Frank Cannella

The medical problem for which I used marihuana was psychiatric: severe depression. My depression began at the age of seven and I have had spells off and on for many years, including several hospitalizations. My depression was so severe when I was in the third or fourth grade that I have very little memory of those times. This was in the 1950s in New Mexico -- no psychiatric help was available. The nearest major town was El Paso, Texas, 100 miles away. The spells were of such magnitude that I would often wrap my hands around myself and sky my mother, "Mom, am I alive?" as I felt so ill that I believed that I had died. The depressive states would come and go over the years. They seem to have lessened as my age had advanced.

My experience with marihuana first occurred when I was sent to Vietnam in 1969. While there I was asked to try it by some of my infantry buddies. I was very frightened of it, as I had heard all the negative propaganda about the drug from the government. The first time I tried it was in a bunker in Kontum Province, Vietnam. My friends packed a pipe of marihuana and we smoked it together. The effects were like a miracle drug for me. My depression vanished! I mean it was completely gone! For once in my life I felt good. That was 30 years ago January 1969. When I returned from Asia I continued to smoke marihuana about three times a week; however, all the drug testing I had to quit.

Since that time, I have taken almost all the antidepressants and found limited relief with some, notably Serzone and Remain. However, these drugs have many side effects on contrast to marihuana. No antidepressant drug I have ever tried has worked as well as marihuana for my depression. Recently, I asked my psychiatrist if they would prescribe marihuana for me. Their reply was yes if they could do it without getting into trouble with the government. However, till the laws are changed with total free access, no prescription. Marihuana has a definite place in psychiatric medicine. It sure is a shame that the U.S. government has taken such a negative stance against this miracle drug. It would save many lives or at least make them livable.