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New York, NY

Wanda Hernandez is a mother, grandmother, and life-long New York resident who was diagnosed with HIV almost two decades ago in 1995. Soon after her diagnosis, she began to struggle with severe chronic pain.

Wanda recalls, “After I was first diagnosed, I was taking 18 pills every day to manage my HIV. I’m lucky that I now take fewer pills, but they are still very toxic.” As a result of her medications, Wanda has constant battles with nausea and has trouble holding down food which is vital to her staying healthy. “When I can use marijuana it helps settle my stomach, and I feel comfortable enough to eat and take my medication. Nothing else I’ve tried works as well.”

The chronic pain that Wanda suffers from is also a major factor in her life. “When it’s bad, I can’t get out of bed; I can’t focus and do basic chores. I’m on four different types of pain medication, and I get cortisone shots as much as I can, but I can’t get them too often because they’re bad for my immune system,” she explains. “I’m tired of feeling like a criminal just because I’ve found something that helps me deal with the symptoms of the severe chronic illnesses that I’m dealing with.”

Wanda is forced to choose between breaking the law and getting the relief she needs from medical marijuana. This is choice that no one should have to make.