Bruce — a veteran, husband, grandfather living in Morris, New York — received an initial diagnosis of quadriplegia in 1988 when he was in a truck rollover that resulted in C6 and C7 spinal cord injury. Bruce was able to regain function of his limbs. However, he will never fully recover and suffers from severe and constant pain and fatigue as a result of his injuries. Medical marijuana is a vital respite in his struggle to manage the lasting impacts of his injury.
Bruce has used a number of prescribed treatments for his condition, but he says that they don’t work to reduce the symptoms. He finds morphine helpful for the overall pain but he has to take it twice a day and it carries serious side-effects. He has used medical marijuana to reduce the amount of morphine he needs and to avoid becoming addicted to it. He describes medical marijuana as a “well rounded medication with physical and mental effect. The pain I have is a complicated thing, and each of these medications helps to address elements of the muscle, nerve and bone pain.”
Despite his contributions as a Vietnam War veteran and his family, Bruce feels like a second class citizen here in New York State. “I don’t feel I should live as a criminal for doing what’s best for my health,” he says. According to Bruce, decriminalizing medical marijuana “would be like a cloud lifting”.
New York does not currently permit the medicinal use of marijuana, so Bruce is forced to choose between breaking the law and suffering with symptoms that could be dramatically eased if medical marijuana were legal. This is a choice no one should have to make.