|Pot prophets peddle hope at centre.|
Pubdate: Thursday, July 23, 1998
Source: London Free Press
Author: Morris Dalla Costa
There will come a time in the not-too-distant future when Canada will do the right thing and legalize marijuana use for medical purposes.
Until then, a whole lot of sick people are thanking God for the London Cannabis Compassion Centre and Mike Harichy, the guy who runs it. If not for the centre, many who use marijuana to ease pain, nausea, dizziness and other ailments caused by illness and disease would be wandering the streets looking for the grass that would help them.
There's 25-year-old Dave. He works in an office and has suffered chronic back pain for 15 years. A birth defect caused nerve damage to his spinal cord.
"I couldn't touch my back," said Dave. "I couldnt put on a T-shirt or take a shower without pain so bad that I would cry. I was on heavy-duty painkillers. I was addicted to Demerol."
"Now with pain control therapy and marijuana, the pain is manageable. I smoke after work and it allows me to relax and sleep. I used to sleep only two hours a night."
He's used marijuana for seven years.
"Wit the LCCC you don't feel like a criminal. I don't like the idea of lurking in dark alleys so I can buy a drug I need."
Kurt's been HIV positive for more than 12 years. He's on disability pension but is looking for work.
"The HIV drugs are working but the side-effects are horrendous," he said. "I use marijuana to stimulate appetite and to relax. If I don't eat, I lose 10 to 15 pounds in a week. My doctor prescribed drugs to help me put on weight. It was a steroid and it put on all sorts of weight but I didn't feel right. With marijuana, I can eat."
Bruce is a 25-year-old epileptic. He's been smoking for about two years.
"I don't remember the seizures," says Bruce. "I wake up and I've bitten the inside of my mouth. That's how I know I've had one. On the days I smoke, I don't have seizures. That may be coincidence but I don't think so."
"I know that the drugs I take leave me dizzy and nauseated. When I smoke, it makes it better."
The list goes on. This isn't about dope-heads smoking their brains out. These are real faces, of real-life people from all walks of life. People who suffer from AIDS and deenerative diseases to those combating the symptoms of chemotherapy.
Fortunately, with the establishment of the centre, Harichy is able to facilitate the coming together of those who smoke marijuana for medical reasons and the marijuana itself. He delivers marijuana to members of the centre who provide medical information necessary to prove they need it.
Harichy is wary of giving up too much information and for good reason. While there is great support for the decriminalization of marijuana, especially for medical reasons, the sale and possession of marijuana is still illegal, as antiquated and stupid as those laws may be.
Lynn Harichy, Mike's wife, uses marijuana to combat the effects of multiple sclerosis. Last year, she was charged with possession of marijuana as she tried to light a joint on the steps of the London police station. She will challenge the marijuana laws in her November trial.
Let's pray she wins.
In the meantime, they help where they can. Mike's centre will operate from 199 Wellington St. He wants to sell such things as T-shirts and laminated cards that show support for the centre. The money goes to offset the cost of operations.
As well as providing access to "medicine" as he calls it, he is looking for food donations.
"I've been with HIV patients and I know there isn't much money left after their rent," said Mike Harichy. "It's sad to see how hard it is for them."
"I just want to help them."
That's good because until the government joins the 21st century, someone's got to.
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