I am Elvy Musikka. I was born with congenital cataracts, so as a child I had several eye surgeries. Perhaps for this reason I developed glaucoma in my thirties. Within a year a doctor recommended medical marijuana: For over 25 years it has been the most efficient, reliable, and the safest part of my treatment. Unfortunately, fear of the law caused me to make irrational personal decisions, such as having too many surgeries in my right eye. The result? Permanent blindness in that eye.
By this time I was more determined than ever to maintain the limited but stable vision in my left eye. I cultivated marijuana: was arrested, and based on medical necessity, won my trial. Thus on August 15, 1988, we established a medical marijuana defense in the state of Florida. Shortly after this win, I became the first woman to receive medical cannabis through a federal program, that today supplies eight of us. Repeatedly this issue goes before the voters; it always wins overwhelmingly! However, the Federal Government continues to deny the voters. Millions of Americans use cannabis daily, thus I suspect that we are the largest minority in the United States. We come from every segment of society and every financial background. We are for the most part, responsible adults who maintain occupations, families, and contribute to our communities. (Still we arrest 700,000 people yearly, for choosing a "Wiser Bud".) We consider hemp/cannabis/ marijuana prohibition a blasphemy on the Creator's work. Some of the consequences are: ozone destruction, planetary deforestation, and pollution. (Serious health hazards.) As we surrender our Constitution, and make criminals out of otherwise law-abiding citizens, we are wasting a tremendous amount of resources! It is our responsibility as citizens to demand accountability of our legislators. We cannot continue to support man-made laws that are against Nature. These laws attempt to prohibit the BASIC INSTINCTS OF SELF PRESERVATION AND COMPASSION.
|Living in Florida, Elvy Musikka bought the
Reefer Madness story, hook, line and sinker. As her already bad
eyesight continued to deteriorate, she endured prescription
pharmaceutical drugs which had uncomfortable side effects, but
little effect on her glaucoma. Turning to ever more desperate
measures, Elvy agreed to undergo a risky surgery on her better,
right eye. The operation left her blinded in that eye.
Only then did she consider suggestions to try using marijuana to reduce the buildup of inner eye pressure. To her grudging surprise, she found that it seemed to work.
Elvy discussed the effect with her doctor, and did her own experiments by eating marijuana brownies before certain visits to the doctor. His measurements of her eye pressure verified that the herb did, indeed, have the effect of lowering the pressure. Elvy began to grow her own plants and found that she was good at it; good enough to attract the attention of the police, who arrested her. She argued medical necessity and the judge agreed to hear the testimony. At this point Elvy learned that the doctors had never recorded her observations about marijuana, leaving her to rely on the testimony of expert witnesses and her new physician, who agreed that nothing else had been effective and that marijuana made a measurable difference in her eye pressure.
The judge ruled in her favor, stating that Elvy "would have to be insane" to forego the use of medical marijuana. She was placed on the federal IND program, which provided legal marijuana for a few patients until it was shut down under the Bush administration in 1992. Elvy continues to receive government prepared marijuana cigarettes each month. Even though they are not as good as the medicine she grew herself, Elvy's vision has improved due to her steady use of marijuana.
Said Elvy, "How can I have a right to medicine but other patients not have the same right? I didn't lose my eyesight to glaucoma, I lost it to ignorance."
Elvy is now an ardent and inspiring spokesperson for cannabis reform.
|Comments from Elvy
Musikka, glaucoma patient and one of only eight people in
the U.S. allowed to receive marijuana legally as medicine from the
federal government. December 14, 1997 Hollywood, Florida
An Open Letter about Medical Marijuana
I’d like to begin by thanking so many wonderful people from all walks of life that I have met in this wonderful land of ours. Some of you were responsible for a great deal of research in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Through your efforts and with the help of patients and doctors you were able to convince 36 states of the necessity regarding marijuana as medicine. You also were able to give patients a beautiful legacy in DEA Judge Francis Young’s ruling in support of medical cannabis in 1988. As patients, we will forever be grateful to the people and all the efforts that were put into Proposition 200 and 215. The White House may still be in denial and the laws are still being challenged. But make no mistake – you ended the dark light of ignorance that lasted 60 years when you allowed to voters to speak their minds inside the voting booth.
