Fear of prosecution was something cannabis users always feared. The effects of prosecution can not only tarnish an otherwise clean record but in a lot of cases it can completely destroy the lives of those around them. Ten years after being charged Blaine Shaw has changed his status from what the state called a criminal to what the state now respects as a patient.
“March 16, 2009 I was arrested for felony possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, based on quantity, as well as for misdemeanor paraphernalia possession for a pipe. It was an amount of marijuana patients are now allowed to possess under State Question 788.”
Legislation now allows up to three ounces of marijuana on their person. This doesn’t include the eight ounces allowed at their residence, one ounce of concentrate, six mature plants, and six seedlings.
The amount Blaine had would seem like a lot if you consider weight but anyone who has dealt with buying “brick weed” knows the price you pay is cheaper if bought in bulk. However, the potency and quality are hardly worth the crime when we compare it to higher quality and higher potency cannabis.
“After an illegal search and seizure, I was kidnapped/arrested and taken down to the police station and locked in a cage (jail cell). I was not provided with a lawyer that night, even though I’d asked for one immediately upon arrest and questioning. I was not even allowed a phone call all night either. My cage/jail cell had a phone in it too, but it didn’t work at all.
It was like some kind of sick joke. After being locked away for a couple hours, I went to sleep on my extremely thin sleeping pad on a raised concrete slab. It was 4 to 5 hours later, the police woke me and put me in handcuffs with chains, leg shackles and loaded me up in a transport van with other “criminals” and took us from the police station to the main county jail.”
Due to the amount and the charges he was facing he was transported to Tulsa at 4:30 am after a long night of very uncomfortable sleep. A sleeping cell mate to begin with and a second facing possible DUI charges as his only company to pass the time.
“The reason I look kind of rough in that mugshot is because I had been asleep for a while in my jail cell before being woken up in the middle of the night for transport to the county jail. The mugshot photo was not taken until I was booked into the county jail around 6 to 7 hours after my arrest.
I was still not allowed a phone call for a few more hours until I was finally booked in. It ended up costing $1000 through a bail bondsman to get bailed out of jail. I was facing a felony and 2 years to up to life in prison for a non-violent, victimless marijuana possession offense.
Compared to that, the misdemeanor and maximum of one year in jail I was facing over the pipe didn’t seem to matter much. The lawyer I found cost me $5,000. I got lucky and ended up avoiding prison.
Instead, I went through the Drug Court Program for a few years and eventually got the case dismissed and the charges dropped in the end through a delayed/deferred sentence probation plea agreement. The police even tried to seize my vehicle through asset forfeiture. I’d owned the vehicle for 9 years, since junior year and high school.”
Criminal forfeiture is when property is seized after someone is convicted of a crime. Civil forfeiture also known “Policing for Profit” allows law enforcement to seize property and money prior to citizens being charged or convicted of a crime.
His vehicle was in no way associated with the charges. “The biggest private property threat to Americans,” was how Scott Bullock, senior attorney at The Institute for Justice describes it. Through the efforts of his attorney he was able to purchase his vehicle back for $500 approximately six months later.
The asset forfeiture by definition would mean “the object is guilty of the crime,” this would not have been the case since the vehicle wasn’t related to the crime and the amount of time, he had the vehicle would not have coincided with the charges.
It was 1998 when the Oklahoma Drug Court program was initiated with the intention of helping people achieve and maintain abstinence from drugs and avoid jail time.
Upon further research I read how drug court creates law abiding productive citizens. It was July, 2018 that the Oklahoman published an article entitled “Oklahoma’s Drug Court System not only saves tax dollars but saves lives.”
Blaine quickly discovered the difficulties that came with drug court and his experienced served as more of a nuisance rather than it being beneficial.
“Drug Court was very rigorous probation with random urine drug tests 3 to 5 times a week costing $14 cash each time. I had a 10 PM curfew, a probation officer with a $40 monthly fee, and a requirement to maintain full time employment or school.
I had to attend several AA meetings and drug court group treatment meetings each week, as well as regular court appearances in front of the drug court judge and drug court administrators. I was treated like a common criminal the entire time and it was very stressful.
So many different things could have gone wrong and messed up my probation. I didn’t even have a car for the first 6 months of probation because it was locked away in impound with a seizure hold on it.
I had to rely on friends and family to help get me to all the places I needed to be because the police were trying to keep my vehicle and sell it and keep the money for themselves through civil asset forfeiture/seizure.”
