(NATURAL SOCIETY) When we talk about the medicinal benefits of marijuana, those who disapprove of its use tend to roll their eyes. But the fact is, this powerful plant has numerous potential applications in healthcare and pain management in particular. A new study has once again demonstrated that the vilified plant can safely and effectively treat general pain along with the painful symptoms of neuropathy.
Neuropathy is damage to the nervous system – particularly the peripheral nervous system (not including the brain and spinal cord). It is characterized by pain and numbness especially in the hands and feet, and is often the result of diabetes. Neuropathy can also be caused by injuries, toxic exposure, infections, and more.
This latest study was conducted by researchers at the University of California Davis Medical Center and was published in The Journal of Pain. It was a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study that looked at the effectiveness of using vaporized, inhaled cannabis in 39 participants. These participants were experiencing neuropathic pain despite having tried traditional treatments (like opiate drugs). All participants continued to take their prescribed medications throughout the 4 week study period.
Researchers gave participants doses of cannabis with moderate THC levels (3.53 percent) or low THC levels (1.29 percent). (THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the plant’s primary psychoactive chemical). Some also received a placebo with no THC. They found both doses of cannabis to be effective in reducing pain significantly.
“Both the low and medium doses proved to be salutary analgesics for the heterogeneous collection of neuropathic pain conditions studied. Both active study medications provided statistically significant 30% reductions in pain intensity when compared to placebo,” stated the researchers.
This is far from the first study to illustrate the pain-relieving benefits of cannabis. In fact, cannabis (even in THC-free form, or free of psychoactive effects) has been identified as a powerful pain reliever in more than 80 peer-reviewed studies. Still, the herb is classified as dangerous by the U.S. government.
Why is marijuana still illegal? Opponents of medicinal marijuana (including the federal government) say the research isn’t enough. It isn’t clear what they would like to see in marijuana studies, but it’s beginning to look like they want the impossible. It seems they would rather Americans continue consuming addictive prescription pain medications than use a plant.
According to AlterNet, sales of opiate pain pills have tripled since 1999. Oxycodone (one of the more popular choices on the legal and illegal market) has increased from 8.3 tons in 1997 to a whopping 105 tons in 2011. Overdose deaths are similarly climbing as is the number of people addicted to these substances. To date, no one has died from a marijuana overdose.
(MARIJUANA.COM) So you live in a medical marijuana friendly state – wonderful.
You’ve got your valid doctor’s recommendation for pot, and are allowed to travel around in your car while in possession of your state approved medicine, outstanding.
Yet, if you happen to live in one of the medical marijuana states that share the southern border with Mexico, be cautious of traveling with your medical supplies…Or risk the wrath of a federal lashing.
While it’s true that New Mexico and Arizona’s voters have approved the consumption of medical weed for the sick that need it, the border patrol checkpoints in these two states are considered to be regulated by federal law. As such, they can do as they please (flushing your civil liberties down the drain) and enforcing their federal marijuana law.
The bottom line is, if you have cause to cross any border patrol checkpoint… Regardless of your medical standing, pot is still considered illegal by the federal government, and they have no fear of enforcing their ridiculous laws.
(MIAMI HERALD) As many as 7 in 10 Florida voters support a state constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana — more than enough to ensure passage and possibly affect the governor’s race — according to a new poll from a group trying to put the measure on the 2014 ballot. Medical pot’s sky-high approval cuts across party and demographic lines, with Republican support the lowest at a still-strong 56 percent, the poll conducted for People United for Medical Marijuana, or PUFMM, shows. The outsized support of Democrats and independents brings overall backing of the amendment to 70 percent; with only 24 percent opposed, according to the poll obtained by The Miami Herald. Regionally, voters from the Miami and Orlando areas want medical marijuana the most.
(CNN) A seven year-old girl with a rare form of cancer in Oregon uses medical marijuana as part of her treatment.
(Activist Post) Angel Raich has become somewhat famous for her courageous fight against the government of the United States which opposes allowing Raich access to her much-needed medication.
Back in 2004 and 2005 Raich brought her fight all the way to the United States Supreme Court where she argued for the right to use medical cannabis.
Unfortunately in 2005 the Supreme Court ruled that under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause, the United States Congress has the power to criminalize both the production and use of home-grown cannabis, even in states which have already legalized its use in medicinal applications.
Now Raich is facing an entirely new fight with the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center, a state-run institution in California, where medical marijuana is legal. Raich says that the UCSF Medical Center booted her out of their facility because of her medical marijuana use and even received some threats from hospital staff.
NBC Bay Area characterizes Raich as a “medical marijuana celebrity” and provides some quotes directly from Raich just moments after she said the hospital kicked her out.
