Opinion » Mail

An Open Letter to Butch Otter

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Dear Gov. Otter and other Idaho Legislators,

I want to take a moment to talk to you about medical cannabis, but first allow me to introduce myself.

My name is Michael Hassoldt, I am an Iraq War veteran and medically retired police officer. I suffer from PTSD and chronic pain. It has been my experience, and the experience of many of my veteran friends, that currently available pharmaceutical options are both inadequate and dangerous.

I have been on and off opioid pain medications for seven years, I am 34 years old and recently began needing a cane to assist in my ability to walk without falling down due to nerve damage from the spine injuries I sustained during my service to this nation.

Every night when I go to bed I wonder if I will wake up or if my pain meds will finally kill me. Opioids are dangerous, but for decades have been nearly the only option for chronic pain sufferers. But that is changing.

New studies have shown that cannabis is effective in treating pain, as well as posttraumatic stress and many other ailments for which Big Pharma only has dangerous answers. I can tell you without a doubt from my time as a police officer that pot is much less dangerous than alcohol and, while I have never smoked it myself because of my desire to stay within the law, I would like the option to at least see if it could be a safe alternative for me as opposed to the lethal opioid medications I currently take, which kill so many people every single year.

Each morning I wake up, I count it as a blessing. It is a blessing to be able to wake up in the beautiful state of Idaho, to be able to greet my smiling 3-year-old daughter after I hobble out of bed. I want to keep on receiving those blessings, but I fear that managing my condition with the currently available options will one day kill me.

Please don't let old stigmas keep this vital new opportunity from our local veteran community (and others), so many of us are suffering and could benefit from the safer alternative that is medical cannabis.

I write this letter in hopes that you all will do the right thing here but please keep in mind that if you choose not to do the right thing, the only option people like me have is to vote against you as single-issue voters.

I naturally lean to the right side of the political spectrum, but if this policy does not change soon then I foresee myself becoming a single-issue voter on this problem until it is solved. I will do what I can do to raise awareness and take as many people with me to the other side of the political house as possible until this is fixed.

Best regards,

—Michael Hassoldt

US Army (ret.),Gardena Police Department (ret.)