'Pot saved my life': Medical marijuana helps one man thrive

Tim DaGiau will be the first to admit he smokes pot – but it’s not a casual joint to help him better enjoy Pink Floyd.

It’s medical marijuana to help him live a normal life.

Tim DaGiau after one of his many surgeries/submitted photo

Tim DaGiau after one of his many surgeries/submitted photo

Prior to his first toke as a high school senior, this 22-year-old New Jersey native and current Colorado State University student was constantly struck with seizures and other side effects from epilepsy.

Arizona’s November ballot will include a vote on the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, which would allow marijuana use for people with terminal or serious illnesses and other qualifying conditions.

DaGiau was fine until age 10. Then his first seizure hit in a playground. His second seizure was kind enough to come a mere two weeks later, in the middle of the school cafeteria.

“It would be the beginning of a journey through thousands of convulsions, 13 anti-epileptic drugs, multiple alternative treatments and five brain surgeries, the last of which would leave me paralyzed on my left side,” DaGiau wrote in an e-mail.

“For eight years I would endure the often devastating side effects of Western medicine until finally, when hope had begun to wear thin, I discovered the answers to my prayers and my first effective treatment: cannabis.”

DeGiau has certainly had one heck of a ride until he had his first hit of a joint at age 18.

“As it entered my body, my constant plaguing thoughts of seizures dissipated,” he said. “It was as if my prison had dissolved.”

That was the last hit he had for two whole years, until, as a last resort, he applied for the medical marijuana program as a sophomore at Colorado State University.

Before his application went through, he decided to go for one more surgery, even though past surgeries were not met with success.

“I was too anxious to attain a cure, too impatient to see if I would ever be able to employ marijuana as a treatment.”

So he went under the knife – with disastrous results.

“Not only would I continue seizing,” he said, “but rather, this time, I would be paralyzed on my left side, due to an unforeseen level of swelling in my brain.”

Medical marijuana to the rescue.

Tim DaGiau (right)/submitted photo

Tim DaGiau (right)/submitted photo

Road still bumpy

While DaGiau’s friends, family and “even the most conservative” folks don’t scoff at his medicinal pot smoking after hearing his story and seeing what he’s accomplished, using marijuana as medicine can still present some hurdles.

Like being isolated from his family. While at Colorado State University, DaGiau’s medical marijuana use was fine and dandy. But it was not until New Jersey enacted its own medicinal marijuana legislation just this year that he could visit his home state while continuing his treatment.

“Acknowledging that an abrupt abandonment of the drug, similar to any pharmaceutical, would provoke cycles of convulsions, and aware of the fact that marijuana was illegal in New Jersey, I was barred from visitation,” he said.

The same holds true for any vacation spot where pot – medicinal or not – remains illegal.

And then there’s the landlord who tried to get DaGiau evicted. Even though DaGiau’s apartment complex had a package room, the landlord decided to leave a package inside DaGiau’s apartment while he was out.

“I returned home to find a note on my door which stated that the police would be coming if it was ever sensed again that I was in possession of cannabis (there was never a smell in the hallway, just this intrusive entry, which made me question how he’d know if I was). Realizing that he could evict me, I abruptly halted use.”

DaGiau had already gone 93 days with no seizures, and his parents were coming to Colorado to celebrate 100 seizure-free days the following week, which was also July 4 weekend.

But DaGiau stopped use for fear of eviction. He had a seizure, sure enough, on day 96. “While biking, I fell and began seizing so violently that my face was badly scraped and tooth chipped. My parents never saw day 100 and I’ve never lasted that long since,” he wrote.

His fear propelled him to move out of his apartment, despite having lived there for two years with no problems, and sign a new lease elsewhere.

“Thankfully, I have not had to face a drug test (for employment or any other reason),” he said. “However, there are no civil protections in any state’s medical marijuana law, which permits evictions and terminations to be fully legal.”

A slate of new tax laws on Colorado’s dispensaries – which DaGiau says will surely put most of them out of business – is another fine hurdle, one that prompted DaGiau to join an activist group.

“The sole purpose is to educate the public in an appropriate, peaceful manner,” he said of the Colorado-based Medical Marijuana Activists.

