By Ellen Lenox Smith.
For the past decade, I have been actively advocating for medical cannabis rights across the country. I have never spent energy on the recreational battle but instead have been working to help secure equal and fair medical use for all. It isn’t that I disagree with access for all, but as a chronic pain patient, my priority is to see everyone have equal rights and access to affordable cannabis as a choice to consider for medical use. As the country is becoming more and more accepting of cannabis as a legitimate medical treatment, I do harbor serious concerns relative to what might happen as we observe states voting to allowing recreational use.
Here are my concerns that you may not be aware can be an issue for the medical user:
- We do not all respond to the same strain of product. It is a hit and miss process so when a medical patient finds the right match what will happen if that strain is sold out to the recreational user first?
- The cost of cannabis can prove exorbitant, especially when a high profit margin or high taxes are factored in. So, will the expansion of allowing all to have the rights to grow and/or purchase bring our costs up or down? Remember, we do not yet get any reimbursements from our insurance for what for many like me, is my lifeline medication Many patients, just like me, are unable to metabolize synthetic medications. We do not have the luxury of calling our doctor and trying an alternative medicine, if for some reason our source of effective medicine is unavailable. Thus, affordability and access remain critical issues for us.
- What protections will be put in place to insure a medical user will be able to continue to obtain medicine as needed? For those unable to grow themselves, it is a long process to grow and harvest the product, as long as three months or more. So, when one is out of a strain, will they be sure to have a new crop ready soon?
- We all have experienced the process of one wanting to make a buck – so the reality is that there is a better chance of selling to a recreational use for a higher price than to maintain an adequate supply for those in medical need, which may produce less profit. Are we going to set any laws with rules to follow to be sure the medical patient is secure and protected with their needed medication or will we sit back and allow the product to go to the person who can pay more?
- What protections will be instituted to be sure there are no chemicals or mold on the cannabis?
- As more can grow, will they be able to keep up with the demand?
Suggestions we should consider for all states:
- Remove cannabis from Schedule I listing – allowing for research and thus encouraging all states to include its medical use
- By removing from Schedule I, we would be able to advocate to insist for insurance coverage, so all can afford to have their relief.
- Be sure that dispensaries have secure, continuous product for the medical patient always and not be allowed to get selfish and sell product to the recreational user for a bigger profit.
- Provide safe and easy access parking along with a private entrance for the medical patient, if the recreational user will be purchasing from the same building.
- Allow all medical patients the options to grow their own medicine so they can be sure to have the strains they need.
- Stop all the exorbitant fees the states are charging medical patients to register, purchase and in some cases, grow. All the hoops we must jump through to then learn about some recreational states allowing all to grow? Why do we have to pay so much and go through all this for medical use when the rest of you can just go to a pharmacy or even order online your medication and then get reimbursed. What is wrong with this picture?
- Be sure regulations are standard for all to provide safe medication without mold and chemicals being allowed.
This excellent article shares what is already happening to the medical patient in Canada:
How does Canada’s legalization of cannabis affect the medical cannabis patient? One Canadian’s Perspective
As life moves forward with this trend of opening states to recreational use, may all involved take the time and effort to be sure to protect the medical user that depends on use of cannabis for better quality of life.
May Life Be Kind to you,
Ellen Lenox Smith
Author of: It Hurts Like Hell!: I Live With Pain– And Have a Good Life, Anyway, and My Life as a Service Dog!
The information in this column should not be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is for informational purposes only and represents the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of National Pain Report.
Ellen Lenox Smith and her husband Stuart live in Rhode Island. They are co-directors for medical cannabis advocacy for the U.S. Pain Foundation, along with Ellen on the board and they both also serve as board members for the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition. For more information about medical cannabis visit their website. https://ellenandstuartsmith.squarespace.com/