The environmentalists have brought to our attention that we cannot live as healthy people on a sick planet. Each of these segments has contributed so much in putting together the puzzle so that the world is beginning to see the horrible spectrum that this prohibition has created. It’s tentacles strike woundingly at all the areas in our lives as patients. If you take your message on to other states, please remember that the laws that must be changed now have to be more than tokens. They have to be designed to alleviate the unnecessary horrendous suffering that is happening to millions of patients in the U.S. and the world. We must take responsibility in reminding our legislators and those practicing law enforcement that the Constitution of the U.S. is still the supreme law of this land and that all of them have taken an oath to uphold and protect this document for which so many have shed their precious blood.
In taking input from patients, you will quickly realize the intolerable situation that prevents our doctors and ourselves from communicating openly without fear of reprisals. Certainly the first amendment should apply to those who have dedicated and given up most of their youth studying so that they will know something about my body. We must at all times remember that bad laws constantly hurt good people. In the hope that we will continue to work together in order to achieve all these goals, I will close here by introducing some of you to Dr. James W. Woodward.
Dr. Woodward had worked in law policy in the U.S. since 1898, was the co-author of the Harrison Act, the first document to deal with drug illegality in our country. He was quite shocked to hear about a new drug called “marijuana” which supposedly had horrifying effects on its victims. Upon personally investigating the claims, he found not one shred of substance to the allegations. He was not allowed to testify and therefore found it necessary to write a letter which you can still find in law libraries today. In this letter, Dr. Woodward points out that if we were trying to outlaw cannabis, we shouldn’t be calling it “marijuana” (Mary Jane in Spanish). In spite of the fact that cannabis had been as widely used in the early part of this century as Tylenol is today, Dr. Woodward felt that there was still much research needed as he was convinced that this herb had many, many, more medical benefits. He stated that it’s prohibition would be a terrible disservice especially to the elderly and the children because of cannabis’ non-addictive properties. He closed the letter with genuine concern for what this prohibition would mean to the economy of the American farmer.
I support all of you. You are all desperately needed. We will all be 10 times more effective when we find the strength that can only be derived through unity.
Let’s keep learning from one another. Please keep the initiatives simple and to the point so that they can alleviate the suffering as soon as possible.
Sincerely and with love always,
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Ms. Elvy Musikka
AN OPEN LETTER
Jan. 13, 1997
President William Jefferson Clinton
The White House
Dear President Clinton:
Please accept my best wishes for a happy and prosperous New Year.
I would like to start this letter with a prayer for unity through which we will be able to resolve so many issues that are vital to us as individuals, as a society, as a nation, and as world citizens.
My name is Elvy Musikka. I am patient no. 3 of 8 who today currently receives medical marijuana through the federal government of the United States. My illness is glaucoma, which is responsible for most of the physical blindness in the United States and I have been receiving medical marijuana since the fall of 1988.
One in four of us are expected to have some form of cancer according to today's statistics. That is a sobering thought that awakens many of us to step out of the state of denial, looking for answers. Certainly we must take a look at our diet, as our immune systems seem to deplete more and more. A source of concern is the vast amount of chemical herbicides and pesticides used throughout the nation, in particular as it applies to the cotton industry. Paints, varnishes and tens of thousands of other products that prior to this century were done through nature are now produced through the petroleum industry. We must also consider that fossil fuel in the inner city through exhaust is responsible for a 37% higher rate of cancer than in the rural areas. We cannot overlook the destruction that is being created by the paper industry. Deforestation is so radical that today we have 15% less oxygen than we did at the beginning of this century. These are but a few of the problems that are affecting our health and are directly related to the hemp/cannabis prohibition.
In 1990, I prayed for guidance as I realized that my position was a privilege which carries the responsibility to share what I learn and to help people to understand the need of the seriously ill who today are judged as "criminals" by current law.
I began to write a letter to then-First Lady Barbara Bush, trying to explain this dilemma. But in the midst, I stopped, as I realized that as much as I wanted to help the seriously ill, I did not want to contribute to the bloodshed and the suffering that goes on because of drug laws. That's when I prayed for guidance and understanding. Be careful what you pray for. Within 20 minutes the telephone rang and I was invited to Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida to speak on the issue of medical marijuana.
