So Tired of Still Fighting for Medical Cannabis Rights

So Tired of Still Fighting for Medical Cannabis Rights

It is now the year, 2019, and since the approval and implementation of the medical marijuana programs across the country, states have had to confront those seeking to profit from the commercial value of cannabis. This is happening instead of providing vulnerable medical patients, often with limited financial means, affordable medication to treat their conditions. Every year, patients are required to attempt to hold on to their initial rights along with hoping there are improvements of the programs based upon patient needs, rather than enhancing private profits or creating tax revenues for the states.

Like all states, many nights of long hours waiting to testify were behind the final approval of our program in Rhode Island thirteen years ago. At that time, the legislature showed compassion towards us and supported the program in the name of hoping to offer an alternative safe option to consider to help improve the quality of lives of many patients often suffering from lifelong afflictions. The question is why do we every year have to return to our statehouses to speak out in an effort to hold on to what we’ve already earned? Depending on the state, some patients have had to engage in a draining fight for any number of issues. To possess, grow, to be a caregiver, meet the qualifying condition list, the rising cost to run a compassion center which means higher cost to the consumer, the amount of medicine we are allowed to possess, fees for tags to grow, increased costs to register are some examples.

Ellen Lenox Smith

The answer is that the altruism of representatives, which was the driving force behind the establishment of the medical marijuana program, has been replaced by the drive for profit and expansion of tax revenue. As most states are attempting to improve their programs, unfortunately, it appears that the movement to expand the various programs has come to be dominated but individuals driven by commercialism, not compassion. The initial support and feeling of compassion are being replaced by those that see our medical issues as a way to make more money.


Those of us destined to confront serious and often chronic medical conditions on a daily basis already deal with having no access to medical coverage for cannabis and we also must confront the reality that the direction of these programs does not appear to be designed with the interests of patients in mind, as envisioned.

So, what to do?

How about this!

My Dream List:

  • Let doctors make the recommendation for possible use with their patient - stop all the inequitable qualifying conditions across the country
  • Get Cannabis out of Schedule I - allow research, use in hospitals, and giving comfort, confidence, legal support to the medical field and possible patients still leery due to the governments listing.
  • Allow all to make the choice to home grow or have a caregiver grow for them to stop others from making a profit off our medical issues along with the ability to have the strain compatible to our bodies in supply.
  • Make this medical use a required insurance coverage!
  • Stop trying to make a buck off of us and keep the cost down so people can afford to use it
  • Stop the scare tactics, show compassion and allow those using for medical use treated with respect, not like drug addicts or illegal people using it.

All need to remember that state medical cannabis programs are there due to medical issues that are disrupting the normal flow of our lives. We have enough on our plate to then also have to worry if can afford our medication, find the strains compatible, continue to grow, travel to where we need to purchase, along with many other issues. To add having to continue advocating to hold on to our lifeline is just too much to keep taking on. So, let’s return to compassion, equality, and kindness of others to leave our programs alone, and not see this as a way to make a profit off our health and wellbeing.

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.

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Authored by: Ellen Lenox Smith

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.

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j. schultz

Some of us folks live in states with governors that have condemned any chance of medical pot, with ‘not while i’m governor’ statements. These are the same governors that take pride in busting up unions. What is really under the skin of these governors is the money they are protecting from the big pharaceutical companies. Mary Jane is a week, the wild wood flower, easy and cheap to grow. Here, people get more time and more fine than DUI-alcohol at double the limit.
Perhaps, if scientists were to figure a way to have a quantitative level for DUI-marijuana enforcement, things would change. It’s all about money, whether from fines, taxes, et al.
If big pharma had their hands in the marijuana production, laws would actually be made to legalize something that could have been helping people with several ailments that can be helped with an herb. Our state has little chance for such help or support from our state govt.


