8.06.2008

California Medicine - a Documentary

In the 12 years since California became the first state in the nation to legalize marijuana for medical use, the drug's distribution network has grown from a small collective of cannabis clubs to a sprawling network of unregulated dispensaries -- some with their own prescribing physicians.

Not only that, but according to the NY Times, a new policy, by the California Highway Patrol, states that an "individual is to be released and the marijuana is not to be seized" if the person qualifies under state law to possess marijuana for medicinal purposes. It also says that officers "shall not conduct traffic enforcement stops for the primary purpose of drug interdiction" involving the authorized use of medical marijuana.

How difficult is it to get a cannabis card? Sandy Banks from the LA Times did a report on buying medical marijuana. She found a flier that advertised "Have you or anyone else experienced an illness [for] which you believe marijuana could provide relief? If you don't qualify for a recommendation, your visit is free." She went to the doctor, who gave her a 10-minute exam and diagnosed her with arthritis. The prescription he gave her for marijuana was good for one year; no refill limits. He recommended she not smoke it. Bad for the lungs. Better to use it with a vaporizer. Or ingest it, infused in tea or baked in brownies.

The law allows physicians to recommend marijuana for the treatment of "cancer, anorexia, AIDS, chronic pain, spasticity, glaucoma, arthritis, migraine, or any other illness for which marijuana provides relief."

I wanted to see how the law and the ease of obtaining a medical marijuana id card worked first hand, so I flew to California to check out the situation. I was able to interview 3 people:

Reed E. Gossamer
I met Reed in a coffee shop on Big Creek Rd, Hayfork, CA. I skipped the pleasantries and dove right in with my questions. Reed had ordered 2 of the specials with an extra side of fries, so it was hard to catch him in between bites. Reed claims he has an eating disorder, Anorexia Nervosa. Apparently this otherwise virile 65-year old has a poor self image mixed with OCD, and can't manage to stop exercising and start eating. He claims his doctor prescribed it to him in hopes that the marijuana would help ease the compulsion to exercise while stimulating his appetite at the same time. According to the doctor, who is Russian, no other medication comes close to helping fight Anorexia like "марихуана".



Paul Z
I caught up with Paul over a game of darts in Mad River, CA. Paul tells me he is somewhat of a "big brother" to a group of teens in the community that don't have much of a home life. (I kind of teared up - its awesome to see the good stuff that is going on in our country...) Anyhow, Paul suffers from Spasticity - an ugly condition that apparently causes his leg and arm muscles to seize up and render them useless for several minutes at a time. He claims this happens 10-12 times randomly throughout the day. His doctor reports that the bammy relaxes the muscles to keep them from seizing up. Paul himself says there is nothing else that works quite as well, and he has been "thrilled" with the results.


Lakav I. Sion

I catch my next interview just as she's coming in from a 5-mile run. Poor Lakav has a dual diagnosis of Arthritis and Glaucoma. At only age 19, she says the percentage of people diagnosed with both conditions at her age is .00001 %. "My luck muy pobre", she laughs, as we sit in the living room of her parents' house in Platina, CA. Her mother looks on disapprovingly, stopp
ing to pray in a staged Spanish whisper every now and then during the course of our interview. "My doctor says Geek is better, but that es not legal here. He says Mota is the next best thing" "So I say...okay." Unfortunately at this point in the interview, Mrs. Sion asked me to leave.


My stay in California was short, but I left with a broader understanding than when I arrived. Truly, this is a state where government and medicine are working together to reach outside the box of traditional drug orthodoxy in order to treat and heal its number one priority - the people who live there. How many states can say that?


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9 comments:

Bee said...

Khrm! It seems I need to make a special trip to my home state of California! I feel my arthritic fingers cramping up and I can barely type, eat sunflower seeds and drink water at the same time.

Meg said...

I just read an article in the New Yorker about a licensed "cultivator" of the weed who lives in Venice Beach. I'm wondering how that looks on a resume.

Sarah♥ said...

haha.. yeah Meg.. Imagine this

Experienced Mary Jane Cultivator.
2006-2008

Duties-
Removing Buds.
Watering
Lighting specialist.

Jeff said...

Solid investigative reporting. I see a Pulitzer in your future!

Alice said...

Damn my anorexia!

Babycakes. Pack it up. We're heading west.

Alice said...

*other note* How difficult did you find it to be to adopt from Liberia? I've never heard of anyone adopting from there before.

Chat Blanc (aka Sandy) said...

so the police can't search your brownies? oh wait, that sounds like something else completely.

SiouxsieQ said...

we're not worthy. we're not worthy. i hope you got to fly first class.

Diesel said...

Of course, it's still against federal law, so occasionally the feds raid one of these places and burn all the pot. Good fun.