Monday, April 26, 2010
Today we buried my long time friend Kenny Horn who passed away on Thursday, April 22, 2010 after a long, hard, battle with life. If you wonder what I mean by that just click the link above.
The funeral was held at a small country Baptist Church in Goodwater, Alabama.
Let me start with the really, inexplicably, exquisitely, great stuff about a real country funeral in rural, economically depressed Alabama. There is nothing in the world quite like one. The people, who are poor in material items, but very, very, rich in spirit, tenacity and grit showed up in droves. The kind of deep, wonderful, true, country people that are who they are no matter where they are, By God! Real people. Not a bone of pretense in them. Salt of the earth in its purest form.
They are the people who packed out the church in droves, I mean standing room only, many who were dressed in their t-shirts, shorts, and flip-flops. One pallbearer was a biker, complete with long hair, tattoos and a chain attached to his billfold. Another wore a green t-shirt. I guess he didn't have a white one. And that's ok. Around here what you are wearing couldn't make less of a shit to those who know and love you. We don't necessarily have dress codes. I mean, at my brother John's funeral we dressed him in overalls and an Alabama Crimson Tide cap and all of the pallbearers wore overalls.
In fact, Kenny Horn, who was an HUGE Alabama Crimson Tide fan, was buried in his 2010 Alabama Crimson Tide National Championship t-shirt. And that is just as it should be. I was worried that some do-gooder would try to suit him up....which just wouldn't have gone over well at all. Not only was Kenny buried in his Tide tee, his casket spray and one of the large wreaths had Crimson Tide ribbons all over them. His awesome beard, which he loved so much, was left intact as well.
That's just how we do stuff around here. We are who we are when we are living, and when we leave this life, we go out as who we were. That's the way things ought to be, in my opinion. Come and go as you are.
There was some beautiful solo singing by a gentleman. He first sang Amazing Grace. Despite my being a non-believer those familiar Christian hymns remind me of comforting things from my childhood and I always enjoy them. The next piece of music was something I have never heard before. It was a pre-recorded bluegrass/country/gospel tune and I think the title was "Stroll Across Heaven with You". That'un made me squall almost as bad as 'Precious Memories' does at funerals. Kenny's mom cried out repeatedly during that song, too. While I was sitting up front and couldn't say for absolute certain I'd be willing to bet there wasn't a dry eye in the house after that tune. I'd actually like a copy of that for my mp3 player. If anyone knows the artist or has a copy please let me know.
During the service I sat next to Kenny's elderly first cousin. We talked and introduced ourselves. As soon as I said my name a gentleman sitting behind me tapped me on the shoulder and asked me if I was Loretta Nall. I told him I was and he and his wife said they had read my tribute to Kenny and thought it spot on. They thanked me for it. I was glad that the family had liked it. I told them after the service and after the funeral home people had filled in the grave that those of us who were closest to Kenny were going to meet at the graveside and have our own sendoff ceremony.
The Christian church funeral was for one group of attendees....like his mom and elderly relatives who believe in a Christian burial. The ceremony that I planned was for another group of attendees, the flip-flop, t-shirt and short wearers and well let's just say it was a 'different' sort of ceremony. Close cousins, nieces and nephews, and the many, many personal friends who could be found over at Kenny's on any given day of the week. Those of us who helped him ingest his medicine, scratched his nose, rolled his joints, lit and held them for him, helped him get from his bed, to his chair, to outside under the apple tree, held the phone for him, opened the window and turned on the fan, gave him drinks of water, got stray itchy hairs out of his eyes, and those that drove him around, when he was in better health, to wherever he wanted to go and did whatever he wanted to do...etc....I think there is a nickname that Kenny gave to everyone at our private ceremony and we will get to those later on in this story. They good'uns.
Now, for a tad of the things I could have done without at the funeral.
The only times I have been in church, since I turned 13 and refused continue attending because I thought it was a complete bunch of horseshit (no offense), have been for funerals. Every time I go back I am reminded of why I stopped going. This won't be a long post bitching about religion as I see it, but, I do have one gripe about the way some funerals are conducted by the preachers and Kenny's funeral was one of those funerals.
Kenny wasn't what I could call a big Christian. He believed in God and had made peace long ago...but he lived his life and never harmed a soul. The preachers who gave his eulogy didn't know him as a person. They had never gone by and spent a day with him just helping him with the simple things that the able bodied among us take entirely for granted. I'm pretty sure they never held a joint for him and probably few if any of the other things I already mentioned. I am not judging them for that. Just sayin...
Trying to give a eulogy for someone you do not really know is trying to like...well... give a eulogy for someone you don't know. A good and proper one just can't be done. So, there was no eulogy other than the preacher saying Kenny was an angry man who he had been blessed out by and who he had blessed out back.
I wholeheartedly disagree with that statement. The Kenny Horn I knew was not angry. He could get angry and I'm sure there were times in his life, before I knew him, that he probably was very angry and frustrated and felt hopeless before he grew to accept his paralyzed, completely dependent state. But, for the last 15 years that I knew him he was not an angry man.
The Kenny Horn I knew enjoyed life to the fullest extent possible. Yes, at one point in his life he drank moonshine, beer, whiskey, and wine and maybe smoked some shit other than weed once or twice. But don't you dare judge him on that. What in the hell would you do if the only part of your body that you had any control over was your mind and you had to live the life that Kenny Horn lived?
Day in and day out in the same room, in a fucking bed with a special air mattress, a wheel chair, with a special cushion, to move you from place to place when you could gather enough strength in your mostly-paralyzed arm to move the damn button yourself,a hydraulic lift to move you from bed to chair to bed, to chair to bed. Having to lose all your dignity and shit and piss in bags that everyone could see, not being able to scratch your own fucking nose when it itches and having to lay there and depend on anyone....anyone for help....and hope somebody in the house hears you when you call. No wife, no sex, no children. Wouldn't you want to explore any other reality than you own, cruel, unchanging one? I would. Kenny did. And bless the folks who helped him do so.
I, personally, thank whatever beings there may or may not be for drugs, both licit and illicit, that help alter the human mind and take it to an elevated place...most especially for people like Kenny Horn, for his mind was all he had. To only have been able to experience pain and suffering and the same four bedroom or hospital walls with no natural, herbal, alcohol or stimulant relief would have been a horror more terrible than any I have ever contemplated in my 35 years of life.
