Medical marijuana advocates Wednesday evening called for the full legalization of marijuana in Colorado, saying that until the drug is fully legal, it will always be stigmatized and patients will be subject to harassment.
“No patient is really safe until it is legalized for everyone,” attorney Robert J. Corry told the crowd of patients and advocates at a meeting in Denver.
He and other attorneys said that law enforcement officials, legislators and state officials will never really act as if anyone has a right to use marijuana until it is made legal for everyone.
“They are treating patients like criminals instead of the sick people we are,” said Laura Kriho of the Cannabis Therapy Institute.
While there was no shortage of attorneys and activists at the meeting complaining about what they view as the illegality of legislators and bureaucrats making changes to how medical marijuana is handled in Colorado, one attorney in particular brought the house down with her personal story of using medical marijuana.
Longmont attorney Kristy Martinez described herself as a serious and successful attorney until one day a few years ago her law practice had to take a back seat to her health.
“Everything got derailed in June of 2005 when I was diagnosed with the life threatening condition of breast cancer. I went for a regular check up–I was going to try and have my second child, and I was diagnosed and had a double mastectomy within 72 hours. I found myself facing in 18 months what would result in four surgeries. I can’t tell you how traumatizing it was for me. Doctors said I had the most aggressive, chaotic and unpredictable form of cancer.
“I would need aggressive therapy,” she told the hushed crowd.
“Because I had an infant at home, I wanted to make sure I did everything I could to survive. I found myself out of the court and into the doctor’s office.
“I’m kind of girl scout; I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t do any drugs, I’m super ethical and I’m proud of it.
“I went into my first series of chemotherapy–rejecting any form of non-traditional treatment–and went to my first hit and they gave me the most aggressive form of chemotherapy that was available and told me I might not make it. I vomited 40 times that night and my mother–who is a seasoned emergency room nurse–had to call 911 because I vomited until I collapsed. The next treatment, which was 21 days later, they had to medicate me to get me into the doctor’s office, which for those of you who know me, I’m not afraid of anything, and I couldn’t go. At that point the doctor, who is one of the most prominent, well respected medical directors of one of the largest cancer centers in Colorado, said I needed to use medical marijuana. He said I will not make it through another round of chemo without it.
“I had months of therapy to do. I used THC. I got a prescription and I never vomited again.
“I can talk about the Constitution until I turn green but when you talk about patients’ access and you talk about the constitutionality of that, you talk about a Colorado Supreme Court rejecting to intervene to make sure patients get access to this treatment… It is the difference between a mother and her infant living and dying. I believe It was the access to THC that allowed me to eat and allowed me not to vomit.
“After surviving that type of treatment, I never used medical marijuana again. It is just not my deal. I used it for medical purposes and it saved my life, and I will fight for the constitutional right for another patient to use it until I can’t breathe.
“It is the difference between living and dying and that is why I was so profoundly disappointed in the Supreme Court’s dismissal. Patients needs access. For me it was the difference between living and dying. I really do believe that patients need access to this treatment.”
She and others say patient access is in jeopardy because of rules that allow cities and counties to not allow dispensaries and because of patient fears that their medical marijuana records are not really confidential.
“Medical marijuana is the safest therapeutic substance known to man. There is no lethal dosage known,” said attorney Andrew Reid, who’s suit was just rejected by the Colorado Supreme Court.