Category Archives: News

Reefer Sadness

reefermadness

The Pennsylvania General Assembly made a fool of me again.  The roller coaster of legislation swept me away.  I thought we had finally done it this time.  The House passed a medical marijuana bill!  All we needed was the Senate to concur.  It was their bill, they already passed it.  (Twice, if you count the first MMJ bill that the House killed in 2014.)  I thought we had won a great victory.  Another great illusion was pulled off.  It was all smoke and mirrors.  I was foolish to be excited.  

Of course, the Senate couldn’t concur.  All my hope and joy have bled into bitterness and betrayal.  88% of Pennsylvania’s approve of medical marijuana.  Why must the Senate hijack our dreams?  All they had to do was agree.  They passed the bill over a year ago.   It now sits in Rules Committee.  One man is stopping it, just as one man stopped it in The House of Republicans.  Committee Chairmen hold all the power.  Senator Jake Corman and President Pro Tempore Senator Scarnati are in sole control of my fate.  Senator Corman assures me he is groovy, man.   I received a tweet from him telling me they are going over the wording.   He wants to read it really close to make sure it’s okay.  How long does it take to read a bill?   I read the bill the night it passed the House, March 16th.

The Senate is “concerned” that changing the word Cannabis to Marijuana will effect the implementation of the bill.  You don’t have to tell me words mean things.  Words mean MANY things.  You can always argue about semantics.  Is Marijuana different from Cannabis?  No.  Are licensed and registered the same?  Yes.  Yes they are.  I checked the Thesaurus.  It took thirty seconds to get my book off my bookshelf and look it up.  Done.

If the Senate makes any changes, one single word, it will go back to the House where it will die.  It must be accepted as is.  The new MMJ Board can improve things if they need to.  (Sure, they need to!)  Sending it back to the House is the kiss of death!!  Soon it will be summer, elections, and then session is over.  It’s a lame duck and medical marijuana will die again.  They will have to re-re-introduce yet another bill in January 2017. I am so tired of the lies.  Next week, next month, next, next, next.

SB 3 won’t be heard until mid-April.  I seem to remember them saying that last year, or was it the year before?  Whenever it gets close, they push it off.  “Oops, we aren’t in session now.  Spring Break dude!”

There is no spring break from Epilepsy or AIDS or PTSD or MS or Cancer!

You lied to me, Pennsylvania Senate.  You told me you were all in.  The General Assembly does not represent me or the people of Pennsylvania.  We are still dying to stay, even after the House passed medical marijuana.  It might not be the Senate’s priority, but it is mine.

I won’t stop until we get medical marijuana or I die. I say that with all the gravity in the universe.  Death is my constant companion.  He lies in wait for me to have a deadly seizure.  It’s the cold, hard truth of epilepsy.  At any time I could expire from SUDEP: Sudden Unexplained Death in Epilepsy.  Suddenly, for no reason at all…

I want to live!!   All the Senate needs to do is concur.

Sign, or Die!

Benjamin_Franklin_-_Join_or_Die

B. Franklin, The Pennsylvania gazette, May 9, 1754

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The Fight Grows On

 

FemaleCannabisClusterThe buzz has not worn off.  Pennsylvania House of Republicans passed medical marijuana!!  This is really happening!!  So many people told me, “PA will be last.”  We proved them wrong!  We have won a great battle.  The war wages on.  There are many Pennsylvanians left out of Senate Bill 3.  Smoking is prohibited.  We can have oils and tinctures, liquids and edibles, but not grow our own plants.  It is not a perfect bill.  Some say it’s not as good as SB 1182, which was the first medical marijuana bill the Senate passed in 2014.  The House let that die.  I had serious doubts that the House would ever vote on SB 3.  I am happy to be proven wrong.  I am happy to have a new baseline to work from.  Things can only get better now!

