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RIP Robin Prosser
October 29, 2007 12:03 PM   Subscribe

Robin Prosser was a former concert pianist and systems analyst who suffered from an autoimmune disease similar to lupus for over 20 years. The disease left her in constant pain and made her allergic to most pharmaceutical painkillers. Only medical marijuana brought her relief, but last spring the DEA seized her medicine. Unable to cope with the chronic pain any longer, she committed suicide on October 18th. [Via Andrew Sullivan.]
posted by homunculus (68 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 


Can't you see - they were trying to help her
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 12:16 PM on October 29, 2007


What we are missing here is that the DEA saved this woman from the horrors of REEFER MADNESS!
posted by kcds at 12:16 PM on October 29, 2007 [2 favorites]


.
posted by WCityMike at 12:31 PM on October 29, 2007


.
posted by GrammarMoses at 12:33 PM on October 29, 2007


In other news: According to The Governator, 'it's just a leaf, it's not a drug.'
posted by lodurr at 12:46 PM on October 29, 2007


What we are missing here is that the DEA saved this woman from the horrors of REEFER MADNESS!

FTA:

At the time, the DEA special agent in charge of the Rocky Mountain Field Division said federal agents were “protecting people from their own state laws” by seizing such shipments.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 12:51 PM on October 29, 2007


At least we're saving the children.
posted by BigSky at 12:52 PM on October 29, 2007


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posted by okokok at 12:54 PM on October 29, 2007


It's a pretty damned bitter pill to swallow for us in Montana. We remain a fairly conservative state, and yet we favored the legalization of medicinal herb by a fairly substantial margin ... and then Big Fed comes in and tells us "Not Yours!".

Robin Prosser had a great deal to do with that vote in 2004. The fight ain't over, but it gets tougher without her.
posted by Wulfgar! at 12:56 PM on October 29, 2007


Thanks DEA! I feel so much safer knowing that people in constant pain can't get the relief they so desperately need. It's not even just MJ but prescription pain meds that doctors are afraid to prescribe adequate amounts of lest the DEA come sniffing around. I hope I never need serious pain management, I'd have to leave the fucking country to get it.
posted by MikeMc at 1:03 PM on October 29, 2007


Wow, Mitt Romney. What a jerk. All he had to do was explain his position. I'm just flabbergasted.
posted by jiiota at 1:07 PM on October 29, 2007


Well his position boils down to "I don't give a damn how much pain you're in, if we legalize medical marijuana the terrorists/liberals/hippies win." He doesn't have much to gain by explaining that.
posted by kableh at 1:13 PM on October 29, 2007


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posted by jtron at 1:14 PM on October 29, 2007


All he had to do was explain his position.

What's to explain?
posted by The World Famous at 1:15 PM on October 29, 2007




Can we charge the DEA with Criminally Negligent Homocide?

I'd love to, anyone else?
posted by Sam.Burdick at 1:20 PM on October 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


I've had my medical marijuana confiscated by Missoula County sheriff's deputies, even though I had my registry card in hand at the time. It was never entered into evidence, I was never reimbursed.

Unless you're a goddamn moron you know what happened to her medicine, those pigs had a nice little joyride.

Just think about that for oh, two seconds, and if that doesn't bring a tear to your eye you're a poor excuse for a rational and compassionate human being.

In all of my youth I never fully realized the medicinal applications of marijuana, especially as pain relief. After having developed two herniated discs in my lower lumbar and incurring constant nerve agitation, I have a newfound respect for that aspect of legalization.

This whole story turns my stomach, ugh.

Thanks for fighting the good fight, Robin, I hope you have found your peace.

.
posted by prostyle at 1:21 PM on October 29, 2007


The World Famous: I guess what I mean is that even though I think his position is moronic and wrong, he could have shown more tact by hanging out for five seconds and saying, "Yes, I'm sorry, but if you're in possession of illegal drugs, you'll be arrested." Have a spine, for god's sake. Instead, it's like this:

"Governor Romney, I have muscular distrophy and I need medical marijuana. I'm against legalization of marijuana for everyone, but there are legitimate medical uses for it. Would you arrest me for possession?"

