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Connecticut to Come Face-to-Face with State’s Prospective MMJ Patients

Connecticut to Come Face-to-Face with State’s Prospective MMJ Patients

Posted by Marijuana Doctors on 04/23/2013 in Medical Marijuana Trends

After a public hearing that took place on Monday morning, the official who is placed in charge of getting Connecticut’s medical marijuana program operational will begin to see the faces and hear the stories of many patients who say the drug has restored a sense of comfort, peace and renewed well-being to their lives which have been wrecked by cancer and other chronic or debilitating conditions. This moment will provide those in the state with a better idea of the true medicinal benefits of medical marijuana, and they will be provided with a newfound sense of reassurance to know patients do truly benefit from this magical plant.

One patient who you bet will be lined up waiting to let their case be heard is forty-two year old Tracey Gamer Shimer, who has already outlived her bleak brain-cancer prognosis. Tracey along with many other Connecticut residents will be lining up to testify their stories before Consumer Protection Commissioner William Rubenstein. Rubenstein is gathering feedback from patients like Tracey Gamer Shimer, as well as from potential growers and concerned neighbors, as he attempts to refine what is shaping up to be one of the most tightly regulated and strict medical marijuana programs that is now operating or forming in the seventeen legal states. The proposed rules for the state’s program are due to be handed into the legislature around July 1st in which it will then be reviewed by a panel.

The mere fact that Tracey Gamer Shimer is alive and able to tell her story, to me, is compelling enough to have a legitimate case made. However, she said that she wants to blast away any remaining stigma and fear attached to medical marijuana. She said, “I want the politicians to see my face, the face of a mother from West Hartford who is just grateful to be at the dinner table in the evening instead of in bed, of someone who is so thankful to be part of her children’s lives, of someone who lost an advertising career but gained a life mission.” When Tracey was thirty-six, doctors found a malignant tumor in her brain. Doctors said her life expectancy was about five years at maximum length. Here we are, six and a half years later, the former broadcaster and advertising sales executive is running the Connecticut Brain Cancer Alliance.

However, the road to get to where she is today was a long and perilous one. Tracey’s husband left her when she was diagnosed with the brain cancer, and her parents had to step in and care for her children as she tried one medical prescription after another to control her paralyzing headaches and other debilitating symptoms. Medication after medication, nothing helped Tracey and it was looking grim until her doctor provided her with a miracle. Tracey said her doctor looked at her and said, “I shouldn’t be telling you this but…smoke this.” For Tracey, the relief was near-immediate. Tracey got her pot “the way patients have done it for years: through people who want to help people who are sick. There was embarrassment, there was a stigma, but it gave me back a lot of the life I’d had before.”

For now, Tracey lives her life in ninety-day increments and every three months she goes for an MRI to see if her tumor has grown or not. Today, twenty-five percent of the tumor remains. Just last Saturday, Tracey got married to Greg Shimer, an old friend who came back into her life when she needed it most, bearing a white rose and a vow of commitment until death do us part once she was diagnosed.

She recently also joined the board of Vintage Foods Ltd., a company that is expected to put in a bid to be one of the handful of medical marijuana producers. The venture to become one of the producers of the drug will likely require an initial investment of somewhere around two million dollars. Tracey draws absolutely no salary from Vintage Foods, and she serves on the board strictly to be the voice of the medical marijuana patient.

Consumer Protection Commissioner William Rubenstein has said that he and his staff have not gauged the potential market for medical marijuana in Connecticut; however they should assume it will be mildly overwhelming. He said about 450 patients have been certified by their doctors to receive medical marijuana and about 300 of them have registered with the state Department of Consumer Protection.

Currently, patients with one of the eleven debilitating diseases can qualify to become a medical marijuana patient. If the state eventually makes more conditions eligible, the potential patient population would grow accordingly. Cultivation and possession of marijuana are still illegal under federal law; however it is believe that Connecticut’s program can co-exist with the federal government by means of how their statute was written. Rubenstein said, “The Feds have told us they have no interest in enforcing the law against patients who use marijuana strictly for medicinal purposes, nor are they interested in wasting resources pursuing growers or dispensers operating under a well-regulated state system, where there is no evidence of diversion.” Rubenstein has already been contacted by several companies who are interested in growing or dispensing medical marijuana.

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