Medical marijuana is one step closer to my ultimate goal of full legalization.  Chairman of the Health Committee Matt Baker argued against this bill in part because activists want a complete end to prohibition.  He would like to help the sick, but the risk that some people might want full legalization was too much.  Representative after representative got up and spoke about the heroin crisis our state is facing.  Matt Baker claimed that marijuana “primed the brain for heroin.”  He spoke over and over again attacking the bill from opposing sides.  He made me yell and cry and then laugh my butt off.  He told a dramatic story of a building collapse leading to the death of a man who was “diagnosed with marijuana.”

My blood boiled when he said that he had a letter from the “American Epilepsy Society” begging him not to pass SB 3.  I don’t know who the American Epilepsy Society is, but they sure as hell don’t speak for me.  They are not the voice of epilepsy.  The Epilepsy Foundation is.  They are all on board.  Anything that reduces one seizure, one second of one seizure, is a miracle.  A miracle!!

Matt Baker wanted you to believe that the epilepsy community is against medical marijuana.  He’s a liar.  I am active in the epilepsy community.  I know all the groups.  I never heard of the “American Epilepsy Society.”  They are not a real epilepsy advocacy group, just a name that sounds official.  Everybody who knows anything about seizures is 100% behind medical marijuana.  Anything that helps.  Anything.  I am so relieved to no longer be a criminal.  I’m just a patient who wants to feel better.

So what is next?  The bill is not perfect, no bill ever is.  The Senate has to agree to the changes.  The governor promises to sign.  Then the grass will start growing.  We can figure out things as we go. Currently SB 3 allows for treatment of HIV/AIDS, seizures, epilepsy, autism, sickle-cell anemia, Crohn’s disease, cancer, ALS, PTSD, MS, Parkinson’s Disease, inflammatory bowel disease, damage to the spine and nervous system, neuropathies, Huntington’s Disease, chronic pain and glaucoma.  I believe the list will eventually expand.

What does this mean for Erie County?  That depends on whether we want to be part of the party or not.  There will be hundreds, maybe thousands, of jobs created in growing, producing, and distributing marijuana oils.  I see no reason why we shouldn’t be at the forefront of this.  We have empty buildings just waiting for something to do.  We have fresh water and empty storefronts.  We have thousands of sick citizens of Erie County who will want medicine, as soon as possible.  It’s already too late.  We can’t wait any longer.  Permits will be given, licenses will sold.  Doctors will have to take a brief class on medical marijuana.  All this can start happening as soon as next week.  The movement isn’t over, it’s really getting started now.  All the years of hard work are finally paying off and the real work can begin.  Sow the fields and plant the hemp and marijuana that will grow our economy.

Now is the time to act.

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PA Goes to Pot!

 

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Wednesday, March 16, 2016 was a historic day for my Commonwealth!  Medical marijuana, which has been growing moldy in the House basement, was taken out and given the light of day!  Senate Bill 3, The Raymond Shafer Compassionate Use of Cannabis, was finally voted on in the House of Representatives.  It passed 149-43.  Medical marijuana IS coming to Pennsylvania!  The Senate has to concur with the changes the House made.  Then it’s on to Governor Wolf’s desk.  He promised to sign whatever time, day or night, that the bill hits his desk.  He was there for the vote and tweeted “Now is the time to act!”

Senate Bill 3 passed in the Senate with a vote of 40-7 in May 2015.  The House tried their best to kill it.  They sat on it and did nothing.  The head of the health committee was against it, so it didn’t have to get heard.  Rep. Matt Baker wanted to kill medical marijuana.  He failed.

I cried like a baby.  I bawled.  My cats gave me odd looks.  My kids didn’t quite know what to think.  Why was the boring political TV making Mom cry so much?  I felt relief like I have never known.  My state finally believes in me.  All these years, all I wanted were less seizures.  My state said no.  Yesterday, they said YES!  It has been such a long road, covered in seizures and bumps and bruises and blood.  So many activists died while waiting.  The end is finally in sight!  PA has been languishing in prohibition for far too long.  All of that is drawing to an close.  The light at the end of the tunnel is bright green!