Anyone can grow a few marijuana plsnts in their garden. You can find plenty of “how to grow” lessons on the internet. Back in the “sixties and seventies” home growers didn’t know much and even beautiful plants were not potent. (I think we call that “hemp” which George Washington grew a lot of). Anyway, even really good pot won’t hurt you. Grow it, dry it, powder it, and put it in your food. (You won’t even notice it). I don’t think we could do poppies like Afghanistan. The US Government has paid the Afgans millions not to grow poppies. It is part of their national gross national profit. Ask returning Veterans how many Poppie fields they have seen. We paid them to help find Bin Laden too. How’d that work out? Americans watch a lot of Television but pay attention to the wrong things. These are the things to tell your Congressmen and Senators. We should not be after the President for Russion election interference. The US has always got involved in the politics of other Countries. So what? Who cares if Trump saw hookers when he was single? I don’t care if two Kennedy’s slept with Marylon Monroe. But, Dear Mr. Clinton, you did have sex with “that woman” and you probably did inhale. And Hillary don’t tell me you didn’t know about your husband. At any rate, people haven’t changed. What has happened is the “Media” and information has speeded up. They let Bad Behavior go unpunished. A President can have oral sex on our time. A President can call a national health crisis because he claims to have family experience with addiction. Good grief, Fred Trump was an alcoholic! I don’t believe half of the News. We don’t need to know about every kid that shot up his school. Kids get the idea from the News. The Media was so happy to broadcast The OJ Simpson trial. “Now the kids will see our justice system working”. Yes, they learned that a celebrity can cut his wife’s throat and get away with it! Now the lesson is “Prescription drugs have caused an epidemic”.

Mark Brock

I live in Oregon where they legally grew more than triple what they can sell . Your Doctor can send you to Marijuana Compassion(that was a long time ago) but still pot is $4 a gram and if you get MM after $300 to Compassion yu get 2 ounces free each month ,let me know if you are ever in Eugene ,I dont like Pot at all makes me paranoid it is Bio-Engineered and has 20 times more Tar then a cigarette but you can injest it many ways and they sell Kratom too if I can help let me know Im Mark Brock on Facebook I am just going to ignore Captcha from now on Im 65 been a RN until CRPS took me down Apostle Thomas wrote Jesus parables its only 47 minutes the Actor playing Thomas should get a Golden Globe but its free youtube


I don’t believe marijuana should have been criminalized in the first place. In the sixties I not only smoked it, I combined it with alcohol, cocaine, LSD , speed, valium and if course opiates. It is the least potent of all of these. No one in recorded history has ever overdosed. I have eaten at least the equivalent of 100 joints. (Slept well with no side effects except pooping a green turd). I do know that smoke is bad for the lungs. At any rate, I lost all interest in “Mary Jane”, but I have no problem with anyone who smokes it, eats it, drinks it or uses any other way to consume it. It can cause paranoia, red eye, dry mouth and of course the “munchies). It does change “perception” but for me, not a helpful one. My mind “dwells” on my pain. Maybe because of age or just the long term pain medication. It does bother me a bit when referred to as an “alternative”. If your mind and body are accustomed to opiates (and they work) you are going to be disappointed with “pot”. It is a bandaid on a bullet wound.


In ny mmj is to expensive to stay on. I tried & it worked just as good as the pain meds but with no insurance coverage it was impossible to continue. How do they expect people on disability to pay $300 a month. To stop the effects of the thc you also need to take cbd, as i was tapering off meds & going up on mmj we realized i was going to need 4-6 bottles a month. It needs to be legalized so insurance can cover it. Will never be affordable to all pain patients otherwise. I was leary to try it at first, i didn’t want to be high, didn’t want another stigma added when seeing doctors but I wasn’t high & all of my doctors agreed it would help with all of my problems. Now I’m on a medication that isn’t helping as much & waiting to get my nerves burnt.

Thomas Wayne Kidd

I wake up every morning in pain and suffer through the night, my wife is in the same shape. Tired of hearing about weed and all it’s pain killing abilities. It doesn’t work for most people who are in real pain and have been for years. I haven’t given up the fight yet but I am near the end. Talk and unfulfilled promises is all we getting. ENOUGH ALREADY!

