Pubdate: Sun, 21 Jul 2013
Source: Telegraph, The (Nashua, NH)
Copyright: 2013 Telegraph Publishing Company
Author: Joseph G. Cote


Editor's note: New Hampshire will become the 19th state to allow some
form of medical marijuana with Gov. Maggie Hassan's signature. The
Telegraph's six-day series, Cannabis Care, examines New Hampshire's
therapeutic marijuana legislation and how the law will work, including
who can get the drug, how much it will cost, and what needs to happen
before the first batch of marijuana is legally distributed in the state.

Clayton Holton, a 28-year-old Rochester man born with muscular
dystrophy, is waiting to die.

After many years of struggles, his health recently took a sharp turn
for the worse. He weighs 60 pounds and made the decision to admit
himself to a nursing facility  something he has avoided longer than
anyone dared dream he could.

He has smoked marijuana illegally and openly for years to help some of
the debilitating symptoms of his disease and has advocated for the
legalization of medical marijuana for the past seven years.

But Holton says he will never smoke legal medical marijuana. He
doesn't expect to be alive by this time next year.

"I will not live long enough to see the card system implemented,"
Holton said, referring to the cards that doctors will hand to
thousands of patients suffering from debilitating conditions, enabling
them to smoke marijuana to ease their pain.

Holton has fought for the legalization of medical marijuana for seven
years and has testified at the Statehouse in favor of it. In the
meantime, he has smoked marijuana he buys illegally because, he points
out, who's going to arrest him?

But the political process has embittered him. There's one medical
marijuana user in the state, that he knows of, who has been fighting
for legalization longer than him. The rest of them are dead.

"It's the fact that the politicians that are involved in making these
decisions know it needs to be addressed in a timely manner," Holton
said. "The people that really need it don't have time to wait. We the
patients keep dying."

If Holton was in better health, he figures the new law would be little
help to him because it would be cost-prohibitive.

Holton said after he pays his bills for the month, he has about $300
of his Social Security check left over. Estimates for what it will
cost medical marijuana patients range from $250-$400 a month. In New
Jersey, a quarter-ounce of the weed costs $140.

Holton said many medical marijuana patients are in similar financial
straits because of their health, often living on low, fixed incomes
with little left to spend on state-regulated but expensive marijuana.
It's a part of the law, along with disallowing people to grow a small
amount at home, that he finds "really frustrating and so obscene."

"The law itself is a joke," Holton said. "It's basically a form of
legal drug dealing. Once these dispensaries open, patients will
continue to buy their medical marijuana illegally just for the fact
that it will be far cheaper than what is in the dispensaries."

What's more, Holton will have to give up his treatment of choice when
he moves into Riverside Rest Home, Strafford County's county-owned
nursing facility. He'll have to use oxycodone, or something similar,
which pale to marijuana, which he said stimulates his appetite to help
him eat and is "the best pain reliever that I have ever used."

"The oxys are the only thing that are going to be available to me," he
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