By Garett Roush
If Attorney General Jeff Sessions had his way, I would once again be at risk of constant seizures.
The former U.S. Senator from Alabama and now the nation’s top cop has started a crusade against states that have allowed access to cannabis for both medicinal and recreational use.
As an epileptic, medicinal marijuana has allowed me to stave off seizures after more than 10 months. No longer do I fear an episode and the pain that comes with it. Mr. Sessions must not ignore the medicinal benefits of marijuana in the free market.
After being force-fed “FDA Approved” benzodiazepines and a consistent rotation of side-effect ridden epilepsy medications, it took only cannabis to stop my tonic-clonic (Grand mal) seizures. Even with the healthy doses of prescribed medication, I continued to have days where I’d randomly wake from an unconscious stupor, enduring unbearable pain. This reality disrupted my life, as it took time away from studies, work and family.
The pills kept adding up, and I kept coming down.
My depression and anxiety – contributing factors to my epileptic episodes – were masked by brain-numbing tablets such as Celexa, Ativan and Klonopin. These medications supplemented my epileptic treatments. It felt like I was quite literally being tranquilized. And even when I took my medication with consistency, a buried convulsion was waiting for the right time to put me in an ambulance.
I tried to understand why the episodes returned and strengthened. I knew that my doctors had my best interest at heart, but I also knew that they weren’t allowed to prescribe me the medicine I really needed: cannabis.
Many of my friends constantly urged me to try cannabidiol, or CBD, the medicinal extract from cannabis. They claimed it would ease my pain, treat my epilepsy and pave the way for the independent life I couldn’t achieve.
But I was reluctant. What were the consequences?
Making a decision was tough. I wondered what my family would think of my medicinal choice, and if it would prevent me from job opportunities or even land me behind bars. The pushback was real – many close family members and friends wouldn’t even entertain the idea.
But they don’t have epilepsy. They’re not the ones in pain, living in constant fear of another life-threatening episode.
It took my fourth grand mal seizure in eight months to make the transition to marijuana. I smoked nightly – it helped me sleep and provided therapeutic treatment. I woke up feeling refreshed for once. What a privilege it is to get rest, I thought. My mind was no longer muddied with uneasiness and dejection. I felt like a new person. Medical marijuana became part of my routine and it changed my life.
People like Sessions might not understand it, or simply don’t want to understand it, but the reality is that cannabis has been a divine gift in my life.
Since using marijuana, I no longer worry about seizing in a public place and have improved mental health. I wake up the next morning feeling comfortable in my own body. The best part? I can still function for the daily grind. Over the 10 months I have used marijuana, my grades have drastically improved, I earned a spot on the North American Executive Board with Students for Liberty, and I even won the Macy’s Rising Star Award at Syracuse University.
The aforementioned achievements are all deeds that prohibitionists would have you believe marijuana patients can’t accomplish. They’re wrong, and the reality is that some of America’s most successful figures have used cannabis themselves: former Presidents Obama and George W. Bush, Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Jon Stewart and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
The stigmatization of medical marijuana is a notion grounded in falsehood and it directly harms innocent patients like myself. Despite reports that illustrate dramatic reductions in opiate addiction in states with friendly medical marijuana laws, Sessions wants to perpetuate harmful policies. He wants to devote much of his time attacking medical marijuana providers in various states. He wants a reversal of the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, a protection put in place for medical marijuana providers from the federal government.
Despite the obvious relationship between overly prescribed narcotics and America’s opioid addiction epidemic, Sessions’ archaic prohibitionism prevents progress in medicine. Marijuana allows me to be a productive employee, a hard-working student, and a normal human being. Why should I be deprived of that? And why should Jeff Sessions have a greater say in my medical options than my doctor?
Medical marijuana liberated me from the shackles of my disorder. Allowing Attorney General Sessions to federally prosecute medical marijuana providers not only heightens the blatant disregard of the natural right to control my own body, but also will endanger the thousands of other patients that truly need it to be functional members of society. And that’s all we really want – independence.
Garett Roush serves as the Northeast Regional Director for the Students For Liberty Executive Board and is a member of the Consumer Choice Center. He is a Grand Rapids, Michigan native currently studying at Syracuse University.