UPTOWN — Before she began smoking marijuana, Caprice Sweatt was taking 18 prescription pills a day to treat her Crohn's disease, she said.
Now, a medical marijuana patient in Colorado, Sweatt said she's found a better way to treat the disease she's had since she was 22 without all the pills.
"When I was a young mother, I was absolutely debilitated by my condition," Sweatt told reporters at the ribbon cutting for Dispensary 33, which is not selling medical marijuana yet but hopes to be Chicago's first dispensary to do so. "I was unable to be an actual mother to my children, so I stopped taking all the prescription medications and I went on medical cannabis. At the time, we didn’t know it was medical cannabis but someone said try cannabis."
Since then, she's stopped taking all pills and has become "a walking spokesman" for the medical marijuana industry by helping hundreds of patients sign up as the CEO of Medical Cannabis Outreach. She was just one of the speakers who had a story to tell about medical cannabis Monday at the dispensary, 5001 N. Clark St., whose official opening date will be set by the state.
Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th), who has been vocal on his support of the dispensary, said a friend who recently died could've benefited from the medical marijuana.
"This couple ended up having to go to Michigan to try to find workarounds and, in fact, feel like they were criminals when they were just trying to manage pain at the end of her life," said Pawar thanking legislators "for leading on this issue and breaking down to socially constructed views."
"I think it’s time we moved past [those views] and also understand that they’re a lot of people who desperately need medical cannabis as a way to manage pain, as a way to manage issues when they’re dealing with a terminal illness," he said.
Sen. Heather Steans has family members suffering from multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's disease, but remembered the story of a mom traveling to Colorado for medical marijuana to treat her son's epilepsy because it "was the best treatment" to tout why Monday was a victory for legislators and the community.
"I think it was a long time coming," Steans said. "It was years of debate around getting this bill passed, which I think is very straightforward and humane. We have certainly one of, I think, the most restricted medical cannabis bills of any of the states, [but] I think many many people are going to benefit from it."
While the stories of struggle from all over Illinois were telling Paul Lee, the agent in charge of Dispensary 33, said he experienced an even more eye-opening experience as the community and possible future patients flocked in and out of the dispensary during an open house this past weekend.
"It wasn’t until this last weekend, when we got to literally meet hundreds of people either from this community — who give their full support — or patients that come here and [told] us exactly what they need from Dispensary 33, that I realized it’s them that focuses us in terms of driving our research and every act that we do here in terms of helping them out, he said.
For a look inside the dispensary click here.
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