Activism

Guest Post: My Medical Marijuana Odyssey

medical-marijuana-rx

The following essay was written by a good friend of mine, an anonymous patient on the Medical Marijuana Registry

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As many people know, states around the US are allowing the use of marijuana to treat chronic pain or otherwise incapacitating illnesses and disabilities (with the exception of Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska who have simply legalized marijuana altogether.) This, however, is not a piece about the legalization of marijuana, though I do support that for various reasons. This piece is about what is like to be a patient on a medical marijuana registry.

When I was first diagnosed with an auto-immune disorder, I was devastated. I remember going to the pharmacy to pick up my new life-style-in-a-bottle. And, man, was it a big bottle. It was the length of my forearm, and it had “refill as needed” written on the side. I sat in my car and I cried. I was not looking forward to shoving 9 of these down my throat every day (3 morning, noon, and night.) On top of that, I had steroids, pain killers, and a host of other scheduled drugs. I had cases of pill packs with labels so I didn’t forgot to take what and when and I was taking up to 17 pills per seating. I got really good at just swallowing a handful of them with a big gulp of water. Hooray for new talents right? I was on so many pills my birth control stopped working, leading to an accidental pregnancy and subsequent miscarriage (as one of the drugs killed basically anything trying to live inside of me. Sort of thankfully, I was in no shape to carry a child. Let alone care for one and raise it. I could barely get out of bed at this point.)

Eventually, I had to stop taking the original medication, and thus began the Pharmaceutical Gauntlet of “what won’t I have a reaction to?” I went on immunosupressors (6MP’s and 5ASA’s) and I also did a stint of chemotherapy treatments to try and quash my ever-raging immune system. I was allergic or had a reaction to all of it. Every 6 weeks the chemo made me stop breathing. For those that have never experienced chemotherapy drips, you have to start slow and over the course of the 4 or so hours they speed up the drip. For me, they could not speed the drip because I would stop breathing every time. I have a permanent bruise on my arm where a nurse who wanted to go home ripped the IV out of my arm because my treatment was “taking too long.” (I filed a complaint against her and showed my specialist, but who knows who else she treated so poorly.) I had to have a family member or friend sit with me, and take time out of their lives to watch me struggle to breathe every month. It was not a good experience. Eventually I stopped going.

I tried anti-nausea medications that have, for the most part, left me infertile.

During this time, the Medical Marijuana Registry was created, and I asked my doctor if this was something I could have. I never smoked in high school (really, I waited until I graduated because I didn’t want to hurt my chances at school etc…) But during my chemotherapy treatments it really helped with the pain and nausea. (My disorders also give me constant nausea, which is what the anti-nausea meds were for.)

I was informed that, according to laws, I had to try other drugs that were specific to my symptoms, and they had to not work for me, or cause me harm for me to be allowed to move to the next step. Which was Marinol (the synthetic version of Delta-9 THC, which is the most active chemical in marijuana.) 

After (many) more trips to the Emergency Department at the local hospital I was finally allowed to try Marinol. Which also doesn’t work. I haven’t met anyone that said it does what it is supposed to. That’s not to say it doesn’t work for some; if it works for you, that’s great and I’m glad you found something that gives you relief.

After all of this, I was allowed to apply for my patient license, and be put on the registry. Now, while I understand that marijuana is considered a controlled substance by the federal government, I can’t say I agree with listing the names of patients on an easily accessible list. I am not very worried about the federal government coming down on the sick and infirmed, but I worry for our safety and privacy. I worry about housing and employment discrimination. Also, in my state, the registry is run by the Department of Public Safety. This has bothered me from the beginning. I feel that this contributes to the negative stereotypes that marijuana and/or marijuana patients are somehow endangering the public. More so than say, alcohol? Or tobacco? There have been literally no deaths attributed to the use of marijuana. In my research I found one secondary death, and this was someone who died because they believed their abilities were more than what they were (they could not, in fact, fly). Direct deaths are things like, cirrhosis of the liver or lung cancer, directly caused by the ingested chemical. 

Anyway, the application process goes like this:

1. Get really sick
2. Take a bunch of medicines that make you ill to prove that you can’t take an insurance backed medication, because choosing your own health care plan with your trusted physician is a big no-no for some reason.
3. Download, print, complete, and mail all of the parts of the application (for someone with a condition, simply going to the store to get lunch can be a drain, so running all over town to obtain the things you need is that much more of a burden). These things include:

A meeting with your “trusted physician with which you have a relationship”

Getting to the office

Taking time out of your day, maybe you work, maybe you are just exhausted (I do not blame the doctor’s they are just doing what they are supposed to)

Get the papers notarized (luckily where I live medical papers are freely notarized, I am not sure about other states)

Take passport style photos (when I first signed up you had to mail in actual DVD’s but now you can send them .jpgs which is extremely handy)

Pay a fee for both your caregiver and yourself

Mail everything out, certified

(PS almost all of these steps cost something, which puts more pressure on those who are ill and can’t work.)

4. Hopefully get your cards (I did.)

5. Whether you grow or use a dispensary (in my state there are only a few) you have to go to the dispensary and get your clones (plants) or have a consultation. Here the appointments are a month or more out, since there are only a few. This means if you run out of medicine you can’t just go to the place and get more, you have to wait it out; wait out your pain, your nausea, your lack of appetite, your lack of sleep.

6. Get your medicine. Finally, you can feel like a halfway decent human being for the first time in months. The strains at the dispensaries are bred to help with specific ailments. It isn’t just “getting high” and loafing around the house. A recent state poll showed most people use it before bed, or before meals (which, if you have nausea or a dampened appetite makes a lot of sense.)

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As a patient, I have to guard myself against discrimination. I had one doctor that wouldn’t even prescribe me the marinol because he felt that the pharmacists treated his patients too poorly after filling that prescription (To be clear, I have a bunch of doctors. I didn’t doctor-hop until I found one that would give me drugs, I just asked my GP how they felt and the basically said “fuck those pharmacists”).

I am sure I am forgetting something, but I hope this gives people a little insight into what it is like to be someone with a chronic (and at times debilitating illness.) Living with it daily, and all we ask is for some respite without being judged or harassed.

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art, review, TV

TV Review: Better Call Saul Season 1

Better Call Saul, Mondays 9pm Central on AMC

Better Call Saul, Mondays 9pm Central on AMC

I love everything about this show. Vince Gilligan & Peter Gould took what has long been a pitfall of TV entertainment (the useless and unneeded spinoff) and turned it into what may be the best show on TV. The entire 1st season has unfolded like a slightly off-kilter John Cheever story. The creators and writers have taken an uproarious, ridiculous, sleezy, but quite one dimensional color character from the now classic “Breaking Bad” and fleshed him out into a leading character that we feel for, pull for, and laugh with (and occasionally at). Over season 1 we have watched Jimmy McGill (played, as in Breaking Bad, by comedic impresario Bob Odenkirk) try and build his bellow the bottom the of barrel law practice into something less than a punchline to a life that had up to that point been a literal con job. You see, Slippin’ Jimmy, with the help of his wingman Marco, had made his living on the mean streets of Cicero conning barflies out of their beer money until he finally got in over his head and his lawyer brother Chuck bailed him out, figuratively and literally.

Jimmy went from mail-boy at his brother’s million dollar Law Firm to newly minted (by the law school at the University of the American Samoa) lawyer. Jimmy looks like a dumb puppy who finally went number two on command when he shows his brother his passing grade from the New Mexico Bar. Chuck is less than thrilled, and as we find out as the season unfolds, Chuck (who has some serious, though as yet not fully explored mental health difficulties) finally admits to Jimmy that he sees his younger brother as little more than a joke, a cross to bear that will never be anything but Slippin’ Jimmy in his eyes. Chuck is played with subtle humor and sympathy by the great comedic actor Michael McKean and a character that could have been your run of the mill “disapproving authority figure” but is instead a compelling part of the plot and a source of some of the season’s great moments, not the least of which is the agoraphobic lawyer’s first sojourn into the real world in months, if not years. The scene is beautifully shot, with an enormous elm tree embracing the frame like a comforting hug from a loved one. The scenes between Jimmy and Chuck are incredibly realistic and, I can say as someone who has a brother, the feelings that are on display are dead on in their accuracy. Chuck loves Jimmy, but he hates what he is, who he is, and sees his hijinks, not unfairly, as an insult to the Law profession that he loves just as dearly. It will be fun to see where the writers choose to take this relationship as the series continues.

