BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - When medical marijuana became available on Aug. 6, Alex Domino said he had no expectations. For him, the medicine was simply a remedy for a myriad of serious ailments that he had not tried.
One month later, 70-year-old Domino says marijuana has changed his outlook on life.
“Hey man, I can make 94 now,” he chuckled. “I don’t have to work as hard to keep myself calm.”
Domino was the first patient to receive medical marijuana in Louisiana. He complained then about sleepless nights and anxiety, both lingering side effects from his bout with serious colon cancer.
“I used to get up and I’d be tired, like I didn’t sleep at all,” he said. “Now, it feels like I’ve had a little rest.”
Domino is one of roughly 1,500 patients who have used the medicine since August. The state’s grower estimates around 5,000 people have consulted with a state-licensed marijuana therapist to determine if the new medicine could help them.
Dr. Victor Chou, Baton Rouge’s first marijuana doctor, says around 80% of his patients are seeing positive results. Chou is seeing around 600 patients. Since he began his marijuana practice two years ago, he’s moved to a larger office and purchased new filing cabinets to keep up with the demand.
“Not only do I feel validated, more importantly, I feel happy for the patients,” Chou said. “Now that the product is out of the starting gate, we should expect more product at cheaper prices to be able to help even more people.”
Chou notes that not everyone who takes the drug is satisfied. Like any medicine, different marijuana treatments produce different results for different people. In some cases, this may be a result of the dosage.
But for Domino, the medicine produced benefits he didn’t expect. He says he found the treatment “by accident" during an online search for something that could prevent his cancer from returning.
He jokes that he won’t know if marijuana prevents cancer unless he lives to be 106, but says he’s pleasantly surprised with the other effects.
“It makes me feel calmer for some reason. Like somebody made you say, ‘ahhh," Domino said, mimicking a sigh of relief. "That’s what it makes you feel like. It’s got an ‘ahh’ effect.”
With football on the brain, Domino likens his results to a 20-yard scoring play, instead of an 80-yard touchdown: not a miracle drug, but something that’s made his life easier.
He says he hopes other patients will ask their doctor about the treatment.
“I’d tell them to try it, because you never know how one thing is going to work for you,” he said. “It might be better, or it might not be as good, but it will do something.”
“If it just makes a little change, and makes your life better, you want that,” Domino continued. “You don’t want to be down all the time. You want to at least take it up a notch.”