Breedheen O’Rilley AKA Breezy KiefAir
PO Box 603
San Luis, CO 81152
A respectful letter in support of the suit against HB1284 directed to those deciding this case,
Before I even begin, I would like to apologize if my wording in this letter seems harsh or angry. As I write, I am very ill, consumed by pain, unable to eat, and barely able to leave my sick-bed. I am lucky enough to have a laptop computer I can use in bed. I have written many letters to my representatives since January 2010 regarding HB1284. After a year and a half of fighting both my government and my own body’s illness, I’m pretty tired of the whole mess. I am certain that my frustration and exhaustion cannot help but come through in my writer’s voice, and I did not want you to misunderstand and think that I am being intentionally disrespectful. We, as a community are sick individuals with varying degrees of disability. We should not HAVE to be fighting with our state government about a plant, its use & regulation.
Every moment we spend presenting our case to the powers that be, we should have to focus on healing from our ailments. We beg for sensibility in the Medicinal Cannabis Program written into the Constitution of our great state. On more than one occasion, I have spent long hours (more than 11 hours strait on one occasion) listening to the debates over medicinal cannabis via the web from the Colorado House of Representatives and the State Senate. I have spent many more hours corresponding with my representatives on this issue so very central to my life and well-being. I have spoken to the Longmont City Council on at least 2 occasions. This spring, I was at the capitol for a debate over additional proposed regulations (HB1250). I missed my chance to speak because it took too long to get to the sick people’s turn to speak & I became ill. I was frustrated because I had arrived a bit early to ensure I was near the top of the list. When my name was finally called (it was called first), I was a few blocks away resting & listening in via the Internet. I am very ill, even on my best days and have often exacerbated my symptoms by working too hard on this issue. It is a sacrifice I am happy to make. This plant and it’s benefits mean that much to me and I have endured many sacrifices for it.
I have been on the Colorado Medical Marijuana Registry since June 2009. Medicinal Cannabis was initially suggested to me in 2007 by my pain specialist at the time. He did so in one of his last sessions with me before moving home to France to teach. He said he was tired of fighting the DEA here, tired of worrying if he would be punished for alleviating people’s pain because he happened to write too many prescriptions one month. He said he was going home where he could teach young minds instead of argue with old ones. He said he was tired of the pay he got from treating his Medicare/Medicaid patients, but to his credit, he still saw patients like me. He had a framed check for $0.02 on the wall beside his desk with a notation in angry doctor scribble that it was payment in full for 2 different patients office visits. He was a doctor who really cared. He never signed a medical marijuana license because he was a foreign doctor and feared his license would be revoked, but he confided in me that he wished he could. He then urged me to seek out a doctor who could sign for my license.
He said, “It will not make the pain non-existent, but then, nothing does that for you does it? It will help you cope with your pain in a more natural way. You can smoke or preferably eat all that you need to and you cannot overdose, you see?”
I am telling you this because I have seen many doctors within the State of Colorado, both before and after I received my medicinal cannabis license. There are very few I have spoken with who have a negative take on the medical marijuana registry. Those who did have a negative perception of medicinal cannabis almost invariably ended up being cruel as well in one way or another. Most cite fear of the DEA as their reason for not being willing to sign for medical marijuana licenses.
I’ve personally sacrificed a lot for my medical cannabis license. Much of my family found themselves unable to deal with my medicinal cannabis use and I have been exiled from their lives for it. When I first became certified for medical cannabis use, my husband had a decent job and made enough money that my health was making great strides towards wellness. The cost was a burden to our budget even then, but it was a burden we were happy to take on once we began to see the results. I was even able to get off of more than 20 different prescription medications at an astonishingly rapid pace. I stopped needing to see my doctor at all. I had been seeing my doctor every week, or on bad weeks, several times a week with late night trips to the emergency room thrown in for good measure.
My husband became unemployed in the fall of 2009. It was then that I discovered the agony and full weight of my disease being 100% without medication due to poverty can brings. My situation continued to deteriorate through the following Summer when the regulations of HB1284 went into effect. Up until that time, I had been supplementing my need for medication by doing reviews of medication I received for free. I would record myself using the medication, say what I thought of it, what symptoms it is good to treat, some history on that particular species of cannabis flower, and personal opinion on all things related to medicinal cannabis news I was aware of. I would also post my opinion of the medication on social media outlets such as FaceBook, MySpace, Twitter
along with the contact information of the compassionate party. Once the regulations of HB1284 went into effect, it was almost impossible to find charity cannabis any more. Even from my caregiver who had begun an indigent patient program before those regulations became law.
Hours of web-crawling desperate to find aid in getting my medication had also led me to the spiritual cannabis community. I met Reverend Brandon Baker and learned of his personal crusade to help low-income medical cannabis patients. He called his church Greenfaith Ministry, and over the past year and a half or so he has helped me immensely. On my first meeting with Reverend Baker in January 2009, I had many questions for him. Being a deeply spiritual woman who had called several other “religious cannabis” organizations (who I found to be little more that on demand sacrament dealers with a set price) I probed Reverend Baker deeply even though he handed me a large quantity of medication free of charge. I asked him about the basis for sacramental cannabis use in the Jewish/Christian tradition and other religions throughout the world (even though I had done my own research into this topic long before). He answered my questions with articulate grace. Since that first meeting, he has shown himself to be generous even in the face of the ever increasing demand for medication by patients in situations similar to my own and worse. I watched alongside him as the demand for his brand of mercy sky-rocketed after HB1284 went into effect. He was able to help me personally less and less, but I knew he was helping a greater number of people than before and that his donations (from dispensaries) had all but dried up. Still, when my need was dire, he would show up. He even delivered medication to my RV when I was otherwise homeless and parking at night in places I knew were friendly to tourist RVs for free (at least for a night or two). Reverend Baker has done so much more for me that provide pot. He has provided me with spiritual guidance when asked. He has provided me with food when I was hungry. He provided pillows and blankets to make my sleeping arrangements more comfortable. He kept his eyes and ears open as I searched desperately for a bit of earth to call my own. He has done so much for me that it is difficult to articulate it properly.
