Marijuana Legalization Is Leaving Home Growers Without a Pot to Grow In
Unintended consequences abound. One example: the legalization of marijuana forcing the cartels to look to other products to make money, and thus a heroin epidemic. Don Winslow has an excellent article in Esquire on this. But Joel Warner points out another bad side-effect of marijuana legalization: making it illegal to grow your own cannabis. (We went through this with beer: for a long time, it was illegal to brew your own beer, but that law was changed. I think it’s always been legal to make your own wine. And of course it’s legal to have your own garden (depending on what you plant, apparently).)
Warner’s article in Motherboard begins:
Marisa Kiser has put up with a lot since her son Ezra was born four years ago. There were the seizures that began three days after birth and escalated until his Ezra’s body was ravaged by 500 attacks a day. There were the various pharmaceuticals her doctors prescribed to help with his pediatric epilepsy but instead might have triggered nearly fatal grand mal seizures and left Ezra brain damaged, unable to hold up his head and legally blind. There was the decision in July 2013 to leave behind the world Marisa, a lifelong Southern Baptist, knew in South Carolina and move to Colorado Springs, Colorado, to try a long-shot solution: cannabis oil that seemed to be sparking miraculous recoveries in kids just like Ezra.
There was the morning in February 2014, after the oils had left Ezra nearly seizure free for months, when the two-year-old woke up screaming and didn’t stop for seven months. Uncontrollable muscle spasms bent his spine backwards at a sickening angle and snapped both his femurs like kindling. There were the sky-high daily doses of phenobarbital, morphine, and other narcotics that didn’t help. There were the doctors who told Marisa that they’d reached a point where if her son stopped breathing, they weren’t going to resuscitate him.
There was the moment last year when, after Marisa had found that 750 milligrams of high-THC oil a day stopped the spasms and pain but the $2,000 in marijuana she needed to buy each month to cover that far exceeded what she was paid as Ezra’s stay-out-home certified nursing assistant, that she decided to grow her own medicine. There are the 30 to 40 hours a week she now spends in her locked basement grow room, tending to the 72 finicky marijuana plants Ezra’s doctor determined he’s allowed to have because of his severe condition and carefully extracting the results into just enough pure cannabis oil to meet her son’s needs. Marisa has put up with all of this because Ezra is coming back to her. He can see again, he is regaining some control of his body, he can tell her “yes” by looking at her face.
“He is in there,” said Marisa, sitting in her Colorado Springs ranch house and gazing at Ezra, strapped into a pediatric wheelchair next to her and following the sound of her voice with his big, dark eyes.
But when she heard this spring that Colorado Springs City Council had made growing more than 12 cannabis plants in your house a criminal offense–that was too much. Never mind that even DEA Head Chuck Rosenberg just conceded marijuana is not a serious hazard, telling NPR that his agency’s decision today not to reschedule marijuana “isn’t based on danger,” but instead on whether the FDA has determined it’s safe and effective medicine. According to Colorado Springs officials, the risk of Marisa growing the same substances she can now buy legally all over town was enough that she could go to jail and lose not just Ezra, but her other two children, over it.
“I have already given up everything to move here, to do everything legally to treat my son, and now my family is at risk,” she said.
Stories like Marisa’s are becoming increasingly common. While the DEA’s announcement today that it will be expanding marijuana research access is one more example of how, bit by bit, cannabis prohibition is coming to an end, one population that isn’t seeing the benefits of such shifts are those who grow their own. . .