To: David Lifferth,
Subject: SB73 Medical Cannabis Act
Date: Wed Mar 02 19:52:06 MST 2016
I originally started self-medicating myself with cannabis after a near-attempted suicide in 2009. Leading up to that attempt, I was married with three kids making a six-figure income, had two successful businesses, a million-dollar home, and I was walking tall in my success. Then, the economy crashed and I lost both my businesses and almost my home. Diagnosed with anxiety, which was through the roof, and depression on top of my already "prozac'd-out" state of mind, I was suffering from chronic insomnia, sharp chest pains, plantar fasciitis, sciatica, low-back pain and a variety of other inexplicable aches and pains throughout my body my doctor could not explain. Every day, the pain seemed to get worse as I was inundated with more failure, becoming more depressed and felt compeltely miserable. There didn't seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel and suicide was a way out of it. I was right at that moment to pull the trigger when I heard a text message come through, which was from a friend who had a sudden urge to ask me, "was I ok?" Shortly after the attempt, I couldn't bare feeling the way I did anymore and turned to cannabis just to free myself from my stress and anxiety.
Shortly after beginning my self-medication with cannabis, people around me took notice to my attitude and behavior. Family and friends said I was more approachable, appeared less stressed and more likable. It felt like my depression had lifted. I re-connected with my children and found a silver lining in my seemingly dire situation. I began sleeping in a more deeply relaxed state, my anxiety subsided, chest pains and all other inexplicable pains vanished - gone. I began to feel inspired again feeling optimistic about the future and began creating many successes. I ditched the Prozac and felt even better. I found work, co-founding two businesses, developed trade secrets as well as co-developed two patents and even won first place on A&E's Project Startup in May 2014. While I was function and contributing to society, nobody knew what I was doing - I kept it secret for years. I finally felt like I had a grip on my life and my pain.
I attribute these successes to cannabis and the ability to function on a higher level of thinking by pushing out my negative thoughts and depressed mood. I did it with intention and a purpose not because I was "just trying to get high." I don't care if you believe me or not because I have my successes that show for them selves. I have over ten years experience with a wide variety of strains of cannabis and I took Prozac for four years. I know, first hand, the difference between the two and I can conclude I will never take antidepressants again. The "high" that everyone is so worried about is elation of mood - joy and happiness. How is that wrong? Prozac produces numbed feelings and dull mood - blah. If I was only seeking to get "high" I could take the opiates I've been prescribed to my heart's content but I don't want to. I choose to function, be coherent and not "drugged up." If I did go down this route, it would put me back into that place when I nearly attempted suicide. If the clichés, stereotypes, stigmas and judgments could go away and no longer apply, what would you choose?
Most common reason for suicide is depression: http://www.suicide.org/suicide-causes.html
In 2013, nearly 600 deaths due to suicide in Utah ranking #4 in the nation: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/states/UT_2015.pdf just under the number drug overdoses.
Utah ranked 5th in the nation for teen suicide due to antidepressant use: http://universe.byu.edu/2015/09/10/suicide-prevention-day-utah-ranked-5th-among-teens/
Utah and antidepressants - geographically set up to fail?: http://www.ksl.com/?nid=1010&sid=33997502
In addition to my direct experience, there's a study that says so: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/06/marijauna-depression_n_6622126.html
While depression is not on the list of "qualifying illnesses" on SB73, it should be. While I don't condone cannabis use among teens, those numbers are scary and it's due to a seemingly harmless psychoactive drug, but it's ok because a doctor prescribes it, right? Or is it?
Since November 2014, I haven't been able to use cannabis due to new business venture and their drug screening policy. Since then, my anxiety and sciatica have come back. In fact, it's moved into my hips and makes getting up in the morning unpredicatble if I can get out of bed. If I manage it with prescriptions (opiates) I've been given I can't function at work and the side effects are ridiculous. I have chosen not to take them because they interfere with living ... "my life." However, with Cannabis, the only side effect is using too much and becoming lethargic and falling asleep – no one has ever died from over consuming too much cannabis (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/13/pot-overdoses_n_6155752.html). Being able to compare and contrast my last year of life to the previous 4-5 years, I know cannabis can help me with my pain and my overall attitude on life.
Senator Madsen's SB73 Medical Cannabis Act, which allows THC and CBD, it will help hundreds of thousands of patients who qualify under the "strict" list of illnesses. Studies have shown that THC and CBD have an ensemble effect working together as an analgesic. One study on the National Institute of Health says: "Considered ensemble, the [study] supports the concept that selective breeding of cannabis chemotypes rich in ameliorative phytocannabinoid and terpenoid content offer complementary pharmacological activities that may strengthen and broaden clinical applications and improve the therapeutic index of cannabis extracts containing THC." (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3165946). Additionally, the US Government, Department of Health and Human Services holds a US Patent (6,630,507 - Cannabinoids as Antioxidants and Nearoprotectants) issued in 2003, which discusses THC and other CBDs working together, in an effort to produce synthetic versions of the cannabinoids. In SB89, Senator Vicker's bill, it allows virtually NO THC and it lists a subset of SB73's qualifying illnesses; however in Senator Vicker’s 2nd or 3rd reading when questioned by Senator Escamilla that his bill will only help 10,000-20,000 patients throughout Utah. Additionally, SB89 will NOT be able to successfully treat most of the qualifying illnesses listed in Senator Vicker's bill because it only allows for virtually NO THC, the resulting product loses the “ensemble effect,” which helps those who need cannabis for an analgesic effect. Please vote NO on SB89, Senator Vickers bill as it will offer very little to no usefulness in helping Utahns who need relief. NO on SB89, please.
I am asking you, a Representative of the State I live in, for sane and just laws that protect our basic human right to choose cannabis, a plant, for our overall health, wellness and quality of life. I am here to affirm that cannabis does not cause of loss of self-control and I am not "just trying to get high;" cannabis enriches the most precious parts of my life and I miss being pain free. Not having it has definitely affected the quality of my life and my overall wellbeing. I say to those who think by voting no on SB73that it will prevent people from using cannabis, you won't. Like me, I know many who have treated or are treating their "qualifying illnesses" illegally and will continue to do so even if the bill doesn't pass. Like me, many of them would rather have a safe and legal path to go down in order to have access cannabis and I appreciate the fact that it protects employees from being discrimnated against for using it. So, please vote YES on SB73 Medical Cannabis Act and NO on SB89 to allow those who need medical cannabis to have a legal path to access it so they can obtain that quality of life they deserve.
Thank you for your time.