US NY: High Minded

Newshawk: NY Patients First
Pubdate: Tue, 4 May 2010
Source: Metroland (Albany, NY)
Page: Feature cover article
Copyright: 2010 Lou Communications, Inc.
Author: Ali Hibbs
Bookmark: (Cannabis – Medicinal – U.S.)


With Advocates Energized and the Tide of Public and Scientific Opinion Turning in Their Favor, New York State Considers Legislation to Legalize Medical Marijuana

It was snowing on the evening of March 9, 2001, as Dave Lawson was driving his band’s GM Astro to a gig in Vermont. Carrying the instruments and one other band member, Lawson was going a cautious 40 miles in Troy when another vehicle pulled into the intersection directly in front of him. Unable to stop on the slick road, Lawson says that he hit the car on the passenger side. Everything that happened directly after that is fuzzy. Mostly what Lawson remembers are the years of rehabilitation and persistent pain that followed.

“The bass guitar came flying up from the back of the vehicle. It hit the back of my head, fractured my skull and forced my face into the steering wheel so that, at the point of impact, I hit at 120 mph. The bone that separates the eye from the temple basically disintegrated. I fractured my sternum, both clavicles, C5 and C6 in my spine and all of my ribs,” Lawson said. “My left arm came out of the socket and went back in the wrong way. I should have died.”

The accident, which was found to be the other driver’s fault, left Lawson with some brain damage and chronic pain caused by damage to his nerves.

“I could barely talk,” he recalls. “I felt like I was relearning the language. I had to think about making my limbs move. I had to think about what I actually had to do to get out of bed.” The painkillers he was given did little to dull the worst pain, according to Lawson, but they did dull his mental faculties so that communication and recovery became even more difficult. “Aspirin is it. That’s as much pain medication as I can take, otherwise it’s like I’ve taken a rufee,” he says, referring to the notorious date-rape drug.

The pain was still debilitating seven months after his accident when, “all of the sudden, one day I had a flash,” Lawson says. He remembered a day about a year earlier when he had been helping to make marijuana brownies for a friend who had skin cancer and used the cannabis plant to deal with the side effects of his treatment. As he handled the mixture of marijuana and butter that went into the batch, his hands went numb. Lawson, who has arthritis from decades of playing the guitar, suddenly felt no pain. “I think there’s a reason that I had that memory when I did.” He pauses. “And I’m glad that I did.”

“At the time, I happened to have some [cannabis-infused] oil that had been given to me. I put some on my shoulder and for the first time in seven months, I felt relief.”