To say he was bitter and angry was shitty. How can one who has not lived in Kenny's state for 30 years ever bring themselves to say any such thing? Especially at a funeral?
After that brief statement the non-eulogy became a sermon about how we would all meet Kenny's fate someday and so forth and so on. Obscure bible verses...even one about a shepherd, possibly Jesus, breaking the leg of a sheep and carrying it on his shoulders to prevent it from straying from the flock. I don't recall that particular bible story from my recollections of church. The preacher was neat though. At one point he even said "sheep are the dumbest animals on earth", which struck me as quite humorous. He also claimed that he was once a drunken outlaw in Stone Mountain, Georgia and that God saved him and here he was today, a living testament to all the drankin, dope smoking, outlaws in attendance at Kenny's funeral that they could be just like him....SAVED...or at least that was how I interpreted. At one point, because this preacher went on and on and on, I swear I heard Kenny say, "I wish'd he shut up so we could go smoke a joint." I told my husband about it later and he said he had a similar experience. It was very real.
No offense on the accepting Christianity offer...but I'll pass. I think eulogies should be given by friends and family members who knew the deceased best. When I die, and if I die before you, my friends and family, please get up and tell a funny story about something we did together. Share personal moments about the real me. Don't let someone who doesn't know diddly squat about me get up there and talk about dumb sheep and all that other stuff that had nothing to do with me.
Having said that, I really and truly did enjoy the whole church funeral experience. Those are traditions that I was brought up to believe in, but don't. I respect them and those who do believe them and their right to believe them. It's a very personal thing and I mean no disrespect with my description.
Now...on to the personal send off of Kenny Horn by his friends and close family. I'm an organizer by nature so, when I first got to the church, I sought out one of the regular Kenny Crew members and told them to find all the folks who were regular features at Kenny's house and ask them to come out to the graveside after the funeral home staff had left so that we could send Kenny off in the way that he had told us he wanted to go.
C rounded up Butt Bone, Peanut, Bubba, Head, Fruitsy Fly, Pee Wee, Tootsie, Nigger Charles (a white guy who loved the rebel flag so much that Kenny sarcastically nicknamed him that)....(if that offends you I'm sorry...but it is what it is and I just can't leave it out) and about ten others I only know the real names of and won't use here, and told them of the plan. Back at the graveside about four or five other carloads of folks pulled up to join in the alternate celebration of Kenny's life. It got back to me that some industrious soul had thought to bury Kenny with a fat joint and had hidden one in his left hand so that no one could see. It also got back to me that it was probably a good thing no one could see it, otherwise Kenny might not have been buried with his favorite thing. While some of you might find that shocking I, personally, find it hysterical! Long live wild, country, poor people!
Instead of a 'WAKE', a common tradition in some cultures where the family and friends of the deceased eat, drink, and party for days on end and remember all of the wonderful moments they shared with the recently departed, we had a 'BAKE' for Kenny Horn. All of those mentioned above gathered round his grave, I said a few words, others shared funny stories, shock at his death, anger at the preacher who said Kenny was angry (I'm not the only one that preacher pissed off) and Kenny's kind of sacrament was passed around. Lot's of sacrament. Kenny was there with us. I could hear him saying, "Now at's wut I'm talkin bout y'all". Then his soul rose through the atmosphere on the smoke that enabled him to have enjoyment in life.
It was a fitting tribute to a man who taught me about real bravery and courage in the face of adversity. I will forever remember him and always miss his presence.
So long buddy!
Friday, April 23, 2010
My long time friend and medical marijuana patient Kenny Horn has just passed away.
When Kenny was 16 he did what a lot of country kids do and that was to jump off a bridge into a creek. And it turned out very badly. He broke his neck and was paralyzed from the chest down with only a small amount of movement in his arms. Kenny was 46 and had lived the last 30 years of his life as basically a talking head, completely dependent on others for his most basic needs. When it first happened his doctors didn't expect he would make it through the night....but he did. They now call him the miracle man because he has lived so long and through so many medical procedures, blood clots, infections, bed sores etc...
In all the years I knew Kenny he was, for the most part, a very cheerful, funny man. Very kind, would help anyone out, give you the shirt off his back, kind of person. Not that he didn't get frustrated sometimes. But, if I were a talking head, dependent on everyone else for just basic needs like getting a drink of water, scratching my nose, or being fed, I'd probably be a real bitter, mean, miserable, asshole who would have no friends. Kenny, though, was surrounded by many friends and a loving family.
Last week I took him to two doctor appointments. One to his regular doctor to look at his bed sores and another to a urologist in Anniston. I had recently told him I would come over on my days out of school and sit with him, help him medicate, and drive him to his appointments when I could, so that I could help take some of the strain off him and his mom.
His mom is 74 and does most of his care by herself, including getting him into and out of a lift so that he can move from his bed to his wheel chair, into and out of the lift chair in the van, all the driving to appointments all over the state..etc. Kenny weights probably 260. His mom is a little, old lady. However, the one thing his mom couldn't do was roll him a joint and help him smoke it.
She believed with all her heart that it was medicine, she'd seen it work over the years where nothing else had, and believed what the doctor said about it, but she just wasn't able to help him with that. He'd often call me on the mornings, when he had been unable to get a friend or family member to come by to help him get his medicine, and ask me to come help him do it. "Come on by girl...I'm bout to die" he'd say. He'd be in awful pain when I got there and the difference after he smoked his medicine was just an amazing thing to witness.
I stayed with him for a few hours after those two days last week. We sat out under the apple tree, medicating him, talking about everything under the sun, and just enjoying spending time with him. I've known for a while they he couldn't possibly survive much longer and cherished the time I got to go and see him for a little while. He wanted me to help him wash his hair that day, but some folks pulled up just as I was about to start and then my ride pulled up a few minutes later and I didn't get to help him do that. I feel really shitty about that now. It's funny the moments you think of when someone you love has died. The little things you didn't do that you could have...you know?
I was supposed to take Kenny back to Anniston today for his urology appointment. I called this morning to see if they still needed me to come over and take him, but no one answered. When no one answers at Kenny's that means only one thing. He's in the hospital.
