When it comes to cannabis, that’s exactly what many people have been forced to do. Nearly 101,000 people moved to Denver in 2015 alone, according to the Denver Post, and while all those moves can’t be directly related to legal marijuana, some can.
When MoveBuddha, a moving assistance and technology website, talked to 1,500 families about why they were moving to states where recreational pot is legal, nearly five percent of people mentioned legal cannabis. And though that data might not seem shocking, consider this: MoveBuddha didn’t ask about marijuana, these customers mentioned it unprompted. So, how many more people may have mentioned cannabis if they were asked about it?
Dwayne Tayrien and Pamela Jacobsen are two such individuals. They had no choice but to move to gain access to the marijuana they needed—it was either that or live half lives.
For Kansas resident Pamela, it all started in 2010 when doctors discovered a squamous cell carcinoma on her Bartholin Gland and threw her into seven long weeks of chemotherapy and radiation. “I was taken from young and healthy to feeling like near death,” she described.
And even though, in the end, she beat the cancer; that wasn’t the end of her painful journey. Over the next year, Pamela began to experience severe pain that baffled doctors. It wasn’t until after multiple emergency room visits and dropping forty pounds that they finally discovered the problem: her life-saving cancer treatments had destroyed her body.
Forty surgeries later, the doctors told Pamela that there was nothing more they could do. She had to live with the pain. Her only option: to self-medicate.
“I watched my life fall apart, knowing that I wasn’t in control of anything,” Pamela remembered. “So, to save my life, I packed up and left everything and everyone I know and love and went in search of a cure.”
Eventually, she found her way to Denver, Colorado and medical marijuana.
At first, Pamela regularly took the 600-mile drive back and forth between Kansas and Colorado to medicate, but after getting detained in Kansas—where marijuana is illegal— for possession, that was no longer an option. Now, she permanently lives in Colorado to have access to a high THC and CBD regimen of cannabis oil for her pain.
“My surgeons here are amazed at the difference in my tests since starting cannabis, and they have to admit it is working,” shared Pamela. “Now, I am slowly weaning off of my pharmaceuticals, and I’m better than I’ve been in a long time.”
Dwayne has a similar story. He was living in Oklahoma when he was diagnosed with Primary Generalized Dystonia, a neurological movement disorder that causes myoclonus, or sudden muscle contractions: twitches, jerks or seizures.
Since marijuana wasn’t an option in his state, he had to treat his condition with muscle relaxers, painkillers and anti-seizure medications. Unfortunately, these didn’t help as much as they hurt.
“My conditioned worsened, and my mind was left in a near-constant haze from the medications,” described Dwayne. “The final straw was when my doctor prescribed sixteen muscle relaxers a day and advised me to pray to my God. At that moment, I knew something had to change.”
But it would take a year for Dwayne to find the answer. It wasn’t until he went to a Native American Indian Health Center that a doctor recommended medical marijuana and Dwayne decided to give it a try despite his skepticism.
“What I felt the first time I consumed cannabis was something that I had been desperately searching for: I found relief from my medical symptoms,” said Dwayne. “I can confidently say that it gave me my life back.”
For three years, Dwayne dove from Oklahoma to Denver to purchase his medication. Unfortunately, his cure didn’t come without problems. “It was a 20-23 hour drive filled full of paranoia and fear of being caught,” explained Dwayne. And even when he wasn’t caught, it still meant that his family no longer spoke to him because they didn’t agree with his choices.
Eventually, the constant travel became too much, and Dwayne had to make the decision to officially move to Northern California where he could gain legal access to the medicine he desperately needs—two medicated brownies a day instead of tramadol and fourteen muscle relaxers.
Now, Dwayne is a cannabis advocate. “I truly believe that marijuana is the safest and best alternative for our veterans and our drug addicted citizens when comparing the risks to the benefits,” said Dwayne. “I’m passionate about cannabis activism because I want the hypocrisy and shaming to end.”
If you have an #End420Shame story to share, be sure to contact us on social media or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you.
Thanks “Dope magazine” and the amazing Kelly V for the content