My Work ( Legalization of Marijuana in South Carolina)
Who Am I?
My name is Michael Fogarty. My work towards legalization of marijuana in South Carolina is the focus of my blogging here. I am no one in particular. I am an American citizen living currently in the state of South Carolina. I will write to you my history that has brought me to the point in my life to where I am now fighting for us all in South Carolina with the need for a better pain reliever, medical cure, and complete natural therapy that is grown from the Earth as God intended.
I have been a medical marijuana patient in the state of Rhode Island before moving to South Carolina. I was involved in a treatment program with my doctors in Rhode Island as it transitioned into the legalization of marijuana in Rhode Island back in the years of 2010 and 2011 even though it had been technically legal in RI since 2006. I was the first patient that my neurologist referred/suggested/recommended to the health department to use medical marijuana out of all of his patients. Dr. Jonathan Cahill of RI Hospital took very careful steps with me as we learned together the benefits of medical marijuana on my brain towards my fibromyalgia (which was created from a car accident in 1989 in my body), migraines, and epilepsy (also trauma caused epilepsy from the brain damage in that accident).
My primary care doctor used techniques that integrated the use of medical marijuana with physical therapies to ease severe chronic pain and forms of PTSD. I have complex PTSD from a life altering car accident in 1989 in which I totaled my car and was in a coma for 2 and 1/2 days. I broke my skull in 3 places, lost the sight of my right eye and tore the spinal cord from the skull base.
I was dead at the scene of the accident where the fantastic abilities of the Cumberland Fire Department, in February 1989, took two tow trucks to untangle my car. The car had wrapped itself around a telephone pole after bouncing on its roof from flipping over. It had hit a boulder which flipped it into the air after sliding off the road into a tree. I was getting out of the way of oncoming traffic that was on my side of the road at 1 a.m. that fateful morning. While trying to avoid a head on collision, my right two tires went off of the tar and into dirt. I had tried to pull back onto the tar, but the tires were not level with the road. This made them kick back to the right and into the wooded side road.
It was all split second reaction time with the trees lining the roadside. Time of impact from the road was maybe 1-2 seconds absolute maximum. I was doing 48 miles an hour in a 45 mile per hour zone says the skid marks and accident investigators. The cars racing at me where never found. It ended up looking like a single car accident just driving off of the road. I was a miracle to live through this. My doctors told me then when I was still 18 that when I was in my 40’s, I would be affected by degenerative spinal arthritis due to the trauma I sustained in the accident. There also was a multitude of other potential physical and mental ailments to look out for said the doctors.
With the new pains I experienced daily, doctors could not find the causes for them. I had so many injuries that there was no way to find which one injury was the cause of the symptom I was complaining about each time I would see any of my doctors. They at first gave me opiates for pain relief but I soon discovered that they had little to no effect on my pain at all. It wasn’t like I didn’t feel the pill in my body, I could feel my cheeks on my face going numb but my pain was still as intense as before.
“IT’S ALL IN YOUR HEAD”
I would tell the doctors about this and one doctor actually told me that my pain was “ALL IN MY HEAD!” He gave me a prescription for Amitriptyline hinting that I was depressed or mentally “off”.(That was the last time I went to that doctor too by the way.) I had about lost it on that doctor when he said that so I knew it was time to withdraw from the medical world and find a way to take care of my pain myself since “it was all in my head” anyway. I said to myself over and over again daily. How that did wonders for my psyche! I began to hear about marijuana helping with migraines. Up to this point in my life, 19-20 years old, I was dealing with this chronic pain for over a full year by this time and not seeing any relief at ANY time in the near future. I had never used ANY drugs at all. I did not smoke cigarettes and I never used marijuana yet then either. I decided to try marijuana to ease my headaches like I heard.
What did I expect to happen when I used marijuana for the first time? I expected to be a cheesy goofball sitting in a corner looking to eat all the junk food in the house. I had no idea what else it was like. it was taboo to me. ALL my life I heard, stay away from drugs. Don’t smoke pot, it will lead you to bad things and you will end up in jail! I had anxiety thinking about getting marijuana for the first time because of the myths about it. I think this bothered me more than the experience of finding a “drug dealer” to find some “pot”. I didn’t feel like a criminal buying marijuana from a friend of a friend but at the time, it was illegal where I was still and doing that had to be hidden still. Because of the “sneakiness” of getting it, I would become anxious which the marijuana would cure for me soon afterwards.
