My name is Keely Denning, I live in Salina, Kansas. I am married with four children who are all adults now.
My oldest son was in Who's Who of High School students, he had perfect vision, and played several sports. He had plans on going into EMS studies, continue study for trauma medicine and become a flight paramedic. All that changed in June 1999, my oldest son had just turned 19 years old, and was diagnosed with a brain tumor. His tumor was removed at the KU Medical Center in Kansas City, the surgery left him fifty percent blind in each eye, paralyzed on his right side, headaches and memory loss. He had a difficult time remembering what he had for dinner. I will never forget the doctor coming out of the surgery telling us that my son's dream of working in the field of emergency medicine was over.
My son walks, however his gate is not even, his right arm shakes. For two years following my son's surgery, he was harassed by people and even the police, who thought he was drunk, one police officer even made the comment to me "Your son is on meth" I asked him what made him come to that conclusion, the officer replied "Because his right arm is shaking and he cannot control it!" I then explained to the officer that my son is a brain tumor survivor, his right arm shakes and is not controlled because it is paralyzed. The officer then felt badly and did give an apology; he said he had a friend who has a five year old daughter with a brain tumor.
My son lived in a deep depression, living on disability and food stamps, not being able to do for himself, then a friend of his introduced him to marijuana, he discovered that marijuana helped him with controlling his shaking; he could reach up with his arm, and grasp the door knob on the door. He cannot turn the knob, but reaching for it was a huge step that he had not been able to do since surgery. He built the confidence to go back to school, and is currently trying to earn his four year degree so he can go onto law school.
This is not a issue of getting "high." The doctors had put my son on all kinds of drugs to control some of his pain, but my son felt like a zombie, he felt strung out, and out of control of himself, so if he wanted to, he can get "high" legally. With the marijuana, he has a lot more control over his life, and is not dealing with the headaches that the stronger drugs could not fully control.
My son has been caught with marijuana, he has served time in jail, he has paid a lot in fines, or should I say, his family has paid a lot out in fines, he has been on probation, and if he is caught again, it will be a felony. Several times in court, charges were dropped, one time a police officer did not show up to testify, another dropped because the officers searched without consent or a warrant to search. One of those charges came because of a broken pipe stem with residue inside. Never has my son ever been caught with a lot of marijuana, only a tiny bit, that is all he ever has at a time.
I have worked for the Saline County Sheriff's office in Juvenile Corrections, I used to believe that medical marijuana was a way for people to use an excuse to get high, but I know different now. I know that it does indeed make a difference on people's lives and how they live. In fact, I lost my job at the department due to my son using marijuana.
Over the years since my son's surgery, I have seen friends suffer with cancer, some have used marijuana to relieve their pain, some have not. They did not use it because it was illegal, but all these friends have since died, and it was a lot harder to see them suffer using pain killers such as oxyconten and dealing with the addiction they get from that legal drug than those who used marijuana and were not addicted to such a powerful pain killer.
I can only hope, and pray, that my son, and others will not have to continue in life worried about being arrested, these people want to be a productive member of society, and not a person with a felony conviction.
848 S. 9th
Salina, Kansas 67401