By November 29, 2013 6 Comments Read More →

Medical Marijuana–Just Legalize It!

marijuanaIn the 1990’s I worked as a social worker. Within our office there was a lot of healthy camaraderie. It arose out of a need to keep our energy from being depleted through feelings of helplessness. We heard many sad and wretched stories from our clients during the day, but we tried to give them as much help as possible within the confines of the bureaucratic system. This kind of work can be depressing. One is at a loss to “fix” people and that really was not our job. The hearts of my co-workers were huge and filled with empathy. Many of us had, at one time or another, fallen on hard times ourselves. The system is limited in its ability to adequately see that proper food, health care, and homes were provided to those in dire need. Numbers. It’s all about numbers and cold hard facts. Through it all, the social workers talked with each other during breaks or lunch about their own families, various plights we were facing, and this became our internal support group.

One of the social workers in our office was Garrett, known for the best lunches any wife packed for any man, ever. I was living in Pittsburgh, and if you know anything about the Burgh, you will understand how we salivated over Garrett’s lunches of Isaly’s chipped ham with mayo, lettuce, and tomatoes on the one and only, Mancini’s bread! Garrett had a smile that melted into his entire face and every day he offered us part of his lunch. He was a tall, skinny, man and I guess we figured he needed as many calories as possible. Little did we know at that point how important those calories would become.

We were all gathered in the break room one afternoon and feeling weary. Garrett looked solemn. We waited for him to speak. “I have pancreatic cancer,” he said. A shiver went over the room. We all knew the prognosis. In the weeks and months that followed, Garrett underwent chemo. He had a wife and two teenage boys, but came to work almost every day so he could accrue more benefits for them when the end came. We doted on him with love. As thin as he had been, his weight seemed to drop so quickly that soon, he was a walking bone structure with a sunken face. He was also cold. It was winter, hideous winter. I brought in a space heater for his cubicle and a cozy afghan for his shoulders to keep him warm. His appetite was gone. No more Mancini bread sandwiches. He was drifting away from us.

One day he said to me, “Kiddo, can you get me some, you know…(he stumbled) pot? Some weed?” Why he asked me is a mystery, but I believe it was a matter of trust. Marijuana was verboten, prohibited, against the law. But I knew people who knew people. I got some weed and baked the whole lot of it in a batch of brownies. I surreptitiously gave the large pan of goodies to him on a Friday afternoon. Monday morning he came into my cubicle and gave me the biggest bear hug I ever had. He said that he and his wife had eaten all marijuana-laced brownies over the weekend. He had such an appetite, he said, and his wife had cooked for him the entire time. He also said it was the best he had felt physically in ages. Garrett was so filled with gratitude, and I just wanted to magically imbue him with that permanent feeling of euphoria. He had been suffering for what seemed to be so long, too long.

Two months later, Garrett was in the hospital for the last time. His doctors prescribed medical marijuana for him during that stay. His wife later told us that the medical marijuana had eased his final days. We all took Garrett’s death hard. He was a gentle man, a young man, a good man. And except for that one weekend and the pot-laced brownies, he had suffered hard. His wife had suffered along with him. She would later tell us that she received a bill from the hospital for $700.00. She had been charged for the medical marijuana even though the physician had prescribed it and the hospital had filled it.

I tell you this story to put a face on the need for medical marijuana. There is no shame in it. Why isn’t medical marijuana, weed, pot, legalized all over the country? Some states are moving toward legalizing medical marijuana. On Nov. 21, 2013, a survey was taken in my state of Florida, and 82% supported legalizing medical marijuana with a doctor’s prescription. There is a proposed state constitutional amendment to put this on next year’s election ballot. There will always be detractors like those during Prohibition. It is such nonsense. We are a callous, backward lot at times. Think about my friend Garrett the next time someone asks you whether medical marijuana should be legalized. I could not “fix” Garrett, anymore than I could fix my clients. But the use of weed should not be a criminal offense. Not providing it for medical use should be criminal. Use your vote to voice your opinion. At the very least, medical marijuana should be legalized. Garrett would like that, Kiddo.

