For this story we are changing up the format a little bit. I usually send out a list of questions for those who medicate with cannabis illegally to answer; in this way they are able to tell their story and hopefully help someone in a similar situation.
One of the patients who wrote in is “Cave”. Cave sent me a letter he wrote to a state representative in Pennsylvania, a rep who was blocking medical cannabis from moving through the legislature. He sent a similar letter to every state senator in PA.
Medical marijuana legislation was recently passed and signed by the Governor in PA.
Dear Representative Zimmerman,
Because I know your stance on legalization of medical marijuana I am compelled to write again and ask you to take the time to read what I have to say.
First I’d like to qualify myself so my comments carry validity. I was a licensed funeral director for 30 years. I graduated with honors at the top of my class from Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science after studying at both Colorado State University and Pennsylvania State University. In 1976 I had the wisdom to invest everything I had in Apple Computer. In 1977 I bought my first piece of real estate. I retired from full-time employment in the funeral business at the age of 34 because I had made my first million dollars investing in real estate by that age. I owned several million dollars of residential rental properties in Lancaster City and County and never once was listed as a problem landlord. I am a founding father of both Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and Milagro House, a homeless shelter in Lancaster for women with children. I served as a local government council member. I’ve been a life-long Republican proud to state that I worked on Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign. At the age of 54 I bought my personal care home simply to care for my parents properly. I returned to college and obtained my P.C.H.A. (Personal Care Home Administrator). In the past 8 years I have owned and operated what has become one of the most respected personal care facilities in the state of Pennsylvania. In four of the past five years my personal care home had zero violations from any state or federal inspectors. I have been a featured speaker at both the Commitment to Excellence conference for personal care home administrators and the P.A.L.A. (Pennsylvania Assisted Living Association) Conference. I am a member of Lions International and I just finished serving two years as the treasurer of the local club.
Hopefully you can see I’m not just a stoner wanting legalization but someone with intelligence and perhaps valid points of view.
Politically, I believe you have little to lose by supporting the bill since the majority of voters are supporting legalization. I think it is important to try to put politics aside and consider some real scenarios.
Unfortunately, I could be classified as a criminal because I use marijuana for medicinal purposes. I have two conditions that I have used marijuana for relief. I have used marijuana since I was 16 years old. I have had arthritis since childhood that debilitated me so badly I could not pick up a piece of loose leaf paper for a period of time. Periodically I need a cane to walk. Just a few Sundays ago my arthritis was so bad I had to ask my wife to pull my pants up after using the bathroom. I’m 62 years old and I still prefer to ask her to pull them down! As the day progressed I couldn’t pick up a pencil to do the NY Times crossword puzzle which is part of my Sunday routine. I also couldn’t lift a fork to eat. Sunday my wife fed me Ibuprofen with no benefit. Monday I awoke with continued pain. The pain did not subside until shortly after eating a marijuana cookie I obtained from my brother who resides in Colorado. Relief began in less than an hour. The pain of arthritis doesn’t disappear but it is lessened to a point that it is bearable and I don’t have to ask my wife to dress or feed me.
Secondly I have proctalgia fugax. It’s a real pain in the butt (pun intended). When I had been affected by the proctalgia fugax it was not uncommon for me to be praying for my death. Fortunately, I found that if I smoke just 3 hits (inhalations) the spasms disappear immediately.
I have consulted several doctors for medications for both conditions. Over many years I have tried many pharmaceuticals that both wasted my money and poisoned my liver. I have found much relief for my arthritis by drinking Mrs. Bragg’s apple cider vinegar but not one doctor ever even suggested that apple cider vinegar may help. Owning the personal care home I consult with many doctors to manage the health of my residents. It is a rare doctor who is willing to discuss the use of natural products instead of the pharmaceuticals. Interestingly there is a rare occurrence of death by overdose when using a natural product. I have seen thousands of death certificates and not one listing a contributory cause of death as cinnamon, coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, garlic, etc. These and many more natural products, including marijuana, can all provide benefit for your health if used properly.
