sees the benefits of the plant and how it can help her patients.

“As a physician, I have patients who would benefit from this,” Hall said. “I have a condition where medical marijuana would help, but I prefer to be an advocate for others.”

According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, studies have generally shown that certain medical marijuana products relieve symptoms of pain and spasticity, but more research is needed.

Medical marijuana is often compared to other drugs offered by pharmaceutical companies. But Hall sees the need for both and rejects the stigma of medical marijuana.

“It’s a natural substance,” she said. “I know people, not personally, but I’ve heard and had patients tell me they’re going to buy it off the street, which is terrifying because you don’t know what’s there. inside. I think it’s like any other medicine. We prescribe drugs that have side effects all the time, and people take them because they’re marketed as a drug, whereas (medical marijuana) is not chemically modified and grows naturally.

During her experience, she saw several patients take multiple medications to combat the side effects of other medications.

“There’s still a use for pharmaceuticals, but I think there are things we could use instead,” Hall said. “We are faced with a lot of polypharmacy, especially in elderly patients who take different drugs. I think medical marijuana could help with that.

When Governor Tate Reeves signed Mississippi’s medical cannabis law into law in February, the governor said medical marijuana could potentially lead to more recreational marijuana use and fewer people working.

Hall’s view of the new law is different.

“There will always be people who will benefit from the system, but you have to do what benefits the people who would benefit from it,” Hall said. “You shouldn’t punish those who will benefit just because there are people who can’t play by the rules.”

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