Coming out of the (Cannabis) Closet

Bill Rosendahl 

Los Angeles City Council member for the 11th District

It’s true. I use cannabis.
First I used it to treat neuropathy in my feet and now it provides incredible relief from the severe and sometimes debilitating pain caused by a late stage cancer strangling the nerves in my lower back.
As the first elected official in United States to openly use medical cannabis — and belong to a collective in West Los Angeles — this “coming out of the cannabis closet” is a moment for me to encourage others to openly share their amazing success stories.
Unfortunately for many patients this coming out is a problem. The legalized marijuana industry — and the thousands of patients who benefit from the plant’s medicinal use — still deal with the stigma of pot as a form of dope. There are people who still view the use of medical marijuana as just another reason to enjoy marijuana under the guise of medicine and pain management.
There was a political risk in sharing my personal health care choices. I finally arrived at my decision based on personal experience, listening to constituent concerns, and reading their email about the need to protect those patients who feel their voice doesn’t matter. Staying silent on treatment meant keeping someone else from a life-changing experience.
I’m seeing dramatic improvements in my health. I’m walking without the stinging pain in my feet from neuropathy. I walking more freely and faster without assistance. I can sit longer than five minutes without pain. I’m getting pretty close to feeling like the old Bill Rosendahl.
I represent 275,000 constituents on the Westside. In my eight years as Councilmember, I have learned that my title has a tremendous amount of responsibility and power, especially when I speak.
There is a real need for alternatives to the powerful and highly addictive pain medications currently on the market. Medical marijuana is that alternative and cities are making tough policy decisions that are only making the situation for patients even more problematic. Every voter who publicly comes out of the cannabis closet will positively influence our representatives in Washington.
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