Allen Friedlander


My name is Allen Friedlander.  I live in Ohio.  I am an artist specializing in pencil portraits. My main focus is very detailed sports figures.  In 1999, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Being right handed, I was eventually forced to give up my career, as my M.S. is progressive. There has been very little headway in treating my form of the disease.

As a sports enthusiast, and an avid weight lifter, I tried to stay as strong as possible.  I have continued to work out to the limits my body will allow, which includes a weight machine, tension bands, and isometrics.

The disease manifested itself in the following way: In the 1990’s I had back issues.  After numerous tests, they discovered I had M.S.  I went from walking slowly, to a cane, to a three prong heavy cane, to a power chair.  Now I reside in a nursing facility.  I still use the power chair, but staff must use a hoist to move me from the bed to the chair.  I am paralyzed except for some movement in my left hand.

Up until being diagnosed, I would classify myself as a recreational pot smoker.  Living on an artist’s income, I didn’t buy much, and most of my smoking was with generous friends.  I would often go weeks at a time without getting high.  My friends assisted even more so once I developed the above described maladies.  My use and dependence became greater as the disease progressed.  At this point, my pot use is a combination of brownies and cannabis tincture.  I imbibe daily if I can.  I cannot administer a ‘dose’ without the aid of a collaborator.  I am well aware that my friends are breaking the law to help me, and I am very grateful.

If I was caught smoking Marijuana at the nursing facility they could throw me out.  My use of brownies and liquid is virtually undetectable.  I must be fed.  When a friend is not available, sometimes a staff member will give me a piece of the brownie, probably suspecting, but not knowing the contents.  One of my dear friends, who visits often, brings the liquid.

My depression increased with each negative progression of the disease.  Without question the pot helps me cope with my situation.  I get a body numbness that is quite comfortable.  Also, when I am high, I don’t get the severe spasms that are associated with M.S.  Another positive effect is that I can tolerate, and even enjoy, hours of watching television.  I must use a catheter 24 hours per day.  As a result, I am prone to urinary tract infections.  Needless to add, these are uncomfortable.  The pot diminishes the discomfort greatly.  Part of coping with the realization that I can do virtually nothing for myself is to accept my fate.  I am able to process and tolerate this difficult circumstance when I am high.

It astounds me that pot isn’t legal for medicinal purposes.  If my friends didn’t get me high, I could not cope with the progression of the disease - physically or psychologically.  It’s that simple.  When I get visitors, and I am high, I can laugh and tell stories just like I did when I was healthy.  During those times when I am unable to use, my depression increases to a level I hate to think about.

I hope my story can be added to others in the effort to lobby for legalization for medicinal marijuana.  I am not a political person.  I’m just a guy telling his story the most truthful way I can.  Thank you. ~