The Power of Patients

  The Power of Patients

Posted by CN Staff on March 30, 2006 at 10:36:58 PT
By Jessie McQuillan 
Source: Missoula Independent 

Montana -- The first meeting of Peace for Patients, the state’s first medical marijuana support and advocacy group, brought together a handful of patients and would-be patients in Missoula on March 27 in hopes that they might help each other navigate the murky waters of Montana’s medical marijuana program, which voters approved in 2004, and now has 189 enrolled patients. Daniel Skaggs, the Montana organizer for Americans for Safe Access and creator of the group, says he wants to build a network to provide patients with information and encouragement.
Creating a public front of local support on the part of non-patients, particularly in the face of continued federal raids on patients, is also a goal, he says. “I want to try to pull together as many patients and their supporters as possible to let people know that these patients are living in your town—they might be your best friend, your mother, your grandmother,” Skaggs told the seven people who showed up for the meeting. One woman, Jan Durbin, who says she has an incurable nerve disease but can’t find a doctor who will discuss medical marijuana with her, drove over from Anaconda to learn more about the law’s provisions and other patients’ experiences. “I’m on so many pills right now it’s pathetic, and I’m so tired of being in pain,” Durbin says. Bob Meharg, a registered patient from the Bitterroot who was recently arrested and charged with cultivating marijuana despite the supposed protections of Montana’s medical marijuana law, talked about his case and brought up some of the ambiguities and contradictions in the law. For instance, he says, the law’s provision that allows patients to possess up to six plants or 1 ounce doesn’t parse, since one plant could easily produce more than 1 ounce. John Masterson, of Montana NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), showed up in hopes of gathering just such feedback to support future tweakings of the law. “The formation of a patient support group is a wonderful development for patients in Montana,” he commented. Source: Missoula Independent (MT)Author: Jessie McQuillanPublished: March 30, 2006 - Vol. 17 - No. 13Copyright: 2006 Missoula IndependentContact: NORML Medical Marijuana Archives

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Comment #11 posted by FoM on March 30, 2006 at 16:25:34 PT
It's true. Our society doesn't seem to really care about drugs and addiction until a person is in trouble. During my horse years we worked hard and trained hard and sometimes a horse got hurt. They would be rested and given pain medicine to help them over the crisis. If the injury was one that would keep the horse from ever being productive again they often were destroyed. Not on my farm but that is common in the horse industry. We don't shoot people like people shoot horses. So what are we going to do with a person that isn't going to function at peak performance level anymore? We often drug them up. We need to rethink drugging as a solution to injuries and allow people to recover and if they can't recover do something less intense and make their life count. That's how I feel about drugs and people.
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Comment #10 posted by whig on March 30, 2006 at 16:07:30 PT
Just Say Know. :)
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Comment #9 posted by FoM on March 30, 2006 at 15:36:14 PT
Maybe we need a new motto.Know DrugsI really believe if people knew how sneaky narcotic pain pills are they might not take them very long. Good, honest drug education could help prevent addiction.
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Comment #8 posted by Sam Adams on March 30, 2006 at 15:25:42 PT
Believe me, I understand exactly what you're saying. I have them and avoid taking opiates for pain relief also, I don't really like the side effects. If you take them for even a week, you're going to suffer some withdrawal. They're definitely sneaky, you don't realize you're becoming dependent until you stop taking them.I think there's an old Chinese proverb....something like "man who smokes 3 bowls of opium is addicted" or "by the third bowl, you're addicted"....I don't know, it was a catchy way of saying that which I've clearly forgotten.I'll usually use them for a few days to get through a particularly bad episode of pain, but that's it. I"ve been through medical support groups & talked to lots of people who desperately need them to survive, though. Including one of my doctors, who takes them for chronic neck pain & says he couldn't work if he didn't have them. I think he's having surgery soon, hopefully that will help him.
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on March 30, 2006 at 14:05:59 PT

I understand the theory but some people really do need help. Not everyone wants to stay addicted to a drug. They called it having a monkey on your back years ago. There is no absolute. I didn't want to be an addict. It made me feel terrible and it also caused my overall health to fail. I'm talking a legal addict. I was injured and needed pain medicine and the pain never really went away. Narcotics are sneaky. A narcotic will make you think your injury isn't better or at least that's what the doctor told me in re-hab. I don't need pain medicine now and I have a much better life and those that love me are happy because I'm much easier to get along with.
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Comment #6 posted by Sam Adams on March 30, 2006 at 13:57:14 PT

