After watching family member suffer ALS-related anxiety, family launches campaign to encourage patients to try medical marijuana

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Pete Frates and wife Julie. Credit: Elise Amendola/AP
[Pete Frates, a] Boston College graduate who had been diagnosed with ALS years earlier, was already seeing top psychiatrists and therapists at Massachusetts General Hospital. He had tried every anxiety drug made available to him. All his family wanted was something — anything — that would ease the anxiety Frates felt as his diagnosis left him trapped inside his own body.

“Pete was always super on edge before we started to use marijuana, like anything could be a trigger for him,” said his wife, Julie. “You know, if his hands weren’t moved correctly, or something wasn’t done the right way, and he’s not able to communicate with us exactly what it is he needs…”

Then they tried medical marijuana, and “honestly, it was night and day,” she said.

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When Frates died in December at just 34, he had been relying on medical marijuana for several years, using it to help with muscle stiffness, cramping, and, above all else, anxiety.

He tweeted about it more than a dozen times, writing in September 2016 that he had tried every painkiller “in the book. weed is the best one.” In 2018, he tweeted out Youtube videos for people trying to make their own cannabis products.

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“It helped us so much that it almost seemed like we had this magic potion that other people couldn’t get to,” Julie Frates said.

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