Crusading for change
Published 10:59 am Thursday, June 25, 2015
Deanna Jean Ryther held up a bright yellow sign along Fourth Street Northwest Wednesday afternoon which read, “91% of MN doctors not enrolling for MMJ. Where does that leave patients?”
Ryther of Lansing Township has become an outspoken Austin medical marijuana advocate, but she is boycotting and speaking out against the state’s medical marijuana program after her experience with it.
“I don’t feel like this program is safe,” she said. “I don’t think it’s effective.”
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On Wednesday afternoon, Ryther carried handwritten signs near the Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin sign to protest the fact that many Minnesota doctors are choosing not to participate in the state’s new medical marijuana program.
In a few weeks, Ryther plans to return to Colorado for treatments that feature medicinal cannabis, which she was unable to obtain through the state’s new medical marijuana program.
Ryther tried unsuccessfully for several weeks to find a doctor willing to qualify her for the state’s new medical marijuana program, even placing an ad on Craigslist. Ryther had brain surgery in 2009 and suffers from a form of epilepsy, which causes seizures. She also has muscle spasms from nerve damage.
A Minnesota Medical Association survey found just 9 percent of doctors surveyed found they would certify patients for medical marijuana, while about 68 percent said they would not, 17 percent were undecided and another 7 percent said they treat patients who wouldn’t qualify.
Ryther gave up trying to find a doctor to prescribe her medical marijuana in Minnesota. She was told to stop using the medical marijuana she’s used in Colorado, which she says has helped her. Instead, medical professionals wanted her to be tested, get an MRI and try other treatments.
“I don’t want to be a Guinea pig,” she said. “I know what works for me.”
Ryther was also told she’d be considered high risk, as medical professionals voiced concerns that she’d return to Colorado for its medicinal marijuana. She called the state’s registration process for the program discriminatory. Also voiced concerns about the costs to enroll in Minnesota’s program.
“I’m just incredibly discouraged,” she said.
Ryther says she’s spoken with other people in the community who favor medical marijuana and share beliefs similar to hers, but they’re afraid of the repercussions of speaking out.
“It’s a shame that people are afraid,” she said.
She questioned why Minnesota is testing its own program when other states have implemented medical marijuana programs that have worked.
“It’s absolutely discriminatory,” she said
As of June 24, only about 41 Minnesota patients had signed up for the state’s medical marijuana program.
She also voiced concerns about how Minnesota’s medicinal marijuana is being produced, arguing its extracting various compounds and is not organic.
“I’m not confident in this program,” Ryther said. “It’s completely non-transparent.”
She said it’d be safer to get cannabis on the street or in Colorado than using Minnesota’s medicinal version.
She’s encouraging others to boycott the program as well.
As of earlier this month, only 41 patients had registered for Minnesota’s medical marijuana program.
Ryther said she doesn’t like having to be the person who speaks out, and her opinions about medical marijuana have harmed her reputation in Minnesota.
She called for the full legalization of marijuana, stating she wishes she and her husband, a farmer, could one day grow and sell medicinal marijuana and hemp.