It was really the support of his friends and family that helped him succeed as this situation could have escalated had he not had the people around him. The state didn’t suspend his license but they required a breathalyzer called a “sobrietor” attached to his home phone for the first six months that tested him three times a day.
“I wasn’t even in trouble for alcohol at all. I had simply been honest during drug court’s initial drug and alcohol assessment intake and admitted that I drank alcohol too and preferred it over marijuana at the time. I was charged $5 a day to have the required device.”
The fear that if he wasn’t able to complete the program kept him going as failure meant he was looking at facing four years of imprisonment. His lawyer informed him he’d have to serve at least 85% of those four years.
He was fortunate enough to complete it without any issues and the case was dismissed. “Although it had a positive outcome in the end, I look back on the arrest and the entire legal case with bitterness, resentment, and contempt.
I was originally facing 2 years to up to life in prison and was treated like a common criminal the entire time.”
Along with charges he faced in 2009 he also was in a car accident that delayed the process. In the program it is required he maintain a job, do community service or attend school. He was still walking with a cane after his accident but was able to do community service at the Boys and Girls club that wasn’t strenuous.
He began attending school that fall after already having 20 hours of college under his belt. He obtained an associate’s degree in Criminal Justice as his experience led him to pursue further understanding of the law.
He transferred to online classes at OU as well while still attending TCC for his foreign language. After finishing probation October 28, 2011, he moved away from Tulsa county and moved to Oklahoma City where he was able to graduate in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Criminology from the Oklahoma University.
He continues to live in Oklahoma City with his wife and his daughter and is now a proud owner of a medical marijuana card.
We as a state have transitioned from criminal activity to just another patient taking their medicine.
— Blaine Shaw
I can’t say enough how much I hate cancer the monster that took both of my parents just 3 weeks apart. Inside me exists this desire to help others when I couldn’t save my own. I think about this every day.
Can I help others not feel what I feel everyday missing them wishing there was something I could have done? There was really no other reason my parents wouldn’t take that chance other than they were Christians and law abiding citizens that couldn’t and wouldn’t defy the law.
The story isn’t about them, this is about a 58 year old lady named Miss Kim, a small framed 5 foot 5 woman maybe a hundred pounds if we’re counting. A lady delicate and down-to-earth that on August 27th 2018 was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma on her larynx.
Squamous cell carcinoma is known as the second most common type of skin cancer. It was at a stage 3 and measured 8 cm when they found it. I was approached by my high school buddy, this was his mother-in-law, he knew where I stood as far as cannabis and cancer.
It began as a conversation about how my parents dealt with their cancer. I felt this was a opportunity to have her try something so many cancer patients were too afraid to try. I passed on all the information that I had as Miss Kim did her research. This is very important for all patients to do but mostly patients who are determined to live.
There’s so much to know about our own bodies illnesses and effects different drugs have on them. However, Miss Kim was no stranger to cannabis as she had already been smoking to control her seizures for the past three years. Her concern was, should she quit smoking? I told her from everything that I had read it shouldn’t be a problem.
It’s hard to tell people things when it seems there’s so much conflicting information on the internet. I saw what chemotherapy did to my parents it’s difficult to consider anything as being more harmful. It saddens me that this is medicine.
There exists a certain level of difficulty within myself imagining anyone else losing someone in this way. We discussed her ingesting and not just smoking. It’s been documented to be more effective in treating cancer.
She started with a strain called “Original glue,” processed into RSO. She began to feel upbeat her appetite was back as it became easier to sleep. Her depression subsided. This was just the beginning of the healing that took place within just two and a half months.
I received a message tears came pouring from my eyes. I’ve attached it leaving names out as a courtesy to the family. Miss Kim beat cancer! It’s hard not to share a story that can potentially save lives. After her recovery doctor say full 5 years before it’s considered remission but the cancer is gone!
Miss Kim visited a local Oklahoma dispensary and overwhelmed with kindness. She didn’t expect to be treated like a patient but she was. We fight for people like Miss Kim so she can share a story of survival instead of a sad story about defeat.
Oklahoma has just begun.
— Chris Abouarrage
Walking into Maxx’s office was quite the experience. Hanging on his walls there are framed pictures of what I consider a wide array of musicians.
There are framed pictures of Hank Williams, The Beach Boys, The Killers, Flaming Lips, Garth Brooks, Prince and few others I can’t recall. It was an office booming with eclectic taste. Perhaps not really what I expected when he told me he was 59. I could tell at the very least we’d connect.
