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Unofficial transcript of the testimony of Jacki Rickert

Unofficial Transcript of the Testimony of Jacki Rickert before Wisconsin State Assembly State Affairs Committee Informational Hearing on Medical Marijuana April 10, 2001

Representatives Skindrud, chairperson,
Krawczyk, vice chairperson,
Bies, M. Lehman, Petrowski, Wood, Young, and Travis 

Chairman Skindrud: …with that, if we could call Jacki Rickert, please take your position at the ahh well it isn't a podium, at the mikes…And for presenters, if you would give us your name, and ahh where you live and ahh a little bit of a history, and why you are here. And welcome Miss Rickert.

Jacki Rickert: Thank you sir. Ahh Good morning ladies and gentlemen, Ummm I'm here to hopefully convince you there's a very big problem, that being, ahh what Chairman Skindrud said, made me feel very good about the opening, this is a health issue. It is not a drug issue. We're not talking about people going out on streets. We're not talking about buying and selling drugs to children. This is totally for people's quality of life. 

I could go back and back, but ummm none of us really have that time, and I don't think we really want to get that bored. I'll tell you at one time I was very athletic; I was into horseback riding, gymnastics. I loved it. Obviously I'm not doing that any longer. Ahhm, by 1990, I was diagnosed with, I have something called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, which I believe there is a packet around here which kind of explains it a little easier. Then I was diagnosed with advanced reflex sympathetic dystrophy, which never knew why it wasn't caught earlier. But in essence I was told it was like little Pac-men were going in and eating the bone marrow in my legs at the time and there is no cure. So the best I can do is try to have quality of life. I got to the point in 1990 where I got down to 68 pounds and it was very frightening. My daughter who weighs probably 105, 110, was literally carrying me from room to room, because I could not walk. My body would just completely collapse. I couldn't eat. I asked my doctor about cannabis therapy. Ahhhmm, he just didn't just obviously say oh yes, sure I'll do it. He wanted 6 months, and looked into all the information he could possibly find. His father was a physician, his brother was a physician. So he had all these medical books to draw from. And with all the people he spoke to, the first thing he found out was that it was the safest thing possible with everything I am on. 

I have been on morphine, I have been on Demerol, I have been on Dilaudid, and again I would like to say these are medications that I need to use. They are not abused. Ahhm, when we tried to get cannabis my physician went through every channel, in triplicate, and was completely approved. It was to the point where it was being filled. And then it was pulled. Someone was told to just stop. We didn't know why. The papers were saying that the program was being put on hold. We found out that, we kept being told that it had no bearing on my case. Didn't do much for the other people, but I was still told, and my physician was told that it had no bearing on this case because I was approved in December again, of '90.

Things just kept getting worse and worse. But my physician went through every single roadblock in triplicate. I mean he was asked to do things that a physician should never have to do, never in their life. Take pictures of a town, asked him how far exactly do you, is your office from the police station, you need to have a 750 pound double-locking safe to store cannabis. I was just; still I'm completely shocked. 

To this day, I have never received one single pre-rolled marijuana joint that my physician fought so hard for, to get. As he said, it was the first time in his life, that someone didn't honor his prescription. That had to have hurt after 35 years. After he saw my weight was still going down, he started to get very frightened. And, I had been someone that was anorexic or bulimic, it would have put up a big danger zone, and something would have done. But because I had something totally different, that it was anorexia, but etiology unknown. I was not doing this to myself. It was happening to me. I tried Marinol. I took it with a very open mind. By the second day I woke up, I was in total fear. It felt like I couldn't breathe. My tongue actually swelled up in my throat. The sides of my throat were totally swollen. My doctor came over to the house, making house call, and had the most horrified look I have ever seen on a doctor. He was, he came right up and said he was terrified. He called the FDA and asked what the antidote to this was. And he had this long silence, and they said, umm, good question doctor.

