Equal Access to Medical Marijuana for the ID/DD Community Living In Residential Settings
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To Whom it May Concern:
To all Advocates of People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.
To all Supporters of Human Rights.
Every Adult has the right to make choices for themselves and the right to fair treatment that is protected by the Law. Every person knows someone with disabilities who has these same rights and protections. At this time, people with developmental and intellectual disabilities who live in Residential Certified Settings are not being afforded fair and equal access to the legal use of Medical Marijuana in the State of New York. An example of this includes an individual living in a Residential Group Home on Long Island suffering from aggressive and intrusive Seizure Disorder. Despite having an active Medical Marijuana Prescription from his Neurologist with the full support of his Treatment Team and Family he has been unable to begin his regimen due to current State and Federal regulations. Situations such as this are not isolated incidents and these citizens require a voice and the help of Families, Healthcare workers and others in order to be heard.
Currently, Medical Marijuana is legal in NYS yet still classified as a Schedule 1 Drug. According to the DEA, however, it “has no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse” despite being prescribed currently for a large variety of “severe, debilitating and life threatening” conditions such as ALS, epilepsy, AIDs, Parkinson’s Disease and PTSD. While there is a larger fight to be had at the Federal Level regarding current Federal and State Discrepancies in the use of Medical marijuana, the current problem being faced by men and women with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities living in certified settings is one of a human rights issue of fair and equal access to medical treatment. While people who live in the community, whether or not they have ID/DD and are able to get a prescription and access to a Dispensary, people who live in Residential Settings are being told it is illegal to both take and store the prescribed medication in their homes. The reason for this is twofold. First, Certified Settings are being told they cannot store Medical Marijuana on the premises by their governing body the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) due to its classification as a Schedule 1 Drug. Secondly, all individuals living in a certified residential setting are under the care of a Licensed Nurse as well as trained Staff that can dispense medication under said nurse’s license. As of yet, nurses cannot administer schedule 1 drugs under their license due to its classification as a drug without currently accepted medical use.
The focus here is not on the Federal versus State law but on the discrimination being acted against people who live in Residential Settings. Where these patients reside is truly the only barrier stopping them from receiving what their Doctors feel is effective, worthwhile treatment. This failure in equal treatment is in direct opposition to OPWDD’s current mission statement: “We help people with developmental disabilities live richer lives.” This represents a failure on the part of all people who consider themselves advocates on the part of people with developmental and intellectual disabilities be they family members, healthcare workers or anyone suffering from any of the current Qualifying and Complicating conditions which is an ever expanding list at this time.
This fight can only be won by coming together as a community and raising awareness about this medical injustice. A large group of the population is being mistreated and not able to live their best lives based only on a legal technicality. Be it advocates of people with developmental and intellectual disabilities or the people with the capacity themselves, a strong unified voice must be heard by OPWDD and the State legislation that a solution to this problem must be found. While this is a complicated issue the one thing that cannot be forgotten is that we all need to be afforded equal opportunity to receive medical care. Patients’ access to medication is being blocked, and quality of life is being compromised. I encourage each of you to sign the following petition directed at OPWDD and State Legislatures asking for a solution to this human rights issue.
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