The Remarkable Story of JennyRay McGee
“Can I have five minutes of your time?” asked the vivacious young lady in front of me. “But once you hear ninety seconds, I think you’ll be glad you listened.”
It was the conclusion of our monthly meeting of Portland NORML. Scott Gordon (aka Urb Thrasher), our Deputy Director, brought her over to me, saying “you need to talk to Russ.” I was immediately drawn in by her energy. She looked like a young Rae Dawn Chong in that Schwarzenegger movie Commando, light skinned with highlighted hair in ringlets and bright brown eyes revealing an old soul.
Her name is JennyRay McGee and she’s just turned 26. She tells me that just a few years ago she was trapped in her own body, victimized by extreme neurological disorders, and then further incapacitated by the prescriptions given her for those disorders.
I’ve heard the “medical marijuana miracle” story before, but it never gets old. Every time I hear the story, I am refreshed by the evangelical zeal these patients bring to the issue. It’s soul-affirming to listen to someone tell you their personal tale of salvation.
JennyRay told me of her disadvantaged childhood, born of a single mother, her father imprisoned for drug crimes. She’d been adopted out as an infant by a couple raising other children with special needs. At birth, JennyRay experienced a cyanotic episode (lack of oxygen) and her thyroid levels had come up slightly abnormal in screening.
Once JennyRay was taken home, she kept experiencing these episodes, choking and coughing, as well as displaying loss of muscle tone and reflexes. Doctors diagnosed a litany of neurological disorders. She required a feeding tube implanted into her stomach wall. She was given medication after medication.
Over her childhood, JennyRay is flown across the country to see the best pediatricians. They never manage to nail down the diagnosis, but they keep throwing every pharmaceutical in the book at it. Like many folks with lifelong disability, she begins educating herself. She reads obscure medical journals and quizzes her physicians relentlessly on her diagnoses and treatments. Soon, she begins to suspect they haven’t a clue what’s going on with her and she begins seeking better answers for her medical questions.
Then, as she grows older, she finds herself in rooms with friends who are smoking marijuana. She also notices as she inhales the second-hand smoke that her nerves and muscles seemed to relax in a way no pharmaceutical had accomplished. She tries the marijuana for herself and she discovers that is the medicine for her condition, whatever it is. The only problem is that she is discovering this in Kansas, where she’s living at the time.
So she makes the big leap to move to Portland, Oregon, cashing in her only asset – her retirement money – to make the trip. Since arriving in Oregon and having access to medical marijuana, she says her condition has drastically improved. “Since 2010, I’ve given up all my pharmaceutical medications. Now I only use cannabis and a beet root compound for my thyroid issues. Just this April, I felt feeling in my hands and feet for the first time in my life. I’ve always had to use my vision to guide my hands, and now I can actually feel things!”
The young lady who could barely move without pain just a couple of years ago tells me she’s training to run a marathon by the end of the year, thanks to medical marijuana. And now, she’s mad as hell at the medical community’s lack of cannabinoid education and the politics that would deny this life-saving medicine to anybody.
Mark my words, you will be hearing a lot more from JennyRay McGee.