Illinois doctors: why do you prescribe opiates like candy but you refuse to recommend medical marijuana?

MCPP has started and Illinois patients are finding relief with cannabis

MCPP has started and Illinois patients are finding relief with cannabis

The question I get asked the most these days in my capacity as an “expert” on the Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program (MCPP) is “do you know a doctor who is willing to recommend cannabis?” Sadly, my answer is “no” and now I find myself in a similar position where I need to find a doctor who is willing to recommend…not prescribe, that word is verbotten…cannabis use. The doctors are simply saying that they think their patients may benefit from cannabis use. Why has this turned into something so terrifying for doctors? Nobody is asking the doctors to use cannabis. We are just asking them to allow their patients to use it. Baffling, bewildering and perplexing, to say the least.

To those of you who know about the MCPP, the initial program finally got underway last November 9, almost 2 years late. Patients with at least one of 39 qualifying conditions were able to apply for cards which gave them access to dispensaries which sell the medicine. This leaves millions of people in Illinois who are forced to continue using the black market, turning them into criminals, when all they want is to have access to legal, safe medicine. Twice a year, patients are eligible to propose new qualifying conditions for consideration. Last September, after waiting more than 6 months for an answer, Governor Rauner denied all 11 proposed conditions up for review. This included PTSD, which actually got turned down twice by Governor Rauner, once as part of the 11 conditions and a second time in a separate bill which would have given veterans with PTSD access to the only medicine that treats the condition without adverse side effects. Here’s the link.

Cannabis is the most effective treatment for PTSD

Cannabis is the most effective treatment for PTSD

As you can well imagine, those Illinoisans who fell under the umbrella of the 11 conditions were extremely angry and a lawsuit by a prospective patient with PTSD has been filed against the state. Some of the other conditions that didn’t make the cut included Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Osteoarthritis, Migraines, Anorexia and Chronic Post-Operative Pain which would have given millions of Illinoisans access to medical cannabis and added many more patients to the program. At this writing, there are only 3,600 registered patients; cultivators and dispensary owners were hoping for 100,000 patients by now.

Because I am such a passionate advocate of the herb, people assume that I am a patient. I do not qualify for a card because I do not have one of the 39 qualifying conditions. I do have anxiety disorder and was planning to propose anxiety as a new qualifying condition in the next proposed round of petitions which closes January 31, 2016. I thought I already had my “ducks in a row” when I asked my Nurse Practitioner (NP) if she was willing to recommend it for me. She is the only member of a large medical practice who is not an MD and so she is not allowed to recommend cannabis. She did tell me that one of the MDs was a big advocate, so I thought I would have no problem. I like the idea of seeing a NP for wellness care as she spends a lot of time with me plus she was the only practitioner who was available in less than 3 weeks when I made my first appointment.

I was very disappointed, but not at all surprised when she told me that the head of the practice refused to sign. His response was that I should have my pain management doctor sign. I don’t have a pain management doctor. And to make matters even more complicated, I have Medicaid. It is difficult enough to find a practice that accepts Medicaid. Expecting to find one that also advocates for cannabis is slim to none.

Illinois Medical Cannabis Community is a great resource

Illinois Medical Cannabis Community is a great resource

This morning, I happened to see a post on the Facebook group, Illinois Medical Cannabis Community, of which I am a member. This group is comprised of cultivators, dispensary owners, patients, prospective patients and advocates. It is a fantastic resource for those who are just starting the process of applying for a card. One of the members had listed a link to “Illinois medical marijuana doctors.” I figured I would take a look. There were 5 listings; 3 of the doctors charged $200 just to walk in the door and did not accept insurance. The last 2 listings were for a doctor who is being investigated for wrong doing re: Illinois medical marijuana laws. Sigh…

Doctors of Illinois: I implore you to educate yourselves about the myriad of medicinal benefits of cannabis with no adverse side effects. There is something called the Endocannaboid System. Learn about it. I wrote a post about it. It is fascinating, to say the least. Cannabis heals. The program is underway and thousands of people are finding relief with cannabis. Crime has not increased and patients are not selling it to children in neighborhood parks. The sky is not falling. Prescription medications, particularly opiates, are currently in the news because THEY KILL PEOPLE without providing much, if any benefit. What happened to your Hippocratic Oath of “Do No Harm?” You KNOW the drugs you prescribe kill people and yet not one person has died from cannabis use? Please explain to me why you will prescribe painKILLERS, but not cannabis.

I would love to hear your comments. Would you try cannabis instead of using prescription medications to manage your conditions/illnesses?

I’ve written a series of posts about medical marijuana. If you want to read more you can click on the “Medical Marijuana” tag at the top of my page.

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