When meeting new patients, I strive to find people that not only I can relate to but someone others can relate to. When I heard his vision, I knew he is like a lot of the 50+ year old patients that are tired of the health system giving up on them and products of Reefer Madness.
“I am 59 yrs. old I am an entrepreneur. When I was fifteen, I started smoking marijuana.” It was believed then to be a gateway drug and he went further to tell me about how he ventured into other drugs that got him on trouble.
So, there was a period where like most of us have in order to maintain jobs or overcome a stigma we stopped doing something we had no idea was medicine. So, what exactly is the difference between medicinal and recreational? It is our belief that it lies within education.
Sadly, where this must begin is with our doctors and with legalization being recent most doctors either don’t support it or they’re afraid to admit they do. Maxx like so many closet patients believed the difference was when he started piecing it all together.
If a patient isn’t aware of what ratios work for them, how they can obtain synergy using terpenes, then it’s wasted medicine? It’s like buying cold medicine if you don’t have pain why ingest acetaminophen? Not that it’s harmful but knowing what strains and why those are best will be the start to patients getting the best for their body.
One of the concerns faced by the medical community as well as legislators was the lack of regulations. As Maxx hadn’t been aware that new regulations had just passed for edibles. For patients like Maxx who deal with diabetes things like sugar and carbohydrates play a critical role in what he can ingest.
“It’s going to take a minute right now I call it the Wild West, it’s all a loose cannon. I don’t see how they’re getting by with it. It’s all for profit. Just trying to do it the Vagabond way.”
Maxx started smoking cannabis at the age fifteen but after turning his life around and starting his business he like so many others were taught the marijuana was a gateway drug.
“I’m not saying marijuana did it, but it changed a lot of the things I was into and who I was around. I started getting in a lot of trouble for it throughout the years. I had to decide, I could lose my life because of imprisonment.
“It wasn’t because of marijuana, I was doing other drugs. I ended up getting clean and sober. I had children and built a life.
I have two passions, rock ‘n’ roll and marijuana. I couldn’t do marijuana because of the laws and I’d been in trouble for it. So, I got off into rock ‘n’ roll. In 1983 I started doing shows, getting into the business and working behind the scenes. Through trials and tribulations, I stayed sober.”
It was in 2004 when casinos changed his life. The Baker Boys began their business. His love of music and all the things he was doing for free gave him an idea for a business.
“I was able to get into casinos and use my ideas, my partners were able to create a business, several different ones.”
In 2009 this single dad of two faced something that changed the entire course of his life. It was this year that Maxx took that step off the stage at the Diamond Ballroom in Oklahoma City that caused a fracture just below his knee. He was overweight with diabetes that he described as “raging.”
During this time he was still sober from both drugs and alcohol. He received seven different surgeries and at some was left feeling like a human guinea pig nobody could provide answers. Their only solution was pills and for someone who has overcome addiction he said he felt as though he was going to die, and it wasn’t helping his pain.
The depression and misery were direct factors of lying in a hospital bed for a year in his living room. His weight then reached 445 lbs. his blood had become septic. He endured it and came out of it making the decision he needed a change.
He came across a salve from Colorado, “It was the greatest feeling I’d felt in a really long time. Then someone introduced me to the candy and that made me feel good.” Still continuing to avoid pain pills and living at a pain level of ten.”
Like most cannabis users there isn’t always relief from pain. Smoking it effects the front part of the brain that helps you deal with the emotions of pain but not as a blocker. There are ways to ingest or even with suppositories, finding what works has been a struggle for most.
Between diabetes causing circulation issues his leg wasn’t wanting to heal. After three doctors it became apparent the leg had to go. He then chose another doctor one that he knew from when he raced motocross, he walked through the door with the mindset that his leg had to go.
The doctor stopped him and told him that he could help him. His doctor suggested water aerobics. Every two days this was his routine, he had to be lowered in when he first started but after six months, he was able to walk in and out of the pool. He found a girl that would make him the salve despite his honesty with his doctors when the salve would get into his wounds, he would test positive for THC and get fired by pain management.
Maxx went from 445 lbs. down to 363! It was in 2017 when everything clicked. Like a lot of cannabis patients, they ingest or consume without any thought as to what they’re consuming. He started searching for specific strains to help him, he was introduced to CBD and found someone to make his edibles.
