Who Uses Medical Marijuana? A Police Officer’s Story
Posted by Marijuana Doctors on 09/26/2010 in Medical Marijuana Patient Stories
We’ve been reaching out to patients across the country to share their experiences with us, and recently we heard from a 20-year veteran police officer who suffered emotional and physical injuries while serving his community, and now feels like a criminal for using medical marijuana to alleviate his pain and suffering. He asked that his identity remain anonymous because unfortunately, even though he lives in a state where medical marijuana is legal, he still has legitimate fears of losing his job. His story was so moving that we thought we’d share it in his own words.
“Policing in my town was a full contact sport where we all played for keeps. As a rookie, my partner and I worked the most violent drug ridden section of town. I carried 20 pounds of offensive and defensive police gear while jumping fences, climbing up onto roofs and sneaking around the heart of the gangland. We chased and faced off on society’s worst. On a typical day, we had one felony arrest, three misdemeanor arrests and a handful of traffic tickets. We were involved in several shootings, witnessed shootings, been shot at and returned fire, each of us sustaining somewhat minor injuries over the years requiring a visit to the emergency room.
I loved my job but little did I know that all that work was slowly destroying my emotional health and my joints, especially my shoulders. For about 15 years I saw just about every horrifying thing that one person can do to another person: Being face to face with a murdered person, especially a child, or having to console a rape victim or an elderly person who survived a home invasion robbery, or worse who just lost their life mate. This all mixed in with close calls, where I nearly lost a battle and could have lost my life or witnessed the death of a fellow officer.
All of this began to adversely affect me. I did not understand the psychological symptoms I was suffering but I sure felt the pain in my back and shoulders. My shoulder pain was so bad that I went to a sports doctor and had x-rays. They said there was nothing that they could do for my problem; I had to live with the pain.
A short time later my best friend and partner was killed in the line of duty, and I left the force. Fast-forward one year, divorce. I was on the verge of a major breakdown or worse. My anxiety was so high that I could not catch my breath and I nearly ripped my uniform shirt off trying to get to my Kevlar vest so I could remove it. The panic attacks were now very frequent, often occurring in the middle of the night. It came in the form of PTSD, nightmares, hives and insomnia.
On top of it all, the pain in my shoulders and knees was constant and debilitating and affected every aspect of my life. I did not have medical insurance and I was barely surviving financially so I could not afford to see a doctor.
In the middle of a panic attack, I was desperate, suicide would be a consideration if I could not escape this horrible feeling, and in my desperate moment, I used marijuana. Two or three hits and I was absolutely saved. The panic went away and I slept better then I had in years. As the anxiety subsided, I smoked it less and less. I found that it helped the pain in my shoulders too. Where the pain kept me up at night or woke me up, after smoking I could sleep and the pain subsided to a tolerable level.
In hindsight I see how the use of medical marijuana literally saved and returned my quality of life. I believe my emotional and physical injuries were largely sustained while serving my community. Now I felt like an outlaw just trying to get by. I have a prescription for medical marijuana but I know if I am caught, it would permanently ruin my new career and leave me to being qualified for minimum wage jobs.
Today, I am amazed on how much my eyes have been opened due to my experiences. Not long ago, I was serving warrants on grow operations very similar to what I have. I see the irony and I feel bad. I realize how brainwashed I was. How I was a party to waging a war on the citizens, confiscating their drugs, fining and imprisoning them, and seizing as much of their assets as possible.
I realize now that the laws are so much more destructive then the drug ever could be and how the corporations will be cheated out of billions of dollars if it is made legal. I also realize the mindset of the police. They want more laws not less. They want more cops not less. More laws means more cops, which means more promotions and more seniority. Legalizing marijuana will mean slower promotions at best and job loss for them at its worst. They will make up any and all excuses to keep it illegal.”