Romney: *runs away*
posted by jiiota at 1:22 PM on October 29, 2007


Why hasn't some enterprising chemist made the pain-relieving ingredient of marijuana into pill form? No tell-tale smoke, no odor, no lung damage, and best of all, the all-American incentive = profit!
posted by Cranberry at 1:27 PM on October 29, 2007


Cranberry,

Probably because they've tried and it isn't as effective as smoking it.
posted by Sam.Burdick at 1:30 PM on October 29, 2007


mdma pills don't have equal effect. They are a slower less effective delivery system than smoking and they often cause nausea which is counter effective when you take the stuff to help you be able to eat.
posted by subtle_squid at 1:32 PM on October 29, 2007


he could have shown more tact by hanging out for five seconds and saying, "Yes, I'm sorry, but if you're in possession of illegal drugs, you'll be arrested."

I agree.
posted by The World Famous at 1:33 PM on October 29, 2007


The pulled Vioxx off the market just because a few weak old people died. And now millions suffer with arthritis because of it.

But I don't hear any of you all complaining to get Vioxx re-legalized.
posted by GuyZero at 1:34 PM on October 29, 2007


Why hasn't some enterprising chemist made the pain-relieving ingredient of marijuana into pill form?

Well, there is the synthetic cannabinoid Marinol, but as Sam.Burdick (and the man with MD in the Romney video) point out it is not effective for everyone.
posted by ericb at 1:36 PM on October 29, 2007


GuyZero - when did your village buy you a computer?
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 1:38 PM on October 29, 2007 [3 favorites]


But I don't hear any of you all complaining to get Vioxx re-legalized.

Yeah it's too bad, my garden full of Vioxx was just beginning to flower and the motherfuckers came in and slashed and burned the whole operation. Kind of like your strawman, hurf durf.
posted by prostyle at 1:39 PM on October 29, 2007


prostyle, I think the differences that make you call the Vioxx comment a strawman are the whole point of the Vioxx post.
posted by The World Famous at 1:41 PM on October 29, 2007


My brother-in-law has late-stage MS. Due to various medications and protocols he has periods where he can't eat; he vomits and deals with nausea. He had been prescribed Marinol, but that makes him vomit, as well. One of his doctors suggested smoking marijuana (which is illegal in his State). When a bout of naseau, etc. creeps up on him, he takes a few hits off of a joint -- and it works wonders for him.
posted by ericb at 1:43 PM on October 29, 2007


I'm sorry, GuyZero, but show me the last time pot killed someone?
posted by Relay at 1:46 PM on October 29, 2007


.
posted by nzero at 2:08 PM on October 29, 2007


The pulled Vioxx off the market just because a few weak old people died. And now millions suffer with arthritis because of it.

But I don't hear any of you all complaining to get Vioxx re-legalized.
posted by GuyZero at 3:34 PM on October 29 [+] [!]




WTF?!? Shall we stack on the fact that the makers of Vioxx fsck'd their testing up something major and then LIED about its side affects knowing full well that there is a rediculously high rate of death from heart attacks because of it? Yeesh...
posted by Sam.Burdick at 2:09 PM on October 29, 2007


I think the differences that make you call the Vioxx comment a strawman are the whole point of the Vioxx post.

It relates because it's entirely irrelevant? What?

I'm sorry, GuyZero, but show me the last time pot killed someone?


*crickets*
posted by prostyle at 2:12 PM on October 29, 2007



Actually, Vioxx probably will be re-legalized once researchers figure out who is susceptible to the bad side effects and who is not. Pharmacogenomics will save a lot of previously "good" drugs that were pulled because they killed some while helping others-- if you can separate out which genes predispose you to bad responses and just not prescribe for those people, voila, "unsafe" drug becomes safe.

And Marinol doesn't work as well as smoked marijuana both because of the poor titration via the oral route and because THC is not the only important component of cannabis for pain relief. another substance called cannabidiol (CBD) is important as well-- this has anti-seizure properties and is responsible for the "mellow" part of the high as opposed to the "hallucinogenic" part.

If there is anything to the idea that "skunk" is more likely to cause mental problems than prior pot if used in high doses by susceptible people, it is probably because skunk has very high THC and very low CBD.

And it is completely absurd to deny anyone effective pain relief with either marijuana or opioids in a vain attempt to prevent addicts from existing. They exist, deal with it-- don't do so by causing even more harm to other people.
posted by Maias at 3:18 PM on October 29, 2007 [2 favorites]


See! Marijuana DOES kill people!
posted by loquacious at 3:36 PM on October 29, 2007


GuyZero: "But I don't hear any of you all complaining to get Vioxx re-legalized."

Sam.Burdick: "Shall we stack on the fact that the makers of Vioxx fsck'd their testing up something major and then LIED about its side affects knowing full well that there is a rediculously high rate of death from heart attacks because of it? Yeesh..."

