need proof that it was published (i know many of you do…http://cannabishealthnewsmagazine.com/PDF/CHNM_Feb2010_small.pdf )
The below piece is to be published in the next issue of Cannabis Health News Magazine whose editor is Jason Lauve. Jason was acquitted of all charges by a jury on August 6, 2009. He has been a tireless advocate for Medical Marijuana patients in Colorado before this date and since.
Kiefair Keepsakes…. How we came to be, Why we give back
Copyrighted material All Rights Reserved see message at the bottom of essay
I tell you this story, not for myself, but for those in similar situations without the strength or ability to speak.
The government of the United States and the State of Colorado (as well as other states) are all saving a ton of money due to the growth in the medical marijuana industry and so are the dispensaries and caregivers. As a patient caught in the middle, I decided that I may have a unique perspective on this issue and have decided to throw my two cents in on the topic.
If you listen to the news, it seems to be the government officials vs. the dispensary owners. here in Colorado. This should not be the case. The patients needs should be at the heart of this discussion, particularly the needs of low income medical marijuana patients on Social Security Disability and Social Security Income (SSD/SSI)
I posted much of the content you will read here all over the internet in an effort to help myself and others in my position. I sat in the online forums begging:
“Is there someone, anyone out there who hears my plea and wants to help me actually do something other than sit in online forums and complaining about the problem and hope someone does something”
I was heartbroken to find little positive response and a lot of negative/cruel responses by persons who clearly are recreational users and not medical users. The treatment of women in some of these cannabis forum rooms was often appalling. I finally decided to stop beating a dead horse and set up a store front to help me get the funds I need for my own medicine, food and other needs and to donate 10% of our profits to provide medical marijuana for free to low income patients in need. Currently we have only one dispensary signed on with us, GreenBelly Co-op LLC in Eldorado Springs, Co.
We encourage other dispensaries and caregivers to join with us in this effort. The funds to be donated will be held in trust and dispensed when/where they are needed according to the needs and location of the patient in question. A patient from your area would contact me, then I would contact you to confirm you have the stock necessary for the patient and to confirm availability of time, I would then deposit money for their medication into a paypal account owned by your dispensary. The patient could then come in and pick up their necessary medicine. I require no investment on your part. Patients would report on the quality of your medicine and I would then write their reviews and forward their recommendations (no names attached) on the net. Everybody wins. People who wish to provide money for the trust can purchase anything in my online gift-store or my personal catalog. 10% of my profits go to this fund. Hopefully a larger and larger percentage of profits will got to the trust when my personal finances allow me.
When I began to write the essay that I posted in the online forums, I decided that my joining the Medical Marijuana Registry was my Christmas Present to the American Taxpayer for the year 2009. And posted the title as “My Personal Christmas Gift to the American Taxpayer.”
Now, you may imagine me as the stereotype of a “stoner” that has been created by the media. Let me correct you
First of all, I am a female over 25 and under 40 with severe and debilitating Fibromyalgia, the kind that forces doctors to shake their heads and prescribe one ineffective man made medicine on top of another while I waste away and my quality of life diminishes. The onset of my symptoms began almost instantly after my birth in Canon City, CO and I have been fragile ever since. I’ve even been told by a doctor or two that may well have one of the worst Fibromyalgia cases on record. I was a ward of the State of Colorado until I ran away when I was 16 due to horrid abusive conditions within the state foster care program and completed my high school in another state.
My sole health insurance is provided to me is under medicare/medicaid. This is because I am completely disabled and the doctors do not allow me to work, or even to attend school. I assure you that this is only for the time being… I am getting stronger all the time!
In 1994, I was awarded Ginsberg Scholarship up at Naropa during the 20th anniversary festival. I dreamed for years of attending, but my health prevented it. I finally got stubborn and bullied my doctors into letting me go. I was accepted into and attended Naropa University for two semesters in 2007-2008 school year in an effort to get a degree that would give me access to jobs more suited to my bodies abilities, and was pulled out by my doctors both times. Naropa wanted me there, I wanted to be there, but government programs required I be enrolled a certain amount of credit hours (beyond the abilities of my body) in order to keep my funding. I attempted a semester at Grand Canyon University online in Fall 2008 to the same effect. Now I have many thousands of dollars in student loans I can’t pay because I attempted to get a degree so I could get a job my body could handle.
I was forced to be on government programs like Social Security Disability and Social Security Income (SSD/SSI) at a young age. I was in middle school when I was put on SSD/SSI for the first time while I was a ward of the State of Colorado.
