The stories on this page  have been submitted to Show-Me Cannabis by supporters who have bravely come forward to tell how medical cannabis use has benefited them and, in too many cases, how Missouri’s laws against medical marijuana have forced them to live in pain and fear. Some names have been changed at the request of the author. The views expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of Show-Me Cannabis, nor has Show-Me Cannabis corroborated all claims made by the writers.

If you would like to submit your story, please send it to Show-Me Cannabis Regulation Executive Director John Payne at john@show-mecannabis.com.

 

Isidor Hawthorne

I am a veteran of the U.S. military, where I served as an 11B (Infantryman) and was discharged under honorable conditions. I, like many veterans, suffer from many medical conditions since returning from combat, such as insomnia, pain, and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

I joined the military at the young age of 19. Within two months of joining my unit, I earned the coveted Expert Infantry Badge (EIB). This early success paved the way for me to join the ranks of our battalion’s scout sniper section. At 22-years-old I was deployed to Afghanistan and attached to an ODA (operational detachment alpha) team in the Logar province.

We suffered a mass-casualty incident within the first month of being in Logar. It was a horrible experience to live through, and I am very thankful I made it out without injury. Our V.S.P. (village stability platform) kept us in very close contact with the Afghan population, which put us in near constant danger. Mortar rounds landed in and around our small base on a daily basis, causing casualties among both our troops and the Afghanis. On one occasion, an insurgent drove a 600-plus pound vehicle born I.E.D. through our front gate. Luckily, the insurgent’s initiation system failed.

I do not know how the general population imagines a deployment, but we fought for our lives, day-in and day-out. If we weren’t actively engaged in fighting, we were treating wounds, building defenses, and dreaming of the day we would make it home. We went from fighting for our lives to being home in 72 hours. That was a very difficult transition, as it left no period to process all of the experiences that we encountered.

Falling asleep is very difficult for me now. I cannot relax, and the feeling of fear and anxiety overtake me frequently. Carrying 100-plus pounds of gear, heavy weaponry, and ammo through the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan left my knees, back, and shoulders in frequent pain. Although the Army provided me with a surgery to fix my clavicle, it still hurts every single day. I do not have many young individuals like myself to share my feelings and experiences with because only a very small percentage of my age-group served, and an even smaller percentage served in combat.

The treatment for these conditions consists of multiple pills with multiple side-effects and a serious possibility of death. I was never a cannabis user until I was discharged. Cannabis helps me cope with life now. It makes sleeping easier and provides me with moments of comfort and relaxation, and there is no possibility of overdose. There are no adverse side-effects — except my life being ruined because of a draconian law that doesn’t allow veterans to get the help they need.

Multiple veterans take their lives every day. Multiple veterans live in horror and fear. Multiple veterans need you, now more than ever. Cannabis can change our lives, but that change starts with you. I beg you to make a difference. I beg you…not for my life, but for the lives of my brothers and sisters in arms to TAKE A STAND and support medical cannabis for veterans.

 

Steven

I suffer from fibromyalgia, Hepatitis C, degenerative spinal disease, spinal stenosis, scoliosis, and arthritis. I have been unable to work for almost two years, and and I am fighting for my social security disability, as I have three children to take care of.
I am prescribed narcotics and non-narcotics, but they have many side effects and do not totally manage my pain. I can’t take many medications due to stomach ulcers, acid reflux, and the liver problems associated with Hepatitis C. Many of the drugs I am prescribed could cause liver failure, but I have no choice but to take them.
I used medical cannabis, and it helped tremendously. I could take far less narcotic pain medication. I could sleep at night. I could function with less pain and muscle spams.
However, I cannot use medical cannabis because it is against the law. But, with your support, I could have safe alternative to pharmaceutical medications, and it could save my life. I have been fighting everyday just to try to get my life back, and that is what medical cannabis could do for me.

 

Missouri College Student

I am 25 year old college student, and I live with a mental illness and high levels of anxiety. My use of medical cannabis for my anxiety and other ailments has given me the ability to function and work throughout the day. However, I find the stigma attached to cannabis use degrading. I hear words such as “stoner”  and “pot head” daily, and I  have been told that I am a “low life”  and “useless.”

Yet I am hardworking and educated. I attend a university, where I hold a 3.6 grade point average and will graduate in May. Medical cannabis has never impaired my academic standing. I cannot understand why Missouri has not legalized medical marijuana.  I should not be treated like a criminal or looked down upon for using an effective medicine.

The truth is that, for me and many others, cannabis works, and Missourians need to understand that we can use it responsibly and efficaciously.

Sincerely,
Missouri College Student

Justin

I am 22 years old and suffering every day. I am typically awakened around 5:00 A.M. by severe stomach pains, which cause me to go back and forth from the bathroom to bed every 20 minutes. My stomach lining is deteriorating and causes what appears to be acid reflux.

