Dear Dr. Grinspoon:

I am a 48-year-old woman who has used marihuana daily for 27 years, except for a year or two about 15 years ago. I do not smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, or take any other drugs. I have always had trouble falling asleep, and as an adult I found that marihuana helped with my insomnia. When I stopped using it 15 years ago, I discovered I had "restless leg syndrome"-something both my parents also had, although it seemed to affect them differently. My symptoms are present 24 hours a day but only bothers me when I try to sleep. It is almost as if my leg muscles are constantly pulsing. Also, when I am about to fall off to sleep, my body jerks me back awake as if I am falling off a cliff. This can happen throughout the night every few seconds or minutes, and cannabis seems to alleviate it. One recent night when I did not smoke cannabis, this horrible problem kept me awake all night. A neurologist put me on L-dopa (after trying quinine, which gave me no relief), but I had to take it every night, and I did not want to do that because of nausea and other unpleasant side effects. By the way, the neurologist feels that cannabis is a benign drug except for the fact that it is smoked.