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Ronald Frye, the first West Virginia citizen to purchase medicinal marijuana, attends the ribbon cutting for Morgantown’s first medical marijuana dispensary on Friday.
Ronald Frye, the first West Virginia citizen to purchase medicinal marijuana, attends the ribbon cutting for Morgantown’s first medical marijuana dispensary on Friday.

First West Virginian to legally purchase medical marijuana is an Upshur County veteran once hooked on opioids

BUCKHANNON – A local veteran became the first West Virginia resident to purchase medical marijuana.

Ronald Frye attended the ribbon cutting for Morgantown’s first medical marijuana dispensary on Friday, Nov. 12 and made his purchase.

“I got hit by a roadside bomb in 2003,” Frye told My Buckhannon. “I got out of Walter Reed Army Hospital in 2010, and when I came home, they put me in a permanent wheelchair because of a spinal injury. They placed me on massive quantities of opioids, and I had to fight for five years to find a doctor at the VA hospital who would take me off opioids. I had to fight tooth-and-nail to get off the stuff, and it took me a year to get clean and start using CBD products to deal with the withdrawal symptoms.”

Frye discovered that cannabidiol supplements helped him with pain, PTSD and nightmares.

“I started taking the supplements at night, just using CBD, and I only had maybe one nightmare a month, which is incredible for me — I was having three or four a week originally,” Frye said. “I went off all the opioids. The only thing I’m taking now is blood pressure medication and marijuana. Two puffs seem to nullify my pain for about six hours, and I don’t feel at all intoxicated and there are no psychotropic effects, which is fantastic.”

He said the cost of marijuana versus CBD is also more reasonable.

“It was $50 for the medicinal marijuana card after we went through the process and got approved,” Frye said. “Then I paid $30 for a vaporizer, and I got four containers of marijuana, each with about a quarter cup of marijuana in them, for less than $100. A quarter teaspoon is an entire day for me, so I’m looking at about four months with the medication for under $100, when I paid about $400 or $500 a month out of pocket for CBD.”

Frye has been supporting the legalization of medical marijuana for years.

“I’ve been advocating for medicinal marijuana for almost 10 years now, so a lot of people in the cannabis community know me,” Frye said. “I refused to take any marijuana because I’ve never broken a law and I don’t intend to start. We made a few jokes up there today. I said, ‘I was in the Army for 19 years and burnt out a lot of marijuana plants, but never got to enjoy it before.’”

Coming more than four years after the West Virginia Legislature approved the Medical Cannabis Act, Frye said the ribbon cutting of the Trulieve dispensary in Morgantown was almost unbelievable.

“It was surreal — it was hard to believe it was really happening,” Frye said. “It was extremely professional. Don’t get me wrong, there was a lot of energy in the room — it was like a CVS and Chucky Cheese had a baby, lots of energy. They were incredibly helpful, very knowledgeable, very professional. They explained everything fully and they bent over backwards to meet people’s needs; I was very impressed.”

Frye said he would recommend medical marijuana to anyone with similar symptoms.

“It’s phenomenal,” he said. “It’s an all-natural substance, it eliminates pain, it enables anxiety-free sleep, it almost eliminates nightmares, my energy levels are higher, and my cognitive abilities are better. It’s virtually non-addictive — I don’t want to say it’s completely non-addictive, because people will become psychologically addicted to just about anything, but show me one bit of legitimate medical research that shows a negative effect of taking cannabis and I’ll listen, because I have yet to hear it.”

The process of obtaining his medical marijuana card started when he talked to Dr. Ali Khan, who recommended Frye try the new treatment.

“There was a lot of bureaucracy involved, but Dr. Ali Khan helped walk us through everything,” Frye said. “You fill out an application, you get a referral to see a doctor, the doctor approves, you send everything to Charleston, they send it back to the doctor, the doctor verifies he approved it, sends it back to them, they send it to you and then you send them a check for $50 for the processing fee, and you get your card in about three months.”

He also recommended talking to Tom Thacker at Endo Solutions and Mike Oldaker with Armory Pharmaceuticals.

“Those are all very good resources for patients who are interested in marijuana,” Frye said. “I really recommend going to Endo Solutions if you’re interested in medicinal marijuana — go to the marijuana museum and talk to Tom and learn about cannabis. Do research on your own and determine if this is a medicine that would assist you.”

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