Thomas Wayne Kidd

Legalizing marijuana for medical use will only cause more suffering for those of us who need opioid pain medication. Greed drives everything mankind is about. We need our rights back which has been taken from us.

I just received news an hour ago my husband’s friend that he grew up with has committed suicide over intractable pain. Our friend has grown children and a career. There was a note but I don’t know what it said. But the family is saying that he has been suffering greatly with pain over the last 10 years. There will be more stories like these. I have been up all night just like every night since I’ve had surgery an incredible amount of pain even more so before surgery. I called the surgeon and told him what the therapist thinks it is and it’s been two weeks with no return call. I didn’t have to use a cane before but now I have to use a cane to get around. I’m worse off than I was before surgery. When I told the surgeon on a follow-up appointment before I found out what the problem was then I was having more pain now than I was before surgery and he just sent me out the door with statistics. Never answering or looking into why I have greater pain when I should be healed up. And I’m even known to have blood clots in the past so if it wasn’t for the therapist I would be thinking of a blood clot. No one cares


I never would have thought having cancer esp second fight, Stage 4, I would be have to risk my life taking NSAIDS (I have a AVM - it’s a bleeding disorder) such as BC powders for pain & risking my freedom over a plant that’s illegal in my State for Cancer related pain that never killed anyone w/numerous medical benefits while legal in other States?! As they pulled my pain pills when the cancer came back stating only the DEA raids, then guideline changes. I was pulled cold turkey! INHUMANE!! Marijuana should be legal as Alcohol or Cigarettes & damn the Gov’t charging medical card fees! Most Dr’s hardly know info & I help patients w/?? because I educated myself & began using it after suffering nearly 2 yrs with nothing!! Dr’s need to learn about strains & why their patient is having side effects is highly likely due to edibles but if smoked it could be stopped & why - the liver breaks it down different. Patients should be able to partake of weed & opiates w/no taking them off the pills. Our Gov’t can’t see past $$$ to be honest which would End the Wars they Wage! Also, it’s really not fair to Vets! Medically it has to be federal for the V.A. to use medically! They can go fight for this Country risking their life to risk it again not being treated properly medically. Also to see so many Vets homeless & think billions is going into a fence that won’t stop drugs & where there is demand there will be supply! We should be doing much better than what we are! How many Presidents until one actually exposes corruption? I thought Trump was going too but it would be only what involves him & not an agency like the DEA. Amazing a bill was signed by yet another President, Trump, the other Obama which is to speed up the FDA on approvals & yet studies on Cannibas Oil all and they send a Warning out recently!?! Questioning the safety!? [edit] Yet it’s a plant that’s safety has been around. Not to mention there’s been a med patent #

Miss Ellen I understand that your tired, I can only imagine what you endure. It should be this way, and that way. No one should be able to tell us how or what we put in our own bodies. I live in TN, we will never have medical marijuana as long as we have representatives that have their hands in pharmaceutical companies. They won’t even bring it to the house for a vote. I don’t understand it, we are one of the poorest states, and yet they vote for republicans that are willing to take their support away. I guess they think god will make them better. I’m not knocking god, but please miracles are going to happen as often as winning the lottery. I’ve thought of moving, but it’s either you smoke or take a pill. Would be nice to have both, don’t need as much narcotic. I personally wish I could send you more energy, good vibes but I don’t believe that works either. I do know that there are many people in your area that are grateful for what you do, so I suggest to you to keep that in mind when your body is telling you stop. Hell I’m grateful for what you do, very proud for what’ve taken on considering you live in chronic pain. Take care, and stay strong.

peter gozenya

Here in Michissippi we get to vote 3 times for safe access in some towns.

Cheri Furr

That would be dream too, but I don’t think it will happen in NC.

Right on Ellen! My doc is not onboard with use of MM use yet.
Keep strong in your endeavors.

