SDNN: Medical Marijuana; How sick do you have to be?

Eugene Davidovich: Proving My Medical Marijuana Case
October 20, 2009

Thanks to the compassion of California voters, Proposition 215 was passed to help the sick get access to the medicine that helps them.
But, how sick do you have to be?

Some in our community, particularly in leadership, have attempted to persuade us that Proposition 215 only authorizes the use of medical cannabis for patients suffering exclusively from the ugly three: cancer, glaucoma, or AIDS. These same people usually go on to add the old worn out argument that if we don’t happen to be suffering from one of these horrific conditions, then we must be using cannabis just to get high. There are others, like the narcotic officers training organization California Narcotics Officers Association (CNOA), arrogant enough to take it further and assert outright that marijuana is not a medicine.

I have read, re-read and read again the text of Proposition 215, and the clear reality is that voters authorized cannabis for many serious conditions. What part of the Compassionate Use Act (CUA) don’t these so called leaders understand: “Californians have the right to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes where that medical use is deemed appropriate and has been recommended by a physician who has determined that the person’s health would benefit from the use of marijuana in the treatment of cancer, anorexia, AIDS, chronic pain, spasticity, glaucoma, arthritis, migraine, or any other illness for which marijuana provides relief.”

You could paper the Hall of Justice with the scientific studies and overwhelming first-hand accounts of patients whom cannabis helps. As was intended by the CUA, the use of medical cannabis improves quality of life for many.

Thanks to the compassion of California voters, Proposition 215 was passed to help the sick get access to the medicine that helps them. San Diegans voted by overwhelming majority to approve the measure. Since then, patients have been able to use cannabis legally as a medicine, but thanks to our backward leaders, with very limited access.

Already knowing that medical cannabis helps me, I decided seek out and speak with other patients in the community who would suffer without the use of medical cannabis.

Hollie, from the college area of San Diego, is one of those patients whom I spoke with over the phone this week. A 38-year-old mother of two boys, she lives with constant, daily pain. Hollie suffers from epilepsy, bipolar disorder, physical injuries, and insomnia. If it was our job to judge how sick Hollie is, her physical appearance would not be a good indicator. Hollie gives the impression of a “healthy looking” person, the sort I often hear described by the anti-compassionates, as seen walking in and out of local collectives and cooperatives.

The “healthy looking” argument is another tired and ignorant argument brought up at public meetings by the prim and stuffy crowd at the North Coastal Prevention Coalition and the San Diegito Alliance who enjoy county funds which pay representatives to speak and lobby against medical marijuana at San Diego City Council meetings as well as numerous other public events around the county.

The argument flies in the face of the unbearable pain Hollie lives with daily. At the peak of her pharmaceutical treatment, Hollie was using 13 prescribed medications daily. The medication prescribed made her very low functioning and unproductive. “I was sick all the time because of all the pills I was on,” Hollie said.

In 2005 Hollie was referred by her Sharp Hospital primary care physician, to a neurologist for treatment of her epilepsy and insomnia. “The insomnia made my life awful,” Hollie said when I spoke with her over the phone. “Worst of all was not being able to sleep at night” she said.

That same year, the neurologist suggested Hollie try medical cannabis to help with the insomnia, which was ruining her life. She did, and thanks to several compassionate use dispensaries Hollie was able to find out about the right strain to help her. She found that cannabis indica, specifically the “Kush” strains, significantly reduced her insomnia and she was finally able to sleep.

For the first time in ages Hollie got a full night’s sleep without waking up feeling groggy or in a pharmaceutical-zombie state. Since then with the supervision, care, and guidance from her doctors and pharmacist, Hollie celebrates reducing her pill regiment from thirteen down to just two.

Hollie and I discussed her use of medical cannabis extensively, she explained she prefers to use a vaporizer to administer cannabis. It was heartening to hear how Hollie’s quality of life has improved and that her family is thankful and pleased with the improvements. Even her father, a retired DEA agent, now supports her daily use of the medicine.

Hollie put it best when she said: “Medical cannabis has bettered the quality of my life, and as a result has improved my life with my children; this is hands down worth it.”

When I asked Hollie what she thought of the new Justice Department memo, she told me she was pleased to hear that the Justice Department will not target medical marijuana patients and their suppliers in the states that allow the use of medical marijuana.

The disappointment came when she read Dumanis’ convenient self-serving statement today in The Union Tribune that “The Federal Guidelines that I read today actually reflect what we have been doing in practice with the U.S. Attorney in San Diego for as long as I can remember.”

This statement combined with her track record of patient arrest and prosecution leaves us certain of her intentions to continue her fierce fight against San Diego’s compassionate use voters.

How frustrating for the hundreds of patients Dumanis has victimized for as long as I can remember.

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