Getting Pain Added to Minnesota Medical Bill Given on September 25th, 2015

Good Afternoon . My name is Jennessa Lea and I am a resident of Saint Paul Minnesota. I am a 28 year old single mother who suffers with intractable pain and muscle spasms due to an illness called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and Cryoglubinemia. . Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is a collagen disorder that affect connective tissues. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body and is the substance that holds the whole body together. It is found in the bones, muscles, skin and tendons, where it forms a scaffold to provide strength and structure. When you have a defect in your collagen you are prone to "loose joints", dislocation, chronic pain, early-onset arthritis and overall degeneration of your body. This causes a great deal of pain as you can imagine.

To help manage my pain and better my quality of life I use cannabis. Cannabis is the only safe and effective alternative to opiates for myself and many people who have pain. It is also a great alternative to opiates without the side effects such as nausea, sedation, constipation, dependency and death. People are dying from narcotic overdoses at alarming rates. 1.9 million Americans live with prescription opioid abuse or dependency while 517,000 thousand Americans live with heroin addiction. Opioid addiction occurs in every state, county, socio-economic and ethnic group. So this does affect everyone. Also, from 2001 to 2013 there has been a 3-fold increase in the total number of opiate related deaths, and a 5 fold increase of heroin related deaths according to the CDC. It’s clear that there is a NEED for a safe alternative. That being cannabis. In the 13 states that passes the laws allowing for the use of medical cannabis between 1999 & 2010 25% fewer people died from opioid overdose annually.

This matter is personal as I was prescribed very high dose narcotics at 21 for the severe and persistent pain EDS was causing me.  Soon after i started taking them I needed more to achieve the desired effects. Pretty soon I was completely dependent on narcotics and became a person who I didn't know. I was lethargic, unable to focus, impatient, depressed, and had no interest in daily life. Let me remind you I am also a single mother, so my mental health and wellbeing have a great deal to do with my daughters quality of life as well. This meant finding an alternative to this dependency became priority. Today I am speaking to you in a much better place and that is because of cannabis.  I know many people who would love to try medical cannabis as an alternative to opiates for pain, but still can’t because of the law. When cannabis is being used as a number one pain medication in other states, it is only logically, when looking at the statistics, that this is in Minnesota’s best interest as well. I ask you to please add chronic pain to the list of qualifying condition in Minnesota so that more people can have legal access to this safe and healing medication.

I would also like to touch on the cost of the Minnesota Medical Program. I am currently a card holder and even though it is legal for me to obtain medicine, I cannot afford it. Please consider adding a price ceiling to the program so that more people can purchase this life changing and often life saving medicine because disability does not discriminate.


Thank you for your time.

Jennessa Lea