He sent the group his resume, which outlines his successes, especially those achieved after turning to medical marijuana.

“It was an immediate difference. I adopted a new identity, one that incurred fewer convulsions and less paramedic encounters. I transitioned from being reclusive to, instead, exerting an outgoing and assertive personality, as a pre-law junior.

“In two years as a medical marijuana user, I have attained the role of president and vice president of department advisory boards, acted as an intern for district court judges, PR firms and several other corporations.

“Additionally, I volunteer at several organizations, including the Alzheimer’s Association, a local hospital, a juvenile probation program, a domestic violence prevention program, along with several others.

“In essence, due to a reduced fear of enduring the humiliation from seizing in public, I have taken advantage of the opportunity to rebuild my life anew.”

Not only is DaGaui now a member, but he was appointed director of public relations, his second major in addition to journalism.

“I strongly believe that my determination, story, and strong speaking skills will bring this now relatively local group… to a national level,” he said.

“In all reality, a 22-year-old kid is exactly what many of these movements have been lacking – the driven, assertive, and goal-oriented youth that is able to exemplify that not all young patients are ‘users’ or stoners.”

How a medical marijuana program works

Folks hoping for some medical marijuana don’t simply show up at their doctor’s office and put out their hand for a joint.

Doctors, like DaGiau’s physician who is now his neurologist, provide signed paperwork stating the patient would benefit from medical marijuana.

Patients then shell out the fee to apply for a medical marijuana card, or license, if the state issues them. DeGaiu paid $90 to apply for his Colorado card, which he has had since 2008.

If a person is granted the license, he or she uses it to purchase their pot at “healing centers,” which are dispensaries that grow and sell marijuana. The healing centers register with the state to legally grow marijuana. While getting a bag full of catnip or paprika is not an issue, DaGiau says some users do fret about the possible use of pesticides or other chemicals on the marijuana.

Another concern is medical marijuana fraud, or folks receiving it who do not necessarily need it to ameliorate a medical condition, DaGiau says. In the past two years, people have been applying for medical marijuana cards in droves.

“The Medical Marijuana registry, when I applied, was required to respond within 35 days,” he said. “It is now over three months, just to provide an idea of how many applications they now receive. I have met those who were able to receive a license, despite a phony condition.”

One of DeGiau’s theories as to why medical marijuana fraud may be so rampant is because “no physician has ever been tried by the state in the program’s 10-years-to-life, so I think many feel ‘What’s the difference if I sign off on the patient?’”

In addition to Colorado in 2000  and New Jersey in 2010, a total of 12 other states have enacted laws that make medical marijuana legal. They are Alaska in 1998, California in 1996, Hawaii in 2000, Maine in 1999, Michigan in 2008, Montana in 2004, Nevada in 2000, New Mexico in 2007, Oregon in 1998, Rhode Island in 2006, Vermont in 2004, and Washington in 1998. Click here for more details on each state’s medical marijuana laws.



Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist, performer and TucsonCitizen.com Ryngmaster who has found success with acupuncture and other alternatives to Western medicine. Her column usually appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski but Tim’s story took the slot this week. Her art, writing and more is at RynRules.com and Rynski.Etsy.com. E-mail rynski@tucsoncitizen.com.

logoWhat do you think?

Would you turn to marijuana for medical reasons?

Do you think it should be legal for others to do so?

How will you vote on the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act come Nov. 2?

What other alternative treatments have you tried? Did they work?


About Rynski

Writer, artist, performer who specializes in the weird, wacky and sometimes creepy. Learn more at ryngargulinski.com.
This entry was posted in health, life, Police/fire/law, Rynski Column and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to 'Pot saved my life': Medical marijuana helps one man thrive

  1. ericheithaus says:

    God made marijuana, man made it illegal.
    I guess we think we are just smarter than God. 🙂

  2. ericheithaus says:

    May God Bless Tim DaGiau, and may man have a little more compassion!