I’ve been hospitalized twice for severe episodes, the first time on June 6th, when I woke up at 3:00 A.M. and vomited stomach acid until 9:00 when I called the paramedics. I was severely dehydrated and passing in and out of consciousness.

I didn’t have health insurance at the time, so hospital bills are piling up, and there is no prescription medication that effectively treats the disorder, which my doctors believe is Crohn’s Disease. I’ve even taken drugs that are given to cancer patients to treat the effects of chemotherapy, but they have not worked.

I’ve use cannabis to treat my illness and it is the only thing that has worked — instantly! One puff, and my pain, my nausea, my weakness were all gone. No side effects besides being hungry and being able to sleep comfortably, which are not bad things for me. Since my symptoms first appeared I’ve dropped from 180 pounds to 120. I’m skin and bones, and I feel terrible everyday of my life because my government prohibits me from consuming cannabis.

Why is the government doing this? They are prohibiting any medical research on cannabis only so they can say there’s no proof of medicinal value. Well I’m proof; Charlotte Figi is proof; and medical cannabis patients in nationwide are living proof! I’m a hardworking american, and I’m being denied my right to the pursuit of happiness and being forced to suffer. This isn’t reefer madness; this is a real medicine, and our government needs to wake up to that fact!

Justin
Saint Louis

Cody Backhus

I have Asperger’s Syndrome, and as you probably know, anyone with any form of autism is very anti-social and generally does not function well in society. I fall under that category, and the only reason I can type this today and talk to people is because of cannabis.In fact, I find a THC prominent blend most helpful, which is contrary to the CBD research. I don’t know why that is, but I would love to find out and have my story heard. Please take this into consideration, because I represent a class of people that have no option for treatment in modern medicine.

Tonia and Wesley Hulsey

My name is Tonia, and I’m writing this testimonial for my husband Wesley, as he does not like to type or text. In 2006, Wesley was diagnosed with oral cancer. It very rapidly grew into a four centimeter tumor. When the doctors finally operated on him, they had to cut out two thirds of his upper right jaw bone and take a skin graft from his left thigh, which they call a “flap.”

There were some unfortunate complications in his treatment. Surgery lasted for approximately 18 hours. After about three weeks in the ICU and a total of 45 days in the hospital, his doctor wanted him to undergo radiation treatment for 35 days. Before he could have radiation, he had to have all of his teeth extracted, because they were in real bad shape. He doesn’t have any teeth right now, nor will he. He has also lost many of the glands in his oral cavity.

He has terrible pain on the whole right side of his face and head. He takes Percocet and Tramadol to help with most of the pain, but they do not compare with the relief he gets with medical marijuana. It serves as a pain reliever in the most perfect way. It does something inside his nasal cavity that brings the moisture back. That in turn stimulates the nerves and calms them. Because of Wesley’s condition, it is difficult and time-consuming for him to eat. He can’t eat burgers and sandwiches like normal people and no crunchy stuff. He has to tear everything apart to eat it. Consequently, he doesn’t like to go out to eat, and, if he does, he won’t order anything but a drink. After his radiation treatment, he couldn’t gain any weight. He lost his appetite, and his mouth hurt him so badly that he didn’t want to eat. But using medical marijuana gives him an appetite and a desire to eat. Perhaps more importantly, it makes him want to live life to the fullest.

My husband just wants to be able to grow his own medical marijuana and not get any grief for it. He just wants a better quality of life.

Tonia & Wesley Hulsey
Robertsville

Matthew Johnson

Let me begin by saying that I am a life-long Republican and public servant. In 1996, I helped a friend get elected to the US House of Representatives. I have coached church-league basketball, volunteered at food banks, provided Election Day security, and worked on multiple civic boards. I am a good citizen, and I retired with 34 years of combined federal service in January 2011.

I have a number of serious medical conditions related to my time in the US Army, most notably Sjögren’s Syndrome, which is complicated by Fibromyalgia, Raunaud’s Phenomenon (a painful condition of the extremities), and Rheumatoid Arthritis. I also have mild glaucoma, Type II Diabetes Mellitus, and Factor V Leiden, among other conditions. I have daily pain, mostly in the long bones, hands and feet. Usually it rates at least a three on a scale of zero to ten, but sometimes, like the day of this writing, it gets upwards of six or seven.

However, I am unable to take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain medications such as Motrin or Aleve, as I take blood thinners for clots caused by the Factor V Leiden, a genetic blood disorder. Opiates and synthetics tend to exacerbate the migraine headaches that I have and also make me nauseous. I have found that I get good pain relief from medical quality marijuana, and it helps me sleep and relieves the eye pressure caused by my glaucoma.

