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Monthly Archives: July 2008

    Buddy is 86 years old.  He started in the tobacco business when he was 17.  He didn’t retire until he was 73. A buyer for Kent, Newport and Old Gold, the fast paced, highly competitive world of a tobacco broker was the driving force for most of his life.      

    Buddy outlived his wife by eighteen years.  Now it’s just him and his son Tom.  Tom is his father’s caregiver, now.  Tom is also chronically ill.

    Buddy has been suffering with Neuropathy of the feet for twenty years.  He said that it feels like nails piercing the bottom of his feet.   ” I jus’ never had anything in my life to hurt like this.”

Buddy believes Cannabis could Help Relieve his Chronic Pain.

     Neuropathy encompasses more than 100 diseases and conditions affecting the peripheral nerves-the motor, sensory and autonomic nerves that connect the spinal cord to muscles, skin and internal organs. It usually affects the hands and feet, causing weakness, numbness, tingling and pain.

    Buddy is a veteran.  He served four years during World War II.  He was told that it was probably the long walks packing heavy equipment that lead to his feet problems.

Two recent scientific studies (Headline from 2007) have confirmed what Buddy has found (that conventional narcotics don’t work for his condition) and what he has been told (that Cannabis is effective for Neuropathic foot pain). The following video from the 2004 Cannabis Therapeutics Conference, hosted by Patients Out of Time, features Dr. Donald Abrams, who conducted one of the studies in San Francisco, explaining the protocols for his government sanctioned research.AIDS, Pain & Cannabis, with Donald Abrams   

    Buddy also has Rheumatoid Arthritis.  He’s been ailing with it for 12 years.  
    Rheumatoid Arthritis is a chronic, systemic Autoimmune Disorder that causes the immune system to attack the joints, where it causes inflammation and destruction, and some organs, such as the lungs and skin.
    The stiffness in Buddy’s joints confines him to his easy chair and hopelessly shackle him to pharmaceuticals.  He had to elevate his legs to make it through our interview.

    Buddy has skin cancer across the top of his head and down his back.  Squamous Cell Carcinoma is one of several colored cancerous lesions visible on the surface of his bare scalp.
    Squamous Cell Carcinoma is the second most common cancer of the skin (after Basal Cell Carcinoma but more common than Melanoma). It usually occurs in areas exposed to the sun, and can generally be treated by excision only.”

    Buddy told me that most times, he’d rather be dead.  He quickly adds that he won’t kill himself, but, “…I’d rather be dead.”  The pain he deals with is that intense.
    Over a decade of chronic illness and inefficiently treating it with prescriptions drugs has lead him to this point.  There must be something else.  For Buddy, even the thought of dying is a welcomed relief when faced with the ever growing pain he is experiencing. 

    Buddy and his son Tom are avid readers.  That’s evident from the stacks of books that fill their home.  Decades of captivity to their illnesses has honed their ability to research.  It is that energy that they focused on finding relief from the pain and discomfort they both experience.   
    Though conventional medicine fell short of a solution, one 4,000 year old medicinal herb continually surfaced in their study.  Cannabis.  From what they read, studies had shown that it not only could relieve pain and was a natural anti-inflammatory, but could also be used to increase the effectiveness of conventional medicine so that they could minimize the damage to their livers and digestive systems.     

    Buddy and Tom don’t want to break the law.  They don’t want to live out the rest of their lives in excruciating misery, either.  Buddy says his state legislator won’t listen to him because he’s a Democrat. 
    It seems all too many of our elected officials are out of touch with the chronically ill.  They steer clear of the controversial issues like Cannabis, even when they know that millions of Americans could benefit from this holistic medicine. 
    What’s it going to take?  A hundred testimonies like this?  A thousand?  Just how many more chronically ill Americans must face the fear and indignity of prosecution, even as their very lives are in peril from disease or critical injury.

    To view more of our Medical Cannabis Testimonies, please visit www.youtube.com/cannabispatientnet/ .  We need your Testimony.  Please contact me today about scheduling your interview.  Help us change law through your personal story.

