Matthew’s Story – “I am a patient, not a criminal.”

A couple years ago, I started having trouble with my joints, specifically my knees. They were hurting all the time, from when I got up until I went to sleep. For the longest time I didn’t want to go to a doctor because I was afraid of what they would tell me.

One day at work my knee had a sudden harsh pain so bad that it collapsed out from under me and I fell, I was 18 when that happened.

I decided to go have my knees checked out after that, and following several tests they came in and told me I have degenerative joint disease. It’s basically arthritis without the swelling, but my immune system was attacking my joints. All of them. After telling me there was nothing that could be done for it, the doctor immediately went to offering me a prescription for oxycontin pain killers. Knowing the risk of what they do to people, I opted out and just resigned myself to living with the pain and taking Aleve.

At the time I was living with uber religious parents, so I didn’t really smoke cannabis often. It wasn’t until about a year and a half later when I moved out that I started regularly consuming the plant. I was doing it as part of the whole “I’m an adult and want to do my own thing” phase, but within a week I noticed the pain in my joints receding, and I stopped taking off the shelf painkillers.

I now smoke every day, and while the pain in my joints is still there and the condition worsens the older I get, I’m not in nearly as much pain as I was back then.

I sincerely hope that Tennessee politicians give us a medical cannabis program, because I am a patient…not a criminal.

Natalie’s Story

I currently live in the state Tennessee, but I am from Michigan. I had been addicted to Vicodin from the age of 16 until the age of 18.

At 18 I applied for my Medical cannabis card because I knew I was addicted to the pills. Once approved, I became amazed at the change it made in me. Even with the Vicodin, I would still feel the pain, but be so doped up I couldn’t function properly. After I quit taking the pills and switched to medical cannabis, my pain was managable and it actully helped me focus and brought me back my quality of life. On the pills, I was a zombie and hsd horrible side effects, even to the point of possible surgery to remove my gallbladder because of a medicine. Once I began treating my pain with medical cannabis, I left all the pharmaceuticals behind. I would never put myself in that position again. Tennessee needs to follow in the footsteps of these other states and make it legal.

My personal experiences with people in my area have shown a methamphetamine epidemic and an opioid epidemic, and even horrible struggles with suboxone and subutech. Neither are a cure but a redirected addiction that ensures big pharma gets paid regularly.

Medical cannabis had no addictive traits for me, it helped me fight the truly addictive pills and wean off them. I honestly believe it could save this state money, and save lives while easing suffering.

Alesha’s Story

My name is Alesha, and I am a Tennessee resident and business owner. I was diagnosed with scalp psoriasis 21 years ago when I was 18.

I have been on an active hunt for the past 21 years to find something that would ease my symptoms without much luck, until recently.

Six month ago I decided to give a cannabis salve and tincture a try. To my surprise, the tincture eased the golf ball sized inflammation knots in my neck for the first time in 21 years. And 12 hours after I applied the salve to my scalp, all scalp inflammation, dryness, and itch were all completely gone. I am proud to say that I was able to find relief without terrible side effects, thanks to cannabis.

The cannabis stigma that only “bad people” smoke marijuana must end. I am a college educated business owner.

Cannabis is not a street drug, it is a medicine. An illicit drug does not help your psoriasis symptoms, it triggers them.

I have personally been helped by cannabis and that’s something no pharmaceutical drug has ever been able to do, so yes I highly support medicinal marijuana in the state on Tennessee and nation-wide.

Tennessee residents deserve to feel relief like I have, and I truly hope the lawmakers will listen to the patients since they are the ones this highly effective medicine is helping.

Andrea’s Story

My name is Andrea, and I have seizures, they can strike me anytime and anywhere, even in public like in this video.
It’s really hard for my kids,  they don’t understand how I’m not able to drive because of my disability. It’s the law that says that I can’t, but Gavin is 14 and autistic, and Hayden is 11…… they just want to go places and not need to wait on a ride when they go.

I can’t just up and take them to the movies, or go to the grocery store anytime I need, or to their friends houses, or even to see family. I have to rely on family and friends for a ride, and I hate feeling helpless.

I really wish Tennessee would get medical cannabis here, because I am tired of living like this, and it helps alot of people with seizures. I would like to have the choice to try it, and see if we can get our life back. It’s safer than seizure medicines, so why can’t I have the choice to try it?

ADHD in Tennessee: Why Alex Supports Medical Cannabis

Please please please, we need medical cannabis in Tennessee. My poor son needs something that works for his severe form of ADHD, believed to possibly be ASD.

He is smart and caring and hilarious, but his brain goes faster than even he can comprehend. If he had something to slow down the turbines so he could focus, it would be so beneficial to his life and well being.

