The Faces Of Medical Marijuana

Apr 10, 2010 – An Interview With Sarah Lovering

faces sarah lovering 300x119 The Faces Of Medical Marijuana

Despite having a secure job as a consultant at Ernst & Young, Sarah felt a calling to get involved in the marijuana law reform movement. In spite of a significant pay cut, she took a job at the Marijuana Policy Project, and hasn’t looked back since. Sarah is also a user of medical marijuana. After being disappointed with various prescribed antibiotics to treat her MRSA, a serious skin condition, she began to use topically applied cannabis, which provided her with much more effective relief.

Could you tell us your age and occupation?

Sarah: I’m 31 and am a fundraiser for the Marijuana Policy Project.

What led you to work at the MPP? Did your personal experience with medical marijuana influence your choice?

Sarah: When I started working at MPP, I had never used marijuana medically (only recreationally). My desire to work in the drug policy reform movement can be traced back to high school, when I first started to encounter drug use among my peers. I saw my peers who used alcohol make really bad and, sometimes, dangerous choices, like driving drunk or jumping into bonfires. And yet, my marijuana-using peers, who were more likely to be found wrapped up in stimulating conversation or preparing a delicious meal, were told by both the law and society that their drug of choice was unacceptable. That seemed so arbitrary to me, and the utter failure of marijuana prohibition became increasingly frustrating to me. I was working as a consultant at Ernst & Young when I finally decided to take the plunge and try my damndest to get into the marijuana reform movement. It took several tries, but I eventually got a job at the Marijuana Policy Project. I took a 50% pay cut, but I’ve never looked back. It was what I had to do.

Not long ago, the MPP played a hand in persuading the American Medical Association to reconsider the classification of marijuana as a Schedule I substance — what’s next for the MPP? Are there any other exciting projects that you can tell us about?

Sarah: Yes. Wow, where to begin?

California: Over the past year, MPP has worked closely with California NORML, DPA, and other advocates to ensure successful hearings and advocacy for A.B. 390, which would legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana. MPP will be working hard to build upon the success of A.B. 390 (and its successor bill, A.B. 2254) and to gain further support for taxing and regulating marijuana in the state as citizens prepare to vote on the “Tax Cannabis” initiative.

Arizona: MPP is about to successfully finish our signature drive to place a medical marijuana initiative on the November 2010 ballot, which would make the signature drive one of the earliest to be completed in the history of the state.

Nevada: Earlier this year, MPP submitted finalized initiative language to the Secretary of State to tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol. Three weeks later, we emerged from the 15-day challenge period unchallenged. This is an indication that opposition to the initiative is not strong within the political establishment. Nevada will be one of the first states in the nation to tax and regulate marijuana.

South Dakota: MPP helped draft a medical marijuana initiative for the November 2010 ballot and has been providing guidance to activists on the ground throughout their just-completed signature drive.

Illinois: Illinois’ medical marijuana bill made its way to the House floor, but we are still working to garner the 60 votes it needs to pass. The Senate already passed the bill last year, so this could be the year it heads to the governor, who has publicly said he’s open to signing it.

These are just some of our projects – check our Web site for more information on what we’re doing to end the waste and injustice of marijuana prohibition.

Could you give us a little background on your medical condition (what is it, how did it come about, how does it affect your day-to-day life, etc.)?

Sarah: I use medical marijuana topically, to both treat and prevent skin infections caused by MRSA, methicillin-resistant staph. MRSA is most often manifested as skin infections – usually in hair follicles. It can look kind of like a spider bite or a pimple. Left untreated, these infections can become very serious and could get into one’s blood stream, where it becomes a much more serious condition leading to hospitalization and, potentially, death.

Back in early 2006, I started noticing that I was having frequent skin infections – a hangnail or a scratch on my toe would become a big deal. And I was having these red bumps appear on my legs that looked like spider bites. They itched and sometimes turned into bad infections. During one spell of the spider bite-looking bumps, I went to a dermatologist who told me that I had a staph infection. She prescribed me a 10-day course of antibiotics and sent me off like that was that. I found out two years later, after a long struggle with those skin infections, that her files actually showed that she’d diagnosed me with methicillin resistant staph (MRSA), a form of staph that is resistant to a whole class of antibiotics. She never told me that. She never told me what MRSA was, what signs of continued problems with it might look like, how to protect people around me from it or any other non-antibiotic methods of treating it. (The over-prescribing of antibiotics by doctors in general is probably the very reason people like me – otherwise healthy and active – are getting MRSA in the first place.)

As a result, it took me a long time to understand that the infections I was getting were all related. In the meantime, I had several different doctors prescribe me boatloads of antibiotics (including Keflax and Rifampim), one of which I had a severe allergic reaction to (Sulfamethoxazole), one which severely disrupted everything normal and healthy happening in my GI tract (Clindamycin).

It wasn’t until I saw an infectious disease specialist at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C. that I learned that I had MRSA. She immediately recommended that I get off of antibiotics and switch to weekly bleach baths. That was a major improvement, but I still occasionally had breakthrough infections, especially if I couldn’t take a bleach bath (e.g., I was a Burning Man).

My salvation came in September 2008 when I read an article about a group of researchers who had discovered that topically applied cannabis killed MRSA. I immediately ran out and gathered together everything I needed to make a cannabis tincture. It was ready in about 30 days (I can make it even quicker now) and I haven’t used a single antibiotic for my skin since then. I spray it on my skin in the areas where staph typically lives on many people – even those who show no sign of infection, including all your pits and crevices (knees, arms, in between the toes, and groin). If I ever have a sign of an infection coming on, I spritz the affected area, usually somewhere on my legs, and voila – in a day it’s disappearing and no pharmaceuticals were necessary.

Has medical marijuana proved to be a more effective alternative than the medication you have tried?

Sarah: Oh my god, no doubt. Only one of all the doctors I saw actually cared about my health and the health of the community I interacted with. She was the one who urged me to get off antibiotics and taught me about MRSA. I haven’t seen her since I discovered read that study and made the tincture (I moved from Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles), so I haven’t gotten a chance to talk to her about it. I should call her and tell her about it.

Are there any particular strains of marijuana that are especially helpful in relieving the symptoms of your condition?

Sarah: Not that I know of. I make my tincture from vaporized cannabis, all of which (in my household) is sativa. But I doubt it would matter.

How do you apply your medical marijuana?

Sarah: I use both an alcohol and a glycerin based tincture. The glycerin one has a bit of a lotion effect, which is nice. But it can be a bit sticky, too (and doesn’t spritz nicely, the way the alcohol one does), so sometimes I prefer the alcohol tincture.

Thanks, Sarah!


One response to “The Faces Of Medical Marijuana”

  1. This is really a good story, but where did she learn how to make this solution?
    I would like to be able to pass it along to my readers as well, if anyone knows how she makes it please send me info at or just Google me
    William Kayser

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