I called the hospital and they told me he was in CCU, in a coma and that his organs had pretty much quit functioning. For the last three years or so he has really gone down hill. The first major episode was when his pain medication was switched from Lortab to Oxycontin. He took three doses of Oxycontin, just like he was supposed to, and after the third dose they found him blue and unresponsive in his bed and rushed him to Birmingham. More recently he's had a lot of blood clots hit his brain which caused seizures and strokes and that really had an awful impact on his mind.
He's told me many times in the last few years that he is ready to go, that he is tired of suffering and being a burden on his mom. His doctor, an old, wise, country one, knew that Kenny smoked copious amounts of marijuana and had for years. He said that is what kept him alive and in relative good health this long. After the pain medicine episode, Kenny told the doctor not to write him any more prescription pain medicine, that marijuana worked better for him than anything else and wouldn't kill him. His doctor agreed and told him to stop smoking cigarettes but to smoke as much marijuana as he wanted.
When Kenny would have to be in the hospital his doctor would prescribe Marinol for him, but it didn't work. However, when no one was looking some of the nurses, who have worked with him as their patient for years, would sneak him out of the hospital and give him the real stuff. Bless them for being such kind, considerate and wonderful souls to risk their careers and their very freedom to help one of their patients.
Just the other day Kenny and I were talking about the medical marijuana bill and he told me that if he made it another year that he would go to Montgomery during the next legislative session and testify before the committee. He always wanted to go, but, due to bed sores or lack of proper transportation, or some other issue, we were never able to get him down there. That's too bad. Kenny , who was as deep country as they come and said just exactly what was on his mind, would have told it like it was. The judiciary committee and everyone else in the House and Senate should have had to look at him in the eyes and hear what he had to say. He was 'the least among us' and he should have had his day before those in power who seek to put poor souls like him in jail for trying to ease their pain.
This afternoon I went up to the hospital where Kenny is and spent about 2 hours with him and his mom. He was in the death rattles then. I kissed his sweet head, continuously replaced the cool rag on his forehead, rubbed his hair, held his hand, and told him how much I loved him and would miss him, but that I knew he was ready to go on and not have to suffer anymore. He had refused to be placed on a ventilator again. Yesterday he coded and they brought him back, but only gave him an oxygen mask per his request. All fluids except morphine had been discontinued.
He died 15 minutes after I left.
His poor little mama is tore all to pieces. This is the third child she has buried, and Kenny was the baby. For all of his life he has depended on her for literally everything. She and I cried together and she said she don't know what she will do with herself now that he is gone. We laughed over the things we will miss hearing him say like, "Come on by girl," "Scratch my nose," "Push on my stomach," (when he needed to cough) " "Light me up at joint right yonder", "Get this hair off my eye," "Gimme a drank uh at water," and "Give me a puff off at cigarette."
I know that wherever Kenny's essence is floating free tonight that there are no wheelchairs, no special air mattresses, no needles or ventilators, no colostomy bags, no bed sores, no super pubic catheters and no pain and misery. I know his death means the end of his long suffering, but, somehow that doesn't make it suck much less.
I love you dearly Kenny Horn and your loss is being felt very deeply tonight at my house. I promise to bury you with your favorite thing and to keep the other big promise I made to you last week. I hope that when you get to wherever we go after this life that you have the finest, most athletically fit body ever waiting on you and a completely unbreakable spine. I bet that there will be a beautiful red-headed woman waiting to love you and bare you many beautiful children, which you so desperately wanted in this life, but were physically unable to obtain.
You are already missed.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
I wanted to just take a moment and give everyone an update about ACC and what our plans are for the coming months.
I've taken a short sabbatical since HB642 passed out of committee on April 7. I had put off a lot of my college course work in order to work on the bill and unfortunately fell way behind. If you have had a hard time getting hold of me its because I had to block out everything and focus on my work or risk losing my 3.7 GPA which I have no intention of doing. Besides, we all need a small breather and a little time to reflect on our monumental feat of getting out medical marijuana bill out of committee in an election year. We made history. Give yourselves a big pat on the back. You deserve it.
Now, a large number of people have inquired about if we were having/could we please have a 420 celebration. We didn't. Never do. While I am a big fan of our International marijuana celebration day I do not feel the time is right for me to organize one in Alabama. There are a number of reasons for that. The most important one is that at this time we are all working hard to get this medical marijuana legislation passed and on the Governor's desk. The closer we get to that goal the more our opponents will monitor every single move we make, take harmless things like a 420 celebration, and use the worst images they can find from it against us in committee meetings and on the house floor. It may sound crazy, but one picture of a young person smoking a joint or someone in a tie-dye t-shirt can undo years of work that I and others have done to get us to the point where we got this legislative session. It wouldn't even have to be one of our own. Take the following incident as an example;
ACC held a medical marijuana rally in Birmingham a few months ago, which included a march to the fountain at 5 Points. As soon as the media pulled up, what appeared to be a couple of 16 year old kids came over to the fountain and lit up a blunt. These kids were not part of the ACC demonstration. We did not know them. They came out of nowhere. I approached them and told them they had to leave and that they should not be smoking pot in public. They told me that it wasn't pot but that fake crap being sold all over now known as K2/Spice. I told them I didn't care what it was, that this was a medical marijuana rally and was focused patients and not a general legalization rally and that them standing there would be the first thing they showed on the nightly news. They still wouldn't leave. Finally, one of the older men with ACC came over and told them it was illegal to smoke anything in public and to leave right now. They finally did. I had to explain to the media that they were not with us, that we had never seen them before and to please not put them on the news as they had nothing to do with the medical marijuana rally we were holding. Thankfully, the News complied. I happen to think it possible that someone paid those kids to come over as soon as the media arrived to try and derail our issue by making it look to the public like we were encouraging teenagers to smoke pot (even if it wasn't actual pot) in public. Politics is dirty and the opposition will try and undercut us and make us look bad at every turn. When they can't find us doing anything wrong they will insert their own people doing something wrong and then claim it was one of ours. Some may think I am paranoid....but there is no such thing as paranoia in politics.