Once his edible source was gone, he decided to just smoke and realized it was nothing like when he was a kid. “I learned what to smoke in the morning and what to smoke at night. My concern was losing what I built from the ground up.”
This isn’t unusual as a lot of 50+ patients fear the high.
In just a year Maxx really focused on the therapeutics of cannabis. He was able to drop down to 242 lbs. His AIC went from 91 to 69, blood sugar dropped from 300-350 and not averages between 150-200.
For 23 years Maxx had been injecting 200 IU of insulin that has dropped down to 120 IU. It’s amazing when you make a choice that it’s medicine and treating it as such.
“I want people to better themselves. I’m a second and third chance kind of guy. I don’t always like people, but I love them. When 788 passed I felt I had purpose to spread goodness. If I did this anyone can and it’s not about getting high.
I’ll go back to what I said my two passions are music and marijuana. Music gets me through the bad times and marijuana helps ease my pain.”
Learn more at
— Teresa G
Cannabis being legal allows me to meet people with years of experience and years of hiding it in order to remain respected in business and in life. After legalization people get a true look at what cannabis users are like. I never really comprehended chronic pain until I was forced to live with it. Naturally when I met Kimemery Ashe I couldn’t help but feel we were destined to be friends.
It was several exchanges on Facebook that I was given the privilege of finally meeting this sweet inspiring lady. Kimmi is happily retired and worked as a nurse most of her life so she’s no stranger to medicine.
It was a pretty day considering it was December when I found myself in a coffee house in Tulsa with Kimmi and a new friend the both of us had met just that day. For someone boasting with personality she sure didn’t have much to store it. She was smaller than me and I stand 5’2” and I’m probably a size 4 depending on the store.
I wasn’t expecting such a small person after seeing how much this lady bakes, I gained five pounds just reading her wall. I am always eager to help patients with the gift of baking as not only am a connoisseur of cannabis I also am a fan of cake.
Christian Nordqvist wrote an article for Medical New Today entitled “Cannabis Does Not Reduce Pain It Makes It More Bearable”
He states in this article, “According to MRI brain imaging scans in this latest study, areas of the brain that interpret pain were not affected significantly when people took THC. It appears that cannabis affects people’s emotional state in a way that makes pain less awful.”
Along with pain comes the stress. Along with pain comes exhaustion, irritability and most importantly a desire to wake up one day and just feel normal. Unlike other pain sufferers this isn’t a victim story. This is a story of a courageous woman who fought hard against the dying of the light.
I can say this just from the brief few months I’ve known her she smiles even when her eyes don’t. She laughs harder at herself than she would anyone else and she’s always grateful for whatever advice or information we throw her way.
“I’m pretty pleasant, I have a pretty good outlook on life. I get overwhelmed, so I smoke, I’ve been smoking forever.”
This was an observation easily made by those who know her. There’s rarely a serious moment when we talk and even talking about her health.
There’s too many wonderful things to discuss instead of difficulties. There is a level of strength or weakness when talking about struggles. There are two things you gain from telling a sad story: You either gain pity or you get respect, you’re either a victim or you’re a survivor.
With strong survivors like Kimmi being a victim and not obtaining respect is unheard of. When I see tears from a survivor it’s rarely tears of sadness but more so tears of exhaustion. It’s tears of holding everything inside. Being a survivor means you step up and stop depending on others to decide what’s best for your body. It’s clinging to those flashes of light when every part of you just wants to sleep through it all.
Fibromyalgia is a disorder that causes widespread musculoskeletal pain. Research has suggested that fibromyalgia causes pain sensation to become amplified and largely effecting how the brain processes pain signals.
One of the most difficult things to tackle is pain and there’s a huge fluctuation of pain sufferers looking to cannabis to alleviate the symptoms that come with pain.
This is what Kimmi and many other fibromyalgia patients suffer through daily.
She medicates to deal with the mental effects and has been trying different strains and products. Every new strain she tries she makes a point to write a review which over time have become more and more impressive, “This beauty here is Tangie,” she boasts:
“Just look at her. She has a citrus smell with a hint of skunk you can taste it on the tip of your tongue. She’ll give you a nice head high.
Don’t worry though you’ll have plenty of energy to get things done like cook a big tasty meal because taking care of munchies won’t be enough. This beauty leaves you happy with the world while she works on your pain…”
She typically follows with pricing and where she purchased it. These reviews seem simple enough but over time it becomes a network of people with related illnesses that can save time not trying strains they don’t benefit from.