It surprised me all of the ways that marijuana affected my body and my pain. Why wasn’t this already being called medical marijuana? Do any of you have any children? For those that have, it was like the first night after bringing the new baby home that the baby slept through the night. For the first time in literally YEARS, I slept through the night. I woke up startled and confused. I was rested. TOO rested (so I felt after going SO long without solid sleep nights on end. Over a year of repeatedly waking up from pain and numbness) I looked at the clock with terror wondering what time it was, shoot, for that matter, what DAY was it? Have you ever been in a DEEP sleep like that before? It can be scary the first time. I came to my senses to realize it was not that late but 9 a.m. (instead of my normal 4 a.m. getting up from pain time) only. I felt a wave of calmness and relaxation come over me and then the normal morning sharpness of moving body parts after laying still for so long. (see next paragraphs to better understand that). This was nice, for a few moments, to know, finally KNOW that I found something that helped me for a change. I knew if I got better sleep, my body would be able to heal more. I knew from here on out that medical marijuana was going to be helpful to me as well as others. All we needed was someone to make it legal. I said to myself often. Why isn’t anyone talking about this legalization more?
After the initial wave of adrenaline from the shock of sleeping wore off, (It wore of quickly like the way water flows over the rocks on the side of a mountain) ALL of my nerves were firing or should I say MISfiring. This is a part of the condition of fibromyalgia. It is when the nerves in the body send signals to nerves without reason. These signals can create a multitude of responses from the body depending on what part is receiving the warped signals. In my case, it sends complete numbness in my arms and hands. It creates migraines and muscle stiffness to the point of damaging the bones and nerve bundles more. This creates MORE misfiring signals to the limbs. It is a vicious cycle of sleep and hurt from not moving to move to not be stationary and muscles and bone structures fail wearing me out to the point of exhaustion before 2 p.m. each day. There are no pain pills that work for me to help with this type of pain. I still had some marijuana left over from the day before. I didn’t know how much to get, what would work etc. so I bought myself a “quarter-ounce” which is 7 grams I now know. I had used 2 grams with the friend that got it for me the night before. I light the bowl that I had, still partly loaded, and I immediately coughed and choked on the smoke inhalation. I thought to myself THIS part SUCKS of smoking marijuana. I wanted to find a better way.
It was better for me at this point than it was during the days around the accident but after some self-help therapy (that I taught myself) I was at a stand still for relief at this point. Even the therapy I had taught myself was not for pain but to teach me all about my new visual challenge of not having depth perception or visual purple any more . You will be surprised at the difference this has on a person. This cannot be re-created by covering one eye to try to experience “walking in one’s shoes”. It does give you some depth challenges that way but it does not counter the loss of the visual purple. Visual purple is for your night vision. It makes it possible for you to be able to handle the glares and changes of lighting at night. Without it, everything is intense and glaring. Countermeasures HAVE to be made or catastrophic results potentially could happen. There was no more night driving ( I know, you wonder how I could even THINK of driving again, huh?). I did get strong enough (by using a tennis ball and two different types of walls. That is for another blog) to try to go into the work field after 6 years of recovery. I worked for multiple restaurant chains as general managers to an operation manager to part owner of my own restaurant in over 20 years of restaurant management. I overcame those challenges until finally my body did what the doctors told what would happen to me back in 1989. My spine had deteriorated into spinal degenerative arthritis to a point that waking was frequent, rest was not. Seizures were beginning to happen more and more too. I had one in Arizona that I fell through a glass table from. This was all before I had legal medical marijuana.
MY Learning Curve
I did not know that the quality of the marijuana I was using was the reason I was choking and coughing so hard. After telling someone about my experiences, they told me it was the “dirt weed” I was using. This is a factor when it comes to illegal marijuana to legal medical marijuana. With proper regulations, the plant can be groomed for better harvests, pest and insect free as well as the potency can be increased with the proper lighting allowed because it can be in the open and afraid to be seized being illegal. I mean I knew that street marijuana was not as good quality as medical marijuana but at this time I did not see much medical marijuana anywhere. It was the magic land of California where you could get medical marijuana. I heard of people taking trips out to Hombolt County to where “The grass is ALWAYS green, never mind greener, on that side of the valley” I would hear them laugh to themselves. I found myself being “the fly on the wall” when others I knew were talking about marijuana. I paid attention to everything that I heard from local chatter to television news. This was at the beginning of the internet. I started out using my parent’s computer (after my accident I had to move back home because I could not walk well on my own nor could I adjust to the vision challenges I now had) looking up what they told me was “pot websites” because pop-up ads from “High Times” (the marijuana magazine that has photos, articles and interviews on it) type of images. They did not understand that what I was doing was actual research for my health. Instead they were of the “old school” way of thinking. They thought I was “turning to drugs” because I was bored and at home instead of the active, full time working and full time social life I had before my accident. It was quite different from that. I built my foundation on learning about THC and CBD and what the differences between the two were. I taught myself how they affected my body through reading and experimentation. I learned what leaves of a CBD strain would look like compared to a strain of THC marijuana would look like (Yes, there IS a BIG difference between two pure strains of CBD and THC groomed and raised marijuana flowers, the hybrids are close to one or the other or sometimes even both) and I tried them separately to see the effects on me and chose what strains worked best for me. I found for ME that the strain I personally liked was and still is a PURE hydroponically grown strain of White Widow. There are many imitations out there but no substitutions will do. If you find a pure White Widow strain, the crystals are so plentiful that the buds are white hence the name “white” widow. There are other “colored” strains of the widow strain such as Black Widow, Red Widow, Purple Widow to name some. I have tried a couple but the effects of them are different. I still recommend white widow.
