“Can I have five minutes of your time?” asked the vivacious young lady in front of me. “But once you hear ninety seconds, I think you’ll be glad you listened.”
It was the conclusion of our monthly Portland NORML meeting. Scott Gordon (aka Urb Thrasher), our deputy director, brought her over to me, saying, “you need to talk to Russ.” I was immediately drawn in by her energy. She looked like a young Rae Dawn Chong in that Schwarzenegger movie “Commando,” light skinned with highlighted hair in ringlets and bright brown eyes revealing an old soul.
Her name is JennyRay McGee, and she’s just turned 26. She told me that just a few years ago, she was trapped in her own body, victimized by extreme neurological disorders and then further incapacitated by the prescriptions given to her for those disorders.
I’ve heard the “medical marijuana miracle” story before, but it never gets old. Every time I hear the story, I am refreshed by the evangelical zeal these patients bring to the issue. It’s soul-affirming to listen to someone tell you their personal tale of salvation.
JennyRay told me of her disadvantaged childhood—born of a single mother, her father imprisoned for drug crimes. She’d been adopted as an infant by a couple raising other children with special needs. At birth, JennyRay experienced a cyanotic episode (lack of oxygen) and her thyroid levels had come up slightly abnormal.
Once JennyRay was taken home, she kept experiencing these episodes, choking and coughing, as well as displaying a loss of muscle tone and reflexes. Doctors diagnosed a litany of neurological disorders. She required a feeding tube implanted into her stomach wall. She was given medication after medication.
Over her childhood, JennyRay was flown across the country to see the best pediatricians. They never managed to nail down the diagnosis, but they kept throwing every pharmaceutical in the book at it. Like many folks with lifelong disabilities, she began to educate herself. She read obscure medical journals and quizzed her physicians relentlessly on her diagnoses and treatments. Soon, she began to suspect they didn’t have a clue what was going on with her, and she began to seek better answers for her medical questions.
As she grew older, she found herself in rooms with friends who were smoking marijuana, and she noticed that as she inhaled the second-hand smoke, her nerves and muscles seemed to relax in a way no pharmaceutical had accomplished. She then tried marijuana for herself and discovered that it is the medicine for her condition, whatever it is. The only problem was that she discovered this in Kansas, where she was living at the time.
So, she took a big leap and moved to Portland, cashing in her only asset—her retirement money—to make the trip. Since arriving in Oregon and having access to medical marijuana, she said her condition has drastically improved.
“Since 2010, I’ve given up all my pharmaceutical medications,” McGee explained. “Now I only use cannabis and a beet root compound for my thyroid issues. Just this April, I felt feeling in my hands and feet for the first time in my life. I’ve always had to use my vision to guide my hands, and now I can actually feel things!”
The young lady who could barely move without pain just a couple of years ago told me that she’s training to run a marathon by the end of the year, thanks to medical marijuana. And now, she’s mad as hell at the medical community’s lack of cannabinoid education and the politics that would deny this life-saving medicine to anybody.
Mark my words, you will be hearing a lot more from JennyRay McGee.