Yesterday, a bill was barely defeated that would allow for inhalation of medical marijuana. Right now, patients are severely limited on how they can use medical marijuana.
But there's still hope! The legislature is back in session this weekend, and there is a chance to reconsider the bill and have another vote as soon as TODAY. Please write your senator right now in favor of allowing patients to use medical marijuana through inhalation.
Many patients with severe pain, spasms, and nausea need the immediate relief inhaled cannabis provides. Louisiana is the only one of the 33 medical cannabis states that fails to allow this important mode of administration.
It's so important to contact your elected officials, so please do so NOW. Then, spread the word to others in Louisiana, so that they, too, can speak up for a workable medical cannabis program.
Illinois State Sen. Dan Harmon is championing a bill that would allow individuals who are prescribed opioids to qualify for access to medical cannabis. His bill, SB 336, is expected to receive a hearing tomorrow in the Senate Executive Committee.
Hundreds of thousands of people are prescribed opioids in Illinois. These drugs carry a very high risk of dependency, and they can cause significant long-term harm including the risk of overdose death. Medical cannabis is now providing relief around the country and reducing incidents of drug ovedose deaths where it is available. But Illinois is one of only three medical marijuana states where pain patients don’t qualify, unless they have a specifically listed disease.
This bill would also take the sensible step of removing the requirement that medical cannabis patients submit fingerprints, provided they qualify under the new provisions. It is a huge first step for the many Illinoisans suffering unbearable pain every day.
If you are an Illinois resident, please tell your senator to support SB 336 and vote “yes” if it is placed before the senator for a vote.
Earlier this year, the Minnesota Legislature approved a bill requiring the state’s Department of Health to recommend by January 1, 2016, whether intractable pain should be added as a condition that qualifies for medical cannabis. The department is currently seeking public input on this question and has created two opportunities to share your thoughts.
First, the department is accepting written comment on including intractable pain. There is currently no deadline for submitting comments. However, potential patients, their caregivers, and supportive health care practitioners should submit their comments soon so they can be taken into consideration early in the process.
Second, the department will be hosting listening sessions around the state to take public testimony on including intractable pain. The first two will be held this week:
Wednesday, August 26 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Rochester Public Library
Thursday, August 27 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Kandiyohi Health and Human Services building in Willmar, Minnesota
Additional events will be held across the state in September and October. We will let you know when and where they will be closer to the date.
More than 15,000 Americans die each year from prescription opiate overdoses. Patients deserve a safer — and often more effective — alternative. Please check out our talking points and let the department know it’s time to stop leaving intractable pain patients behind.
The Obama administration calls prescription drug abuse the nation’s most pressing drug problem. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prescription drug deaths are at an all time high and account for more deaths and hospitalizations in the U.S. than any other drug. Advocates of affordable health care are decrying the exorbitant price of prescriptions and the toll such costs take on them and their families.
Well, guess what non-toxic and inexpensive medicine patients use as a substitute for those expensive, dangerous pharmaceutical drugs? If you said marijuana, you are correct!
A recent survey conducted by the Berkeley Patients Group and reported in the American Psychiatric Association’s Institute on Psychiatric Services found that 66% of their medical marijuana patient clients reported using marijuana as a prescription drug substitute. Most patients said they used marijuana because it was more effective than their prescribed drugs and was accompanied with fewer, and less severe, side effects.
Unfortunately, the federal government insists that marijuana is a dangerous drug with no accepted medical use. Perhaps if it came in a pill, cost a fortune, and had debilitating side effects, it would sail right through the FDA approval process.
In an interview Wednesday, Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said that he had been tempted to use medical marijuana while undergoing treatment for cancer. He cited many of the reasons other medical marijuana patients do for wanting to use this treatment, including intense pain and being unable to keep anti-nausea medication down long enough for it to work. Unfortunately, medical marijuana is not legal in Utah, so Shurtleff was unwilling to use it, even when offered it by a friend.
This experience apparently taught Shurtleff why people would want to use this medicine. He even said that with the proper controls he would support a medical marijuana program in Utah, so that others in his situation wouldn’t have to choose between obeying the law and relieving their suffering. Hopefully, this will be a small step toward enacting such a bill.
Under current state law, Utah residents can be jailed for six months and fined $1,000 for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana. Sale of any amount nets a sentence of up to five years and a $5,000 fine.
While Shurtleff is to be commended for his change of heart, it is unfortunate that he had to go through such a horrible experience to finally see the necessity for medical marijuana access and patient protections. Our leaders shouldn’t have to feel the pain that patients feel to treat them with compassion.