I moved away from RI in 1995. I was never able to find any success with pain killers for the pains I felt so I didn’t take them. I had nothing for my pain but “illegal” marijuana at the time. I moved across the country to Arizona where I learned a lot more about marijuana. After years of self-educating through the internet and experimentation. I moved back to RI to where my new neurologist heard me when I told him that the meds I keep getting prescribed to me were not working. He then ASKED me what was working. I told him. We built a system up together. He gave the referral/suggestion so that I could get the medical marijuana card and he had me use a chart to keep track of my usage, my reactions, my relief or lack of relief, when it wore off and how long it took. He asked me to see how I felt as it wore off and he had me write this up for each strain I tried. I had a good little stack for a while in our notes. I kept track of how much the THC levels were when they affected me and when they barely touched me or when my “normal” amount became too much with any particular strain. I also kept track of this with CBD too. I worked with my new primary care doctors in a group therapy that included my usage of medical marijuana because it was legal in RI. It was very helpful to be able to sit with my doctors and with their understanding of it talk to me about my pain and its relief I was getting from marijuana. I come to South Carolina and it is like taboo to talk to your doctor about marijuana. It is like they are all scared to bring the subject up.
Making My Team, Breaking My Team?
I had one doctor which I will not name for his privacy, who I went to for a long time and I liked very much. He got out of the business of being A DOCTOR because the rules and regulations about marijuana and the usages of their patients was to them, ridiculous. They said they would rather practice nothing at all or in hospice where they cannot tell me what to give my dying patients than continue to be a doctor in the state of South Carolina under these rules. So they quit. Then the doctor that they sent me to because they said “They will look after you very well” ALSO quit after finding out that this doctor did too. I was (I still am in fact) in shock of this sudden transition of doctors in my team of health care specialists.
My primary care was giving me Marinol (synthetic THC) because of my past history as a medical marijuana patient and how it has helped my conditions in the past, (and by LISTENING to her patients) but my primary care is one of 3 in my team of doctors in my “pain management team” I did not chose to have this but I was assigned to have this. My primary care did not want this but was forced into it. I had to take on a new pain specialist. Because of me taking Marinol, no pain specialist would accept me as a patient. THIS IS A PROBLEM FOR PATIENTS IN SOUTH CAROLINA! This is something I am going to challenge personally. It hurt me for months. The THC is a “banned” substance by the DEA in recreational usages and shows up in their DEA registered drug tests administered monthly now to get my prescriptions filled. This was new to me but it didn’t matter just a waste of more of my time to take more unnecessary steps (for me that is, they may be needed in other cases). I would drop “dirty” but legally because I have a prescription for Marinol. Apparently, doctors in South Carolina do not want to deal with patients who have THC in their system. This is true even when they tell it to your face in the doctor interview (I recommend that you all interview your doctors FIRST before you start giving them your hard earned money. Why not? You are going to be literally putting your life into their hands.) at the beginning to which I ALWAYS bring someone (a witness) so that I can verify what I heard. It will never be my word vs a doctor’s word. I will lose 99% of the time. Who are we but disgruntled patients? If you have someone there to verify your statements and complaints of a doctor then they will listen more carefully to you. My pain doctor told me and I quote “If I drug tested my patients for pot more than half of them would fail. Do you know what the BEST pain medicine in the world is today? THC. I am serious” I told him I was taking Marinol, not even smoking marijuana. He went behind my back to call my primary care doctor to try to get her to make me quit taking it to the point that they left the practice into a different field.
