Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Medical marijuana mom leaving Wisconsin for Colorado

Victoria LaChapelle was once in so much pain that she couldn’t pick up her children. With the help of marijuana, she says, she’s now able to be an active mother and hold down a job.

“It’s given me my life back,” she told a state Senate committee at a June 12 public hearing.

LaChapelle says she suffers from arthritis, autoimmune disorders and fibromyalgia, the result of a bout of Lyme disease that went untreated. She was speaking against a Republican proposal that would give local and county governments the authority to prosecute marijuana possession cases that prosecutors decide are not worth the time and effort to pursue.

The bill has passed through both Assembly and Senate committees and awaits scheduling for floor votes.

“Droves of Wisconsinites are leaving this state because it’s going backwards, and I may have no choice but to follow them to protect my freedom, and my right to health, and my children’s right to have a mother that can function,” she told the lawmakers last month.

On Monday, the Madison-area mother of four announced that she’s making good on that threat. On the pro-marijuana website Ladybud, she announced that she’s moving to Colorado, where state voters legalized marijuana last year.

I wasn’t able to immediately track down LaChapelle’s phone number, but her blog post cites a number of reasons for her decision, chief among them the fear that Child Protective Services could pay her a visit and possibly even take away her kids.

“I have always said if you believe in something and choose to fight, you have to accept the consequences,” she writes.” I’d accept the consequences freely but I cannot accept what negative effects those consequences would have on my family. No matter how fearless I may feel, my children are afraid of losing their mother and for good reason as the threat of CPS action against families is very real.”

A nurse, she’s also worried that authorities could take away her ability to earn a living.

“Parents are being put on the abuse registry without ever having lost custody of their children,” she writes. “As a nurse, those consequences would strip me of my ability to adequately provide for my family and I’d never be able to practice again. How would my family survive without my income? It would take years to recover from such a devastating blow.”

Asked if LaChapelle's fears of being targeted by Child Protective Services were warranted, Joe Scialfa, a spokesman for the Department of Children and Families, had this to say:

"There are many factors that go into whether or not an investigation is opened after there is a report made of child abuse or neglect. The overarching principal that is adhered to in making that decision is ensuring the safety of children."

LaChapelle’s decision to pursue a regimen of medical marijuana came after years of failed medical treatment.

“It took ten years of chronic pain and trial and error treatment with Big Pharma meds that resulted in disaster before I found the healing powers of cannabis,” she writes. “Ten years of my life were wasted and for 10 years my children had to live without a functional mother.”

LaChapelle, who considers herself a marijuana activist, says she’s struggled with the question of whether to move or to stay and fight in her home state, but ultimately decided that given the current political climate, for now the Badger State is a losing battle.

“I’m not moving in order to take the ‘easy way out,’ as I’ve heard some activists state about decisions like mine. It is a realistic necessity. I’m a mom first and I have to be the best mom I can be and if that means being seen as taking the ‘easy way out,’ then so be it. It’s worth it for my kids.”