It became apparent to me when my husband initially lost his job that the only way I could really ensure that I would have medication would be to find myself a location where I could grow my own medication. With all the uncertainty the new legislation brought, I thought that the only truly safe place to do that would be on land that I owned. I searched for many months to find a piece of property that I knew I could pay off on my disability income. The piece of property I found was not in any way an ideal grow location, but it was in my price range, so I took it. It was a windswept 2.56 acre parcel of high mountain desert, but it was mine. We had no choice but to sell our beloved RV and move onto the land tents. The RV simply would not make the trip, we could not afford a rental truck to tow it, so we sold it put out belongings into a truck rented with the money made from selling the RV, and made the trip.
That was in October 2010. Winter was close on our heels as we arrived at our new home. Luckily, someone had donated an old Coleman pop up tent-trailer (about circa 1975) to one of the preachers who live up here. They gave it to us. It was weather rotted and made of canvas full of holes, but it was a better shelter than the tent we’d purchased because it looked to be a 4 season tent & turned out to be a 1 season tent. We were grateful. Perhaps my husband was not mentally prepared for this harsh environment of the high mountain desert, or maybe he felt guilty for not being able to provide medication for a wife he knew was very ill when he married her, whatever the truth of the reason my husband changed I do not know. I will not bore you with the details of my still-in-progress divorce, but I will say, that in it’s own way my medical marijuana license/activism played a part in the events are costing me my marriage license and a friend/partner I once loved dearly.
After I separated from my husband, I went on a trip cross country between December 2010 and February 2011. I visited two other states with medicinal cannabis programs (Maine and Michigan) and one state where cannabis has been decriminalized (Ohio). Out on the road, I dug deeper into the proceedings regarding medicinal cannabis in other states. There I saw in practice what I knew to be true from my research on-line. Many other states look to Colorado as an example for all MMJ states. Our rules are often cited in their debates, sometimes as supportive of the movement, other times against it. As you decide this case, I ask you to consider the multitude of medicinal cannabis patients your decision will impact. Not just the many cannabis patients within the State of Colorado, but also the medical cannabis patients of other states with programs and states considering medicinal cannabis programs.
When I returned to my land after a the trip, I was robbed. I was staying at my neighbor’s house. They were away and wanted someone to watch their place. It was still winter, and was bitterly cold. I was more than happy to stay in a real structure for a few nights. The first night I was away, over $9,000 of survival gear and personal property was stolen from me including: my wood-stove (meaning no heat), my generator (meaning no electricity), my pots and pans and can opener, my beloved pipe collection (almost all gifts made specifically for me), my cannabis seed bank meant to produce my medicine this short grow season, my clothes and bible were thrown into the fire pit. They even tried to fold my trailer up and take it. I was lucky that the trailer jammed on them refusing to be folded up so it could be hitched to their vehicle with 4 different tires (according to the police who came up, took pictures, and forgot the entire ordeal).
I even walked to town (about 12 miles) to hand deliver a list of items stolen that I had tried to call in to the officer in charge of the case several times. I was simply shocked both at the robbery and at the apathy of the officers charged “to protect and serve”. I made the walk to town quite regularly hitchhiking as soon as I reached the pavement with mixed results. I did this because I have no transportation and I needed to take care of business. I needed to get my food stamps reinstated after my long trip in other states and file for divorce. I budgeted carefully and got a new doctors signature to renew my license in April 2011. It had lapsed as a casualty of disagreements with my soon to be ex-husband in November 2010.
Despite the fact that my sole income is around $350 a month in Social Security Disability and the fact that I am on food stamps, Medicare, and Medicaid, I was paid the $90 fee I should have been exempt from under the new regulations in HB1284 (one of the few positive changes made in the bill). The problem was that I am in the middle of a divorce and some documents say my maiden name and others say my married name. My Colorado State ID has my maiden name on it. It has had my maiden name on it for the entire duration of my marriage. When I applied in June 2009, my ID said my maiden name, and my application for a medical marijuana license listed my married name. I received my card without issue (except the state did not process my card and mail it to me until November 2009). In April of 2011 my ID said my maiden name, my MMJ license paperwork also said my maiden name, but my SSD paperwork and food-stamp paperwork all were in my married name. When the Colorado Department of Health complained about the difference in the names, I sent CDPHE a copy of my birth certificate, my marriage license, the first page of my “Summons for Dissolution of Marriage” (to prove I was in the process of returning to my maiden name), my food-stamp verifications, & my Social Security Disability paperwork, and the $90 fee to ensure I received my red card. I mailed this all off certified mail, return receipt at the beginning of June. I got the proof it was received a few days later. I have yet to receive my proper license (it is June 30, 2011 as I write). The $90 fee to the state ate up about 38% of my income for the month of June. That money came straight out of my medication budget for the month. Reverend Baker and Andy Shaffner (and adopted brother) joined forces to take some of the sting out of the expense. I will be forever grateful to them both.
I am also very concerned that genetically modified organisms (GMO) is beginning to find its way into the medicinal cannabis shops. I urge you to ban GMO cannabis and require that shops label their medication if it is not organically grown. I have multiple chemical sensitivities as a sister condition to my fibromyalgia.
AKA Breezy Kiefair