I used to take a Cox-2 Inhibitor for pain, but it was pulled shortly after Vioxx. Now I just live with it, since pretty much everything else either doesn't work for me, or has side-effects I am not willing to put up with.

As a 37 year old male, I was perfectly happy with doubling my risk of a heart attack to live a more comfortable life. Informed consent is all I want. I know what it can potentially do to me, give it to me. I feel the same way about pot, except I don't want it. Doesn't mean I think it should be illegal.

Let people do what they want as long as it doesn't impact you. Do what you want as long as it doesn't impact others.
posted by cjorgensen at 3:59 PM on October 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


In all fairness though, Bill Frist examined her via teleconference and rated her pain level as minimal.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 4:20 PM on October 29, 2007 [2 favorites]


The thing I really, really don't understand is why medicinal marijuana is controversial, while the use of other controlled (ie: illegal to own without a prescription) is no problem. And not just run of the mill stuff like morphine.

I don't know how it works in the US but a patient on my ward in the hospital I work in in Australia had an uncontrollable nosebleed a few weeks ago. Solution? Her nose was packed with gauze soaked in Cocaine. So, for about a month we had a vial of white powder labelled Cocaine in the controlled drugs safe.

Why do these drug crusaders not have a problem with that?
posted by Silentgoldfish at 4:58 PM on October 29, 2007


One of his doctors suggested smoking marijuana (which is illegal in his State). When a bout of naseau, etc. creeps up on him, he takes a few hits off of a joint -- and it works wonders for him.

This is the part that I don't think I understand at all. I'd think that regardless of their view on recreational marijuana use, most people would be comfortable with a policy that allows it to be legally prescribed by a doctor.

But apparently this isn't the case. Is it that it hasn't been subjected to the testing and approval regimen that Vioxx passed? Or is it really the fear that if it turns out to be useful it will somehow legitimize recreational use? Something else?
posted by weston at 5:00 PM on October 29, 2007


The thing I really, really don't understand is why medicinal marijuana is controversial, while the use of other controlled (ie: illegal to own without a prescription) is no problem.

Because there are lots of people who think that the vast majority of people who claim that they need pot for medical reasons are just lying stoners.
posted by The World Famous at 5:05 PM on October 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Is it that it hasn't been subjected to the testing and approval regimen that Vioxx passed?

See Craker, Lyle E.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 5:28 PM on October 29, 2007


mdma pills don't have equal effect.

MDMA ≠ Marijuana. Good lord.

nosebleed...cocaine

Whu? Please, explain.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:34 PM on October 29, 2007


I couldn't figure out what illness this was supposed to be ("immunosuppressive" and "autoimmune" are the two words that were used in the linked articles; they're not equivalent) and I am not aware of any illness that "produces allergies" to all painkillers except smoked marijuana.

Can someone point me to where I can learn more?
posted by ikkyu2 at 5:34 PM on October 29, 2007


Because there are lots of people who think that the vast majority of people who claim that they need pot for medical reasons are just lying stoners.

They could well be right. We tend to be very skeptical of some of our pain-of-unspecified-cause patients who "NEED" regular hits of pethidine or morphine (usually pethidine though).

We still give them everything they ask for despite our doubts on the grounds that it's better to dose up a junkie than deny pain relief to someone who genuinely needs it. No-one seems to have a problem with this.
posted by Silentgoldfish at 5:36 PM on October 29, 2007


.
unlock the ☤ herbs
posted by porn in the woods at 5:37 PM on October 29, 2007


We still give them everything they ask for despite our doubts on the grounds that it's better to dose up a junkie than deny pain relief to someone who genuinely needs it. No-one seems to have a problem with this.

Plenty of people have a problem with that, too. Including me, fwiw.
posted by The World Famous at 5:39 PM on October 29, 2007


I am not aware of any illness that "produces allergies" to all painkillers except smoked marijuana.

I don't know what they're talking about either but different maladies can cause different kinds of pain. For example, nerve damage causes a kind of pain that's almost completely untouched by classic pain killers, but anticonvulsants have really good results.

My mum's got trigeminal neuralgia and I've seen her given enough morphine to fell an elephant without any effect, but as soon as her mouth could be pried open enough to get some tegratol in there was immediate relief. She's also openly stated that if the surgery to fix it last year hadn't worked she was planning suicide.
posted by Silentgoldfish at 5:40 PM on October 29, 2007


Plenty of people have a problem with that, too. Including me, fwiw.