So, that's the reason I do not organize public celebrations on 420 in Alabama. When we get to the point that the environment has changed enough that such a thing would not cause us major public relations damage then we will do one. Now, however, is not that time. Another reason that I don't do them is that I find them pretty useless. It's fun to socialize with like minds and celebrate the wonderful cannabis plant....but it's choir preaching. I know you support it. You know I support it. We don't need a day to stand around and tell each other how much we support it. I feel our energies/resources would be much better spent by preaching to those in power about the laws which need to be changed and how THEY need to support it. That's just my personal view.
Now, what's next for ACC and the Compassionate Care bill? We will begin working on our strategy for the remainder of this year (an election year) after the legislative session ends and I am finished with my classes. Sometime in early June we will have another ACC meeting where we will discuss strategy and give everyone marching orders about all of the things that need to be done between now and next session.
One of the main things we need to do between now and November is start showing up at campaign rallies of everyone running for public office....from Governor down to legislator. We need to make our presence known and let those seeking office know that we are a force to be reckoned with and that we are not going anywhere and that if they want our support then we need to know here they stand on this issue. Showing up at nearly every campaign rally will let them know that we are serious. It will let the media know that we are serious. And it will let the public know that we are serious and that this issue isn't going away until we get what we want. Today I want all of you reading this to find out who will be campaigning in or near your town between now and November and make plans to be at the campaign event. Send me a list of all political events and we will work out what you need to say and do when you attend. This is critical.
Another CRITICAL thing that everyone who supports medical marijuana in Alabama needs to do is MAKE CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS to the following legislators.
Rep. Patricia Todd (bill sponsor)
Rep. John Robinson
Rep. Cam Ward (will be senator Cam Ward after the election)
Rep. Chris England
Rep. Laura Hall
All of the information you need to send a campaign contribution is listed at this link
It doesn't matter if it is only $5. What matters is that these legislators hear from YOU and that you let them know you appreciate their support on medical marijuana and want to help them get back in office in 2011. Those small contributions sometimes mean more than the huge ones that well funded businesses and well off individuals make. They can afford huge chunks of money and a $1,000 contribution to them is nothing. But, a $5 contribution from someone on a fixed income who is suffering from cancer or multiple sclerosis etc...means a great deal more because they can least afford it, but did it anyway. Please send a note along with your contribution thanking them for their support of HB642 The Michael Phillips Compassionate Care Act. It can and will make a world of difference.
Finally, and this is REALLY critical, ACC needs monetary contributions to continue our work between now and September. We had a lot of action this year and that action depleted our finances. We also had a lot of success. I cannot stress how amazing the committee meeting was, nor how astounding some of the things we heard from representatives were, nor can I over-emphasize the miraculous outcome of getting our medical marijuana bill out of the hardest committee in the entire house IN AN ELECTION YEAR. Please help us continue our incredible and amazing work in Alabama, the hardest state of all in which to bring about change. We need to be able to help members attend campaign rallies, visit with their legislator and senator over the break between sessions, and we need to keep the lights on and the bills paid at ACC. Currently contributions are not tax deductible. We have registered with the state but are still in the process of being granted 501c3 status from the IRS.
If you would like to make a contribution please send a check or money order made payable to:
4633 Pearson Chapel Rd
Alexander City, AL 35010
Currently there is no way to make an online contribution. Due to PayPal's long history of seizing the accounts of drug policy reform groups, stealing the money contained in those accounts, and sharing information with the Feds we at ACC refuse to use them. When we are granted 501c3 status we will make a way to contribute online available. Sorry for the inconvenience.
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
Alabama made HISTORY today when, for the first time ever, our Cadillac of a
medical marijuana bill HB642 passed out of the house judiciary committee. About 40
patients and supporters showed up at the state house this morning for a
press conference and to pack out the committee room.
There was some opposition to the bill, but, for the first time those who opposed it actually stated their opposition and agreed to work with us between now and the next
session to find common ground. I will be preparing a much longer write up and posting it later along with a video of the entire committee session.
Many, many thanks to the wonderful people at Drug Policy Alliance who have been our allies for 6 years, Rep. Patricia Todd our magnificent bill sponsor who is a true champion for the medical marijuana cause and a very special thank you to Mrs. Jacki Phillips, the mother of Michael Phillips, who the bill is named in honor of. You can't talk to Mrs. Jacki and be opposed to medical marijuana afterward. She's an angel.
And of course much love and respect to all of the patients, family members, and supporters who have called, emailed, and visited members of the House Judiciary Committee, attended meetings, written letters to the editor, and donated time and money to this noble cause. None of this would be possible without all of you out there every day putting your freedom on the line. I can never thank you enough for standing up with me in Alabama.
This is the fist step of many, but we are closer today to Alabama becoming
the first medical marijuana state in the South than ever before. Rep. Todd
has already agreed to sponsor our bill again next year and we plan to get an
early start. I feel like 2011 or 2012 will be the year that patients and
physicians in Alabama will finally have the protection they deserve.
Here are two news stories that have already hit the media. Please leave comments on both.
Committee Approves Medical Marijuana Bill
Alabama House panel votes to allow medical marijuana use
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
For Immediate Release: Loretta Nall: 256-625-9599
Gabriel Sayegh 646-335-2264
Wednesday: Alabama House of Representatives Committee to Consider Medical Marijuana Legislation
Statehouse Press Conference with Medical Marijuana Patient, Family Advocates and Legislative Sponsors of the Michael Phillips Compassionate Care Act
Alabama could become 15th State, and First in the South to Allow Access to Medical Marijuana for Select Patients
MONTGOMERY, AL -- On Wednesday, the Alabama House of Representatives Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on HB 642, the Michael Phillips Compassionate Care Act. Prior to the hearings, members of Alabamians for Compassionate Care will hold a press conference at the Capitol.
WHAT: Press Conference in Support of HB 642, The Michael Phillips Compassionate Care Act
WHERE: Legislative Office Building, 11 South Union St., Montgomery, AL
WHEN: Wednesday, April 7, 8:15 a.m.
WHO: Patients, Families, Community Members, Advocates, and bill sponsor Rep. Patricia Todd
The legislation, introduced by Rep. Patricia Todd, would allow patients suffering from certain debilitating and life-threatening illnesses such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, and multiple sclerosis to use and possess medical marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation. The bill would also allow for the licensing of centers where qualifying patients could safely access medical marijuana. The program would be administered by the Alabama Department of Health.
