Letter to Rep. Allen Peake

As someone currently being treated for Bipolar I Disorder, I would like to personally relate my experiences. As with many disorders of the mind, every day is a challenge to regain balance and live a productive life. In the past, when I was unaware of the severity of my condition, I had a difficult time staying in control of both personal and professional aspects of my life. At first I was taking medications for anxiety disorder and depression. These medications were highly addictive, made me drowsy and required that I be patient in order for them to take effect, something already lacking in someone with extreme anxiety. After almost two years of being on and off medications, I am now taking a mood stabilizer and anti-depressant daily, as well as going to counseling. The Depakote has unsettling side effects and it is still a long grueling process to full recovery. The day I went to orientation for treatment of my disorder, I was told that there is NO cure for mental illness, and that the medication is simply to reduce symptoms. As an advocate for alternative medicine and natural healing therapies, I know of the healing properties of herbs, their multiple uses and applications. However, under current Georgia and Federal law, I risk criminal prosecution for my choice of medicine. I know these risks all too well and what concerns me even more is dealing in the black market, where I take a chance not knowing the chemical content that may or may not address my disorder and symptoms. Lastly, I am 24 years old and have in the past two years lost many opportunities for employment because I either would need to submit to a drug test or was otherwise not able to hold a job. Mental illness is a very real thing that affects more people than we realize; bipolar disorder has had devastating effects on my ability to function and accomplish any goals. I am asking for the opportunity to discuss marijuana with my health care team without being considered a “substance abuser” for my discretion, and moreover open a forum to legitimate alternatives to addictive and dangerous pharmaceuticals. I am confident that Georgia lawmakers will make a wise and conscious decision when considering cannabis as medicine. I also hope that our leaders, such as our Governor Nathan Deal, will keep in mind the commitment they made, and have taken an oath to as servants to the communities of Georgia, to ensure our State is a leader in Education and Medicine as I know we have that potential here in the South. I would appreciate the opportunity to introduce myself to you and your fellow legislators so that you may better understand the incredible positive effects Cannabis has had on my life. I am in complete support with the legalization and decriminalization of Medical Cannabis. I look forward to meeting and sharing my experiences with you.- Written to Representative Allen Peake in its original form.