Try to imagine that you are constantly, or at least frequently, under the assault of the worst pain or nausea you've ever experienced.
Imagine that no prescription medicine will alleviate your discomfort (or that the medicine that does destroys your liver or costs as much as a new car every year).
Then, imagine that you know of a naturally-occurring herb that will take the pain or nausea away, or at least reduce it to a tolerable level, with no bad side effects.
Then imagine that your local politicians will put you in jail if you try to obtain some of this medicine.
This is a fact of life for unknown thousands, of UK residents, and for hundreds of thousands worldwide.
Some day you might be in their shoes...
- "It feels like somebody's hitting me in the back with an axe, and the spasms keep me from breathing, like being squeezed by an anaconda."
- --Matthew Ducheneaux, describing spasms familiar to many people with spinal injuries. Ducheneaux was testifying to the South Dakota Criminal Code Revision Committee in the Capitol in July, 2004. We have observed Matthew undergoing such spasms, and we have seen how inhaling cannabis smoke immediately stops the spasms for him. Read the complete Rapid City Journal editorial below.
The medical community is behind safe access to cannabis.
These organizations endorse immediate access to cannabis for medical therapy.
AIDS Action Council
AIDS Treatment News
American Academy of Family Physicians
American Bar Association
American Medical Student Association
American Nurses Association
American Preventive Medical Association
American Public Health Association
American Society of Addiction Medicine
Arthritis Research Campaign (United Kingdom)
Australian Medical Association (NSW) Limited
Australian National Task Force on Cannabis
Belgian Ministry of Health
British House of Lords Cmte on Science & Technology
British Medical Association
Canadian AIDS Society
Canadian Special Senate Committee on Illegal Drugs
Dr. Dean Edell (surgeon and nationally syndicated radio host)
French Ministry of Health
Institute of Medicine
Lymphoma Foundation of America
The Montel Williams MS Foundation
Multiple Sclerosis Society (Canada)
The Multiple Sclerosis Society (United Kingdom)
National Academy of Sciences Institute Of Medicine
National Association for Public Health Policy
National Nurses Society on ddictions
Netherlands Ministry of Health
New England Journal of Medicine
New South Wales (Australia) Parliamentary Working Party on the Use of Cannabis for MedicalPurposes
Dr. Andrew Weil (nationally recognized professor of internal medicine and founder of the National Integrative Medicine Council)
State and Local Organizations:
Alaska Nurses Association
Being Alive: People With HIV/AIDS Action Committee (San Diego, CA)
California Academy of Family Physicians
California Legislative Council for Older Americans
California Medical Association
California-Pacific Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church
California Pharmacists Association
California Society of AddictionMedicine
Colorado Nurses Association
Connecticut Nurses Association
Consumer Reports Magazine
Florida Governor's Red Ribbon Panel on AIDS
Florida Medical Association
Hawaii Nurses Association
Illinois Nurses Association
Kaiser PermanenteLife Extension Foundation
Lymphoma Foundation of America
Medical Society of the State of New York
Association Multiple Sclerosis
California Action Network
National Association of Attorneys
General National Association of People with AIDS
National Nurses Society on Addictions
New England Journal of Medicine
New Jersey State Nurses Association
New Mexico Medical Society
New Mexico Nurses Association
New York County Medical Society
New York State Nurses Association
North Carolina Nurses Association
Rhode Island Medical Society
Rhode Island State Nurses Association
San Francisco Mayor's Summit on AIDS and HIV
San Francisco Medical Society
Vermont Medical Marijuana Study Committee
Virginia Nurses Association
Whitman-Walker Clinic (Washington, DC)
Wisconsin Nurses Association
Still have doubts? Read Matthew Ducheneaux's story...
Ducheneaux was a quadriplegic as a result of a car accident in 1985. He was arrested in Aug., 2000, in Sioux Falls for possession of marijuana. He carried a slip of paper signed by his well-respected Sioux Falls physician which said that the doctor was aware that Matt derived benefit from using cannabis.
All parties agreed that Ducheneaux benefitted from using cannabis.
Minnehaha County Prosecutor Dave Nelson said it made no difference; cannabis is illegal. His trial judge, Patricia Riepel, originally granted Matt's request to be allowed to present a medical necessity defense, under the concept that breaking a law to prevent a greater harm (when no damage is caused by the illegal act) can be permissible. She was overruled by a more senior judge, and the So. Dak. Supreme court agreed. Having never denied possession of cannabis, Ducheneaux was convicted by a jury in Aug., 2004, which was not told that "prevention of a greater harm" can be considered during deliberation. Judge Riepel fined him $250, and smilingly told him he could have "all the time he needed" to pay it.
This editorial ran in the Sioux Falls (SD) Argus Leader Jan. 9, 2001
The judge should allow medical necessity defence
by Bob Newland
When "spastic paralysis" spasms attack quadriplegic Matthew Duchenaux, his legs jerk so violently it makes the utensils dance across his kitchen table. Smoking marijuana makes the spasms stop.
In a sane world, nothing more would need be said. Ducheneaux tried prescription remedies. Valium made him groggy, made his hair fall out, his blood pressure rise, and would have destroyed his liver and kidneys.
Other legal drugs are similarly toxic.
Marijuana has no known toxic side-effects.
In a sane world . . . . Ducheneaux was approved by the federal government as a "compassionate use" recipient (eight people are currently supplied marijuana by the federal government). The government then required Matt to find a local pharmacy to dispense the herb, which had to provide a 24-hour armed guard for its inventory.
No drugstore would accept those conditions. (No armed guard is required for the toxic mind-altering drugs pharmacies already store.)
In a sane . . . . Ducheneaux had exhausted his legal remedies.
He then went to the drugstore outside the drugstore, the one which requires no prescription, no ID, no trained pharmacist, and is open 24/7.
