Written by West Chester University SSDP Alum Genevieve Wiley
SSDP is hosting a Pennsylvania Lobby Day for Medical Marijuana this Friday, February 20th at the state capitol building in Harrisburg. Senators Daylin Leach (D-17) and Mike Folmer (R-48) have officially re-introduced SB 3, a largely unchanged version of the medical marijuana bill (SB 1182) that passed the senate at the end of 2014, and it seems that support for the bill is growing. Now, it is time for SSDPers in Pennsylvania to come together and persuade our lawmakers in Harrisburg to make the right choice. I have been an SSDPer since my first semester at West Chester University in Fall 2010, and I remain a dedicated alumni, but this Lobby Day I won’t be joining you in Harrisburg. This Lobby Day, I need you to advocate for me.
At the beginning of my senior year as a political science student at West Chester University, I fell abnormally ill. I was an active member of my campus community, being both a leader of our SSDP chapter and an athlete on our D1 women’s rugby team, but in just a few short months that drastically changed. After my physicians recommended that I take medical leave from school due to the severity of my condition, I was able to condense my credits and graduate in December 2013. My post-graduation vision of pursuing a masters degree and landing a new job faded quickly, and I moved back into my parents home to receive further medical care. Two years later, I remain fatigued, in pain, and undiagnosed.
Since the onset of my symptoms, which at first closely mimicked that of Lyme Disease, my body has been subject to a wide range of pharmaceutical drugs, from oral chemotherapy to medication used for malaria. There are days when I have had to take as many as thirty pills, and I still do not feel relief. Just one month ago, I was hospitalized due to a neurological reaction to these medications. I was admitted while experiencing tachycardia, catatonic episodes, and extreme dizziness. In the hospital, I was pulled from nearly all of my prescriptions, and given anti-seizure medication. I feel blessed to report that there was no long term damage from this terrifying reaction, but horrified that the medicine I was taking to help my condition had made me worse. At the end of my hospital stay, my managing physician stated, “It’s a scary thing. We doctors can be really good at poisoning people.”
The poisons I had been prescribed often alleviate autoimmune conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Sjögren’s Syndrome, and Lupus, as well as other multiple connective tissue disorders that can be genetic, like Ehlers-Dalos Syndrome. Both autoimmune and genetic tissue disorders are difficult to diagnose because of their wide variety of overlapping symptoms like muscle/joint pain, peripheral neuropathy, chronic fatigue, and chronic migraines. Healthcare organizations such as the American College of Physicians, the American Public Health Association, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society have endorsed the use of medicinal cannabis for chronic patients experiencing similar symptoms. Scientific research proves that the neurological reaction I had to my medication could have been both avoided and treated with the use of medicinal cannabis, a singular and natural substance.
When discussing treatment options with my healthcare providers, I want medicinal marijuana to be a viable alternative to the chemical compounds that are being prescribed to me.
I’m too sick to be in Harrisburg on Friday, February 20th to have my voice heard, and so are hundreds of other chronic patients around Pennsylvania. We need SSDPers to urge lawmakers in Harrisburg to support SB 3, and make medical cannabis available for patients who are experiencing complications if their healthcare provider sees fit. Please, be my advocate!