I have researched his disorder, and many possible treatments for it, but nothing works without possibly severe problems. I shouldn’t risk my childs future and physical health for him to be able to calm down and focus. We have tried everything! I love him to death and don’t know what else could work.

Medical cannabis is natural, and the only thing we have yet to try. Please let our son get a chance to live a normal life. If not just for my son but for veterans, cancer patients and survivors, people with nerve disorders, depression, PTSD, and crippling illnesses, and even those struggling with addictions. Let nature cure them the way God has intended it to.

Devin’s Story

When native Tennessean Devin Arbuckle was 13 years old, he was involved in a horrific motor vehicle accident, one which tragically left him with lifelong nerve damage, muscle stiffness and constant, grinding pain. In 2002 he was at a bonfire with several friends, they were all drinking despite being underage by several years. His best friend’s older brother had thought it would be funny to let the kids get drunk, never expecting it to end tragically. Once everyone finally passed out drunk, Devin was left alone in the front seat of a 2002 GMC Sierra truck with the remainder of a half gallon of Jim Beam whiskey. He finished the bottle, then took the truck out for a drive. A few miles later, he was speeding down a back road when he hit a mailbox, over corrected the truck, and slammed the truck nose first into the ditch. The vehicle flipped three times, and he was thrown over 80 feet away from the truck.

When the sheriff arrived at the scene, he called for the life flight, Devin was foaming at the mouth and his muscles were “posturing” or stiffening up and convulsing. In the helicopter on the way to Vanderbilt medical center, he lost all vital signs and they had to resuscitate him. When he arrived at Vanderbilt he was wrongly identified as a buddy of his, one of the boys he’d been drinking with earlier that night. Upon their arrival, that boy’s parents informed the authorities that Devin was in fact, not their son….. that he was a friend of his instead. Finally, Devin’s family was notified that their child was hospitalized in critical condition. Devin spent the next four weeks in the trauma unit of Vanderbilt Medical Center hanging on by a thread at times. Once he was stable, and it was discovered that he was only 13 years old, he was moved to a children’s Hospital where he spent another​ two weeks, still in a coma. He woke up in blinding pain, with his entire left side drawn up and weak and extremely hard to move due to the dystonia. He was in shock after being told that he had been in a terrible car accident and had spent the last six weeks in a coma.

Learning that there was a good chance he might never walk again was especially terrifying for a teenager. He began intensive physical, occupational, and speech therapy three times a day, every day for the next eight months. He gradually got stronger, fighting each moment and refusing to stay down. A lot of hard work and therapy followed for Devin. One particular problem that stayed with him was the spasticity/distonia in the left hemisphere, and even moreso in his left leg and foot. The accident was in 2002, and he’s since been in excruciating pain every time he stands upright. Pain medicine helps him some, but the only thing that really halts his screaming nerve pain is medical cannabis. The spasticity issues in his foot cause his toes to curl up under his foot when he stands, making it nearly impossible to walk.

Despite the agonizing pain it causes, he has stood and walked like that since the first day he came home from the hospital back in 2002, despite the paralysis. In 2010, Devin learned that using cannabis helped ease the spasticity in that foot, and it allowed him to walk faster and smoother. This has lessened both the constant grinding pain, and given him expanded mobility. Unfortunately, his choice to try cannabis medicine also brought him trouble as well. A simple possession charge ended him up on probation for 3 years, for less than a gram of marijuana.

He now has a criminal record, all because he once chose to safely and successfully medicate his crippling spasticity and pain with a non toxic, non addictive plant medicine. Now he’s prescribed high doses of oxycodone several times a day, as well as a fentanyl patch. These medications are extremely deadly, and both carry a high risk for addiction….. yet they’re both completely legal. Neither one treats Devin’s spasticity or help him walk more comfortably like the cannabis medicine did, they only treat the pain. Devin says “It sickens me that the one medicine that helps both my pain and muscle stiffness so I can walk comfortably, is illegal and will get me locked up with a criminal record. It’s sad that highly addictive and often deadly opioids are perfectly legal in Tennessee and are the only option pain patients legally get here. It’s absurd that a plant medicine which has never killed by overdose and isn’t physically addictive is illegal here, despite being a legal medicine in several states. Tennessee politicians need to listen to the patients, we need access to medical cannabis so we can medicate with the safer option to these opioids.”

Jimmy’s Story

My name is Jimmy. I’m a 42 year old with diagnosed spastic colon/ irritable bowel syndrome.

I would end up sick locked in a restroom multiple times a day, most times a few days in a week. The only way I can describe what I would go through in the restroom would be the attempt to produce diamonds from coal by way of my intestines. This is caused by inflammation and spasming in my intestines.