There are medications but like most of us have learned it doesn’t take long before the dose must be increased, or it stops working all together. One of the things most pain sufferers do is avoid medication until necessary or continually changing them to avoid increasing the dose. It is an entire life adjustment figuring out what you can take at what time, what you can drive on and will it alter your thinking? It’s a balancing act to maintain sanity but really to not become your pain.
When I think about cannabis patients I don’t just think of the stereotype as having my experience my image was that of a seven-year-old. The variations in age groups consuming cannabis is encouraging as I see more and more over fifty plus partaking.
As Kimmi and I discussed with time comes the effects of aging and those effects don’t all need a pill. Most doctors are merely alleviating the effects of time then medicating the effects of the medication. A vicious cycle to which nobody is getting well. I can’t say cannabis can tackle pain in its entirety but as a lot of us who have been researching and consuming, finding the right combination without the help of lab testing has proven to be difficult.
Once mandatory testing is in place having the right potency combined with the right combination of terpenes will work, but with the cannabis industry still in its infancy we must wait to truly have access to what we need to create cannabis-based medicine that work.
Pain is something that I have been working to tackle and I had reservations about being so open about cannabis not helping my chronic pain because I realize there are people who do feel relief. I didn’t want my experience to be the standard as I’ve seen the wonders it has done for my liver.
There are different types of pain and despite what I have read I know what I feel. It was my desire when I was first injured to avoid narcotics at all costs. One reason I can give for why cannabis works for some and not others could be because what most people suffer from is their body’s own ability to fight pain and how it has been replaced by narcotics.
I haven’t been able to explain this as I have had others argue that I’ve not picked the right strain, or I wasn’t processing it correctly. After visiting other states and trying other products I found one what tackled my pain entirely and it wasn’t simple.
I think of patients like Kimmi and how much more enjoyable waking up every morning would be without hurting. What we learn through our experiences is nothing short of solid research.
We can take our pain and let it take us down or team up like I have with my sweet friend.
— Teresa G
Who is Strange Leaf?
It seems this name has been seen throughout the cannabis community. I met with Melissa Strange the social butterfly responsible for two meet and greets, meet Leafly and is currently working on a patient drive.
She responded with, “Strange Leaf is a family a sister, a brother and a best friend all born and raised in Oklahoma. Melissa is the social butterfly, Jeff is a product guy and Ashley is the compliance queen that keeps us all in check.”
I was curious about what brought them together and what their goal as a business was.
“If the three of us were not in this journey together, we would not be able to make Strange Leaf happen, we all work together, and all teach each other new things every single day. We had a dream, we put into action like so many other Oklahomans.
We’ve all had people in our lives that have or can live a longer, much happier life with legal cannabis laws. We all have very different things that we are good at, but have one thing in common, we wanted to learn more, and we wanted to help as many people as we could in any way we could.”
One of the things that she had to overcome was a stigma created by the opposition. I asked Melissa what she believed the solution was to helping people open to the idea. Her response was one I could really stand behind. She said:
“Everyday normal people can and will make a difference in the way marijuana is viewed in Oklahoma.
What helped us get into a medical mindset vs. recreational was we all know someone who has been directly affected by an illness or condition and it’s possible cannabis can help.”
Melissa tells me their father is currently battling stage 3 NSC lung cancer and she has had cervical cancer and knows personally how much help medicinal marijuana can help with multiple illnesses and conditions.”
Is Strange Leaf afraid of what regulations are to come being a frontrunner in opening the doors to a new industry?
Melissa says, “I believe I am the most fearless of the three when it comes to changes concerning laws and regulations. They are going to happen, we know this and all we can do is wait and see what happens next and jump the next hurtle that comes our way.”
I asked Melissa if she had a favorite strain, she says, “Right now I am in love with almost anything lemon, but lemon haze just makes me smile and melts my stress away. It’s so smooth and refreshing. With most things ask me in a week and I’ll be raving about something else.”
When Melissa organized both meet and greets that are free of charge, she managed to unite not only those directly affiliated with the cannabis industry but businesses to accommodate a new market. People in the industry can meet advocates, attorneys, CPA’s, and Canna insurance companies.
She’s always inviting businesses that want to speak or share information with the cannabis community she has met so many like minded people in the community that she wanted to keep it going.
Currently Strange Leaf and Guerilla Grow have teamed up with Leafly to bring you, “Oklahoma Meet Leafly.” Strange Leaf has donated fees for free recommendations and is hosting a patient drive in order to help patients get free recommendations.
