Sometimes we take life for granted, especially if we are healthy. We take for granted the ability to do things on a daily basis because it’s what we’ve always done, for as long as we can remember. But imagine not having the ability to do the things you do every day.
Most people tend to forget that there are people out there struggling to live life on a daily basis. They forget about people like Jonathan M., a disabled and unemployed 33-year-old who lives in New Hampshire. NH has a medical marijuana program, but the nature of his ailments and program restrictions have allowed Jonathan to fall through the cracks, leaving the black market as his only option.
The Marijuana Times: What ailments do you use cannabis to treat? How do these ailments affect your daily life?
Jonathan M: I have had disabling, varied body wide chronic pain, insomnia, chronic fatigue and cognitive dysfunction since around age eleven. I just turned 33 yesterday. For most of the intermediary time I was bouncing from doctor to doctor, searching for a diagnosis, a cure, or treatment, to no avail. Up until I made the decision to try cannabis in 2009, the pain and lack of sleep gradually removed my ability to think straight, do physical activities, absorb information in school, hold a job, or do much besides lay around in a semi aware vegetable state, losing months/years of time to a murky, run together, half memory. Daily life became mostly impossible.
MT: What were you told about cannabis growing up?
JM: The standard propaganda; it’s a drug, it’s a gateway to hard drugs and addiction, it will ruin your life, it’s worse than tobacco/alcohol, it’s illegal to protect the public, it causes brain damage, etc. The same reefer madness they shoved down all our throats while we were too young to know better.
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?
JM: I had a different path to the black market than most. Knowing that local dealers were unreliable both in quality of product and price, I decided from the beginning to use my passable knowledge of computers and the internet to obtain my medicine from more reputable sources via the mail.
I started on the clearnet with Adam flowers market, which in hindsight was extremely rash, and after they got busted I taught myself to use pgp and the onion router tor to access the darknet market and buy from silk road vendors in medical legal states. I started mining bitcoin to pay with and was able to move to new markets when one would be taken down. I think this method has a different kind of risk, but on the whole is safer than street dealers. The quality of medication is certainly higher. The technical cost of entry is higher but after 8 years research I managed to make it work.
I would much prefer not to be funding criminals and endangering myself and those around me, but this way the risk is more manageable.
Ideally it would be legal here in NH and I would be supporting local farmers and vendors instead, but as long as I’m forced to I will do what I have to improve my quality of life.
MT: What is your preferred method of cannabis ingestion and why?
JM: After my research on cannabis, I decided to go with vaporization, as it mitigates the negative effects of inhaling combusted plant matter. After I got the money together I started with a Vapir no2, and after some years of saving got a Davinci Ascent which has been a boon. I’ve used pipes and joints, and even built my own bong before, but the vaporization has a much lower negative impact on my lungs and throat. I’ve also had the occasional edible which was another good non-smoking option but a bit too expensive for me.
MT: How is your life different now that you have found cannabis?
JM: The difference is nothing short of miraculous. I went from sleeping 3-4 hours a week to sleeping most of every night. My pain went from 7-8 on a 1 to 10 scale to 3-5 even only being able to medicate at night. My cognitive problems have lessened, I can remember things much more, and my fatigue has lessened enough to allow household tasks and driving. If I could afford to stay medicated all day I imagine I would see similar jumps in ability. Without cannabis I would never be coherent enough to reply to these questions, it really unlocked living for me again.
MT: What prescription drugs, if any, were you able to stop using because of cannabis? How does cannabis work better than the prescriptions?
JM: A few doctors tried to put me on opioid painkillers, and powerful psych meds like Lithium and Zoloft. Nothing they ever prescribed would touch my symptoms without giving me side effects worse than my condition. A few years before I tried cannabis I swore off everything stronger than my allergy and stomach acid medication. It’s like apples and oranges for me. Nothing they ever did helped, but cannabis had an immediate and transformative effect. It completely shook my faith in the modern pharmacological approach to healthcare. I do a ton of research on anything I consume now. I can’t trust a doctor to prescribe with my best interest in mind anymore. One thing I did find that really increased the effectiveness of the cannabis in relieving my insomnia was trazadone, but I had to research that myself and suggest it to the doctor. With the one two punch of a quality Indica and a well-balanced dose of trazadone, I’ve been getting 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night, two of which are deep rem. I tried the Trazadone on its own for a period the doctor recommended but it just didn’t work, went back to not sleeping virtually at all after 3 days. The cannabis is just so much more helpful.
MT: What strains have you found to helpful to your specific aliment?
JM: Strong Indica strains are best for sleep and pain relief. I’ve had Platinum Bubba Kush, Burmese Kush, Northern Lights, Afghan Kush, and Herijuana. All of them have been very effective medicine for nights.
When I could afford to I had a few sativa strains and hybrids that really helped my daytime pain and fatigue. I’ve had good results with Cali Orange, OG Kush, Pineapple Express, The Third Dimension and Trainwreck, for hybrids, and for the days where you really need to get stuff done (like building a tent garage by yourself, which should have been impossible for me) I have found Jack Herer to be my most effective recent sativa.
I have really been blessed to have access to the amount of variety in strains that I forget which I have tried.
But generally Indica for sleep and hybrids and Sativas for daytime activity have been working well.
MT: Have you have any encounters with law enforcement over your cannabis use?
JM: I got a letter from the California state that put some fear into me saying that my address came up in connection with the Adam Flowers bust. Made me rethink my security and change my habits. In hindsight they probably had no jurisdiction but I am glad that it made me smarter about how I operated online. I don’t get out much and I don’t buy locally, so I have never had any trouble with LEA here in NH.
MT: Are you involved in any sort of activism in your area or state?
JM: I did a lot of petitioning and calling and writing letters for the state medical program. Made it even more of a misery when Governor Hassan caved to LEA pressure and gutted the qualifying conditions and home grow provisions after the state government had kept the bill locked in committees and red tape for 3 years as it was. I won’t stop trying to get there though. Cannabis changed my life, and other sick people like me and worse desperately need the opportunity to access that, without all the fear and secrecy and possibility of destroying everything that we must endure now. It hurts that many who could have used the help are dying while we wait for the powers that be to get around to being human.
Honestly I think it should be legal outright, because it can only be a good thing for access to be free. I really don’t think anyone in the government has a leg to stand on scientifically, medically, morally, to justify prohibition. We will push until we get it. It’s just a matter of time, which some of us have more of than others.
MT: Have you ever thought about moving to another state to gain better access to medical cannabis?
JM: When Colorado legalized I was so envious, and just joyful for them. I kept saying to my friends and family that if only I had some kind of financial ability to move I would go out there in a second. one of my old friends from way back did a while ago and he is doing so good, lost so much weight climbing mountains and smoking weed. I never see him unhappy in photos anymore. I want that. But unfortunately life doesn’t meet you halfway and I don’t even have the power to get to the middle.
MT: How important is it to you that legalization comes to your state?
JM: As important as life itself, because that is what it means to me, and others in similar situations. I am trapped in medical/legal limbo, have been for a long time now. I doubt there will ever be an answer for
people like me other than legalization. I think that those who suffer and know about what it can do for them will fight as much as they are able until it happens. I hope it happens soon, for our sake, and for the sake of the people who, for whatever reasons, don’t yet know how cannabis can help them. It really needs to be legal everywhere, for all our sakes. For the people whose lives have been destroyed on both sides of the drug war, for the patients, for the potential patients, and for the people who just don’t want to destroy their liver or get hooked to enjoy a party or some downtime at home. I don’t believe anyone has a life that would not be improved by the addition of cannabis. You could say I am a true believer.
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!