An open letter to Governor Tom Wolf, Senator Jay Costa, and Representative Ed Gainey on the legalization of medicinal marijuana in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
It is a sad time to live in this country when people feel the need to uproot their entire lives and move to another state in order to get the medical treatment they require. Sadder still is when it’s political discord rather than availability that is keeping people from receiving adequate medical attention.
The conversation about medical marijuana is always a tricky one, both because of the social stigma that needs to be overcome, and the fear advocates have that not only will we be denied such a beneficial medication, but that we may be deprived of some of the existing medications we currently legally take. With that in mind I tread these waters lightly, but with the firm conviction that it is the right of every person who is in pain to receive the help they need, regardless of political pressures or social sensitivities.
I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2001, three months before my 20th birthday. In the 13+ years since then, I have also been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and, following the shooting at my workplace in 2012, I suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Every day I take ten different medications to help with painful spasms, tremors, depression, and a host of other symptoms, plus vitamins and minerals to compensate for what these medications deprive my body of such as iron and vitamin D. I am not on medications for fatigue, sensation loss, or muscle weakness because my doctors have decided I’m on so many medications it would be dangerous to add on more. As is, my pain and tremors are not fully controlled by the medications I take, but to increase dosages of medications I already take would be dangerous and, as I previously mentioned, it’s not terribly safe to put me on more.
A typical week’s worth of medications. Each container holds one day’s meds.
When I have access to marijuana, my pain goes away far better and faster than when I take my regular medications. When I have access to marijuana, my vertigo is tolerable. When I have access to marijuana, my tremors lessen and spasms die down. When I have access to marijuana, my anxiety disappears and my depression is easier to handle and I sleep through the night and don’t have nightmares of gunshots.
As of publication there are 23 states who allow patients to use medical cannabis to ease the pain and suffering of people with multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, glaucoma, muscular dystrophy, terminal cancer, and other debilitating medical conditions. Why have we not yet started treating our citizens with the same respect and access to healthcare that other states provide theirs?
Governor Wolf, Senator Costa, and Representative Gainey, I ask you, please make this a discussion about patient care, not about politics. There are thousands of people suffering every day who could be helped by access to medicinal marijuana, and with modern medical advances prolonging the lives of people with severe medical conditions, there will be more and more people in need of effective treatment every year. Legalize medicinal cannabis to help us live through our pain rather than despite it. Please. You can be the heroes of thousands of patients, but nothing can happen until the laws are changed, and it’s in your power to start that change.
Thank you for your consideration,