Program Allows Iowan To Smoke Medical Marijuana

Program Allows Iowan To Smoke Medical Marijuana
Posted by CN Staff on June 12, 2005 at 15:30:16 PT
By John Quinlan, Journal Staff Writer
Source: Sioux City Journal
Iowa -- A marijuana cigarette saved George McMahon's life. Literally. And thanks to a reluctant federal government, the Livermore, Iowa, man is assured a steady supply of the potent weed for the rest of his life.McMahon, a Northwest Iowa woman and five other Americans receive about 300 cigarettes each month to alleviate health problems through a little-known federal program that was shut down in 1992 after 13 patients were enrolled. The other program smokers, all of whom were grandfathered in through court decisions, have since passed away.
The surviving seven have the U.S. government's written permission to light up even though the Supreme Court ruled Monday that the federal government may prosecute sick people who use marijuana."We get it in cans. I go to a pharmacy to pick mine up," McMahon said. "They look like they're rolled on an old Pall Mall cigarette machine, but there's seeds, stems and stamps in them. So the weight and volume is not correct."He said he has to take out the papers, then clean and moisturize the marijuana to smooth it out before smoking it. "It sounds like a large volume, but we're probably losing 30 percent right off the top," he said.McMahon, father of three and grandfather of six, smokes about seven cigarettes a day, down significantly from 1990 when he was accepted into the program. Back then, he tended to use up his allotment before the month was up. These days he always has some left over."It's not very high quality either," he noted. "They do everything they can to it. They take all the buds out of it and they give us the leaf. Not the best."The marijuana is grown on a farm at the University of Mississippi at Oxford.For the sake of privacy, the Northwest Iowa woman in the program requested anonymity, saying she didn't feel up to talking about the program.Another ailing Northwest Iowa man, who campaigned for medical marijuana years ago and was accepted, then shut out of the Investigative New Drug program when it closed down too soon, also declined to comment. He said he was afraid of the repercussions on his family and he just didn't see the point any more, pointing to a Republican White House and Republican-controlled Congress not likely to OK medical marijuana.Hours To LiveGrowing up in Iowa in the 1950s and 1960s, never in the best of health, George McMahon said he sampled marijuana occasionally. A body man by trade who worked as a small contractor and loved working in the dirt, laying pipe and stuff, he found himself seriously ill for about two years, coincidentally after going a like period without any marijuana.Doctors found that he lacked a general protein in his DNA chain, thus limiting the effectiveness of standard drug treatments, he said."You can give me enough drugs to knock me out, man, but you might kill me when you do it," he said.Then in 1988, running out of options, McMahon ended up in the University of Iowa Hospital where he learned that he had been suffering from tuberculosis of the kidney most of his life."By that time, that was just one complication," he said, noting he'd been hospitalized for six weeks. "By that time, they were giving me just hours to live. They said, 'Get your paperwork in order. Call your wife. You're going to be here until you die.'"He wanted to spend his last days at home, but they told him he'd never make it there alive, the ride being a long five hours.A day or two later, a hospital employee asked McMahon about his old zigzag man tattoo, which to some pot smokers signifies the tattoo wearer is one of their own. His thinking fuzzy from drugs and lack of sleep, McMahon said he acknowledged the drug reference. The fellow then told him there was a dying cancer patient down the hall who would be willing to trade George a marijuana cigarette for a tobacco cigarette. This came at the time of a government cancer study involving marijuana, he noted. So the joint could have been legal -- for the cancer patient."But I smoked it, and my recovery began immediately. He closed the door as he left, and about 15 minutes later, I called and asked for food. I had not had anything solid in about six weeks by then. I mean sleeping and food had just stopped for me," McMahon said.Back On His FeetA big plate of rare beef with gravy, preceded by some vegetables, initiated his recovery. He found he could walk to the bathroom again, and two weeks after smoking that joint, he was still feeling better, something other drugs couldn't accomplish. Ten days later, he was able to check himself out of the hospital, though his first home stay lasted only two days. He then found himself in and out of the hospital for three years. But he was living again."And this is one joint in 10 days. Going from not being able to lift my head off the pillow, from 100-degree sweats or 107 degrees and freezes going into sweats, to eating and sleeping, not quite normally but pretty close," he said. "That's