Coming out of the (Cannabis) Closet

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.
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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.

Please ask your congressional representatives to make marijuana a Schedule 2 drug and reduce the severity of the punishment for crimes involving marijuana. We also need to push our elected officials to allow universities to receive federal funding for medical marijuana research.

I encourage every person who is living in the cannabis closet to "come out" and fight for our medical rights. When it comes to this herbal and non-addictive pain remedy, it's good to hear when patients feel great.

Rosendahl serves the constituents of the City's westside coastal communities and is the first openly gay elected official in City goverment. As chair of the Transportation Committee, Rosendahl is working to ease gridlock and create even safer roads for all forms of transportation. During his early career, Rosendahl served as a social worker for veterans during the Vietnam War and continues to fight for supportive services for those returning from war and facing homelessness.


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