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By: Nick Blumberg on 01/30/2012
Last year, we told you the story of a woman who uses medical marijuana as she recovers from cancer. (She wishes to remain anonymous.) At the time she first spoke with us,
When we first interviewed this medical marijuana patient last year, she proudly showed off her vegetable garden. Now, she's also growing her own marijuana--under lock and key. (Photo by Nick Blumberg)
For starters, medical marijuana is now legal in
One of them is a cancer survivor in her fifties. The last time we spoke with her, it was part of a series on how the drug war in
"I do believe that everything that we do in our lives impacts somebody else," she told us last year. "And it is our duty, it is our responsibility, to be as careful with those actions as possible."
Now, she and thousands of other patients have a license to cultivate marijuana.
Gerald Gaines, founder and CEO of Compassion First Arizona. (Photo by Nick Blumberg)
"It’s a wonderful feeling," she said. "I can’t begin to tell you how good it feels to know that the money that I do spend does go to either the hydroponic shop or to another patient who has taken the time to grow their own."
"I just do not understand, in a state where personal freedom is so important, why people feel like that personal freedom shouldn’t apply to people who are suffering and need medication to help themselves," said Gaines.
The woman we spoke with compares the stigma of using medical marijuana to what people must feel if they’re homosexual.
"I’ve been in the closet," she said. "And I’m still very uncomfortable sharing it with my professional associates, so I haven’t, with most of them."
Ed Gogek, a psychiatrist who specializes in addiction. (Photo courtesy of Ed Gogek)
But for Ed Gogek, that stigma exists for a reason. He’s a psychiatrist who specializes in addiction.
"There are all sorts of medicines that help some people. Vioxx helped a lot of people. Thalidomide helped a lot of people. But that doesn’t matter," Gogek said. "You don’t approve them as a drug in this country if they’re going to cause far more harm than they’re going to cause help."
Gogek doesn’t think there’s anything medical about marijuana—he says it’s mostly people who want to get high. And he’s more than happy to rattle off a list of problems associated with marijuana use.
"It’s an addictive drug, it’ll cause hundreds of highway fatalities every year, it’ll cause about ten thousand kids to drop out of school every year," he said.
But the marijuana user we talked to says the prescription drugs she was taking had plenty of side effects of their own. The biggest one?
"I really didn’t have the desire or the energy to do anything other than sleep. That was not going to work for me," she said. "I can’t live by sleeping 23 hours a day, I’m not a cat!"
Medical marijuana is also legal in