how it started right there."On that fateful first trip home from the hospital, McMahon said a couple of guys came to his house and offered to trade him a bag of Iowa "ditch weed," the lowest-grade marijuana, hemp actually, for an old junk car he wanted to get rid of anyway. No problem. The guys showed him how to extract the marijuana from the weed, "and I felt better immediately," McMahon said.At this point, he was still in pretty bad shape. His wife was sticking a tube in his side four inches and cleaning his kidneys with hydrogen peroxide. But he was healing, and the ditch weed, never hard to find, kicked the healing process up another gear.He told his doctor the doobies were helping more than the medicine. So the doctor started shutting off the pills and they talked about asking the government for marijuana, but they didn't know where to begin, McMahon said. Prescription marijuana just wasn't available, as far as they knew.Saved by Mothers DayThen one day his wife was reading a Mothers Day magazine where she noticed a story about a Florida woman named Elvy Musikka, fellow glaucoma sufferer Bob Randall and another Florida cancer patient, Irvin Rosenfeld. The story said all three were getting marijuana from the U.S. government.McMahon called Musikka and Randall, who has since died, and learned about the application process for the Investigative New Drug program which was being administered by the Food and Drug Administration. Applicants also needed approval from the Health and Human Services Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration.So in 1988, McMahon started the laborious application process."At that time I had no lifespan. They were still saying I could die at any minute," he said. "But of course, the less drugs I took, the less likely that became because I wasn't being weakened by the drugs as well as all of the surgeries and stuff I'd had."Though his doctor was excited by McMahon's progress, the government wasn't convinced. The feds wanted him to stop smoking pot and just take drugs for six months on a test basis. So he returned to his old 13-pills-a-day habit which left him in pain, nearly bedridden and closer to death. After four months of this, he and his doctor agreed to stop the prescription medicine, return to the marijuana treatment and alert the feds that his condition was "for real," McMahon said."After two years, they agreed to supply me. But because I went ahead and supplied myself for two years, I stayed alive long enough to get it," he said.The approval process was intense and all-involving, he noted."I mean they went right down to my social standing, man," he said, laughing heartily. "If I had been a known hippie or pot smoker or something like that, and not just a businessman in real trouble, I undoubtedly would not have gotten it."He got his first can of legal pot in March of 1990. A year later, the Northwest Iowa woman became the last of the program's 13 participants. Then the program was promptly shut down by the first President Bush in 1992. Though 57 patients were approved, only 13 ever received legal marijuana.At that time, McMahon said, one prominent federal official warned that too many gay people would be reaping its benefits because scores of AIDS patients were gaining eligibility. The government also complained that with about 2,000 appications, too many people would be getting the stuff, putting too much demand on that Mississippi farm, and they feared the pot would be reaching the wrong hands, he added.Fortunately for him, the U.S. government had made commitments to the first 13 applicants, and court decisions upheld their right to get medical marijuana as long as they lived. He is still a bit concerned about the recent Supreme Court decision that struck down state laws making medical marijuana legal."Most of us, we're supposed to die," McMahon said. "If we were under conventional treatment, we would not be alive today. None of us."Far from dead these days, McMahon, 54, is riding his bicycle again and is thinking of buying a moped. After years of treatments and surgeries, the whole right side of his body is a mess, and his balance is off, but he keeps working on it."I practice yoga. I smoke my marijuana. I sleep and I eat good," he said.Doobie? Doobie do.Picture of Mississippi Farm: Sioux City Journal (IA)Author: John Quinlan, Journal Staff WriterPublished: Sunday, June 12, 2005Copyright: 2005 Sioux City JournalContact: mikegors siouxcityjournal.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:George McMahon's Home Page Americans Get To Smoke Pot in Federal Program Marijuana Patient Shares His Story To Your Health
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Comment #4 posted by jose melendez on June 13, 2005 at 12:44:34 PT
False Claims: Steve Gust, Hot Air Con Man