For more than ten years he used marijuana to stop the life-threatening spasms.
He was arrested last summer at an outdoor concert, when he had to medicate himself in public. The Minnehaha County prosecutor asked the judge to prevent Matthew from having a medical expert testify that other quadriplegics get similar relief by using marijuana. He also asked that a "medical necessity" or "prevention of greater harm" defense not be allowed.
If the judge grants those motions on Jan. 11, then the trial will go like this:
Matthew: "The muscle spasms, unchecked, will kill me. Prescription drugs will kill me. I use marijuana because it stops the spasms. I am alive because I use marijuana."
Prosecutor: "What if just anybody decides to break his neck so he can smoke pot and not suffer consequences?"
Judge: "The jury will disregard the fact that marijuana saved Ducheneaux's life and continues to do so. If he possessed marijuana knowingly, you must find him guilty."
At least one juror will surely be sane enough to understand the insanity of the proceedings to that point. Surely one juror will ask himself or herself, "What would I do if I sat in Matthew's wheelchair?", will answer honestly, and will not budge from "Not guilty."
Win or lose, Matthew Ducheneaux will certainly stand as an example for anyone considering severing his spinal cord so he'll be able to get high legally.
Who is truly drug-crazed here? Matt? Or the prosecutor?
(This editorial ran in the Rapid City Journal on August 14, 2004)
Therapeutic use of cannabis no myth
By Bob Newland
HERMOSA - "Reefer makes darkies think they're as good as white men."
When Federal Bureau of Narcotics Commissioner Harry Anslinger said that in 1943, he was trying to get Congress to give his agency more money to fight the largely unknown menace, "marijuana."
Worse than that, Anslinger claimed, dark-skinned musicians smoked "marijuana," then used their altered abilities to "insert extra notes into a measure of music," thus creating the abomination known as jazz.
"They also give marijuana to white women to seduce them." Using the twin tactics of advertising that women become helpless in the hands of men who give them marijuana (misleading, at best, based on my experience) and creating a market incentive for people to grow or import and sell marijuana, Anslinger and his successors managed to increase the rate of marijuana use from about one-tenth of 1 percent of Americans to about 20 percent in just 40 years.
Very few ad campaigns have ever managed a 20,000 percent increase in market penetration. They also managed to cut by more than half the average age of first consumption.More people smoking pot for more years. A dream for suppliers.
While public expenditures of $50 billion a year now help maintain a monopoly of the marijuana trade in the hands of outlaws, that figure is dwarfed by the untaxed profits created for those willing to take the risk of delivering the product.
One embarrassing consequence of the massive proliferation of marijuana use caused by the prohibition laws is that tens of thousands of sick, disabled and dying people have learned of the relief, comfort and healing cannabis can bring them. Their experiences render absurdly impotent the non-medical, uninformed, malicious declaration by federal and state legislatures that marijuana has "no medical use."
Medical cannabis patient Matthew Ducheneaux of Eagle Butte testified to the drug and alcohol subcommittee of the legislative Criminal Code Revision Commission in Pierre July 29. After describing how smoking cannabis marijuana safely relieves him of pain and life-threatening muscle tremors, Ducheneaux was asked, "What do you suggest we do to make marijuana available to people who need it, like you?"
"Jeez, just do it," Matthew said.
After wrestling with their consciences overnight, the committee decided, in opposition to the subcommittee's chair, Rep. Tom Hennies, that it was too much trouble to try to allow sick people a medicine, safer than aspirin, that gives hope and comfort to people who live in constant pain without it.
At least four major U.S. government-sponsored studies in the 20th century concluded there is a medical benefit in marijuana. Adding several dozen minor U.S. medical studies, and dozens in Europe, we have a body of research pointing to an inescapable conclusion: cannabis marijuana is of medical benefit to a wide range of patients with a wide range of medical conditions.
Then there's the inconvenient fact that the U.S. government has sent 300 rolled marijuana cigarettes a month to each of seven medical patients for over 10 years, whose doctors have all acknowledged these folks would be dead (or blind) without cannabis.
Having listened to Matthew Ducheneaux describe to the subcommittee how muscle spasms in his back "feel like somebody's hitting me in the back with an axe, and the spasms keep me from breathing, like being squeezed by an anaconda," and having witnessed Matthew gain immediate relief from such a spasm provided by marijuana, I just don't get it.
What kind of society rewards a South Dakota Judge Tim Tucker or a Minnehaha County Prosecutor Dave Nelson for maintaining that white is black, and for that reason, you must either suffer or become a criminal?
Rep. Hennies asked the subcommittee to recommend that people arrested for small amounts of marijuana be allowed to argue in court that they did so because they have a medical condition, and marijuana alleviates it.
That's all he asked for. To be allowed to say from your wheelchair, "Your honor, I use marijuana because without it I will die." Nelson and Tucker, both subcommittee members, said such a proposal would cause problems. "If a medical defense is allowed in marijuana cases, it is tantamount to legalizing marijuana," Tucker said.
He also said it would cause a "burden" on judges.
Apparently Tucker doesn't think the 43,877 marijuana criminal charges filed over the past five years in South Dakota, or the 18,328 resultant convictions (multiple charges against one person are often dismissed for a plea to one charge) are overly burdensome.
But here I am trying to fathom the thoughts of an obviously enigmatic man.
Therapeutic use of the herb, cannabis, is not a myth. The evidence is there in overwhelming abundance. There is no evidence in opposition. For thousands and thousands of people who gain relief by using it, the law is relevant only inasmuch as they must live in fear of being imprisoned and separated from the remedy that works for them.
Even Judge Tucker and Prosecutor Nelson would smoke marijuana if they were in Matthew Ducheneaux's wheelchair.