FOM, I certainly don't have the answer you're looking for. It's not like Oxycontin and Percocet are totally freely available, you do have to get a script from your doctor.The "epidemic" that is playing out today seems totally predictable. There will NEVER be a way to eliminate abuse of opiates. We are not even close to being able to objectively measure pain. Doctors must rely on what patients tell them. We will never be able to weed out all the liars. That is as sure as the sun rising in the east.  It's also the fact that these fascist moralists can't seem to grasp.All the problems we see today are spin-offs from this central denial issue. You can't forceably CONTROL your way out of some moral problems. A stern authoritarian government will not eliminate drug abuse. The various human cultures have developed ways of keeping people mentally healthy for eons. We've disposed with many of those methods and lifestyles, and now we think we can just beat the drug abuse out of people, and it's not working. It won't ever work.The effect of the last 50 years seems to be that it's more difficult that at any time in the last 200 years for people in pain to get opiate relief. At this point, it's hard to see much benefit from the CSA, in my opinion. We gave up our freedom to medicate ourselves for the supposed benefit of pure drugs. Now the corrupt government controls how much pain we're in. And they're actually helping the drug makers to sell harmful, dangerous drugs instead of preventing it.I'm sorry, but I'd rather go back to the earlier days of self-reliance. Have Herb Pharm in Oregon sell organic opium tincture to whoever has $8 bucks per bottle. I feel like I can control my own appetite for opium, I'm not worried. I can help those in my family and my friends to stay healthy and non-addicted.If somebody wants to sit there and waste their life away by taking opium all day long, so be it. To each his own. It's not like there's a shortage of productive humans in the US. We're outsourcing jobs as fast as we can. Who cares if a few people sit around and take opium all day? Let it be a family problem. A doctor-patient problem.Do we really think that the corrupt buffoons in Washington are going to pass some magical law that elimates opiate abuse? The local cops, most of who never went to college - they're going to stop opiate abuse? Sorry, I guess I'm going all Libertarian again.

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Comment #5 posted by FoM on March 30, 2006 at 13:30:09 PT

Narcotic drugs like Oxycontin and how they let them flow freely has created plenty of people who are addicted I believe. In a town not to far from my home they raided a couple pain clinics and shut them down. Now they have a heroin problem. They never had a heroin problem before. Who created this new epidemic in this town?
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Comment #4 posted by Sam Adams on March 30, 2006 at 13:18:24 PT

do we agree?
From the "Drug Free Alliance" article FOM posted below:"In the past decade, strong evidence has been accumulated regarding the benefits of mind-body therapies, acupuncture, and some nutritional supplements for treating pain, according to an article posted on WebMD. Other alternative therapies such as massage, chiropractic therapies, therapeutic touch, certain herbal therapies, and dietary approaches have the potential to alleviate pain in some cases as well."Certain herbal therapies? You mean, like non-toxic, non-addictive herbs? Hmmm, I wonder which herb they mean....echinecea, no, goldenseal, nope, hmmm, what else is there?What is the difference between today and 1906? We have the same percentage of opiate addicts, according the research I've seen. However, in 1906, they'd just go down the apocathery and buy the tincture. There was barely any mafia whatsoever in 1906. Now, the addicts are still getting their opium, but they're enriching a global network of violent criminals. And, huge multi-national drug corporations are now profiting from opiate addiction, whereas before it was local, middle-class business owners, who could look the addicts in the face and try to help them.
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Comment #3 posted by Taylor121 on March 30, 2006 at 12:42:10 PT

URL for High and Dry
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Comment #2 posted by Taylor121 on March 30, 2006 at 12:41:48 PT

