Last month many Georgians celebrated another limited victory along the path to legalization. That victory came when governor Brian Kemp signed into law a bill allowing the sale of low THC oil to medical marijuana patients within the state of Georgia. Since 2015, a limited number of patients have been able to legally possess the oil; however, the patients risked federal prosecution for drug trafficking because they had to cross state lines in order to legally purchase it. The new law allows two local universities to cultivate cannabis and pharmacies to distribute it by prescription only.
I first read this news on Facebook when two of my real-world friends posted pictures of themselves standing beside Governor Kemp as he signed. Last year, I had joined each of them at the Capitol myself. This year, I was sitting in an armchair at a clinic in Marietta, my arm connected to an IV filled with a high dose of vitamin C. The infusion is intended to help my body fight cancer and better withstand the side effects of more aggressive therapies if I use them later. Another natural substance, also generally regarded as a cancer fighter and reliever of chemo and radiation’s side effects, is cannabis.
While I am free to visit my clinic weekly for day-long vitamin C infusions, I do not qualify to legally receive any form of cannabis as a treatment in Georgia. For that to happen, I would need to present with advanced stages of cancer, or I would have to elect to receive chemotherapy or radiation and then have a series of adverse responses. Instead, my focus is on removing my tumor and then proactively using natural means to halt or reverse any other cancerous growth throughout my body.
The way Georgia approaches using cannabis for cancer care reflects a bigger problem within the healthcare industry as a whole. Specifically: Patient choice takes a backseat to doctors’ mandates. Treatment trumps prevention. And, incrementally extending one’s length of life is favored over increasing one’s quality of life.
Cancer takes multiple forms, and the triggers for its proliferation are found within the chemicals we use, the foods we consume and the stresses we allow into our lives. After discovering the tumor within my left breast, my approach to my health has changed:
- I’ve developed a much stronger sense of the connection between my mind and my body.
- I’ve become hyper aware of the degree to which increased quality of life itself can increase length of life — or, at least the number of days we feel fully alive.
- I’ve become aware that targeted treatments do little long term unless preventing toxicity within one’s body and mind is also addressed.
- I’ve become more aware of how important choice is — not just to me as a patient, but to me as a person too.
Finally, I’ve been given a new chance to practice accepting myself as I am.
I hope to see cannabis reform, and healthcare as a whole, become more centered on choice, quality of life and balanced approaches to the prevention of illness. However, I am not among the activists who are lamenting Georgia’s new laws due to their shortsightedness or the way they eradicated a loophole from the 1980s which allowed for more extensive use of medical marijuana.
Instead, I’m among those who accept where we are and then strive to do better.