I feel the pain unfortunately here in Texas 🤔 it sux welcome to the black market to expensive to buy Cannabis and it’s risky here the laws here are to hard core
Probably move to Colorado whr it’s safer and the herb is more far at right know I’m depending on God to help me wit my suffering adois


I have been with Pain Management for about 18 years or more, with countless injections and RF treatments. About 4 years ago the disc blew out into the spinal cord. I thought I knew what pain was, trust me that was on a whole new level, no choice but surgery could no longer trust my legs to hold me up, the pain was overwhelming. I still have issues with pain and take meds and Rf for treatment. I work a full time job and a physical job on top of that. I checked into SSI at one time to only find at least 2 years before you can get any benefits after a solid work history of 30 plus years. I refused to be in pain, recently I have been tapered down after a Rf to a point the meds are almost useless at 50mme. I told the PA that I felt ok after the Rf, my mistake I guess. Well only one choice I try Marijuana again this time from a vape cartridge indica with a high level of THC and CDB
2-3 doses at bed time, it worked! Unfortunately I have to get it from black market and it’s not legal in my State and I am subject to drug testing. I figure that one out so I am coved. Marijuana needs to be legalized on a Federal level it’s time to end the lies and nonsense . Funny how the Government over looks Alcohol and the 100,000 of lives lost every year, stats are online not a secret. Opioid crisis is just a drop in the bucket compared to Alcohol. Another thing it is Illegal in Florida to own a gun if you have a medical marijuana card. Wow wonder why they call Alcohol liquid courage. The only thing with Marijuana is you might fight for the last Dorito because of the munchie. It goes to show how senseless law makers are or maybe it’s done on purpose. Any way done with my rant….

Howard Edbauer

Well said!! New York medical marijuana is a joke right now. They only grow 5 strains, then they blend them. Over 2,500 strains and this is what we get at great expense I might add.
It is a step in the right direction however, the research is out there to anyone interested to obtain it. Come on New York get with it!!


I cannot afford the medical cannabis that I need for my illness. Compassion centers in RI are not too compassionate because prices are high and they are not knowledgeable when purchasing the cannabis. It should be covered by your medical insurance plan. Most medication that my doctors prescribe cost more money than medical cannabis. Also, even though many doctors sign for al patient to become a medical marijuana patient they are not knowledgeable on medical cannabis. I hope changes are made soon.

Paul Crocker



Just in case you dont understand by now, money is what this [edit] is all about. If you u have it you get it. Pills, marijuana, whatever you need. N if you dont, you dont even get the privilege of getting to see a dr. Who will tell you no. Just a fyi, no one cares, unless you can flash some cash. So good luck. I personally gave up. Never had money n never will. My fight is over. Take care

Lisa Hess

There are two other points with the State Medical Marijuana Programs that I would like to add to your list:

1) In my state if I have a Medical Marijuana license I cannot continue my opioid palliative care. A patient cannot have both. I know of many patients that Medical Marijuana works amazingly great for their pain. Unfortunately, I am not one of those folks. I’ve tried dozens of different strains trying to find one that gives me some relief from pain and I never found it. However, as Ellen pointed out, the costs have gone into the thousands of dollars. Four years of purchasing strains just to find one that works are all sitting in a box. Yes, I had found one that helps with my depression and a couple that may help me sleep, but I have not found a single strain that has helped relieve any of my pain.

2) A person cannot take their Cannabis across state lines. If Cannabis is the only medicine one is taking for pain, that medicine has to be left at home when traveling. The traveller is stuck without any medication. Even if the state travelled into has legalized Medical Marijuana, a patient cannot purchase from another state.

My entire family live outside of my state and if I cannot travel with my medication, I cannot travel. Therefore, quality of life is lowered both from a physical and emotional standpoint. In my state, a patient must be weened off medication before getting a license, and the wait can be long. Again, quality of life is lowered while waiting for the license and then the astronomical costs it takes to find the one that is going to work has been tedious and bankrupting because it is not covered by insurance. These two barriers are why I decided not to renew my license and went back on my medications. Even though they’ve been cut by 3/4, it is better than not having anything at all to help relieve my pain even if it’s just for a couple of hours a day.

