Life of Pain, or Life of Crime?

Life of Pain, or Life of Crime?
Posted by CN Staff on May 29, 2005 at 08:09:48 PT
By Warren Dolbashian, Guest Columnist
Source: Woodsocket Call
Rhode Island -- I have a confession to make: Iím currently considered a criminal under Rhode Island law. My crime? Functioning as a productive member of society.Marijuana is the only drug that controls my chronic pain and motor tics. But using it -- and writing about it in these pages -- puts me in danger of arrest and imprisonment.
My medical history is long. At age 12, I was diagnosed with Touretteís syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Touretteís causes severe, involuntary movements and vocal outbursts. By age 19, the twitching was so bad I had dislocated joints all over my body. And several motorcycle accidents -- and subsequent knee replacements -- gave me chronic, debilitating pain. My doctors have tried everything to relieve my pain and vocal outbursts -- Oxycontin, Percocet, Vicodin, Haldol, morphine, you name it. Iíve even tried Marinol, which contains a synthetic version of THC -- the primary active component of marijuana. Its effects were wildly inconsistent.One day, a single 5-milligram pill would calm my physical outbursts and relieve my chronic pain; the next day, the same pill produced no effect whatsoever.Other days, Marinol disoriented me and caused headaches. I couldnít count on how it would affect me, so I had to stop using it. All I wanted was to live comfortably and without physical pain. When all else had failed, I decided to try marijuana. And it worked better and more predictably than Marinol. Marijuana seems to perfectly complement the many prescription medicines I take on a daily basis. Marijuana calms my pain and allows me to reduce my intake of painkillers, and it has decreased my motor tics and permitted me to reduce my dosage of Orap, a Touretteís drug that can negatively affect the heart.Additionally, marijuana stimulates my appetite, which is depressed because of Adderall, an amphetamine-based drug that treats my ADHD but causes unwanted side effects. Because marijuana has helped me, my doctor condones my use of it. But she canít formally recommend marijuana because of its legal status, and she knows that jail would be devastating to my health. My doctor also knows all too well about the high cost of prescription drugs. I am on medical assistance, so my monthly prescription cost is "only" around $300. If I were to lose my assistance, that cost would skyrocket to over $2,500. So not only does marijuana improve my health, it also helps to reduce my dependence on expensive prescription drugs. Marijuana has provided me with hope and inspiration that I can lead a normal life. Though I am on disability and donít have to work, I choose to work because I want to contribute to society.For the past three years, Iíve cleared tables at a restaurant. As you can imagine, this work requires a lot of endurance and muscle control, so I donít drop a dish on a patron or the floor.Since Iíve been using marijuana, my boss has witnessed a significant improvement in my stamina and my overall job performance. She knows marijuana is to thank. Going public about my medical marijuana use puts me at risk. In early April, I testified in favor of medical marijuana bill S.B. 710 in the Rhode Island Senate Judiciary Committee. Iíd be lying if I said I wasnít nervous about "outing" myself as a medical marijuana user. But I would not be a functioning member of society if it were not for marijuana, and itís essential that people like me make their voices heard. Rhode Island lawmakers need to pass a medical marijuana law this year to protect people like me. Doctors and patients should be able to select the treatment options that best suit the patientsí needs. It should not be a crime to find traditional pharmaceuticals ineffective. So for my sake, and for the countless others who are not brave enough to speak out publicly, please support the medical marijuana legislation pending in the Rhode Island legislature.Itís wrong to make me live in fear of arrest for using a doctor-approved medicine that works. Warren Dolbashian, 33, is a resident of Cranston. Source: Call, The (RI)Author: Warren Dolbashian, Guest ColumnistPublished: May 29, 2005Copyright: 2005 The CallContact: news woonsocketcall.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Medical Marijuana Information Links Blais, Raptakis Explain Medical Marijuana Qualms is Justified as Medicine Committee Passes Medical Marijuana Bill 
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Comment #10 posted by PainWithNoInsurance on May 30, 2005 at 20:09:12 PT
Thanks for the advice. I don't take the pharms all of the time just when I get too bad of a back problem then I go back to the doc and get some more narcotics---they don't heal it anyway. I try to avoid pharms and just live with the pain and constant muscle spasms as long as I can stand it. I usually get to where I am so tired (I think from a constant nagging back and spasms) then I turn to the narcotic pharms. Lying around with a hurting back for years has only made my back worse and I now finally realized it. When I go on the narcotic pharms I now keep taking pill after pill (more than prescribed) until I feel ok then I stay active. I'm starting to loose the heavy gut that is weighing down on my back and it's lessening the pain.I keep up a high fiber diet with hemp protein powder, hemp flour, and hemp seeds (super nutritious) along with other whole grain foods and very little meat. That helps, I am hooked on hemp and just love it. Uninsured
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Comment #9 posted by FoM on May 30, 2005 at 14:06:33 PT
When you said poo toxins you made me laugh but it's the honest to god truth! 
