For many, many years, my constant pain was under-treated — yet over-treated with invasive, painful, and expensive treatments, like surgery and cortisone injections, along with useless drug therapies like antidepressants and anticonvulsants.

I don’t think I would have been desperate enough to try surgery if there had been any other treatment options available. At that time, opioid therapy wasn’t available, especially before I tried surgery.

These “treatments” caused my pain levels to become intractable, and I became disabled before I turned 50. After 10 years on opioid therapy, access became more and more difficult, until I was basically forced into a sudden detox. I thought I was going to die, and almost tried to commit suicide. After being forced into a mental hospital for a week, a year later, I was eventually able to save up enough money to move to a state that has a medical cannabis program.

I am a drug war victim because I have been an intractable pain patient for almost 30 years. And I am a drug war survivor because I was finally able to access medical cannabis.

But I can’t help thinking that if I had been able to consistently and legally access medical cannabis before my pain reached intractable levels, would I still be disabled now? If I had been able to access cannabis 20 years ago, would my pain levels be so high today?

Johnna Stahl
Albuquerque, NM

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