    Anne is a registered nurse.  For a time, nursing was her life.  Unfortunately, this profession that she loves so much has slipped beyond her reach.  In 2001, she became disabled. 

    Anne has a rare autoimmune disease, called Adult Onset Stills Disease.  She’s one of five people in the state of North Carolina with that diagnoses. 
    Still’s disease is a form of juvenile idiopathic arthritis, characterized by high spiking fevers and transient rashes.  It’s basically a very progressive form of Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Anne has a rare Autoimmune Disease

    She also has degenerative joint disease in both knees and both hips, all requiring immediate replacement.
    She’s been through two back surgeries and now has what’s considered a ?failed back?.  She has a herniated disc at L34, L45 is bulging, and L5S1 is bone on bone.

    Anne has Fibromyalgia.  Once referred to as arthritis of connective tissue, Fibromyalgia is classified by the presence of chronic widespread pain and tactile allodynia.

Anne has replaced her prescriptions with Cannabis

    Anne has Myofascial Pain Syndrome.  Myofascial Pain Syndrome (MPS) is a painful musculoskeletal condition, a common cause of musculoskeletal pain. MPS is characterized by the development of Myofascial trigger points (TrPs) that are locally tender when active, and refer pain through specific patterns to other areas of the body.

    Anne has Chronic Pain Syndrome.  Chronic pain is defined as pain that persists longer than the temporal course of natural healing, associated with a particular type of injury or disease process.

    She has been through chemotherapy to try to kill her extra white cells, to slow the illness? degenerative progression.  It made her terribly ill and caused her hair to fall out. 
    She was continuously in pain.  Her physician had her on a daily regiment of six class two narcotics, muscle relaxers, and sleeping pills.
    Nothing that the physicians and specialists tried stopped the pain and progression of her disease.  They told her that she would be in a wheelchair by the time she was 40.

    Now at 38, she doesn’t know what life holds for her.  All she can hope for is some measure of quality of life.  She really wants to go back to work.  That would give her fulfillment. 
    She’s up for a third spinal surgery at Duke University Hospital.  She’s had six major surgeries in the last eight years.  She’s praying that this time it’ll work; that it will help her start again.
 
    Though her church background forbade her from using cannabis for any reason, when she was thirty-three years old, she tried it for the very first time when she suddenly lost her physician and her scripts stopped.  In one fall swoop she was forced to come off OxyContin, Morphine Sulfate, Percocet, Dilantin, Valium, Flexural, Robaxin, and sleeping pills. all at one time. 
    Cannabis, though illegal, was the only medicine available.  Without it she doesn’t think she would have survived the ordeal.

    The first time that she dosed with cannabis, she felt that she was free again.  It helped her with depression and elevated her mood.  But most of all, it freed her from unmentionable pain. 
    Anne was physically devastated, as much from the pharmaceuticals as from her illnesses.   She believes Cannabis can free her from both.

    Modern science is confirming that Ann is correct when she says that Cannabis relieves many of her symptoms.  Doctors and researchers listen to Professor Raphael Mechoulam, who first isolated THC in Israel  in 1964, at a Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics, hosted by Patients Out of Time. In this video, Dr. Mechoulam explains the role of Cannabinoids and Cannabis as an anti-inflammatory agent – highly effective for the treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis, as well as it’s neuroprotective properties. 

Cannabinoid System in Neuroprotection, Raphael Mechoulam,PhD                    

With her condition properly managed with Cannabis, Anne truly believes that she could go back to work. If only the medical community did not discriminate against her medicine through random drug testing.
   
    Now that she has found a holistic alternative to her harmful pharmaceuticals, she would like to have her healthcare supervised by one of her local pain management clinics, but all that she has applied to have refused to treat her because she uses cannabis. 

    She has done her research.  With all that she has been through with conventional medicine, she insisted on being thorough.  What she found was a wealth of medical evidence, all affirming that cannabis was the safest and most affective medicine available to treat her illnesses.