“The pharmacist says ‘you’re not allowed to have [cannabis] in this hospital,’” Raich said. “’And if you’re gonna try to have [cannabis] in this hospital we’re going to call the Feds.’”
Raich reports that she originally checked into the medical facility to undergo tests on her brain which had been ordered by her doctor.
She is suffering from, and continues to battle, an inoperable brain tumor which results in chronic pain and seizures, and according to her, the prognosis is far from positive.
Raich said that she told a hospital employee, “’You’re basically saying if I stay it’s like giving me a death sentence ’cause I’d have to be without my [cannabis].’”
According to Raich, she had no choice but to leave the hospital even though it is legal for patients to get recommendations for medical marijuana from a qualified doctor in the state of California.
“I’m in a state university hospital in the state of California,” Raich rightly said. “I have the right to have the same medical care as any other patient does.”
In an official statement, the UCSF Medical Center claimed that since UCSF is a smoke-free campus, they do not allow the use of medical marijuana, even if it is vaporized.
This is quite laughable since a 2007 study by the University of California, San Francisco (that’s right, the same exact school) published in the Journal of the American Academy of Neurology found that “Using CO as an indicator, there was virtually no exposure to harmful combustion products using the vaporizing device. Since it replicates smoking’s efficiency at producing the desired THC effect using smaller amounts of the active ingredient as opposed to pill forms, this device has great potential for improving the therapeutic utility of THC.”
Apparently “virtually no exposure to harmful combustion products using the vaporizing device” actually means “particles … that are damaging to the lung.” How they drew that conclusion is anyone’s guess.
UCSF further claims, “Any particles from vapor and odor could have an impact on other patients and hospital employees,” even though this is contradicted by a study conducted by members of their own institution.
In reality, it is more likely that the exhaust from a passing car would have an impact on other patients and hospital employees.
The statement continues, “Under federal and state law, a physician is at legal risk related to any activity that could be construed as prescribing medical marijuana to a patient.”
This part is true; physicians indeed put themselves at risk when conducting “any activity that could be construed as prescribing medical marijuana to a patient,” however that was not what was happening at all, so it is wholly irrelevant.
The hospital has a valid argument based on the liability aspect of this situation, and if they would come right out and say that they did not want to put themselves at risk of legal action from the federal government or civil action of some kind, I would have a lot more respect for them. Instead, they chose to emphasize reasons which are wholly laughable.
During Raich’s interview with NBC Bay Area, they say that she appeared to have a seizure. Paramedics and the fire department were called to the scene, at which point Raich understandably refused to return to UCSF, instead going to St. Mary’s Hospital.
In a document filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California in 2002, Raich’s primary care physician Frank Henry Lucido, M.D. stated that Raich “presents a complex and complicated set of conditions. It is my opinion that Angel cannot be without cannabis as medicine because of the precipitous medical deterioration that would quickly develop.”
Dr. Lucido declared that “Angel will suffer imminent harm without access to cannabis.” This is likely due to Raich’s long list of quite serious medical conditions and the fact that, according to Dr. Lucido, “her body reacts with violent side effects to almost all pharmaceutical medications.”
He further explained that “Angel needs to medicate every two waking hours. If she misses a treatment, it could have dangerous repercussions for her health. She clearly loses weight, and would risk wasting syndrome and death, without cannabis. No one knows why she can’t hold onto her weight. Angel could become gravely ill if she loses too much more weight. Angel becomes debilitated from severe chronic pain. The pain is bad enough even with cannabis, but it flares up immediately and becomes unmanageable without cannabis.”
Dr. Lucido cites a total of six reasons why Raich needs access to cannabis, including its anti-tumor activity, the fact that it “works well for Angel in a way that no other medicine has or can be expected to” and the fact that “Angel has no reasonable legal alternative to cannabis for the effective treatment or alleviation of her medical conditions or symptoms associated with the medical conditions because she has tried essentially all other legal alternatives to cannabis and the alternatives have been ineffective or result in intolerable side effects.”
Apparently all of this wasn’t enough for the Supreme Court or UCSF which obviously does not care about the qualified professional medical opinion of a physician or the incomprehensible suffering Raich goes through every day.
Raich revealed on her website last year that she was dying from a condition known as radiation necrosis and expressed hope in the abilities of the doctors at UCSF Medical Center.
“Patient’s [sic] who get radiation necrosis do not survive, and there’s very little research,” Raich wrote. “I have a extremely [sic] complex medical condition and I can only hope the doctors at UCSF Medical Center can review my records and figure out what’s really happening inside my brain before I dye [sic] so I can at least have absolution at the end-of-life.”
This statement is especially troubling because she is obviously putting a considerable amount of faith in the abilities of doctors at UCSF Medical Center, the same place that showed her the door simply for using a medication that keeps her alive.
