My Family Versus the Drug War: Why I’m An Activist

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My name is George and I’m working hard to make marijuana law reform happen NOW because my life and my family’s lives depends on it.

Yours does too, but perhaps some of us don’t realize it. This Drug War has cost ALL OF US over 1.5 trillion dollars over the past 50 years. There are millions of citizens incarcerated or dead in an attempt to maintain a form control that can never completely work by design. This threat to the American way of life is many times larger than the threats represented by terrorism, domestic health care legislation, political unrest, financial woes and most other issues being squabbled over in the media today. Those benefiting from this system are less accountable, more corrupt and many times more dangerous than they’d like people to know.

And that impacts all of us.

For me personally, this Drug War has (thus far) has left me with a decimated family. My grandfather that suffered from stomach cancer he got working on the Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge, TN during the 1940s, at a time when there was very little in the way of protection for the workers that dealt with the radioactive materials. The government recognized the mistake and gave my family financial compensation but withheld the marijuana-based treatments that they knew existed. That left my grandfather to chemotherapy and all of the associated problems that eventually took my grandfather after a long fight.

My grandmother worked there with him as well and of course dealt with the inevitable colon cancer that followed years later. She has gone through chemotherapy two times now because the cancer keeps returning. The latest round has taken more of a toll due to her age. She is doing well now, but the cost to our family in the intervening years cannot be understated.

My uncle has been affected as well. He went to Vietnam and ever since has been in and out of jail. His legal issues all stem from his addiction problems with alcohol, cocaine and other drugs. He has been left with the same addiction problem ┬áthat he came home with in the 60s. We know now that this is basically untreated PTSD and problems that come from losing so many friends. Compound that with no real oppurtunities or prospects because the policy decision has been “lock em up and suddenly drugs will simply go away somehow.”

They’ve offered treatment, sure, in the most under-funded,thankless, pitiful excuse for a treatment facility legally possible while hundreds of millions of dollars going to Drug Interdiction task forces, road blocks, curfew initiatives, monthly raids and arrests that fill our newscasts to all of our disgust without ever showing progress toward a long term goal. If we only had spent the money on treatment from the beginning, My uncle could very well be drug-free, holding down a job and living happily today. We will never know.

My aunt also went through a nearly identical situation to what my grandparents dealt with but earlier in her life, in her 40s. She would attest to anyone that if at all possible, non-necessary chemotherapy should be avoided. Despite her wishes, however, her son, my younger cousin, is dealing with stomach cancer and is fighting for his life as I write this.

I am 30 years old. In Ohio they are telling my aunt that “they will try to make him comfortable” and “don’t know what else they can do” as he coughs up fluid, because the tumors have spread to his lungs now. I am doing everything I can to get him and our family to Colorado because I am not willing to accept that palliative care is his only option. I know about people with similar diagnosis who were able to get help by pursuing treatments that are off the table for my cousin because of this destructive policy disaster that is this Drug War.

All of this struggle and unnecessary suffering, mind you, comes decades after the government had secured a patent on the marijuana plant itself specifically for it’s medicinal properties. This Drug War has done the same or something similar to you too.

You just might not know it.

Photo Credit: Marluxia.Kyoshu under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons