Pages tagged "cannabis"


Activist Spotlight: Bunny Hethcox, Columbus, Wisconsin



Bunny Hethcox is a 54-year-old mother of two and grandmother of six. A real estate broker for 17 years, Bunny taught her kids drugs were bad. But Bunny also suffers from fibromyalgia, PTSD, depression and anxiety, and one day while driving with her son, she had a bad panic attack and was unable to find her xanax. After pulling over, sweating and shaking, her son pulled a joint from his pocket and said “I think you need this more than I do.” It took her a minute to decide whether to yell at him or try it, but once she did, she discovered that cannabis calmed her considerably.

Hydrocodone, oxycodone, codeine, Demerol and various other drugs had failed to ease the pain of her fibromyalgia, but after using medical cannabis for several months for her anxiety, she found that the pain lifted and her intense PTSD symptoms became tolerable. That got her doing some research on cannabis and the history of its prohibition.



Last January, she got involved with politics for the first time, doing a lobby day at the Wisconsin state capitol. After a disappointing visit with her representative, she decided to find help changing the law. She came across the ASA website only ten minutes before the deadline for scholarship applications to ASA’s National Conference in Washington D.C., but got it in on time.  She got the scholarship, and off she went to DC for the first time, worried about flying alone and what she’d find at the conference.

After meeting doctors, scientists, lawyers and leaders of medical research from the Netherlands, Canada and Israel she knew she needed to do what she could to help people get safe and legal access. She asked how to start an ASA chapter in Wisconsin, and on April 13, Bunny held the first meeting.

“We are now on our way to help Wisconsin become a legal State,” she says. “I have two choices, live in pain and suffer with anxiety and depression by keeping the law or break the law by medicating myself with cannabis to live a normal life. I choose cannabis.”


Maine Moves to Protect Private Patient Records

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There has been much concern lately in the medical cannabis community related to the issue of patient privacy.  As Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raids occurred in Michigan, Montana, and Washington, federal agents have seized hundreds of patient records.  Most recently, U.S. Magistrate Judge Brenneman, Jr. ruled that the Michigan Department of Community Health must turn over several patient records to the DEA for further investigation of "possible drug crimes," despite that state’s patient privacy law.  The notion that federal investigations should give the government unfettered access to protected patient information is extremely problematic and a violation of federal and state rights to privacy. Despite this overt invasion of privacy, Americans for Safe Access intends to appeal Brenneman’s ruling in order to protect patient privacy in Michigan.

 

Some positive progress is also being made in other states. On June 24, 2011, Maine Governor Paul LePage signed into law LD 1296, which eliminates the requirement of doctors to disclose personal, medical or other identifying information about medical cannabis patients to the state.  This law provides legal protection to medical cannabis patients and keeps their information private.  This law also limits the ability of police to take property from patients, requiring them to return any unlawfully seized property within seven days.  "LD 1296 was a huge success in a Republican era and brought our law back to its initial intent of patient privacy and voluntary registration.   The Maine Civil Liberties Union's presence was incredible," stated Charles Wynott, of Maine's Medical Marijuana Patients Center.

Patient privacy is an important ethical and public health issue of our time, regardless of whether patients benefits from the use of medical cannabis. We must not lose sight of upholding those rights for all patients, but because cannabis is still illegal  under federal law we must especially preserve those rights when medical cannabis patients are involved.  At a time when many states are taking steps backwards with regard to medical cannabis laws, Maine has set a wonderful precedent by stepping forward in spite of federal pressure to do otherwise.