A personal story, a personal tragedy

My name is Bertrand. I used to own a lucrative business that dealt with installing playgrounds. Unfortunately, I no longer run that business due to a setback that primarily started as a health issue but later turned out to be a criminal one.

In 2003, I discovered I had degenerative disc disease as well as spinal problems. The doctors immediately prescribed me all kinds of painkillers after my diagnosis. During this period (18 months) of taking countless pills, I suffered liver failure many times. The experiences almost left me dead.


I came to know that the prescribed medicines were the ones causing my liver to fail.

I got a chance one day to talk to a relative who resided in Colorado and who used to take medical cannabis to manage epileptic seizures. Out of the conversation, I learned a lot. I decided to grow cannabis seeds of a particular strain which would fit my condition.

For many years, I was able to grow my own weed. It later turned out to be a successful venture for me and I became an important member of the society.

In 2008, I fell and broke my back. I took large amounts of marijuana to cope with the issue. I remember; I did not hide my use of marijuana from my doctors. Because of the surgical procedures, I was about to undergo, the medical experts were worried about how I was consuming it. However, they were much relieved to discover I was using a vaporizer.

I had a spinal surgery in 2009 to repair my back. Sadly, the surgery failed within a week.


I had to endure a second, urgent spinal fusion fourteen days later. Picture this: I had two rods, 12 screws and a plate on my fragile back. Basically, I had to undergo a subsequent operation to mend a screw which was popping out!

While I was using marijuana for pain, I had sent some photos of my cannabis plant to my Colorado relative. I deleted them after our conversation and forgot about the whole thing.

Now, my PC was attacked by a virus. Just like any sane person would do, I took my computer to a repair shop. The shop owner somehow came to find the photos and he alerted the authorities. The photo obviously did not constitute enough proof, though the law enforcers for many months did go through my stash looking for anything that would convince a judge to grant an arrest warrant.

One time my vaporizer got spoilt. I began rolling my weed using Zigzag brand rolling papers. I was not cautious about how I disposed of the container that housed the rolling papers. Big mistake! The police got hold of it.

Four days after I was discharged from the hospital, a raid was conducted at my premises. It was evident that during the raid when they found my cannabis garden; they were just concerned about seizing money gotten from the sales of cannabis.

All through the raid, they used foul language and threatened to tear down everything I owned if I didn’t surrender the money they were looking for. At that time, I wished the ground would open and swallow me. I had only $300 with me and after a half an hour of talking to them, that when it became clear mine was a medical grow.

More surprisingly, according to them, that was the first one they had ever laid their eyes on. They were very disappointed that my weed was not meant for recreation or for sale purposes.

The law enforcers badly damaged my reputation insisting my business mirrored a front for a cannabis sales operation. Of course, many people avoided doing business with me, and this translated to loss of income.

The state went ahead and charge my wife Patricia and I with class B felony. According to them, I was “producing but not putting up for sale a controlled substance”. We pleaded guilty to avoid going to prison. Eventually, after a period that seemed like years, we finished our probation.

Before the unfortunate incident, my family enjoyed a nice life. I had a lovely neighborhood, a lovely house, and my children could go out and play. More so, I had a truck and other valuable possessions. We tried our best to keep the business going; however, all efforts failed. Changing my name or moving the business could not help either.

Currently, we reside in a low-income neighborhood where crime is very prevalent. For instance, within the last few months, our neighborhood has had two cases of overdose, a gang fight, and an attempted murder. Needless to say, my children do not go out, anymore.

My wife has a college degree but finding a sustainable minimum wage job took her more than 2 years. The conviction made us appear like a different class of citizens.

My wife Patricia has never consumed marijuana. In fact, she has never set her feet in my grow room. On the other hand, I have never consumed marijuana for recreational purposes.

My choice for using weed wasn’t something I enjoyed.  Marijuana used to ease off my pain, since using prescription medicine was putting my body to a lot of strain. Furthermore, I never used cannabis publicly. I did it discreetly to manage my pain so that I could remain productive.

As for now, I cannot use weed anymore.

I suffer a lot as I am in constant ache and I cannot take anything to reduce that ache or pain. When I take prescription meds, I risk my health. If I take a nontoxic, natural alternative called marijuana, I get well but risk going to jail for 8 years.

I strongly believe we should treat cannabis just the way we treat alcohol. If people can visit a bar or liquor store and purchase alcohol and legally consume it a home, then why do we claim that the use of weed is somehow criminal?

Medical cannabis is changing peoples’ lives. It heals and gives people like me hope.

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