FINDING HOPE: Kicking prescription painkillers by medicating with marijuana

Posted at 6:00 AM, Jul 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-17 00:11:13-04

The desire to live prescription pill free is pushing some Idaho residents over the border to legally smoke and grow their own pot in Oregon. 

Ontario resident Jerry Kusch didn't always grow and harvest marijuana in his own backyard, but now he wouldn't have it any other way.

"Most of the strains I'm growing this year are kind of new," Kusch explained. "I've got a Jaeger, there's a Gorilla Glue and a Sour Diesel. This one here is a Red Dragon, I've never grown it before, so I'm not sure how it's going to turn out."

The current Oregon resident used to call Idaho home, but his search for an opioid-free life pushed him across the border.

Like many, Kusch has a long list of conditions requiring medical care including stomach issues, Fibromyalgia, and the need for antacids and anti-depressants.

"You'd take sometimes two, three prescriptions just to fight the side effects of the morphine, then you have side effects from some of these medications, and some of them can ruin your life," Kusch said.

Up until 2014, that list of medications included a high daily dose of Morphine or Oxycontin to treat Kusch's chronic pain.

"They kept increasing it, I was taking 90 milligrams of Morphine three times a day," Kusch recalled.

But the Morphine morphed Kusch into a version of himself he didn't want to be, often feeling anti-social and lethargic. So after 25 years of use, he decided to make a drastic change.

"I don't like taking pills," Kusch said. "I was determined to come off of it."

Over the course of six months, he was able to gradually decrease the Morphine doses, and increase marijuana use. "Basically, marijuana's been the best for me all along," Kusch said.

He now treats his chronic pain, mainly in his neck and back, solely with marijuana aside from the rare need of a muscle relaxer.

But while living in Idaho, Kusch say medicating with pot became stressful, constantly in fear of being arrested and sent to jail.

" It got to where I was kind of paranoid to go anywhere because I was living in Idaho. So I made the decision to move over here, so I wouldn't go to jail and I could still see my grandkids."

Despite the long drive to the Boise VA or to visit family in Idaho, Kusch says the change in physical wellbeing was well worth it, saying the benefits of marijuana far outweigh the complications he came to expect with multiple prescription pills.

"The only thing I take for pain is marijuana. This way I know what goes in my own medicine," he said

Now with a doctor's note and a grow permit from the state, he's just one more Oregon resident legally growing his own pain medication on his own property.