I am a 35-year-old male, a homeowner and married with no children. I work in insurance as a day job, but my real pursuits are music, writing and cannabis activism. I use cannabis to prevent epileptic seizures.

I have experienced occasional seizures since I was a teenager in the 1970’s. I have never sought treatment by a physician because of the severity of the treatment my father was receiving for the same disorder. My father’s daily course of Phenobarbital is a standard treatment for seizure disorder. Because this narcotic is toxic and addictive and deadens the nervous system, I opted to take my chances with seizures, instead.

I remember my mother concurring with my decision not to report my seizures to a doctor. There are a lot of negative consequences to consider such as the social stigmatization, driving restrictions, lack of availability of insurance not to mention the dangerous drugs the doctor would prescribe. We decided to take a "wait and see" attitude to find out if the seizures would become too big of a problem, as they eventually had with my father. I experienced more seizures but kept them secret when possible, even from my parents. I inadvertently began to medicate myself when I started smoking cannabis recreationally in 1980. During the following eight years of heavy cannabis use, I didn’t experience a single seizure. In 1988-89 I abstained from cannabis use for six months as a result of a drug arrest for cannabis delivery and the seizures returned.

The years since then have been characterized by intermittent lapses in access to cannabis accompanied by the experience of occasional seizures. It has only been recently that I have learned of all the other anecdotal reports like mine, thanks to the Internet. The seizures my father and I suffer are of the grand mal variety, causing a complete lack consciousness for several minutes accompanied by violent, uncontrollable muscle spasms.

Mercifully, the seizures occur only a few times in a year when left untreated and I can tell when an occurrence is immanent and take steps to improve my physical safety. As bad as the direct physical problem is for the sufferer, probably the worst aspect is the effect seizures have on loved ones who witness them. Utterly helpless to intervene, my wife has suffered actual shock from the experience of witnessing my seizures.

My immediate problem is steady access to cannabis. I would never think of approaching a stranger for drugs. I sold cannabis to my friends all throughout most of the 1980’s solely to avoiding having to buy it with my own money.

After my arrest and conviction for delivery of cannabis in 1988 as the result of a betrayal by a friend, my first offence status was expended and I dared never again to obtain cannabis for anybody else. Although the sentence of one year of probation, 100 hours of community service and a $500.00 fine might be considered lenient, the terror of the arrest and the dreadfulness of the hearings and the trial and the humiliation that I and my parents suffered were quite sufficient to deter me from ever delivering cannabis again.

The informal distribution of cannabis by which I now obtain my medicine does not guarantee steady access. I rarely go a month without having some problem finding cannabis by this means. If we have what is known as a "dry spell", my seizure threshold begins to decline and my chances of having a seizure increases.

Thank you,

Larry Stevens, Lstevens@fgi.net