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Seizures no more

Audrey (last name withheld) is a 50-year-old homeowner, 17-year small business owner, soon-to-be student, and recent sufferer of partial epilepsy. The cause of her epilepsy is unknown, as is the length of time for which she'll suffer from it. She only has seizures in the middle of the night.

"It's scary, because you get [woken] up by the seizures," Audrey says.

As the Epilepsy Foundation explains, those who experience simple partial seizures "do not lose consciousness during the seizure. However, some people, although fully aware of what's going on, find they can't speak or move until the seizure is over."

And so it was for Audrey.

She went to a neurologist, who put her on medication. She says her medication enveloped her in foggy insomnia — she couldn't concentrate, or eat, or do her job. It also weakened her immune system — causing her arthritis to flare up — and made kidney failure an increased possibility.

After online research, and seeking to regain normality, Audrey consulted her neurologist about the alternative of medical marijuana.

"I wanted his opinion on it. And he kind of chuckled, and he goes, 'Well, I can't legally do anything for you.' And I said, 'Well, I don't want you to do anything for me. I just want your opinion, because I'm going to do it anyway, OK?'" she says, laughing. "He said, 'Well, it will help you. And I'm really not supposed to say that, but it will.'

"He goes, 'It will help you because it blocks the bad receptors,' to the part of the brain where I get symptoms of seizures, or the seizures themselves. And my seizures are always at night."

After getting her card and calling around, she found High Mountain Caregivers, which was able to recommend products based on what worked with other patients. For the past three months, Audrey says, she has smoked or ingested a little marijuana before bed, and slept through the night — seizure-free — with no side-effects.

The aspiring nutrition consultant has since joined the Colorado Springs Medical Cannabis Council and become a vocal proponent of the drug, writing e-mails to City Council and attending meetings, blogging and writing on Craigslist.

She worries about the prospect of a voter-approved dispensary ban, which is in the sights of the Let Us Vote Colorado Springs community group.

"I just think, if you're a cardholder and you're being responsible about everything and doing it for a reason — not just 'cause you want to party — I think that's a completely different story," Audrey says.

"And I just think there'll be a lot of people that, if they get this on the ballot and for some reason it does pass, that's going to hurt a lot of people who aren't as capable as I am."

Top Shelf trouble?

"We have serious concerns with the pre-application process in regard to the medical marijuana center that is currently under construction on the corner of South Tejon [Street] and East Las Vegas [Street]."

So begins a June 25 e-mail from Lyn Harwell, COO of Springs Rescue Mission, to City Clerk Kathryn Young, City Attorney Patricia Kelly and Mayor Lionel Rivera, among others, regarding the as-yet-unopened Top Shelf Medicine. It continues, "A marijuana cultivation license at this location may likely face considerable opposition from surrounding property owners and neighborhood groups."

Harwell says he first became aware of Top Shelf Medicine — whose representatives could not be reached for comment — after a community meeting was called at Black & White Auto Body & Paint to discuss its presence in the neighborhood. He went onto the city's website and measured the distance between SRM and Top Shelf as 383 feet, and then physically measured it using a tape measure with the same result.

Harwell says he's concerned for the people being helped by Springs Rescue Mission, a faith-based nonprofit that serves the homeless and poor.

"Those [patient] cards are extremely easy to get," he says. "It's enough [of] a temptation with the liquor store signs and that kind of stuff around, but based strictly on the city ordinances currently — on the pre-application — that particular location just doesn't fall within what the ordinances say."

So far, Harwell says he's heard back from the mayor, but nothing else. "He just said, 'Let's look into this. Looks like it doesn't meet our qualifications or standards.'"

Either way, the nonprofit leader wants to make it clear that it's about the patients, not the issue.

"We're not taking a position of pro or con on the marijuana facilities," he says. "We're just saying that this particular one is within the law that says it shouldn't be in that location."

OK in Mesa County

Last week, Grand Junction's Daily Sentinel reported that a Mesa County grand jury declined to bring charges against three MMJ center owners.

Cristin and Brian Groves, and Sid Squirrell co-own a dispensary where officials found 1,080 plants during a March search. Officials also found 308 patient cards, more than enough to justify the center's plant count.

"We are extremely happy that the community, the grand jury, was able to weigh the evidence and agree that we are operating within Colorado state law," Cristin Groves reportedly said in an e-mail.

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