from: Got Fraud?May 13, 2002The National Institute on Drug Abuse, which grows the marijuana plants that are pre-rolled, frozen and sent out to officially sanctioned researchers across the country, denies its research product is substandard."The marijuana we provide DOES NOT (emphasis added -jm) contain sticks and seeds. The problem is re-humidifying - it makes it kind of harsh," said Steve Gust, special assistant to the director of NIDA. "Certain procedures are needed to make it smoke right." Gust said researchers themselves aren't complaining about quality. He thinks groups like NORML are looking for something to blame if the results of the studies show it has little medicinal value. "Then they can say the marijuana isn't of sufficient quality," Gust* said.from: FlopMay 16, 2002 " . . . the marijuana that we provide and produce is almost entirely free of stems and seeds." - (Steve Gust)The institute ships the majority of its marijuana cigarettes to a dozen research programs throughout the nation that service several hundred people. The agency also directly ships cigarettes to seven patients who are part of an old investigative program that was created in the 1970s for research. Musikka, a Sacramento woman who has had glaucoma since 1975, is one of the seven study participants who receive the shipments from the institute. She said that since her participation in the study began in 1988, the quality of the marijuana has gone from awful to tolerable but that she still can't smoke the cigarettes without cleaning them up first. "They always have to be rerolled," said Musikka, who is blind in one eye. "I don't like their papers, and all the seeds and stems have to come out. It takes me all day to just clean everything and get it so that I can reroll it." - - -from: 1986 False Claims Act judgments and settlements against fraud feasors have totaled over $12 billion. Top False Claims Act Recoveries include pharmaceutical, health care and drug precursor chemical firms:HCA, Taketa-Abbott Pharmaceutical, Abbott Labs, Fresenius Medical Care of North America, SmithKline Beecham Clinical Laboratories Inc., HealthSouth, National Medical Enterprises, Gambro Healthcare, Gambro Healthcare, Schering-Plough, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, Bayer Corporation, First American Health Care of Georgia, First American Health Care of Georgia, Pfizer/Warner-Lambert, Blue Cross Blue Shield Illinois, Shell Oil Company . . .Top Partnership for a Drug Free America funding sources include many of THE SAME pharmaceutical, health care and drug precursor chemical firms:  - - -Saying it with Gustofrom: We all have some understanding of the nature of fraud. When a person deliberately uses a misrepresentation or other deceitful means to obtain something to which he or she is not otherwise entitled, that person has committed fraud. However, under the False Claims Act, fraud has a much wider and more inclusive meaning.Under the Act, the defendant need not have actually known that the information it provided to the Government was false. It is sufficient that the defendant supplied the information to the Government either: (i) in "deliberate ignorance" of the truth or falsity of the information; or (ii) in "reckless disregard" of the truth or falsity of the information. The False Claims Act has been used to successfully recover for fraud against the Government in many areas, including defense procurement fraud, Medicare/Medicaid fraud and fraud against HUD by builders of federally subsidized housing. In fact, claims may arise in virtually every area in which federal Government money is spent, such as education, welfare, social security and purchases by any federal government department or agency.
* Con Gusto: El Mentiroso
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Comment #3 posted by Hope on June 13, 2005 at 10:13:41 PT
George and his wife
are wonderful people. It speaks volumes of his good character that he didn't just take his legal prescription and forget about all the other people who need and could benefit from cannabis, but are kept from doing so by threat of violence and imprisonment.A large, framed photograph of George hangs above my computer. He was the first person I ever chatted with on the computer. He gave me one of the old red cross/cannabis stickers from the California iniative that says, "Say Yes To Safe Access". I have it framed, and on my desk. The sticker and the photograph of him are quiet reminders of how important it is to reform drug policy for the better of humanity. Prohibition actually kills, but cannabis never kills, and actually can give life and hope where there was none.I recommend his book, Prescription Pot.
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Comment #2 posted by AlvinCool on June 12, 2005 at 19:09:20 PT
Uh no
The big problem is that if they open the program the comparison between what is real and what they supply would be investigated, which it may not anyway. This is what they desperatly seek to stop. That is why they want the program to disappear, or at the least remain so far out of the light that it won't matter.
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on June 12, 2005 at 17:11:39 PT
Just a Comment
They should open the program back up but the big problem is that little farm wouldn't near supply the volume of people who use Cannabis as medicine.
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