The federal government has been trampling all over state’s rights for some time now, especially when it comes to the issue of access to medical marijuana.
Unfortunately, it appears that UCSF Medical Center is joining the nonsensical opposition to medical marijuana, even going as far as to put out an official statement which is debunked by a study that was conducted by some of UCSF’s own doctors.
I cannot understand how anyone in the medical profession could so egregiously violate their Hippocratic Oath and plain common decency by treating a dying patient like this.
The treatment of Raich handed out by the UCSF Medical Center is nothing short of deplorable.
In the coming days I will attempt to get a statement from someone representing UCSF Medical Center addressing the fact that their statement makes claims which were contradicted by study conducted by some of their own doctors.
Hopefully I will get a response of some kind, but I’m not holding my breath just yet. It’s a lot easier to simply ignore challenges and facts rather than attempt to address them and likely fail to do so in the process, further delegitimizing the original claims.
The war on medical cannabis – which clearly has boundless medical applications – in the United States is a war on the health of Americans and it is a wholly corrupt practice.
This war, and the drug war in general, is a tremendous waste of non-existent taxpayer dollars and acts to tear apart families, fill prisons with non-violent offenders, and deny proper medical care to desperate patients like Raich all while empowering organized crime by promising massive profits for their activities.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the American government is actually directly involved in the illegal drug trade, or the wildly corrupt pharmaceutical industry and their completely compromised regulators who approve dangerous medications while cracking down on whistleblowers and making sure a natural, safe alternative stays illegal.
Drug Czar’s Office To NORML: ‘We Can’t Legalize Marijuana Because Some People Abuse Prescription Drugs!’ Wait, Huh?
(Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director )
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
What can I say? I’m flattered. David Mineta, deputy director for demand reduction in the Office of National Drug Control Policy, has taken time to publicly respond to little ol’ me. I wonder if they pronounce ‘Armentano’ phonetically at the Drug Czar’s office?
The back story: Last week NORML Board member Paul Kuhn and I published a guest commentary in Nashville’s largest daily newspaper, The Tennessean, opining in favor of H.R. 2306, the ‘Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011. Here’s an excerpt:
Marijuana legalization bill offers safer alternative
via The Tennessean
We know tobacco is the leading cause of death in America, contributing to 400,000 deaths each year. So it’s hardly any wonder the FDA will require the placement of prominent warning labels. Alcohol is the third-leading cause of death in America. The World Health Organization reported earlier this year that “alcohol causes nearly 4 percent of deaths worldwide, more than AIDS, tuberculosis or violence.”
… What about marijuana? With every other drug from Advil and alcohol to Zantac, a correct dose is effective, but too high a dose kills the patient. No dose of marijuana is capable of causing a fatal overdose.
… And unlike alcohol and tobacco, adverse effects of even heavy cannabis use are minimal. There is no epidemiological evidence in any country, after scores of studies and centuries of use by tens of millions of people, that marijuana smokers have a shorter life expectancy than non-smokers.
… They don’t become violent at sports events or beat their spouses and children. They don’t get heart disease, cancer, brain damage or any other deadly illness at a higher rate than those who abstain. In fact, a pair of studies conducted by Kaiser Permanente found that marijuana use, even long-term, was not associated with elevated levels of mortality or incidences of cancer, including types of cancers associated with tobacco smoking.
… America is on a path to allow adults to choose a safer alternative to tobacco and alcohol. And create more tax revenue and more jobs in Tennessee. And more freedom.
Apparently quite a few people read our editorial, including some folks at the Drug Czar’s office. And it must have gotten under their skin because today the White House responded with this.
Movement for legalized marijuana ignores dangers
via The Tennessean
Proponents of marijuana legalization often argue it will do everything from fixing our economy to ending violent crime (“Marijuana legalization bill offers safer alternative,” Tennessee Voices, Aug. 15). Yet, the science is clear: Marijuana use is not a benign drug and it is harmful to public health and safety.
… Would marijuana legalization make Tennessee healthier or safer? One needs to look no further than Tennessee’s current painful experience with prescription drug abuse. In Tennessee, prescription drugs are legal, regulated, and taxed — and yet rates of the abuse of pain relievers in the state exceed the national average by more than 10 percent.
Nationally, someone dies from an unintentional drug overdose — driven in large part by prescription drug abuse — on average every 19 minutes. What would America look like if we had just as many people using marijuana as we currently have smoking cigarettes, abusing alcohol, and abusing prescription drugs?
The classic ‘bait-and-switch’ goes on and on, but you get the idea. But I’m not sure the Drug Czar’s office does. After all, if their logic above had even a hint of consistency then they would be arguing for the criminal prohibition of cigarettes, alcohol, and prescription drugs. And lots of other things.