"I have known dozens of people with HIV who have benefited from using marijuana, and I believe this should be a medical option,” said bill sponsor Rep. Patricia Todd, (D-54, Birmingham). “I have seen many people I love experience severe pain and I know I would have done anything in my power to relieve it".
Patients, doctors, and advocates were ecstatic that the legislation, which they have been supporting for over nearly five years, is finally being taken up by Alabama legislators.
Currently, fourteen states, and the District of Columbia, have passed similar medical marijuana legislation allowing patients with certain debilitating conditions to use and possess medical marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation.
"As an adult with chronic pain, why is perfectly fine to take the prescriptions my doctor gives me to the point of addiction, but it illegal for me to use a substance the US government has been giving out medicinally to certain patients since the 70's?,” asked patient Christopher Butts of Cullman, AL. “Shouldn’t my doctor be able to recommend the best treatments for me? Doesn’t my family have the right to live without the fear of police arresting me for using medicine that helps?”
A 2004 poll administered by the Mobile Register/University of South Alabama found that 76% of Alabamians support allowing access to medical marijuana as recommended by a physician. And 2010 ABC News/Washington Post national poll found that 81% of those polled, including 68% of Conservatives and 72% of Republicans, think that doctors should be able to prescribe marijuana to their patients.
Hundreds of local and national organizations support allowing physicians to recommend, and patients to access, medical marijuana for certain debilitating conditions, including The American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Bar Association, and American Public Health Association.
“Alabama patients suffering from cancer and other illnesses today are criminals for using medical marijuana, while patients in New Jersey and thirteen other states are not,” said Loretta Nall, executive director of Alabamians for Compassionate Care, a group of patients, family members and community members calling for changes to the law. “If marijuana is good medicine for patients in 14 states and the District of Colombia, then it is good medicine for patients in Alabama and they should have safe access to it under their doctor’s care. It's time to pass comprehensive medical marijuana legislation in Alabama. This is a states rights issue and the patients and physicians in Alabama need protection.”
Monday, April 05, 2010
Bill up for debate on Wednesday
The Michael Phillips Compassionate Care Act is making its way through the Alabama Legislature and will be heard by the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. The bill would protect doctors for recommending marijuana to their patients, as well as protect patients for both possessing and using marijuana to treat debilitating conditions.
Fourteen states and the District of Columbia have passed similar medical marijuana legislation giving residents with debilitating conditions the freedom to use a safer, natural alternative to their prescribed medications. Marijuana has been in the pharmacopeia of almost every culture on this planet for thousands of years without a single death; the same cannot be said for the drugs in your medicine cabinet.
Let's get this bill passed and provide Alabama's sick and suffering those same liberties provided by a growing number of states.
I will be on the Matt Murphy show in the morning (Tuesday,April 6) at 7:45 am to discuss HB642 The Michael Phillips Compassionate Care Act coming up in committee on Wednesday. You can listen live online at Matt Murphy Show
You may also call in at 1-877-569-1005
Saturday, April 03, 2010
Make Marijuana Legal for Patients
Please drop by the Montgomery Advertiser Website and leave a comment.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Due to a limited amount of time only 5 patients will be giving live testimony. However, since there are literally thousands of patients who use medical marijuana in Alabama and tens of thousands more who would benefit from medical marijuana, ACC is soliciting written testimonies from other medical marijuana patients, which will be presented to the members of the House Judiciary Committee.
If you would like to provide a written testimony about your use of medical marijuana please do so as soon as possible. All you need to do is tell your story in your own words. Please be sure to include your medical condition, how long you have had the medical condition, what medications you have been prescribed, whether or not those medications worked, any side effects you experienced, how much the medications cost, why you decided to try medical marijuana, how marijuana has worked for you, what dangers you face in trying to acquire it and why you think it should be legal for medical use.
Please email all written testimonies to me at firstname.lastname@example.org . Please include your contact information.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
If you are one of the patients that's been asked to give testimony before the committee then I would prefer that you be in Montgomery on Tuesday evening to avoid any possible delays. ACC will cover your room, food, and travel expenses. If you can pitch in that would be great, too. Please send a personal email to email@example.com to find out where we will be staying. Due to budget constraints there will be multiple people per hotel room. Bring a sleeping bag in case you need it.
Please dress appropriately. ACC recommends that you don your Sunday best or business casual (slacks/skirt) attire. We will have t-shirts available, which can be worn over your clothes, if you so choose, for the press conference and committee meeting.
We will also have some signs available for the press conference.
If you have not already done so please contact the members of the Judiciary Committee and ask them to support this bill.
Monday, March 29, 2010
I'm afraid I have some very discouraging news to share with all of you.
I mentioned at our meeting on Saturday that our bill HB642 was not listed on this week's judiciary calendar. I noted that one bill was listed twice and that our bill not being listed was possibly a mistake. Last night Rep. Todd told me that we didn't make the cut for this week's calendar. There is only one more committee meeting day left after Wednesday.
It is possible that the bill listed twice will be corrected and ours could be added. However, since I will not know for sure until Tuesday, I have canceled the hotel reservations I made for Tuesday so that I would not lose $600 or so I had spent to reserve rooms for everyone planning to make the trip on Tuesday.
DO NOT COME TO MONTGOMERY ON TUESDAY.
If anything changes and we get placed on this week's calendar we will post that information on our website, Facebook, Yahoo, and send it out to the email list. Please check the website, Facebook, Yahoo, or your email frequently between now and Tuesday evening.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
When you call you may or may not get the member on the phone. If you get the member on the phone introduce yourself. If you are a patient then tell them what your condition is, what medications you have taken, how they affected your quality of life, how marijuana helps your condition and the dangerous things you have to go through to get it. Tell them you shouldn't have to risk your family, property and freedom in order to treat your medical condition. Tell them that 14 other states and DC have medical marijuana laws, but, because you live in Alabama, you are treated as a criminal as opposed to a patient. Tell them that geographic location should never determine criminality and that patients in Alabama deserve the same level of protection as patients in the 14 states where medical marijuana has been passed. Ask them to please vote YES on HB642. Please write down what they say and send it to me.
