The Maine leaders who made me think “seriously?” this week

So I’ve decided I need to take a break the rest of this week. This week marks 52 in a row that I’ve been generating content, and I think I need to take a breath. And I’m really missing my BFF who would have been turning 86 on May 4.

He was the one who wanted me to focus on my writing, and as I’ve been acclimating to the roller coaster ride that is blogging, I keep looking at the empty seat next to me wishing he were here. No matter what ride my ass has landed on over the years, there he was helping me learn not to scream too much and cushioning me from slamming around the carriage.

Before I break, though, a couple thoughts about the news recently, which can be summed up with one word and some gratuitous punctuation: SERIOUSLY?!? Honestly, I’ve been thinking that more often than not lately when I follow the news, so it’s hard to narrow it down to just two, but for the sake of brevity I’ll try.

Seriously ?!? #1

The Maine Republican Party. Certain feedback and some cold shoulders have brought to my attention that there are folks who think I’ve been a little rough on Democrats recently. Personally, I think crap is crap whether it’s red or blue, and today it’s red.

Besides acting like their convention matters in this presidential election cycle, Republicans chose not to remove their anti-gay marriage position from their platform. Seriously?!?

Yo, Republicans — The person driving your bus here in Maine is so unstable, he’s rewriting recent history and pretending legislative commissions are membership meetings for some secret childhood club, in violation of the law. The password to get into the first meeting for the blue ribbon education commission?

I’m guessing it’s just nod and smile like everything is okay.

And at this point in the presidential election cycle, saying anything about the person driving the Republican bus on the national scene is redundant. All of which leaves me thinking the party of Paul LePage, Donald Trump, and let’s just throw in Dennis Hastert for good measure — has more pressing issues than worrying about what is going on in the bedrooms represented by certain marriage licenses.

Seriously ?!? #2

Gordon Smith, lawyer and spokesperson for the Maine Medical Association. I just did a post about attending a hearing at which he gave testimony. When putting in his two cents about the idea of adding addiction to the list of conditions that can be treated with medical marijuana, Smith said:

“In this case, it clearly can do harm and we don’t believe there’s any evidence — anecdotes are not evidence — these people are very sincere. It may have helped someone but we don’t believe that there’s sufficient science behind the proposal for the state to do it.”

As I listened to him speak, I was thinking, funny that’s the same thing I was thinking when my PCP and my neurologist and others kept offering me opiates for my early onset osteoarthritis.

I was thinking, they know I have a substance abuse and mental health history, and while these doctors seem so sincere, there just can’t be sufficient science behind the idea of giving me unlimited access to free opiates.

Clearly, I thought, following their advice would do harm. So I said no.

The silly part of this story is, the reason I wasn’t in as much pain as these doctors were sure I must have been was because I was already using medical marijuana to treat symptoms related to my trauma history. I made this choice long before PTSD became an approved medical marijuana condition, so my doctors didn’t know.

I couldn’t tell them because I had a substance abuse history, and using nonlethal medical marijuana prior to legalization would have been viewed as substance abuse.

Ironic and seriously silly, isn’t it? The fact that using medical marijuana illegally kept me from being in the kind of pain that might have led me to follow their legal and potentially lethal suggestion to use prescription opiates, which, given my history. would have most likely led to addiction. And maybe jail or a hospitalization or the loss of my children.

Or a trip to the coroner’s office.

So forgive me, Mr. Smith, if I don’t care what you think about the validity or the sincerity of the medical marijuana anecdotes you heard last week. Like me, you heard too many people testify that their addiction began while receiving the kind of medical care to which I just referred. Like me, they’re still standing, free from incarcertion, parenting their children, and able to testify.

They were testifying that they used a nonlethal plant to save themselves from the very lethal drugs their doctors gave them. I do wish your organization had been more concerned about sincerity and science before this epidemic began. Or at the absolute least, I wish your organization knew better than to speak about sincerity and science in the wake of a disaster caused, to some extent, by your members’ sincerity and science.


Patricia Callahan

About Patricia Callahan

Trish is a writer who lives in Augusta. She has worked professionally in education and social services.