Photo of Lisa “Mamakind” Kirkman
Sex and Cannabis writer Lisa “Mamakind” Kirkman is on a hunger strike. Kirkman, author of Sex Pot: The Marijuana Lover’s Guide to Gettin’ It On and longtime columnist for SKUNK Magazine, stopped eating on January 3 to send a message to Alberta Health Services (AHS), the publically run hospital system in the province.
Kirkman lives in Calgary, where she has a federal license to use medical marijuana by prescription, but has been threatened with removal from hospitals and denial of medical care from provincial emergency rooms if she attempts to bring a vaporizer with her to use the cannabis. Kirkman is demanding a policy that not just recognizes the patient’s rights to use their prescribed medications but facilitates their ability to do so at AHS.
“What I am saying is that I am already getting sick and dying if I don’t get treatment,” she says, “That is what my doctors are saying, so I have nothing to lose. I might as well do this so I am at least not sick and dying in private where nobody hears about it. If that happens, it will get swept under the rug and nothing will be changed… By doing this, hopefully they will understand the urgency.”
Kirkman has not asked others to join her hunger strike, but will be accompanied by at least nine other regional patients at a to be announced location within an AHS facility to stage a public vaporization, with supporters and media in tow.
“It will be much harder for them to [remove] ten of us together, some in wheelchairs, children, people who have medical licenses that permit them to vaporize in a hospital, no one is breaking the law.” Kirkman also believes having a larger group that includes the media will prevent “something illegal on their part” if they are being videotaped.
Under Canadian law, patients using medical marijuana are prescribed marijuana, as opposed to being recommended by a doctor like in American states that permit medical marijuana, meaning the federal government recognizes the efficacy of medical marijuana. Although the Canadian system was as little as five years ago far more liberal than the United States’s, today Canada is undergoing a conservative makeover of their medical marijuana programs—a near reversal with it’s neighbor to the south, the United States.
Kirkman underwent a gastric bypass that left her without 60% off her small intestines and 80% of her stomach; she is in constant pain and unable to use prescription pills, which cannot be absorbed in her limited digestive system.
Both Kirkman and her 15-year-old son, Noah, have been fighting for their right to vaporize as prescribed by their doctors. Noah’s Calgary high school not only allows him to use his medication as prescribed on campus, they facilitate the medication as they would any other medication a student is prescribed, Noah must use his vaporizer in the vice principal’s office.
The decision was a mutual one between Lisa and the school’s administration, they all agreed that the honor student should have his medication monitored to ensure it is used as prescribed in a safe place away from students who use marijuana recreationally. Noah maintains a B-average and is active in after school activities like choir and photography and aspires to be a photojournalist one day. “He is an active and successful kid, which is why the Calgary Board of Education has no problem with it,” Kirkman says.
Noah’s ability to use cannabis to treat his lifelong diagnoses (Tourette’s Syndrome and ADD) is a major victory considering the family’s past with getting Noah treatment. Noah has been on medications since the age of 6-year-old to treat a variety of conditions so severe he was unable to function outside a hospital. Treatments for the multiple conditions were conflicting and potentially fatal. Today Noah has a prescription to use medical cannabis legally in any Canadian province.
When Noah was a child, Kirkman sent him to spend time with his father in Oregon. Noah was taken into CPS custody in the state and remained in foster homes for three years. Kirkman was banned from crossing the US Border and was forced to fight for her son’s return from a distance in Calgary, today she is still unable to cross the border although no charges were ever pressed against her on either side of the border.
Lisa Kirkman discussing CPS Battle on CNN:
Today, Noah not only has quality of life as a cannabis user, but his school has created a model for responsible administration for minors who use cannabis to treat any condition. Now not only is Noah healthy, he is also a successful student with a bright future.
Lisa is hopeful that Canadian provinces will continue to create policies that facilitate safe access to cannabis medications, which are proven safe and effective for a variety of conditions.
And, while Kirkman is excited to see progress in the U.S., she is wary of the drug war casualties that still happen in the country, “I am looking down in the states where they are going into pot shops and buying their stuff and it’s wonderful! But this is the same country that kidnapped my kid and kept him for years simply because I write about pot.”