Let me clarify, the first time I was put on disability, I was a minor and the State decided as my sole legal guardian to place me on disability. The state “adopted me” in a sense.My name was changed legally and my parents rights to me as a child were formally, legally and permanently terminated. None of it was not my choice (except the name change after years of foster care), it was not discussed with me, I was a child. My medical care as a child was much as it is now, with the exception of the fact that kids get a bit more coverage. Being on the program at a young age, I did not accumulate much in the way of work money in my SSI account, although I did attempt to work several times. Unfortunately every time, an employer or doctor would get tired of me being sick and put a stop to it one way or another. That is why my monthly amounts from SSI/SSD are so low, not because I am disabled, but because I couldn’t work to pay into the system like the people who receive these benefits only when they reach retirement after a full life of paying in. Also did you know the government actually Penalized people for getting married if you are both on disability? They treat you as one person and give you one person’s pay! For love, and for spiritual reasons I decided that was a risk I would just have take. So, I married my love who happened to be on disability also anyway.
Now I ask the members of the Government of the Great State of Colorado, if you had an adult child who was sick and suffering would you leave them to languish in pain and poverty just because it was no longer your legal responsibility? Of course you wouldn’t. You would do whatever was in your power to make your child as comfortable as possible.
As an adult child, I now boldly but humbly step up to my adopted parent, the Government of the State of Colorado, and ask, “Guardian Colorado, do you it intend to focus on the dispensaries who are the money in this discussion, or do you intend to focus on your citizens whose LIVES are being saved by this plant? You discuss care giving so much in this debate, but the treatment of patients on the part of many in this debate has proven differently. I know you have hearts, please use them as you consider these policies. This shouldn’t be a partisan issue. This should be a people issue.
Before I was placed on the Colorado Medical Marijuana Registry in June 2009, I would have to visit a doctors office several times a month, sometimes several times a week, sometimes with several appointments booked the same day with specialists and tests, painful and difficult physical therapy that seemed to harm more than hurt, etc., and there were to many trips to the emergency room to count.
I went to the ER out of sheer desperation, I went just so I could get comfortable enough to have a bit of sleep after a week or more of lingering in a painful place that seemed to be located in deep within the realm of a narcotic distorted pain haze, a no-where-land that seemed to be somewhere between life and death. The doctors in the emergency room and elsewhere often treated me as though I was an addict, and not a pain patient, AND I WAS MISERABLE!
Since I was approved for the medical marijuana registry I haven’t needed near the amount of services from the medicaid/medicare program. In fact, I’ve had to see a doctor twice since June 3, 2009 when the doctor signed my forms.
Once to have 14 teeth pulled, a little bit of dental work made necessary by a combination of years of no dental benefits unless my teeth couldn’t be saved and needed to be pulled, being on narcotics for almost a decade, and dealing with severe nausea/vomiting/malnutrition.
The other doctor visit (and medications that followed) were for a bad cold that I caught at the dentists office. I haven’t seen a doctor at all otherwise, although I do call my family doctor to check in and let her know I am doing well.
Before I was on the MMJ registry, I was on so many medications (20 plus medications taken at various intervals though the day) that I felt like I was taking a pill every 2 minutes…. Number of traditional prescriptions I take daily now – ZERO.
Now the government was paying for all those medications I was on before through medicare/medicaid, plus all the doctor visits to get, maintain, and change dosing on those prescriptions right? Some of those medications by themselves cost the government thousands of dollars a month! Many could not have refills on them by law and required a doctor visit every time I needed more.
I always felt guilty about my personal burden on the American Taxpayers. But now I don’t have to feel guilty cause I have given a present to the American Taxpayer. I got on the MMJ registry. Now I do not go to the mainstream doctor unless I need antibiotics. I am off all prescriptions. I had tobacco quit (been trying for 20 years to quit) until I was without medicine too long and got stressed out, but I plan to quit again.
I and am well enough to manage a website as well as volunteer and be an advocate for others in need. I have regularly traded my services in clerical/computer work either from home or in the GreenBelly Coop LLC office for medications when I am strapped for cash. All of these things would have been impossible for me nine short months ago when I was all but bedridden and and in so much pain I had to keep myself from overdosing.