The staff is knowledgeable you always know you’re going to get your questions answered if not by the staff by a network of people connected because of networking events like theirs.
Strange Leaf is setting the standard by dedicating their time and effort to building up the cannabis community, educating the public and their efforts in assisting patients.
— Teresa G
Before SQ 788 came up there were stories about a lot of patients fleeing north for treatment that had yet to be accepted in Oklahoma.
Shortly after passing there was a rush of activists, new businesses and politicians tossing their spin on what is the will of the people. The will of the people? “The people” are exactly who? I’ve been struggling with this for a while and decided this was the perfect opportunity while everything is unknown to do what Ray Jennings told me during our first phone call, “We need to put the focus back on the patients.”
How I met Ray Jennings came after I had the idea to find a real patient from Oklahoma with a story to tell. I first spoke to Ray Jennings on the phone and knew instantly he was someone to know. You can tell a lot about the nature of any man by the happiness you see in their partner. I was able to speak to both Ray and his wife Becki as I could hear her in the background reiterating his story and I could tell then this couple was an unstoppable force.
“She’s my biggest cheerleader,” Mr. Jennings boasts. Upon meeting the two, like most successful couples they are complete opposites. They’ve been married now for 37 years. In a lot of ways Mr. Jennings was a lot like my own dad.
When telling his story it was never, “I” it was always “we” and that’s the thing about cancer it affects everyone you hold close to your heart.
Reading a story or even watching an interview on television doesn’t quite resonate in the same way until you get to know the person behind it. This was my intention when I set up a meeting with Mr. Jennings.
We sat in the living room casually and I was able to not only converse with the two of them they were also joined by their son Josh, his son Jarred was not able to join us. We caught up on what was going on within the cannabis community as we both have been actively involved with before jumping into his story.
I quickly learned that Mr. Jennings is on the board of directors for Oklahomans for Health, the Oklahoma Veterans Cannabis Collective and is a state patient advocate on the OMMA Food Safety Standards board.
He’s spoken at the capitol and has been on advertisements promoting SQ 788.
I watched his video on YouTube and recently saw him featured in an article for Soonerpolitics.org. The picture in the article it also has a picture of Ray and wife Becki with the message, “I am a patient not a criminal.” I was honored and excited when Mr. Jennings agreed to let me tell their story.
It wasn’t easy to get him to talk about himself mostly because he believes this entire cause is bigger than himself and it was that humbleness that made me realize he is the reason we all fought so hard to see SQ 788 pass.
It was 2014 when Connie Johnson introduced the first petition for any cannabis legislation in Oklahoma. The year I decided what I had only used recreationally was actually something that helped medicinally. It was also the year Ray Jennings was diagnosed with stage 4 squamous cell carcinoma that was approximately the size of a golf ball. This is the second most common type of skin cancer and arises from squamous cells in the epidermis. Over 15,000 Americans alone die every year from SCC.
Treating his SCC consisted of undergoing Cisplatin chemotherapy which he started March 19, 2014 and finished May 1 ,2014. If you’re not familiar with chemo it can be a necessary evil that people are too afraid to not try. This particular type of chemo is an irritating one that causes inflammation of the vein through which it is administered. If the chemo escapes from the vein it can cause tissue damage.
My mind pictures boiling acid. He received a total of 35 radiation treatments that he finished June 4th. after seeing pictures there’s no way I could’ve painted such a vivid image. I imagine it’s what my skin would look like if I were to iron it casually on the linen setting. March 25th on a Tuesday Becki recalls him being in bed since Friday. My heart sank as I sat there imagining what I would be feeling had this been my father. He is after all only two years younger than my dad.
What was the beginning of his journey in the eyes of his doctors was the prolonging to an inevitable end, “We’re going to make you comfortable, the treatment is going to kill you before the cancer does, if you decide to do the treatment” was what he was told.
Yet they were determined to fight. “I didn’t know what they meant until the second treatment it was so harsh I was the throwing up all the time I lost 95 lbs. in just 90 days. I was sick I couldn’t eat I couldn’t drink.” There was an anxiety in the air as his wife and son chime in, there’s a sadness as they relive those days he believed to be his last.
“I couldn’t eat or drink I had a feeding tube sticking out of my chest. Beckie would hook me up to a pump and they’d pump fluids into me and the vomiting would start immediately and violently.
