By David Burton
My mother has crippling rheumatoid arthritis in both hands and her right shoulder. Her gnarled fingers have recently begun to resemble claws, and she’s taken to walking with a stoop because moving upright hurts too much. She calls the pain a nuisance, but really, it’s hell, because she cooks for a living. Four hours during the day, she walks among long rows of cutting tables and ovens, chopping up ingredients and stirring pots and pans. In the afternoon at home, she bakes cookies and cakes and sells them to help make ends meet. In the evening, she sits with her hands on her lap while my sister rubs Ben Gay into her shoulders, and then she takes two prescription-strength Motrins and goes to bed.
My mother doesn’t obey the law. She lives the law. It doesn’t occur to her that the medicines she hears about on TV – cannabis joints, marijuana brownies, THC tinctures and ointments – are available to her, work better and are much easier on the body than the 3,000 or so milligrams of ibuprofen she consumes daily for her pain. She knows these remedies are frowned upon by the police, and so fall in the category of things that are not for her but for those other people. The people who break the law. I’ve tried talking to her about the medicinal benefits of cannabis, but the conversation is a nonstarter. She doesn’t break the law, she says. Marijuana is a dangerous drug. Only druggies smoke reefer.
As a son, a citizen and a human being, I find this frustrating and unfortunate. It’s frustrating because powerful, self-serving interests have convinced my mother – and millions of other Americans — of so many things that aren’t true. Physician-recommended marijuana has been legal in California for 13 years. Study after study has shown cannabis isn’t a dangerous drug. Moreover, and despite the burnt-out stoner image Hollywood paints of the average marijuana user, millions of decent and hardworking people regularly use cannabis for their ailments.
And it’s frustrating – really frustrating — because my mother is the perfect candidate for medical cannabis. Not only is her pain chronic and debilitating, but the drugs her doctor currently has her on – glucosamine-chondroitin and heavy-duty ibuprofen – aren’t helping and may already be damaging her health. Recent clinical trials showed glucosamine to be no better than a placebo in reducing arthritis pain. Worse, my mother now also suffers from near-constant gastric pain – a complaint that causes her doctor befuddlement but just happens to be a common byproduct of ibuprofen overuse. Cannabis, on the other hand, doesn’t inflame the bowels or irritate the liver and kidneys. But it does reduce rheumatic inflammation, which is why healers have used it to treat arthritis since at least 2000 BCE.
Also, since my money is an issue, my mother is in a living situation perfectly suited for growing her own medicine. Her home in L.A. has a relatively large, walled-in backyard with several fruit and vegetable gardens that she planted herself and lovingly tends. It would be nothing – nothing – for her to set aside a small patch and grow three or four marijuana plants from which to harvest all year long. But despite the fact such an operation – following guidelines spelled out by Senate Bill 420 and the state attorney general’s office – would be legal, my mother refuses to even consider it. Because America’s drug warriors tell her that to do so would make her a bad person.
This is insane, and it’s well past time for all of us – as sons and daughters, as citizens and as human beings – to stand up and stop the insanity.
Welcome to CULTURE magazine.
Our mission is to inform and entertain. In this and future issues, you’ll meet the rock stars of Southern California’s cannabis community – the celebrities, health and legal professionals and frontline activists fighting for our right to sensible drug policy. You’ll find the latest news and lifestyle trends, and learn more about the products and medicines at the heart of our industry. We’ll keep you smiling and we’ll keep you engaged – that’s CULTURE’s promise and purpose.
Read on, friends, and arm yourselves with the power of information.