Forum: Medical marijuana
June 6, 2013 8:58PM
Updated: July 8, 2013 6:42AM
On behalf of many Illinoisans suffering from terminal illness, debilitating medical conditions and incapacitating pain, I ask Gov. Quinn to sign the medical marijuana law.
I’m a disabled veteran of the U.S. Army. My multiple sclerosis dictates that I’m wheelchair-bound for the remainder of my life. My symptoms include severe muscle spasms, fatigue and prolonged bouts of extreme pain.
Despite taking 59 pills a day, no amount of medication helped. But marijuana reduced my medication intake to 25 pills a day while enabling me to separate my arms and legs, undergo physical therapy and, most importantly, get out of bed and enjoy my life.
Unlike many harmful prescription drugs, marijuana is natural and non-addictive. With strong safeguards to restrict access, the new Illinois law prevents medical marijuana from recreational and illicit use and ensures that only qualified patients can obtain it.
Some believe legalizing medical marijuana sends the wrong message to our young people. But my wife and I raised two boys as successful adults who value compassion for those who are sick. They now spend quality time with their father instead of watching me suffer.
Signing the bill would serve as a godsend to patients like myself and many others who desperately need it to become law.
Encouraged by bill’s progress
State legislators deserve great credit for taking on an important mental health issue in the just completed spring session. While our bill, licensing specially trained psychologists to prescribe medications for mental disorders, passed out of the Senate, it did not advance through the House.
We have many reasons, however, to be encouraged by the significant gains made. Senate Bill 2187 provides a strong framework to ensure that well-trained psychologists can prescribe to patients with mental illness. The needs of those with mental health challenges are growing, and Illinois’ current network of mental health prescribing providers is overwhelmed.
The Senate saw through the hyperbole of critics and voted 37-10. We had made significant progress in the House but ran out of time before we could move forward with a vote there.
We are very much heartened that growing numbers of legislators see that the advanced medical training of prescribing psychologists prepares them to prescribe for patients who desperately need care. At the same time, this expertise allows them to take patients off medication when therapeutic strategies have proven to be more effective.
As we have consistently said, psychologists are neither interested in a turf war nor in fighting with other health providers. We look forward to continuing to advocate for a real answer for our mental health crisis in Illinois.
Beth Rom-Rymer, Ph.D.
Patricia Farrell, Ph.D.
Illinois Psychological Association