That was the beginning of a new life for me. First it involved many young people throughout the nation at several universities, all of whom were very dedicated in wanting to communicate and to educate the public, seriously taking the advice of Thomas Jefferson, who clearly stated: "Enlighten the people generally and tyranny and oppression of both mind and body will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day."
By the fall of 1990, there were five legal recipients and all of us attended the 20th anniversary of the NORML organization. Our testimony was broadcast through C-Span, and it awakened many doctors and patients and others who were very interested in the issue.
By 1991, I am aware of at least 50 patients who through extensive medical records, reputable doctors, and sometimes through courts -- such as in my case -- were able to convince all three drug-related agencies, FDA, DEA, and NIDA, that for us, marijuana isn't just medicine, it is the most efficient, reliable and safest part of our treatment and sometimes it is our only treatment. In the summer of 1991, the program was frozen. No new patients were given access to medical marijuana and the program was officially closed by the spring of 1992.
Unfortunately, 36 of those patients never did receive the promised marijuana from the government. Thus, most of their income goes to the streets as does the income of millions of people in the United States locking for this medicine.
One such patient is Ron Shaw. He spends most of his life in anguish and pain with post-polio syndrome. Although he was promised medical marijuana, he was cut off when the program was discontinued in 1992. As a result, he now takes many other medications, including a permanent synthetic heroin patch which impairs his ability to think straight. Once he was an expert computer analyst for NASA.
Most of us at one time or another have tried Marinol. The history of Marinol is quite interesting. Here is a plant that is supposed to have no medical value; yet all private research was stopped back in 1976, when Robert Randall became the first man to smoke medical marijuana. The pharmaceuticals, however, were allowed to continue their research and spend millions of dollars isolating the THC -- the one ingredient in the plant that makes us "high" -- and making it available to patients through the pharmaceuticals which charge outrageous prices and the taxpayers bear the brunt, as it is prescribed strictly for terminal patients, not for all illnesses for which marijuana is helpful, including glaucoma.
Since I have been a guinea pig for every glaucoma treatment and medication available, I tried Marinol in 1986. I was delighted to feel the slight euphoria and found that it did control my inter-ocular pressure so that I didn't have to be a criminal, but a week later it was evident that my inter-ocular pressures were starting to climb up again. Many patients report similar experiences, regardless of their illnesses, and many of our doctors and us have concluded that we need all those other 400 plus components in that plant, in order to alleviate the symptoms of our various illnesses.
I have heard many devastating reports from people who used Marinol, but the worst came from one of those 36 patients who was approved, my friend Jacki Richert in Wisconsin, who lives in a wheelchair and in constant pain. She tried Marinol, which paralyzed her completely for five days, scaring her and her family half to death. When Jacki related this story to a young man named Bill Clinton, who was then aspiring to the office of President of the United States of America, he laid a warm hand upon her and with sincerity shining in his eyes, promised this woman that when he became President, these things would change.
Thank you Arizona and California and all of the people throughout the country who have been responsible for the dawn to break through the dark night of ignorance that has lasted for three generations with this blasphemy on the Creator's work that we know as Hemp/Cannabis Prohibition.
This was not an easy task. It was people who dedicated their lives, some for weeks, some for months, some for years, and many for decades. It took people getting motivated to go in the streets, to put their personal fear aside, to work with one another, and to get out into the streets, educating the public and collecting those signatures. These campaigns ran with a minimal amount of money in comparison with those items that make it to the ballot and would have been impossible without the generosity of Mr. Zimmerman, Mr. Lewis, and Mr. Soros and all of the others who contributed smaller amounts to give us this opportunity to get to the people. We who represent 49 million disabled Americans between the ages of 16 end 64, plus the elderly who often have to deal with rheumatism, arthritis, and other painful illnesses, whose eyesight and hearing often diminishes, who deal with depression often and insomnia, high blood pressure, on behalf of the children who are born with leukemia, cancer and other serious illnesses, from the bottom of my heart, I thank all who have contributed with their prayers, their time, their work, and their money. We at last see the dawn of a new day, as the millenia approaches. We see this as an opportunity for doctors and patients to take the lead from California and Arizona, to visit their legislators and confront them with the reality of their problems, and the God-given solution and to insist that it is high time that doctors and patients be the only ones who are involved in medical decisions. In other words, we here have an opportunity to alleviate the suffering of the millions of seriously ill patients, their friends, relatives and physicians -- who today constitute a large segment of the 11 million plus otherwise law-abiding citizens, who today have criminal records as a result of this Prohibition.
