Posted byon June 28, 2023
As a co-director of Cannabis Advocacy for the US Pain Foundation and a medical cannabis patient living with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, I can’t imagine continuing the fight for my rights without the leadership and support of Americans for Safe Access.
While I didn’t realize it at the time, ASA’s work first impacted my life when I was confronted with the reality of facing a life with an incurable, painful, and progressive condition and not being able to metabolize typical medications to help with the pain. Thanks to the work ASA had done many years before, my doctor in RI encouraged me to give cannabis a try back in 2007.
I have to admit I was fearful to consider this option, thanks to society’s false rumors for cannabis, I assumed that this would mean a life of being “high,” feeling judgment from others, and situations where I would potentially be breaking the law. However, I was desperate and out of options, so I gave it a try.
To my amazement, after my first night using cannabis oil I woke up from a night of sleep so refreshing that it felt like magic. As I continued to educate myself about cannabis, I found that it could be a medicine that let me live my life on my terms. My husband and I felt compelled to share what we had learned and decided to use advocacy to help others get past unnecessary fear and judgment by becoming co-directors of Cannabis Advocacy for the U.S. Pain Foundation.
Our new positions gave us purpose and meaning and helped us transform the unexpected disruption of my illness into a positive new way of living and led us to engage with Americans for Safe Access. Through the years, ASA has helped guide us with accurate information, improved our speaking skills, given us the opportunity to share my story (including at a D.C. Press Conference), and offered us more opportunities to present with others across the county. Our connection to ASA has helped us convert my incurable medical condition into a meaningful life, by helping and educating others.
But unfortunately, even though I live in a state with a medical cannabis program, I, like so many patients, still struggle with the realities of being a second-class citizen. This impacts my ability to travel but most importantly it affects my decision of when to go to the hospital to seek needed treatments.
Our job is NOT yet done, so many have become complacent since the introduction of recreational legalization in many states. We need to make legislators aware of the hurdles patients still face and convince them that an adult-use bill will not solve these issues.
We need to reach that finish line ASA has spent years working towards, and create the safe access for all that patients deserve. We need ASA and ASA needs resources to make sure that they are able to capitalize on every advocacy opportunity. Raising funds for ASA has been a serious challenge since many private donors who have previously supported cannabis reform now expect businesses who serve patients to fund the work, and those businesses feel like they can’t afford to compete in the market and support their customers.
Please join me and support ASA with any donation you are able to make and let’s keep this movement alive – we are NOT DONE until everyone has access.
Ellen Lenox Smith
Co-Director for Cannabis Advocacy for the US Pain Foundation