By Ian Jones @IDJONESPHOTOG
November through February is always the worst for my disability-related leg spasms, especially when it rains. Every 20 seconds or so, for hours on end: tense, relax. Tense, relax. Tense, relax. It’s exhausting, but it doesn’t allow me to get a lot of rest. Thankfully, I’m a medicinal cannabis user.
In high school, I was in “Youth Educators,” a D.A.R.E.-like program. I was pretty conservative about drugs then, even though I’ve always been pretty liberal in general. As time has gone on, I’ve developed more of a libertarian stance, at least where cannabis is concerned. In fact, this column should have been written last semester, when the Express had a weed-centric issue, but I wasn’t ready yet.
Before cannabis, I had tried two mainstream medications to help with my spasms. Baclofen just made me sleepy — so I’d feel groggy and have spasms, too. Then I tried Neurontin, using it “off-label.” In other words, for a use it’s not usually prescribed for. It was hit or miss. That made sense later, when the manufacturer announced that they’d mislead patients about off-label efficacy.
I halfheartedly continued using Neurontin, because I thought it was the best thing available. I was wrong. After seeing Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s documentary “Weed,” I saw how it helped a little girl with severe, untreatable epilepsy. I wasn’t totally convinced it would help me. My situation was different, after all.
Finally, I decided to try. “The worst case scenario,” I thought, “is that it won’t work, and I’ll be no worse off than I am now.”
The line at Harborside, a clean, brightly lit dispensary in Oakland, is always full of people you wouldn’t otherwise look at and automatically think “stoner.” Cannabis is not exactly controversial anymore — I mean, recreational use will soon be legal in California — but yet I’m still somehow feeling hesitant about committing these words to paper.
Cannabis has helped me a lot. Either I vape or use “medibles.” I don’t generally feel any sensation in my legs, but when the spasms start, they can keep me up at night. It’s a cruel irony. The spasms sometimes continue after I medicate, but they’re muffled, almost as if they’re in the other room.
That muffling allows me to get some sleep. So why am I afraid to speak up in its favor?
The Trump administration makes me nervous. The next Attorney General, Jeff Sessions really worries me. According to the Washington Post, at a Senate hearing in April, he said, “good people don’t smoke marijuana.” Blanket statements about what constitutes a “good person” also make me nervous.
I should clarify that yes, I believe it should be used responsibly. Like drinking and driving, I think driving under the influence of cannabis is an incredibly bad idea.
Medicinally, though, who knows what will happen under Trump. Maybe the DEA will crack down hard on (or even raid) dispensaries? They may ignore states’ rights. Time will tell. In my opinion, cannabis is a viable alternative therapy, one that’s arguably less dangerous than alcohol.
You could say I’m not a chronic user: Six months out of the year, I don’t even touch the stuff. But for those other six months, I need it handy, just in case — and I believe the federal government, especially under Trump, should stay out of it.