Multiple Medical Uses of Cannabis
by Jean Cowsert

I am a married woman of 44, with a husband and three children. I have been a user of marijuana for the past 13 years to relieve some of my medical conditions.

Thirteen years ago, six weeks after my son was born, my gynecologist informed me that I had cancer of the vulva and cervix, and I had to have laser surgery and cryosurgery to remove the cancerous areas. It was not only physically traumatic to my body but emotionally traumatic. It was very devastating to me to face the thought that I might not be there to raise the son I just had. It was then that my general physician put me on Xanax to help with my anxieties.

Not only did I have cancer, but along with the stress came migraines. My physician treated them with pain pills such as Darvocet, codeine, and eventually shots of Demerol and synthetic morphine. Even with the medicines the pain was not relieved. So I turned to marijuana. I found that it helped with the pain, the anxiety, and the stress.

When my son was 4 years old, we had an accident involving my vehicle. My son, without any keys, managed to knock the car out of gear; he started to roll down the driveway into the street. My first instinct was to try to get into the car to hit the brakes. The steering column was not locked, so as I grabbed the wheel it turned, making me lose my balance. I had my hands on the steering wheel, with my feet in the car, dangling me along side as it rolled down the driveway and across the street. I held on for dear life, fearing my children would watch their mother be run over by the runaway car. My grip was tight and I knew if I let go, it was over. As I was hanging there, I could hear popping and snapping inside my chest. In the end my son was fine but I had major damage to my muscles and tendons.

Again pain was even more a part of my life. The injury restricted me for over a year, even to the extent of not being able to lift my child. Slight depression set in along with the injury. My physician prescribed Paxil for the depression along with an antiinflammatory medicine. The antiinflammatory caused major stomach problems and eating was not appealing to me. I dealt with the medicines for more than a year. Again, marijuana helped relax my muscle spasms, ease my pain and the loss of appetite due to inflamed stomach.

In 1989 my mother was told that she didn’t have long to live, so my father and I took care of her. My stress level raised tremendously over facing the loss of my mother. It took one year of in and out of the hospital before she passed away on September 20, 1990. I’m sure anyone can relate to the stress of losing his or her parent. I managed to survive, but not without the pharmaceuticals and the marijuana.

Two years later my eldest brother died of septic shock at the age of 49. The doctors said it was a one in a million situation for a man of his age. At that point, I had my first nervous breakdown. Losing my brother was one of the hardest things to accept. He was my childhood hero. It took one week for him to go from a young healthy man to a corpse. The loss was too much for me to handle at that point. Again, my physician prescribed even more Xanax and more Paxil.

In 1994 we decided to move to another home to try to start life over with more positive surroundings for my children and for myself. Things seemed to be calming down to where we could live again and my prescription drugs and marijuana use declined.

In 1995, my sister was killed in a car accident. Again I needed assistance with the prescriptions and the marijuana. At that point, my thoughts were that things couldn’t get worse, that everything that could happen had happened.

I was wrong...terribly wrong. In 1996, my middle daughter, age 11, was molested by a "friend of the family." I thought my life was over. I thought that I had been a good protective mother, raising my children with morals, goals, and values. But now I felt as though I had failed. The police were involved in the case and we all cooperated with them and told them where the person lived and worked. They put my daughter through all the exams and videotaping to be able to arrest this person and put him away. The police let him sit there for two weeks and then he left the country.

The molestation tore our family apart at the seams. That began some of the worst years of my life, and of her life. As with most molested children, she blamed herself and thought she had done wrong. It sent me into the deepest depression I had ever thought imaginable. Sleep was my escape. She had none. Anger and depression set in for her, and she began to act out. Eventually, she set her bedroom on fire so she could move away and not face us. She moved in with her grandparents, which was very difficult. It didn’t last long. She acted out even more, so she ended up moving back home after about a month.

After returning home she tried to commit suicide twice. The first time was a cry for help, which we had been in counseling. The second time was to really try to kill herself. She took a whole bottle of Prozac that the psychiatrist had prescribed for her. At that point I had to make the hardest decision of my life. I put her into the hospital for inpatient care. It broke my heart and still does. She was in for a week to change her medicines and to try to break through so she could learn how to deal with some of the issues. She did OK for awhile, but ended up having to return to inpatient on her 14th birthday. What a present, another week in the hospital. Since then our family has been trying to work through the issues and try to put our family back together. We still work daily with the issues as they arise.

Throughout this I have used pharmaceuticals and marijuana to help with my stress, anxiety, hiatal hernia, and reflux disease. Without them, I myself probably would not have made it though.

My husband has been my supplier all through this. He has cultivated for my use. He is not a user but understood that I needed the help to withstand all these issues.

On October 1, 1998, some kids jumped our fence and found his plants growing in our yard. Of course they cut some and jumped back out of the yard and ran away. A good neighbor saw them jump out of our yard and called the police. The police found the kids about 4 blocks away. Of course they said where they had gotten the marijuana.

I was sitting in my home, all the children in school and my husband at work. I heard pounding at my front door. By the time I got to the end of the hallway I saw the door was open a couple of inches. It scared me half to death that someone was coming in my front door. When they saw me they closed the door and began pounding again. When I opened the door I saw two men in plainclothes and at least two officers in uniform. They immediately came in and I found six men in my entry hall. They told me that they were officers and that they had been told that someone had jumped out of my yard and wanted to see if anything had been stolen. I told them that I had heard the gate rattle and assumed it was my cat jumping on the fence and that I had gone out and checked and nothing seemed wrong. They asked if they could look around and I did not answer. They asked me three times if they could take a look around and of course knowing I had plants in my backyard my response was "whatever." I felt at that point they would do as they chose. Of course they went directly to the plants and I was placed under arrest.

I spent the next 15 hours in jail. They arrested my husband when he returned from work after they called him to inform him they had me in custody. We were released on $5,000 bail for each of us. We returned home at 3:30 the next morning.

The District Attorney charged us with cultivation and cultivation with intent to sell, even though in the police report it stated that they had found no evidence of sales. We have been going to court since November for this arrest, charged with two felonies. I was adamant about not pleading to anything I was not guilty of. So the DA made the offer of my husband taking a felony of cultivation and me to take possession of more than an ounce.

I have been sentenced with the Drug Diversion Program and my husband was sentenced on March 2, 1999 to six months county time, which he is serving on home detention, plus four years of formal probation. We both know that the marijuana was used for my medical purposes so it is a very difficult time for us. I have to do what the court requires which is to do without the marijuana or else end up in jail.

I have recently been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and my specialist has been trying different medications to relieve the pain. I did speak with her regarding my use of marijuana and that it did help. She was under the assumption that a patient can use and grow marijuana under Proposition 215, and she was amazed to hear that we had been arrested for it. She is also under the belief that once our sentences are served that we will be able to grow again, which goes against my husband’s probation. So again I am living in pain without the option of using a medication that works and is less invasive than what I am taking now.

Proposition 215 covers exactly where we are. We voted for the proposition, as did the majority of Californians. Now we are finding our votes mean nothing as far as the government is concerned. I feel totally betrayed by our representatives that they have not stood up and said they represent the people and actually do it.

I always thought that was the freedom of being a United States citizens...having a government by the people for the people... and it is rather disappointing to know we truly are not free, but under control of our politicians’ opinions. I will be an activist for Proposition 215 from now until I can no longer.

I can only hope that justice will prevail, because as of now, I have my doubts. I thank you for taking time to read this letter. The right thing to do is to enforce Proposition 215 for the medicinal use of marijuana.

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