Most of us don’t see the bulk of the suffering that humanity undergoes on a daily basis. And some of us are hit with it in the face every time we go to work. Anthony Walker is definitely in the latter category.
As a registered nurse, Anthony has been publicly outspoken about the suffering he sees and why he thinks cannabis can be beneficial to those who suffer from a variety of ailments. He was very outspoken with us as well, and asked that we use his real name.
The Marijuana Times: What ailments do you use cannabis to treat? How do these ailments affect your daily life?
Anthony Walker: I’ve recently wondered if I might suffer from a touch of something like PTSD, nothing like what our soldiers have had to endure, but as a nurse I too have had people die in my arms, some of them babies. I always felt humbled and honored to sit with their mothers who cried and moaned in grief. I shared their pain. I let the sound of that deep heartache penetrate my spirit many times, though some of my nurse friends shielded themselves better than I did. Did I feel too much, care too much? Many nurses call it “Burnout”. I see their faces every day and there has been a cost to me personally. After more than forty years of caring for the sick, I feel I have to take a break from it all to allow my heart to heal. My use of a small amount of cannabis in the evening has often allowed me to step outside of the sadness of those experiences and give my heart some relief. Cannabis is a spiritual tool for me. It gives me a feeling of peace. It allows me to let go of the horror of living in the world which can be filled with suffering and tragedy. Using cannabis has allowed me to see the beauty in a flower, spider or even a rock. It frees my mind and heals my spirit.
In my free book, Nurse Calls for End of Drug War, I said “sometimes we nurses’ turn to drugs to help ease our suffering and to help us forget about yours.”
MT: What were you told about cannabis growing up?
AW: My parents told us “don’t use drugs”, but we didn’t know what that really meant. Pot was lumped in with all the “bad drugs”. Only later did I realize that drugs were all around us. My parents were not very happy that I described them as “responsible drug users” in my book. They started their day with strong coffee and an unfiltered Pall Mall. In the evening they had a cocktail, but never let us kids see them drunk or anything. As an adult I have tried to teach them about cannabis, hoping that they might understand that many people use cannabis in the same way that they do when they reach for a glass of wine in the evening.
MT: What do you have to go through to obtain the cannabis you use and how does it make you feel to have to rely on the illegal market?
AW: I went to Colorado to use it legally and it was a wonderful feeling of freedom. I was not a criminal. I really never was. My country criminalized my natural behavior, that’s all. I have been happy and willing to use cannabis with a friend when I visit Baltimore because it’s use has been decriminalized there, (in part due to my personal effort by testifying in the State Judicial Hearings). I would not dream of using it where I live in Florida where possession of a mere ounce can bring a $25,000 fine, 3-5 years in prison and a felony conviction. It is not addictive. I can put it off and wait a bit, though I find it unfair and hypocritical of our government to allow the use of deadly alcohol and tobacco. A crime really. Prohibition is an insult to us and the War on Drugs is really a War on People.
MT: What is your preferred method of cannabis ingestion and why?
AW: I prefer a water pipe or “bong”. It seems less wasteful than joints and filters out some stuff that would wind up in your lungs. Bong water does not look too good, right? The use of this plant in moderation, however, is not only safe, it is probably beneficial. I now know that cannabis cures cancer and alleviates or cures many diseases, so I will go on record that in moderation it is probably good for you too.
MT: How is your life different now that you have found cannabis?
AW: Cannabis gives me a peaceful feeling. I feel its use is a much safer and healthier option than using alcohol. I feel it is my “right”, though the government took away my legal rights to use it decades ago. One day I will quit drinking beer when I can get us to a place where cannabis is legal. Big Pharma and beer companies understand this. That is why they contribute millions to “anti-drug campaigns”. Give me a break.They do not want us to stop using drugs. They want us to buy their more dangerous brands.
MT: What prescription drugs, if any, were you able to stop using because of cannabis? How does cannabis work better than the prescriptions?
AW: I have used cannabis most of my life and I have never needed any prescription medications for anything at all. I am a very healthy 57-year-old man. I have lived a happy life and enjoyed a very successful career as a professional registered nurse. I have given almost every prescription medicine there is to my patients. Cannabis is far safer than any of them.
MT: What strains have you found to be helpful to your specific aliment?
AW: I do not want to be “couch locked”, so I think Sativa might be my preference, though because of Prohibition it is hard to know what I might be consuming or if the strain is a hybrid. I enjoy doing Art after a puff or two, three at the most. It unleashes my creativity. I’ve created more than two hundred marble sculptures this way and several of my marble portraits of famous Johns Hopkins Doctors are on display at the hospital.
MT: Have you had any encounters with law enforcement over your cannabis use?
AW: Thankfully no. I speak out against our government’s punishment approach to prohibition. I do not think it ever really helps people. It just punishes them for being human.
MT: Are you involved in any sort of activism in your area or state?
AW: I did when I lived in Maryland and thanks to the Maryland Policy Coalition there, I was able to testify in the Senate and House of Delegates Judicial hearings to achieve decriminalization of personal possession of up to ten grams of cannabis. I was the only nurse to testify. I have recently moved to Florida and written a book about my life experiences. I have connected with my local chapter of NORML and hope to help them soon. I have also reached out to United for Caring to try to bring medical Cannabis to Florida this November. Vote Yes on Question 2…
MT: Have you ever thought about moving to another state to gain better access to medical cannabis?
AW: My partner and I are considering moving to a cannabis friendly state after the 2016 November elections. Which state will be the lucky recipient of two good, honest, hard-working, caring people?
MT: How important is it to you that legalization comes to your state?
AW: Ten out of ten. I will move. I have the resources.
Are you a medical marijuana patient who medicates illegally? I want to tell your story (anonymously, if you prefer)! Email me at email@example.com and I’ll send you our set of questions.
Your story could help others in the same situation and help spread the truth about the amazing abilities of the cannabis plant! Help me spread the word!
Nurses are in the awkward position of knowing efficacy of different drugs as well as the long term effects. Nurses also are licensed and have a distinct sense of right and wrong. Except now opioids have infiltrated the world. Prohibition of cannabis encourages other drugs, prescription drugs. Thank you for validating in the open what many nurses know. Cannabis does not cause reefer madness. It is legal in Washington D.C. and scattered states. Each legislative body ruminating over their own hang ups and misinformation. We need more nurses like Anthony.
Join us and become a member of the American Cannabis Nurses Association!