US MI: Nuclear-Blast Survivor Heads Veterans for Medical Marijuana Access

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—– Original Message —–
From: "Richard Lake" <>
To: <>
Sent: Sunday, March 09, 2008 7:57 AM
Subject: [mmjlist] US MI: Nuclear-Blast Survivor Heads Veterans for Medical
Marijuana Access

> Newshawk: Please Tell Veterans about VMMA
> Pubdate: Sun, 9 Mar 2008
> Source: Kalamazoo Gazette (MI)
> Webpage:
> Copyright: 2008 Kalamazoo Gazette
> Contact:
> Website:
> Details:
> Author: Chris Killian, Special to the Gazette
> Cited: Veterans for Medical Marijuana Access
> Cited: Michigan Coalition for Compassionate Care
> Bookmark: (Marijuana – Medicinal)
> Bookmark: (Chronic Pain)
> Bookmark:
> Anything to Avoid the Pain
> KALAMAZOO — The atomic explosions off remote islands in the South Pacific
> seemed to turn night into day.
> They also turned Martin Chilcutt into a marijuana user.
> Chilcutt said the drug has helped him to ease the pain he says dates back
> to his exposure to radiation during a 1956 U.S. government pro-ject
> testing nuclear and thermonuclear weapons.
> A state ballot proposal could allow voters in November to decide whether
> Chilcutt’s measures to self-medicate should be legal in Michigan.
> The 74-year-old former intelligence officer with the U.S. Naval Air Force
> has used other medications to help him with his physical and psychological
> problems, but marijuana helps "so much better," he said.
> "Sometimes I just want to die," Chilcutt said. "You can only take intense
> pain for so long before you’ll do anything to escape it."
> He never intended to put his health at risk.
> While part of the testing project, Chilcutt remembers, he donned large
> goggles and turned his back to protect his eyes as the bombs exploded in
> the early-morning darkness.
> There was no protection, though, from the heavy doses of radiation that
> spewed from the explosions and reached Chilcutt.
> He has battled skin cancer three times, including basal cell carcinoma,
> the most common form of cancer, with about a million new cases reported in
> the United States each year. He has been in remission for the past 10
> years.
> Making Life Easier
> Chilcutt’s four years in the military — he served from the middle to late
> 1950s — also took a psychological toll, he said.
> For 30 years, he said, he has suffered chronic post-traumatic stress
> disorder, including bouts of anxiety, depression and anger, nightmares,
> arthritis and debilitating migraine headaches.
> Marijuana helps them all, he said.
> Although there are different ways to use the drug, such as ingesting or
> inhaling it, there is no difference in the drug’s effect based on
> consumption, according to the Michigan Coalition for Compassionate Care,
> which is spearheading the state marijuana initiative.
> "It just makes life so much easier," he said. "It allows you to be
> comfortable."
> Chilcutt, a retired psychotherapist, said he first learned of marijuana’s
> medical benefits in the late 1970s while counseling Vietnam War veterans
> in California. They told him the drug could help allay his pain, he said.
> He said he takes eight other medications for ailments the marijuana
> doesn’t help, including a thyroid condition.
> Advocates for the medical use of marijuana say it’s also effective in
> easing symptoms from other serious illnesses such as HIV/AIDS, glaucoma
> and multiple sclerosis.
> Critics cite a U.S. Food and Drug Administration report in 2006 that said
> "no sound scientific studies" support the medical use of the drug.
> If the marijuana-use proposal is approved by state voters, Michigan would
> become the 15th state — and the first in the Midwest — with a law that
> permits marijuana use for seriously ill people. Michigan law currently
> prohibits marijuana use for any reason.
> It’s estimated between 40,000 and 50,000 people — about one-half of 1
> percent of Michigan residents — would be eligible to use marijuana for
> medical purposes. In states where the law is now in place, it’s estimated
> the same percentage of residents would qualify to use the drug, according
> to the Michigan Coalition for Compassionate Care.
> Under federal law, marijuana use is illegal in all states. That means that
> even if Michigan voters approve the initiative, users under the law could
> still be prosecuted. But such prosecution under federal law has been
> virtually nonexistent, according to the Marijuana Policy Project, a
> national group that provided nearly all of the $1.1 million used to
> organize the Michigan campaign to get the proposal approved.
> Taking Risks
> Chilcutt moved to Kalamazoo from Colorado four years ago. He serves as
> executive director of Veterans for Medical Marijuana Access, a
> Kalamazoo-based group he founded in 2007. It advocates for safe and legal
> access to marijuana for appropriate therapeutic uses and encourages
> research on the drug as an alternative treatment.
> "This is my life now — to help patients," he said.
> His support of marijuana use for medical purposes has prompted him to take
> chances to help those with serious medical issues get access to the drug.
> In Colorado, where he lived for 15 years, Chilcutt joined the movement to
> legalize marijuana for medical use.
> While campaigning for the initiative, which became law in 2000, a
> marijuana grower contacted him and asked if he could donate marijuana to
> Chilcutt to distribute to those in need. Chilcutt, who then was leading
> group-therapy sessions for those close to death, including people with
> advanced cancers and AIDS, agreed.
> "I took a lot of risks in the past," he said. "But I believed so much in
> how marijuana could help sick people. I didn’t care how it helped the
> person, just as long as it did."
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