  3. Bill Hilser says:

    Well, here goes. If Tim or whoever wants to wander thru life stoned, that’s his problem, but as for me, an ex-alkie and drug addict who had his first seizure three years ago at the age of 69, I’d rather not.
    Luckily for me, I was visiting my old haunts in Hollywood, drinking as usual, and the Dr. in the E.R. took one look at me and asked me how long I had been addicted to alcohol?
    “Since I was 17,” I answered.
    “Do you want to live?” he asked, “Yes,” I answered.
    “Take another drink, and you’re a walking dead man.” he said.
    Swear to God (sob!) I haven’t touched a drop since.
    And this is coming from a guy who went to Europa just to attend Oktoberfest in Munich! <g>
    From what the Dr. told me, over the years, my nervous system couldn’t tollerate any more alcohol in my body and will seize if any more is introduced. Ever.
    So I take anti seize meds twice a day with no side effects and if I stay on schedule, I’m OK. But if I miss a day, look out . . .
    So, Tim, shat side effects of the anti-seize meds are worse than being stoned all day? I’m courious, never having been stoned on weed myself.
    Yer pal, Ferrari Bubba

    • andrew says:

      When you pass us by to SanDiego, Bill, maybe we can find a way to kill that curiosity you have, your bong buddy, Andrew. “the headache” itc

      • Bill Hilser says:

        Hey Andrew: No curiosity there, my friend. Both my parents were heavy smokers and that really turned me off.
        I tiied one cigarette when I was 19, got half-way through and threw it away.
        Took one toke of pot once, and that was it. I just didn’t like the taste in my mouth.
        But beer, that’s another story! . . .  —  Yer pal, Bubba

  4. Mike says:

    Medical Marijuana was a main stream medicine until we tried to chase the Mexican rail road workers back in to Mexico after they finished the job.
    The Federal Government has run a Medical Marijuana program for 30 years now.  California and Colorado have been running medical marijuana programs for a decade or more. 12 other states have jumped on the band wagon. All those semi legal marijuana users added to the 20 Million Americans that use illegal marijuana every year, and that add up to 0(zero) dead bodies every year.
    Spend 10-15 minutes in any Medical Marijuana dispensary in any medical marijuana state and you will get to meet a brave young citizen like the one above who’s life was saved by pot.
    Its also the only growing industry in Colorado.

  5. denbee says:

    I am a Vietnam vet that suffered a brain tumor and seizures shortly after coming home.  The tumor was inoperable back then (1971) so I had a ventricular shunt placed to relieve pressures and went through 5 weeks of radiation treatments.  The seizures occured less often and were less intense.  The doc put me dilantin for the seizures but it made me puke for hours so I just stopped.  Setting around with friends I smoked some marijuana one night and,  like Tim,  such a feeling of wellbeing came over me and for the first time in months I felt normal.  I continued to smoke marijuana on a regular basis and for 39 years I have been seizure free.  I am a study in the long term effects of cannabis use.  I am 60 yrs. old,  I run 30 miles a week, I have held only one job for 38 years now and have never missed a day of work (except for galbladder surg.) nor been late,  I rarely see a doctor.  I would love to see cannabis legalized but I really don’t care.  Mj will be a companion of mine until the cows come home.  I sense that my life depends on it.    What I do in my home,  while harming no one else,  should not be the concern of my Government.  My medicine, while harming no one else, should not be the concern of my Government.  This is a wonderful botanical herb that I can grow in my garden, I don’t need my Governments permission, thank you.  Talk to me about population control, crime, famines, oil leaks, war, the economy…but please, leave me to my garden and get on with the real problems of life. 

    • Bill Hilser says:

      Hey denbee: Good for you. What ever floats your boat. Dilantin is what I’m on twice a day, with absolutely no side-effects.
      Good luck in the future, and thanks for your service to our country.
      Yer pal, Ferrari Bubba

  6. leeper says:

    How’d it feel waking-up each morning feeling like you got hit by a train? How embarrassed were you after realizing how stupid you were the night before? How many people could have died by your excessive driving speed while toasted?  
    Stoners wake-up feeling fresh-as-a-daisy.  Stoners don’t mind that they enjoyed serious, or giggly conversations the night before.
    Stoners may drive more conscientiously, and maybe more slowly – but never aggressively, and don’t speed when they drive.
    Too bad one more sip could have put you under the ground. There is no such thing as o’d-ing on Mother Earth”s cannabis. In-fact, there has never been a death attributed to the only known dioecious (gendered) annual in the plant kingdom.
    You seem to be a fairly “seasoned” man. Become educated on the topic, and you may become a staunch supporter against the propaganda which created your present opinion on the matter. It’s actually a fascinating subject, and you don’t have to smoke it to know it.