Honestly, that's a very stupid and downright evil way to think. There's still no way to prove pain, and especially with non-obvious conditions there's no good way to prove that someone's not a very good actor. Still, if they're in genuine pain you think we should withhold pain killers on the grounds they might be faking?
posted by Silentgoldfish at 5:43 PM on October 29, 2007 [3 favorites]


five fresh fish:

Wikipedia actually has a prety good bit on that.

"Some ENT specialists occasionally use cocaine within the practice when performing procedures such as nasal cauterization. In this scenario dissolved cocaine is soaked into a ball of cotton wool, which is placed in the nostril for the 10-15 minutes immediately prior to the procedure, thus performing the dual role of both numbing the area to be cauterized and also vasoconstriction."
posted by Silentgoldfish at 5:47 PM on October 29, 2007


Honestly, that's a very stupid and downright evil way to think.

I'm sorry you feel that way.
posted by The World Famous at 5:47 PM on October 29, 2007



I'm sorry you feel that way.


That's kind of a non-answer. I'm curious about your response to my very non-hypothetical question. If you have someone who presents with pain would you really deny them relief on the grounds they may be faking?
posted by Silentgoldfish at 5:51 PM on October 29, 2007


Plenty of people have a problem with that, too. Including me, fwiw.

Why? How does it affect you?
posted by biscotti at 6:24 PM on October 29, 2007


It wasn't an answer at all.

If you have someone who presents with pain would you really deny them relief on the grounds they may be faking?

Would I, personally, deny them relief, if I, personally, believed them to genuinely be in pain? No.

What if I thought they were faking? Then I would deny them the "relief" they were faking pain to get.

What if the drug they were asking for is an illegal one that they used recreationally long before they ever claimed to be in pain, and I believed they were faking? Same answer as for any other hypothetical person who I hypothetically believe is faking.

Would you deny "relief" to someone who you believe is faking pain?
posted by The World Famous at 6:25 PM on October 29, 2007


Plenty of people have a problem with that, too. Including me, fwiw.

Why? How does it affect you?


I think it's ok to have an opinion about an issue that does not directly affect me.
posted by The World Famous at 6:27 PM on October 29, 2007


What if I thought they were faking? Then I would deny them the "relief" they were faking pain to get.

There's your problem right there. You make it sound very simple but in real life it's almost impossible to prove someone's faking most of the time. If someone's a drug seeker they're likely to have the act down so pat they appear to be in more pain than someone who is genuine.

It's far more trouble than it's worth to try and weed out the fakers when you're diverting time you don't have from people who have genuine pain, cause the less time you have for them the more Robin Prosser's give up and kill themselves.
posted by Silentgoldfish at 6:32 PM on October 29, 2007


Plenty of people have a problem with that, too. Including me, fwiw.

Why? How does it affect you?

I think it's ok to have an opinion about an issue that does not directly affect me.
posted by The World Famous at 8:27 PM on October 29 [+] [!]



Then I hope you've never used a recreational drug and are never in the kind of pain that isn't easily treated by conventional means.
posted by Sam.Burdick at 6:37 PM on October 29, 2007


I think it's ok to have an opinion about an issue that does not directly affect me.

Okay, but I'm curious about why you hold such an opinion (especially since opinions like yours most definitely DO affect other people), why do you care why someone wants a drug?
posted by biscotti at 6:40 PM on October 29, 2007


This is just an extension of the question of whether it's worse to punish the innocent or to spare the guilty.

Civilized society, The World Famous, has come down pretty squarely on the side of "punish the innocent" being worse, at least until Republicans started getting their claws and fangs on everything. This is no different--we don't want addicts to be illicitly doped up, no, but if the price is that genuinely sick people have to go through agony, sane and feeling people conclude that there's just no choice.

Those of us who have lost a number of close relatives to long, drawn-out illnesses--well, we're a bit less charitable still.
posted by Epenthesis at 6:48 PM on October 29, 2007


If someone's a drug seeker they're likely to have the act down so pat they appear to be in more pain than someone who is genuine.

For many drugs including painkillers, addicts in withdrawal are in genuine pain.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 6:51 PM on October 29, 2007


Friends said Prosser turned to other sources for marijuana, but found problems nearly everywhere she turned.

“Most recently, she had found some people who said they could get her what she needed, but it didn't go well,” said her friend Jane Byard.


This confuses me, having grown up in Missoula. Virtually all my high school buddies were total potheads. Two of them were dealers, though they eventually grew up and became lawyers. Missoula is full of pot. It seems to me that a person like this in an obviously high profile situation would have fellow Missoulians giving her pot.

