At one point, Joy Grainge was so convinced she was going to die, she packed up her two sons and took them to Portugal to tour castles.
“I was 49 years old and sure I’d be dead within two years,” she said. “I’d always wanted to take them to Europe, so I did. We saw castle after castle after castle.”
Grainge, 53, of Homewood, who suffers from chronic severe pain, now relies on a few puffs of cannabis to get through her day.
“I don’t smoke very often,” she said. “You can vaporize it now so that you’re inhaling the heated vapors as opposed to inhaling the smoke. That’s a little better for your lungs. And I also use a topical oil that you can rub right on and it helps a lot on my muscles.”
How does she get the marijuana?
“Like everybody else. There’s a kid down the street who knows somebody,” she said.
The fact that she’s, in essence, a lawbreaker irritates her, but at the same time she finds herself an expert on the Illinois Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program, aimed at making medical marijuana legal and available to patients who need it across the state.
While the intricacies of that program are bandied about in the legislature, Grainge and others cope as best they can.
“I feel like a second-class citizen. And that’s how a lot of patients feel,” she said. “We want people to know we’re not second-class citizens. Patients are not criminals. We’re just normal people. This is a medicine that works for us with the fewest side effects possible.”
Grainge, who sees herself as “kind of the typical patient – middle-aged, involved in my church, involved in the school district,” recently began hosting monthly meetings for others interested in learning more about medical cannabis and its slow journey to legal availability in Illinois. The meetings are at her church, the Unitarian Universal Community Church in Park Forest.
The next meeting is at noon Sunday. On the agenda: legislation and policy, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, hemp seed nutrition and veterans’ issues.
Grainge also is involved with Americans for Safe Access, a national organization dedicated to ensuring safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic uses and research. On March 31, “Lobby Day,” she traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with legislators and push for expanded legislation.
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