That's it. They had no idea. Yes I have smoked marijuana. I have been able to maintain between 88 pounds and 92, 95. That seems like an awful lot after you weigh 68 pounds. I have never had any reaction like that whatsoever from smoking a God-given herb. I really don't know what to do anymore so I'm here to just try and tell the story the best I can. I'm just an everyday person, who just happened to get into something that I hope none of you or none of your children ever have to face, because it tears your family apart, it tears you apart. (clears throat) Excuse me.

I never looked at it like I was getting marijuana. To me it was just changing another medication, which I have had changed so many times. It didn't seem like anything any different. It was something that worked. Something that I could titrate. You have a few puffs, when it works, you put it out. That is not something you can do with a pill. That is not something you can do with a liquid, once its in your system its in your system. Ahhmm most of the things I have either allergic reactions to, or from my stomach lining. Ahhmm, the majority of my pain medications have to be injectable, and I just find it unbelievable, actually very scary, because it's easier and it's okay to take morphine or Demerol that people die from every day. It has all kinds of reactions. Luckily I haven't had any reactions like I did with Marinol, thank God. 

But it's not something its fun to do. I can cut my medication in half if I'm able to use a medicinal strength of cannabis. I do it when I know that I have met since all this started, I have met some of the most incredible people. Some of them have already passed away. Just since we did a Journey in '97, to try and bring some awareness. Three of those people, and you spend 7 days with someone, especially if you, you get to know something about them, and you find out their fears. 

One of the men was in Vietnam, and he told me all about it, as much as he could, it was the first time he actually talked about it, and he finally admitted this whole thing with cannabis, was the most terrifying war he'd ever seen. I didn't know what to do, cry, or hug him. So we did a little bit of each. So I guess, maybe what I'm trying to ask you people is, it is a very big problem and it's affecting so many people. 

I was almost arrested a year ago because I had a theft of morphine, and I reported it. Well, when the police were done taking the report, they came back a day and a half later, and were going to tell me what was going on with the person who had done this, and as they were leaving, they said and by the way, someone said they smoked marijuana with you last night, which no, was a complete fabrication. I don't sit down and smoke marijuana with people who steal medication. I don't sit down to do this to get high, or everything that's been talked about. I do this to get have an appetite, to be able to have a quality of life. When you look into a mirror and you're 68 pounds, and your own daughter says, My God mom, you look like you just walked out of a concentration camp…I never really, I mean I knew something was wrong, but I never realized how bad it looked until I looked in that mirror.

I realized I never looked in it because I was terrified of what I was going to see. Try and explain pain, that's probably one of the hardest things to explain. Excuse me. 

I have no fatty tissue around my upper leg and my buttocks area. I'm sure as all of us as children or even adults, at one time or another, we've fallen on our tailbone. You know what that feels like. That's what it's like for me every single day from the minute I'm able to go to sleep. I can't say I go to bed. It's more like when I've reached the point of exhaustion, and I finally get to sleep. As soon as I wake up, in the middle of the night, the same thing is there. I can't tell if I'm sitting on a remote, or I'm just sitting on my tailbone. 

I really don't know what more to say. I really don't want to take up your valuable time. I think I've tried to get as much across as possible. I said I don't have any degrees. I'm just a person who's living this. But, right now, I feel like I'm living, not like I'm simply existing, and that's a real good feeling. It feels real good, right here in the heart. But when somebody wants to take you to jail, that's pretty frightening, for something that should never have happened.

William Jefferson Clinton put his arm on my shoulder, looked my daughter and I straight in the eye, and asked exactly what the problem was; we explained what I've explained to you. Ahhh We gave him a packet of every one of the approvals. And he said, Why that's just terrible, and I'm gonna make it right. Well it never has been made right, so I really think right now it needs to be a state issue. And I am begging you ladies and gentlemen to be open-minded. Just think about it. Tomorrow it could be you, your children, your parents, you never know. You could get a disease, a syndrome, you could get hit by a car, anything. And when it happens you hope there is something out there that's going to help you.

Again, there is a very big problem, and I'm looking to you people for help, for the answer. Thank you very much for your time, and thank you for asking me.

(applause) .

Updated Tuesday, April 19, 2005



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