Melody Cashion is one Tennessean that could significantly benefit from the legalization of medical cannabis in the state. Melody is a 44-year-old mother of three beautiful daughters that she cherishes more than anything. Unfortunately, Melody suffers from C-M-T which presents her with constant road bumps physically in her daily life.
What is C-M-T?
C-M-T or Charcot-Marie-Tooth disorder is a hereditary motor and sensory disorder that causes damages to the nerves in the extremities of the body. This rare condition affects less than 200,000 individuals in the U.S. each year. This degenerative nerve disorder causes muscle weakness, high arches in the feet, decreased muscle size, hammertoes, reduced sensation in the arms and legs as well as many other symptoms. Patients are typically diagnosed with C-M-T during their childhood or early adolescent years. This, however, wasn’t the case for Melody.
In fact, Melody was 35 years old when she was finally properly diagnosed. For many years she was treated for disorders and conditions that she didn’t have. When her father found out that he carried the C-M-T gene after seeking treatment for neuropathy, Melody sought out testing though she was certain at this point that C-M-T was in fact what she had been suffering from for many years.
She was pregnant at the time, so she was able to receive genetic testing and found out that not only did she have the C-M-T mutation but so did her unborn child. She also later found out that her oldest daughter also carries the gene, but her symptoms are not as severe. She has been told however that she should consider an occupation change though as her current cosmetology career could drastically increase the severity of symptoms due to the repetitive motions that it requires. So not only does Melody deal with the pain and suffering caused by C-M-T she is also handling the mental anguish of seeing her daughters also go through the same issues.
The Type of Symptoms C-M-T Presents
While discussing her story, I asked Melody about the symptoms and ailments that she suffers from day to day and the following was her short list.
Dyskinesia – Uncontrolled, involuntary muscle movement.
Atrophy / weakness in leg/feet & arm/hands
Issues with Balance
As you can see, there is quite a substantial amount of issues that Melody faces that could interfere with her daily activities, but despite this, she continues to educate the masses about a miraculous plant known as cannabis. There is a reason why Melody has a passion for sharing this plant with the world, and that is because it not only does it help with her ailments, but it also has helped her kick a dependency to a plethora of different pharmaceuticals.
A Molotov Cocktail of Pharmaceuticals and How Cannabis Helped
At one-time Melody was taking the following on a daily basis just to get by.
100mg of Methadone
600mg of Lyrica
45mg of Oxycodone
30mg of Valium
1200mg of Gabapentin
By taking just a few tokes of cannabis throughout the day, she was able to wean down to just 20mg of Methadone and 225mg of Lyrica. The methadone worked well for pain relief but came with a plethora of side effects as did the Lyrica. In Melody’s opinion, the tradeoff of relief for the side effects that she suffered and continues to suffer from these pharmaceuticals wasn’t worth it. She has also been prescribed Zofran and Marinol for nausea as needed in the past. Although Marinol is cannabinoid-based Melody feels that it’s not comparable by any measure to whole plant cannabis. The Marinol not only didn’t bring her the same level of relief it also left her feeling quite fuzzy like many pharmaceuticals.
Before being arrested when Melody could obtain enough cannabis through donations or out of pocket to make edibles, this was her choice way to medicate as it brought the highest level of relief and lasted the longest. Smoking or vaping cannabis however she stated was much better for immediate in the moment relief. Cannabis was significantly effective in relieving her nausea and spasticity and also increased her appetite substantially. With the right strains, it was also very effective at relieving her pain.
A Suffering Grandmother Just Trying to Find Relief
Unfortunately, whole plant cannabis medicine is not an option for Melody because she is a TN resident and is facing criminal charges after being arrested for approximately a joint worth of cannabis. The Marinol was added to her treatment regimen previously when she was on probation and couldn’t even take the risk of illegally relieving herself of tremendous pain and suffering by using a natural plant because she could have undoubtedly been arrested, would have violated her probation and could also have faced losing custody of her two daughters that still reside at home.
