• High Vibes Media

Women of Weed: Elvy Musikka

Updated: May 15, 2020

Women of Weed is a High Vibes Media series highlighting admirable ladies who work to educate and advocate for the cannabis community.

Elvy Musikka still receives her weed from the federal government.

Photo by Dimitri Bong on Unsplash

Elvy Musikka is a cannabis activist. She is also one of the two last remaining patients receiving 3,600 cannabis joints a year from the United States government.

Musikka was born with severe vision impairment from cataracts. Growing up she believed the propaganda that cannabis was a harmful drug. However, after years of undergoing numerous unsuccessful operations, she ended up going blind in her right eye. Musikka believed that there had to be a better solution to all the surgeries, medications and pain. Robert Randell, a friend of hers, also suffered from glaucoma. He introduced her to the healing powers of cannabis.

Musikka started to smoke weed and with the help of an open-minded doctor, she discovered it was effective in lowering the pressure in her eyes. So she began to grow her own supply but was arrested shortly after. Musikka was acquitted of the charges. She was then determined to have legal access to her ganja medication. In 1988, she petitioned the government to be a patient of the Investigated New Drug (IND) program. The government program, which stopped accepting new patients in 1992, supplies their own cannabis flower to a select few people who proved in court that cannabis was their only option for relief of their medical condition. Today, she continues to advocate for the healing and medicinal properties of cannabis. Elvy Musikka is now 80 years old and still receives her federally grown cannabis every year.

How a lifetime of eye operations and Jack Herer inspired Musikka to become a cannabis advocate.

Photo by JOSHUA COLEMAN on Unsplash

Musikka was born in Colombia in 1939. She was diagnosed with congenital cataracts, a condition diagnosed at birth which clouds the eye’s natural lens. At the age of 4, she had four surgeries to help improve her eyesight. She was left with some vision and a pair of thick glasses. In 1953 she immigrated to America. It was at the Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital in New York where she underwent another eye procedure which once again left with her vision in a poorer condition. In 1975 she was diagnosed with glaucoma, a condition that affects the eye’s optic nerve. In 1987, she had another operation that left her blind in her right eye. This was the last surgery she had before she learned about the benefits of consuming cannabis.

In the 1990s after reading Jack Herer’s book, “The Emperor Wears No Clothes” Musikka was inspired. The book detailed the many benefits of cannabis both as a plant and a medicine. She began to share her story and educate others on the beneficial and healing capabilities of cannabis. Musikka vowed to never stay home again”. She became an active activist for access to legal cannabis, both medical and recreational. In 1992 she was awarded the Freedom Fighter of the Year at the 5th annual High Times Cannabis Cup.

Cannabis and Glaucoma

Although Glaucoma is ranked as one of the most frequently cited reasons for using cannabis as medicine, most glaucoma and health organizations in America do not acknowledge it as adequate treatment. Both Glaucoma.org and the American Academy of Ophthalmology reported that the usage of THC has not been proven to be effective or reliable. A patient would have to smoke 6-8 times a day and the effects were only shown to last about 3-4 hours. Both organizations state that patients who agreed to participate in cannabis usage quit shortly after due to the side psychological effects of frequent cannabis consumption. The University of Utah describes cannabis usage as an effective glaucoma treatment as a myth.

Photo by David Travis on Unsplash

In 2001, under in IND program, there was the Chronic Use Study. Four of the 6 remaining federal medical cannabis patients, including Musikka, underwent an extensive three-day examination of every system in their body to determine the long term effects of cannabis. The researchers came to several conclusions including that smoking cannabis can be an “effective symptomatic relief of pain, muscle spasms and intraocular pressure…”, and that consuming cannabis can improve quality of life.

The Apothecaium Dispensary posted a blog that listed more than a few recent studies conducted regarding the relationship between cannabis and glaucoma. Studies published in 2002, 2004, 2008, and even as recently as 2016 all conclude that consuming cannabis can be beneficial in the treatment of glaucoma.

Potency Issues and Side Effects: The government’s weed.

Despite Musikka’s involvement in the IND program as well as her advocacy, she continues to have issues with her medical weed. She was originally granted permission to receive her cannabis when she lived in Florida. It is now the only place she’s legally allowed to pick up her container of joints. Musikka currently resides in Oregon. Even though she has been approved by the FDA, DEA, NIDA and has a doctor’s prescription she still runs into issues with the TSA at the airport from time to time. When she does successfully receive her pre-rolls, their effectiveness is hampered by their lack of potency.

Photo by Drew Hays on Unsplash

Unexpectedly, in 2012 Musikka’s condition began to rapidly decline. Her doctor discovered that the University of Mississippi, the sole grower of the federal government’s cannabis had given her hemp. The hemp plant is almost identical to cannabis except that it contains little to no THC, the cannabinoid that helps to reduce eye pressure. Musikka had to have emergency surgery to remove her optic nerve. She says that after the operation, she hallucinated for two months. Today she still has some vision left and attributes that to the use of cannabis.

Elvy Musikka Today

Recently, journalist Josh Jardine sent some of Musikka’s prescribed joints to Green Leaf Labs for testing of their potency level. The doobies still contained less than 6% THC which is far less than what is normally seen in today’s recreational cannabis markets. Jardine shared this information with John Bayes of Green Bodhi who then gifted Musikka with some of his own quality pre-rolls which have tested up to 25% THC content.

Musikka continues to advocate for cannabis education and accessibility. In November 2019, High Times Magazine listed her as one of 50 honorees for her activism. Her upbeat energy, positive messages, and gratitude towards the healing properties of cannabis make her an inspiration to many people throughout the cannabis community.

Written By Rebecca Victora, @thatcannabiswriter