Wisconsin Glaucoma Patient Has Used Cannabis For 40 Years To Stave Off Blindness

MADISON — On October 3, 1972, Gary Storck smoked marijuana before heading off for a glaucoma checkup. Afflicted with glaucoma since birth from a condition called Noonan Syndrome, Storck had read of a federally-funded 1971 UCLA study by Hepler and Frank which found cannabis reduced intraocular pressures in normal subjects for about 4 to 5 hours with “no indications of any deleterious effects”. The federal Controlled Substances Act, which declared marijuana a Schedule One drug with a high potential for abuse and no medical uses had been signed into law by President Richard Nixon less than two years earlier on October 27, 1970.

Storck, now 57, had previously found that smoking cannabis eased eye pain and helped him see better. However, until his eye exam on Oct. 3, 1972, he had not been able to document that cannabis was effective in lowering his intraocular pressures. Storck’s prior readings were all highly elevated, but that day, approximately an hour and a half after medicating, they were between 12-14, a reading considered normal.

Knowing that cannabis could save his sight, Storck launched a lifetime of efforts that included working with fellow glaucoma patient Robert Randall, the first federal medical marijuana patient, in applying for federal medical marijuana supplies in the late 1970s and lobbying for a Wisconsin medical cannabis bill that passed in 1982.

Beginning in the late 1990s, Storck began helping to guide efforts for Wisconsin medical cannabis bills including the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act (JRMMA), through the group Is My Medicine Legal YET? (IMMLY – IMMLY.org), which he co-founded along with JRMMA namesake Rickert. In April 2005, Storck and Rickert were recipients of the Peter McWilliams award for “outstanding achievement in advocating the cause of medical marijuana” by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws’ (NORML) in San Francisco, CA at their annual conference.

Storck has also used cannabis for chronic pain and to help manage a serious heart condition along with other medical issues for many years.

In 2010, Storck was one of the first out of state patients to register for the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP) via a loophole created earlier that year by litigation. He was featured in a Feb. 2012 Oregonian front-page article on out of state patients with Oregon medical cannabis registrations. Long a member of the advisory board of the group, Patients Out of Time (POT – MedicalCannabis.com), Storck spoke about his experiences with cannabis and glaucoma at their Seventh National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics in Tucson AZ in April 2012.

Storck recently visited Lansing Michigan to help lobby against legislation which would repeal many of the patient protections in Michigan’s 2008 voter passed initiative including removing glaucoma as a qualifying condition.

“When I first found that cannabis could stop me from going blind back in 1972, I could never have imagined that the federal government would work so hard and so long to deny this medicine to patients suffering not just from glaucoma, but cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, various rare disorders and literally hundreds of other medical conditions. With leading researchers saying that Schedule One is “untenable” and the federal government is holding back medical progress, it really is time to listen to the science and compassion, not some cruel prohibitionist theology that has kept this amazing plant from generations of American patients like myself.” ~ Gary Storck

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