Perhaps you’ve heard of Steve M., owner of the former retail store that burned to the ground. Steve is considered “the Godfather” in his town because it is through Steve’s influence that the 300 entire retail areas in his town were revitalized and became so vibrant. Steve sustained third degree burns over 30% of his body in the fire that leveled his home and business. Steve lost everything he owned in the fire except for the personal relationships he had in his life. He had no insurance and no savings so I took Steve into my personal care home to provide him care when he was no longer able to stay at the Crozer – Chester Burn Center. Steve wasn’t even skin and bones when he arrived at the P.C.H. He was raw meat in many areas. Steve was prescribed narcotics to manage his pain. After a year of caring for Steve he was able to start making his own care decisions. Steve decided to forego the narcotics and smoke marijuana for his pain. Since his burns severely restricted his movement he smoked in his room and was caught. He was reprimanded. I told him if he chose to use marijuana it would have to be off premises without my knowledge. Steve continued to choose marijuana over his narcotics because he felt more functional and had less pain. One night the weather was not so nice and Steve decided to smoke in the room again and got caught again. I had to evict him for fear of losing my personal care home license. I felt like a hypocrite knowing I would probably do the same thing if I were in Steve’s condition. Steve needed a few more months of therapy at my P.C.H. to return him to the workforce but lost that opportunity. Fortunately for Steve, a local retailer who benefited from Steve’s community involvement offered him a free apartment as thanks to Steve for his influence on him. Steve never finished his therapy and never returned to the workforce. Had the use of medical marijuana been allowed, Steve’s life might be radically different and productive again.
I’ve worked with several residents who have been afflicted with Parkinson’s Disease and Parkinson’s related diseases. With every resident I would have recommend the use of marijuana. One resident had spasms so intense that she broke her bones as her muscles tensed. She was on a pharmaceutical cocktail at the time and died of complications from her broken bones. Another resident recently died after sustaining a broken pubis from a fall. She couldn’t sit still even on her pharma cocktail. Had she been stoned on an Indica strain of marijuana she would have been a couch potato and probably still alive today. I recently had to have my heart broken again as I watched another resident with Parkinson’s die on hospice care under the influence of powerful morphine narcotics. I have cared for her for 5 years as her spasms slowly burned every calorie off her frame. If she could have had marijuana perhaps she would have had the munchies and vegged out a little and not be a 60 pound skeleton. She might have had a look of dignity that she cherished so much.
I’d like you to answer this in your heart. If it were your mother, your spouse or your child, even yourself, would you want the option to have marijuana for treatment? If you can say no then you really need to visit a long term care facilities that need this option. As I spoke at the Commitment to Excellence conference I stated my support on the issue of marijuana. The room full of personal care home administrators interrupted my speech with their applause when I suggested it be legalized. We who are on the front line of care know we need every tool available to perform our best.
I rub elbows with many professional people; many successful business people; many educated people. I have been open about my stance on marijuana. Knowing where I stand, many of these peers have confided with me that they agree but would never openly state it. The fear of retaliation by being the lone wolf barking is real for my colleagues and peers. I am willing to speak only because I know the quality of care at my P.C.H. is respected as a benchmark for other facilities to achieve. I am a leader in my field. I’m a leader in my community. I feel I must be a leader in this movement because I feel with the proper administration, the legalized use of marijuana is the right thing.
That answer in your heart may need to be voiced in the blink of an eye as that is how quickly our health can change. Your final sentence in your reply was very telling. You stated you will not support legalization now. Well if not now; when? When you have prostate cancer? Which you will surely get if you live long enough. Why do you think Tom Wolf is supporting legalization? Please allow the option of marijuana use. You may someday wish to use it too. It is time to allow Pennsylvanians the liberty to make their own medical decisions without fear of the government condemning them. As I said earlier I could be classified as a criminal because I choose a different path to wellness. I really would prefer not to be on the wrong side of the law but sometimes civil disobedience it warranted.
Are you a medical marijuana patient who medicates illegally? I want to tell your story (anonymously, if you prefer)! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org 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!