Pubdate: Tue, 10 May 2011 Source: Sudbury Star (CN ON) Copyright: 2011 Osprey Media Contact: http://www.thesudburystar.com/feedback1/LetterToEditor.aspx Website: http://www.thesudburystar.com Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/608 Author: Linda Crabtree DON'T CRIMINALIZE MEDICAL MARIJUANA Why do I have to break the law and risk my credibility and reputation to find relief from pain? If you live in constant pain or have any one of many conditions that can be relieved with the use of marijuana, you'll know why I'm writing this column. I have lived with chronic burning neuropathic pain for almost 20 years. At first I didn't think anyone could live like this, but I have and I've met many people in the same boat. It's a tough way to live. It's stressful, it affects your work, your family and your life. You just hurt all the time. And then you find something that helps relieve the pain and lets you live a fairly normal life, but you have to jump hoops so high to get it, it's heartbreaking. Years ago, I asked my general practitioner to sign a form to allow me to grow and take medical marijuana. He refused. Then I found a doctor through a diet clinic I was attending and she signed it. I bought seeds from Marc Emery, in British Columbia, who is now serving five years in prison for selling marijuana seeds. I think I received 10 and asked for a strain called Dutch Treat that would help relieve pain but not give me a high. I want to work, nothing else. I grow orchids under lights, so I started my seeds the same way. Out of the 10, six seeds germinated. Out of those, three huge plants grew in large pots in my backyard. They smelled terrible. Pot smells like skunk. And, at the end of the season, I had mostly seeds but no big sticky heads full of resin that would give me relief. I was back to square one, and it was time to renew my license. The doctor who had signed it had insisted I pay for diet treatment that was doing me harm, so she was no longer an option. No one else would comply. No more hope. Frustrated? That's not the word. I felt betrayed. I still do. I'm denied something that could help me lead a more normal life because our government is afraid of what? That I might become addicted? Research has proven that marijuana is not addictive and when you use it for pain relief, you rarely even get a high. Pain killing drugs can definitely be addictive and the side-effects can be horrendous. I know, I've tried more than 30. That I might drive erratically? I've pulled up beside young men smoking marijuana in their car, laughing, and obviously breaking the law. I've also trailed people who were obviously driving drunk. I think I can be trusted not to drive if I'm impaired in any way. That it might affect my life? The pain affects my life a great deal more than smoking or ingesting marijuana ever will. Recently, Superior Court Judge Donald Taliano found that Canada's medical marijuana program fails to give legal access to people who need it, largely because many family doctors refuse to sign the required paperwork patients need to apply for it. His ruling came after a three-year battle by St. Catharines native Matthew Mernagh, now living in Toronto. Taliano gave Ottawa three months to overhaul our medical marijuana program or effectively legalize the production and possession of marijuana. My thoughts on this: People who need medical marijuana should not have to have a doctor sign a piece of paper. Their diagnosis should speak for itself. We should not have to grow it ourselves, unless we want to, nor should we have to buy it on the street. Some don't know how to grow it and we don't know what we're getting when we buy it illegally. As long as it is illegal, we're breaking the law. I urge the federal government to look to other countries that have legalized medical marijuana. Find out how they do it and, please, for once and for all, let us get on with our lives. Or, legalize the production and possession for personal use, save millions enforcing laws that are broken every day and get on with real law-enforcement problems. - --- MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.