Yet when it comes to Americans’ use of substances like tobacco, booze, and prescription drugs — substances that pose far greater dangers to health than does cannabis — the White House recognizes that prohibition is not the answer: regulation and education are. So why does the Drug Czar’s office fail to apply this same common-sense principle to pot? Perhaps it has something to do with the federal requirement requiring the office to lie about legalization.
Finally, as to the specific question: ‘What would America look like if we had just as many people using marijuana as are presently using tobacco, alcohol, and prescription medications?’ Well, what does America look like today? After all, the federal government imposed criminal prohibition over 70 years ago; yet today that very same federal government admits that over one out of ten Americans admit to having using cannabis in the past year. Among those age 18 to 25, almost half admit to consuming cannabis recently!
The question isn’t ‘What if Americans consumed marijuana?’ The reality is that tens of millions of Americans have and do consume marijuana. Most do so privately and responsibly. Legalizing cannabis simply acknowledges this reality and seeks to regulate the behavior appropriately. In a free society, why would even consider doing differently?
(CANNABIS CULTURE) The U.S. attorney for Colorado warned state lawmakers Tuesday that pending legislation adjusting rules for medical marijuana would conflict with federal law and could lead to federal prosecutions.
U.S. Attorney John Walsh’s letter was sent to Colorado Attorney General John Suthers in response to his request for clarification on how federal treatment of medical marijuana use may conflict with pending legislation now under consideration in House Bill 1043.
“The Department of Justice remains firmly committed to enforcing the federal law and the Controlled Substances Act in all states,” Walsh wrote. “Thus, if the provisions of H.B. 1043 are enacted and become law, the Department will continue to carefully consider all appropriate civil and criminal legal remedies to prevent manufacture and distribution of marijuana and other associated violations.”
Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, a sponsor of the bill, said that in his mind the letter only further muddies the federal Department of Justice’s stance on medical marijuana rather than providing clarification.
“We have had mixed messages from the federal government on this,” Steadman said. “I think this casts a big shadow upon this industry in Colorado. It does cause some uncertainty and trepidation.”
Possession and sale of marijuana are illegal under federal law. But several states, including Colorado, allow the use of small amounts of marijuana for medical purposes.
Feds’ two key concerns
Colorado’s medical-marijuana industry has exploded in the past two years, partly because of the state constitutional amendment allowing marijuana for medical use, partly because of prior state court decisions allowing expanded use based on that amendment, and partly because of the Justice Department’s previous declaration that targeting medical marijuana usage in states where it was legal would be a low priority for federal agents.
As the number of marijuana dispensaries, and users, has surged across the state, the legislature has tried to provide some rules for the burgeoning industry.
The intent of the current bill, by Steadman and Rep. Tom Massey, R-Poncha Springs, was to close loopholes and fix portions of the state’s medical-marijuana laws.
But as it has moved through the committee process, it has drawn the concern of Suthers and others in law enforcement.
Suthers sent his own letter to members of the Colorado General Assembly on Tuesday, including Walsh’s guidance and similar letters sent by U.S. attorneys to stakeholders in other states.
The Walsh letter restates the federal position that the “Department of Justice will not focus its resources on seriously ill individuals who use marijuana as part of a medically recommended treatment regimen.”
But Walsh targets two portions of the proposed law — one that has been removed for now, and another that remains in the bill.
The first is an amendment to the bill that would have allowed the state to license a marijuana investment fund to help fund commercial marijuana operations, which struggle to get loans because of the nature of their business. It did not pass the House.
Walsh wrote that the Department of Justice would consider civil and criminal action for those who invest in or facilitate marijuana production.
But Steadman said he does not plan to reintroduce the notion of a state-authorized investment fund in the Senate.
Second, the bill as currently drafted would authorize state licensing of “medical-marijuana infused product” facilities with up to 500 marijuana plants, along with the possibility of granting waivers to license even larger facilities.
“The Department would consider civil actions and criminal prosecution regarding those who set up marijuana growing facilities and dispensaries, as well as property owners, as they will be acting in violation of federal law,” Walsh wrote.
“Know our limitations”
“I don’t know that this letter forces us to change the language in the bill,” Steadman said. “It may make it advisable for product manufacturers to never apply for such waivers.”
But Massey said it may be wise to simply restrict the number of plants a growing facility can have, without providing a waiver procedure that would allow such a facility to get bigger.
“I think by limiting the size to a degree, it is not a bill-killer,” Massey said.
“Prior to this, the federal government had been silent, which was even more confusing because we are trying to craft legislation on how the federal government would react,” he said. “The fact that we are getting feedback probably lets us know our limitations and boundaries, and that is a good thing.”
- Article from Denver Post.