Sunday, July 27, 2003


If I had realized what a responsibility matchmaking was, I probably would not have become involved. Continuing the stalker energy that's surrounded me this week, Mike and Irma hunted me down for a barbecue yesterday. Don't get me wrong, I love these two but it takes a lot of patience to listen to them. They're always trashed, and repeat themselves endlessly. It's why Jamie and I thought they would be so perfect together, and they are except for the one fatal flaw both of us missed.

I'd like to point out that this was Jamie's big idea in the first place, I just gave it legs, as was typical in our relationship. Mike and Irma still thank me at least once a week, even as they approach their two year anniversary. I was the one that convinced Irma; it took 3 months. Every time I'm with them, Michael will tell the story of how I set them up. The deal was the three of us would meet for drinks. After an hour if Irma liked him, I would leave. If she didn't, we would leave together. I told Michael the plan as well, before we arrived. He always ends the story by demonstrating how startled he was, standing up and looking around in confusion, and then says "And the rest is history".

It seemed like a such a good idea at the time. When Jamie brought it up, it was one of those head-slapping moments when you say, "Why didn't we think of this before, it's so obvious". Irma was afraid he would hurt her emotionally. I knew him to be a good man who would treat her well. Who would have thought he would treat her so well that it enabled her to hurt herself. She's drinking herself into an early grave and she can't stop because he removed the economic control factor.

Jamie sleazed off to live in another town with his beastly new girlfriend months ago, so I'm left here alone to figure out how to save Irma without hurting Michael. Poor Mike is running around clueless, talking about how he's part of the family, while Irma is telling me her family and her doctor think she should leave him to save her life. I would think that's true except that I see the light in her eyes when he walks into the room. He really is good for her in so many ways, but he is not going to stop drinking and the question is - can she stop if he doesn't? As God is my witness, I will never matchmake again.



Speaking of matchmaking, my personal stalker seems to have finally understood the message. My posse of redneck drinking buddies at City Cafe probably helped drive it home. I didn't even realize I had a posse until this happened. He was still showing up and sitting across the bar from me -- staring. I never had less than four big guys standing around my chair. Three of them each had a little talk with the guy privately. I haven't seen him since, although I hear he's still coming in but leaving before I get there.

That's the thing about living in such a small place. There are times when it feels so incestuous that you have to run screaming to an airport and get out of town. Most times though, trading anonymity for safety works for me. While I hate being watched, it's good to know someone is watching out.



It's been a busy week in the War On Users of Natural Drugs. To begin with we lost the McGovern amendment to divert Columbian drug war funds to AIDS relief in Africa. It was a little disappointing, but it was a close vote - 195 to 226. I thought we might have taken that one, particularly in light of Bush's newly professed concern for Liberia, but I'll take the margin as a sign of hope in this ungodly war. We are making progress.

Speaking of amendments, the rest of the ones I've been working for this week were attached to the transportation bill.

It's mindboggling that the Drug Enforcement Administration will get a healthy budget increase over this year, considering this report by the White House Office of Management and Budget giving the agency a 0 rating in Results/Accountability, while the FBI will have a level budget and aid to state and local law enforcement agencies will be cut.

What a concept. Pump money into a failed program that persecutes non-violent people and take it from the agencies responsible for protecting us against violent terrorist acts. Meanwhile, Bring Em On Bush is out there trying to incite some mayhem that he can take decisive action against and look presidential again, just in time for election season. And they wonder why I smoke cannabis.

In another colossal waste of tax dollars, the Connecticut State Forensic Laboratory is spending $340,000 of federal money to map the DNA of seized marijuana in order to track growers. Should this really be a priority in our federal budget when schoolchildren have no books?

On the brighter side, the FCC amendment to bar federal regulators from letting broadcasters own television stations serving 45 percent of the country's viewers -- compared with 35 percent today -- passed and has drawn a White House veto threat. One little win for as long as it lasts.

Daniel Forbes, who writes on social policy and has testified before both the U.S. Senate and the House, recently published an excellent analysis on where we currently stand in the battle for drug policy reform. It's a sobering look at how far we have to go, but offers hope as a review of what we have accomplished so far.

Other encouraging news comes once again from North of the Border. In Nova Scotia, Marijuana Party Candidate, Michael Ronald Patriquen, is proving a decisive factor in a hotly contested local race. Michael is conducting his campaign from a jail cell where he is serving a 6 year sentence on conspiracy to traffic marijuana. One more thing to love about Canada. There's no law to prevent him from running.

On the subject of medicinal marijuana, the last word and the quote of the day goes to Alison Myrden, a medical marijuana patient living in Burlington, Canada who offers this response to Andrea Barthwell's screed. I don't have a link to this so I am publishing it in its entirety.

I'm the proof

I have just finished a second perusal of Dr. Andrea Barthwell's synopsis of the medicinal utility of cannabis. As a young woman living with chronic progressive MS, and as a legal medical marijuana patient in Canada, I am truly thankful that Barthwell -- deputy director at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and a past president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine -- is not in my country.

As far as I am concerned, Barthwell is in the same category as Health Minister Anne McLellan -- misinformed. Barthwell doesn't frighten me. It will just take a little longer to educate her. She argues that the proof of medicine is in the patient's getting better, not just feeling better. Well, I am her proof.

Ten years ago, I couldn't get out of a wheelchair and could not stop shaking violently when I tried to cross a room. I was taking more than 32 pills plus 600 to 2,000 mg of morphine a day. I lost full control of my bladder and bowel. Next came the worst pain known to medicine that was also incurable -- Tic Douloureux.

Before too long and many, many doctors later, I was introduced to marijuana. The results were instantaneous.

Over the last four years, I have halved my prescription medications that were my life for more than 10 years. I am also out of a wheelchair more often and not using my walker at all. Would Barthwell believe I could do this if I weren't improving?

I am one of hundred of thousands of Canadians who have shown the Canadian government just how much our quality of life has improved. My health is better now than it ever has been. I am walking every day of my life now with a cane, I have everything under control when I have the proper strain of cannabis and things could not be better.

I feel sorry, not only for Barthwell because one day she may need this incredible plant, but for her patients who will obviously be denied an indisputable service while she cages the suffering innocents of her country. Shame on her.

Alison Myrden, Burlington.


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