The government is saving many thousands of dollars a month on me alone, and yet I have to struggle to obtain this money saver for the American taxpayer. That much cut in government spending on the part of an individual… I should get a medal or something. Now think how many individuals are saving the government this money in the State of Colorado alone…. Let alone the other 13 states and the District of Columbia! We all need medals or medicine at the very least!
How many others are there like me? Meanwhile, the price of my medicine increases as the MMJ movement grows. My family and I have been stuck having to make really hard decisions like, do we pawn our wedding and engagement rings to get my medicine? Or do we pawn them and buy some food? Or do we keep the rings for sentimental reasons, lay here and just starve and have seizures from pain and lack of medicine/food.
I ended up pawning all the rings, having already sold else of value to the pawn store and bought both medicine and food. The money I received for my treasured bands did not buy nearly enough of either medicine or food. We promised ourselves we would get them back, but I ended up crying my eyes out when I realized I just can’t afford to get them out of hock. The deadline to get them back passed weeks ago. I live in a Winnebago and have been in real danger of starving to death at times. Now don’t get me wrong, my life has been profoundly changed by this medicine, and any hardship I may have to endure is truly worth the benefits of this plant. I will not compromise and go back to the narcotics and other prescriptions just because I can get them paid for or for any other reason. I would rather be in pain when I am without my medical marijuana than take a morphine and get sicker.
Sometimes family members and the community can make it very hard to be a low income medical marijuana patient too. I have heard many stories of people not living with family/friends any longer because they are shunned for their medicinal use. I’ve experienced this shunning first hand myself. The stereotype of the “typical” marijuana user is further damaging these people with no where else to turn!
This herb is profoundly changing lives! It is healing people, body, mind, and soul. Yet its legal users get treated as if they are using it for recreation. I believe recreational use is a VALID use of the plant, further I feel it be legalized and would be an important source of revenue for America if it were to be legal once again. However, that is not why I personally NEED this plant.
This plant allows me to eat, to sleep, to get out of my bed, to manage my pain enough to have a job, to be involved with life instead of living in a nightmare world just praying for the end to come soon. If you happen to be a Fibromyalgia patient praying for the end, you can be praying for a long time as this is not a terminal disease.
The Mayo clinic website (see footnote 1) describes symptoms of Fibromyalgia as including
Signs and symptoms of fibromyalgia can vary, depending on the weather, stress, physical activity or even the time of day.
Widespread pain and tender points
The pain associated with fibromyalgia is described as a constant dull ache, typically arising from muscles. To be considered widespread, the pain must occur on both sides of your body and above and below your waist.
Fibromyalgia is characterized by additional pain when firm pressure is applied to specific areas of your body, called tender points. Tender point locations include:
Back of the head, Between shoulder blades, Top of shoulders, Front sides of neck, Upper chest,Outer elbows, Upper hips, Sides of hips, Inner knees
Fatigue and sleep disturbances
People with fibromyalgia often awaken tired, even though they seem to get plenty of sleep. Experts believe that these people rarely reach the deep restorative stage of sleep. Sleep disorders that have been linked to fibromyalgia include restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea.
Many people who have fibromyalgia also may have:
Chronic fatigue syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Restless legs syndrome
And a whole host of other conditions not on the Mayo clinic list.
Moder Western medicine can’t even agree on the causes/mechanisms of this disease because they don’t understand it.
It has been suggested that this is a psychological disease only, a psychosis created when a hypocondriac hears about fibromyalgia. The advocates of this theory say that the symptoms of this diesease are all in the patient’s head. I do not personally believe in this theory, but even if this disease is all in my head, the medical marijuana still helps.
Other sources on Fibromyalgia suspect that this disease has been around for all time, a genetic disease with a trigger, and its symptoms are found even in individuals of remote tribes of Africa and the Amazon who have no contact with the west. So why should I use new untested man-made medicine created by people who don’t understand my disease and possibly believe it doesn’t exist? Especially when that disease has been treated with herbs known to posses pain relieving qualities for many generations of humans?
Personally, my last completely “pain free” moment was around 3:30 PM on August 21, 2002. I know because I keep a detailed pain/medication journal in an effort to regulate my condition. I am confident that If I had the proper medicine, I would have pain free moments again. This herb doesn’t just treat pain sensations, it helps correct causes. Perhaps with the right regimen, daily pain could be a thing of the past for me.