Melody suffered through 15 years of misdiagnosis. Today she still suffers the horrendous side effects that came from treatments for something she wasn’t suffering from as well as the addiction that she has encountered due to the many different prescribed medications she took over the years. Her gastrointestinal issues, acute renal failure, and kidney issues are directly related to the drugs that she was prescribed. Over the years she has also been hospitalized dozens of times on top of 100s of visits to the ER.
No One Should Have to Leave Home for Medical Treatment that Works
Melody has considered moving to a compassionate state that recognizes just how effective cannabis can be for relieving ailments such as the ones that she suffers with. There she could not only not feel like a criminal for choosing a natural plant that works over pharmaceuticals that don’t, but she would also have legal access to hundreds of different cannabis products and strains including topicals which have proven to be very efficient at relieving neuropathy.
Moving, however, would mean leaving behind her entire family including her parents, daughter, and grandson as well as the place she has called home for many years. Since she was arrested for a very minute amount of cannabis this isn’t even an option any longer due to probation. This isn’t something that Melody should even have to consider though as this natural plant that has never once in over 10,000 years of recorded history killed a single human being should be available for her in her home state of TN.
She also shouldn’t have to be worrying about criminal charges and potential jail time on top of everything else over a small amount of cannabis, something that would be perfectly legal in many other states and at the most would have warranted a civil fine.
The Arrest Details
Melody was arrested in October of 2017 after she was stopped for running a stop sign and was caught with ” a green leafy substance and a glass pipe.” She received a citation for the traffic violation as well as the following criminal charges.
Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
Simple Marijuana Possession
In the state of TN, simple marijuana possession and the possession of drug paraphernalia both could land Melody behind bars for a year.
According to her recent interview with Nashville Public Radio, “the legal risks have been worth it.” She knows firsthand that cannabis can help with addiction and dependency upon painkillers and stated the following regarding the difference she and others saw after she started utilizing cannabis and removing pharmaceutical pain relievers from her regimen.
“I know that I can function a whole lot better than when I was on the prescription meds, and I know that anybody that knows me, will say that. Whether they’re for or against medical cannabis, (they) can’t deny that.”
Cannabis is medicine. This is undeniable. The anecdotal and scientific proof is out there to support cannabis as a medicine. Not to mention thousands of years’ worth of history that references cannabis being utilized for many different medical applications. Let’s also not forget the fact that our bodies contain an endocannabinoid system that requires cannabinoids like the ones found in cannabis to regulate the body’s functions or the fact that our bodies actually produce cannabinoids naturally.
It’s time for the draconian laws of a racist reefer madness era to come to an end and this significantly beneficial plant to be made available to anyone and everyone who could benefit from it.
How You Can Help
Melody is currently hosting a fundraiser to collect the funds needed to have Dr. Bob Melemede who is verse in cannabis as a medicine as well as the issues that she suffers from speak at her court hearing. Dr. Melemede has agreed to come if his travel and lodging can be covered. If you’d like to support Melody and help her bring this medical professional to TN to speak in her defense, you can learn more and donate here.
Melody, like thousands of other Tennesseans, feels that it should be her right to consume cannabis to treat her ailments if she so chooses to and I couldn’t agree more. This is exactly why Melody is prepared to take her charges to trial and refuse any plea deals as she knows that it is going to take someone challenging the system for changes to truly be seen when it comes to the acceptance of medical cannabis in the state of TN.
Should the charges against Melody not be dropped without going to trial, it will essential that she has as much court support as possible throughout the trial in her defense. If you are a TN resident or are willing to travel to TN in Melody’s defense, be sure to follow her story on Facebook to learn more about her developing case and how you can help.
On a closing note, I asked Melody, if you could tell the representatives in TN as well as our readership anything what would it be? She stated the following;
“They’re putting Grandmas in jail over a plant. I need access to the right strain to find relief from my conditions, something I don’t have under prohibition. I don’t want to leave my home and my family but if something doesn’t change in TN and I am unable to use cannabis I will have to move somewhere that I am not a criminal for seeking out natural relief.”
Story by Ashley Priest