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(USA) Grammy Award-winning musician Melissa Etheridge on medical marijuana

Grammy Award-winning musician Melissa Etheridge told CNN that when she underwent chemotherapy following breast cancer surgery, it was not the cocktail of pharmaceutical drugs that helped her recover, but rather medical marijuana, the effects of which she called “amazing.”

Etheridge was speaking to CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Monday as part of a new “investigation” — introduced with a cloud of smoke, a blue pot leaf and the title “America’s High” — into whether the plant should be legally available as medicine. She described the pain of cancer therapy as being “like death” and “a general pain” with a complete loss of energy and appetite.

“[Marijuana] instantly — instantly — relieves the nausea … Relieves the pain,” she said, emphasizing that “you don’t take medicinal marijuana to get high.”

“So, it, you weren’t … You weren’t getting high?” asked Cooper.

“No, it’s not a high,” Etheridge said. “It’s a normal. And I could, all the sudden, get out of bed. I could go see my kids. It was … Amazing.”

Though marijuana is commonly associated with being smoked to deliver its active chemical compounds, Etheridge took the drug dissolved in butter and spread on food, or as a vapor inhalant, every four hours while on chemo.

She considered the notion of experiencing a “gateway” effect — becoming addicted and somehow driven to try other, more potent drugs — was “laughable,” but that she does keep up a prescription.

“The effects [of cancer treatment] on my gastrointestinal system, leaves me with … I have a really low tolerance for acid of any kind,” she said. “So, acid reflux is a constant problem. I don’t want to take the little pills that they give you, that have all the side-effects, to help with that.”

She said that medicinal marijuana “totally and completely settles all that.”

By David Edwards and Stephen Webster