If you get the main desk at the State House leave a message asking for the judiciary committee member to support HB642 and to please return your call.
Also, take a moment and send an email to the members listed below.
"Camjulward@aol.com" , (334) 242-7750
firstname.lastname@example.org, (334) 242-7723
email@example.com, (334) 242-7719
firstname.lastname@example.org, (334) 242-7740
email@example.com, (334) 242-4460
firstname.lastname@example.org, (334) 242-7667
Tammy.Irons@alhouse.org, (334) 353-9032
email@example.com, (334) 242-7711
firstname.lastname@example.org, (334) 242-7688
email@example.com , (334) 242-7703
firstname.lastname@example.org, (334) 242-7728
email@example.com (334) 242-4368
Monday, March 15, 2010
Members of Alabamians for Compassionate Care will hold a press conference on the steps of the Alabama State House that morning at 8 a.m. where we will be joined by our bill sponsor Rep. Patricia Todd to discuss the bill and hear from some of the patients whose lives are adversely affected by the lack of a medical marijuana law in Alabama.
Beginning on March 23rd we will begin calling and visiting with members of the House Judiciary committee to ask for their support of this bill. House Judiciary Committee contact information is HERE. Simply click the name and you will be taken to that member's page. I will be providing a sample script as time draws closer.
If you support medical marijuana in Alabama then BE THERE on March 31!!!!! We hope to pack out the committee room and have an overflow crowd. The more people who show up the more legislators realize this is a serious issue with a lot of support from all segments of Alabama society. If you need gas money to get there let us know. If you need a ride from your area of the state let us know so that we can try to arrange one for you. ACC members will be out front and easily identifiable by our ACC t-shirts.
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us either by email or phone. Our contact information is HERE.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
It's True: Marijuana Helps
Go read it at the link and leave a comment on the Press Register site. Then, write a letter of your own in response to Sam's.
Many thanks to the Mobile Press Register for running Sam's letter on a Sunday, for giving it such a great title and, most importantly, for treating it as an OpEd as opposed to a general LTE.
Way to go Sam Barksdale!!!
Tuesday, March 02, 2010
This Thursday March 4, 2010 at 7:30 pm The University of South Alabama is sponsoring the annual face off between High Times Editor Steve Hager and DEA agent Robert Stutman. Mr. Hager and Mr. Stutman will debate the pros and cos of marijuana.
This event is called Heads vs. Feds.
Members of Alabamians for Compassionate Care, including yours truly, will be attending and disseminating information on the Michael Phillips Compassionate Care Act which is set to come before the Judiciary Committee the week of March 22.
More information about the event can be found HERE.
If you plan to attend and would like to help ACC hand out info or if you are in the central part of Alabama and need a ride down please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Christie O'Brien at email@example.com
Alabamians for Compassionate Care
Monday, March 01, 2010
Friday, February 26, 2010
Many, many thanks to Uncle Henry for having me on for the entire hour this morning and for being such a great host. I look forward to the next time.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
HOW TO GET INVOLVED:
1) Contact Executive Director Loretta Nall (me) at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 256-625-9599, or Outreach Coordinator Christie O'Brien at email@example.com or by calling 205-907-6131.
2) Visit us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ho
3) Join our discussion group at http://health.groups.yahoo
4) Call/write/visit your member of the Alabama House or Representatives and ask for their support of the medical marijuana bill. If you are unsure of who your representative is in Montgomery please go to this link http://www.legislature.sta
5) Talk to friends family and co-workers about this issue
6) Write letters to the editors of Alabama newspapers. The media in Alabama is very supportive of medical marijuana.
7) Help us recruit more medical professionals and clergy for the medical marijuana cause in Alabama.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Friday, February 12, 2010
Dear Friends and Supporters of Medical Marijuana in Alabama,
On Feb. 13, 2010 beginning at 1 p.m. members of Alabamians for Compassionate Care will kick off International Medical Marijuana Week with a celebration in Birmingham, Alabama with a pot luck dinner, fellowship, speakers and a short demonstration. If you plan to attend please bring a covered dish to share with other attendees. Later on we plan to have individual patients tell their stories about why they use medical marijuana, what they have to endure to get their medicine and how such obstacles have negatively impacted their lives. We will conclude our event by marching from 2330 Highland Ave. down to the fountain at 5 Points South and the back to the Hwy 280 overpass. Please make and bring signs about medical marijuana. Possible slogans include
I am a PATIENT not a criminal
My other medicine is addictive
STOP ARRESTING PATIENTS
MAKE MEDICAL MARIJUANA LEGAL
Please feel free to make up your own sign slogans so long as they have to do with medical marijuana.
The address of our celebration is
2330 Highland Ave. South (on Southside)
This location is right next to Caldwell Park. Should our group become too large for the location we have selected we can and will spill over into the park, weather permitting.
Load your cars and trucks up with as many people as you can find and we look forward to seeing you there.
If you have questions or need further information please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also contact our Outreach coordinator Christie O'Brien at 205-907-6131 email@example.com or by contacting our Web Coordinator Penny Vaughan at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, February 11, 2010
If you plan to attend the Alabamians for Compassionate Care rally on Feb. 13 in Birmingham here are a few (strong) suggestions.
The media will be in attendance. PLEASE DO NOT WEAR ANYTHING TYE DYE or anything else that can be associated with what the media likes to portray as dope smoking hippies. Wear normal, everyday clothes. No peace signs. No pot leaves. Sunday best is an option just make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes for the short walk to the fountain at 5 Points South and back to . Remember, each and every one of you that participates will be the face of this movement. We are normal, everyday, hard working people and that is the image we want the rest of Alabama to become accustomed to when thinking about medical marijuana and the people who use it. So again, no tye dye, no peace signs, no Bob Marley, no pot leaves.
Also: It will be VERY cold on Saturday. Snow is expected on Friday and if it does snow then the event may be postponed until Feb. 20. Same time, same place. If the event isn't postponed please dress warmly. Much of this event will take place outside and 42 degrees is cold. Coats, scarves and gloves are in order. Please dress accordingly.
If you would like to be one of the patients that is interviewed by the media then email me right away at email@example.com so I can coach you on what to say and what not to say.
