As more and more people across the U.S. demand legalization, the concept of medical cannabis is becoming more of a mainstream form of treatment and is no longer thought of as the “alternative therapy” it was considered to be in the past.
This is nothing new for Colorado, as we’ve been medicating with cannabis since 2000. But, finally, we are seeing an uptick in support to legalize it nationwide.
Thirty states and the District of Columbia currently have currently legalized either medical or recreational cannabis in some form.
Several medical cannabis users across the nation, including a practicing physician, spoke to OUT FRONT about the positive impact that medical cannabis has had on their lives—including mental health.
Dr. David Martin has been a physician in solo practice for forty years. He is a medical cannabis user. Martin suffers from extreme cold sensitivity and finds that medical cannabis relieves his symptoms.
“My legs turn purple even indoors with the slightest chill, impairing my gait,” he said, adding that medical cannabis also enables him to sleep at night. “If I take two or three drags 30 minutes before sleep, it’s a pain-free at night. And it reduces stress effects even the next day.” He has taken more traditional medications in the past, including anxiety medications, but prefers medical cannabis because, as he puts it, “No hangovers the next day.”
Martin told OUT FRONT that he smokes with a bong, but noted that medical cannabis taken in candy or cookie form was equally effective in providing pain relief. As a physician he recommends medical cannabis for stress and anxiety disorders, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Medical professionals aren’t the only ones to endorse the positives of cannabis healing. Carl Szulczynski, a gay man in the Chicago area, fully supports nationwide cannabis legalization.
“Real people are already using it with miraculous results for their various, severe illnesses,” he said. “Keeping it illegal forced patients into a criminal element to secure their effective medication. This victimizes patients and adds more stress to those of us with PTSD.”
Szulczynski recently obtained his medical cannabis card in order to get relief from his own PTSD.
“I suffer with PTSD as a result of compiled personal tragedy and profound loss of loved ones,” he told OUT FRONT. Szulczynski lives with fairly traditional PTSD symptoms, which can include flashbacks to traumatic experiences, anxiety, and severe depression.
“I’ve self-medicated with cannabis for 30 years because it helps reduce the severity of my symptoms,” he explained. “It completely relieves me of any anxiety attacks. It enables me to sleep through the night without nightmares waking me up. Like many people, stress causes an eating disorder for me. I just stopped eating when I didn’t have any medication.”
Szulczynski reports that with easier access to medical cannabis he’s gained eight pounds—and counting.
Abram Shier, a gay man in California, told OUT FRONT that medical cannabis relieves his leg cramps and improves his sleep, which in turn improves his mental well being.
“Pot has been a godsend for me,” Shier said. “I have been using it for two years. I also use it when I have severed sciatica. Prior to smoking pot I was taking a Vicodin or two every night. Now I rarely need the Vicodin.”
Drugs like Vicodin and other opiates can be highly addictive, according to many reports. While people still need to take medical cannabis regularly, there is no long-term liver damage from taking pills, and no one has ever died from cannabis.
“I begin work at 7 a.m. with an East Coast team,” Shier said. “A good night’s sleep and clear head are both essential. With medical cannabis it’s much easier to control appropriate dosage and has no side effects for me.”
Are you listening, lawmakers?