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Comment #8 posted by GreenJoy on May 30, 2005 at 11:44:05 PT
Pain With No Insurance
 We are in the same boat. I don't know how bad it is for you exactly, but if you can possibly stand it I think you will be better off in the long run if you can avoid taking pharmos. For one thing, eh hemmm, when you can't poo toxins build up in your body and that is very bad for a chronic pain condition. Go to your local Food Co-op and they should have many natural products, supplements, books, which certainly will be less harmful and just might bring you greater relief. I found a natural cox 2 inhibitor made from hops called Minor Pain Comfort. It helps with Major pain too, and certainly won't mess with you like pharmos. Also, drink lots of water! Eat good food. Of course there is nothing like having your own organic garden with your favorite kind. I miss mine so much. Words fail me....             GJ 
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Comment #7 posted by jose melendez on May 29, 2005 at 18:42:07 PT
kudos to warren and all who DARE speak out One night in late September, Ethan Russo stood before a classroom packed with students on the University of Massachusetts' Amherst campus, and asked how many of them had been through the popular secondary-school program known as Drug Abuse Resistance Education, or DARE. Almost every hand in the audience went up. "Just as I thought," said Russo. "Well, we're going to hit that one head-on." He then cheerfully presented his version of what can only be described as a drug reeducation program.   Russo is a physician specializing in child neurology and one of the world's pioneering investigators into the therapeutic uses of pot. A slight, preternaturally good-humored man, Russo exhibited an outsized knowledge of his subject. Sticking strictly to the botanical name, Cannabis sativa , he noted that the plant's effects on the mind and body were first recorded by the ancient Assyrians in 2200 BC. These days, cannabis is used, mostly illegally, to relieve the nausea that accompanies chemotherapy, stimulate the appetites of AIDS sufferers, prevent blindness induced by glaucoma, suppress migraine headaches, and reduce the pain and muscle rigidity that accompanies multiple sclerosis.   Although nonprescription medications such as aspirin kill thousands of people every year, not a single death has ever been attributed to a cannabis overdose. The "therapeutic ratio" of marijuana is estimated to fall somewhere between 20,000 and 40,000--meaning it would take that many times a normal dose to kill you. If the drug is delivered as a pill or a spray (smoking just about anything is bad for you, after all), then Russo is unequivocal: "Cannabis is a safer medicine than almost all of the standard pharmaceuticals available today."   As he spoke, Russo clicked through a dazzling slide show: verdant fields of cannabis covering the foothills of Morocco's Rif Mountains; Thailand's marijuana plants on steroids, taller than a NBA center. But the most compelling slide was of a homely, quart-sized bottle labeled "Cannabis Tincture," which seemed to symbolize this country's inconsistent attitude toward medical marijuana. The United States has at times embraced the cannabis plant and its products: From the mid-19th century up until the mid-20th century, cannabis was a mainstream medicine, listed in the U.S. pharmacopoeia. The company that marketed the bottle of tincture was none other than Eli Lilly, the $11 billion behemoth that today is best known for another mood-altering drug, Prozac.   More recently, of course, the U.S. government has cast cannabis as a pariah drug. This past June, Karen Tandy, the first woman to head the Drug Enforcement Administration, declared that marijuana "has not been shown to have medical benefits."   Ethan Russo and a small group of trailblazing doctors, scientists, and businesspeople hope to prove her wrong. Russo recently signed on as a senior medical adviser to GW Pharmaceuticals, a British biotechnology company that has conducted clinical trials of cannabis-based medicines on people suffering from multiple sclerosis and chronic pain. In a memorandum to the House of Lords' committee on science and technology, GW reported that a vast major- ity of its patients have indicated "significant alleviation" of at least one symptom, including pain, spasticity, and bladder problems; in some cases, it said, the improvement "has been sufficient to transform lives."   This past May, GW inked a deal with the German pharmaceutical company Bayer Healthcare AG to market Sativex, a cannabis-laced oral spray that's used for treating severe neuropathic pain and multiple-sclerosis symptoms. Bayer, which agreed to market Sativex in the UK and Canada--and optioned rights for Europe--is betting that in the next few months, the first modern medicine made entirely of cannabis will pass muster with British regulators. GW estimates that the European market for Sativex could total $300 million to $400 million. "We're finding that cannabis medicines have enormous pharmacological capabilities and a unique capacity to attack, in a disease like MS, an entire range of symptoms," says Dr. Geoffrey Guy, GW's founder and chairman. "If it wasn't called marijuana, by now there would have been an entire biotech industry built around this plant."   GW's breakthroughs have put Guy in the vanguard of the aboveground marijuana economy, a handful of pharmaceutical entrepreneurs who are racing to build a legal market for cannabis medicines in countries that accept the drug's therapeutic potential (read: Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and most of western Europe). If Guy's bet pays off, GW just might become the Eli Lilly of medical marijuana.   "Cruel Hoax" or Solid Science?   