August 10-12, 2018 I attended the first Texas Marijuana Policy Conference in Austin, Texas surrounded by Texans who agree legalizing cannabis is a human rights Issue! My experience at the conference confirmed for me that the American public is starting to understand that cannabis prohibition does more harm than good and legalizing cannabis is the compassionate thing to do!
There were so many people with different backgrounds coming together in the name of cannabis legalization sharing their experiences. Story after story chronicled the misery of injury and illness. The struggles each person shared were deeply personal. The patient and caregiver panel at the conference had seven people. Each bravely shared their stories about how cannabis gave them and/or their loved ones their lives back. There was not a dry eye in the room; both sad and happy tears.
If you sit on the fence about cannabis legalization consider what your life would be like if you were the parent of a physically aggressive self-harming child with Autism with whom it was unsafe for you to share space. Imagine that you had already tried every pharmaceutical, every diet, every school, every procedure. Take a moment to feel the caged rage that brews inside you knowing that cannabis would help your child yet because it is illegal you run the risk of being reported to Child Protective Services by your neighbor or physician – even when they know it makes your child’s life better. How would you feel when after using cannabis your child speaks her first words, looks you in eye and smiles? How many tears of joy would you cry when your child’s rages stop, their verbal skills begin to develop, and you hear from your 15-year-old, “I love you” for the first time EVER? Can you imagine?
What if your parent was institutionalized due to Alzhiemer’s? For years you have watched their blank stares desperately looking for some glimmer of recognition; you just want them to recognize your face one more time. It brakes your heart to see them so vacant, disoriented and in constraints because of their violent outburst they don’t understand nor can control. For hours leading up to each visit you feel sick at your stomach knowing the parent you cherish remains in body but their personality has been coopted by amyloid plaques in the brain. A random internet search leads you to an article that tells you about science indicating cannabinoids from the cannabis plant have been shown in laboratories to dissolve amyloid plaques that are the hallmark of Alzheimer’s. After a month of utilizing cannabis in secret your parent no longer is violent, they smile at times and to your amazement and sheer joy they start to recognize you again. Your cries of desperation have turned to cries of relief. Now all this progress you have made with your parent is at risk because if the facility finds out you are giving them cannabis they will kick you out, and report you to adult protective services and the police.
What if you are the combat veteran and mother of three who was medically discharged after two tours of duty due to PTSD and severe constant migraines as a result of chemical weapons exposure. Your identity of being a great soldier is gone. And, now your headaches have taken over your ability to do the things you want to do for your kids and your husband. The pain is so bad that your only refuge is a cool, dark, silent room. But no matter where you go and what you do the cloud of guilt of not fulfilling the three roles you most love (mom, wife, soldier) overwhelms you into despair that at times consumes your will to get up one more time. The VA has told you there is nothing more they can do. You know from previously living in a legal state that cannabis is the one thing that makes it possible for you to function. Now, you are forced to buy cannabis on the black market and use it under duress hoping child protective services does not come knocking at your door.
These are real stories of real people living through real nightmares. Every one of them are using cannabis to treat themselves or their children at enormous risk to themselves and their families. They are not criminals nor societal outliers. They are just like you, me and our friends and family; Republicans, Democrats, rich, poor, white collar, blue collar, church goers and not. Access to safer forms of medicine – like cannabis – should be available to all of us. People should not have to risk their reputations, assets, custody of their kids, their right to drive and vote for using safer, gentler, and more effective treatments. Medical freedom and cannabis reform is a human rights issue! Join the Foundation for an Informed Texas in educating the public about legalizing cannabis!