I am a registered card holder and user of medical marijuana. My name is David Lewis, and I have chronic pain, depression and anxiety due to my service in the Vietnam War.
I am a fourth-generation Montanan and I am 68 years old. I use medical marijuana to manage medical issues that began after I returned home from Vietnam.
In 1969, I lived in South Vietnam and was a member of the Brown Water Navy squadron called VAL-4. My unit provided ground support to other troops. I returned to Montana in 1970 full of anger, hatred and herbicides. They sprayed Agent Orange within only two miles of us nine times.
In 2008, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs added ischemic heart disease to the list of Agent Orange illnesses. Strangely, that announcement made me feel better because now there was an explanation for the heart issues I had since returning home.
On Nov. 23, 1985, I had a heart attack at the age 37. Since that time, I have been in the cardio catheter lab a total of 16 times, have had over 20 angioplasties, 12 stents and one nuclear treatment. In 2005, I had five bypass grafts on my heart. That led to my chest being cut open four times in an attempt to rewire my sternum. Three out of four attempts failed.
In 2011, my chest was cut open again, but this time they had to remove my sternum and parts of several ribs due to an infection. The last time they opened me up, they left my chest wide open for a week so they could go in every other day to remove more dead material. The last and final surgery, the doctor cut my pectoral muscle from my arms and used it to close my chest. Not only did I no longer have a sternum, but the mechanics of my chest were now completely and irreparably changed.
During my last hospital stay, they assigned a pain team to me with the hope that they would find a medication for pain management. Unfortunately, I was allergic to every painkiller except medical marijuana. Since then, my only means of controlling my pain is medical cannabis and ibuprofen.
The recent ruling by the Montana Supreme Court allowing cannabis providers to only have three patients means that I will be left out. Come Aug. 31, I will have no more legal access to cannabis. I registered to be my own provider but that is like asking someone to manufacture their own hydrocodone.
I have fought and served this great country, and am now being left behind. Initiative 182 is the only way for patients like me to access their medicine. I-182 will remove the three-patient limit and allow me to access my medicine with no barriers. Come Nov. 8, please vote yes on I-182.
This is about patients, like me, who have real medical issues. Approach that ballot in November with the idea that medical marijuana is medicine that helps bring relief to so many Montanans.