I know that we do have a serious drug problem with the youth in particular to whom all drugs are illegal. But having kept marijuana away from patients all this decade has never been a deterrent for children to use marijuana. As a matter of fact, we should consider General McCaffrey's statement which states that 15 years ago we had 6 million cocaine addicts. Today, he estimates that figure at 1.4 million. Clearly the fact that doctors do use cocaine on patients has not had a devastating effect on children. Patients are also allowed to use synthetic heroin, which again doesn't seem to be a prevalent problem among our youth, thank God. These children definitely need comprehensive education that will lead them into a life that will achieve their quality visions. I have been using marijuana medically for 21 years and neither of my children, both of whom attended college, smoke, nor have they ever had any drug problems.
In my travels I have visited the DEA at their Washington office, met with six of their top officials, who insist that we need more scientific evidence. I pointed out that we have the Indian Hemp Commission, the LaGuardia Report, the Shafer Report, the Jamaican/Costa Rica studies, and their own Administrative Law Judge's recommendation based on two years of testimony given by patients and doctors and people for and against the rescheduling of marijuana throughout the country. All of these studies have found marijuana to be a safe substance and have asked for its decriminalization. Nevertheless, they claim that there is no scientific evidence. It will be impossible to ever meet the parameters by which modern medicine is judged as long as those parameters are dictated by the pharmaceutical industry. For one thing, they will never accept the inhalation of smoke, even though we have found it to be fairly safe where cannabis is concerned. However, we are allowing patients to inhale many medicines which, if abused, can be totally detrimental to us. The record shows, according to John Lawn, ex-head of the DEA, that 75% of all emergencies in our hospitals today are due to legal drugs and prescriptions, especially when combined with one another.
After leaving the DEA headquarters, I found several seriously ill patients and care-givers from the State of California. My friend Mary Lynn Mathre, a substance-abuse expert from Virginia and myself attended a meeting at which my Congressman, Peter Deutch, had set up between us and several of the top aides from the Justice Department. Our plea was for amnesty for doctors and patients who over the last 21 years have been forced to keep all of the research underground. This way we felt that the government could have all of the evidence that they keep saying is needed. They took a long time to think it over and we wrote to them several times. At last, we received a letter which had very little to do with the questions we were asking, but the final paragraph is one I would like to share with you now:
It seems strange to me that when all of the legislatures of the individual states agreed with the government about the scheduling of marijuana, that your Justice Department would take the position that this is a matter which is under the jurisdiction of the individual states, but that once the people of two of those states have spoken loud and clear to say that they want their state to apply different rules, your Administration has publicly announced its intention to persecute any doctor who prescribes medical marijuana legally under state law. Apparently, it is only a matter of "state's rights" when the states agree with the federal government. In any event, this is just another of the long line of oppressions that the seriously ill and their physicians have been subject to and victimized by since the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 was passed over the written objection of the American Medical Association, as clearly stated by Dr. James W. Woodruff at the time.
I'd like to close here by reminding you about some of the principles upon which this government was founded. Besides the Constitution being the Supreme Law of the Land, we must consider the financial disaster that we're creating with this Prohibition, as well as the devastating effects on our environment and subsequently our health. It is apparent that we should remember Blackstone's Commentary, a source of inspiration for our forefathers and still considered to be an authority on law definitions. Here you will find the statement made that "When a man-made law is contrary to the law of nature, it has no validity, any time, anywhere, under any circumstances, in the entire planet." It furthermore goes on to explain that the law of nature is God's expressed creation.
I urgently request you to rethink your Administration's position on continuing to persecute doctors who prescribe medical marijuana, by taking away their licenses and threatening their livelihoods and professional standing, even when those prescriptions are written legally under state law. Such a position is disgraceful from a man such as yourself, particularly in view of the statements you made while you were running for office.
May the true spirit of love always be your guiding light,
/s/ ELVY MUSIKKA
Chris Sanders and Elvy Musikka are both glaucoma patients.
"I realize now that I was never blinded by glaucoma, I was blinded by ignorance"
Blinded by Ignorance
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