Dr. Daniela Drake of Los Angeles concedes she is an unlikely marijuana advocate.
In her recent editorial published in the The Daily Beast, Drake recalls how she had always judged the drug and its users rather harshly.
Our Los Angeles marijuana lawyers understand that part of what began to alter her mentality regarding the issue was in a sense being forced to hear the stories of those whom the drug had benefited.
As a graduate from one of the nation's top medical schools, she had never personally liked marijuana and she tended to hold stereotypical beliefs regarding those who did.
However, several years into her career as a doctor, she found herself at a crossroads. She had opened an internal medicine practice, and she was struggling. She had two small children with severe learning disabilities at home, and her hours at work were long and demanding.
Seeing an opportunity in the field of medical marijuana, she joined an upscale marijuana provider in Los Angeles. The woman who owned the clinic was also a working mother and physician.
At first, she said, it was a job. But over time, as she began to learn more about her patients' histories and delve into their their stories, she became intrigued about the benefits of medical marijuana.
For many of her patients, marijuana provided a non-addictive form of pain relief. Among those patients:
- A young adult with lupus;
- A grandmother with rheumatoid disease;
- A mother with fiibromuyalgia;
- A paralyzed, middle-aged man in a wheelchair.
There were also mothers who swore by the drug, touting the positive effects it had in turning their hyperactive, out-of-control child into an A-student. In some cases, alcoholics who had been homeless were able to manage their addiction while holding down a job and hanging onto their housing - with the help of marijuana.
In one case, she came across a semi-professional baseball player who suffered from chronic muscle pain. Anti-inflammatories troubled his stomach, and marijuana was more effective and easier on his system.
By the time the doctor was called to testify in this young man's defense - for growing six marijuana plants - she was more than convinced of the drug's benefit. She was an advocate. She was furious that this was a case on which the court was even wasting its time and that the young man was facing years behind bars.
In the end, he was still convicted of a felony, but didn't have to serve any prison time - on the condition that he never use marijuana again.
She concedes that yes, there were those that abused the drug and who came into the clinic with stories that were sketchy and motives that were questionable. However, she came to the conclusion that this should not mean that patients who genuinely benefit from the drug should be punished for it - especially not with a lifelong felony record.
She describes her reticence to be known as a flaky "pot doctor," but says the injustice of that young man's fate gnaws at her still today, several years later. It's wrong, she said, that people like him are being labeled felons and thrown in prison. The federal government, she maintains is wrong on this.
She said her shift on the marijuana issue came after a long time and "practically against my will." But she urges the federal government to give the issue that same kind of careful analysis in considering its position.