The Oregonian, "Reader Feedback," Thursday, January 9, 1997, p. C11
[A response to The Oregonian's] 'Choosing to fight' (editorial Jan. 3): "The Clinton administration maps out the right course in battle over medical-marijuana initiatives"

How many editors does it take to see the light?

Personal experience proves pot is powerful medicine

By Floyd Ferris Landrath

My friend Jason invited me over to watch football on New Year's Day; he also asked me to bring him some "medicine."

Jason's muscle spasms have been particularly bad since he ran out of high quality marijuana that he once got from the now-defunct Portland Cannabis Buyers' Club. You see, the boys in Portland Police Bureau's "Marijuana Task Force" now pose as AIDS patients to infiltrate our network.

They have taken medicine and computers, arrested, and otherwise victimized many of the compassionate growers who supplied AIDS and cancer patients, "hard" drug addicts and multiple sclerosis victims like my friend Jason.

So much for promises from authorities like Mayor Vera Katz, who is police commissioner, and said this would not happen in Portland. So much for compassion.

Jason, who's 42, spends most of his time in a motorized wheelchair. Every couple of days he takes a massive injection of prescribed drugs to slow down, not stop, the degenerative nature of this insidious disease, MS.

Jason insists marijuana is the most effective medicine he's found to ease his muscle spasms. This day I would see firsthand proof of that.

It was half-time when I arrived; Jason was sitting in front of a mute TV. He had a glassy look in his eyes, an exhausted look on his face. He'd just endured 20 minutes of intense spasms, he had wet and soiled himself. He was a mess.

Within minutes the spasms started again. This time Jason fell out of his chair. "P-p-p-pot" he sputtered in an almost incomprehensible slur as he wriggled in agony on the floor.

Quickly I pulled out a pipe from my pocket and filled it with cannabis.

I held Jason's head in my arms and put the glowing pipe to his shivering lips.

He inhaled as his legs swung wildly about, his outreached arms locked like steel; he strained to steady his head, which I could barley hold on to.

He took another, deeper hit, and then one more, deeper yet. Suddenly, his legs relaxed, then his arms fell slowly to his side. His hands still waved a bit, and his head bobbed from time to time, but it was clear the worse part had passed.

After I helped Jason take a hot bath and get into some clean clothes, we watched the rest of the game and smoked some more pot. At the conclusion of the game Jason did something pretty darn amazing; he actually got up out of his chair and walked over to the TV to turn it off.

It blew my mind. This man, who little more than an hour ago sat helpless in his own excrement, now walked. Yes, this is definitely a powerful drug, but harmful?

Later, a couple of Jason's friends from his MS support group came over. We all ate dinner together and spent the rest of the evening playing cards, smoking pot, and telling jokes like, "how many editorss at The Oregonian does it take to screw in a light bulb?

"Answer: None, they'd rather remain in the dark."

Floyd Ferris Landrath of Portland is director of the American Anti-Prohibitionist League.



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