In 10 years of interviewing hundreds of people on the issue of marijuana, I think this was the first time I’ve ever cried on the air.
Every story of a medical marijuana patient who must suffer because they live in one of the states that still imprisons people over marijuana is heartbreaking.
Every story of a medical marijuana patient whose children are taken from them by the state under the guise of protecting the kids from “child endangerment” is infuriating.
Somehow, though, the combination of those two stories inflicted upon a man my age, who still speaks with kindness and optimism, drove me to tears.
His name is Michael Brooks. He lives in Tennessee. Soon, he will die.
Michael has been living with hepatitis C for over 25 years. It’s a disease you can have and not realize it, as your liver has no nerve endings.
Only after it has devastated that organ and its failure begins to affect the rest of your body do you seek the medical attention that gets you the blood tests that earn you that diagnosis of “infected for life”—however little of that may remain.
Michael, like so many I’ve interviewed, exhausted every pharmaceutical remedy proffered by modern science, mostly to no avail, while acquiring all the deleterious side effects those medicines produce.
In desperation, Michael and his wife, who is also positive for hepatitis C, traveled to Colorado. They had learned over the internet of the miraculous healing powers of cannabis oil treatments.
Michael found his miracle.
Within a few heavy treatments of the oil, his viral load was undetectable. Not only had he beaten back hepatitis C, he was in the best health of his life. He had never known how ill he had always been, because he had always been ill. For the first time, he told me, he felt healthy—he felt like what most people take for granted.
Then, from the highest high of relief and gratitude for his discovery of medical marijuana, he was plunged within a few months into the lowest depths of depression and despair.
Michael couldn’t stay in Colorado. He returned to Tennessee to raise his family. Having recovered so well with the use of medical marijuana, he and his wife had a second little boy, making him a new father at the age of 48, to go along with their first son who was closing in his second birthday.
There had been a situation that had led to his boys acquiring lead poisoning, leading to developmental disabilities. Michael went to the state of Tennessee for assistance with his boys’ health.
That’s when they asked him to submit to a urine screen.
Michael took the drug test. The medical staff that processed his results told him that he had registered the highest amount of THC in his system they’d ever recorded. Just what was he doing to get that amount of marijuana in his body?
Michael told them, “It’s my medicine. That’s why I’m even able to be before you today. It saved my life.”
Within 24 hours, the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (DCS) had been contacted. They showed up at Michael’s house and took away his two little boys.
That was two years ago.
To get visitation with his boys who have been placed in foster care, Michael had to submit to regular drug tests.
That meant ceasing his medical marijuana usage. Within five months, Michael’s hepatitis C viral count skyrocketed. Compounded with other medical issues, Michael is now frail and gaunt, in worse shape than he was before he’d started the cannabis oil treatments.
Michael could visit his boys for a couple of hours every two weeks, but Tennessee has canceled those visitations for the last three months. Michael says DCS told him it was for the good of the children, because every time their visitation with Michael and his wife ends, the boys become distraught and traumatized when they are returned to their foster parents.
Yeah, no shit.
What Tennessee is doing to those two little boys, estranging them from their parents during their most formative years, is far more destructive than anything cannabis could have done to them.
What Tennessee is doing to Michael Brooks, kidnapping his sons and condemning him to ill health and imminent death, ought to be an unconstitutional violation of the 8th Amendment’s prohibitions on cruel and unusual punishment.
What Tennessee is doing is evil.
Please take a moment to write two emails for me.
Send one with all the love and kindness you can spare to firstname.lastname@example.org. Let him know there are people out there who care and are fighting every day to end this vicious war on people who use marijuana.
Then, take some time to harness your rage and focus it politely in an email to Governor Bill Haslam of Tennessee. The state’s online form to send a message can be found HERE.
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