This disease itself may not kill you, but it can certainly make you wish for death. There are near epidemic levels of Fibromyalgia patients and pain patients in general who are hurting so bad they are suicidal, or worse succeed in taking their own life. I have a brother who died as a result of a doctor who wasn’t paying enough attention with his pen and prescription pad. After years of pain and suffering following a head injury, my brother died of a drug interaction prescribed by his doctor.
Dispensaries are necessary, but not without a social conscience
Now the other side of the coin. It is no secret that the people who own dispensaries are making money on patients like me too.
We need these dispensaries for a variety of reasons.
1)What would a patient do if their caregiver had a bad crop and was without medicine? If that paitent was restricted from seeing other caregivers they would have no where to get their medicine but the street.
2) Our caregivers are restricted to a number of plants they can grow for you, thus if you become tolerant to the genetics of one strain of medicine quickly and need to change the genetics of you medication often, it may be difficult for your caregiver to have/maintain the variety you need.
3) Competition strengthens customer service and prevents patients from being in a form of bondage by their caregiver. If we restrict patients from going to other dispensaries, how are they to know if the medicine they are receiving is the best quality available for them. If we restrict the number of persons a dispensary can serve to a tiny number and prevent patients from seeing other medical marijuana providers, and in addition the number of times a year they can change their caregiver, then patients must settle for whatever medicine a particular caregiver is giving them whether it is effective or not.
We need a program to help low income patients get their medicine!
If you are low income and can’t afford your “mainstream pharmacy” medicine, you can go to various organizations and they will help you to buy your medicine, sometimes even on a regular basis if they are necessary and not covered by insurance, but that doesn’t include medical marijuana.
If you are brave enough to speak up and ask for help getting your medicine at these organizations, you will probably find the door closed firmly in your face. You may also find that other services from the organization become difficult or impossible to obtain as well. This is out and out discrimination in my opinion. If your medicine is MMJ no one is willing to help you unless you happen to be lucky enough to find a care giver who actually gives a care if you have medicine or not! I just put my medical costs on a new food stamp application mailed 1/13/09 to Boulder County. We shall see what happens.
“So what,” you say? Well let’s look at this… The high price can force a person in my position to go back to buying their medicine off the street where it is less expensive, but also less potent, less safe.
1)You never know what has been added to you herb to increase the genetically weak herbs potency artificially with other street drugs or various substances to make it seem as though there is more weight to the medicine.
2)It is much more dangerous to obtain, and the process of obtaining it can be a risk to your health in many ways. Long periods in the cold and encounters with strange germs can put a person right back in their sick bed or the hospital.
3) The money spent on street grade medication often goes back to fund gang and criminal activity. This is something that most medical marijuana patients do not want to support and got on the registry to stop supporting. I personally counted avoiding purchasing on the street as one of the largest pluses to getting on the registry, and yet I see people like me being forced back there.
4) The price of cannabis on the street directly influences the costs of Medical Grade in the Dispensaries. In this respect, Cannabis is a commodity like any other, and as such is subject to price fluctuation when artificially influenced. It doesn’t really have anything to do with how much it costs to grow it and transport it to the patient. It has to do with how much it costs on the street.
What is to be done if you have no medicine? Where can you go?
There are few funds or organizations willing to help people like me get my medicine when I can’t afford it, and you have to really dig in your need to find them. When I did find them, they could only help once or not at all due to the demand. Many patients do not have the strength for this search when they are lacking appropriate medication. It took me months of daily web crawling to dig any up organizations up. Now people who wish to help provide medicine to people in this position can buy something for themselves or someone else, something they may have bought anyway and someone gets medicine.
If someone who has medicine/money wants to help a person in my position, likewise there is no way for a person who wants to help to donate money to people in a position similar to mine. Right now low income persons only relief seems to be individuals/churches/caregivers being kind. So I created this gift company, and here we are.
One church I know of is greenfaith ministry. The Reverend of greenfaith ministry is also known as the 420 Reverend. I have had contact with Reverend Brandon Baker from this organization who is a great man. He drove over 50 miles to get me some medicine for free. Unfortunately he is one man and the demand is high. Rev. B Baker is quoted as saying, “Tell the (Denver City my edit) counsel a majority amount of local churches support un-regulated access for all needy mmj patients, give them my name and number if they say they want to meet with any of the spiritual mmj community church leaders!”
Meds for free? What about Caregivers and Growers needs?