    All she wants is some measure of quality to her life; to safely, legally, and sufficiently treat her illnesses.  For her, Cannabis is what she needs.

    View all our Patient Testimonies at www.youtube.com/cannabispatientnet. Patients and prospective patients, we need your help.  Please consider giving us your video testimony.  Together, we are strong, together we will abolish prohibition, once and for all.

    Eddie & his wife, Diana were the first two patients that I interviewed back in April of 2006 prior to the beginning of Journey for Justice 7.  Their story epitomizes the heartbreak endured by many of the chronically ill.

    When Eddie was 7 years old, he was hit by a car while riding a bicycle.  He sustained a serious head injury.  Diagnosed with Epilepsy, anti-seizure medications like Dilantin quickly became a part of his every day life.
    Though Eddie grew up, he was never quite free of the seizures, that is until much later when he tried cannabis.  To his surprise, not only did it alleviate the seizures.  It also put an end to the blackouts and the “funny feelings”  that he has had in his head since the accident.

    He wasn’t sure if it was the cannabis that was countering the seizures, so he stopped taking it for a short while.  Soon after, he suffered an Epileptic seizure, totaling out his wife’s car.  Fortunately, he had just dropped his son off and was alone when he hit a telephone pole.

Eddie suffers from Muscular Dystrophy and Epilepsy

    In  2004, Eddie was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy.  At this point, he realized that he needed stronger medicine.  something that would relieve the pain; an anti-inflammatory for the cramps in his legs; something viable; something that would help him keep the weight on.  Something that wouldn’t further compromise his frail immune system with toxic side effects the way pharmaceuticals most certainly would.
    What he discovered was , again, cannabis.  Only cannabis could adequately treat his varied illnesses.  He could eat.  He gained 45 pounds.  With his small frame, every pound is a blessing.
    He could distance himself from the pain.  Simple movements were again possible.  With cannabis, Eddie could do without his cane and his wheelchair more frequently.

    Eddie’s wife, Diana was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.  She discovered that with cannabis, she not only could feel better and fend off the onslaught of her disease, but could even go back to work.

    Even though the $350 to $450 a month for commercial, black-market cannabis was often more than their meager budget could bear, Eddie made every effort to dose regularly with cannabis, because both he and his wife realized that with it, they felt better and were more productive.

    Unfortunately, the state did not see or care what benefits Eddie and Diana were receiving from cannabis.  The state of South Carolina apparently has a blind adherence to the law.  Because of that, the powers-that-be didn’t care about their crippling disabilities.  They didn’t care that the healing benefits of cannabis was all that was holding this family together.
    The state took Diana and Eddie’s children.  That was a couple years before my first interview with them.  Still, now, four years later, they can only see them during a supervised visits.
    Their kids have suffered abuse while in foster care and their grades have suffered.

    Eddie, like so many other chronically ill Americans, has found that his greatest adversary is not his life threatening illness, but the very government that was pledged to preserve and protect him.

    To view all our Medical Cannabis Testimonies, please visit www.youtube.com/cannabispatientnet.

    My first interview with Joe took place in April of 2006 at Ken Locke’s home in the Appalachians, just prior to the start of Journey for Justice 7.

 

Joe uses cannabis to treat his MS

 

    Joe suffers from a type of Multiple Sclerosis.  At the time of our first recording, he still did not have a firm diagnoses.   He suffers from muscle spasms, general weakness, loss of muscle control and balance – all of which make it virtually impossible to walk.  Joe has a power wheelchair.

 

    Joe finds that cannabis is the only medicine that adequately treats his symptoms without the debilitating side affects of prescription drugs.  It relaxes his limbs and back far more adequately than pharmaceuticals.  Also, cannabis allows him to avoid anti-depressants for treating his anxiety. 
    Unfortunately, the high cost of black market cannabis often forces him to choose between food and relief from his symptoms.