    • Bill Hilser says:

      Hey leeper: Only had one hangover in my life. High School grad morning after. Maybe my usual newspaperman’s breakfast of a couple of lines of Bolivian marching powder, a shot, and a beer was the trick?
      Or maybe my downfall?
      My cuz Bob, who owned the topless bar, only lasted ’til he was 59 before dropping like a rock while on the way to the bathroom in the middle of the night, and I could drink him under the table any night of the week.
      But I’ll have to admit that I’m the luckiest guy alive not to have killed myself and the countless other innocent people out there on the nights when I had to close one of my eyes while driving because I was seeing double.
      There had to have been an angel in the car with me, guiding me. How else could I have survived my stupidity over and over again?
      Talk about a charmed life.  —  Yer pal, Ferrari Bubba

      • leeper says:

        Hey Bill, We’ve been around the block together. Check out the book by Jack Herer, The Emperor Wears No Clothes. It’s available at Amazon, used to save $. Keep keepin’ it together. Best wishes, The leeper

      • Bill Hilser says:

        Hey Leeper: More than a few blocks, I would imagine. If interested, check out:  ferrari bubba / life its ownself
        Yer pal

      • leeper says:

        Well Bill,
        That is some interesting read. Are you sure you haven’t been vaporizing some of that spicy AK-47, that “one hit wonder”? I guess that would add a new creative dimension to your enjoyment of, and propensity for writing. 
        What other reads have you published Ferari Bubba?
        Enjoy, The leeper

  7. Renee Schafer Horton says:

    Excellent reporting, Ryn.

  8. Bill Hilser says:

    Hey Leeper: Did you check out the older posts at the bottom of that Ferrari Bubba column of stuff? More funnier of the same.
    BTW, the author of the bio of Barbara Payton wants to help me write a thing on my 20-years experiences with the Hearst family.
    I eventually got to know most of the West Coast Hearsts, except Patty, who I never met.
    Her parents, especially her father Randy were really nice people. I picked them up at LAX and chauffeured them around during the SLA mess. I was Asst. Production Manager at the Her-Ex at the time. (Read George Hearst Jr, the Publisher’s, lacky & running dog).
    But since I recieve a nice check from the Hearst Corporate Pension Fund every month, and remembering what George Jr. can do, and has done to ex-employees on pension who he deems not loyal to either the family or the corporation, I’ll have to pass on that one. Too bad, there are some real hum-dingers in there.
    Yer pal, Ferrari Bubba

    • leeper says:

      Hey Bill,
      Ya, I just did some nosin’ around on your bloggin history. Seems that you are one of them-there professional bloggers. There again, you have been around the blogging block. This is my 1st go-around.
      I must agree with another blogger who posted on the hippie issue; you do seem to slant to the far right, but I had already sensed that. Different strokes for different folks is my style.
      The only problem I have with the majority of right-wingers is “it’s their way, or no way”. I lean towards “live and let live”. So, after a couple of generations gone by, I figure I’m still a hippie, an old hippie with short hair and no beard.
      If you don’t already know, It was the Hearst dynasty that did in the hemp trade in order to protect their paper pulp by tree, rather than by hemp, industry.
      Although Dupont was equally motivated to eliminate the hemp industry, as their plastics direction was threatened by hemp fiber, Hearst had the ability to broadcast the scare-tactic propaganda campaign, featured in their newspapers.
      Dupont financed the crazy refer movies that surfaced back then. Even you’d agree, these movies are a pisser to watch. But they did their job, to frighten the ignorant citizens.
      Before the 1937 Tax Act, which put an unafordable tax on hemp and cannabis products, which were all common over-the-counter items, home owners could pay their taxes in hemp.
      If the government requested that a land owner grow hemp (often for military and war purposes), refusal meant jail time. 
      Obviously I am no Hearst fan,,, then again, they never paid my salary. 


