News Politics

Cannabis Crisis

The author (Gina Emanuel). Photo by Angel McWhirter.
The author (Gina Emanuel). Photo by Angel McWhirter.

Ginamarie Emanuel, 52, is the co-Chair of the King County Democrats Committee on disabilities in Seattle, which has not yet voted on these issues. These are her experiences and recommendations.

I feel myself the man condemned, who will hang at dawn, waiting, waiting, waiting, for the Governor’s pardon. Each day I wake up. Each day my first thought is the same. Yesterday morning I said: “I have seven more days of normative consciousness”. This morning, my first thought again: “I have six more days of normative consciousness”. Soon, so soon, the day will come when I say: “This is my last day of normative consciousness”. Then I think of the next day: “There is no more medicine. This is the first day that I begin to go mad.”

On the 21st of September, the ill and disabled people of Eugene, Oregon, anticipating a change in their cannabis laws on October 1 as ours changed on July 1, knowing what happened to us, dashed from shop to shop, pulling inflated high dose products off the shelves in polite but desperate struggle. I was there illegally. An Oregon patient was using their prescription to get medicine to save my life. In the end I held a worthless, unspent $1200 in my hand. I clutched also the fifteen days of sanity I had won in battle. Shaking my head in wry despair, I thought of an old joke from the Hood which was not ever, ever, supposed to really come true: “Weed will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no weed.”

 I have intractable pain, a qualifying condition under Washington State law. I also have bipolar disorder with a rare complication in which all neuroleptics, atypicals and mood stabilizers trigger hours long seizurelike events. This leaves only high dose high THC Indica oil for adequate mood stabilization. I’m Sativa adverse reactive—no hybrids, no Sativas! When I had less medicine in the weeks of shortage leading up to July 1 and then no medicine for twelve days afterwards, I went mad. I had not gone mad in years because I am extremely disciplined about all meds. I encourage people who can take pharmaceuticals for bipolar disorder to do so. My extremely rare complication is no reason to avoid Psychiatric medication! It works well for most people.

July 12th a stranger appeared at my door with a gift of somewhat less than three months of medicine, buying time to try to solve my problem. I have tried mightily. On the morning of October 9th I will be out. I will begin to lose my mind. My emotional presence for vulnerable young loved ones and my elderly father will be impaired. The witness self inside my mind will see the embarrassing, outrageous, often public behavior, and the unkind responses of others to it, but be unable to control it. I will be an untreated mentally ill person in need of life saving throat surgery. Persons not of sound mind may not consent to major surgery. We are also not typically considered for such surgery. We are thought of as poor surgical risks due to our supposed inability to follow instructions, make lifestyle changes, etc. So. I am likely to die sooner rather than later of an aspirational event, aspiration pneumonia, or another complex complication of not getting surgery.

The dispensaries closed. We were directed to the rec stores instead. We found to our horror that the prices were fully five times what the dispensaries had charged. It doesn’t matter that patients don’t have to pay taxes on medicine. It nevertheless is prohibitive, in short supply, and cannot be gotten in convenient forms. Prices have since fluctuated between a low of three times, a rebound of four and one half times, currently at three and one half times dispensary prices today. Previously, I and most high dose patients paid for our oil with community sponsors, but sponsors cannot pay a price so dear.

I previously paid $8.40 per 100mg. THC. The price is now $30 per100mg in Washington, $25 in Colorado, rising drastically soon in Oregon, and likely to go up in California, a medicinal only State, after a vote on recreational regulation in the General Election. Trim from which to make the oil itself costs $50 an ounce for hybrid, yielding seven to ten days of oil for a patient taking 400mgs a day. This would be fine, but pure medicinal strain trim is virtually unavailable and very expensive. In two months I received quotes for only two ounces. One ounce was $140 and the other was $300. That’s $500 to $1200 a month to make enough oil for me, if there were more than two bags to be had in two months, but there weren’t.

If I do get the medicine, I will be eligible for surgery. I may live another twenty years. I will be there for my Family and loved ones. I will resume my duties at the disAbilities Committee. I will work for the Committee, for the Organization, and most of all indeed for the thousands of cannabis patients like myself who are suffering and dying now. I will lobby our Committee to make this issue a top priority, and our larger organization to support that goal. If for some reason that should fail, I will nevertheless work many, many hours, a skilled veteran of multiple campaigns, for whoever seems most likely to succeed in ending this misery. I will work and work for my own organization or another and you need pay me not a penny, but someone, for the love of God, pay me! Pay me, pay me, pay me! Pay me in precious Indica oil! Little Tom Tucker sings for his supper, but what of those who cannot sing?

If I do get my medicine, it will be because of skill and privilege and education and who I know. I possess these things. Patient X does not. Who is Patient X? Patient X is the person who will die because I ate their medicine during a price gouging crisis. So. In my work I must save two lives for the one I take.

This will, however, be cold, hard comfort to the loving Family of Patient X, Anonymous: gender, race, religion, age all unknown—possibly a child. Patient X, whose Family will weep beside their small and unmarked grave—how little comfort it will be to them that I have received my medicine!

This is not only about me, not only about Patient X, not only about all the patients in the ostensibly legal States, suffering and dying now, but also about all of the people who lived and still live under prohibition, who never tasted nor will ever taste the medicine. It is also about them, and not only about them, but also about the many other thousands, many of them people of color, who rotted and died in prison and still do, bravely bringing us the medicine.

I recommend the legal approaches of heavy legislative lobbying and boycotting recreational stores. I recommend the illegal approach of every able bodied citizen having no dependents who would be harmed by their loss of liberty beginning a Victory Garden, growing pure Indica, Sativa and high CBD medicinal strains. Oil from these strains can be given to patients. Also, the black market is uselessly hybridized. Flooding it with medicinal strains will force prices down.
I’m a Party hack and no king, nevertheless in want only of a horseshoe nail:

“For want of the nail, the horseshoe was lost, for want of the horseshoe the horse was lost, for want of the horse, the rider was lost, for want of the rider, the king was lost, for want of the king, the kingdom was lost, and all for the want of a horseshoe nail.”