The Right to Choose from a guy in
I’m responding to the outstanding letter about the from writer Penny Vaughn of Lineville. I’d like to add that one of the medications prescribed by my personal physician for my arthritis pain and inflammation has the rare potential side effect of death. In other words, if I take this medication as prescribed, I can die as a result.
For me, marijuana is the more effective medication. Right now, if adult citizens opt for the safer and more effective medication, they are subject to arrest and being sent to jail with violent criminals.
Is something wrong with this situation? I think so. Shouldn’t adults have the freedom to choose what goes into their own bodies in the privacy of their own homes?
Monday, February 08, 2010
Christie O'Brien and Don Seibold both had excellent letters published in
Alabama papers today. You can read them at the following links. Please
take a moment and write a response to the letters in the Anniston Star
and Birmingham News as well as leave comments on those websites.
Thanks, ACC Staff
Wednesday, February 03, 2010
On Feb. 13, 2010 beginning at 1 p.m. members of Alabamians for Compassionate Care/Alabama NORML will kick off International Medical Marijuana Awareness Week with a celebration in Birmingham, Alabama with a pot luck dinner, fellowship, speakers and a short demonstration. If you plan to attend please bring a dish (preferred dishes: Finger Foods/Munchies) to share with other attendees; drinks will be provided. Later on we plan to have individual patients tell their stories about why they use medical marijuana, what they have to endure to get their medicine and how such obstacles have negatively impacted their lives. We will conclude our event by marching from 2330 Highland Ave. down to the fountain at 5 Points South and the back to the Hwy 280 overpass. Please make and bring signs about medical marijuana. Possible slogans include:
I am a PATIENT not a criminal
My other medicine is addictive
STOP ARRESTING PATIENTS
MAKE MEDICAL MARIJUANA LEGAL
Please feel free to make up your own sign slogans so long as they have to do with medical marijuana.
The address of our celebration is:
2330 Highland Ave. South (on Southside), Birmingham, AL 35205
This location is right next to Caldwell Park. Should our group become too large for the location we have selected we can and will spill over into the park, weather permitting.
Load your cars and trucks up with as many people as you can find and we look forward to seeing you there.
If you have questions or need further information please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also contact our Outreach coordinator Christie O'Brien at 205-907-6131/ email@example.com or by contacting our Web Coordinator Penny Vaughan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, January 29, 2010
Studies have shown that marijuana relieves debilitating symptoms including nausea, appetite loss and severe pain. I have been a chronic pain patient since 2002, following a failed back surgery.
In my case the doctors prescribed fentynal and hydrocodone, both of which are very addictive opiates that have serious adverse side effects and may even cause death. Many otherwise illegal substances, such as Oxycontin and morphine, can legally be prescribed by doctors. The same should be true for marijuana, which is less dangerous and addictive than any of these substances.
Medical marijuana would be a wonderful alternative for someone like me. However, since it is not yet legal in my home state of Alabama, I must become a criminal if I choose to use cannabis to alleviate my symptoms.
I strongly believe the decision of what medicine is best for an illness should be left up to the patient and the doctor, not to police and prosecutors. Our state should use tax money to prosecute violent crime, not punish medical marijuana users.The Michael Phillips Compassionate Care Act is set to go before the House of Representatives this session. This bill will protect physicians who recommend medical marijuana (cannabis) for their patients, and protect patients who use it.
A medical marijuana bill (HB 207) is before the Alabama Legislature. Each year, it seems we have a bill introduced that could drastically transform Alabama patients' lives. It gets moved to a committee, where it sits ignored throughout the legislative session and dies....
Almost 30 percent of the country has adopted medical marijuana legislation giving residents the option of using marijuana as medicine under their doctor's care.
People hear the word "marijuana" and immediately get images in their heads of a group of hippies dancing in a circle smoking pot. That is not what this bill is about.
As a chronic pain sufferer, I am prescribed the legal equivalent of heroin (OxyContin). This product is very addictive and comes with a multitude of possible side effects, including death. Marijuana has proved to be a safe and useful alternative to my prescribed medications.
Wherever you stand on the issue of drugs, it makes no sense to allow Alabamians who could benefit from this medicine to suffer or become addicted to the narcotic pain prescriptions being handed out freely.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
January 24, 2010, 5:33AMBy Loretta Nall
According to a recent Pride Survey, Alabama teens are more likely than teens in the rest of the country to have recently used drugs, especially marijuana. These survey results expose a truth that's becoming harder to hide: Alabama's war on drugs is failing our youths and our communities.
Our current approach to drug policy is a distortion of our priorities: We invest more to incarcerate people for nonviolent drug offenses than we invest to educate our children. Every year, our elected officials spend $132 million just to warehouse drug users in our prison system. That's $15,223 in tax money spent for every drug prisoner. However, we spend only about $9,000 per pupil for education. The disastrous consequences of this policy are evident as Alabama continually ranks near the bottom nationally in education.
But we rank at the top of the class in prison overcrowding and a broken criminal justice system. Alabama has the harshest punishments in the country for minor marijuana offenses, paralyzing our courts with a flood of marijuana offenders. Our prison system is notoriously overcrowded, in large part because of incarcerating people for nonviolent drug offenses. According to the Alabama Sentencing Commission, nearly 30 percent of our prison population is behind bars because of low-level drug offenses.
And yet, none of these disastrous drug policies are keeping drugs out of the hands of young people. In fact, Alabama teens are using more marijuana than teens who live in states where medical marijuana is legal and in states where the penalties for marijuana are much less severe. That's because prohibition makes it easier for any child who wants to experiment with drugs to acquire them.
Some argue that if we legalize marijuana, then kids everywhere will be able to get it. But that is the current reality in the illegal, unregulated market. On the black market, any kid who wants to experiment with drugs can obtain them. There are no well-lit storefronts with clerks to check ID, and drug dealers don't ask for ID. The very policies we enforce are putting our children in greater peril. As a parent, that deeply concerns me.
Even when Alabama's drug policies improve, we, as parents, will always want effective strategies to keep our kids safe. Unfortunately, the "Just say no" approach is not enough -- we've used that approach for nearly 30 years, and even today drug use by teens is on the rise.
