The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 classified marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, which is defined by three criteria:
1. A substance with high potential for abuse.
2. A substance with no accepted medical value.
3. A substance unsafe to use – even under medical supervision.
But the public perception of marijuana has shifted drastically over the years. In a 1969 Gallup opinion poll, only 12 percent of Americans were in favor of legalizing cannabis. Today, that number is closer to 58 percent, while a whopping 80 percent support it’s medicinal use.
For the first time since cannabis prohibition began, a clear majority of people believe in legalization. But for most of us, it’s just an opinion. We may feel strongly about it, or we may not.
Let me introduce you to some folks who do feel strongly about it. Very strongly, indeed.
Joy Williams is a 50 year old woman from Gladstone, MI who believes she owes her life to marijuana. A few years ago she weighed more than 400 pounds, and she was taking 42 prescription pills per day to manage her pain, anxiety and COPD. The drugs were slowly killing her – her liver and kidneys were failing, and her energy was non-existent. She spent nearly all day lying in bed.
In October of 2012, she replaced her prescriptions with medical marijuana, as part of an complete lifestyle overhaul (she also switched to a vegan diet). Since then she has lost 270 pounds. Her liver and kidneys are functioning normally. She is cured of COPD.
Most importantly, she is able to play with her grand daughter, and enjoy her life and her time with her family.
And then there’s Jim Gilliam. In March of 2009, Jim published an open letter to President Obama on the Huffington Post, entitled “Pot Saved My Life, Mr. President.” Written in response to the President’s comments about marijuana policy, the letter describes Gilliam’s battle with cancer and radiation treatments, which left his lungs so scarred that he had to undergo a double lung transplant.
In the process, he nearly wasted away. His doctor diagnosed his weight loss as life-threatening, and wrote him a prescription for Marinol (a synthetic form of THC). Marinol enabled Jim to put on weight and get out of the danger zone. He concludes his letter by saying:
“Pot saved my life. It’s a miracle drug, even the crappy, non-organic kind made in a lab.”
Greg Scott of Ft. Lauderdale, FL was diagnosed with AIDS in 1987, at a time when there was nothing that doctors could do for him. He turned to marijuana to manage his symptoms and strengthen his appetite, and credits cannabis with keeping him alive long enough to benefit from more modern medical treatments. As he testified before a Florida commission:
“Because I smoked pot, I lived.”
If you live in or near Los Angeles, CA then you have probably heard the story of Bill Rosendahl, the city councilman who was the first elected official to openly use pot while in office. Bill first used medical cannabis to help relieve the stinging pain of neuropathy in his feet. He continued to use it when late stage cancer began affecting the nerves in his back, causing debilitating pain. But with the help of marijuana, Rosendahl is sleeping through the night, sitting and walking without pain, and feeling more like his old self again.
Oh, yeah – and his cancer has gone into remission. He gives credit to cannabis, saying in an interview with Huff Post Live:
“Medical marijuana saved my life.”
Mr. Rosendahl isn’t the only one who has found pot to be an effective anti-cancer agent. There’s also Mike Cutler of the UK, a 63 year old grandfather who was diagnosed with liver cancer in 2009. He received a transplant, only to find out that cancer had attacked his new liver, too. Doctors told him there was nothing else they could do. He turned to cannabis oil, and his symptoms disappeared. In May of this year, doctors told him the cancer cells had also disappeared.
Rick Simpson was diagnosed with skin cancer in 2003. He applied cannabis oil bandages to his skin spots and they cleared up in just days. He was so convinced by his own experience that he became something of a crusader, doing everything he can to spread the word about hemp oil and make it available to those in need – even to the point of facing criminal charges.
Dennis Hill is a biochemist who used cannabis butter and hemp oil to successfully treat malignant tumors. Dusty Frank used it to cure his prostate cancer. VICE magazine did a story about “Brave Mykayla” Comstock whose parents are treating her leukemia with cannabis oil. Dr. William Courtney told Huff Post Live about an 8 month old infant whose inoperable brain tumor was drastically reduced by hemp oil – administered via pacifier.
I may not know the name of the baby Dr. Courtney is referring to, I do know the name Jayden David. 8 year old Jayden has a very rare form of epilepsy known as Dravet syndrome, which is unresponsive to all forms of “conventional” treatment. But two years ago he found relief from his debilitating seizures through CBD-rich hemp oil, and is now living a normal and active life.
Jayden’s case is very similar to that of Charlotte Figi, who suffers from the same condition. Her case was in the national spotlight last year, after being referenced by Dr. Sanjay Gupta in his public statement coming out in favor of medical marijuana. Cannabis oil has also helped kids with autism and muscular dystrophy, like Joey Hester-Perez, and also Smith-Magenis Syndrome, like Colin Ulrick.
These are lives saved by pot. These are children who are alive and healthy because of cannabis, and it’s incredible medicinal properties – which we are only beginning to explore and understand. These are men and women of all ages, who have been healed and found new hope, new strength and new life through marijuana.
Everyone has an opinion about marijuana, and most of us are in favor. But for these people and their families, it’s not just an opinion. It’s a conviction. Cannabis is not a Schedule 1 drug – it’s a medicine.
Pot saves lives. It saved their lives. And it can save thousands more, if we just give it a chance.