I have a feeling there is more to this story than what is being described in these links.
posted by Tube at 7:01 PM on October 29, 2007


That's always possible. If you find any more information please share, Tube.
posted by homunculus at 7:53 PM on October 29, 2007


Tube, as one gets older, one has fewer and fewer connections that can be trusted not to be total and complete assholes, cheats or just plain unreliable. and being high profile means that the paranoid would be afraid to end up busted because of her.

being in need of medicinal marijuana and not so well connected to a younger, hipper "scene" (because you're sick, because you don't have the energy to go out and cultivate the kind of social pathways that are required) means you just might be shit outta luck. it's not like someone with financial problems and a chronic illness generally are flocked with friends willing to risk arrest.
posted by RedEmma at 8:22 PM on October 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


at some point in the future we may have to inflict pain on the uncharitable moralists, the self-appointed arbiters of others' symptoms, not out of malice of course, but merely to assist them in understanding the issues.
posted by bruce at 9:33 PM on October 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Some ENT specialists occasionally use cocaine within the practice when performing procedures such as nasal cauterization.

[starts picking nose furiously]
posted by five fresh fish at 10:09 PM on October 29, 2007


I have an opinion on the overprescribing of painkillers to chronic pain patients that /does/ affect me, but isn't founded in the "don't give the junkie what they want" mindset.

People can overdose, and people can go insane from some medications.

My mother was being treated by a pain clinic that had her on an implanted morphine pump at its highest possible dosage as well as about 30 pills of different oral medications daily.

The morphine caused her to hallucinate, so she was given anti-psychotics, these caused her to seizure, so she was given anti-spasmodics, which in turn did something else, which was fixed with hey! another pill, etc.

She's detoxed now and deals with her pain with physical therapy as well as mental/emotional therapy, and is happier than I've ever seen her. I hate pills.
posted by Esoquo at 10:50 PM on October 29, 2007


This is Robin Prosser's last Myspace blog entry.
posted by daksya at 2:02 AM on October 30, 2007


From her last blog entry:
i've been at the mercy of street dealers, dependent on whatever's available at a high price. now no one on the streets wants anything to do with me, because they assume the DEA is always watching me.
I think it's ok to have an opinion about an issue that does not directly affect me.

Her own state voted to pass a medical marijuana initiative and the feds intercept her legitimate shipments, fuck with her life and force her to deal with a black market element - as she expressed in her last blog post of her entire life - at their mercy. What is this woman supposed to do, pony up hundreds of dollars for a fucking ounce of pot and hand it to some random 20 something guy who knows another guy whose cousin has a connection? She couldn't even risk that avenue when she was desperate anymore!
i've had two caregivers now, as our state law allows. a caregiver is supposed to grow six plants for you, to keep you in the medicine you need. marijuana is not all that simple. i need a sativa-dominant strain. and i need quality product.
my former caregivers brought the wrong kind of medicine to me twice in six weeks. i can't pay $220.00 for something that doesn't help me. and where is MY medicine, anyway? i can guess by the reds of their eyes.
i am tired of college students all sitting around smoking the best marijuana available, because they can afford it, they can find it - the DEA isn't bothering with them.
Yeah - not your problem. Thanks for bringing such a compassionate and reasonable discourse to the proceedings, it's really a wonder we're in a place like this with such kind and well tempered people such as yourself vocalizing incredibly informed opinions.

If there is anything to the idea that "skunk" is more likely to cause mental problems than prior pot if used in high doses by susceptible people, it is probably because skunk has very high THC and very low CBD.

Thankfully there isn't anything to the idea, because it is a myth:
Dr. Mitchell Earleywine, professor of psychology at the State University of New York at Albany and author of "Understanding Marijuana: A New Look at the Scientific Evidence," scoffed at the Independent's claims about potency and the link between marijuana and schizophrenia. "There has probably been a two- or three-fold increase in potency on average," he told Drug War Chronicle. "Estimates from the 1970s are likely underestimates because we didn't understand how storage in hot police evidence lockers degraded THC. Most of the estimates from back then were around 1% THC. When we give folks marijuana that's 1% THC in the laboratory today, it's so weak that they get a headache and think they've received a placebo. Obviously, the plant wouldn't have become popular if it just gave people headaches."
posted by prostyle at 7:25 AM on October 30, 2007


prostyle, I apologize if I've given you some reason to think I have an insensitive or uninformed opinion about Ms. Prosser or her situation. I think, though, that you and others may be reading more into my posts than is actually there.
posted by The World Famous at 10:05 AM on October 30, 2007


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