 

Joe’s only relief is from Cannabis

 

    Cannabis continues to be his oasis from pain and atrophy — when he can get it, of course.  And that is increasingly becoming more difficult.  The only outlet for Joe’s medicine is the street.  His age and medical condition make this a difficult prospect since cannabis is illegal in North Carolina.  Joe can only expect an occasional taste of the freedom and relief it can provide.  For now, he must suffer silently knowing his government favors the fat pocket books of big business lobbyists to the wellbeing of the chronically ill. 

 

    To view all our Medical Cannabis Testimonies, please visit www.youtube.com/cannabispatientnet.

 

    I interviewed Dennis at his home in western North Carolina.  Dennis is retired.  He lives a quiet life with his wife, Sheila and dog Beano.  They’re at that time of their lives when their success should equate to long walks, extended vacations and just enjoying their lives with each other. 

    But Dennis has chronic degenerative back disease.  His illness has grown to the point where even simple movement can cause him searing pain.   His left leg and foot have weakened so much that walking now requires deliberate and very physically demanding effort.  He’s usually not without a cane.

    To ride in a vehicle for more than just a few minutes can put him flat on his back for days.

    Dennis also suffers from heart disease.

 

Dennis suffers from chronic back pain

 

    Surprisingly, Dennis’ physicians were the ones who recommended that he try cannabis when pharmaceuticals proved useless in treating his symptoms.  Gradually he was able to taper off most of his prescriptions, finding that cannabis either complimented his pill regiment and for some of them, replaced them altogether.


    I met Mandy at Joplin’s Cannabis Revival 2007. A resident of Joplin, Mandy has found that medicating with Cannabis allows her to work in spite of the fact that she has been battling Multiple Sclerosis for several years now.

Mandy has Multiple Sclerosis

To view all our Medical Cannabis Testimonies, please visit my youtube channel CannabisPatientNet, and to view our legislative reform, go to http://www.markpedersen.com and http://www.gstlnorml.org.


    Mark lives in the City of St. Louis. He had been living a relatively healthy life up until about a year ago. A seemingly innocent sinus infection turned life-threatening, culminating in brain surgery. His life was turned upside down.

Mark suffers from seizures

    Mark soon found himself on many prescription drugs, disabled, and prone to seizures. Mark discovered that cannabis eased his anxiety and lessened his seizures.

    To view all our Medical Cannabis Testimonies, please visit my youtube channel CannabisPatientNet, and to view our legislative reform, go to http://www.markpedersen.com and http://www.gstlnorml.org.

    David, a long-time resident of St. Louis, displays all the carefree hippy attributes of his youth. But David isn’t well. He hasn’t been well for a very long time. He suffers from chronic depression. He also suffers from the residual affects of Hepatitis C.
    Depression runs in his family. His father committed suicide in 2000.  David has times when he cannot leave his home. It’s during those times that he finds cannabis to be quite affective in treating his anxiety. With it, he is able to face the world.

David suffers from depression and anxiety.

     David has strived to improve himself, returning to college and receiving a BA in Psychology. Unfortunately, a cannabis bust brought his education to a halt. Finding himself without the only thing that freed him from his home-bound incarceration, he was forced to slip back into the shackles of mental illness and pharmaceutical stupor. So, for the last five years, David’s life has been on hold. That’s how long he has been on probation. The penalty for being caught in the possession of the only medicine that affectively treats his illness is to be denied that very medicine for five very crucial years of his life. It’s not enough that he suffers alone with a debilitating illness, but further, he must suffer knowing that it is Missouri law and nothing else that forbids him from having a life; that denies him the very rites our founding fathers pledged their sacred honor to instill. The words “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are only words to the forgotten America which is the chronically ill.

    This first ever Patient Protection Day 2008 was a statewide lobbying event involving medical cannabis patients from Kansas City, Joplin, Columbia, and St. Louis.   

    Dan Viets, representing MO Norml, orchestrated this event and functioned as our Jefferson City Liaison.  An attorney and 30 year veteran in the struggle against Cannabis Prohibition, Dan has been at the forefront of every legislative attempt here in Missouri.  
  

 Dan’s wife is a cancer survivor.