Robert Schubring

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has ordered the DEA to reopen the cannabis issue administratively, and ordered a lawsuit in the Southern District of New York, Washington v Sessions, to proceed to trial. The key contention in that lawsuit is that DEA lacks the statutory authority to write regulations about cannabis, because that authority is assigned by law to the Surgeon General. Federal decriminalization is going to happen in the courts.

What killed the Compassionate Use initiatives Ellen is mourning, was the fact that DEA regulations PROHIBITED doctors from prescribing marijuana. Any doctor administratively found to have prescribed marijuana, was stripped of his DEA license and prohibited from prescribing anything else. This forced patients into a cruel choice of whether to take cannabis for their spasms or opiates for their pain, because they couldn’t use both. While Dr Forest Tennant was at a conference in Virginia describing a true medical breakthrough, in which an arachnoiditis patient who had been on 4,000 milligrams of morphine daily, was using the combination of cannabis and 280 milligrams of morphine to get BETTER PAIN CONTROL than he previously got, the doctors and patients in Virginia were applauding this medical breakthrough…meanwhile back in California the DEA were raiding Dr Tennant’s office and seizing his medical records, to investigate whether he committed the “crime of prescribing marijuana”.

DEA keeps making up the lies as it goes along, twisting the truth to where it cannot be recognized. One fork of the DEA’s serpentine tongue is proclaiming an Opioid Crisis and is widening with Andrew Kolodny’s spurious demand for a hard limit of 100 mg morphine daily. The other fork of the tongue is crying that a renonwned medical researcher who achieved a 93% reduction in opioid prescribing might be “prescribing marijuana” and on that basis his patients’ private medical records must be seized and read by high-school educated DEA agents.


While teachers beg for pencils and students suffer for adequate lunch the State law enforcement commandeer and miss-appropriate hundreds of millions of dollars into their own accounts (stealing) using asset forfeiture and bypassing returning the money to the state budget. While the elderly and disabled are having their wheelchairs pushed out to the curb they are also taking in many many more millions in grants and other sources in addition to the lions share of the entire city budget. This is funds that should go into the general budget. More than enough to solve our housing and teacher shortfall. They wish to raise tax with the lions share already going to law enforcement. End this theft and we all should expect a tax cut. These current elected officials seem far too inept to hold their positions of responsibility. There should be Federal investigations to see where this money actually went. Certainly none ‘or very little’ went to the teachers or schools. How much more is being commandeered into law enforcement and who is overseeing this funding?

Alan dean Thurman

the grow and give program. grow sone and give to a cancer patient so he has a chance for a. enter quality of life, quality of life when u have cancer us important, quality of life when u have terminal cancer is everything. we need to stop talking and just start doing. i must say u have never of a bigger self inflicted wound, that the current state of medication regarding pain. i second the surgeon generals recommendation to restart the conversation about pain strategies. The individual has the right to make the final decision regarding the treatment plan, anything else becomes bogged down with other hidden agenda, which means your health becomes last on a long list of worries held by doctors and law makers. i hope to vicodin available at walmart, by 2020. over 21 yes you purchase up to 240 a month,l. tge government can’t possib tell free americans what they can and can’t put in their body. i can’t believe how screwed up health care and pain centers has become. it’s time to bite out anyone who makes any decisions regarding pain care. the decision makers have failed. time the bring in a new set of eyes, no other solution, all must go. they have had three years of my life trying to get it right. my health has never been worse. in the two years i have been without pain medication i have gained 74 pounds, and now have two other major health issues in addition to my pain problem, we are makingpeople worse! time for a change before i die, your killing me!!! i mean that, these policies have destroyed me on so many levels, not only are you destroying me your killing everyone associated with a person in pain.


Come to Louisiana, we have been waiting six years. In 2013 the Governor signed the medical cannabis bill. Still no product on the market but they say this fall like they said last fall. Politian’s have their greedy hands out so we wait a little longer, Everything is set to go but all we get is excuses and more suffering for which is all we know and feel.

Woke up in pain again…