In July of 2013, New Hampshire, the state where I live, signed into law a bill which allows seriously ill New Hampshire residents to use marijuana for medical purposes. (Here’s an overview of the law) So, if you can be certified to be in serious medical misery, you can get permission to use pot to ease your pain. But some folks will be dead long before the legislature gets off its collective duff and makes the medicine available.
They have yet to issue ID cards. In the meantime, it’s still illegal for you to seek help for your suffering. And it will be 2015 before the dispensaries open. All because of bickering about how to make sure the “wrong” people don’t get hold of any of the drug and use it for the “wrong” reason. Oh, and they specifically refused to include PTSD among its qualifying medical conditions, because, well, screw you.
In other words, they are prolonging the suffering of people urgently in need and excluding people who they think aren’t suffering enough because they are afraid somebody might possibly get away with having fun.
This in a state that blithely earns a big part of its revenue from sales of alcohol, which without question does far more damage every year to people’s lives and health than marijuana ever could. And let’s not forget all that revenue from gambling (also a proven scourge, especially on the poor) and tobacco, another proven health hazard. So, what’s the big deal with marijuana?
Unfortunately, it has nothing to do with what’s rational or what makes medical sense. Alcohol, tobacco and gambling have been socially acceptable and even romanticized in the entertainment media for years. Marijuana has been condemned and propagandized against for about a century, for reasons that have more to do with politics and economics than public health. (An in-depth history of hemp and why it was criminalized is here) Generations who grew up with the propaganda are having a very hard time accepting that most of what they were told about marijuana was wrong, especially since it came from trusted sources, like the government, schools and parents.
Aside from the jaw-dropping inconsistency and irrationality of State lawmakers, I have a personal stake in this. I’m among those who might possibly benefit from this bill, except that, like folks with PTSD, I’m not suffering hard enough.
I have chronic insomnia. And before you smirk, read on. I’ve lived with it for more than 20 years and I’ve tried every trick, tea, tincture and treatment that there is. I’ve been to half a dozen doctors, all of whom were unable to help, finally admitting that the medical community just doesn’t understand this sort of sleep disorder very well.
So you think, insomnia. Big deal. Right?
Yes, big deal. Here’s Harvard Medical’s take on the health problems of insufficient sleep. I’d love to get enough sleep. But some nights I lay awake, get up, lay down. try again, repeat, for quite literally hours. If I’m lucky, on a good night, I get maybe six hours. Rarely, for some reason utterly unknown to me, I’ll sleep a full eight (but only in segments, never all the way through) and my god, what a difference it makes! I feel so good! Like I could take on the world.
Commonly, it is more like three to four hours, and on occasion, none at all.
I’m exhausted during the day, I get drowsy behind the wheel, I can’t think straight and I’m irrationally emotional. You know, all the stuff you’d expect from going weeks without a decent night’s sleep.
Then, thanks to the generosity of compassionate friends, I tried marijuana. Illegally, of course, because only some states are enlightened enough to allow people to make their own choices about what to put into their bodies (although it’s perfectly legal to drink yourself into a stupor every night).
It was wonderful. I did just a pinch at bedtime, and although at first I still lay awake a lot, I didn’t have the awful anxiety that goes along with “Damn, I’ve got to get to sleep; why can’t I sleep?” which in turn keeps me awake in a vicious cycle. Before I knew it, I was drifting off.
I never used it during the day, only when it looked like I was going to have one of those nights. At first that was nearly every night. But lately I’ve started to notice that there are more nights when I feel drowsy at bedtime and don’t need that single hit. It’s lovely! And when I do find myself still wide awake an hour after going to bed, I have a quick and reliable solution.
But it’s still illegal. I hate having to break the law, and have others also breaking the law out of compassion for my situation. How much worse is it for people in chronic pain, with debilitating diseases facing each day too sick to function? I have no patience for stupid laws and stupid lawmakers who make criminals out of people who just want relief, who want to feel a small piece of what healthy people enjoy.
“Live Free or Die.” What irony.