 

    During this day-long event, chronically ill Missourians and their advocates met with Missouri Speaker of the House, Rod Jetton.  Jetton, who blocked their Cannabis Compassion Bill in 2007, was making every effort to block it again for 2008.
    Though Jetton recanted his position while faced with a number of patients in his office, he later killed HB1830 by appointing it to a do-nothing committee too late in the session for it to go anywhere.
    Fortunately for Missouri’s chronically ill, Rod Jetton will not be returning to Missouri’s House in 2009.

 

    Patients presented their testimonies beneath the Rotunda of Missouri’s capital building, as their voices carried up through the adjoining floors above them and the corridors that spidered off from the domed enclosure.
    The stage and sound system were generously provided by the University of Missouri, Columbia.

    Jacqueline Patterson, formerly of Kansas City, conceived this, the first Missouri Patient Protection Day, during a phone conversation she had with Mark Pedersen two weeks prior to the event. She flew in from California to be a part.
    Jacqueline had to move to California or risked losing custody of her children.  Afflicted with Cerebral Palsy and a moderate stutter, she doses regularly with Cannabis to ease her symptoms. 
    Family Services of Missouri does not condone the use of cannabis to treat Cerebral Palsy or any of the other many chronic illnesses that have proven receptive to cannabis therapy.  They continue to adhere to the 70 year old propaganda that blindly condemns cannabis to being a harmful drug and a danger to our nation’s young people.  Apparently, Family Services does not consider “family” to be as important as politics.

 

Jacqueline has Cerebral Palsy

 

    Jacqueline was featured in Showtime’s documentary “In Pot We Trust”.

 

    Aimee has been battling Autoimmune diseases most of her life; Lupus and Crohn’s, to name only two.  In 28 years, she has suffered more than most of us have ever dreamed of. Cannabis has brought her unfailing relief from pain and other symptoms during her many struggles.

 

Aimee battles Autoimmune Disease

 

    Mark Pedersen of St. Louis has been a Cannabis patient for over ten years. He uses Cannabis to treat Fibromyalgia and severe migraines. For the last several years, he has been an advocate for the chronically ill and a proponent for legislative change in Missouri and nationwide.

 

Mark suffers from Fibromyalgia and severe migraines

 

    Since 2006, Mark has been collecting video testimonies from Cannabis patients, their families, and physicians, from across the country, but most specifically in Missouri and North Carolina, where he has been most involved in legislation to benefit the chronically ill.

 

    As the chronically ill step up to take an active roll in ending cannabis prohibition, America has finally been given a face to this terrible injustice.  The hypocrisy that has dominated this political deboggle is dimming amidst the ever growing number of cannabis patients coming forward to tout the benefits of this age old holistic treatment.  

  

 To view all our Medical Cannabis Testimonies, please visit my youtube channel CannabisPatientNet, and to view our legislative reform, go to www.markpedersen.com, www.asawnc.org, and www.gstlnorml.org.

Rod’s house burned down in January 2007.

Rod suffers from Epilepsy

While his house was still burning, the fire department there in St. Charles, Missouri chose to break down the door into his grow room, even though that part of his house wasn’t involved in the fire. They also chose to pry open the locked drawers of a steel desk looking for cash rather than fight the fire that was consuming the rest of his house. Rod’s lacerations and burns had to wait while he was handcuffed in the street in front of his neighbors and children and hauled off to jail, while his home still burned.
Though Rod used cannabis from his personal garden for his personal use to treat his Epilepsy, he was charged with manufacture, distribution, and other felonies just like a street drug dealer. To add insult to injury, the St. Charles Fire Department distributed a video of their heroic efforts, rummaging through Rod’s home looking for cash and contraband, among other fire departments around St. Louis and St. Charles County.

His pharmaceutical use is reduced to a third with Cannabis

To view all our Medical Cannabis Testimonies, please visit my youtube channel CannabisPatientNet, and to view our legislative reform, go to http://www.markpedersen.com and http://www.gstlnorml.org