By Ed Coghlan.
Ellen and Stu Smith live in Scituate, Rhode Island. They are champions for the use of medical cannabis for chronic pain.
The two advocates are concerned—they see two threats on the horizon for people who use medical cannabis to address their chronic pain issues.
One is US Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Justice Department which they believe is trying to turn the clock back by cracking down on any use of marijuana.
The second threat is the growing acceptance of recreational marijuana which becomes legal in the nation’s biggest state next week—and will be legal in eight states and the District of Columbia.
“The Administration is not supportive for the use of medical cannabis, in fact Attorney General Sessions is threatening to shut people down who use it,” said Ellen Smith. She’s 67 years old, suffers from the connective tissue disorder Ehlers Danlos and has been using medical cannabis since it became legal in Rhode Island 11 years ago.
The Smiths believes that anyone suffering from chronic illness should be allowed to use it.
We asked about the need for more research on the efficacy of medical cannabis to treat pain, and they reminded us that it’s been studied for 25 years in Israel. Of course, there are no studies in the U.S. because the federal government continues to classify marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug—which prevents it from being researched in an FDA study.
“More research in the U.S. would be great,” said Stu Smith. “But it can’t be at the expense of immediate availability. People already depend on medical cannabis.”
Cannabis Is Not Just Marijuana
The Smiths never call it medical marijuana because of the image people have about it.
“I use a teaspoon of cannabis oil at night, to manage my pain,” Ellen Smith said. “I don’t light up a joint.”
They pointed out that oils, tincture, edibles and topicals are all part of medical cannabis—a distinction that is important for them and they believe differentiates it from recreational marijuana.
The Threat of Legal Marijuana
The Smiths and many others are very concerned that the growing marijuana industry which is rapidly going mainstream in the U.S. will hurt the development of the different strains of medical cannabis that can help the chronic patients among others.
The big money that is chasing recreational marijuana may negatively impact the smaller margin businesses that cater to the medical uses of cannabis.
The Smiths volunteer with the U.S. Pain Foundation and the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition to drive awareness of the efficacy of medical cannabis.
“As many chronic pain patients are seeing their opioid prescriptions being reduced or even eliminated, they need to have other options,” Mrs. Smith stressed. “Medical cannabis need to be accessible and affordable which should be a public health priority in 2018.”
Her advocacy will be put on hold for a couple of months while she recovers from her 24th surgery.
Said Stu Smith:
“The need to share the knowledge of how well medical marijuana addresses chronic pain is universal. We plan to continue our mission to educate and inspire.”