Friday, May 22, 2020

How Sister Somayah came to be a public figure.

How Sister Somayah came to be a public figure. In the early or mid 1990s a crazy woman began calling me at 3-4 AM about once a week at home. I'd anser my rotary dial phone and she'd cuss and cuss at me ant then hang up. After maybe 15-20 such calls I finally got her attention and asked what the hell she was calling me for and what could I do for her. He calmed a little and told me that white folks, very few of which get sickle cell anemia, were ignoring black folks who had the disease. then the hung up. Over the course of the next few weeks and next few phone calls, she explained, with a lot of cussing, that she was a black woman suffering from sickle cell and had had to leave the military — I think she was in Navy provisions — because of her illness. she said the US government provided all sickle cell patients with morphine two or three times a week to alleviate the pain, but that just made them junkies. She said that marijuana dilated the blood vessels and arteries and allowed the sickle cells to pass without causing unbearable pain. She was angry that High Times did not report on this. She called me because I was the editor of the Highwitness News. By chance, I had a friend doing a Masters thesis at (I think) Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx. She looked into patients getting morphine for sickle cell and then questioned hundreds and discovered that many, when they could afford marijuana, discovered it worked better than morphine and allowed them to work pain free again rather than being government junkies. so I wrote a story about her and the movement picked her up and the issue got out there and she was marvelous when the spoke about marijuana. And that's that.

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