ANTHONY HARDEN: Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Anthony Harden. I was born with cystic fibrosis, a genetic lung disease which also causes mild absorption of fats. I’ve got some pancreatic deficiencies, and I’ve got CF bone disease which my body doesn’t process calcium correctly at times.
I was prescribed marijuana in 2006 by my doctor, Douglas Hornick, at the University of Iowa. He’s an adult pulmonologist. At that time my lung capacity was probably about 35, 40 percent, Page 84 and I was starting to have arresting heart rate of over 100 beats per minute. My body was using lots and lots of calories, and as part of my diet and my malabsorption of the foods I would intake, fats, et cetera, Dr. Hornick prescribed me with a drug. I believe it was called Megace, and I had to take it in the form of syringes and inject it into my mouth, and I’d do about five to six syringes per morning and afternoon, and it was just not a very good taste, and it didn’t — it didn’t produce the appetite stimulation that we were looking for.
I had had some previous experience with marijuana, and at that time I addressed with him the possibility of being prescribed Marinol or dronabinol, I think, is the generic term, which is what I take now, ten milligrams twice a day, and I was required to take up to 6,000 calories per day, which was impossible for me to do. The struggle to breathe alone was enough.
As my disease progressed, I gradually dropped my lung capacity from 30 percent down to 20 percent. I was lung transplanted in St. Louis at Barnes Jewish Hospital on January 30 of 2008. And since that time, my lungs have been — it’s a whole new world, I should say, as far as my Page 85 breathing goes. breathing goes.
My marijuana use — well, it hasn’t subsided. I still do use marijuana as opposed to using the dronabinol. I find the effects of the dronabinol for appetite stimulation to be somewhat inconsistent at times, and for my bones that I have the aches from the CF bone disease. I use the marijuana to help instead of taking narcotics like codeine, Hydrocodone, Percocet. I can stand here and name them all off. I’ve had quite a few since my lung transplant.
And since that time, after my transplant, I also had an acute rejection of the lungs, which required a large dose of a drug called Rituxan followed by one year of monthly IVIG treatments. The IVIG treatments would — would cause headaches, fatigue, muscle soreness, lack of appetite, and during that time I would use marijuana in an eaten form, not smoked, to help with the headaches, the fatigue, the muscle soreness, and to stimulate my appetite.
It has been one of the most beneficial plant blessings I think I could have come upon for my transplant and post-transplant. Its effects have — have helped me to maintain a healthy weight Page 86 and strength and a positive attitude going into a lung transplant with a terminal illness without any use of any kind of antidepressant whatsoever.
And for me, it has just been — it’s been a gift. And I think it’s been a gift to all of us we’ve just happened to pass over for — since the ’30s, and I really hope to have your consideration for its benefits and its use amongst a wide variety of ailments and problems because for me, it’s — it’s kept me here.
It’s given me new life, and it’s helped me move in a direction forward where I can be a productive member of society still and continue to stay healthy and strive for the betterment of all of us .
I thank you for your time today, and I hope that soon we may sew the seeds of medicine and health.