I’ve been toying with the idea of writing this post for a few months now and it finally feels like the right time. Over 6 months ago I decided to try medical marijuana to help with my pain. This was a choice that I was hesitant to make and honestly had pretty low expectations for what medical marijuana would actually help with. I’ve seen so many bogus articles online claiming that marijuana cures every ailment out there and I know that isn’t true.
A little background on me is that I suffer from multiple chronic illnesses, some being Mitochondrial Disease, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and Small Fiber and Motor Neurophathies. Pain has been a big part of my life for the last 10 years and I have had a hard time managing it. I am allergic to all opium derived pain medications, get GI bleeds from many others, and the rest are pretty much mito toxic. I have been taking Lyrica and Cymbalta daily for years trying to manage my pain but it’s not enough.
The reason I was hesitant to start medical marijuana is because I will no longer pass a drug test which will affect me in the future when I’m trying to gain employment. There are rules put in place to prevent discrimination but sadly they have not been effective. In the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act, rules for employers states "employers may not discriminate based on status as a medical marijuana patient” but federal law contradicts that statement. Marijuana still remains a schedule I controlled substance which means use is still illegal. If the work place is under the jurisdiction of federal drug-free mandates, you will have to pass a drug test to be employed there. If you were employed before you started medical marijuana and are drug tested now, if you do not pass the drug test, your employer is legally able to fire you. You would think that testing positive for marijuana would be ok since its doctor prescribed, but sadly that isn’t the case.
I didn’t know how much about the benefits of medical marijuana I read was credible and now I was risking my ability to gain employment on it. I finally jumped in and started medical marijuana and noticed the results immediately. I was shocked. Not only did it help tons with my pain, but it helped with so many other symptoms. I have less spasticity in my muscles, I don’t need to use a catheter as often, have less nausea, and am a lot less anxious. Medical marijuana has helped me tons and it’s ridiculous that it only became legal in Pennsylvania only a few months before I started using it. It’s even more ridiculous that it will affect my employment options.
There are different types of medical marijuana that I use containing different THC:CBD ratios. Different kinds are used for different symptoms and some types get me high while others don’t. The dispensary had a pharmacist sit down with me and decide which options were best for me the first time I went. The goal was to not have me high during the day and he succeeded.
I am so glad that I gave medical marijuana a try. Although it’s not a cure-all like some people claim, it’s definitely a great medication. Here I am telling you that it’s not all hype. But the system is broken. Taking a doctor prescribed medication should never effect your employment and it’s heartbreaking to the disabled community that it does. Imagine there being a medication that could give you your life back and even help you become well enough to work, but now you can’t get a good job because of your medical marijuana status.
Because of federal law at this moment in time, I won’t be able to be a behavioral therapist, the career that I want. But the goal is still to get that degree and become one. My options for employment are extremely limited because of my disease and I’ve already had to compromise my dreams countless times. I finally found something that I am able to do and want to do but the law won’t let me. The law needs to be changed and I hope that it is by the time I get a college degree because I’m done compromising my dreams. I deserve to have a career that helps people and makes me happy and it would be devastating if medical marijuana took that away from me.