Now, I have no problem with the idea of paying for my medications… The person who grows it provides a service that a dollar amount really can’t be placed on and should be compensated, and so should everyone involved in getting the medicine to me. That is only fair. But I want know the money I spend helps others like me or at very least the movement in general. I also don’t need to be paying 50+% of my income to stay barely comfortable. I’d like to be able to pay a reasonable percentage of my income and have all the medicine my body requires. I know that may seem a little unrealistic, but a girl in pain can dream. lol
Here in Colorado it is the wild wild west right now. If I happen to have to go somewhere other than my primary caregiver, my $ will probably end up in a growing bank account of some green gold rush eyed caregiver who could really care less if I have effective medication or not. In fact, it seems like the only green anyone cares about is dollar bill green and the green of greed. Yet the right to visit a dispensary other than your caregiver is a necessary one. What happens if your caregiver loses a grow? What do you do if you need a different strain of medicine than what is available that day? What if they are out of the product that helps the most? Would you refuse to let me go to W@(m@rt if W@lgr33ns was out of my prescription?
So the government ignores the money it saves, and many (not all) of the dispensaries in the area seem to have little social conscience about the price a person like me can pay to have their medicine.
A Big social Problem, and Yet We aren’t the Issue, money is.
When your total family income is at or below poverty levels, you can absolutely be forced back on the streets to get your medicine. My medical condition requires a minimum of 1/8 oz of smoke-able every 2 days to just to keep me off narcotics and other prescriptions that do more harm than good, not crying, not having seizures caused by pain, and not be stuck in bed.
This dosing by no means keeps me comfortable it is important to note.
I have NEVER had the pleasure of having enough medicine on hand to decide on what a good “comfortable” dosing schedule would be, even though I do have a compassionate caregiver. I just don’t want to put my poor caregiver out of business taking care of my needs.
What I am trying to say is that there is something fundamentally very wrong with the fact that there are so many people who are to poor to even know what the appropriate dosage of medication for their amount of pain, yet the government is saving a bunch of cash and the Medical Marijuana industry is getting the “lion’s share” of the rest of their income.
It is frustrating to feel like you and others are falling through the cracks even further. Many in my position were barely hanging on before the economic downturn, and now see no light at the end of the tunnel. SSI/SSD keeps you far below the poverty line if you have been unable to work enough many living on $1000 a month or less for their whole family.
It is frustrating to see others get wealthy off of you and others while your tier of society starves. Sometimes I feel invisible, and I know for a fact I am not the only one out there feeling this.
Why do the out of state interests get a louder voice than ours?
I was born in the State of Colorado. My family has lived in this state for 4 generations (or more.) My grandmother owned and operated the Historic Stirrup Ranch near Canon City, Co. for many years. I love Colorado, but I live in an RV and am so desperate to be in a place where I can have food and medicine that I am willing to move to any state with a registry because the climate here is so difficult for patients right now.
I have a plan so that if I were able to obtain some land, I could be self sufficient (NO MORE SSI/SSD and I could actually contribute to charities instead of needing help from them!) and never have to worry about being hungry or without my necessary medicine. In time, many others could be helped with food and medicine grown on the land. I could be fulfilling needs rather than begging to have my needs filled.
Kiefair Keepsakes, stepping stone to a dream
My dream is to be able to get some land and set up an initial grow op in earth ships (a growing movement of building practices with an all environmentally friendly building/management philosophy.) This initial grow op would end up growing into a Nonprofit Medical Marijuana retreat/community/caregiver for patients like me to be able to get their medicine and/or live in a more affordable and kind setting, using their personal talents and abilities to benefit the community. I want to focus on what a “disabled person” can do, not their limitations. I want to create a place where it is safe to be sick on a daily basis with no fear of hunger, lack of medication, or fear of the loss of a job/home due to illness.
While I have the heart and the ability to do this work (given time and medication), I unfortunately have no capital for such a venture and am praying the universe will see fit to make it happen.
I have researched many aspects of this and it is very feasible, however getting investment in such a venture is not my forte. This kind of setting would be great tool for a “for profit” dispensary to use. It would be publicity, demonstrate social conscience, and you could also offer my nonprofit medications cheap to their own low income patients. inquire further at firstname.lastname@example.org
I just wanna say Thanks to all the people out there helping to make it possible for people who need this medicine to have it. Whatever you celebrate this or any season, may it be meaningful and may Blessings come to you all!
footnote 1 Retrieved from the Mayo clinic website 1/12/2009
Copyright 2009,2o10 by Breezy Keefer, owner Kiefair Keepsakes All Rights Reserved
Please copy and redistribute with attribution of source!