Measure S is all about the medicine |

Measure S is all about the medicine

The Union published a front-page article giving Greg Zaller a soapbox on which to expound his views on Measure S. With all due respect to Mr. Zaller, who has done a great deal of good for people who suffer from addiction, his position on Measure S and medical marijuana is far from enlightened and compassionate.

Zaller claims most marijuana grown in compliance with the law ends up on the black market, and asserts that Measure S “just clears the way for growing more marijuana legally.” I’m not sure where he got that information or what qualifies him to make such statements. Unlike Zaller, I speak from my own experience. I am interested in medical marijuana and the Measure S debate because it affects me personally.

I am a 60-year-old retiree who has been using medical cannabis for more than a decade. For years, doctors had prescribed extremely high doses of anti-inflammatories and a variety of pain medications for my chronic pain, including Oxycodone. Anyone who believes Oxycodone is a “safe” drug should look at its side effects: dizziness, sedation, nausea, vomiting, headache, depressed breathing, impaired thinking, addiction, severe withdrawal symptoms, and even death. I was unable to tolerate the effects of such drugs. I developed a bleeding stomach ulcer and my liver function was seriously compromised. I was forced to stop using NSAIDs and knew I had to get off the pharmaceutical roller coaster.

I decided to give medical marijuana a try after reading about its potential medical benefits and paid a Sacramento dispensary hundreds of dollars for a small amount of cannabis. Miraculously, it helped my pain and inflammation without making me ill. The only side effects I experienced were an improved appetite, relaxation, and better sleep. I was able to use medical cannabis as needed and stop its use without any sign of withdrawal symptoms. My pain faded to the background and my quality of life greatly improved. For me, medical cannabis worked a miracle.

… why should people with a legitimate medical need be harmed by the actions of a few?

California’s voter-approved Compassionate Use Act permits people like me to grow their own medical cannabis. The law initially permitted six plants per patient, but the Supreme Court later struck that arbitrary limit down because some patients require more. I take concentrates before bed most nights and use a vaporizer for immediate relief from nerve pain and muscle spasms.

It takes a pound of marijuana flower tops to make a batch of the concentrates. The vaporizer uses 10 times more cannabis than smoking, but provides relief without harming my lungs.

Why not buy from a dispensary? Nevada County prohibits dispensaries. The nearest are in Sacramento and I simply can’t afford the exorbitant prices they charge. I would spend a significant percentage of my limited income to purchase a product I can produce myself. More important, I know the cannabis I grow is organic and safe.

The Compassionate Use Act allows for collective gardens. Prior to the Board of Supervisors’ adoption of the flawed medical marijuana cultivation ordinance, I legally grew medical cannabis for qualified friends on my parcel. However, the current ordinance put a stop to that with its residency requirements. Patients who cannot grow their own plants due to their location or disability are now left with two options. They can purchase overpriced medicine at a distant dispensary, or violate the law obtaining marijuana on the black market – marijuana that may be contaminated with pesticides or worse. Under the current ordinance, I cannot grow medicine for my seriously ill 80-year-old mother. Was that what voters had in mind in passing the Compassionate Use Act?

Measure S would allow for small collective gardens on 5-acre parcels like mine, with a limited number of plants per patient. That would not promote the use of recreational marijuana, as Zaller asserts. It would simply provide a way for qualified patients to legally obtain safe medicine.

Are there people who produce recreational pot “under the guise of medical marijuana,” as Zaller claims? Yes, but why should people with a legitimate medical need be harmed by the actions of a few? The real problem in our county isn’t medical gardens, but illegal growers who grow exclusively for the black market and don’t care about laws, the environment, or their neighbors. Go after them.

Finally, anyone who doubts the efficacy of medical cannabis should look to CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who publically apologized for his earlier dismissal of medical marijuana after seeing overwhelming evidence of its value — 2013/08/08/health/gupta-changed-mind-marijuana/

Please, have compassion. Vote “yes” on Measure S.

Cheryl Bradley is a retired corporate attorney. She lives in Nevada City.

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