Legalizing Marijuana? Don’t Forget its Medical Use

By Ellen Lenox Smith, Columnist

At least half a dozen states may be joining Colorado and Washington in the full legalization of marijuana. As a medical marijuana patient in Rhode Island, that has never been my battle. I have tried to stay focused on improving medical marijuana laws in Rhode Island and 23 other states, such as expanding the conditions for which it can be prescribed to include chronic pain and other medical issues.

It is mind boggling to me that some states have not yet approved marijuana’s medical use, but seem to be jumping right into legalization, most likely because they see it as a way to generate tax revenue.

We must hold onto the medical programs and be sure they are not mixed into the rules for full legalization. That would be like allowing medication from the pharmacy available to anyone to enjoy for pleasure. This is our medicine.

I have no problem with others having the pleasure of using cannabis socially, but let’s make sure we maintain the integrity of the medical programs.

This is our vision for every state in this country in the near future:

1) Medical marijuana is approved in all states and it includes reciprocity from state to state so we are safe to medicate legally when we travel.

2) Patients qualify when their doctors confirm they have a need and cannabis is no longer limited to specific conditions. There are many less common ones that can be treated effectively with this medication. 

3) Patients have a choice of growing, which is both therapeutic and helpful for those who find strains they are compatible with.

4) Each state offers compassion centers or dispensaries that are strategically placed so all have access within a reasonable distance.

5) Prices at these centers are affordable and on a sliding scale. Many who are afflicted with health issues already have massive medical bills. We do not want to have the mindset of making a large profit off the sale of their medication.

6) When all states are legal, we then conquer the battle of being reimbursed for our medicine from our insurance companies.

7) Allow centers to grow the plants they need to accommodate patients with all of the various strains. 

      8) Allow centers to sell various forms of medical marijuana, including dry product, oils, tinctures, topicals, edibles, etc.

      9) Allow a delivery system for those seriously ill and a gifting program to those financially unable to pay.

     10) All centers grow organically, keeping us safe from pesticides and other chemicals.

     11) People using medical marijuana will have the legal right not be drug tested, discriminated or fired from employment.

As the demand for full legalization continues to spread across the country, please help your state maintain the integrity of its medical program. Medical marijuana is intended to help us with quality of life, not to make a huge profit from. Let those that are using it for recreation be the ones to pay taxes and bring in the revenue for your state.

Let’s keep this medicine affordable for those in need.  For those that do not need it for medical reasons, be glad you are able to use cannabis socially and not have to face issues like us!

Ellen Lenox Smith suffers from Ehlers Danlos syndrome and sarcoidosis.  Ellen and her husband Stuart are co-directors for medical marijuana advocacy for the U.S. Pain Foundation and serve as board members for the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition.

For more information about medical marijuana or to contact the Smith's, visit their website.

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 Pain News Network.