Dear Utah…Legalize It

May 22, 2017

Photo by Don Huynh

Dear Utah,

I would like you to consider legalizing medical marijuana. Before I continue I would like you to know that I have been clean and sober from drugs & alcohol since September 10, 2012. I am not a hippie, stoner, bro that just wants to use it recreationally, use it to get high and make bad decisions.

I was diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis about two years ago. There is no cure and not a lot of treatment options. My bladder is constantly inflamed and I always feel like I have a bladder infection. Some days I don’t even want to leave the house because I am in so much pain and am exhausted. I have tried surgery, acupuncture, herbal supplements, dieting, and I even quit smoking cigarettes. I have felt little relief from all of these treatments. I have been taking the medication AZO for so long that my liver is starting to hurt. I am 25 and should not be having an unhealthy liver.

A doctor suggested I go see a pain management doctor. I refuse to go to one because they will just throw narcotic painkillers at me and that could lead to me relapsing. I know in a matter of time I would be on the streets doing heroin again. The disease of addiction WILL kill me. I am extremely frustrated with the pharmaceutical companies for taking advantage of the weak. One in five people that try narcotics will get hooked. Do you ever wonder why so many people in the Salt Lake Valley are strung out on opiates? It is an unsafe environment and I hate seeing all the people suffer.

Me after my second surgery. It is painful and the recovery time is about a week.

I am from Seattle and this past weekend went home to visit my family. I cried a lot and felt so hopeless. My dad has been trying to help me with this issue for two years and his heart aches for the pain he has watched me go through. I went to a naturopath doctor and they recommended CBD. CBD has no psychoactive side effects and does not get you high.

Love how Seattle is usually the first to try things!

I had a battle in my head because I am clean and sober and any use of marijuana is against the Alcoholics Anonymous “code”. What do I do? My options are exhausted and the CBD could be the best treatment for my condition. I thought about it for a few days and realized that I need to at least give it a try.

My dad, the one who has been my biggest support in my journey to sobriety and one of the reasons I am still alive today, held my hand as we walked into a marijuana shop in Seattle. It felt foreign and I felt like I was doing something illegal. We talked to the workers there who were very knowledgeable about the best CBD products for inflammation and pain. We purchased CBD pills and a CBD tincture to see which one would work the best. Keep in mind that there are just trace amounts of THC.

After leaving the pot shop I took a CBD pill. My dad was keeping an eye on me to make sure it didn’t make me high and trust me, he has seen me at the worst point in my addiction. I felt no mind altering side effects and my bladder stopped hurting. It was a miracle. Throughout the weekend if I had painful urination I would take a dose of the CBD and my symptoms would go away. It was like taking a natural form of Ibuprofen.

The worst part is knowing that I can’t have access to CBD (with a bit of THC in it) in Utah because it is illegal. Even for medical reasons. As I boarded the plane back to Salt Lake City I felt sad, fearful, and mad. I am mad that something that helps me so much is illegal in my state. The only treatment that works is being taken away from me.

Today I am a law abiding citizen and did not bring it home with me. Now what? Do I have to move states to be able to have access to my treatment? I feel like a cancer patient. It is unfair.

Why is the medical marijuana outlawed in Utah? Is it because you have the pharmaceutical companies in your back pocket? Do you want people to suffer?  Is there really no separation between church and state? Or is Utah just uneducated about the medical use of marijuana? I want answers.

There are a lot of people in Salt Lake City who have this same struggle. One might not understand until they are faced with pain me and many others go through every day.

Utahans please help share this message!

-Catherine Medina

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