by Julie Falco
I've lived with multiple sclerosis for 20 years. My legs tighten up as soon as I get out of bed. Navigating my apartment with my walker is painful, and after a full day, my neck, shoulders and back are strained. I have a tight band-like feeling around my abdomen and experience constant numbness and tingling all over my body. Waves of fatigue hit me, and sometimes my feet and calves feel a burning cold.
Until seven years ago I took over 30 pharmaceuticals for the many symptoms of MS. None of them worked for me and I felt miserable. Prednisone for symptom flare-ups gave me a swollen face and acne; Baclofen for muscle spasticity reduced my heart rate; I became depressed and depleted and suicide often crossed my mind. Then, I tried cannabis.
I'd smoked pot in college and was familiar with its calming effects. I'd heard it helped certain ailments, so I tried it for MS. It helped with spasticity and insomnia, however the smoke gave me headaches. I researched ways to ingest cannabis, including baking with it. I tried a recipe, began eating 1-inch-cube-sized brownies three times a day and immediately noticed improvements. Symptoms became tolerable. I eliminated all pharmaceuticals and was no longer depressed or suicidal, although I lived in anxiety and fear of being arrested.
I started to speak out about the benefits of cannabis instead of living in anxiety. I became a board member of the Illinois National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws, and the Illinois Drug Education and Legislative Reform. I testified to pass a medical cannabis bill and told my story to local media outlets and groups. The fear turned into knowledge as I became a co-author of The Cannabis Papers: a citizen's guide to cannabinoids after learning that everyone on the planet has a cannabinoid system that modulates and regulates all other systems of the body.
I have to continue to speak my truth for people managing challenging illnesses like my own.
I have to continue speaking the truth of cannabinoids and how the cannabis plant is healing to the entire world and not something to be feared.
Click here to view our speaking series by Julie Falco