This angered me. I talked to my third doctor in my team of doctors, the counselor. She got on the phone as mediator to find out that the pain doctor had totally lied to me. He had told my primary care doctor he had 6 months to get me off of the THC medicine. I don’t know what would have happened after the 6 months for my doctor left at the 5 month mark. I truly wonder at times if my personal case was a deciding factor in her transitional move in her career. I started looking into what can be done in the state of South Carolina. I reached out to local officials who had voted and signed their names on the medical marijuana bills that are in the state senate and asked them what can I do for them that will make their job easier to get that bill to pass? It took me several connections to reach the right groups to talk to but I finally met up with a couple of our state senators in both Senator Tom Davis and Senator Campbell. I went to a meeting hall to meet up with Senator Davis and I sat with Senator Campbell near my home at the local library with my computer. I gave both of them a 12 page report on the usages of marijuana. It showcases 98% of the ways you can use marijuana. I am sure there are ways that I did not cover but they would be the ones that maybe 2% or less tried and used. Then in the same report it shows the pros and cons of the usages of those types. This report will be available in the near future (or it may be now depending on when you are reading this) on this website under the Marijuana 101 tab and the education tab.
Reaching Out to the State Senators
In my meeting with Senator Davis, it was more in a group setting to where he asked me to get with him in a one-on-one sit down meeting to go over my points and reports. I have tried to set these meetings up but as of this writing, I have not successfully found a day and time that both of us are in the same areas to do this.
In my meeting with Senator Campbell, it went very well for us. After a few times we finally did get together at a public library. I would like to thank Senator Campbell publicly here for his efforts and his time with me that day and for the days upcoming that we will be working together on this project. I gave him a brief introduction to me and my conditions. I went into my medical history with medical marijuana and presented him with my first report for him. I have a couple of others but I need to give him 1 at a time for them to be received and read properly. I went over it in detail with him. He asked a lot of good questions about marijuana. He asked how it affects your body and how it affects you in the different forms. These are good questions. They told me that he was serious about trying to get this to pass and not just going through the motions. I showed him 2 other reports I have started for him that I had stopped due to the current laws of South Carolina. He then told me to continue the reports as if the laws were not hindering me. I told him I would and that when we met up again I would give him another one or two reports ready for him. He told me he had my number in his phone now so that when I called he would recognize it. He would call me as he was going to be on the rescheduling committee for prescription drugs. Currently marijuana is a schedule 1 drug which means it has “no medical benefits or value” but such drugs as cocaine, meth amphetamine, and heroin are all schedule 2 or lower drugs which allow for medical use. This is how you get you tylenol3 with codeine since it has the cocaine base derivative and you get your adderall because meth amphetamine is not schedule 1. You get your Oxycontin because heroin is also not a schedule 1 drug but to use medical marijuana, THC or CBD which can cure cancer, epilepsy, complex PTSD (like mine) degenerative arthritis (also like mine) not to mention how it helps with other neurological disorders from migraines to tumors. BUT.. depending on what side of the kaleidoscope you are viewing you will be told that those things are not true. I am living proof that they are true. They work on ME. I do not care about what they want to tell ANYONE. I am not ANYONE. I am ME. You are YOU. You need to listen to what YOUR body tells you when you put something in it whether it be from foods, medicines, drinks or sugars.
I have one thing to say before I close this post. I am working with Senator Campbell on why marijuana should be a schedule 2 or lower medicine. I have belief in the Senator that with the right information in his hands, he will help us get this to be legal sooner rather than later here in South Carolina. Your support for Senator Campbell in this matter is encouraged by me. To those that are against using THC to heal our bodies. THC, which is a natural substance that comes out of a plant that is grown NATURALLY from the Earth (by God through our farmers) is banned but yet cocaine and meth are easier attainable because of their schedule types. So I say to them,
“If you are watching so carefully for THC, are you also watching your other intakes as well? Are you counting your calories and fat intake? They kill more people than THC when out of control. Where is your ban on McDonald’s? Where is your ban on KFC for serving fatty foods? Oh wait, I forgot, you EAT there so it’s ok. YOUR child is not sick so THC does not mean anything to you. Give me three examples where medical marijuana has caused harm on a person or child. No, wait, 3 is too hard for you. I want to make it simple. give me ONE example where medical marijuana has caused harm on a person or child when it is administered properly. I don’t want to hear about the kids that got high and slept late (after raiding their fridge) and got fired from work (as an example) for it.”
I will be writing here on this website in blogs and reports. I will be giving more reports to both Senator Davis and to Senator Campbell in the near future. I will update this as I go forward in our quest to legalize medical marijuana in South Carolina. Thank you for taking the time to look over “My Work”. I will keep you updated.