Relief for chronic pain: Family looks to medical marijuana - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Relief for chronic pain: Family looks to medical marijuana

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Patients who suffer from chronic pain are looking to legislation that would authorize the use of medical marijuana in the state. One eastern Iowa family says they have explored countless treatments and options to take the edge off their daughters chronic pain, and are now looking at exploring one more possibility. 

11-year-old Megan Bass suffers from Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), a chronic pain condition that sits at the top of the pain index, even trumping childbirth. CRPS is characterized as a pain condition that most often affects one limb (arm, leg, hand, or foot) usually after an injury. CRPS is believed to be caused by a malfunction of the peripheral and central nervous systems. 

Shannon Bass, Megan's mother, says Megan started having pain in her foot after Thanksgiving. 

"She just kind of complained that it hurt," said Bass. "We didn't see anything wrong and she didn't remember anything happen, and within a few days her foot was swollen terribly."

"We went to Urgent Care, the E.R....they really didn't know what was going on, because nothing happened to her," said Bass. "They discharged us, and it wasn't going away, it was actually getting worse."

After a visit to the Pediatric rheumatologist in Iowa City, Megan was diagnosed with CRPS. 

Megan describes the intense pain that happens during her flare-ups. 

"Lit on fire or being cut open and putting salt and vinegar in it," said Megan. "It just burns really bad and feels like stabbing. I can tell when it's about to happen, I get about a minute warning. My leg will start feeling numb sort of and it's a tingling feeling and I just go get all my stuff to help it."

Megan says the overwhelming pain comes and goes at random moments. 

"All of a sudden she'll (Megan) be running around and the next day she's on crunches and in a wheelchair and she can't move," said Bass. 

From physical therapy, water therapy, chiropractic neurologist, changing her diet, and even traveling to other states to see doctors, the Bass family says it's been a roller coaster of trial and error. Between paying bills from seven different doctors and trying to eat clean, Bass says it's been financially straining for their family. 

"You know as a mom, I've read everything," said Bass. "Not everything is going to work the same for everybody, but a lot of the treatments that people say are working are not approved by insurance and so we're paying out of pocket for these things that could help, but insurance won't cover it, because it's experimental, or alternative, even though it's helping some people-so that's very frustrating."

Looking for any relief for their daughter, Bass says medical marijuana is something they've considered.

"The cannabis oil, it's something that can help chronic pain," said Bass. "There's so many people with chronic pain in some form or another- we're fighting that battle here in Iowa."

Senate Study Bill 1190, labeled "The Compassionate Use of Cannabis Act," was approved Wednesday out of a Senate appropriations committee. 

Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, said the bill is expected to come to the Senate floor as early as next Monday. 

The legislation would allow patients with a wide range of medical conditions, from cancer to chronic pain,  to obtain a medical cannabis registration card after receiving written approval from a doctor. The card would enable a patient to obtain medical marijuana from a dispensary located in Iowa. It would legalize the production and distribution of medical marijuana in Iowa and would legally reclassify marijuana under state law.

"My sense is that the Iowa Senate will approve this comprehensive bill in a bipartisan way," said Bolkcom. "The challenge will be the House where it has stalled the past three years."

If the bill is approved by the full Senate, it would move to the House for consideration.

"The house has been working with us to find some language where we can come together on a bill that both the House and Senate can agree on, and the Gov.'s office will sign," said Sen. Charles Schneider, R-West Des Moines. 

Iowa legalized the use of cannabis oil for certain epilepsy patients in 2014, but that legalization is set to expire this summer. This bill would expand the use for patients looking for relief. 

Opponents of the medical marijuana expansion say it would create a gateway for abusing drugs. 

"It's kind of hard with people at school, they don't understand how roller coaster like it is," said Megan. "They see me in a wheelchair one day and running around the next."

The pain has kept Megan from going to school full time as well. 

The Bass family says they're hopeful they can explore another option of treatment to relieve their daughter's pain. 

"It's torture, watching her be in pain and not be able to take it away is very hard," said Bass. 

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