The push to develop plant-based and synthetic cannabinoid medicines has been building since the early 1990s, when researchers identified nerve receptors in the brain that are stimulated by marijuana's active ingredient, THC, as well as the natural body chemical that binds to those receptors. The discovery of an entirely new class of brain receptors and the neurotransmitters that act on them--the endocannabinoid system--proved to be an astounding development, opening a whole new area of therapeutics. Investigators believe that the system plays a critical role in mediating pain, appetite, movement, and memory. The giants of the drug industry, including Lilly, Merck, Pfizer, and Schering-Plough, are now hard at work in the lab, attempting to cook up synthetic versions of the 61 cannabinoid compounds found in marijuana plants. These are complex molecules with 21 carbons unique to cannabis, of which THC is the best known. Big Pharma has high hopes for these synthetics for the treatment of obesity, smoking, cancer pain, migraines, and MS symptoms. But such efforts are still in the early stages of development.   At the more controversial end of the aboveground marijuana economy, developers are using the plant itself instead of synthetic compounds. "At least in the near future, it seems extremely unlikely that one of these companies will come up with a single synthetic agent that's as widely applicable as a cannabis-based medicine," says Russo. GW is taking whole extracts from the marijuana plant and recombining them to produce drugs that treat specific ailments. This plant-based approach has enabled the company to develop and test Sativex in five years, at a price tag of about $60 million. It's a remarkable feat, considering that Big Pharma on average shells out $800 million on a new drug and can easily devote a decade or more to animal research and first-dose-in-man testing. GW did minimal animal testing, taking Sativex rapidly to controlled, double-blind human trials. "Something like 400 million people a year take cannabis in one form or another, and yet there's never been a recorded fatality from it," says Guy.   But you won't find any commercial development of plant-based marijuana medicines being pursued in the United States. Andrea Barthwell, a deputy director in the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and President Bush's point person on medical marijuana, says cannabis medicines aren't compatible with modern science. They do not constitute "a serious line of research," she says.(snip)
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Comment #6 posted by jose melendez on May 29, 2005 at 18:35:03 PT
dare link solvents to cannabis prohibitions " . . . inhalant use at a young age may be even likelier than early marijuana use to lead to abuse of hard drugs, studies suggest."There's a common notion that inhalants are a 'gateway' substance," says Harvey Weiss, director of the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition, a non-profit organization based in Austin, Texas.Statistics suggest that more youngsters are walking through that gateway.A 2004 report by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America* found that one in four eighth-graders had tried an inhalant at least once. Inhalant use** among sixth-graders increased by 44 percent in just two years, from 18 to 26 percent.Sixth-graders in Indiana in 2004 were more likely to use inhalants than any other drug except tobacco and alcohol, a survey by the Indiana Prevention Resource Center found. Nearly 6 percent reported using inhalants at least once annually, and 3.6 percent reported monthly use. By contrast, 3.7 percent reported annual use of marijuana, and 2.5 percent reported monthly use.  While reported inhalant use among sixth-graders was higher a decade ago, the numbers have started to rebound, provoking concern among experts.  Easy to get, hard to detect  Unlike other abused substances, inhalants cannot be detected through drug screening, a fact not lost on young users -- nor, incidentally, those in the military, where there's also a reported increase in use . . ." - - -
Extra credit: Which solvent manufacturers fund PDFA anti-pot ads?*** 
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Comment #5 posted by Hope on May 29, 2005 at 16:59:43 PT
Warren Dolbashian
What a very brave man. A very, very brave man.I pray that God can find it in his will to bless, protect, and have mercy on him in every way.
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Comment #4 posted by global_warming on May 29, 2005 at 11:18:40 PT
Lets Not Forget The True Heroes on This Memorial D
In our current world we no longer crucify human beings.We sure have many prisons which are so full, ..Message to God,..we are doing the best we can.
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Comment #3 posted by goneposthole on May 29, 2005 at 09:01:22 PT
Their reputation precedes them
Louis ArmstrongCarl SaganRobert Parrish, 'The Chief', Boston CelticsAlong with a few others: isn't that tough to figure out that cannabis isn't that bad. 
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Comment #2 posted by Patrick on May 29, 2005 at 09:01:11 PT
Well saidÖ
ĒIt should not be a crime to find traditional pharmaceuticals ineffective.ĒSomeday, I think there will be a serious price to be paid by these drug warriors for the lying and corruption that keeps marijuana classified as Schedule 1. In another thread it might have been Kaptinemo that said something like all of the studies documenting the medical value of marijuana when piled together would probably weigh several hundred pounds. Obviously enough weight to reclassify cannabis and get the sick the medicine they require without fear of arrest. So maybe we should start an effort to pile all the studies on the desk of the person/persons that do the classifying? Just a thought. By the way, who exactly and specifically says what has medical value and what doesnít?
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Comment #1 posted by PainWithNoInsurance on May 29, 2005 at 08:40:21 PT
I hope Warren gets to live his life to its fullest and doesn't get thrown in jail for his out spokeness. When they put me in jail for growing marijuana to relieve my back pain I had to sleep on a concrete floor because the jail was too over crowded. So now I just take legal meds that have all the wonderful side effects that come with them. One side effect is constipation. Who needs to sh*t anyway. 
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