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How Advocating for Legalized Medical Cannabis Has Helped Me Use My Voice

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I never used to be “political.” I was raised as the daughter of a minister; it’s kind of tradition to keep some of our political positions to ourselves so as to avoid meshing church and state. Truly a wise rule of thumb, but what I didn’t expect was the habit I had created; I didn’t know how to speak confidently about my political opinions as an adult. Now, at 29, I attend church and volunteer regularly, but I do not carry the responsibility to remain neutral anymore. In the six years since I worked in ministry, my voice has still remained mostly silent… that is, until I couldn’t be quiet anymore.

My state, Oklahoma, just voted on and decriminalized the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes. As a woman with chronic illnesses that disable me, medical cannabis is a game-changing topic for me. But it’s a topic I felt ashamed of bringing up. So many people assume such negative and ugly things of people who utilize this plant. How do I know that? Because I used to be one of them. I was fed the same lies: people who use cannabis are just trying to escape reality, they like living on the edge, they don’t mind putting their families at risk, they are fueling a black market filled with violent crime and sex trading.

Yeah, the lies are many; maybe you’ve heard some of these before? But that’s just what they are. Lies.

We now know that some people have experienced relief from cancer due to cannabis, we know that some people have experienced high blood pressure control, anxiety control, fewer epileptic seizures, blood sugar control, sleep support, digestive support and, of course, pain relief. Cannabis has shown some of its cards – we know it’s an ally. We have so much more to learn! Like most major players, it could be used for good or evil, and like most powerful substances, it requires guidance to be utilized properly.

“Forbidden fruit” have been our downfall from the dawn of time. Whether or not you believe in the Genesis account, the story is really such a perfect mirror for how we have learned the hard way to handle sensitive things respectfully. Culturally, cannabis has been treated like it’s in cahoots with alcohol and recreational opioids. In many ways it has been, because we have pushed it into a closet and forced the Curious to explore it in private. Private, as in “the black market.”

What is the most frequent question I’ve heard people ask when they start looking into cannabis? “How do we know what we are getting?” When the only accessible option is to take their word for it, you better believe we could do better. What’s more, how many people have gone to jail for nonviolent drug-related reasons? In Oklahoma, that number is astronomical, and our prisons are overflowing. Desperate times call for desperate measures. A majority of my fellow citizens, in the lovely state of Oklahoma, voted yes to legalize cannabis today, and I have cried tears of joy.

Our bill needs some work: our laws need some adjustments to better protect cannabis patients’ jobs and families. Also, those who do not want to be exposed to cannabis deserve to have predictable protection from breathing it in in public spaces. I could go on. My point, however, is that sometimes we cannot wait in the wings while major decisions are being made like this. I believe that passing this bill is more than just a one-off, “Yay Oklahoma,” and moving on. I believe we have to keep pushing.

We must write our law makers and send a message to Washington that we want this legalized nationwide, so patients can have cohesive protections while traveling from state to state. Also laws guaranteeing that people won’t be fired for responsibly consuming a medication their doctor recommended. Or a guarantee for those who reserve the right to clean air in public, so they will feel protected as well. Again, these are just a few concerns off the top of my head; my official position is just that we can do better.

But this means we literally have to do something. As an introvert, I have taken a liking to Resistbot, a platform that assists you as you identify the politician you need to contact and write a decent letter. They access the various websites and ask you to include information their websites would require. In short, you should check it out if you are like me and need training wheels to begin using your voice, or if you just really like smart systems.

In closing, my name is Tab Moura, I have Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, with a dozen comorbidities, and by voting I helped make Oklahoma state history by becoming the 30th state to approve medical cannabis. Paving the way to significantly reduce nonviolent cannabis sentences, hopefully helping Oklahoma to give up its place as #1 in the nation with highest incarcerations nationwide. If that’s not reason enough to do better, I don’t know what is.

Getty Image by tvirbickis

Originally published: July 8, 2018
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