Lynch drove me out of state

Last modified: 5/25/2012 12:00:00 AM
It was a tragedy for me and my family when Gov. John Lynch vetoed the medical marijuana bill in 2009. When an effort to override the veto passed the House but failed by two votes in the Senate, my hopes for a healthy future in New Hampshire were crushed.

Sixteen states plus the District of Columbia now offer legal protection for patients if their doctors recommend marijuana. Connecticut is on the verge of becoming the 17th state. Sadly, patients whose doctors recommend marijuana in New Hampshire have no choice but to sneak around, buying from the black market and living in constant fear of arrest.

I can attest to that fear. And now that I have moved from Manchester to Vermont, I can attest to the much more beneficial alternative, which is peace of mind. Legislators and Lynch should consider my story before casting final judgment on SB 409.

I am a U.S. Army combat veteran (1971-73). I then worked as a sheet metal man for almost 15 years, but one day back in 1987 I crushed my back at work. After two failed back surgeries, I was left with severe, debilitating pain.

Doctors have prescribed every prescription pain killer you can name, and in 2009, at age 57, I was taking more than 20 pills a day. I was in so much pain that I was rarely able to leave the house. The only way I could endure the pain was to keep swallowing the pills.

But I hated the pills. I kept needing more and more of them, and they turned me into a zombie. I was afraid my wife was going to leave me. My life seemed like it was going down the tubes.

One option that never occurred to me was medical marijuana, so imagine my shock when my doctor suggested it. He told me about the law that was being considered in the Legislature, and he said marijuana might make it possible for me to take fewer pills and become more active.

I was amazed at this advice, but since nothing else was working, what did I have to lose? Well, only my freedom, I guessed.

Anyway, it seemed worth the risk, so I made a few calls and found somebody who could get me some marijuana.

When I tried it, I couldn't believe how much better it made me feel. For the first time in years, I was able to sleep more than four hours at a time!

I began using it daily, despite my fear of being arrested, and I quickly found that I was able to take fewer pills. Given how toxic those pills are, this was a major victory in itself. Unfortunately, Lynch vetoed the bill, and the override effort fell short by a mere two votes.

With no choice but to continue using medical marijuana, I found a small apartment in Vermont. Several months later, my wife found a job nearby and was able to join me, although she had to take a significant pay cut to do so, and she was very sad to move away from her family.

On the positive side, I now have a small, legal, indoor garden that provides me with a consistent supply of medical marijuana, and I don't have to live in fear of my state or local police. Most amazingly, I'm now down to two pills a day, one in the morning and one in the evening, and my ability to get around has improved dramatically!

So it's not an exaggeration for me to say that Lynch drove me and my wife out of New Hampshire. If Lynch manages to kill the medical marijuana bill again in 2012, he'll be killing the hopes of many patients in New Hampshire, and he'll also be making it impossible for my wife and me to move back home where we belong.

(Ronald Mitchell lives in White River Junction, Vt.)


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