Journey of medical marijuana patients leads to product research in the state

Published: Jan. 30, 2023 at 10:07 PM CST
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FLOWOOD, Miss. (WLBT) - Medical marijuana is now available to qualifying patients, a journey that is long fought for advocates and those seeking relief that the product provides.

One Madison woman’s journey is now reduced from hours-long plane rides and hotel stays to a much shorter car ride to get the natural product that she says won’t do more damage to her body like some strong prescription medication.

“It’s returned to my lung now for the third time,” said Stephanie Gray.

She is battling Cholangiocarcinoma, a bile duct cancer. The Madison resident used to travel up to four times a year to Colorado in search of medical cannabis creams and patches to relieve her pain - but no longer.

“I don’t like the way opioids make me feel,” said Gray. “Obviously after the extensive surgeries that I’ve had, the liver resections and the two lung resections, they give you quite a bit of pain medicine opioids, and I don’t like how they make me feel.”

Gray and other patients are beginning the process of finding medical cannabis treatment in the state. At Pause Pain and Wellness, nurse practitioner Kelsey Reed walks them through the process.

“We verify that they actually do have a qualifying condition that was stated by the Department of Health,” said Reed. “They have better access to it and they know that what they’re consuming is safe. It’s tested and that’s the biggest plus to this program.”

These patients may also be a part of historical research. Mississippi Cannabis Patients Alliance Founder Angie Calhoun is now working with the University of Mississippi.

“As of this week, we are officially launching our research efforts and so the Releaf App will be able to track patient data and information on how their products are actually performing,” said Calhoun. “The University of Mississippi will actually analyze that data. So no longer will any entity be able to say, ‘Oh, well, there’s not enough research that’s been done on medical cannabis or it wasn’t properly analyzed.’”

Monday, Gray and her service dog Hope left her appointment to go fill her first prescription.

“Life changing for me,” said Gray. “We don’t have to go out of state to travel for relief.”

Details of the collaborative agreement with the University of Mississippi National Center for Cannabis Research and Education and the Releaf App will be announced Wednesday.

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