A great pain rose off my chest when the vote came down.  The cloud lifted and the haze cleared.  I’m not a criminal!  I don’t have to  move to Colorado!  I can stay here and get the treatment I deserved.  I’ve cried about it so many times.  Now they are tears of joy and relief and happiness.  Treatment is within reach for me!  I am satisfied I will be able to get my precious medical card.  I’m an epileptic.  I can’t stay conscious!  We should all know this by now:  Marijuana reduces seizures.  This law is for me!  Of course, the fight is not over.  There are many people who are left out.  I promise you, I won’t stop fighting for you. Now we can be healthier while we fight.

As if all this wasn’t enough, Industrial Hemp Senate Bill 50 passed the Senate 49-0.  We are on our way to join only a few other states who allow hemp to be grown on large agricultural scale.  It is a legal crop.  Let’s grow some hemp!  It will be a lucrative crop for our state.  Hemp has a few more hoops to hop through.  They need to get a hearing in the House.  The House is a lot less friendly than the Senate.  They stonewalled medical marijuana for YEARS!

It may take years to get Pennsylvania’s programs running.  Not everyone is happy with SB3.  I’m giddy for the baby-step in the right direction.  Two steps forward and one step back is still one step ahead.  It has started.  It cannot be undone.  We are not a pioneer in this fight.  Pennsylvania is late to the game, but we’re here now~!

In the meantime, we need to educate our doctors.  We need to let them know they will be protected when they prescribe medical marijuana to their patients.  We need them to know why they should.

Today we celebrate!  The tides have turned.  They are green and foamy.  Pennsylvania will be growing marijuana and hemp.  Hemp was once our major crop.  (Why do you think there is a town named HEMPFIELD?!)

We are bringing hemp back to Hempfield!  

We are bringing compassion and cannabis to the sick and hurting!

Please remember who voted against compassion and vote accordingly.  Election Day is April 26th.  Many House seats are up.  You can check the vote here.

To all the Haters who said we couldn’t do it:  Put this in your pipe and smoke it!  Enjoy this picture of The Capitol Building lit up green in honor of SB3!

Th House goes GreenWe weren’t last!

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Will Today Be The Day?

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Will today be the day that my life changes forever?  We usually don’t get that kind of head’s up.  The big life-changing stuff is often a surprise.  Boom.  You’re in the ER.  Your life has been altered forever by your diagnosis of Intractable Epilepsy.  That’s how it happened to me.  Today, I am holding my breath that my long, dark, night of my soul is almost over.  I have been promised that today is, finally, FINALLY, the day.

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives is poised to pass medical marijuana!  My group of advocates are gathering in the Capitol for the hopeful celebration.  I will celebrate alone, in my home.  I would have gone if I could drive, but my disease stole that away from me.  I have only the Sunshine Law, LIVE TV feed, and all my friends on the inside Tweeting in real time.

We have been promised so many times.  This time the final vote is so close we can taste is.  It tastes like a pot brownie, which was not stripped from the bill by my nemesis: Representative Matt Baker.  I have written about this man before: https://ktslagle.wordpress.com/2015/05/21/representative-baker-is-a-big-fat-faker/

The Head of the Health Committee is the darling of Big Pharma.  He has been stringently opposed to compassion for YEARS.  The Senate passed Senate Bill 3 almost a  year ago.  A similar bill passed a year  before that.  He and The Speaker of the House let that one die.

Mr. Baker introduced amendment after amendment trying to strip this bill.  He spoke again and again about the evils of “so-called marijuana.”  (His words!)  He lied over and over.  He claimed that more ER visits were due to marijuana than heroin.  Are you fucking kidding me?  In the middle of this heroin EPIDEMIC which is killing people everyday, he claims that marijuana is worse.  Ask anyone who works in the ER, more people come in for aspirin overdoses!  Marijuana has not killed anybody.

Later in the night, after more of his rambling diatribe, he said he opposed the bill because it taxes medical marijuana.  He said, “How can we tax the medicine for sick people?”  So it IS medicine then is it?  Mr. Baker’s campaign funds come from pharmaceutical companies.  There are opposed to anything that might get people off of any drug.  Something that grows for free is terrifying to these people.  Matt Baker is willing to fight for their right to medicate you as they see fit.