Of course, the trouble is that at this time in the state of Missouri, I must risk incarceration and worse just to receive the medicine I need.

As a Soldier it was always prohibited under penalty of hard time at the US Disciplinary Barracks. I never smoked while in uniform for that reason. I am no longer afraid of losing my job or my income, but I still have to worry about losing my property and having to do hard time for something that helps me get pain relief.

Therefore, I am forced to either break the law and obtain relief or abide by it and live in constant pain. If asked by an officer of the court, I would have to say that I am forced to live in constant pain, but it is a poor choice to have to make when a natural medication used for millennia is readily — even if not legally — available.

Matthew Johnson,
US Army (Retired)
Springfield

Linda Bales

I am a 56-year-old retired school teacher who has used cannabis for stress relief and for a sleep disorder. I used marijuana as an alternative to Ambien, Zoloft and Xanax, which had terrible side effects when I used them.

I started growing marijuana in 2006 because I am older and did not want to hustle it on the street. On December 7th 2010 (my Pearl Harbor), the Missouri Highway Patrol followed me home from a hydroponic store in Kansas City and asked a Johnson County Sheriff to join them. They rang my doorbell and said, “Miss Bales, we smell Marijuana.” I replied, “No, you do not,” as I knew they could not because of the location of the plants. After much discussion and persuasion I finally let them in without a search warrant because I was afraid they would break down my door. They found my plants and put me in handcuffs in front of my neighbors.

At trial, I had to plead guilty because my lawyer thought they would give me the toughest sentence, three to five years in jail, if I fought the charge.  I was sentenced on October 9,, 2012. 15 individuals including school teachers, professors, mental health directors, and a psychologist who knew me wrote letters attesting to my character. I also had eight months of clean drug tests and information from my lawyer.

The judge was not impressed by this information. Instead, she raked me over the coals. Through much persuasion by my lawyer, she decided to give me a Suspended Imposition Sentence (SIS) and let me know they were not just given away in her county.

I now have five years probation, 100 hours of community service, weekly counseling, and I have to have random monthly drug and alcohol testing. Additionally, I have to get permission and 15 days notice to go out of state. I have lost numerous friends who judge me cause of the information in the paper and online at case net. I do not shop in this area anymore. I would like to move out of state but will probably not be able to until all of this is over.

Since the arrest, I have had erratic sleep patterns. I am also fearful when the door bell rings and paranoid any time a highway patrolman is near.

Scared to Death in Warrensburg!
Linda Bales

Greg Williams

I am writing my story of medical cannabis use because I want to be as honest and forthright as I can. I hate that I cannot use my real name, but that is an unfortunate necessity. I am a stay-at-home father in St. Peters. I put my career as an electrician on hold because my wife and I felt it was best for our children that one of us focused completely on the development and growth of our children. I’m a patriot who loves his country, and I serve my community as an election judge. I try to be a man of great faith and a little religion. My faith lies in Christ, the Constitution, the American Spirit, the rule of law, the St. Louis Cardinals, and the beautiful bloom of the spring time Dogwood.

In consultation with a medical doctor, I have used small amount of cannabis to manage severe anxiety brought on by years of prescribed and monitored opiate use to manage chronic back pain. Most people are put on Xanax, which is one of the only substances, along with alcohol, that can cause death as a consequence of withdrawals. Luckily, I found a doctor who trusted his patients until given a reason to do otherwise, ignored the misguided tradition, and believed in results.

It doesn’t possess magical properties that make me better, but it gives me a healthy diet and a consistent good night’s sleep. That enables me to be a better husband, father, friend, and citizen than I could otherwise be. I’m not going to pontificate the economic or constitutional reasons cannabis should be legal for medical consumption, but I can show you an individual who was able to successfully recover from severe opiate addiction thanks in large part to moderate cannabis use.

Greg Williams
Saint Peters

 

Lisa

I am a 53-year-old woman, and I have suffered from classic migraine headaches with auras since I was 12. These headaches are accompanied by vomiting, so I cannot take anything by mouth to stop the pain or the nausea. Smoking cannabis is the best thing I can do for this problem. It stops the vomiting, which allows me to take something for the pain.

In 2001, I had gastric bypass surgery, and one side effect of the procedure is vomiting. Sometimes after eating, the food just doesn’t sit right, and I will vomit with almost no warning. The only thing that helps is smoking cannabis. My doctor told me that he would prescribe medical cannabis to me in a heartbeat, but he can’t because it is illegal. It is such a shame that the government is standing in the way of what my doctor and I believe is the best care for me. Our prohibitionist cannabis laws force me to be a criminal in order to relieve my chronic nausea and pain. 

