portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article commentary united states

drug war | human & civil rights

Open Letter Concerning the Hinchey-Rohrabacher Medical Marijuana Amendment

Please Call Your Representative ASAP!!!! The vote may be as early as Tuesday!
This is my family.  This is what's at stake for me.
This is my family. This is what's at stake for me.
June 25th, 2006

Greetings honorable members of Congress,

In 2004, my husband Bill and I moved our family over 3,000 miles from Maryland to Oregon, primarily so that I could be a law abiding citizen while taking my medicine. The decision to move, however, was actually made long before we left. It came during a particularly severe ice storm, which shut down all of our local roads for days. As I sat in my bedroom, looking out at the glistening trees, I realized that there was no way anyone - not even the DEA - could travel the roads that day. For the first time since I started using medical marijuana years before, I felt truly safe in my own home.

We were very grateful and felt honored to be a part of the legislation which resulted in Maryland's sick and dying patients who use therapeutic cannabis being allowed a medical necessity defense in court. However, with five young kids, this left us at risk of suffering state police (who make monumentally more arrests for cannabis offenses than federal authorities) breaking down our door, pointing loaded weapons at our children, hauling me off to jail, and forcing us to hire an expensive attorney, before that defense would even be applicable. Additionally, it left me a lawbreaker, and I didn't want my kids to have to learn to live as outlaws. I want to be the best role model that I can be, and protect them from as many of life's dangers as I'm able, so we moved to Oregon.

DEA chief Karen Tandy, when asked about the prospect of drug abuse in a recent article in the Houston Chronicle, said, "It is every parent's worst nightmare." This statement offended me. I thought back to my own youth and recalled vivid memories of being raped, sodomized, and otherwise tortured over a period of roughly six months by my teacher at the tender age of twelve. Either Ms. Tandy must be the most blissfully na´ve mother in the world or the luckiest, if she thinks drug abuse is "every parent's worst nightmare!"

While our government has admittedly lost track of an estimated 80,000 - 100,000 convicted sex offenders, the DEA has seen fit to spend our scarce resources to play some twisted game of cops and robbers with hospice patients residing at the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM) in Santa Cruz, CA. They similarly spent time, energy and our tax dollars to persecute Angel Raich, also in CA, over six lousy plants - less than the number of plants Oregon law currently dictates may be legally gardened by patients. Our priorities seem dangerously skewed, to say the least!

According to statistics from the Department of Justice, a child is raped every four minutes in the United States of America. That's 15 every hour; 360 every day. It effectively ends their childhood and breaks their bodies, minds and spirits. And this only includes those rapes which are reported. My rapes were never reported.

Even if I had felt able to turn in the monster that brutalized me, I'd have had little reason to hope he would've served a single day in jail. Across our nation, there are child rapists who are being given probation and deferred adjudication, even for raping multiple children, and they're being released right back onto our streets. Meanwhile you've legislated mandatory minimum sentences against sick people for taking medicine recommended by their doctors. What are you thinking?!

In my experience, the gateway to hell lies not in youthful experimentation with cannabis; but if there is a gateway, it surely lies in the victimization of innocent children by adult predators. Are you unaware that kids who suffer abuse are far more likely to suffer a whole host of problems later in life, including ironically enough, drug abuse? My own history is filled with examples of the kinds of life-long, devastating side effects that only come from brutalization by a sadistic, violent power junkie like the teacher who hurt me.

Although there are drugs I haven't tried to treat the Crohn's Disease and intractable migraines from which I suffer (in addition to the dozens of drugs I've tried), I'd like to share with you something my doctor told me. When I asked her if she could recommend any new drugs I could try to treat my symptoms, she said that there are drugs I haven't tried, but they all carry risks. She said that there was nothing safer than cannabis she could recommend, and since we know marijuana works for me, I should continue cannabis therapy.

More recently, I asked her if I could try Marinol. Although I cannot use a pill for the nausea and vomiting, I had hoped it might relieve some of the pain at night, when the nausea is less often an issue, and help me sleep better. What I discovered, however, is that Marinol is not as effective for my symptoms as the capsules I make at home from the whole plant. Marinol attempts to imitate THC, which is only one of the cannabinoids in marijuana that combine to provide me relief.

We don't fully know why the hundreds of components of breast milk are superior to artificial attempts to imitate it, but we know breastfeeding consistently produces healthier babies than formula feeding. Perhaps we cannot yet scientifically prove exactly why the components of cannabis work so much better for so many patients than it's synthetic counterparts, but clearly God has once again created a superior substance.

Are you aware that the Hinchey-Rohrabacher Medical Marijuana Amendment doesn't even legalize medical marijuana -- for anyone? Even if you vote to pass this miniscule measure, I will still be living in legal limbo, in terms of whether or not I'm actually breaking any laws by taking my medicine. Prior to the Supreme Court's Raich decision, I thought I was a law abiding citizen briefly. Now, all I know for sure is that the law becomes less relevant when disease and disorder already sentence me to certain and immeasurable suffering, which only therapeutic cannabis helps reduce to levels that are bearable.

Have you not seen the many polls which indicate that the vast majority of Americans oppose spending our resources to chase down sick and dying people who consume therapeutic cannabis? Do you or do you not represent your constituents? On this issue, the American people have spoken. We believe there are better ways to reduce drug abuse, than by legally torturing sick people over a medical choice, often one which is made in desperation when all else has failed. Please do your jobs and give us the representation you promised to give, when you were elected.

To anyone who would still vote to continue to legally sanction kicking in the doors of the sanctuaries of the sick and dying and pointing loaded weapons at hospice patients, I'll simply ask you to think of me the next time you have your prescriptive sleep aid refilled. Please think about the fact that, like the many seniors who have had to cut their pills in half, trade with friends, or drive to Canada to meet their medical needs, I too will be suffering for all of your good intentions.

To those of you who will vote to grant patients the simple dignity of living without fear of our own government, I will owe you my deepest gratitude. You are truly representing the interests of the majority of "We the People." You are my heroes!

In closing, I'd like to ask all of you not only to vote for the Hinchey-Rohrabacher Medical Marijuana Amendment, but to co-sponsor this small but vital piece of legislation. I'll leave you with the wise and applicable words of Marian Wright Edelman. "It's time for greatness -- not for greed. It's a time for idealism -- not ideology. It is a time not just for compassionate words, but compassionate action." Be great, compassionate heroes - not merely politicians. It's time!

Sincerely,


Erin Hildebrandt, Co-founder
Building-BLOCK
P.O. Box 541
Lafayette, OR 97127
(503)841-9975
E-mail:  erinhildebrandt@yahoo.com
Website:  http://www.Building-BLOCK.org

homepage: homepage: http://www.Building-BLOCK.org