How I became a Medical Cannabis Activist: Blame Mom
When my mother was dying, I had the privilege of being her sole caregiver. And it was a privilege, for this extraordinary Hungarian writer and poet provided me with a wonderful, enviable childhood. I always felt completely loved, accepted and supported in my life choices. So, life, in its wisdom gave me the chance to give something in return.
When she became increasingly ill with a parade of disorders ranging from Grave's disease, and spinal stenosis, to degenerative arthritis, breast cancer and stroke, her suffering broke my heart.
I took her from doctor to doctor; she underwent countless procedures and operations, and was given a pharmacy's worth of medications.
In her last year, her pain, depression, insomnia and gastric distress were monumental. Nothing helped her. One of her most upsetting moments came during a visit to her neurologist, as she sought relief for her maddening neuropathy. He wanted to prescribe Gabapanten for her, but it was a medication she had already tried. It hadn't helped, plus it made her dizzy, drowsy and caused her legs to swell. Somewhat coldly, the doctor informed her: “Well, if you won't take Gabapanten, then there is nothing I can do for you.” She felt dismissed, and abandoned.
I felt angry.
I couldn't believe there was nothing out there that would make a difference. I began extensive research to find something, anything that would actually address her increasingly desperate condition. Surprisingly, everything pointed to… medical cannabis. I begged her to try it.
She refused, of course, being fully indoctrinated by the decades long demonization of the plant. I persisted. She resisted. This went on for some weeks. Finally, she agreed, more to please me, I think, than out of any belief it would help – but help it did. In fact, the results were amazing. She was able to get off of thirty different pharmaceuticals, half of which were given to combat the side effects of the other half. Her depression lifted, she could sleep again, her intractable pain and peripheral neuropathy were mitigated. Her appetite returned, and she got her personality back.
Once again we could have long, warm and witty conversations; and when she would ask for her "magic cookies" with a mischievous smile that was endearing, I knew I was finally giving her something that worked. I was able to purchase cannabis brownies and cookies for her because I live in California, and had easy and safe access to a medical cannabis dispensary in my home town.
My mom died in 2006, a final massive stroke took her, and I shall miss her 'till the day I die ... but in one of our last conversations, just before she fell asleep, this daughter of an iconoclastic publisher from Budapest, turned to me and said, with the deep Hungarian accent she had never lost: "Wouldn't it make my father smile to know that the only thing that helps me is illegal."
It was funny at the time, but then I asked my self: "Why is it illegal? Why doesn't everyone in this country have access to this powerful, yet gentle medicine?"
Since then I have turned my time and energy to educating people about medical cannabis, busting the myths that have accumulated over the years, and working with increasing effort toward national legalization.
I am doing this for my mom.