When you do that you shut down psychologically you just shut down. I knew every time what the end result was going to be within minutes but my wife continued to make me do it.”
The burns on the back of his neck were so bad he had to sleep sitting up. “My routine was to get out of bed and rush to the bathroom to throw up. I did exercises to try to fix my equilibrium. They’d pump anti-nausea intravenously, I tried topical and none of it worked.”
Between his sons and his wife he finally caved and tried it. They came in one morning and said, “don’t get out of bed you’re going to smoke a little before you move.” At this point he’d gotten through chemo, had been tortured with radiation treatments why not try it?
He recalls the first time he tried it aside from a couple of times he tried it at age 16. “When he handed me that pipe; it was within four to five minutes after smoking and the nausea was gone.” This isn’t unheard of a lot of patients have been smoking to reduce nausea.
There were already cases where people had cured their cancer using Rick Simpson oil (RSO) which is basically whole plant extract that contains extracted cannabinoids and plant material. It is extracted using a solvent that is cooked off due to it burning at a lower temperature, what you’re left with is cannabinoids and plant matter.
It is a very strong tar like substance that allows you to obtain higher doses of THC. Rick Simpson had actually cured his own skin cancer using the oil. It was the beginning to an end; but an end to cancer, not his life. He decided to try it for himself. Within three weeks of trying the oil Ray Jennings had shrunk his tumor by 50%.
“Nobody wants to talk about it,” Ray is saddened by this. He had grown up thinking it was wrong he feared his father and adored his mother and even despite curing his cancer there exists a lingering guilt that his been embedded in his mind.
“My goal is to make people understand and find a way to open their minds. They need to ask themselves if it is possible that the government has been lying to them all these years?
The government lied to me and I follow it with 6630507, that’s the government patent on THC.”
The patent was granted to the US Department of Health and Human Services in 2003. At a certain point I like to imagine that a man must put aside his beliefs and realize that at this point in his life what does he really have to lose? Like a lot of boys the love of his mother and the fear of his father led him to live his life morally right and free from what he believed to be a dangerous drug.
Josh, his son, recalls a time in his life where his dad referred to it as, “dope.” To me, he was like most conservative Christian men he had faith in God, faith in medicine and faith that our government creates laws for our protection. Why wouldn’t they right; he’s an ex veteran and a law abiding citizen? That’s the thing about cancer; it doesn’t discriminate.
“We stood in this living room as I was going to the hospital for what I believed to be the last time and these guys held me up,” he turns to look at his wife and son. I sat there listening fighting back my own tears. Cancer is something that affects all of us in some way and sadly will continue to throughout our lives.
He’s stood in front of legislators and has said to them:
“I denied this plant that saved my life because of you so don’t ever again tell me about the dreads of this plant because it’s not true and I won’t believe you from now on.
I want to tell people, ‘Don’t sit there and judge me as though you’ve got the moral high ground. I’ve been exactly where you’re at, and I know what you’re thinking. I too had those same thoughts.
If you had stage 4 cancer like I had, and took the treatment I had, you’d be calling me.’ ”
It happens all too frequently; the phone calls, the messages, every week, people reaching out to me. “Ray can you please help me?” It always starts with, “Mr. Jennings you don’t know me my mom is dying of cancer, my dad is dying of cancer, I’ve got cancer what can we do? Can you help us?”
This has become his place, his story but more importantly his calling.
“Emotionally it’s difficult from a standpoint that I want to help people and I can’t.” I assured him that he has, and he is. As Mother Teresa so famously said, “I alone can’t change the world, but if I cast a stone into water it makes many ripples.”
All we can do is create ripples and hope that it creates hope for the hopeless. This coming year is a very important year as it will be five years of being cancer free for Ray Jennings.
We’ve just began a journey for our future, and if the time comes to make that choice, you no longer have to relocate away from your family, friends and life like Mr. Jennings and so many other patients have.
Oklahoma now has the opportunity to not only create, but share stories that inspire and most importantly, the opportunity to save lives.
— Teresa G
It seems like not too long ago there was an entire underworld of cannabis patients that have suddenly surfaced and the skeptics are equally baffled and scared by who exactly they are. I was lucky enough to be a part of watching cannabis work firsthand on a 7 yr old little girl battling anaplastic medulloblastoma with an amplified myc gene.
Anaplastic medulloblastoma with an amplified myc gene translates to large cell brain cancer with the potential to grow rapidly. She was diagnosed January of 2014 at the age of six.