Better Call Saul is about some rather seedy characters, but it does not have the moral burden of having a literal psychopath as it’s central personality. We don’t constantly have to justify our love for the character, and explain away his actions, like we had to with Walter White/Heisenberg. If Breaking Bad was about the banality and morality of good and evil, Saul is more about those pesky grey area most of the world lives, lies, and loves in. Jimmy is a “bad guy”, sure, at least insofar as he is an unethical guy. Then again most of his “victims” are unethical or at least criminally stupid. Jimmy seems to have an innate understanding of the human capacity for self-justification: the larcenous couple, Jimmy’s clients, who bilk the tax payers out of millions, the brother who who justifies his emotional abuse of his brother by telling himself it is for the poor schmuck’s “own good”. Jimmy knows when to hold them and when to fold them, to quote the great Kenny Rogers, and he knows when someone is trying to string him along. Sometimes he lets them, all the while gaining leverage over his wannabe tormentors and turning the deceit (and greed, and anger, and fear) to his advantage. Jimmy McGill is a bad lawyer, in an ethical sense, but he is not an incompetent lawyer. Far from it; he knows the ins and outs of the law, the loopholes and hidey-holes that can make you a pretty penny if you know how to exploit them. This is how he creates the Sandpiper Nursing home out of whole cloth, and how he stays one step ahead of a violent group of drug runners he runs afoul of in pursuit of a case (or con).

As with Breaking Bad (it is inevitable that this new show will be compared to its progenitor, so why fight it?) “Saul” is buoyed by its supporting characters. The aforementioned Chuck is one example, as is fellow lawyer and one time love interest Kim Wexler. Kim works for the Jimmy’s brother’s firm, and while the character has yet to be fully fleshed out (I am looking forward to this next season) she is played by Rhea Seehorn with a steely resolve and drive that is tempered by a burning-self doubt that seems to be holding her back from her full potential. It is not always clear whether Kim loves Jimmy or just pities him, but she tries to do right by a friend who she obviously has some feelings for. In a flashback we are teased with the fact that Kim and Jimmy were once very much in love, but something, or someone, came between them. That tension is obvious in their interactions with one another, with Jimmy obviously trying his damndest to not drag Kim down into the muck and mire with him.

The real standout from the first season, and in my opinion the most compelling and human story in the show so far, is the saga of corrupt Philly Cop/Muscle for hire Mike Ehrmantraut. Mike was played by Jonathan Banks with a tired authority in Breaking Bad, and he reprises the fan favorite character with an increased sense of urgency and tragedy in “Saul”. We find Mike running a ticket booth at the county court parking lot, where he first meets Jimmy, obviously bored as can be with his life and seeking to do right by the widow of his beloved son. The son was gunned down by his supposed “brothers” on the police force in Philly for refusing to play dirty like his fellow cops, and his father, do and did. When Mike relates the story of his son’s disillusionment with his father and with his career, Banks takes what could have been a maudlin scene and turns it into a tour de force of genuine emotion and pathos. Mike is not the sort to wear his emotions on his sleeve but in this moment with his daughter-in-law he shows a vulnerability and a sadness that is as profound as it is revelatory. Mike in “Bad” was a violent but fair grim reaper of sorts, but “Saul’s” Mike is a man who is trapped in a hell of his own making and who is desperately trying to salvage what he can from the wreckage that he had a large part in creating. Mike’s story line is not integral to Jimmy’s development (at least not yet…) but it is an important part of why the series works as well as it does. I personally hope that Mike’s plot remains as central to the show as Jimmy’s, and I suspect it will as Jimmy becomes Saul and has more and more need for a quiet but effective enforcer. Mike is brutal and unforgiving, but he has a humor and sense of fairplay about him that makes you respect and even love him. He is kind to his daughter-in-law and positively dotes on his granddaughter. Mike is most like the Ronin of such Samurai classics as “Seven Samurai”, “13 Assassins”, and the “Blind Samurai” series. He takes his craft, organized, strategically applied violence, seriously and he never does anything halfway. He also refuses to hurt others unless he absolutely has to, and he takes no joy in causing others pain. He is a force of nature, an inevitability, and he embraces this role. In Jimmy he has met another soul that knows that sometimes you have to get your hands, or a homicide detective’s shirt, dirty in order to get things done. They are drawn together first out of need, and then out of a sort of begrudging respect. Mike wanted out of the dirty world in which he plied his trade, but now that it is threatening to drag him back in again, he is not struggle all that hard to prevent it from doing so. I think there is much more to mine with this character and I expect Jimmy and Mike will find more and more in common as the show progresses.