My condition caused me to miss a lot of school from the fourth grade until I barely graduated high school due to truancy issues. After high school I discovered that cannabis effectively controlled my situation to the point that I could not recall the last time it made me sick. Yes, initially I was a recreational user, but I am too thankful I stumbled on to medicine that I believe has helped me lead a productive and successful life. I have been treating myself since the summer after my senior year. Since that time I have achieved my management degree where I graduated Magna cum laude.

I have worked at the same job for over 17 years where I consistently rank in the top percentile of my field and have been recognized multiple times with achievement and excellence awards and make bonuses on a monthly basis. Without medical cannabis I do not believe I would be where I am today.

Denise’s Story

My name is Denise, and I support medical cannabis in Tennessee because I desperately need it. I have degenerative disc disease in my neck that has caused occipital neuralgia, which is excruciating pain shooting through my head constantly.
I also have had episodic migraines since 1974, starting when I was 4 yrs old. The migraines are now intractable due to the occipital neuralgia. I have cervical facet arthropathy as well, (basically neck arthritis) and c3-c4 bulging discs.

Strong opiods do help some, but I can’t get them because my doctor said, and I quote: “I know you’re in pain; but there are too many junkies in Tennessee.” Seriously, they caused this opioid epidemic and now the people who need help can’t get it? Tell me what kind of sense that makes.
I don’t like the side effects of them anyways, and I understand that they’re very addictive, but when you feel like a sledgehammer is slamming into your skull like the ticking off a clock, you are not worrying about those things, you just need something to make it bearable.

Medical cannabis has a great reputation for helping people in pain, and with the depression that comes with living with severe pain constantly, so I would love to try it out.

I have read a lot about it, and I know that nobody can die from a cannabis overdose, and that around 80% of people who use medical cannabis end up weaning off painkillers and antidepressants so I think it should be available to the people of Tennessee who are suffering and needing it.

Will’s Story

My name is Will, and I am 25 years old. On August 4th, 2016, I got run over by a drunk driver at a party while trying to save a three week old child from riding with her extremely intoxicated mother.

She didnt even strap her child into a car seat, so I was trying to stop her from driving off. Her tires ran over my head, and I had to have surgery on my brain to save my life. They removed part of my skull to release pressure off my brain, and after the surgery they prescribed me pain killers.

I smoked cannabis instead, as it’s definitely a lesser evil in my opinion. Pills made my hand eye coordination very bad, and in the state I was in one fall could kill me, so I smoked cannabis to save my life, and not worry about getting addicted to it like with pills. I’m not saying I smoke it anymore, but back when I did it worked with no bad side effects

I think Tennessee needs to have medical cannabis available legally for people like me. People who have real pain, but don’t want to end up addicted to pills because there was no other legal choice.

Melody’s Story

I’m Melody Cashion, and I have Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disorder, and I am about to go to jail for illegally using medical cannabis in Tennessee.

Pharmaceuticals have terrible side effects, including a very high probability of opioid addiction because I am in so much pain.

I needed my life back, so I tried medical cannabis and it was amazing at how much it helps. It was a great feeling to have help for the spasticity issues, and to have minimal levels of constant pain. I wasn’t doped up from the opioids, and I was able to be a better mom because I wasn’t hiding in bed balled up in pain.

Unfortunately, I got in legal trouble for a small amount in Bedford county, TN. I got a non alcohol DUI.

I originally pled out, which meant I had to pay for a restricted driver’s license. Then I had to make a 40 something mile round trip once a week for probation meetings for a year, and 48 hours in jail.

I was paying on all my fines and costs regularly, and going to my meetings like I was supposed to.

Unfortunately, I ended up in the hospital with renal (kidney) failure from the side effects of the pharma medicines. I was in misery, and I broke down and used some medical cannabis to ease the pain and be able to keep food down so I could recuperate.

Then they decided to do a random urine test, and since cannabis is illegal in Tennessee, it tested positive for THC and violated my probation.

On February 24th, I’m going to be standing in front of the Honorable Judge Charles Rich in the Bedford county courthouse. He will decide if I will serve 30 days in jail.

That means that 3 weeks after losing my BFF of 20+ years to cancer, I’ll have to leave my daughter and go through withdrawals from my legally prescribed opioids that they don’t give inmates.

Does that sound fair to you, considering cannabis medicine works, doesn’t kill people and is natural? The not so funny thing is, my doctor never had a problem with my medical cannabis usage. Even worse, I now get Marinol by prescription, so I legally am using the same THC that’s getting me locked up for using in its natural state. It’s funny how when it costs $407 for a prescription of it from Walgreens, it’s medicine……but in natural plant form it’s criminal.

Tennessee needs to get a medical cannabis program, so patients are not being treated like criminals, and ruining their finances and lives over a plant medicine safer than Tylenol.