He claimed that a building collapsed in Philly and the one person died was “diagnosed with marijuana.”  I’m pretty sure the marijuana didn’t cause the building to fall over, which is what KILLED him.  Not pot.  Baker was just hoping to confuse someone over to his side.

Medical marijuana has strong support in the House for months now.  Our Governor promises to sign it as soon as he gets it.  I believe him.  I don’t believe the House.

We have been lied to so many times.  I was promised that the House would vote by this time LAST YEAR.  I am excited and ready for disappointment.

But what if??  I will watch LIVE.  And I will cry either way.

Deep breath.  Hold it…

I just want to have less seizures.  I hate waking up on the bathroom floor.

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#stillwaiting

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My roots in Pennsylvania run deep.  My ancestors have lived in this state since 1747.  There is a Schlegel Family Cemetery full of the bones of my Schlegel ancestors.  My parents and my in-laws and my nieces and nephews live in Pennsylvania.  I don’t want to live anywhere else.  I enjoy our profusion of water and green.  A sunset isn’t a sunset if it doesn’t set over Lake Erie.  I guess I must even like the snow.  But I am so tired of waiting for compassion.  How long am I supposed to wait?  How many seizures must I have?  I am still waiting…  I am still seizing…

Medical cannabis has been legal in California since 1996.  I was a freshman in college and I didn’t even know I was an epileptic then.  I never even knew I was  having seizures.  All of that would change in 1997 when I woke up in an ER.  I didn’t know cannabis was a treatment for seizures.  But it was one of the first things that came up when I was diagnosed and I started to research my life sentence of epilepsy.  Cannabis is medicine.  Centuries of doctors and patients believe it.

Since medical marijuana was already legal in California, I thought I would be able to get treatment soon enough…  It’s nearly twenty years later and I’m still waiting…  Pennsylvania is sunk, stupid in budget quibbles that don’t get anything done.  Our state budget is 5 months overdue.  The School District of Erie had to vote on what they will do when they run out of money.  The teachers said they would work without pay.

I am still waiting for the House of Representatives to take pity on me and pass Senate Bill 3, Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis.  It passed the PA Senate, TWICE, but the House pretends to work and refused to do anything.  Oh really, you are writing a “new law” for “passage soon?”  Please reference any of my previous articles addressed to the PA General Assembly over the past two years.  We are still waiting…  I am less and less enthusiastic about my beloved home state everyday.

Everyday is a day I could die.  I’m not being overly dramatic, I’m stating the cold hard facts.  Every year over 50,000 people die from seizures and seizure related injuries.  I fear dying everyday.  I don’t take baths or showers alone.  I’ve read too many obituaries for dead, drowned epileptics for that.  I’ve considered giving up swimming forever.  I used to be on the swim team.  I was even a lifeguard.  I didn’t know I was an epileptic then.  When I went to the wave pool this summer, I told my daughter to stay close.  Not for her safety but for my own.  Everything is dangerous when you lose consciousness and drop to the floor.

Even the things I enjoy scare me.  I love to can; pickles, spaghetti sauce, grape jam, whatever is in season.  Every single time I do, I hope that I don’t have a seizure and scald myself to death.  Boiling hot water can do a LOT of  damage to an unconscious person.  At any given second I could become unconscious.  I envy those of you who don’t know what it’s like.  

Some of my best friends are people I’ve never met.  They are my Epi Friends, epileptics like me.  We live in the same world ruled by seizures and lost time.  We know what it’s like to wake up on the floor.  The Pennsylvania House of Representatives does not know what it’s like…

My advocate “Mama Bears” were in Harrisburg again, rallying and trying to educate the General Assembly.  I wanted to go.  I’m a big fan of a good protest.  But I can’t drive.  My voice will not be heard in the halls of the Capital.  Seizures keep me trapped away like Rapunzel in a tower.  I write letters and send emails and publish blog after blog after blog…  They all plead the same thing~ I just want to have less seizures!  Why can’t I try a natural cure that has been working miracles for centuries!?

