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Mon, Dec. 09

Verde Valley residents discuss their health, use of medical cannabis

Four years ago, Raven De La Croix received her first medical cannabis card for various ailments ranging from neuropathy to arthritis. The responsible use of medical cannabis is important to her. (Photo by Bill Helm)

Four years ago, Raven De La Croix received her first medical cannabis card for various ailments ranging from neuropathy to arthritis. The responsible use of medical cannabis is important to her. (Photo by Bill Helm)

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Valerie Borrego says she would “probably be dead by now” if it wasn’t for medical cannabis.

VERDE VALLEY – Easily found on the Internet Movie Database – better known as IMDb – Raven De La Croix has 40 years of movie credits to her resume.

As an actress, producer, wardrobe designer and animal handler, the New York-then-Los Angeles-now-Sedona resident is accustomed to the public life.

But not all things should be public, even for people in the public eye.

Such as one’s medical conditions – or one’s medical treatments.

“I don’t need to share my business,” she says. “But I don’t need to withhold it, either.”

Four years ago, De La Croix received her first medical cannabis card for various ailments ranging from neuropathy to arthritis. The responsible use of medical cannabis is very important to De La Croix.

The right use of medicine

To those who say that cannabis use leads to other drug use, De La Croix says that just isn’t the case.

“The right use of this medicine was a gateway to consciousness,” she says. “Based on proper application of simple components.”

Breathing, proper breathing she says is key. Also, knowing the difference between products and their uses.

As with any medicine, either pharmaceutical or otherwise, there’s always a concern that the patient can become a little too attached. De La Croix says that “a habit can be a person’s false sense of security.”

“Medicine can make us or break us,” she says.

With a strong belief in the responsible use of medical cannabis, De La Croix says she is available as a support system “for myself and for others.”

“My mission is to share this, that it’s applicable to many,” she says.

Says Valerie Borrego, a long-time friend and also a medical marijuana cardholder, it’s “so amazing to be able to watch somebody who knows how to do it right.”

“She’s transparent. That’s a level of liberation,” Borrego says. “Transparency can be a fear for some people.”

An act of courage

Valerie Borrego hasn’t lived a public life, at least not like the life of a former film star. Growing up in eastern Arizona, she says her family was “pretty holistic.”

“I, like Raven, do not like pharmaceuticals if you can help it,” Borrego says. “They’re an enemy to the body. They’re not natural in the body.”

But cannabis isn’t something Borrego thought much about, until injuries from a few automobile accidents, including the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder that qualified her for the medical marijuana card she first received three years ago.

Though following the letter of the law, Borrego still felt compelled to keep her medicine a secret from much of her exterior world, including her work as a special education paraprofessional at Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District.

But she recently retired from her school work, now intent on educating people about medical cannabis.

“Most of us, our whole lives, haven’t felt safe in our bodies, communities, churches, schools,” says Borrego, who has worked in the education field for much of the past 35 years, including Navajo and Yavapai counties. “I realize it’s an act of courage to just live our truth, even if it means coming out, to share with the world as a medical cannabis card holder, knowing there most likely may be backlash from people in opposition.”

Pros and cons of going public in rural communities

When Borrego recently was asked to tell her story, her initial thought was to say “no,” that “others may be in a place in their lives to do so; I am just not there, yet.”

Monday, after a talk with a former employer, she decided the time to speak her truth was now.

A simple truth, she says. Borrego has a state-approved card that allows her to use cannabis to treat her medical conditions.

“I weighed the pros and cons of doing it,” she says. “I chose love instead of fear. My use has never been a secret to my children or grandchildren. I’m coming out, to be an educator of a plant that’s been a blessing. I want a better world for future generations.”

Though her father was a bishop in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, she says her father – and her mother – would be proud of her for speaking “her truth,” for being open and honest, and for being responsible.

“It’s all about personal responsibility,” Borrego says. “Generations have already endured unnecessary suffering and death. As a mother and grandmother, I want a world where generations to come can choose cannabis, which is one of the oldest and best medicines available to man. Educated people can make an informed decision if it is right for them or not.”

Her recent retirement from Cottonwood-Oak Creek wasn’t an easy decision, Borrego says. But seeking opportunities to educate people on legal, safe and responsible use of medical cannabis, she says that decision was easy.

“Life is about principals,” Borrego says. “Our system is broken. If people can have a better quality of life because of a plant, I’m all for that.”

-- Follow Bill Helm on Twitter @BillHelm42

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