My name is Kurtis Wilson. I’m 35 years old, married to a beautiful woman and have a 12-year-old son. I have been in law enforcement in central Indiana since 2006. My point of view on cannabis started several years ago, but really hit home for me when I was diagnosed with Renal Cell Carcinoma in December of 2017. Obviously, all the fears and anxieties associated with a potentially terminal diagnosis immediately kicked in. Would my son grow up without a father? Would my wife become a widow? In January of 2018, I had a 3 cm tumor removed from my left kidney.

Soon after I was released from the hospital, I had an appointment with my oncologist who wanted me to begin a pill form of chemotherapy that I would have to be on for a year. Some of the side effects of the chemo would be blisters on the palms of my hand and the soles of my feet, along with raised blood pressure with the risk of congestive heart failure and liver disease. I had to have a long conversation with my wife to decide if I wanted to take the chemo. It was a hard decision because the oncologist said the there was a 25% chance that the cancer could return with just the surgery, but ultimately I decided to not take the chemo because of all the side effects and risks associated with the treatment. I did not believe that I would be able to work and support my family while undergoing the chemotherapy.

In doing research on cancer treatments, I came across people using cannabis in an effort to kill cancer cells. While the clinical research in this area is preliminary (though promising), it sounded much less risky and potentially damaging than the chemo option being recommended, which I was already leaning towards not doing. Since forms of cannabis with over 0.3% THC were and are illegal in Indiana, I decided to start using low-THC hemp extract. What did I have to lose? While cannabis or cannabinoids aren’t an approved treatment for cancer, the preliminary research is promising enough for pharmaceutical companies to have taken note and are continuing to do preclinical research while planning clinical trials for cannabis-based medicines,including the often demonized cannabinoid: THC. I have been fortunate in that my cancer removal was successful and has not returned, although my experience has led me to believe that patients should have access to the full spectrum of cannabis products and the right to try them for their medical conditions, especially terminal and hard-to-treat ones such as cancer. What is the harm in allowing cancer patients the choice and freedom to try cannabis?

As far as my experience with marijuana in law enforcement, I don’t really align with a good majority of my fellow law enforcement officers. I certainly believe that there should be regulations and that it should be used carefully, but I see no compelling reason that it should be illegal. It is my view that heroin and alcohol are much more of an issue in our society than anything else. The medical benefits of cannabis are overwhelming and it is time for our state legislators catch up with many other states and do what is best for the people of Indiana. There is no reason that marijuana can’t be regulated like alcohol, which would also offer benefit of incorporating cannabis commerce into the regular economy rather than confining it to the black market. It only makes sense.

In closing, I support the legalization of medical marijuana as well as the decriminalization of responsible recreational use. Indiana NORML has my support.