I read with interest your article on medical marijuana [see "Medical marijuana," by R.L.  Nave, IT, Feb.  26].  I then read the letters to the editor in the March 5 issue and I take issue with one writer, who states that he doesn’t smoke but he knows all about marijuana and is certain there is no medical use for the drug.  How fortunate he is to know intrinsically the value of a drug that he doesn’t use and hasn’t studied.

I was born with a defect in my spine [spondylolisthesis] that bothered me all my life and finally, when I was 55, it required a surgery to fuse several of my vertebrae.  At this time I also developed peripheral neuropathy.  At the age of 58 I was declared totally disabled and am currently surviving on a meager Social Security check.

There is no cure for my neuropathy.  It just keeps steadily getting worse.  The pain level is impressive.  I am in pain every hour of every day of my life and will be as long as I’m alive.  I am taking six different high-powered drugs, all of which have the side effect of putting me to sleep.  The main pain relief prescribed for me is morphine, a terrible drug that steals your life away.

At this time I spend most of my waking hours sitting in one room.  I leave the house perhaps twice a month, once to get my prescriptions refilled and my wife tries to buy me lunch at least once a month just to get me out and let me see the world.  I wake up each morning knowing that today is going to be worse than yesterday but not as bad as tomorrow, as I slowly lose the use of my feet and hands.

A friend gave me a half ounce of marijuana for Christmas [I can't afford to buy it any more.] and I found that it helped me in a number of ways.  It acts as a painkiller but it also greatly eases my despair and the depression over my medical condition.  I don’t smoke much, just a small bowl in the evening, which is the time of day when the pain is the worst.  I find that no matter how depressing my day may be, the thought that come evening I’ll be able to get some relief, both emotional and physical, does me a world of good.

Legalizing medical marijuana would be a godsend to me.  If I could either have access to an affordable supply or at least be able to grow my own, it would go a long way towards helping me cope with my situation.

I do not write this letter seeking sympathy.  I do not like discussing my situation and I have never asked “Why me?”.  Each life has its ups and downs and this just gets to be my experience.  The only reason I have written today is to hopefully educate folks like your letter writer, who badly needs to get a clue about medical marijuana and the suffering it can lessen.

Dennis Garland

First publish in the Illinois Times, archived here