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I am a poet and an artist. What I cannot speak, I write. What I cannot write, I paint!

6 Comments on "Medical Marijuana–Just Legalize It!"

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  1. Cher, what a story about your friend, Garrett. You made him seem real to me, and I’m sorry he was made to suffer when pot would have made it all more bearable. It doesn’t take away pain but allows you to rise above it.

    My dad had lung cancer, and his doctor prescribed mm for him. I regret I never got to be with him when he was smoking his meds. My dad loved music, and apparently he loved it even more when he was toking.

    In Oregon we have medical marijuana, and I got my card a few months ago. I have glaucoma, asthma and on-and-off pain from the shoulder I injured in a fall last year. Pot helps with all these conditions and more, and it also quiets the voices in my mind which run from dawn till dusk and then some. But don’t all writers have voices in their heads? We don’t want them to get too quiet.

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  2. avatar Cher Duncombe says:

    Melody, I had no idea you were going through so much. I am so sorry that you have gone through this. The good news is that your state of Oregon is at the forefront of the move toward legalizing medical marijuana. I saw a news piece some moths ago about farms that specifically grow various types of MM, depending upon needs. What a new growth industry this could be! But it must not be done in the shadows. It is time to legalize it in all states.

    There is a child in our family with Crohn’s disease. Though he lives out of state, we would give anything to have him feel better. I have read that MM helps this. Not in his state. There are a million stories out there. Somehow, governments within each state need to listen.

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  3. Cher, What a moving story. It made me tear up & want to cry. You are so right, no one should suffer when there is a plant that grows which can help people through so many ailments. The list is so long, I won’t even begin it, just google it & be amazed. Presently, my doctor has started the paperwork to process my acquiring a license to possess & grow MM in Vermont. It can only be used for certain remedies so far. Cancer, AIDS & Chronic Pain. I, once, used Marinol, a chemical THC in pill form, [THC is the derivative in MM that creates the healing effects], to regain some sort of appetite while I was going through chemo & radiation therapy. It made me feel relaxed & even comfortable for the first time during the whole process including surgery. I was told this November 2013, I am cancer free now but when you hear Cancer, you have no idea what to think.

    I have many reasons for needing MM now which my doctor can’t put on her reasons for giving me the prescription. They are not approved.

    Garrett was blessed to find you, Cher. Your compassion helped him immeasurably. There is no good reason a plant should be illegal. Doing so has caused people to die unnecessarily painful deaths. People are killed b/c it is illegal. Money is wasted on DEA enforcement when the needs are greater elsewhere. I have been battling this prohibition on marijuana for years. Sometime in the New Year, I am hoping I will be able to use it when I need to for whatever ails me.

    To torture our ill b/c our government is so ill-informed is disgraceful. I know President Obama has told the DEA to back off on people using MM. It is dangerous in some places even to sell legal MM b/c of the illegality of regular marijuana. Drug dealers & others know where it is & b/c the illegality has caused the price to be so high, other laws are broken. People are robbed, killed, injured & for what. Some people just want to relax, feel better & escape sometimes.

    A news caster on a talk politics show made an excellent point. The one fun part of marijuana is getting stoned. Let’s be honest. I am not looking for that effect. It is for my health. But the news caster’s point is this, most people who use MM are usual in terminal condition or in extremely bad health. All they want is relief. Why is it necessary to take out the fun part of MM when it is for the ill & sometimes dying. What is wrong with allowing these people, myself included, to enjoy the effects. One of which, if you have smoked or ingested MM or just M, you know how it heightens the senses on all levels. It makes music so much more divine than it already is. Reading feels deeper. Creating, whether writing, painting, playing an instrument, it takes you to a whole other level. Conversation for those of us who are introverts, will open us up in a safe environment. It opens your mind to insights, otherwise, one might never perceive. Why does the government want to remove this benefit?

