Friday, June 11, 2010

Army Discrimination

Some days I'm unsure what to write about, so I do searches for terms like 'rheumatoid arthritis' and 'medical studies.' Today, I ran across an article about my home state, Oregon, and the problems facing a woman with RA in the armed forces.

A 39 year old mother of four, who was being dismissed from the National Guard on account of her very aggressive RA, is now confined to barracks. This woman, who in the past has had to be in a wheelchair and could no longer work, is now alone, not being able to see her family, because of her disease - or her method of treatment.

Richelle Golden was on many pain medications and still feeling sick and hurting. Her doctor suggested she try medical marijuana - perfectly legal in Oregon. Since she was being dismissed from the NG, she saw no problem with it. Instead of being at home and being able to rest, she is sleeping on a hard bed, in what must be a cold room, with really no assistance at all.

It's sad to see someone facing such discrimination because of medicine they were rightly and legally prescribed by their doctor. And now the NG is placing her in harm's way, by having altered her medications and forcing her into an environment which adds stress and pain into an already difficult life.

This medicine can be so useful. For those suffering from eating problems, pot can assist them to regain their appetites (yep, the munchies at their finest). It can help ease pain, but it can also help to relax someone's mind from all the what ifs they face. I'm not speaking from experience, because I have not ever smoked pot. Like many others whom this drug would help, I worry about the backlash I might face from the people around me, especially since I do not live in a state where medical marijuana is legal.

I always thought that, if medical marijuana was made legal in Wisconsin (or if I moved back to Oregon or any other legal state), I would partake. It would be nice to find a medicine that is more natural than others that have such terrible side effects. However, hearing of the problems faced by Golden and others - from losing jobs to losing state support, despite the medical legality of the drug - I now believe that I would not try the drug. Until some of the stigma surrounding medical marijuana ceases to exist, those who have to use it will face discrimination and persecution.

I just find it sad that Golden is not only being punished for her marijuana use, but also for a disease which in and of itself is one of the worst kinds of punishment. I would not wish the pain that I, my sister, my cousin, or anyone else with this disease has had to endure on my worst enemy.

For more on the story, click here.

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