‘Green Goddess’ heads to Cannabis summit
A South Lake Tahoe provider of medicinal marijuana heads Thursday to Vancouver, British Columbia, to the International Medical Cannabis Summit.
Shelly “Green Goddess” Arnold wants to learn more about caregiving at the summit. She already provides medical marijuana to 25 people at South Lake Tahoe who suffer from breast cancer, AIDS, glaucoma, migraines and chronic fatigue, among other illnesses.
She makes butter, oil and an alcohol extract with donated marijuana. Then she doles out the medicine for free, mostly in the form of marshmallow krispie treats, to those in need.
One of the people she supplies is Ryan Landers, a Sacramento man who helped pioneer Proposition 215, the 1996 law that makes it legal to use marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation.
Landers is terminally ill with AIDS and takes four medications, other than marijuana, for his illness.
“I eat considerably less in the summertime because of the heat. I have a great deal of trouble eating anything including something laced with marijuana,” he said. “But I do go through quite a bit of Rice Krispies Treats and they help me control nausea and cramping in my stomach I get from the pills I take.”
Landers said late summer is the most difficult time to get hold of the drug because supplies are limited from last year’s growing season. Marijuana grown outdoors is harvested in the fall.
“It causes me a lot more pain and discomfort when I don’t have it and there’s also the stress of wondering,” he said. “You get down to a pound and you worry about what’s going to happen. It becomes a huge issue and is a huge stress factor.”
Right now, there is no easy way for people such as Landers to legally obtain marijuana. In May the U.S. Supreme Court ruled marijuana has no permissible medical use.
The effect of the Supreme Court ruling is unclear, since states handle most drug prosecutions. Still, Landers said it has had a chilling effect on an already tight medical marijuana market.
“With the Supreme Court decision being so misinterpreted on so many levels, it’s become difficult,” he said. “Doctors are more afraid and a lot of law enforcement feel (Proposition) 215 has been thrown out. The only thing the Supreme Court addressed is the medical necessity defense for a distribution case in federal court. It did not change state laws.”
As part of a broader solution, Landers and Arnold both plan to attend the upcoming international summit as representatives from the American Medical Marijuana Association. The organization, formed last winter, fights for patient advocacy, patient rights and support, and is expected to gain nonprofit status in September.
Landers has assumed a post with AMMA as its head of political affairs. Arnold is also a board member who heads caregiving for the organization.
“We’re real,” she said of AMMA. “We realized we had go through the proper steps to change the legislation. The medical need for this is pretty obvious. What we need are the guidelines and leadership so we can feel more comfortable to do what we need to do.”
Landers said organizations like AMMA are part of the answer because for too long people have been battling on their own.
“It’s about the organization, the cooperation of people,” he said. “The hardest problem is fighting the politics of the issue. Too many people have been standing on their own trying to do their own thing. We really need to come together.”
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