Lisa
Cass County

Richard Wilson

I was diagnosed with epilepsy at 13. The doctor’s originally prescribed me anti-convulsion pharmaceuticals, but none of them reduced the number of seizures I had. When I was 18, my friends told me about how marijuana could reduce and possibly eliminate my seizures. Being the cautious person that I am, I asked my doctor. She told me she would not recommend an illegal drug. I became depressed, thinking that I would never be able to contribute to the city I love, Saint Louis. I feared my disease would end my dream of becoming a carpenter and require me to collect disability for the rest of my life.

After a seizure, I decided I’d try it. If it didn’t reduce my seizures it might at least help the depression. My friends put their money together and bought me an eighth ounce of blueberry marijuana. We smoked, and I laughed, joked, and was experiencing a happiness I had never experienced before.

I continued to smoke. A month later I realized I hadn’t had a single seizure that month. I was ecstatic! I gained the courage to follow my dreams to be a functioning member of society. I worked hard and eventually became a union carpenter. For years, I enjoyed great benefits and a decent wage. That all came crashing down when a journeyman pushed me down the stairs of a home we were building. I broke my back and was immediately drug tested. Everything I worked so hard for was taken away.

People complain that the disabled do nothing to earn their money, but I had found a way to be productive. However, I was not allowed to live a productive life because my medicine happens to be illegal. I would move to a state where marijuana is already legal, but my family and friends live here. When thinking about marijuana legalization, please realize that it would not help criminals cheat the system; it would help good people to be happy, contributing members of our society.

Richard Wilson
Saint Louis

 

Troy Pittman

I live in severe chronic pain brought on by severe nerve damage. The problems began in 1984 or 1985, and since then, I have had five surgeries and five discs removed. I had two bone grafts for a fusion from bone taken from each hip for stability. I had exploratory surgery on my lower back in which they cut away bone in an attempt to relieve pressure and pinching on my nerves. This was unsuccessful. I was implanted with two titanium plates on each side of my spine, screwed together with a torque wrench.

The pain now goes from my legs up to my neck causing extreme headaches. I can’t sleep well at all because of pain, and I can’t sit for long periods of time or stand for more than about five minutes at a time. I am on strong painkiller medications, and I thank the doctors for that because they do help. Before, I would go to bed around 7:00 P.M.; get up every half hour or so; get up the next day when I could not take it the pain any longer; walk a little; then back in the chair I went for a short while; and then I would go back to bed. This cycle went on for years. Then the medications started finally and I was able to at least stay out of for longer periods of time.

One day, I was out of painkillers from losing some and taking one extra here and there. I could not get around, so a friend let me use some of his cannabis. I could not believe the difference in a short time after smoking it. My pain level dropped tremendously. I was also going through withdrawal from lack of my normal dosages of meds, but those symptoms completely went away.  I was back up and moving around, and I actually felt better than when I used pills!

Troy Pittman
Springfield

 

Melanie Weathers

When I was diagnosed as bipolar I was prescribed to three different medications — Prozac, Paxil, and Lorazepam — to treat my anxiety. That worked effectively for only two or three months, until one day I got so out of hand that I went off on everybody and didn’t care who I might hurt. My mom made an emergency appointment for me to see the doctor. I told him what happened, and he changed my Paxil to Respitol, which did help, but not a lot. I still had bouts of mania until I started using cannabis several times a week and I felt sooo much better.

Since I have been smoking cannabis, I have not had any bad or mean thoughts and horrible anxiety like I did before I started using cannabis. I am now happier and nicer, and I can still be a high-functioning person when I am working. I am deeply upset by Missouri law against marijuana use because it forces people into rehab because they are ‘drug addicts,’ but I really don’t think they understand how much it can help someone such as myself. They have told me that “there are other coping skills you can use besides using marijuana,” but I have tried everything to help me, and none of them worked besides using marijuana.

Melanie Weathers
South Saint Louis County

 

Cannabis User

I have Reflex Sympathic Distrophy, which is an extremely painful deterioration of the muscles and joints. There is no cure for the disease. I was diagnosed in 1990, and the doctor told me I would never work again and advised me to sign up for disability. I have been on narcotics for 22 years. I’m sick of pills.

Pills for chronic pain are only effective so long, so I have used cannabis for a long time. I probably couldn’t make it without it. It eases the pain for a while, and that’s worth a million dollars. My mind races when I’m in pain, and marijuana calms my mind enough to stop thinking and feeling pain for some time, which is a miracle for me. I am able to actually get up and do a few things. My disease is also tied into the central nervous system. My insides shake all the time, and cannabis diminishes that constant shaking. It increases my appetite, so that I am able to eat something now, instead of putting it off because of the pain. Cannabis is the best medicine I have found for me. No narcotic can do what cannabis can do for me.

Cannabis User
Kansas City