I have tried, but I cannot find anything wrong with this show. It’s pacing is perfect, its subject matter dark but fascinating and occasionally hilarious, and the writing is so naturalistic it borders on documentary style. This is how people in the real world spin tall tales, how they ply their trade, and how they justify their behavior to their peers and to themselves. The season ended on a low key (but brilliant) note and I have a feeling that Better Call Saul has nowhere to go but up.

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Constitution, Politics

Proposed Voting Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America

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The following is a proposal for a Voting Rights Amendment to the US Constitution. That language is preliminary and subject to revision.

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Section 1. No person shall be required to present any official form of identification when they arrive at the polls to vote in any election within the United States

 

Section 2. All people who arrive the polls to vote will be assumed to be eligible to vote; it will be the responsibility of the appropriate officials and jurisdictions to challenge and/or invalidate a vote if there is a reasonable suspicion of fraud

 

Section 3. All people eligible to vote in the United States will be registered to vote when issued their Social Security Number and Card. This registration will never lapse

 

Section 4. All legal residents of the United States over the age of sixteen (16) will be eligible to vote

 

Section 5. There shall be no laws establishing a test, written, oral, or otherwise, for establishing eligibility to vote

 

Section 6. The second (2nd) Tuesday of June will be the day on which state and federal elections take place. This date will be a national and federal holiday

 

Section 7. The Electoral College is hereby abolished in favor of a direct popular vote for President of The United States

 

Section 8. If convicted of voter suppression and/or intimidation a person shall lose their eligibility to vote until they have served the duration of their sentence or they have been released on parole

 

Section 9. If during the previous election the voters polling location had a wait of more than one (1) hour the voter will be eligible to cast their ballot on a date before election day, to be set by the local jurisdiction, or by mail

 

Section 10. Voting will be mandatory for federal elections with a tax penalty not to exceed One Hundred and Fifty (150) Dollars levied in the event of violation of this statute. Inability to vote due to injury or employment or childcare obligations will not be considered a violation of this statute. It is the responsibility of the local jurisdiction to report and prove a violation of this statute and the voter will have the right to challenge the accusation before a magistrate

 

Section 11. Any official, elected or otherwise, who votes for or signs a law or decree restricting the franchise will be removed from office and will henceforth be ineligible to hold public office

Section 12. Neither conviction of a felony, nor status as a felon, except for conviction for voter suppression or intimidation, will impact an individual’s eligibility to vote. Those imprisoned in state, federal or county prisons or jails will be allowed to vote either on site at the facility in which they are incarcerated or else be allowed to vote absentee

 

Section 13: Any proposed changes to polling locations or hours must be submitted to the voters for approval or rejection. Changes will be considered approved if ⅔ of the voters vote in favor of the changes. These changes, if approved, shall not go into effect until an election has intervened

 

Section 14: The residents of Puerto Rico, Guam, The U.S. Virgins Islands and all other United States territories and dependencies over the age of sixteen (16) will be eligible to vote for the office of President of the United States

 

Section 15: The 22nd Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America is hereby repealed


Section 16: The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation

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Philosophy

A Brief Thought on Law & Order and True Conservatism

Lawful Good

Lawful Good

Ben Stone is perhaps the best example in television drama of a true agent of lawful good; impartial in practice but morally consistent, passionate but measured in action, an intelligent theorist but a pragmatic arbiter in application. In conversation with his subordinate in title only partner Paul Robinette; the topic is the application of state laws across state lines regarding a serial murderer [Season 2: Episode 16]

 

Stone: “Maybe. But the New York State Court of Appeals says the death penalty is cruel and inhuman.

