Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease by Anonymous
I am a 40 year old man with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, a progressive hereditary neurological disease. I have symptoms of pain, difficulty walking, restless leg syndrome and pain and cramps in my hands. I have tried various pain control medications and muscle relaxant drugs, but all of these have undesirable side-effects. I have also undergone surgery on my ankles to reduce pain and prevent further disability. I have used cannabis for many years both recreationally and medicinally with no problems except one; I have a criminal record! I was cautioned last year for possession of one herbal reefer for my own personal use after a police sniffer dog picked me out in the street. This resulted in a 5 year criminal record.. Before my disability affected me to the current level I worked as a registered nurse, and now I continue to work in the health service but in a more advisory capacity. I am a specialist nurse in the field of addictions and therefore have a fairly sound knowledge of the damage that drug use can do to an individual. My future is now jeopardized by this 'caution' because it could damage my reputation as a health worker and prevent me from working with 'vulnerable people' again. The laws on cannabis only came about because of deliberate misinformation and lack of understanding. I believe it is my duty as a health worker and as a disabled person to fight the prejudice and ignorance that is perpetuated to prevent the use of cannabis as a medicine. I was never in trouble with the police in my life until last year, and now I have been criminalized for using a drug that helps with my symptoms. I will continue to use cannabis despite this caution and in spite of the risks of further arrest. I sincerely hope for my children’s sake that this situation changes in their lifetime, if not in my own.
As for the benefits of cannabis, these are sustained for several hours following smoking a small marijuana joint over the course of a day. I never use tobacco and alcohol, which are contra-indicated for my disease.. I try not to smoke until late in the day, as I do not want to get too stoned. The effect of being stoned is pleasant, to say the least, but it is not conducive to my daily routine. I never smoke before or during work for that reason. I also feel that it takes some time to 'learn' how cannabis affects each individual and therefore it is not easy to suggest appropriate doses.
My muscle cramps are the first thing to disappear, approximately 5-10 minutes after a smoke. Then pain disappears in my legs and hands. I usually will not require a second 'dose' for an hour or two. In CMT balance is affected adversely, and with this in mind I try to avoid getting too stoned if I am up on my feet. But paradoxically, I am a lot more careful and in some ways more spatially aware when I smoke, so it levels out risk and benefit.