I live in the wrong state for my own good.  I don’t want to move.  Yet, everyday I am closer to throwing my hands up in the air and taking up my wagon train and heading west.  I just want medicine.  Why won’t the Pennsylvania General Assembly pull their heads out of the sand and join the 21st century?  Cannabis is medicine.  It is also good business and could give us ample tax funds to fund our schools and balance the budget.  I’m still waiting…..

Don’t make me leave.

still waiting

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Filed under Essays, Living w/ Epilepsy, News, Non-fiction

Promises, Promises

seeds and stems

The end of spring session draws near.  It is almost summer break.  Everything needs to be done RIGHT NOW!  I can appreciate that as a procrastinator myself.  However, I was writing basically the same article last  year.  I wrote to my State Representatives to beg them to take mercy on the suffering Pennsylvanians who could be treated by cannabis.  Last year SB1182 passed the Senate and just needed the House to vote.  Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis passed the Pennsylvania Senate.  The House just needed to vote.

That bill died with the end of session. Now the next legislative session is heading home for summer break without passage of medical marijuana.  SB3, a re-working of SB1182, passed Senate months ago.  I was promised it would pass by the end of June.  The Speaker of the House Mike Turzai sent it to the Health Committee instead of voting on it.  Rep Turzai once ran away from medical marijuana advocates.  Ran away.  I watched the video, it was something else.  Rather than even listen to the medical marijuana advocates, he ran away.  He pushed that bill away too.

My Representative Pat Harkins says he supports SB3.  It doesn’t matter.  Rep Matt Baker, Chairman of the Health Committee, promises to let it die.  He takes money from pharmaceutical companies and he denies states rights when it comes to medical marijuana.  He is a Republican from Tioga. I’m not surprised if you haven’t heard of it before.  I’ve lived in Pennsylvania for nearly 38 years and I had never heard of it before.  Matt Baker sits on top of SB3.  It’s not on any agenda.

I am involved with several online advocacy groups.  A few days ago, word went around that State Rep. Nick Miccarelli, also Republican, District 162-Ridley Park, decided/was convinced to file a discharge resolution to circumvent Mr. Matt Baker.  He spread the word that he would file this uncommon, but legal, discharge resolution on Friday, June 26, 2015.  Mere days before the end of the semester.

We celebrated the news!  We got tingly with excitement.  We didn’t need to let one man stonewall the will of the people.  Polling consistently shows more than 80% of Pennsylvanians approve the immediate passage of medical marijuana.  Maybe it would happen, this time.

Now, straight out of left field, State Rep Ron Marsico, Republican from Dauphin County 105 District, says he will introduce his own bill to legalize medical marijuana.  He promises this bill will go to the House Judiciary Committee for immediate passage.  He heads the Judiciary Committee so, he might have some pull there.  The Judiciary Committee has been holding hearings and interviewing patients for months.  They would rather control the future of medical marijuana than not.  Time for the Hail Mary Pass.

None of my advocate friends of medical marijuana knew about this.  We have been calling our Representatives all day.  I noticed the bill was not yet introduced.  He just promises introduction.  Who will flinch first?

There are more than a few doubts about Representatives Marsico’s motives.  We are waiting to read the language of this promised bill. His official press release says that the bill would “support a narrow, regulated measure that allows compassionate use of medical marijuana but takes special precautions against abuse or diversion of marijuana for non-medical purposes.”

I am happy for any movement on the issue.  Baby Steps, baby!

If you know a single, seriously ill person, don’t you want them to try whatever helps?  Cannabis is easy.  It grows like a weed.  There’s already a cultural shift nationwide.  PA is not exactly a forerunner here.  There are hundreds of successful businesses to learn from in the 23 states with medical marijuana.  We can still be in the top half of the country, Lucky Number 24!