  9. Bill Hilser says:

    Hey Leeper: Yeah, the lure of the newspaper racket got to me at an early age, I’ll admit, but the thought of trying to scratch out a meager existance on a reporter’s salary, living in a single-wide in some un-named wildcat subdivision somewhere out in the middle of nowhere in the stinkin’ desert, like some small-town reporters do, kind of turned me off if you know what I mean.
    Not many Ferraris out there, eh, Mark?
    Mostly beat-up old pick-ups with cracked windshields.
    For a while, I considered my beloved late uncle Wilber’s profession, forgery, or counterfiting, but my stint in this man’s Army told me that living in such a structured enviornment was not my cup of tea, and I couldn’t handle prison, so I chose the next best thing. Newspaper Production management. One step up the social ladder above being the piano player at the Mastang Ranch Bordello in Nevada.
    It was like being the CFO of Enron, Jeff Skilling! <g>
    Without prison.
    Fine watches, fast cars, high maintenence women, good food and wine. The good life.
    Yer pal, Ferrari Bubba

    • leeper says:

      Hey Bill
      Fine watches,,,I’m not into time that much; my cell phone has a clock built into it. Fast cars,,,can’t afford ’em anymore; big pretty pick-ups get me where I gotta get fast enough. High maintenance women; whistle and they come. Now,,, good food and wine,,,that is the good life.

    • Bill Hilser says:

      Well Lep, maybe being a mecenary is just in my blood. My grandparents were Hessians from Germany, and I’ve been a merc from way back when.
      Before the Her-Ex, I was a jack-of-all-trades at the Fullerton News Tribune, working in composing, writing sports, doing photo, hell, even selling a few ads, and making $125 a week.
      Within two years after walking into the Her-Ex on Dec. 16, 1967, I was driving a new Porsche, the Little Lady, a new VW squareback, we owned 2 houses, a 4-plex in L.A, and had 2 prime weeks in an oceanfront condo just north of Lahinia, Maui. Plus I was making 6 times what I was in Fullerton.
      I hope that she enjoyed it, because I gave it all except the Porsche to her in the ’79 divorce. It was the least that I could do. She and her new hubby blew it all within 18 months. Oh, well, it was only money!
      I may be ‘right wing’ in my political views, but, like you, I have a let-live attitude about other people and life. That’s why I like small governmemt. I don’t want FedGovCo interfering in my life.
      I’ve never drawn a dime of unemployement, walfare, food stamps, or anything else. I’ve paid my own way through life without asking FedGovCo for any help.
      And, finally, Leep, I am not a professional blogger, I’m just another poor old SOB, with some time on his hands, who was lucky enough to come along at a time in history with enough balls to use  the limited talents that God gave me to take advantage of the chance meetings in life that are afforded to some of us every now and then. Think about it.
      Nothing ventured is nothing gained, my friend.
      Yer pal, Ferrari Bubba

      • leeper says:

        For sure, Bill. There is allot to be said for small gov.. Also for FedGovCo not interfering in our everyday lives. But in this new world we live in, there is also much to be said for public libraries, new highways, snow and trash removal, and mass-transit.
        The theory of police and military protection is worth a bundle. And, you may take issue with this one, health-care, social security, and social welfare, are what separate advanced societies from impoverished third world civilizations.

        There is a happy medium which is being ignored. I blame special interest political financing, for the blatant misguidance by our governors, which is obvious and prevelent today at home.
        We The People is no longer the focus of those we have elected to represent us. This condition persists and continues to compound with each government election. In my opinion, this condition will be the likely cause of the demise of our 1st position on earth. 
        The government may need to be big, but FedGovCo shouldn’t exist.
        Good government requires honest, passionate thinkers and doers. We have let our gov deteriorate. Honest and passionate thinkers and doers don’t even want to be involved in our government.
        Not many folks would disagree with my premise here. Not many folks have the time or means to help affect positive change.  

        Hey Bill, You started me on this one.  
        Later, The leeper 

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