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This Mom in a Conservative State Was Terrified of Pot, Until it Treated her Blinding Pain and Fibromyalgia

Now she's an advocate who says medical marijuana is human rights issue.

Christine Stenquist


Christine Stenquist, a 42-year-old Kaysville, Utah mom, believes safe access to medical cannabis should not be a states’ rights issue as President Obama has recently suggested, but instead a human rights issue that should be addressed at the federal level.

Stenquist says if she had safe legal access to cannabis to treat her medical conditions she would not have had to miss out on over a decade of her life. She has been suffering from severe and chronic migraines since the age of 7, has an inoperable brain tumor and fibromyalgia. She spent nearly 20 years of her life in excruciating pain but today is a healthy, pharmaceutical-free, active parent to her four children, to which she credits medical cannabis.

She says it is time the federal government take steps to address the issue from a scientific and humanitarian point of view, rather than an issue relegated to state politics.

“I was trapped in a body in a bedroom for 15 years,” she said. “I have missed out on chunks of my children’s lives. I have missed out on concerts, I have missed out on games. I have missed out on a lot of things. My kids didn’t have a healthy mom.”

She says medical cannabis gave her her life back and that more patients, even in states where it is illegal, need to make themselves heard.

“I am not so scared to tell my story but I am afraid of losing my kids over something that is helping me,” she said, crying. “That is wrong. That is all kinds of human rights wrong. I am a better mother now than I was when I was sick and I don’t think I should be punished for that. [My children] absolutely love the mother they get to have now.”

Stenquist says at this time she has no plans to uproot her family and leave Utah, but she will if she has to.

“I just wanted my damn health back and I am not willing to give it up now; I don’t see why I should have to flee,” she said. “Nobody should have to leave; nobody should have to run away from their home to be happy… I don’t want to leave Utah, but it is something [my husband] and I are at the point we have to consider.”

Stenquist was raised in Miami by her father, a Vietnam veteran and undercover narcotics officer. Stenquist’s father participated in the second-biggest cocaine bust in Miami history and served on the force for 27 years. It wasn’t until she received his blessing that Stenquist tried cannabis.

Photo: Stenquist, bedridden, with two of her kids. 

Blinding Pain

Stenquist’s migraines were characterized by searing pain, vomiting, dizziness and visual disturbance. She says the headaches really began to increase in her late teens. At 18, Stenquist moved to Utah to live closer to her mother’s family.

In 1996, at 24, Stenquist was a divorced mother of two attending college and working at a local hospital with the aspirations of becoming a nurse, but her migraines started to become more regular and she was prescribed narcotics to dull the pain.  One day at work she passed out in the hallway of the hospital and was rushed to the ER. After a CT scan, doctors concluded nothing was wrong. She took her CT scan results to her family doctor, who ordered an MRI and located a large but benign tumor in her brain.

Stenquist was sent to a neurosurgeon and an ear, throat and nose specialist. In 1996 she was diagnosed with acoustic neuroma and underwent brain surgery to remove a portion of the tumor. Doctors could not remove the entire tumor for fear of causing nerve damage to her face and body.