and Depression Patient
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
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."