Alcoholism and Depression Patient

Alan McLemore

sentenced to
6-1/2 years
for medical marijuana

Photo: Alan with his wife, Maggi Carter-Lemore

Alan had a reputation as a good lawyer until his relationship with alcohol began to interfere with his life.

It was a long, slow slide downwards. First, his law practice began to suffer, then his wife divorced him. His life became a shambles, and his health gave out.From the age of 18 to 39, Alan used alcohol to self-medicate for what was later identified as chronic clinical depression. Drinking a half-gallon of 101-proof whiskey every other day, he developed alcohol-related gastro-intestinal problems for which he was hospitalized on several occasions and was near death. He sought out all kinds of legally available help: AA, treatment programs, psychiatrists, pharmaceutical anti-depressants. Nothing seemed to work.

Then, Alan started smoking cannabis. He found that by smoking marijuana before he took his first drink in the morning, he could somehow put off that first drink. After several weeks, he was not drinking at all. His life began to get back together. His law practice was growing. Although liquor had caused permanent damage to his stomach and esophagus, his health also dramatically improved. He obtained a prescription for Marinol which he used when marijuana was unavailable.

Alan began to garden on his land to keep himself off alcohol, two others off crack, and provide some friends with "safe, pleasurable entertainment." On February 8, 1995, he was arrested on charges of manufacturing marijuana. For a time in jail, he was able to get his Marinol prescription from the jail psychiatrist, but not for long.

Alan has been sentenced to 6 1/2 years in a federal prison. Since Marinol is not on the Bureau of Prisons list of available pharmaceutical compounds (since it is classified as a Schedule 2 drug), he cannot get his medicine. As a result, he suffers from severe depression and loss of appetite. Doctors give him medication to help him eat, but that does not help his depression. He undergoes significant fluctuations in his weight.

"Alcohol nearly destroyed me. The only relief available for me (and I suspect, for many others) is THC, which being mostly illegal leaves me with the choice of losing my freedom if I seek relief, or losing my life to alcohol if I don't. A 'one size fits all' drug policy is wrong, since it denies individuals in many cases the ability to find what works for them."


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