Chris’s father,* once adamantly opposed to using marijuana for any purpose, changed his perspective completely after his son suffered a horrific tragedy. He is now a dedicated advocate for medical marijuana. “There are just too many results out there to deny that it’s a medicine,” he says.
Chris was a carefree, 18 year-old man when he moved into his first apartment. He didn’t have a lot of money but he had his freedom and independence.
One night, known troublemakers from the neighborhood broke into his apartment. An altercation broke out and Chris was shot in the neck, leaving him a c5-6 quadriplegic. His beloved freedom and independence were gone in an instant.
He spent the following four years in a nursing home facility, dosed with a daily cocktail of pharmaceuticals. During this time he suffered paranoia, PTSD symptoms, and severe muscle spasms that sometimes launched him right out of his wheelchair.
The nursing home’s staff, careless and underpaid, overdosed Chris with dangerous drugs on more than one occasion. One incident was caused by a Fentanyl pain patch, which actually stopped his heart. Switching his prescription to Oxycodone resulted in yet another overdose.
Chris became depressed and said he felt like he was in a constant narcotic-fog. He started to have trouble communicating too. “I could hear what I was saying but nobody else could understand me,” he says.
One day he was feeling well enough to drive his power wheelchair across the street to a park. While he sat there enjoying the view, a man approached him and asked if Chris would like to hit his joint. He took a few drags and then went back to the facility. Then, a miracle happened. For the first time since his assault, Chris had an evening without muscle spasms or anxiety.
With the help of a friend who supplied him with marijuana from the illicit market, Chris started self-medicating. He felt more relief from all of his symptoms than any of the numerous medications he had been prescribed, with zero negative side effects.
But then tragedy struck Chris’s life a second time when the nursing home staff caught wind of his new life-changing remedy. They called his father, who was irate to learn that his son was using drugs, and then subjected Chris to weekly drug tests, which he always failed.
*Names have been anonymized to protect the identities of the subjects.
Finally, one day when his father came to visit, Chris played his last card. With his father in the room, Chris pulled out a joint and proceeded to smoke it right in front of him. But before the conservative father opposed to all drug use had a chance to get angry, he saw the medicine take effect on his son’s body. Painfully tight and rigid muscles relaxed, and then he saw a sight he had not seen since his son’s crippling injury: Chris picking himself up out of his wheelchair and heaving himself onto his bed. It was a moment which changed a loving father forever.
Today, Chris has completely weaned himself off of all narcotics and continues to self-medicate with marijuana. He finally made progress in physical therapy, left the nursing home, and resides in his own home with the support of home health aides and family. He and his father attribute his dramatic progress to his use of marijuana.
Unfortunately, because Chris is a resident of Florida, he still has to obtain his marijuana illegally. He cannot afford to take chances. Getting caught would mean much more than just jail time; it would mean losing the only medicine to actually help him rebuild his life.