It has been quite a ride for cannabis over the past few weeks here in the Northeast!
Most of the talk has surrounded legalizing marijuana for adult use:
· Massachusetts is gearing up to start legally selling Marijuana to adults July 1st.
· Vermont legalized grow rights for its residents, but not retail sales.
· Maine has approved legalized sale of Marijuana for adult use but has hit a few road blocks between the legislature and the Governor.
· New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has expanded their Medical Marijuana program significantly and is saying that he wants to legalize sale for adult use.
· New York State’s Governor Cuomo just said yesterday that he is setting up a commission to look at the potential effects of legalization in NY State (this is a complete turnaround from his previous position).
· Connecticut has a bit harder path than other states because everything has to go through the state legislature. Last week was a massive win for proponents of legalized adult use! The Appropriations Committee passed HB5394 out of Committee to the General Assembly by a vote of 27-24. This came against strong opposition! This is the first time (in numerous attempts) that a bill has made it out of Committee. This was the result of grassroots efforts by some local activists, citizens, patients and some of the medical community educating our legislators!
I think this is a great thing and I have been trying to do my part. I believe that if people have access to marijuana in a legal, regulated, and safer system than currently available to responsible adults, that is a good thing! I believe that there are benefits to marijuana that we have not even realized yet! If the state and its residents can benefit from the tax revenue, that is a great thing as well!
So… What worries me?!?!
I do not want to see the medical benefits and healing properties of cannabis be forgotten! It is easy with all the media attention, and social acceptance for Medical Marijuana to get lost in the fights for adult use.
I have been lucky enough to witness first-hand the many MEDICAL benefits of cannabis! I have been able to guide patients through the “scary and intimidating” landscape of cannabis. Especially in a state like Connecticut where they require the producers to use made up names for the products. This makes it very difficult for patients to know what each specific strain is, and what effects it might cause.
The problem I see is that patients are being told of the benefits of cannabis. These patients then typically have trouble finding more information on its benefits and risks. This is where it is VITAL that there are medical professionals available to discuss their options with them.
With legalization I believe that the patients who are just curious, are being coaxed by a family member or friend, are less likely to walk into a dispensary not knowing what is on the other side of that door. Or what kind of guidance they will be receiving. It is the success stories of those skeptical patients that are now benefiting from cannabis who will make many more patients, like them, take that leap of faith as well.
We need to make sure that whatever direction this industry takes we do no lose these patients. I believe that they can get some of the biggest benefit from the medication! Typically, these are the patients who don’t take their prescription medications as instructed because they are concerned with the side effects. When we inform the patients that they do not have to get high or even smoke anything, their ears (yes, their ears) open and they begin listening to what you are saying!
I beg that we just don’t all lose sight of these patients who have been neglected or lost through our current healthcare system and are just looking to improve their quality of life! Let’s help them do so!