Clayton Holton, 27, suffers from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), a genetic disorder characterized by degeneration of muscle tissue. This illness manifested itself in early childhood and robbed him of his ability to walk at age 10. Clayton knows DMD will eventually claim his life, so the purpose of treatment is to keep him alive and help him enjoy a decent quality of life for as long as possible.
Clayton first experienced serious painkillers at age 16 when his wheelchair was struck by a car. The doctors gave him Vicodin. "I blacked out for a day and a half, and I don't remember any of it," he explained.
Soon after the wheelchair accident, Clayton tried marijuana as a substitute for Vicodin. The effects were entirely positive. Clayton was able to dramatically reduce his intake of painkillers, and as an added bonus, he found that marijuana took the edge off his anxiety and depression, stimulated his appetite, and helped him maintain a healthier weight.
In December, 2007, Clayton weighed less than 80 pounds. He was living in a rest home and forced to use Oxycontin rather than marijuana to treat his pain. Fortunately, in 2008 Clayton was able to visit California for an extended period of time; while there, he had access to high quality marijuana grown for medical use. As a result, Clayton gained 8 pounds in a few months' time and was able to stop relying on many of his prescription drugs.
Now that Clayton is back in his home state of New Hampshire, he is forced to use whatever marijuana he is able to procure via the black market. To make matters worse, the government of his state considers him a common criminal for trying to treat his pain and stimulate his appetite. He must choose between risking arrest and jail or relieving his suffering. If arrested, Clayton could face up to a year in jail simply for possessing the medicine that helps him live.
In 2007, Clayton spoke with Mitt Romney, John McCain, and other presidential hopefuls, urging them to support medical marijuana reform. Click here to see Clayton's encounters with presidential candidates: