Thursday, February 19, 2015

First (but not the last) Day at the Texas State Capitol!

Greetings friends and readers,
The Beautiful Texas State Capitol

Some 300 cannabis advocates showed up to lobby with our Texas legislators yesterday!
Here are some links to some stories about it that came out today.

Yesterday, I got up at 5am, which is HUGE for me, cuz I am not an early bird, but it was for an excellent cause.  My good friend J agreed to go with me, and Houston Norml arrange a bus ride for us with RAMP, ( Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition) a great group.  Now I am a dyed in the wool non-partisan voter, but I do have some tendencies from both sides.  In this case, I couldn't have ended up with a better group.  My friend J and I were part of the 'patients' group.  I have been working on this goal for a long time, and going back and forth with my letter with Tracy,  Texas Norml's patient coordinator and she's been awesome. She only had me change a couple of things in my letter, and she said it will do for my testimony too.  

This is a copy of the testimony I provided in my packet. And yeah, it does have my acutal name on it. I am coming out of the closet I guess. If you click on it, you should be able to read it.  0.o If you can't read it, then here is the body of it:

Honorable Senator, Legislator or Representative,
I am a proud Texas Veteran, 100% disabled with PTSD from four years of military sexual trauma (1976-1980), including one by an Iranian pilot who had 'diplomatic immunity' and I was told it was 'National Security" and I was given a direct order to never discuss it. I suffered other rapes and beatings during those four years by supervisors on 2 bases, being threatened with being thrown out in disgrace if I spoke up. I followed orders. I survived. I got my Honorable discharge and used the GI Bill.  I buried it when I got out, thinking it would go away. It didn't, instead, it ruined much of my life until my total mental breakdown in Dec of 2011. I lost my career, home and family and have had to start all over again.   Since then, I've had to face those ugly truths to try and heal.  Dispite all that, I am still a patriot who would do it all again, even knowing what would happen. That great is my love for my country.

 If not for medical cannabis recommended to me in Calif by my WW2 veteran Uncle, I would not be here. I was well on my way to drinking myself to death over the secrets I was commanded not to talk about. I never even told my mom the truth that I was beaten so bad I couldn't have kids. Every day was torture, until I smoked some cannabis with my Uncle. Then, things began to lighten up, even before it all came out. Drinking would have killed me like it did my older brother who died from alcohol poisoning, which is why my Uncle intervened, he could see how close behind my brother I was.

I will be visiting the Capitol several times this session to share my story and testify at bill hearings.  I look forward to meeting you  as my elected Representative, and have a heart to heart discussion about what your biggest concerns are about implementing medical cannabis for the sick and dying in our state.  Currently, roughly 22 veterans a day kill themselves. I am sure that medical cannabis could have saved some of those lives, like it did for my Uncle and I, and many of the friends I have.

I've have  tried all the different psychiatric meds the VA prescribes.  Some of them have terrible, terrible side effects, they made me want to die... really. But medical cannabis helps in ways I can't even describe. My Vet Center therapist has strongly encourage me to be a part of changing the medical cannabis laws as a part of my therapy.  Of course, she has to say that 'off the record' to keep her job, but God Bless her for helping keep me on the planet with her open mindedness.  I do this for her also, so that she can honestly talk to veterans about this as a legal option.  She had read the research and scientific papers on how cannabis helps with PTSD.  You will also untie her hands to help us veterans!!! 

My grandma, who used it for her arthritis and depression encouraged me to use it instead of alcohol as well. There are sooo many folks this can help, but please, for those of us that put our lives on the line, and those of us that lost much of our sanity, this IS a vital medicine.  And it NEEDS TO BE WHOLE PLANT, NOT JUST CBD.  I tried CBD only in California, and it did NOT help me. I do not support the CBD only bills as CBD only leaves the majority of people with no help.

As 'for the children'.. well,  I am sure you have already heard of brave little Alexis Bortell and her fight to secure her right to medical cannabis in Texas to treat her severe seizures.  She is fighting for all Texans, and I in return fight for her, FOR ALL OUR CHILDREN.  It is shameful that now, Alexis has had to move to Colorado to get the medicine she needs, and I fully expect you to help pass a law to bring her home.

Along with medical studies; I am also enclosing a copy of the article War Without End by William Martin of the Baker Institue,  that was published this past June in the Texas Monthly on behalf of myself, and my fellow veterans. I am the Myst written about in the article.  William apologized that he was only able to tell half of my story.... because the editors felt it was too strong and would take away from the subject of medical cannabis and make it more about military sexual trauma.  Imagine that.. having lived a story so ugly they could only tell half of it. 

Please go to my blog below and read more if you wish to know it. All my paperwork that I filed with the VA is there.. the first hand accounts of the almost destruction of a soul... one that cannabis gave some smiles back to, even in the midst of remembering the horrors.

I pray you have the open heart to listen and help us.  Thank you for your service to this great state of Texas!

