Medical Cannabis Refugees: The Darker Side Of Prohibition

Medical Marijuana Refugees Are Usually Children

Posted by:
DanaSmith on Wednesday Sep 6, 2017

Medical Cannabis Refugees: The Darker Side Of Prohibition



While cannabis legalization is at an all-time high in the United States, the battle on prohibition continues to be an uphill struggle. More people have access to medical cannabis than ever, but this doesn’t mean that it’s easy for all.


A significant number of sick Americans still don’t have access to cannabis. The result is an increase in medical cannabis refugees, or people who need to relocate to different states to seek asylum and obtain access to the plant for medicinal purposes. For these refugees, having access to cannabis can spell the difference between life and death.


It’s so easy to take cannabis for granted when you can easily walk down the road to buy medicine for your ailments, but medical cannabis refugees live a difficult, turbulent life. Aside from already suffering from their often debilitating medical conditions, they still have to face several problems on a daily basis.


colorado cannabis map



Medical cannabis refugees have to leave everything and everyone behind just to relocate in a state where they don’t know anyone else in order to medicate. You would have to say goodbye to all your family, friends, and loved ones; completely uproot your life and start from scratch. Whether you’re an adult individual or a parent of a sick child, it’s not easier for anyone; the battles are the same. Some parents even face the risk of going to jail just to get cannabis for their kids.


cannabis stigma



For someone to relocate and start their life from scratch to receive access to medical cannabis, they definitely know that this treatment will give them the healing that they need which pharmaceutical medications can’t provide. But even if medical cannabis refugees benefit from using the plant over other medications, they still have to face stigma and embarrassment from family and friends who aren’t as educated about the benefits of cannabis. Medical cannabis refugees are often the target of painful criticism from their loved ones by choosing to do what they do, resulting in alienation in relationships.


cost of cannabis



Medical cannabis isn’t covered by insurance companies, unlike pharmaceutical drugs. Refugees have to cover the costs of the entire relocation from their own pocket, from transportation tickets to accommodations in a state where the plant is legal. This makes it tremendously expensive for them just to be able to medicate with something that should be legal.


cannabis in germany

International Medical Cannabis Refugees


People from other countries are now relocating to the United States as well to get cannabis treatments for their families. An article by The Guardian reports that a small group of medical cannabis refugees have started to settle in Oregon, Colorado, and Washington with the hopes of succeeding with cannabis treatments for severe conditions for epilepsy, seizures, and the like. Many of these patients have responded well to cannabis where pharmaceutical treatments have not.


The article states:


“Sean Beeman, an Oregon-based producer of cannabis medicines who runs a medical marijuana refugees page, said he regularly talks to families from overseas who have moved to the US or are considering relocating. “People bring kids to me from Germany, the Czech Republic – we’ve had them from all over.”

“Pot is everywhere, but this medicine isn’t. So that’s why people travel,” he added.”


Stories of Medical Cannabis Refugees


Alexis Bortell is an 11-year old girl who is not only a medical cannabis refugee but one who has also filed a lawsuit against AG Jeff Sessions for the federal scheduling of cannabis. Alexis, along with her family, had to uproot their lives and move to Colorado from Texas to legally use the plant to treat her epileptic seizures. Alexis represents many other medical cannabis refugees in her suit, including former NFL player and entrepreneur Marvin Washington; Sebastian Cotte, a father of a 6 year old who has Leigh’s Disease; the Cannabis Cultural Association, and Jose Belen, a disabled veteran who was precluded from using his medical benefits to use cannabis for PTSD treatment. While moving to Colorado enables Alexis to get the medicine that she needs, she still wants to move back to Texas where she is eligible to participate in free college tuition programs thanks to the Texas State Department of Education. In Colorado, she doesn’t enjoy the same educational benefits.

Laurie Gaddis moved from Arizona to Colorado after being diagnosed with a rare type of skin cancer, which came about after her father was exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam war. Although she never had to go through chemotherapy or radiation, she was able to treat her cancer using a cannabis oil similar to the Rick Simpson oil. She’s used the oil orally and topically, but while she hasn’t been completely successful and still encounters problems, she relies on the cannabis to help her.


Statistics for refugees are vague at best; not many people will admit to relocating to get access to cannabis. This is another reason that proves why medical cannabis needs to be legalized in every single state. Medical cannabis refugees wouldn’t face the problems that they do today if the federal government reschedules cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug. Clearly the science tells us everything that we need to know about cannabis – why should patients have to be refugees in order to get access to the medicine that they need?










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