Marsico’s official release promises no more than 5 medical marijuana companies to be throughout the state.  That’s good enough for me.  Erie is the third or fourth largest city in Pennsylvania, depending on how you count.  We are sure to be included in the five.  Five is better than zero.  Five is infinitely better than zero.  Mathematically it can’t even be defined how much better it is.  I will take any bill to start.  Of course, the cities will get the marijuana first.

Erie used to be an industrial powerhouse, a beautiful “gem city” on the naturally protected Presque Isle Bay.  We used to be a fresh-water fishing capital, and a necessary link on the Great Lakes Shipping chain.

Now there are more empty building than I care to count.  The city is demolishing blighted homes full time.  They tear down houses every day.  Many, many, empty factories sit crumbling.  I imagine them awash in green.  All the jobs and medicine to treat all the sick people could be grown here.   Pennsylvania needs jobs.  Governor Tom Wolf promises Pennsylvania is “Open for Business.”  Look around the country, money is being made hand over fist in Colorado (and Washington and Oregon and Alaska.)  They are giving the residents tax refund checks.  My friend who lives in Colorado can buy legal marijuana with her tax refund checks.  She did.  The state of Colorado approves!

I just want less seizures.  I just want to go to my son’s soccer game without having a seizure, getting confused and disoriented, and then sleeping the rest of the day away.  There are centuries of medical evidence, published in well-respected scientific journals.  Marijuana can help prevent and lessen the severity and frequency of seizures.  There are centuries of evidence.  I am not making this up.  I have discussed this with my doctors.  They all agree.  None of my numerous doctors have disagreed.  They all gauge their responses, as we “live in the wrong state.”  But nobody has flat-out told me I am wrong.  Just living in the wrong state.

Dear Pennsylvania House of Representatives, you could change that today.  Do the right thing.  My friend’s mother recently lost her fight to cancer, medical marijuana came too late for her.  Don’t let it be too late for the rest of us.
Any day now…

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It’s Good To Be Kind

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I am a Superhero!  I have the power to save lives!!  I have knowledge and knowledge is power.  All I have to do is share my knowledge.  What happens with that knowledge can’t always be known.  Today I know.  I helped save a life.  My knowledge, my advocacy, affected a human being’s life.  I saved a life.

I was told that my “tip” about medical marijuana helped someone get through cancer.  I started to cry.  I might be the only person who ever said, “I’m so glad to hear you are using.”  It sounded so wrong, but it felt so right.  I was so happy to hear it.  I helped him beat cancer.  What more is there to life?  Something I said changed his life forever.  I am so proud. I get scared being an advocate. People with big mouths and contrary ideas get murdered in other countries.  Sometimes they get arrested in this one.  But then something like this happens and I know I’m doing the right thing.  If you don’t know, you can’t get help.  Cannabis is medicine.

When I heard that my friend had cancer, I sent him an email.  I said, “Hey, I have no idea what you think about pot, but check it out.  There is so much information out there and cannabis is being used to treat and cure cancer.  Check it out.” It worked. He told me, “I don’t want to say it got me through, but it got me through.  It got really bad during chemo…”  I started to cry, so I gave him a hug. I feel like a fucking Super Hero.  Just call me Marijuana Girl.  I’m the THC Crusader!

I used to say that if I helped one person by sharing my story, I achieved my goal.  I know that to be true now.  One person matters.  I matter.  My advocacy matters. He thanked me for writing my blog and fighting for medical marijuana.  “I’m glad to know there are people out there fighting for this.” I feel the same way.  I’m encouraged by my advocate friends.  People that I have never even met in person.  We are all working together for the same goal.  A complete end of prohibition of marijuana.  Free the Weed!!

I can’t be silent.  I’m tired of waiting.  I want the same medicine that other epileptics have access to.  There are all sorts of cannabis treatments available to epileptics in other states.  But not in the Commonwealth.  Not for me. I read about CBD/THC patches that are available in dozens of states.  Creams and oils and I wouldn’t need to smoke anything if that’s what you are worried about.  I can’t afford to drive to Colorado.  If I could, I’d be a happy, healthy, hopefully seizure-free girl.

That’s all I want from this life.

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