Advocates And Police At Odds Over Medical Marijuana's Perceived Benefits And Threats

Nearly 20 years of chronic pain hasn’t killed David Rowden’s sense of humor. 

The 62-year-old army veteran looks at a family picture standing on a coffee table and points out that the man on a nearby magazine cover isn’t family. 

“That’s Willie Nelson,” Rowden said with a heavy laugh. 

Rowden eases himself into an armchair and sets a glass of beer on a side table. His tone becomes serious as he describes the freak workplace accident that brings him chronic pain. 

Rowden said he was working in a state prison when “a bookshelf loaded with big thick three-ring binders fell on my head.”

Injuries from the improperly mounted shelf left Rowden in so much pain he had to get surgery to fuse three of his vertebrae together. 

Later, Rowden’s doctor prescribed opioid painkillers to help him cope. He’s still taking them for his neck pain, and over the years more problems have cropped up. Rowden said he now has lower back pain and bursitis in both shoulders.

Rowden would rather use medical marijuana for the pain. When he lived in Washington, a doctor there recommended marijuana — and Rowden said the drug helped him cut his opioid use in half. 

That’s why now, Rowden is a vocal supporter of State Question 788, a measure on the June 26 primary election ballot that could legalize the licensed cultivation, use and possession of medical marijuana in Oklahoma.

A ‘yes’ vote allows doctors to sign a form recommending a patient for a medical marijuana license. Patients would send the signed form and a fee to officials at the Oklahoma State Department of Health to get the two-year license.

Rowden will support the measure because he believes deciding whether marijuana is an appropriate treatment “is the doctor’s job, not bureaucrats, law enforcers or lawyers.”

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