Looking Ahead: U.S. Pain Foundation to Continue Prioritizing Medical Marijuana in 2017

Looking Ahead: U.S. Pain Foundation to Continue Prioritizing Medical Marijuana in 2017

By Shaina Smith


Shaina Smith

People living with chronic illness and pain should have access to timely and appropriate treatments. For U.S. Pain Foundation, this includes medical marijuana. For those unaware, medical marijuana is already legal in 25 other states and the District of Columbia.

With the recent passing of states approving medical marijuana programs, we found it fitting to expand on election results and the organization’s support for patients to receive treatment options—alternative modalities which may have had negative responses to their treatment decisions.

While millions of Americans patiently waited to learn of the political results Tuesday night, people with chronic pain conditions were eager to learn if their state would legally afford them the chance to try medicine which has been used to treat various invisible illnesses. Many of those pain warriors rejoiced after learning that Florida, North Dakota and Arkansas approved that a program be established within their state. Montana also succeeded in expanding its medical marijuana program by including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a qualifying condition, along with removing the provider’s limit to taking on patients.

“These states have opened up the door for patients to try an alternative, safe treatment option to cope with their medical condition,” stated Ellen Lenox Smith, Co-Director of Medical Marijuana Advocacy for U.S. Pain Foundation. “Although this is a progressive step in the right direction to ensure people with chronic pain can access this alternative therapy option, there is much work to be done.”

Lenox Smith, who was instrumental in implementing a medical marijuana program within of her state of Rhode Island, has seen first-hand the work that is needed for a state to implement such a system for the chronic pain population. “The real work now begins for Florida, North Dakota and Arkansas, and we encourage patients to continue being engaged in the implementation process,” Lenox Smith noted. “An ideal law for those living with an invisible illness would include language which allows for equal opportunity for residents concerning qualifying conditions, affordable prices and a variety of medical marijuana strains to help accommodate the various needs of patients.”

U.S. Pain recognizes that medical marijuana’s most well-known benefits include pain relief. It has also been shown to alleviate symptoms of a huge variety of serious medical conditions including cancer, AIDS and glaucoma, and is often an effective alternative to synthetic painkillers. For people with serious illness and uncontrollable pain, medical marijuana is the only medicine that relieves their pain and suffering, of treats symptoms of their medical condition without debilitating side effects.

In the coming legislative session, U.S. Pain plans to continue mobilizing its Pain Ambassadors, Advocates and Volunteers to get involved in advocating in those states where medical marijuana programs have yet to be established. The organization understands that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to recognize or approve the marijuana plant as medicine. However, scientific study of the chemicals found in marijuana, called cannabinoids, has led to two FDA-approved medications that contain cannabinoid chemicals in pill form.

As the organization continues supporting a balanced pain management approach toward treating and managing chronic pain conditions, it sees medical marijuana as one alternative therapy option to replace or reduce the use of opioids in chronic pain treatment.

Priority advocacy issues for U.S. Pain Foundation will once again include medical marijuana, with efforts ranging from encouraging advocates to reach out to their elected officials to share their pain journey and reasoning behind their support for medical marijuana and ensuring proposed legislation does not lose the integrity of the existing medical marijuana programs.

Shaina Smith is Director of State Advocacy & Alliance Development for U.S. Pain Foundation. Diagnosed with various pain conditions, including Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Hypermobility Type, Shaina utilizes her Journalism background to mobilize pain patient advocates and engage volunteers to participate in awareness programs.

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Authored by: Shaina Smith

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I live in CO, where marijuana is legal, both for rec and medical use. I have fibro, (so far, that is the DX although I suspect more).
I have Medicare, not very helpful in finding doctors that will accept Medicare.
So I am stuck as a patient with a “community” health provider that is federally funded.
They instituted a policy of no opiates prescribed, period. Because they are federally funded. Acetaminophen with codeine was the only med that somewhat helped, and I was only on that prescription for three months before the policy change. So I am clearly neither an abuser or addicted. Additionally, I learned that my opiate prescription is the lowest of opiate prescriptions.
I told the doctor that vaping CBD combined with THC seemed to help somewhat, and that if I could afford a MMJ card, I would get one.
Big mistake. Because of the federal funding, MMJ is apparently as big of a no-no as the opiates.
Now I am being treated like a med seeker.
I am right back to where I started… Popping OTC like candy without relief.
I am on a limited, fixed income and even rec marijuana is hard to afford, and clearly not as effective as MMJ.
I am FED UP, and increasingly hobbled with under treated chronic pain. I am exhausted trying to advocate for myself. Help, anyone? An advocate or lawyer available to help?
What part of “cause no harm” is happening here? I am desperate for relief and FED UP!!!!!!

Janetta Benson

Does this include Illinois

Kristi M

Ute Vazquez, I googled your disease and it looks like there are some trials underway. Here is a link to the NIH page for you. I hope this helps.



Can I get a list of doctors on Long Island who participate in the medical marijuana program? Please advise. Thank you.