Romana R. Harrison     

Contact Info:   

I got very good in my professional life at putting together informational packets for different things.  I know how important it is to have a good impact on folks.  So I output some cash and made some nice looking packages.  They had 2 studies about cannabis and PTSD that Tracy helped me with too, And a copy of the article, War Without End that I was interviewed for.  
This is the list of legislative Representatives offices that RAMP organized for us to go. Sorry its so blurry, but you can see there were 6 of them, and then we did one extra.

It was an amazing, although very difficult day.  I had to tell my story to 7 different groups of people.  The first time I told my story with the patients team I was with... there was a distinct shocked silence.  My friend J knew my story... but that was it.  I was shocked again as I told it.  I could never do this, if this subject of medical cannabis wasn't so terribly important to me.   Thank goodness for our wonderful patient team leader Bonnie, who got us all to where we needed to be, and was able to combine  all our testimony, and had great answers to the staff and legislators.  I mean WOW!!!  And it was... cathartic indeed, to have a hand in both changing law.. and meeting with folks I don't know, and having to tell my deeply personal story.  At one point, later in the day, we had just been speaking to a legislator's staff, and he came back.  He originally only had a moment, and so Bonnie said, "Well, if you only have time for one story, then I would like this lady to tell you hers." and pointed to ME.  GULP.... my first actual Representative.  He listened.. but he defiantly had a different point of view.  There were a couple of mothers of kids with autism, and spoke from their hearts about how much it had helped their kids.  And a mom with a son with epilepsy that CBD only won't treat.  And a young lady with a severe case of pancrititis... and cannabis is one of the few things that helps her. 

At the beginning of the year, our Vet Center doc has us come up with 2 goals to accomplish between now and March.  I don't know if I have written here about my ex not having filed the taxes for 12 years that I thought he had... as he was a f'ing atty and I gave him paperwork and signed taxes... but he never sent them in... so I have had to get a tax atty to help me figure this mess out, and two weeks ago, I got 10 years of taxes filed.  And last week, sent off an offer and compromise to the IRS.  So my #1 goal after finding out this horrid news (only because I did a credit check on myself and saw a $92,000 tax lien that about gave me a heart attack, and I have been scuttling money away to pay for the atty and now the fees) was to get this taken care of.  So, that has been accomplished.

 My second goal, was to go to Austin to lobby and advocate for medical cannabis, and to support HB 507, which makes possession of 1 ounce or less a ticketable offense.  No arrest, no jail, no record.  Texas is waaaay behind the curve on this.   Anyways.. to as of yesterday, that goal was accomplished.  I feel today like I was hit by a truck... quite exhausted. No sooner had I got in last night, then I was contacted by Tracy again, and asked if I would come to the PACT, (Patients Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics) next Tue.  I had thought I wouldn't... but now.. I think I need to.  It's only once every two years here in TX, and now is the time.  Some 350 cannabis advocates descended on the Texas Capitol yesterday, as you can see in the top picture.  And not all of us are in that pic, I'm not as I ended up with another group.  

The rotunda of the Texas State Capitol

 A True Texan Hero... this is Ann Lee, founder of RAMP (Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition) being interviewed just moments after we walked into the capitol.  I have a exceptionally soft spot for Ann, because the first time I ever heard of her was at the Baker Institute panel on PTSD and cannabis.  In that entry I refer to her as the 'elderly lady'  who had stood up and spoke so very passionately. She especially took them to task for how cannabis was made illegal in the first place.  So when I knew I would be riding on the RAMP bus from Houston, I didn't think she would be there.   Her husband Bob just passed away this weekend, and yet, bless her heart, there she was.  She had several special appts to go to, so she was not with the patients group I was with.  It was beyond inspirational to have her on the bus, and then listen to her talk to this young reporter who came and asked her to tell her story.  She started out to prove to someone that cannabis was evil, then found out how it came to be illegal. Then her son had a terrible accident and had to move to CA to be able to use medical cannabis legally.  As a mother, like so many here I know, she is outraged.  And I am thrilled to have been able to be there on that historic day with her. Here are some links to stories about her that came out today.

 The lady standing up in the pic is Bonnie, our team leader and wonderful lobbyier!  The big seated fellow is a Dr. who was in our group... wish I could remember his name (edited, I found him in this clip,) he is Dr. Elias Jackson..  He was fantastic telling the staffers and the legislator about some of the science of cannabis.  He was also excellent at saying why just CBD doesn't work alone and that cannabis is an 'entourage' plant, and needs the whole part of it to work at its best. The lady to his left is one of the mothers there to testify about how much cannabis helps her austic son, that like me, it gives him his life back.
This, is taken on the bus after the busy, busy day of meetings.  Was glad I wore my ankle brace as it kept my ankle from flopping at a 90% angle at the wrong time.  It was a beautiful day as you can see.  And I will be back!!!!

Today, I have been writing my TX State rep, and my State Senator.  I plan on meeting up with them, hopefully next week if I can. It has been very therapeutic for me, although it is very hard to tell my story.  I am working on turning the negatives of the past, into a positive right now.  

If you have come from either my letter or my card... thank you. And I please do ask.. if you have any power or are in Texas.. to please contact your local reps about these issues.

Over and out,

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