Criminally Ill

Criminally Ill
Posted by CN Staff on April 23, 2008 at 08:17:54 PT
By Ron Oveson
Source: Star-Tribune 
Minnesota -- I've been heartened to follow the progress of the medical marijuana bill in the Legislature but also disappointed to hear that Gov. Tim Pawlenty has threatened to veto it. Medical marijuana could make an enormous difference to seriously ill patients in Minnesota -- patients like me.Since 1989, I've been fighting a rare disorder called neurosarcoidosis, which causes my body to produce antibodies to my own tissues, including my spinal cord and brain. My symptoms are severe and have included sporadic paralysis in my legs and left arm; nausea and vomiting; extreme pain in my extremities, and muscle spasms, some of which cause me to freeze in bizarre positions because opposing muscles contract simultaneously.
Physicians at the Mayo Clinic discovered that this disease could be controlled by suppressing my immune system. The sporadic paralysis I'd experienced abated and, after months of physical therapy, I was able to walk again. But that was only the first of many battles I would fight as the disease went from one organ or system to another, damaging every one.In the spring of 2001, the disease began to affect my thyroid gland. My heart rate increased dramatically, and my digestive system sped up, moving food through my system so fast it was largely undigested. My body's reaction was to violently expel any food I attempted to eat. I spent weeks in the hospital, losing about 70 of my 190 pounds. We tried dozens of drugs, to no avail.Finally, my doctor suggested I try marijuana. He felt that even a small dose could relieve my nausea and potentially enable me to gain back some of my weight.I couldn't imagine how to obtain marijuana. The worst legal offense I've ever committed was speeding when I was in college. Was I supposed to go downtown to some alley in the middle of the night and just stand there, hoping not to get shot?Eventually, I found a friend who was able to acquire some. I was absolutely amazed at the result.It was unlike any of the other drugs my doctor had prescribed. Not only did it stop my nausea, but it enabled me to eat a meal for the first time in months.The fact that I was breaking the law was deeply troubling, however. In my family, we simply don't commit crimes.Luckily, my thyroid gland eventually returned to normal, and I was able to discontinue using marijuana, which was a relief. I hated the whole process of dealing with an illegal drug.The thyroid problems have returned several times, and I've had only the occasional ability to obtain marijuana. When I had it, I could live a functional life. When I didn't, I had to use the prescription drugs, which basically reduced my nausea by making me sleep all the time. How absurd that I had to make myself nearly comatose in order to get relief!I desperately need medical marijuana to be an option, but I'm unwilling to move to any of the 12 medical marijuana states. I love Minnesota. It's my home. I feel that access to medical marijuana should be safe and controlled, and that marijuana should be available only to patients with documented symptoms. And that's exactly what the Minnesota legislation proposes.It's been two years since I used marijuana, because I simply can't stand to participate in the criminal market. I have to be at my wit's end -- miserable to the point where my upbringing and my law-abiding personality are trumped by my agony. No one should be forced into that position.The House should pass the bill, and Gov. Pawlenty should sign it into law. I'm not the only Minnesotan counting on them to do the right thing.Ron Oveson, a former network engineering consultant for Computer Sciences Corp., lives in Bloomington.Note: In my family, we don't break the law. But what should I do when marijuana does more to ease my disease than any other drug?Source: Minneapolis Star-Tribune (MN) Author: Ron OvesonPublished: April 22, 2008Copyright: 2008 Star Tribune Contact: opinion Website: Articles & Web Site:Minnesota Cares Weed In The Wings Debate: Both Sides Can Point To Science Room in Minnesota for Medical Marijuana
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