Requesting Permission to Live: Michelle tells the story of "The Exemption"
Validation and Vindication By Michelle Rainey
What a painstaking, gut wrenching (literally) fight-for-your-life process!
Back in February 1996, after struggling for years with treating my Crohn's disease with conventional medication, I made the decision to take my life into my own hands, and I informed my doctor that I was experimenting with Cannabis.
Being of Asian descent, he believed in some forms of natural healing and unconventional medicine. I never again asked for any pharmaceuticals. Too bad he couldn't prescribe pot, but at that point Canada did not have any kind of medical marijuana program. In fact, it would not be until November of that year that the voters of California passed Prop 215, the first effective medical marijuana law.
So, I continued with my "experiment", costing me $80.00 a quarter ounce per week. The sad part was I really could not afford any more than that even though my disease so desperately needed it. Even with a great medical insurance plan you cannot buy cannabis, like you can with prescriptions. In reality, what is even more frightening is not having a reliable source for this ILLEGAL miracle plant.
After months and months, I finally was introduced to 'Pordgy', a man I owe a great deal to. He had a strain called "William's Wonder", and, oh, did it do wonders for my pain. Pordgy and his wife became my family and were supportive emotionally at a time when I needed to identify with other cannabis users. My now ex-husband Bruce held a position in a gravel mine that kept him away 5-6 days a week, thus leaving me with time to work and build our house. Being able to get immediate relief from the William's Wonder -- and having the friendships that meant so much -- made my disease more tolerable.
During this time, I began researching on how to become legally entitled to use marijuana. In the late '90s laws were starting to change for medicinal usage in Canada. Only a select few diseases were on the 'A' list for medical marijuana. I decided to take a chance and went to another doctor near where I lived then, (not my original family doctor.) I explained to him that I want to be legally entitled to use marijuana. This young male doctor looked as if I had asked for heroin, which in Canada he could legally prescribe. I pled with him and begged for his help, and he decided to "think about it."
Well, he thought about it alright! The coward sent me a letter (which I still have), "Dear Michelle: After quite a bit of deliberation and on reviewing the literature, your history, the regulations regarding these applications and both your and mine own literature search on the internet, I am sorry to say that I cannot justify to the government, or myself, your need for the medication requested. I hope you will understand." Sincerely, "The COWARD MD." (Obviously, his real name is not Coward, but you get the idea.)
Well, I hope you can imagine not only how disappointed but also completely outraged I was by how this person we call a "doctor" was deciding that my obviously effective medicine (as evidenced by the way I look and function in society -- I was his banker too) was not in HIS best interest! That was when I also decided that we cannot trust doctors with control of this medicine.
So, "Dr. Coward" do you have Crohn's Disease? Have you ever been on the verge of death due to an incurable disease? Guess not, because if you had I'm sure that you would need marijuana as desperately as I have!
Not giving up, I went to my original family doctor, requested the same of him, explaining again that I need to be legal in order to survive. The proof was right in front of him; I looked and felt the best I had ever been in years. Not one prescription drug in 5 years, no surgery, and no emergency room visits for what I referred to as my cocktail of Demerol and Gravol when in severe pain, just plain old ganja.
He agreed that this form of medicine is working and that the laws regarding its use be changed and thus wanting legalization. As usual though, there were stumbling blocks. The Canadian Medical Assoc. and College of Physicians do not agree with prescribing medicinal marijuana, even though the government has allowed people with certain diseases to use it. (The doctors say that they "don't know enough about it." So their patients have to suffer and/or risk arrest, because of the medical establishment is too lazy and incompetent to do research on a plant that has been used medicinally for thousands of years. And, their insurance wouldn't protect them.)
He told me to "be patient"; that the rules were changing and that 'soon' we could proceed with the paperwork. 'Soon' came 4 years later.
My third attempt: this time he could not procrastinate. Crohn's Disease finally made the 'A' list along side Cancer, AIDS, and MS, for medical marijuana in July 2005. After being my doctor for 30 years, he has been through a roller coaster of emotion with me and my mother. He agreed to sign the forms that would allow me to possess and grow cannabis for myself, as long as my gastro agreed. Now the waiting game, gastro is on holidays until September.
My gastro has not seen me since 1996, which was my last surgery. I walk into his office armed with my mother and a stack of literature proving cannabis works for Crohn's Disease. Remember all I need is for him to agree that cannabis works for me, and then Doctor would sign. Well, my gastro did not recognize me and needed a refresher course on my past history with him as his patient of 17 years.
I'm so happy my mother was there to witness what transpired in that 30 minute meeting, because it was the Validation and Vindication I so desperately needed to get for my soul and hers. He not only proclaimed that I looked fantastic but he agrees with cannabis for Crohn's Disease, and that prescription drugs were not the way to treat such a precarious disease. He then asked. "Where do I sign?"
It was at that moment I should have taken him up on his offer because what happened next you'll never believe. After thanking him for his time and humanity I told him that my Doctor will sign and that he just needed to agree. No problem, he would call Doctor to confirm. So I ran back to my Doctor papers in hand, proclaiming victory. "Now, sign," I said.
He couldn't look me in the face, as he said 'I can't do it'. What do you mean you can't or won't. I was in shock, my voice started elevating asking why, after all this, you promised. He shook his head and said go back to gastro and ask him to sign.
Talk about an emotional rollercoaster! Of course the gastro's office was closed for the day. Feeling betrayed and disillusioned, I sobbed uncontrollably all night. Even knowing I would call first thing in the morning to my gastro for help, I still could not handle the betrayal. All these long years of pain that he watched me go through, the constant battle to survive, it stung, I have not spoken to him since this happened.
After convincing the secretary to leave a message for the gastro to please call me that it was of utmost importance, he did. As calmly as I could, I explained what had happened with the GP, and he said, 'No problem come and see me tomorrow and I will sign."
When I hung up the phone I was in the BCMP Bookstore working, I ran out onto the sidewalk and screamed 'Thank You God, finally'!
As my gastro was signing the papers the very next day, I told him that he restored my faith in Doctors and the medical system, (well, somewhat) and he was a hero. (Why did it take courage to do the decent thing?)
I received my Federal Medical Marihuana License in October 2005. I can now legally possess and grow my own medicine. William's Wonder has been unavailable to me for the past 2 years, and I have been experimenting with many different varieties since. The strain that I have found to be my miracle now is Afghani Bullrider. Thank goodness I married the genius that I know to help grow this precious medicine. Now that is a love story with a happy ending, so long as Canada doesn't send me to die in an American prison.
See Why Does the Canadian Government Want to Send Michelle Rainey To Die In An American Prison?