As intriguing as it is to immerse in the legalistic lunacy of the state’s evolving medical marijuana protocols, we shouldn’t forget that it’s ultimately a story about people–real people in pain who have embraced the herb for its legendary healing properties. And in healing their bodies, some have found the resulting peace of mind downright salubrious for the soul.
One of these people is my friend Jeni O’Donnell. For the past decade, O’Donnell, 55, has been a central figure in Downtown revitalization through her work as manager at Chamblin’s Uptown, the urban core extension of the legendary independent bookstore on Roosevelt Boulevard. This summer marks 18 years she’s been behind the counter at Chamblin’s, the past decade almost exclusively downtown.
O’Donnell, 55, has accomplished much while beating breast cancer, an ordeal that strengthened her longstanding support for medical marijuana. Today, she is both vocal and vigilant in her advocacy. She took the time one Tuesday morning to educate me on aspects of the issue that most have never given much thought.
She got her medical marijuana card about a month ago. “The whole process took about six weeks,” she said. In contrast to those who’ve found the process daunting, some to the point of discouragement, she had no problems whatsoever. “You go to the doctor, one visit. You have to have your medical records with you, so you need to get in touch with your general physician to take care of that. He wrote a prescription right then and there. …You have to send them $75 for the card and the processing, and two passport photos, so they have one on file and one on your card.”
“I don’t do anything without research,” she said, thumbing a stack of cannabis literature the size of a small wedding cake, all of which are available at Chamblin’s. The laws do not allow for use of regular pot, so patients are availing themselves of a veritable plethora of derivatives. “In the ’70s, you got the flower. You had grass, or hash. Now they have concentrated oils; they have something they call ‘dabs’, which is oil. They have topical lotions, they have pills. There are some places working on suppositories, which are great for people with cancer or going through chemo, and they’re also working on a transdermal patch.”
Doctors take special classes to be certified to prescribe marijuana. The Miami Herald cites statistics from the Florida Department of Health indicating that, while the number of patients grew from 16,760 to 31,051 between June 7 and Aug. 21 (a 65 percent increase), the percentage of doctors grew only 23 percent, from 819 to 1,005, in that time period.
O’Donnell noted that implementation accelerated over the summer, with the wait to get a card reduced from three to six months to several weeks. She wants to see the herb decriminalized entirely. “It’s hard to dose when you’re using oils, and it’s a learning process.” Long-term, she plans to continue expanding her knowledge, taking classes online through LearnSativa.com, and advocate use, especially among seniors, who were raked over the coals in the pill-mill days. Asked if I could use her name, she insisted. “At 55, I don’t care!”
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