Measure #5, the legalizing of medical marijuana is on the ballot in North Dakota on November 8th.
As a young girl growing up on a farm in North Dakota, I was taught by my alcoholic father that marijuana (cannabis) was a horrible “gateway” drug that would destroy my life.
Little did I know that later, as a 70 year old retired teacher and grandmother, I would throw all caution to the wind and search in the night for this drug to help my daughter find relief.
Medical marijuana is helping adults and children of all ages who are undergoing all sorts of disorders.
Kids that have tried and exhausted all prescription medications for seizures are using MM to control them.
People with chronic pain are using it with success thus being able to decrease or completely stop taking Rx addictive pain meds like the opiates we read about in the news.
Patients with MS and ALS use it for relief from painful muscle spasms.
And then, of course, there is the cancer patient who may be you, a relative, or a friend.
Modern treatment of cancer includes high dose steroids, addictive pain meds, anti-nausea medications, and laxatives all to lessen the side effects of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.
How many of you have witnessed a chemo treatment where a nurse enters a cubicle dressed in what resembles a hazmat suit and inserts that cocktail of drugs into an unprotected patient’s port that goes directly into the blood stream?
Anyway, we are okay with doctors treating a patient with these important, although horrific, life-saving medications but we’re not ok with that same patient using MM to help relieve their pain and nausea. Why?
I helped my daughter use MM following her last chemo treatment. She was given anti-nausea meds and steroids intravenously plus going home with more of the same. Nothing was working. After using MM I watched in disbelief as, in a matter of minutes, she went from being in wretched hell to sitting up in a chair saying, “If it wasn't dark, I’d go for a walk around the block."
Do you believe in miracles? For us that night, medical marijuana was a miracle!
So now I ask, why do my daughter or I have to feel ashamed of using this drug or even writing this letter? Why are we ok with her taking Percocet, Oxycodone, Vicodin—all with their huge list of side effects and high addiction rates, but using MM makes us shake our heads and look down on one another.
The thing is that anyone reading this right now knows people using marijuana recreationally. They are out there. The people that want to use it do, and the people that need it for medicinal benefits have to hide and feel like a criminal. Why?
You’re maybe asking where is the medical profession on this? Why aren't they backing it? Here’s my answer:
Ask a doctor “on the record” and “off the record” and see if his answer is the same.
Doctors like their licenses and have to stay on the good side of the AMA.
And pharmaceuticals, hey, the whole EpiPen debacle has taught us where their hearts lie.
States where medical marijuana is already legal are seeing a decrease in the sale of pain, anti-nausea, and even depression meds. Less use=less money. By the way, besides pharmaceuticals, the alcohol and privatized prison industries are among the biggest lobbyists against legalizing marijuana. Go figure.
I end by saying educate yourself. Get on the Internet and search the benefits of cannabis. Think about all the children and adults with cancer, PTSD, Parkinson, MS, ALS, dementia, epilepsy and numerous other diseases that can, if they desire, find relief using it.
Let’s not let one more patient or caregiver have to break the law or move to another state in order to bring a loved one relief. This caregiver and her daughter have already discussed both options should the cancer return.
I am personally asking for your help with a “yes” vote on Measure #5.
Early voting is upon us.
Linda Kersten- Newburg, ND
Sponsored by North Dakota Compassionate Care 2016, Treasurer Murphy Anderson