COLLINSVILLE, Ill. - For the first time ever people will be able to buy medical marijuana in Missouri. Amendment 2 passed which puts a 4 percent sales tax on medical pot sales.
It’s something that’s been legal in Illinois for almost four years. Many state leaders, in Illinois, said the pilot program could be helping people get off pain killers.
One of those patients benefiting from medical marijuana is Michelle Lazor. She was born with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. It’s a disorder that attacks tissues, bones, blood vessels and many organs. It can cause debilitating pain.
“It’s like having searing hot wires rubbed over all of your tendons,” said Lazor.
She said the pain was so unbearable, she couldn't’t even grocery shop for herself.
“I was barely existing. I didn't’t have much of a life,” she said.
Since it’s not a visible disorder, she said doctors weren't’t able to diagnose her until she was 19. She was then prescribed multiple painkillers to cope.
“I was on over 50 pills a day. I was like a zombie,” said Lazor.
Eventually she became hooked. That all changed when she was able to get medical marijuana and stop depending on painkillers. Opioid overdoses are the leading cause of death for people under 50. In Illinois, it’s an epidemic. That’s why lawmakers voted to allow people, like Lazor, to substitute medical cannabis for addictive pills.
Scott Abbott, the Chief operating Officer of HCI Alternatives, said “There is no addiction. You can develop some tolerances to cannabis but if you take a 14-day break all of those receptors go back to zero.”
Critics worry more needs to be done to study the long-term effects of using pot.
For Michelle, though, she said it’s been life changing.
“I’m working, I’m getting out of the house. I’m doing things I never thought I’d be able to do. I’m healthier, happier, and stronger than I’ve ever been,” said Lazor.