Robinette: “And what do you say?

Stone: “And I say we uphold the laws of this state!

 

He is the sort of Republican Jefferson would have promoted and the Tea Party would denounce as a RINO. He is a Federalist of Ante bellum vintage, and a philosophical civil libertarian of the enlightened though stodgy faux-lksy Robery Kennedy sort. He will ride, but never crest with, the wave of social and political progress. He is indeed lithic in his staid but steady convictions and his ability to smoothly and methodically mold into a sympathetic state with the environment around him. If the Justice Department of the United States were staffed by Ben Stones the inevitable political disintegration of the same United States could be put off for another generation or more. But instead we have Ted Cruz’s and Samuel Alito’s so disintegrate it will, and on schedule.

Ben Stone is a Burkean conservative, a true conservative who seeks value in a society and attempts to cultivate the systems and ideas needed to create a healthy civic state. He does this through his everyday observations and in his fair, but vigorous, defense of what society deems good and just, and in his application of justice as a tool of preservation and not retribution. He is the sort of man, the sort of fixture of justice, one could hazard a guess, Burke had in mind when he said “It is not what a lawyer tells me I may do; but what humanity, reason, and justice tell me I ought to do.”

 

 

 

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Activism

Government Shutdown: A Proposal

constitution-lg

My proposal for a constitutional amendment that would make the sort of hostage negotiations taking place in the Congress right now impossible in the future

“No rider affecting the funding or implementation of a law passed by Congress shall be allowed on any  measure proposed or Bill brought to a vote that would effect the funding or operation of the Federal Government.”

Simple. Concise. Easy to understand. Effective. Get this done. No more hostage taking.

 

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abortion, Activism, Politics

Space Time Suspended In Texas

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As I write this the GOP in the Texas legislature has decided that they “suspended the clock”, that they SUSPENDED THE LAWS OF SPACETIME ITSELF so that their vote on the abortion bill AFTER midnight central time counts as a vote BEFORE midnight central time. People, this is the point where The Onion headlines have indeed come true. We live in a brave new world…excuse me, I need to go suspend time so I can get a few extra hours of sleep…

Oh and Wendy Davis for Governor of Texas!

#standwithwendy

SHAME SHAME SHAME SHAME SHAME SHAME SHAME SHAME!

UPDATE: The Bill may indeed be dead…announcement to come soon…here is a live feed I found on twitter http://www.ustream.tv/channel/christopherdido?utm_campaign=ustre-am&utm_source=10021075&utm_medium=social

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Conservatism, Democracy, Justice, Liberty

Excerpt From My New Book “Libertarianism and Democracy”

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I have already sold more copies of my book then I ever thought was possible! It is really thanks to you, my readers, so for Limited time only my book Libertarianism and Democracy costs only $5! Feel free to read the excerpt provided below and then go to https://www.createspace.com/4227121 and order your copy today!

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Libertarianism and Democracy

Humanity may endure the loss of everything; all its possessions may be turned away without infringing its true dignity – all but the possibility of improvement.
–Johann Gottlieb Fichte

I.

There are many who praise Liberty as the last best hope of humanity against tyranny, and I believe the come to this conclusion for the most part from a good faith point of view. They want to see justice done, and many genuinely believe that liberty is the way to achieve it for the greater human family. But the philosophy that sprang up around the concept of Liberty has lost touch with the original intent and meaning of the concept, and has joined the fetid ranks of self-justifying and essentially moronic political ideologies. To embrace absolute liberty is to embrace the animal fear that motivates the most disgusting and reprehensible pain we often inflict upon our fellow human beings. To believe in the truth, let alone the viability or possibility, of complete subjective liberty is a sign that one has lost their trust in and respect for the Social Contract. This fear leads to a sort of reaction in personal politics that amounts to an assault on the idea that there is anyone who can be trusted to keep the fear and the fearsome things in the world at bay. That is except for oneself. The abomination of fear based personal politics, as expressed through current libertarian thought, can be understood as a misunderstanding of the meaning of liberty as it relates to the Social Contract governing society and the betterment and general welfare of the same and the mechanisms and laws that allow for this…

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