My name is Lonnie, I live in Central Missouri, and I am thankful to share my story with you. In 2007, my life was forever changed when I had to undergo a miraculous 18-hour surgery to remove a tumor the size of a softball from my brain. In the following months, I would endure months of rehabilitation, learning how to walk and move the right side of my mouth again. Today, despite a second surgery, a tumor the size of a walnut is still attached to both my brainstem and optic nerve and unfortunately, surgery is no longer an option.  While I am truly grateful to be alive, my quality of life has plummeted since that fateful day.

The trauma to my brain caused me to develop epilepsy, severe nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, fatigue, dizziness, headaches, difficulty sleeping, irritability, and the list goes on. To manage, I take multiple medications every day. But they produce side effects that are intolerable, and don’t even control my seizures!  It is these circumstances along with watching patients lay needlessly in pain, witnessing the unforgettable pain on the faces of their families and watching many develop an addiction to the painkillers they were prescribed that led me to advocate for safe and legal access to marijuana as medicine in Missouri. 

In 2015, I reached out to New Approach Missouri and I started to work alongside the campaign.  For the next three years I would dedicate my life to legalizing medical marijuana by speaking at fundraisers, on patient panels, doing interviews, and best of all getting to know the cannabis community.  On November 6th, 2019 Missouri voters legalized medical marijuana with almost a 66% in favor of compassionate care for persons living with debilitating illnesses.  That night a great weight was lifted but I the feeling of emptiness started to set in.  What now?  I had no idea what role I would play, if any, in the cannabis industry. 

Today, after pursuing different avenues in the cannabis industry, I have found my niche.  I have arrived where I have wanted to belong since day one.  I am a member of the cannabis community who believe in compassionate care, a patient-first approach, and reforming current marijuana laws on the state and national level.  My intent is to better serve the community through advocacy and education by continuing to be a voice for the patients. 

Thanks to all who made this happen, I am forever grateful.

In Solidarity,

Lonnie Kessler

Patient Advocacy Consultant

MedicalMissouri@gmail.com

​​​​​​cannabis data.org

Lonnie Kessler