The International Association for Cannabis as Medicine just concluded its 5th Conference on Cannabinoids in Medicine in Cologne, Germany. The conference included significant new evidence that marijuana is a safe, effective medicine for certain conditions, some of which can be found in the conference abstracts, now available online.
Canadian researcher Mark Ware presented results of a yearlong safety study known as the COMPASS study, which compared 215 patients who used marijuana to manage chronic pain with comparable control patients who did not use marijuana. Ware and colleagues report “no difference in serious adverse events” between the two groups, concluding, “Cannabis use for chronic pain over one year is not associated with major changes in lung, endocrine, cognitive function or serious adverse events.”
A much-awaited study came from the University of California, San Francisco, where Donald Abrams and colleagues tested the effects of adding marijuana to the therapeutic regimen of chronic pain patients on long-term morphine or oxycodone therapy. Unfortunately, because the researchers were crunching numbers right up until the conference, the abstract doesn’t include a lot of details. But the study shows that marijuana did indeed add significant pain relief on top of that already provided by the narcotic painkillers. The scientists conclude, “Cannabinoids may augment the analgesic effects of opioids, allowing longer treatment at lower doses with fewer side effects.”
Meanwhile, British researchers added to the body of evidence indicating that marijuana can aid the treatment of multiple sclerosis. Two-hundred and seventy-nine patients received either a standardized cannabis extract, given orally, or a placebo. Patients receiving the extract were twice as likely to experience relief of muscle stiffness, and also reported relief of body pain, spasms, and sleep problems.
In Tuesday’s San Francisco Chronicle, columnist Jon Carroll went off on an ad that’s run lately in his paper and others promoting a drug to treat rheumatoid arthritis. The drug is called Humira, and Carroll is aghast at warnings in the ad, which advise that people taking this drug might be at risk for fatal infections, heart failure, and “certain types of cancers.”
“I look at the risk-benefit ratio, and I worry,” Carroll concludes, and understandably so.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, characterized by inflammation of the lining of the joints. It can be painful and even disabling.
Of course, there’s a drug that’s a well-documented pain reliever and anti-inflammatory, and there is already some evidence that it may work for rheumatoid arthritis. It doesn’t cause fatal infections, cancer, or heart failure. But you won’t see major drug companies advertising it. Can you name this drug?
Scott Turner, a New Hampshire medical marijuana patient who made headlines during the presidential primaries when he got then-Sen. Obama to promise to end federal interference in medical marijuana states, died Aug. 4.
Scott, who suffered a long, painful battle with degenerative joint disease and a degenerative disc disease, was a great friend to MPP and a tireless advocate for the rights of patients to use medical marijuana without fear of arrest.
Most recently, he was involved in the fight to pass a medical marijuana bill in New Hampshire, which was vetoed by the governor after legislators scrambled to pass a bill they had reworked to his specifications.
We here at MPP will miss Scott dearly, and we offer our sincerest condolences to his wife and family. We'll continue your work, Scott, and make sure the New Hampshire legislature overrides Gov. Lynch's veto and ensures no seriously ill Granite Stater ever has to endure what you endured just to treat your pain.
Here's Scott back in August 2007, securing Obama's support for the rights of medical marijuana patients, which led the Obama administration to announce its historic policy change earlier this year:
British scientists warn increasing hostility toward scientific evidence that contradicts political agendas could hinder the collaborative relationship policy and science enjoys in Britain, the Guardian reported yesterday.
Last November, the British government ignored the advice of its Scientific Advisory Board and moved marijuana into a more dangerous class of drugs, a move described by top scientists at the time as "a sad departure from the welcome trend … of public policy following expert scientific advice."
Of course, here in the United States, government has been ignoring its scientific advisors on marijuana policy for decades, at least since Nixon first lined his bird cage with the two-year study he commissioned recommending marijuana's decriminalization.
And that unwelcome trend continues to this very day here, as evidenced by drug czar Gil Kerlikowske's recent lie that marijuana "has no medicinal benefit." Not sure who Kerlikowske's scientific advisors are, but the one we taxpayers use, the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine, says: "Nausea, appetite loss, pain, and anxiety … all can be mitigated by marijuana."
Then again, it doesn't take a scientist to know that it's wrong to deny sick people medicine that eases their pain, or to arrest responsible adults because they prefer a drug that's safer than alcohol or tobacco.