Alexa “Lex” was feeling under the weather with it being a Friday, her mom Lindsey decided the best thing to do was take her to nearby urgent care clinic where she was diagnosed with a virus and sent home. It didn’t get better and like all good moms it was instinctive her constant mommy nerves kicked in and it was the ER just two days after.
Tests were run and they were still believing it could just be a virus but suggested a cat scan. There wasn’t much hesitation on the doctors part, they rushed back in and said she had hydrocephalus (excess fluid around the brain) and was to be transferred to a larger hospital.
We were all still optimistic realizing that the fluid could be virus related we weren’t prepared for what was to come. It wasn’t long before MRI results determined there was a mass and the cause of the excessive fluid. Our hearts sank but held on to the idea that it could in fact be benine. Surgery was scheduled to remove what was a 2 cm mass coming off the cerebellum between the spinal cord. Surgery seemed to have lasted an eternity when they came back and even before doing a biopsy they knew exactly what it was.
My mother, my father, my cousin, sister and our close pastor friend Danny. We all huddled up bursting into tears. My head was spinning as I rush outside to call my older sister. My mother blaming herself as a two time cancer survivor and us assuring her it was impossible.
I still remember what I said and I don’t know why it came to me. I told them it was a war and we just survived our first battle. She survived the surgery with no serious damage a small shaving on her cerebellum that made her unsteady for a few days but they managed to get it all during surgery. I told them we needed to celebrate every battle because we weren’t going to fight this all at once.
We still didn’t know what type but we feared the worst. My sister blankly staring, me, googling trying to comprehend what I could. I was watching my baby sister’s world come tumbling in a slow motion explosion and she stared the same stare I saw throughout her entire treatment.
I don’t even want to emphasize how bad the treatment was but for six weeks she did back to back chemotherapy and proton radiation. The recommended treatment was laid out in a detailed plan that was going to take 18 months first round was 6 weeks both proton radiation and chemotherapy and a second round and third round just chemotherapy.
It burns everything her little head was charred. My heart… I can’t describe what that was like to watch.
I’d seen images or movies of these weak angelic frail cancer kids that stirred sadness in my mind but this was not Lex. It didn’t matter how many shots or how many times her port was accessed it was always a fight. Confident that if she fought cancer in the same way she fought nurses she was going to prevail. She did better than we expected but due to a weakened immune system she gets shingles.
It was shortly after finishing a round of antiviral medication they proceed to start her second round of chemo. It was two treatments in that the neuropathy (nerve pain) was uncontrollable. They tried several medications but nothing was helping. Lindsey recalls the night she heard her praying her voice hoarse from all the screaming she did during her burning attacks.
They were hitting her every thirty minutes and they couldn’t find medication that could tackle it. She was down on her knees pleading with Jesus, “Jesus wake up, why aren’t you listening?” Our Pastor Danny had been pushing for my family to consider moving her to Colorado he had the experience of working as a chaplain for hospice and had seen a lot of families looking for other methods to medicate.
The number of elderly people consuming cannabis continues to grow. I decided as the black sheep I was going to be the one to test this. I took her. If my sister took her she’d risk losing her. After one dose she was able to sleep six hours.
Through the help of the National Cancer Society after googling our rights I consulted them about moving her and they helped properly switched doctors and obtain all medical records as well. In the state of Oklahoma parents risk losing their children if they don’t follow through with the recommended treatment.
I watched a thirty two pound empty eyed little girl become a goofy kid all over again. We had honorary family in the Denver area so we were lucky she had a place to stay. She gained seven pounds within the first month she was there.
I was able to make it out for her last chemo and she was bummed she left her chemo blanket in Oklahoma so of course it was an excuse to buy a new blanket. We couldn’t just get a blanket without matching pajamas, Lex dressed as Batman and I am dressed as Superman.
On the last day of chemo we’re scrambling around in a house full of non morning people we managed to make it out of the house with everything. I look back Lex is smiling I ask her, “Lex did you pack your new chemo blanket?” Without hesitation she’s quick to correct me, “This isn’t my chemo blanket, this is my party blanket.” She jokes about how “gangster” she is because she tried cannabis at age 7.
I am pretty proud of this kid and know her strength is so apparent at such an early age as she continues to heal from the damage caused by chemotherapy and radiation.
It saddens me that there exists a stigma, a drug that causes so much damage to kids isn’t frowned upon but only because it doesn’t make them feel good.
— Teresa G