A&M Paper: High and Dry
High and dry:
Should universities ease penalties for marijuana possession?
By: Kevin Alexander & Travis Holland
Issue date: 3/29/06 Section: OpinionBy Kevin AlexanderAs with most modern social issues, universities are at the forefront of the controversy. At several campuses, including UT, students are passing referendums in an attempt to reduce the penalties for possessing marijuana. The initiative is headed by the Colorado-based group SAFER (Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation). SAFER wants universities to consider marijuana the same as alcohol when determining campus discipline. This is a policy that should come to pass at Texas A&M.Both sides have distorted the facts about marijuana, but one thing is clear: Marijuana, though not harmless, is a heck of a lot safer than alcohol. According to the Annual Review of Public Health in 2005, alcohol is the cause for about 1,700 deaths each year among college students. Marijuana, however, is impossible to overdose on, and no records exist of someone dying due to cannabis alone.As long as it is done outside, students are allowed to use tobacco without fear, even though the dangers of tobacco use are well documented. A student who tries to smoke marijuana outside, however, is not only in violation of the law, but can also be arrested by A&M, suspended or expelled. At A&M, a student under 21 possessing alcohol may receive a fine, community service, alcohol awareness education or both for a first offense. The first-time offense for possession of marijuana results in at least suspension. There is something hypocritical here. Why not a fine or awareness education for marijuana use? Alcohol is clearly more dangerous than marijuana. It's akin to giving someone a hand grenade, and then withholding a firecracker under the guise of "safety."Students don't come to A&M looking for a babysitter. It's tempting to argue that because marijuana possession is against the law, it is the University's responsibility to punish offenders. This belief is not true. Last June, the Supreme Court decided in the case Raich v Ashcroft that a California law allowing for medicinal marijuana was not unconstitutional. The users of the marijuana could still be held accountable to federal law, but the state did not have an obligation to punish them. This same logic could be applied to the policy here. A&M is not a police entity and is not obligated to administer punishment on top of what the law provides. If the University feels that certain offenders are an actual threat, then it could always turn them over to the police, but suspension or expulsion on top of jail time and fines is unnecessary and excessive.Perhaps the University looks to deter usage of the drug through threats of discipline, but history has proven this method to be inadequate. According to the University of Amsterdam, acute and long-term marijuana usage in the Netherlands is half that of America's. In the Netherlands, marijuana is legal and easily available.A quick search on turns up hundreds of admitted marijuana users at A&M. These students are not cowed by the University's double standard regarding alcohol and cannabis. Common sense suggests that there are more users under the radar undeterred by A&M's student rules.A more relaxed and prudent policy would allow these students to walk with a bit more ease on campus, and let them focus on more important, ultimately academic, matters.By Travis HollandThe boys from Oklahoma roll it all wrong. Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong made a movie career out of it. A former president of the United States smoked it without inhaling. It's marijuana, one of the most commonly used illegal drugs in the United States.Recently, there has been a push on several college campuses across the nation to equalize penalties for marijuana possession and underage alcohol offenses. Because the University of Texas is one of these schools, the same debate has been raised here in College Station.First, marijuana is an illegal substance, which automatically elevates the severity of punishment for possession. True, alcohol is illegal to possess for a minor, but the legality of alcohol consumption is based simply on age. Alcohol is not illegal in the same sense as marijuana. Marijuana is a prohibited substance, not legal at any age, so it simply isn't rational to equalize penalties for the two.In the eyes of the law, possession of marijuana is a more severe offense than a minor in possession of alcohol, so school rules shouldn't be any different. It is important that colleges keep rules consistent with those of the real world.Furthermore, Texas A&M is a state funded university, so its rules should absolutely coincide with state laws. Equalizing the penalties for these infractions would not be a wise decision for an institution that relies on funding from a state government with different views.The propositions at UT and other schools don't call for stiffer alcohol penalties, only lighter punishments for marijuana users. This would send the wrong message to students. If the rules were changed in such a manner, it would undoubtedly make the possession of marijuana seem like a less severe crime. The only thing this would do is increase marijuana use among students.Proponents of the rule change say that student surveys passed at UT and Florida State University show the student body would want to lessen the penalty for possession of marijuana. They go on to say that university administrations should take note and change their policies. These demands are good for a laugh, but nothing more. The surveys did show that a majority of students at these schools wanted the change, but unfortunately students don't get to make the rules.The fact that most students want the rules changed is not a valid reason to change them. If student surveys were the law of the land, A&M would offer beer pong as a kinesiology class, and no one would pay tuition.The most common argument for the equalization of punishments for marijuana and underage alcohol offenses is that marijuana is safer than alcohol. This is completely preposterous. People under the influence of marijuana are just as dangerous to themselves and others as someone using alcohol. Both substances impair coordination and cause users to make decisions they otherwise would avoid. Whether or not marijuana is more dangerous is not the question the University faces. The real issue here is that students are asking college administrations to lighten the punishment for an illegal drug.No matter what trendy phrases and witty acronyms are used to support this proposition, universities should not consider lessening the punishment for the possession of marijuana. This is just an example of a well-spoken group of college students attempting to get rules changed so they can light one up in their resident halls without consequence.
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on March 30, 2006 at 11:41:14 PT

Off Topic
Experts Clash over Narcotic Painkillers
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