Medical Cannabis Refugees

Americans in dire need of medical cannabis for themselves or their children are being forced to flee to states with humane laws providing access to their medicine. For many people and especially parents, access to medical marijuana is literally a matter of life and death.  marijuana and pillsMost US states still adhere to draconian laws regarding any possession of cannabis and afford medical users no protection. Parents face prosecution, even loss of possession of their children for trying to supply them natural compounds that can save their children’s lives from slow death by seizures, sometimes hundreds a day.

Ironically, the main compound sought by these parents is the CBD or cannabidiol. Unlike psychoactive cannabinoid THC, CBD provides no ‘high,’ the mental state seemingly so feared by nearly all researchers. Nevertheless, CBD is itself classified, as are all cannabinoids from marijuana, as a Schedule I drug, highly dangerous and without medical value. This for a compound with no psychoactivity, nor toxicity that may well turn out to be one of the most significant medicines ever discovered. This is your government on drugs.

Certainly to a growing group of parents and stricken children in states like Colorado, CBD is a momentous medical godsend. As reported by CNN’s Sanjay Gupta in his documentary Weed, CBD strains of medical marijuana provide blessed relief from childhood seizures and developmental problems caused by Severe Myoclonic Epilepsy of Infancy (SMEI), aka Dravet Syndrome. Where mixtures of powerful and dangerous pharmaceutical drugs of every type had failed to stop the seizures, and almost killed their small patients, CBD tinctures provided immediate relief.

Seeing such dramatic improvement for such a heart-breaking condition, parents of children with similar conditions across the country of course became excited about the possibility of providing their infants with relief. But because medical cannabis research has been blocked by the DEA and Schedule I status, these new high-CBD medicines are in short supply, available (and legal) pretty much only in Colorado.

The situation is leading to a medical cannabis refugee movement from states with harsh and cruel laws to states where voter’s have mandated legal exemption for medical use, like Colorado, Washington, Oregon and California. The first two states on this list also now allow personal use of cannabis, again voted in by the citizens of Colorado and Washington.

An excellent series in the Salt Lake Tribune documents this process of “Families migrating to Colorado for a medical marijuana miracle.” The article’s author, Kirsten Stewart interviews physician Dr. Margaret Gebbe, who calls the results of CBD in treating these epilepsy disorders as “absolutely remarkable.” Dr. Gebbe is also interviewed by Dr. Sanjay Gupta in his Weed documentary.

Sanjay Gupta reports on a similar movement on an international scale, with his story on a British citizen traveling to the Netherlands for access to his preferred pain treatment, cannabis sativa. He shows Gupta vial after vial of pharmaceutical narcotics he has been prescribed but were ineffective and with mind numbing side effects. Treatment with cannabis is unavailable in England, making this middle age man, bedeviled by pain cross the channel as another medical cannabis refugee.

American states and world countries that recognize the idiocy of cannabis prohibition and the powerful medical potential of cannabis will prosper while providing hugely needed relief and succor to these refugees.

Copyright © 2013 by Don Fitch

So Sayeth Sanjay! On cannabis, “We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years.”

Medical Marihuana

Medical Marihuana
© goshiva – Fotolia.com

This writer called it a heart-breaker at the time in early 2009 when neurosurgeon Dr. Sanjay Gupta said he “would vote no on pot.”  Dr. Gupta’s dismissal of medical marijuana was disappointing because, as I noted, he was “brilliant, telegenic, a neurosurgeon, had huge recognition and an is excellent communicator.” Now forward 4 1/2 years and Sanjay Gupta’s views have come around 180 degrees. Incredibly, he now says, “Well, I am here to apologize. I mistakenly believed the Drug Enforcement Agency listed marijuana as a schedule 1 substance because of sound scientific proof.”

Sanjay now knows, after long investigation, that “We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that.”  He pretty much calls out the DEA as the liars that they are.  One may question why such a brilliant man could have ever believed DEA lies, but the important thing now is that he knows better, and is communicating the truth.

He should have called his documentary Cannabis, rather than Weed,  the term preferred by cops. But for now, truth wins out as Dr. Sanjay Gupta speaks out.  See it on CNN August 11, 2013.

Say it ain’t so, Sanjay. Next Surgeon General down on medical cannabis.

Yet another heart breaker for drug policy reform and medical cannabis in the form of Obama’s Surgeon General. CNN reports Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s medical coorespondent has been asked by Barack Obama to be the new Surgeon General.

In many ways, Dr. Gupta is an excellent choice. Brilliant, telegenic, a neurosurgeon, huge recognition and an excellent communicator. Yet more important, and still rare for most physicians, Sanjay Gupta focuses on preventive health care, especially on health-enhancing or damaging behaviors. Morbidity and mortality in the USA are much more functions of our everyday behaviors than they are functions of the entire medical care system. How healthy you look and feel, how vital you really are depends chiefly on your daily habits of exercise, nutrition and other health related behaviors. Gupta realizes this, as evidence by his CNN series on obesity, exercise and other key health topics.

Fixing the American health care system, especially as it totters from the oncoming onslaught of Type II diabetics, will require a totally new health care vision, one based on prevention, exercise and self-care. The entire system would be revolutionized by each American walking 10,000 steps a day, a figure that appears to be a requirement for good body composition, healthy blood sugar levels, and basic vitality.  Dr. Sanjay Gupta just might be a Surgeon General who could help this come to pass. Maybe he could even help Barack quit smoking cigarettes, another of his passionate causes, and killer of 440,000 Americans each year.

This makes all the more disappointing the possible Surgeon General’s ignorant take on medical cannabis. He spelled out his unfortunate philosophy in TIME Magazine, on January 8, 2009. His article, Why I Would Vote No On Pot, discussed then up-coming medical cannabis initiatives in Colorado and Nevada (both passed).  Paradoxically, Sanjay starts out by stating recent ways cannabis has been found to be good for your, even asserting, “THC, the chemical in marijuana responsible for the high, can help slow the progress of Alzheimer’s disease. (In fact, it seems to block the formation of disease-causing plaques better than several mainstream drugs).”

Yet somehow, in spite of being a neurosurgeon touting the effectiveness of this plant substance as a neuron and brain protector, he doubles back advises readers in Colorado and Nevada to vote no, to vote away their medical choice on this issue. He talks quite a bit about the smoke as hazard, an issue of ever-decreasing importance in the age of the vaporizer. His urging of the no vote is also a vote FOR continued damage to the American citizenry by enforcement of cruel, useless laws. See Austin, Texas Attorney Jamie Spencer, who commented on his blog in 2006 at the release of the  of Gupta TIME article. Spencer notes, “Voting “No on Pot”, as Dr. Gupta calls it, means more tax dollars spent incarcerating casual marijuana users. That’s it, end of story. Neither initiative will force Dr. Gupta or anyone else to use marijuana.”

In the last 20 years, the discovery of the endocannabinoid receptor system and molecules produced in our bodies to activate these receptors represents a major step forward in our understanding of the human body and its working. Health care in the 21st Century will be revolutionized by these findings and the potential they portend for medical cannabis. Americans deserve a Surgeon General who understands and will help end the goverment’s war against a plant used as medication for millenia and against those Americans who find it of medical benefit. In the article Gupta whines talking points from US government agencies. One statistic he ignores, annual US deaths from cannabis = zero.

Dr. Gupta, after your TIME article, Coloradans and Nevadan disagreed and went ahead and voted for freedom of choice of medical cannabis as they have in nearly every state when given the opportunity. As Surgeon General, please do not scheme to take that choice away from them, and those in a dozen of other states who have voted to assert this basic personal medical freedom.