Ron Oveson suffers from neurosarcoidosis. Prescribed medications did not abate his symptoms and he was not able to obtain any relief until his doctor recommended that he try marijuana.
Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. My name is Ron Oveson; I’m a resident of Bloomington; and I appreciate the opportunity to address you today regarding my support for the medical marijuana bill.
I’m one of the many seriously ill Minnesotans that this bill would help. Since 1989, I’ve been fighting a rare disorder called neurosarcoidosis, which causes my body to produce antibodies to my own tissues, including my spinal cord and brain. My symptoms are severe and have included sporadic paralysis in my legs and left arm, nausea and vomiting, extreme pain in my extremities, and muscle spasms.
Physicians at the Mayo Clinic discovered that this disease could be controlled by suppressing my immune system. The sporadic paralysis I’d experienced abated, and,after months of physical therapy, I was able to walk again. But that was only the first of many battles I fought.
In the spring of 2001, the disease began to affect my thyroid gland. My heart rate increased dramatically, and my digestive system sped up, moving food through my system so fast that it was largely undigested. My body’s reaction was to violently expel any food I attempted to eat. I spent weeks in the hospital, losing about 70 of my 190 pounds. We tried dozens of drugs to no avail.
Finally, my doctor suggested that I try marijuana. He felt that even a small dose could relieve my nausea and potentially enable me to gain back some of my weight.
I couldn’t imagine how to obtain marijuana. The most serious crime I’d ever committed was speeding when I was in college. Was I supposed to go downtown to some alley in the middle of the night and just stand there, hoping not to get shot?
Eventually, I found a friend who was able to acquire some. I was absolutely amazed at the result. It was unlike any of the other drugs my doctor had prescribed. It not only stopped my nausea, but it enabled me to eat a meal for the first time in months.
The fact that I was breaking the law was deeply troubling, however. In my family, we simply don’t commit crimes.
Luckily, my thyroid gland eventually returned to normal, and I was able to discontinue using marijuana, which was a relief. I hated the whole process of dealing with an illegal drug.
The thyroid problems have returned several times, and I’ve only occasionally had the ability to obtain marijuana. When I had it, I could live a functional life. When I didn’t, I had to use the prescription drugs, which basically reduced my nausea by making me sleep all the time. It’s absurd that I had to make myself nearly comatose in order to get relief.
I desperately need medical marijuana to be an option, but I’m unwilling to move to any of the 13 medical marijuana states. I love Minnesota; it’s my home. I feel that access to medical marijuana should be safe and controlled, and that marijuana should be available only to patients with documented symptoms. And that’s exactly what the Minnesota legislation proposes.
It has been years since I’ve used marijuana, because I simply can’t stand to participate in the criminal market. I have to be at my wit’s end – miserable to the point where my upbringing and my law-abiding personality are trumped by my agony. No one should be forced into that position.
I strongly urge the committee to pass this legislation. I’m not the only Minnesotan counting on you to do the right thing here today. Thank you.