Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?

Our mission is to reverse the trend of mass incarceration in Colorado. We are a coalition of nearly 7,000 individual members and over 100 faith and community organizations who have united to stop perpetual prison expansion in Colorado through policy and sentence reform.

Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.

If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Medical-marijuana: Patients clouded in controversy - The Denver Post

Medical-marijuana: Patients clouded in controversy - The Denver Post

The feeling begins as a ripple, nothing more, somewhere deep in her stomach. Quickly, though, comes another. Then another. Soon Deana Martinez's stomach is convulsing, and the whole of her day now hinges on the next moments.

If she vomits, she might not eat for the next 24 hours. She might not even leave the bathroom for much of it. She's 119 pounds. The medications she's taking — 15 different kinds, 25 pills a day to treat her advanced AIDS, her intestinal tie-ups, her constant pain after 21 surgeries — don't work if she can't keep them down.

So she reaches for a glass pipe packed with marijuana, flicks a lighter and inhales deeply.

And that is how Martinez now begins nearly every morning of her life.

"When I smoke," she said, "I stop gagging immediately."

"If I don't medicate right away, I'm puking."

In 2000, stories like Martinez's sold Colorado voters on approving marijuana for use as a medical treatment for certain conditions, including HIV. And for a decade, that's largely how the drug was used.

But in the past year, the number of people legally allowed to use marijuana in the state shot from about 10,000 to more than 90,000 — with 650 new applications and renewals received each day at the state health department.

And most are not like Martinez.

The statistically average patient is male — three-quarters of medical-marijuana patients are, according to the most recently available figures — about 40 years old, living in the Denver metro area and said on his application that he suffers from severe pain. Ninety-two percent of patients listed that catch-all condition — severe pain — as at least one of their reasons for seeking marijuana.

Many within that group use marijuana to treat medical conditions for which more conventional — and more researched — treatments exist. Marijuana works better, they say. They like the idea of naturally grown medicine. They distrust the motives of the pharmaceutical companies and the medical industry in general.

"I know the grower, generally; I know what goes into it," said Naresh Chandranatha, a 20-year-old medical-marijuana patient who said he suffers from Crohn's disease and migraine headaches, neither of which are specifically mentioned on the list of conditions for which Colorado allows marijuana as treatment, but both of which fall in the "severe pain" category. "I would be wary of taking something from a pharmaceutical company that isn't grown naturally."

In some cases, patients may see the dispensary as supplanting traditional health care, while others see the two as working hand-in-hand. And some embrace the new science of marijuana, while others rely on the tribal knowledge of dispensary workers — budtenders, in industry parlance — to guide them to what they hope works best.

"I do usually ask when I go there what's the flavor of the day," medical-marijuana patient Michael Boling said. "And they usually point me to the strongest thing they have."

That is not to say Boling doesn't see himself as an informed patient.

Like many patients, he varies his use between energy-boosting strains in the morning and sleep-inducing ones at night. He eats a marijuana-infused brownie or candy bar when he's looking for long-lasting effects, and he smokes when he's in search of a quicker onset.

1 comment:

sunflowerpipes.com said...

Glass pipes and bongs are not the problem. The problem is a drug policy that is illogical and harmful to the population. The prohibition of marijuana brings with it terrible consequences not the least of which are a major drug war in Mexico that is poised to spill over the border.