One alternative approach, employed by parent-teacher organizations in other parts of the United States, is Safety 1st, a comprehensive, reality-based approach to teen drug use that encourages abstinence while acknowledging the fact that not all kids will listen to or follow the abstinence-based approach.
No parent wants her child to use drugs. We, as parents, want our kids to grow up safe, but they often experiment and do dumb things. When they do, we need them to be honest with us so we can keep them safe. It's OK to tell children to not do drugs, but we should also tell them: If you do, please don't drive home; call me so I can get you, or, if you use drugs, let's talk about it first so you can be as safe as possible.
That may sound crazy until one considers what happens to teens who use drugs in an unsafe manner. They die. That's why Safety 1st and other models that emphasize honesty are so important. (For more information on the Safety 1st model, please visit www.safety1st.org.)
It doesn't matter whether you love drugs, hate drugs or don't care about drugs at all, the drug war is a failure. It's time to take a new approach to drug policy in Alabama. Through educational campaigns, alcohol and tobacco consumption rates have declined among teens in Alabama without resorting to locking up everyone who uses alcohol or tobacco. We need an approach that focuses on health and safety and not on incarceration.
Marijuana needs to be legalized to better keep it out of the hands of children. The $132 million we spend annually to lock up nonviolent drug offenders, even though it does not prevent others from using drugs, could be redirected to education, where it is desperately needed. Some of the tax revenues generated from the sale of marijuana to adults could also be earmarked for education.
Marijuana will never be eradicated, no matter how many people we lock up or how many millions of dollars we waste year after year in pursuit of that unobtainable goal. Staying the course on this clearly failed policy can no longer be justified at the very high cost of our children's education and, sometimes, their lives.
Loretta Nall is an Alabama parent and director of Alabamians for Compassionate Care. E-mail: email@example.com
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Also, Rep. Mac Gipson's bill HB194'>http://alisondb.legislature.state.al.us/acas/searchableinstruments/2010rs/bills/hb194.htm">HB194 which would allow the in any Alabama county to stand down the feds at the county line also passed out of Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. Again, thanks to those of you who wrote, called or visited on behalf of this bill.
I have to say that the House Judiciary Committee is off to a great start this session. Here's hoping they keep it up throughout the session.
Friday, January 22, 2010
Again this year, a medical marijuana bill (HB 207) is before the Alabama Legislature. Year in and year out, it seems we have a bill introduced that could drastically transform Alabama patients' lives.
That bill, in turn, usually gets moved to committee, where it sits ignored throughout the session and dies. There are now 14 states, as well as the District of Columbia (near 30 percent of the country), that have adopted medical marijuana legislation and given their residents the option of using marijuana as medicine under their doctor's care.
People hear the word "marijuana" and immediately get images in their head of poorly groomed individuals wearing tie-dyed T-shirts dancing in a circle and smoking pot. Let me assure you that is not what this bill is about.
As a chronic pain sufferer, I am prescribed the legal equivalent of heroin (Oxycontin). This product is evil and very addictive and comes with a multitude of possible side effects, including death. Marijuana has proven to be a safe and useful alternative to my prescribed medications, and the side effects are getting hungry, a dry mouth, feeling well and sometimes getting a little sleepy. Those are side effects I can live with.
No matter where you stand on the issue of "drugs," it makes no sense to allow Alabamians who could benefit from this medicine to suffer. Suffer or become addicted to the narcotic pain prescriptions being handed out freely.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Monday, January 18, 2010
Dear Member of the House Judiciary Committee,
I am writing today to ask for your support of HB214, which would allow those convicted of felony drug charges, who have served their time in prison, to be eligible for food stamps and TANF. Currently, under federal law, those convicted of drug offenses are the only persons denied food assistance. Child molesters, murderers and rapists are eligible for food assistance upon release from prison but not someone whose crime involved taking a substance and not harming anyone else in the process.
When the laws keep people starving it raises the chances that they will resort to crime to in order to simply survive. If that happens they will go back to prison where it will cost taxpayers far more to house them for one year than it would have if we had enabled them to eat to begin with. This law also adversely affects children. Children have no control over what their parents might do, but under current law, they too, are denied food if their parents can't get state assistance while they struggle with reentry and readjustment to society after spending time in prison.
Please do the compassionate, humane, Christian thing and pass this bill.
Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter.
Alabamians for Compassionate Care
Dear ACC Members,
The 2010 Alabama Legislative Session officially began on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2010. Now it is time for us to get busy making contact and asking our elected officials to support our legislation that will protect patients and doctors from prosecution under state law for using or recommending medical marijuana. At this time we would like all of you in Alabama to find your state representative and call them, and if possible, set up a face to face meeting with them to ask for their support. If you don't know who your elected member in the House is please go here , look on the left side of the page and enter your zip code. That will bring up the page of your elected official which will contain their phone numbers. Some also have email addresses listed and they all have alhouse.gov email accounts. Emails are too easy to dismiss out of hand without ever reading. My advice to you is to pick up the phone and call, tell your story and make an appointment to site down face to face with your elected official. The more they see your face the more real this issue becomes for them and the harder it gets for them to label you a pot head.
A script you might want to use follows.
Hello Rep. _________ My Name is _________and I am a ______(insert illness or condition here) patient who uses medical marijuana to ease my suffering. This year a medical marijuana bill will be making its way through the Alabama House and I would like your support. Where do you stand on this issue?
Try to engage them in discussion. Ask them if you can send them some information about this issue. Ask for a time to meet them face to face either in Montgomery or in their home district.
Important things to remember:
No matter how angry a Rep's answer might make you ALWAYS REMAIN POLITE
Never lie. If you don't know the answer to a question tell them you aren't sure but will get back to them after you find out.
Always address them as Rep. or Representative (ie Rep. Todd or Representative Todd)
Thank them for their time even if you feel the meeting or phone call was unproductive.
After you talk with or visit your rep in person please do a write up and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org so that I will be able to better track where legislators responses and know where we are in terms of who supports this bill and who doesn't.
Do not call the members of the House Judiciary Committee yet. We will make contact with them as it gets closer to time to drop the bill.
Please contact us if you have any questions.
Alabamians for Compassionate Care
Alabamians for Compassionate Care