By: Jasen T. Davis
Photo: Hans Fink
Medicinal marijuana is a proven, legitimate treatment. The pills and potions one can imbibe that are prescribed by doctors from pharmacies are really just chemical compounds separated from plants and then broken down into a more scientific design for post-industrial mass consumption.
In many cases the laws of our society prevent a very simple treatment in the form of a plant that was utilized by the founders of our nation for more than a century until Hearst and DuPont teamed up to make the plant illegal in order for them to obtain a monopoly on the sales of rope, pharmaceuticals and paper, more than 50 years ago. I invite you to google the subject the next time you are on the Internet. Hell, I double-dog dare you.
It is now 2010, and anyone in need of an all-natural treatment can still be denied by the outdated laws of our society. The lackluster cures that exist legally are a poor replacement, and are often times expensive with crippling side effects.
Keri and Brett Stackâ€™s story about how medical marijuana saved her life is an example of this problem, and why all bans and censorship of the positive effects of medical marijuana need to cease.
Keri was a young woman who surfed, attended classes at Cal State Fullerton and spent time with her boyfriend, Brett Stack. Her life was rather normal until 2003, when a series of health problems rapidly destroyed her ability to function.
The symptoms were mild at first, ranging from indigestion, diarrhea, nausea, severe stomach pain and an increasing difficulty in eating and keeping food down. As the pain worsened, insomnia resulted. Since sleep is essential to healing the body, this additional malady only worsened an already serious problem.
â€œI had insurance through the college, and at first it wasnâ€™t a big deal,â€ says Keri. â€œI would say it was about five to six months before I felt like I had to go to the doctor.â€
When Keri finally spoke to a physician he recommended her to a gastrointestinal specialist. The specialist diagnosed her with Crohnâ€™s disease, an autoimmune affliction of the digestive system, which results in the body mistakenly attacking itself and can result in crippling, brutal agony as the intestinal tract, the throat and the stomach become damaged and in some cases can even fester.
For nearly three years Keri and Brett went from doctor to doctor in a futile attempt to ease her condition. After Keri lost her insurance because she could no longer go to school or work, her medical bills skyrocketed to $2,000 a month.
The doctors Keri went to could only inform her that the cause of Crohnâ€™s disease was unknown, and there was no existing cure. The symptoms could only be managed, usually by modern medications and expensive, horrific surgeries.
â€œI went through a loop of medications. I was on more than a few,â€ says Keri. â€œI was taking pills for the nausea, the pain, but nothing worked for very long and I had to take more and more pills.â€
Keriâ€™s weight dropped to 80 lbs. She would have to go to the bathroom every fifteen minutes, and could only sleep 2-3 hours a night. The constant pain only worsened and she became a complete invalid, rarely leaving her house. Depression set in as modern medical science was unable to help her. She was prescribed medication and ended up taking as many as 27 pills a day, including Vicodin, Valium, betazine, azathioprine, Asicol and cortisol and codeine.
â€œOne doctor even asked, â€˜Why are you taking these pills? Oh, you must be going to an older doctor.â€™â€ Brett says. â€œApparently, one doctor was just prescribing older medicationsâ€¦old, old remedies.â€
The problem was that many of the drugs suppress the immune system of the body, either by design or side effect. While this is a good way to alleviate the effects of Crohnâ€™s disease, choking down a horde of pills for the rest her life wasnâ€™t going to cure Keri.
At one point during the interview, Keri said that her memory was so bad during the time that Brett had to answer questions for Keri about nearly two years of her life, especially in regards to how every cure provided by doctors seemed useless. â€œI donâ€™t have a lot of recollection. I was in a lot of pain.â€ Keri says. â€œIt was terrible. She went to four different doctors, and none of them could really help.â€ Brett added.
Brett could do nothing except treat his girlfriend and quit his own job to become her full-time caretaker. In our interview, Keri described her condition as being so terrible that she could find no real comfort for her insomnia. Any sleep she got was only after she had passed out from pure exhaustion. The couple survived mainly on money donated to them by both of their families. Keriâ€™s condition worsened.
As a final treatment, Keriâ€™s doctor suggested a surgery. Large sections of her intestine would be cut out, and she would be given a colostomy bag. The operation would cost nearly $20,000, and there was no guarantee that it would solve her problem.
â€œThat was the last doctor we took her to. Basically, he wanted to make her an invalid. He didnâ€™t mention marijuana at all. It didnâ€™t make sense. The disease is because of the immune system, not her intestine or colon. How does that solve the problem?â€ says Brett.
During this time, Keriâ€™s medical bills skyrocketed. Brett said, â€œMy mom paid all of Keriâ€™s bills. She took a second mortgage on the house. The final total was around $140,000.â€
Brett Stack had been researching the disease for years, when he stumbled upon instances where sufferers of Crohnâ€™s disease had found their symptoms alleviated by marijuana. Obtaining some from a local source, he learned how to simmer the cannabis in goatâ€™s milk, since Keri was unable to smoke the substance in her condition.
Keri consumed a cup of the mixture, and her pain subsided. That night, she finally experienced a full nightâ€™s sleep for the first time in years.
Brett visited a Dr. Sullivan at a clinic in Lake Forest to obtain a license for medical marijuana. When he left, Brett took with him several pamphlets which contained information about the various ailments that medical marijuana could treat. One of them was Crohnâ€™s disease.
Brett was shocked. For years all of her doctors, even the specialists, had failed to inform either of them about the medicinal benefits of marijuana. Dr. Sullivan later explained to Brett that as a doctor he couldnâ€™t advertise about the healthy benefits of medical marijuanaâ€¦he could only treat patients who came to him.
â€œCannabis doctors canâ€™t tell you anything. You have to go to them.â€ says Bret. â€œI went to four different doctors, and not one of them mentioned marijuana.â€ says Keri.
Keri was able to stop taking all of the pills prescribed by her doctors, and instead drank the marijuana mixture on a regular basis. She gradually found her life returning to normal, and regained her original weight. A later test showed that her body had actually repaired the damage it had taken from her disease.
Keriâ€™s parents were someone reluctant to accept the treatment. Her father, an ex-cop, especially disagreed with the use of marijuana. But as the months passed they could not argue with the results. The two became married, and her father later apologized to Brett for his initial reluctance in regards to medical marijuana. The older man had to admit that his son-in-law had saved his daughterâ€™s life.
As her health returned, Kerri found herself able to live life again. The couple started a business, www.medicalmarijuanapatient.com, dedicated to helping the general public become aware and informed of a low-cost alternative to many expensive treatments doctors are still prescribing for a variety of illnesses.
I can understand why modern society still follows laws developed by falsehoods decades ago which ban a plant that has been used by hundreds of cultures for centuries to deal with health problems that still hurt people today. Growing your own medicine would eliminate the middle men, the pharmaceutical companies, which prefer to charge you thousands of dollars for pills derived from the marijuana you could create yourself. A profit would be lost.
Until then, we must continue following outdated laws until we are able to overturn them through legislature we can only present to our elected representatives. All we can do is educate ourselvesâ€¦and vote.