    Your article, Cher, has set off my revolutionary self. At least, some states are seeing the light. I voted for our present Governor in Vermont b/c he ran on the platform that he was going to open dispensaries for MM throughout the state. And was going to see that MM & Marijuana would be legalized beyond using it just for Cancer & AIDS.

    As soon as I had finished my chemo & radiation, the Marinol was taken away immediately, even though I still then & to this day have the effects of that time. It wasn’t that long ago & I still have no appetite, trouble sleeping, trouble eating, chronic pain & a multiple of other medical reasons that need treatment.

    I don’t want it to get high. When I took the Marinol, I wasn’t looking for that at all. I just wanted to be able to keep down my ginger ale & jello.

    The legalization problem always makes me think about the title of the film, “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” We live in a world that cares less for suffering in people than in animals. I am all for animals being properly cared for & treated with complete respect. But what is this hang-up with people taking something as helpful as MM that drives law enforcement & the governments crazy. What if someone does get high. Marijuana, MM, makes people calm, not violent. It helps them to relax so they can heal & maybe put some food into their bodies & actually get some nourishment.

    Garrett & so many more like him, should never have to suffer. It took me many months to convince my Doctors to go out on a limb to prescribe my Marinol & I qualified. There is no need for anyone to suffer when there is this wonderful treatment in MM available.

    People need to get active all over. It needs to happen in every state of our country & all over the world. No more suffering. We need relief. Some are fortunate to have a script for MM. I am hoping I confront no problems receiving my license. The next step is to have Medicare &/or Medicaid pay for the MM. My other meds combined cost so much more & they aren’t as good for me. In Vermont, it is $300.00 an ounce. I remember when that was the cost of a pound.

    Thank you, Cher, for bringing this important issue into the light. It really is essential that MM be legalized everywhere. It has so many far reaching healing capabilities beyond anything I can mention here. Those points are for another time.

    Great article. So Sad & Sorry about Garrett. His wife took great care of him & so did his friends, you, especially, Cher. It is really scary what the law can do to people who possess marijuana. Prison Time is not beyond the scope of the laws vindictiveness when it comes to such a powerful healing drug.

    Also, I want to know what is wrong with feeling good?

    Excellent.

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  4. avatar Cher Duncombe says:

    Jennifer, I want to stand up and cheer for your powerful voice! I am also thrilled that you are finally able to get medical marijuana. It’s about time you had some well-deserved relief from pain you have endured for years. Yours is a story that should be heard and trumpeted by many. Several states have listened to people like you. It is time the entire country took a strong stand on the issue of pot for pot sake (feeling good) and maybe the drunk driving rates would decline. Who wants to drive when they are high?

    As for the medical marijuana, it is kindred to keeping those who are suffering locked in a terminal pain closet. Just close the door so they can’t be seen and people can go on their merry way. Prohibition was foolish. So is this.

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  5. avatar Larry Conley says:

    Cher,

    I am not the least bit surprised Garrett turned to you. You radiate benevolence. He knew you would take steps to respond to his admitted need. The Cher of twenty years ago was the same kindly person as the Cher of our days.

    As to medical marijuana of course it should be legalized. So should all other forms and methods of medical care people need. Women’s medical care should be legalized and regulated no differently than other medical services. Alternative therapies should be available so long as proper protections against fraud are in place.

    Some people are so busy making decisions and dictating choices to other people they refuse to admit the harm they do.

    Another great article another great statement for benevolence toward our brothers and sisters.

    As ever,

    Larry

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  6. avatar Cher Duncombe says:

    Larry, in another career of mine and the last one I had, I was an Investigator of fraud for a government agency. It was to “prevent fraud, waste and abuse of government funds.” I found it worthy and the investigations even went into the medical arena, so there is some accountability. The fact that medical marijuana is such a political issue disturbs me. It is kindred to those who want to determine the choices women have about their own bodies. This is yet another issue which must be based on human need, not political expediency.

    Thank you for your kind thoughts, my friend. The fight continues. Only the arenas change.

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