Medical marijuana late in life – as patients come closer to death.

Medical marijuana late in life – as patients come closer to death.


Douglas Berggren always said that he never wanted a real job, so he set out to collect college degrees instead. He obtained five from some of the most prestigious universities in the world.

There was a bachelor’s degree from Carleton College in Minnesota, a master’s and a PhD in philosophy from Oxford and the same two degrees from Yale, where he later became an associate professor after deciding that yes, maybe he should get a real job.

He left his teaching position at Yale in 1964 and took a big leap of faith by moving to Sarasota and becoming a founding professor at New College. In the early days there were only 100 students, 15 faculty members and the school was in such bad financial shape there were serious concerns that it would even survive.

New College survived. In fact, it is now consistently ranked among the nation’s best educational institutions, and much of the success can be traced back to Berggren, whose vision helped launch New College’s foray into radical education when he joined the school over five decades ago until he retired in 2000.

But now, at 86 years old, the esteemed professor is dying. He has bone cancer that is rapidly spreading and may have only a few months to live, according to his son Keith.

Douglas Berggren is open to the idea of using medical marijuana and his son is all for it. His situation is one that is discussed much: Medical marijuana use for elderly people and patients, particularly those with terminal illnesses. This is not necessarily about extending life, but rather providing comfort to those who may be in their final days.

“I think people should have access to anything that makes life pleasant as they near the end,″ Douglas Berggren says.

But first is clearing the hurdle of obtaining it in Florida. As of Friday, a person had to have been seeing the same doctor for 90 days before a prescription can be written. Berggren has been seeing a pain management doctor for three weeks. If the provision continues to stand he would still have nine weeks to wait. What if he doesn’t have nine weeks to live?

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