Pubdate: Thu, 15 Jan 2004
Source: Waukesha Freeman (WI)
Copyright: 2004 The Waukesha Freeman
Author: Gary Storck


January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month. This eye disease affects
an estimated 3 million Americans and is one of the leading causes of

Born with glaucoma in Waukesha nearly 49 years ago, I lost much of my
eyesight as a small child before the disease was even detected.
Because of that, I strongly urge everyone to have regular eye exams
for themselves and their families.

While many patients can find symptomatic relief from daily use of one
eyedrop in each eye, others with more severe cases may be prescribed
several daily medications, needing to be taken several times per day.
When medications are ineffective or their side effects intolerable,
surgery is often tried; but it is risky, and a significant number of
patients find surgery more damaging to vision than glaucoma itself.

In the early 1970s researchers found marijuana had the ability to
lower the elevated eye pressures that damage the optic nerve and cause
blindness from glaucoma. In the mid-1970s a glaucoma patient from
Washington D.C., Robert Randall, was arrested for using marijuana to
treat his glaucoma, which was rapidly destroying his vision. Randall
won his case using a medical necessity defense and in turn sued the
federal government. He eventually was granted a monthly supply of
marijuana from federal authorities, which he received up until his
death in 2001, successfully preserving his eyesight for decades after
he was told he would be blind in a matter of months.

The program that supplied Randall still supplies two other glaucoma
patients grandfathered into the program, which was closed to new
participants under the first Bush administration in 1992.

With state Rep. Gregg Underheim, R-Oshkosh, who chairs the state
Assembly's Health Committee, ready to introduce a medical marijuana
bill in the state Legislature, there is new hope for Wisconsin
glaucoma patients who have exhausted all legal remedies and may want
to use marijuana to save their eyesight.

It is immoral to make patients who can benefit from medicinal pot
choose between breaking the law or suffering needlessly, whether
suffering from glaucoma, cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, chronic
pain, rare diseases like Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome or numerous other
medical conditions.

Polling has shown that both within our state and nationally more than
80 percent of people support giving patients safe and legal access to
medical marijuana. This silent majority must now speak up and let
state lawmakers know that there is a pressing need to pass a medical
marijuana bill without delay.

Please make your voice be heard.

Gary Storck, Director of communications

Is My Medicine Legal YET?

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