John Quintner

Where is the scientific evidence to support the proposition that “medical marihuana” is both an effective and safe analgesic? Seems to me like a huge social experiment is being played out in the USA and Canada. But it could turn out to be a disaster for people in pain. Good luck!!!


November 17, 2016 at 10:03 am
I suffer terribly from Fibromyalgia. Is there any information that marijuana will be legalized in New York? I’m on Long Island and there are no decent pain doctors to treat me without scrutiny thinking that I’m addicted to pain medication. I need relief. Kindly respond.

I’m also on Long Island and received my card after I found a doctor here at marijuana doctors com I just googled the one of doctors listed after I did a zip code search on the site and made an appointment with them not using the site itself.

I wish you all the best.

Ute Vazquez

Hi, I’m suffering of Adhesive Arachnoiditis also called the “Suicide Disorder” there is no treatment for it, it’s not curable, they don’t even fund research for it. However, in the entire US there is one doctor, Dr Tennant that treats AA patients. Most patients use MMJ, my question is, anything in the works for Virginia?

I would urge that you visit this site regarding medical Marijuana in a New York:

Kathleene Jara

Medical Marijuana may be legal in Arizona, but just try to get a pain specialist to prescribe it. I have Rheumatoid Autoimmune Disease and there is no one who will consider it but the keep prescribing opioids and keep injecting joints with steroids even though steroids are contraindicated in diabetes which I also suffer from. Medicare will not fund it and I am already pay over $1300/month for immunosuppressant Xeljanz and 2 types of insulin. Unless it is federally allowed at least for medical care, so many seniors with incurable pain disorders from cancer or autoimmune diseases are barred by costs alone.

cindy deim

I’m in a state were pot is legal. However, I have a chronic pain doctor that will not allow me to try it. Caught between a rock and a hard place.

Rick Kelly

Mmj is very helpful in concentrated oil form got many horrific symptoms on RSD but now watch the Feds expect it to take place of opiates. Big news, it doesn’t cut my intractactable pain like the opies help. Another excuse to ignore a fairly useful medication. We are screwed anyway you look at it until it’s attacked as a ‘disease’ and not a boo boo.

patrick conroy

can I buy this my wife suffers from fibromyalgia I’m in ireland


I suffer terribly from Fibromyalgia. Is there any information that marijuana will be legalized in New York? I’m on Long Island and there are no decent pain doctors to treat me without scrutiny thinking that I’m addicted to pain medication. I need relief. Kindly respond.


Will there ever be a time when medical marijauna will be covered by insurance?? My current MMJ runs about $250 a month. It’s really hard to afford this, but it’s been the best medicine I’ve ever used for my fibromyalgia and other pain conditions.


The only problem for patients is that medical cannabis is not covered by medical insurance. Patients must pay for all prescriptions. This leads to the false claims that the cost of pain management medicine is going down, because the giant insurance companies are not paying for it. No one mentions the fact that the cost is borne by the people who can least afford it.


Medical marijuana isn’t the answer for some chronic illnesses as people can’t take it without fear of dying. Then there’s the problem with losing jobs if they have one as I don’t.

It’s been legal in my state since 2014 and still not ready as promised by 2016. Now they’re saying middle of 2017, people can’t travel with it & many doctors are starting new businesses charging 200 a visit every month plus the cost when it’s available. How can anyone afford this when disabled? It’s free for doctors and patients to register when they’re allowed to do so. Doctors can but, patients still can’t plus to add insult to injury to make us pay even more out of pocket is absurd. Insurance companies aren’t covering the cost & again we can’t travel with it. So how does this help anyone, it doesn’t.
I thought US Pain Foundation was willing to do a class action lawsuit for all chronic illness patients who are being denied their medications and their basic human & constitutional right. We’ll I guess I was wrong if this is where you’re heading right along with Big Pharma as the DEA now is allowing them to research MM when they’re still shutting down dispensaries who follow the states who do have it legal.

IMO this isn’t the way to fight for our rights when our legal FDA approved medications do work, have minimal side effects for those that take them as prescribed, can have our quality of life back & can travel once the DEA leaves our doctors alone.

Maybe you need to research this more as several chronic pain illnesses can’t take it or it can kill them. It doesn’t work for everyone nor is it approved in all states for all illnesses or pain. Chronic pain patients can’t wait while committing more suicides at a rapid rate & you should know as everyone does the CDC used biased opinions without real pain doctors or patients to get the guidelines.
Maryland does cover chronic pain, MS but, it’s been more than 3 years to get it if it ever comes. We’ll pay more out of pocket since doctors (PCP’s & pain management) are starting separate practices with limited hours to capitalize on it as NONE of them are taking our insurance but, a patient & doc relationship is required. This shows their greed when all they need to do is register their DEA & email but, again they feel the DEA will target them as they’ve been doing in other states. How is this fair to chronic pain patients with chronic illnesses to make us pay? We can’t travel out of state with it or obtain it within another state or country, we can’t afford the cost of a doc appt & the MM monthly. They can & will be fired under state drug testing laws if one works.