“”And though the waves might bring you down and though the currents might pull you under, the sky is always right above you. And your friends will show you the way” ~ I wrote This For You
Growing up with those words ringing in my mind, “honesty is the best policy”, creates chaos from within that continues to surface as I watch the world unfold through these adult lenses. There are many of us who don’t like to hear the truth. We have become a society of “sugar coating”, and “political correctness”, because there is always someone who will be offended, hurt or misrepresented. We have rights that protest freedom of speech, discrimination laws, disability laws, minority, gender, sexuality, to name just a few of the controversial topics one can find themselves in, without even trying at times. Understanding, now that is a whole other conversation. There are some that won’t even understand this.
Today starts the weekend of events that will be taking place at the Boston Freedom Rally. This will be the first one I attend. Cancer brought me to the world of medical marijuana where so many scream compassion, but life always seems to come down to the bottom line, money. To use this plant as medicine you need money, to get involved in the industry you need money, to be a voice at a large scale you need money, but the craziest part of this, I cant get a job in my field being honest; therefore; I’m limited, and it affects my money.
Marijuana became a part of my treatment plan when I found I was allergic to anti-emetics during chemotherapy. The traditional nausea medications caused extrapyramidal symptoms which for me consisted of akathisia, dystonic reactions and restless leg syndrome. The nausea and GI complications that at times crippled me during my chemotherapy treatments were worsened by the traditional medications. Strangers began to follow my blog on Facebook and Steven Placek took a sincere interest in my case and helped me through the system to obtain a medical marijuana card to try cannabis in my treatment plan.
Medical marijuana helped me with the GI upset, neuropathy, pain, anxiety and anorexia. Although I was very much opposed to marijuana prior to my second diagnosis of cancer in 2013, life experiences have a way of changing your views and opinions. This is wisdom that is not obtained through books and school, but simply by walking through life. It constantly changes and as we age, we build a history of experiences that we fall back on. I smile to myself when sit and think of the ignorance that I have within me. Everyday is a learning experience if you just take the time to listen, for that is where we really learn. Listen to understand, not to respond.
This week was my second attempt at securing a nursing job in which I was denied employment simply by admitting to using medial marijuana as part of my treatment plan. I have my master’s degree in nursing. I started in the field as a candy striper, then a nursing assistant, and after taking some time away from school, upon my return I became a registered nurse. Twenty one years ago to be exact.
In my nursing career I can tell you, that even to this day I know nurses who take prescription medications while on duty. These medications often include percocet, ativan, klonopin, and fentanyl patches. These nurses when drug tested produce a prescription from a qualifying physician and they are protected by HIPPA and are given employment. I know, because of the upper management positions that I have held during my career.
As the Director of Nursing I had to sign off on paperwork from the health department to show that a nurse who was employed in my facility, who was on probation for addiction, diverting medications, working under the influence, appeared to be clean and sober and that there were no issues currently in the work place. I completed these forms every time they were due. It wasn’t discussed. It was part of the process to retain employment and as long as there were no issues at work, life went on.
Once again I applied for a traditional staff nurse position, part time, for some steady income to pay my bills and continue to grow my business. The first time I was denied employment, I had purchased a “cleansing” drink, and never said a word to the employer. My urine came back positive for THC. I was denied employment. “Why didn’t you tell us”? We know you are a breast cancer survivor.
This week I was denied employment once again. I was honest this time. My resume speaks to the world of cannabis nursing and I was asked if I use cannabis. I thought that honesty would prevail this time. The Director of human resources spoke to me at length and directed me to do for my drug test and then when the results came back, my medical marijuana card from the Department of Health would be submitted, and as a two time cancer survivor, I’d be granted and would start orientation on September 26, 2016. Corporate had a different understanding and my employment was denied.
Honesty is NOT the best policy. I was denied employment again as I could not show proof of being in a “study” for my use of marijuana. My cancer came back in 18 months the first time. It has been 34 months that I have been in remission now. I would like to believe that in some way marijuana has added those extended months to my life. Education is needed for doctors, nurses and healthcare providers to understand the endocannabinoid system. I use marijuana every night before I go to bed. It is interesting to me, because just as anti-marijuana I was, life changes you. My only regret is that I didn’t know about these options when my father was suffering from the symptoms of Lewy Body Dementia that robbed him of every ounce of dignity that he had left. For me, I will continue to advocate for medical marijuana in individualized treatment plans and for nurses who are denied employment due to the benefits of this incredible plant while we live in a “medically legal state”.