Twelve years ago, Desiree Ivey was a 16-year-old high-schooler when she was first diagnosed with lupus nephritis. By the time she was 24, she was constantly fighting fatigue as she treated her painful advanced condition with various forms of medications, including — but not limited to — steroids, opioid prescriptions and anti-inflammatory drugs.

Then, she discovered an alternative pain relief medication that drastically reduce her reliance on mainstream prescription drugs.

Surprised, she went on a journey to learn all that she could about about the miracle drug, but instead found a handful of books and documentaries. While she had found a way to overcome the daily obstacle of pain, she also uncovered the stigma of cannabis as a therapy option

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Ivey’s experience was not unique, but her next move was: she created Medicinally Jointed, a multi-use, alternative health-care center that focuses on the promotion of healing through natural alternatives.

According to Ivey, these holistic remedies can provide a huge assist to minority communities that are overcome with various illnesses and addictions, especially opiod addiction.

“(Lupus) was taking a toll on my body with inflammation a lot in my joints and my ankles,” recalled Ivey, 28. “I found this plant when I was on the West Coast, and so when it came to Philly I was happy that they’re bringing the program here. So I felt like, you know what I need people like myself to know about this plant and how it’s helped me tremendously.”

Plans to fully legalize marijuana are moving ahead with Pennsylvania lawmakers. In a joint statement, Sens. Daylin Leach and Sharif Street in March announced plans to “introduce legislation to end our Commonwealth’s prohibition of cannabis, rectify the destruction caused by prohibition, and regulate an adult-use market.”

Legislators are also keeping an eye on neighboring states New York and New Jersey, which will likely legalization cannabis in coming months.

“An end to the prohibition of cannabis is overdue,” Street said. “It is time for us to join the emerging cannabis economy with the legalization of the Adult Use of Cannabis in PA, which should not be a crime when responsibly used by adults nor mandate medical oversight.”

Even Gov. Tom Wolf has shifted his opinion on ending its prohibition in the Keystone State.

“More and more states are successfully implementing marijuana legalization, and we need to keep learning from their efforts,” Wolf said on Twitter last December. “Any change would take legislation. But I think it is time for Pennsylvania to take a serious and honest look at recreational marijuana.”

Today, Ivey credits the use of physician-recommended cannabis for enabling her to become a mother of two sons, a 2-year-old and a 2-month-old, who coos as she discusses how she beat the odds.

“I mean, I was a patient that was told, ‘you can’t have children,’” Ivey said. “So when I found cannabis and CBD, it was a game changer. I was able to walk on my feet for long periods of time. It helps with my inflammation, so I was able to wean my steroids down a little bit.

“I was able to have a child. And you know, I correlated that with really getting off of a lot of the (pharmaceuticals and prescription) drugs that I was on.”

A cannabis education event, “More Than Just Green:The Color of Cannabis” is being presented Saturday, April 6, by the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists at Quorum at the Science Center, 3675 Market St., Philadelphia, PA 19104. For more information, contact email (215) 893-5749

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