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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Considering the Real Dope on Medical Dope

"The medical use of marijuana is limited because different strains of the plant contain different amounts of various compounds, which makes effects hard to predict. Medical researchers have isolated substances from the plant (cannabinoids) that can be used in precise doses alone and in combinations with other medicines to achieve more predictable effects. 

"Certain cannabinoid drugs have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to relieve nausea and vomiting, to relieve pain, and to increase appetite in people with diseases such as cancer and AIDS. Other marijuana extracts are still being tested.   Researchers also report that THC decreases pressure within the eyes, therefore reducing the severity of glaucoma."

(Research from the NIH: The National Institute on Drug Abuse)

Marijuana, itself, isn't an FDA-approved medication although THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, is approved. Some states have approved medical marijuana to ease the symptoms of these various health problems. Currently these 20 states -- Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington -- as well as the District of Columbia, approve and regulate its medical use.

According to the American Cancer Society, some chemically pure drugs based on marijuana compounds have been approved by the FDA. Here are known approvals:

* The active ingredient THC has been available by prescription as dronabinol in pill or suppository form since 1985.

* A second drug, nabilone, is much like a cannabinoid. It is also a prescription drug, and is sometimes used when other drugs fail to reduce nausea and vomiting after chemotherapy.

* More recently, a chemically pure mixture of THC and cannabidiol (CBD) called Sativex® was made into a mouth spray. This prescription spray has been approved in Canada and parts of Europe to relieve pain linked to cancer as well as muscle spasms and pain from multiple sclerosis. As of 2012, the spray has not been approved in the U.S., scientists are testing it in clinical trials to determine if it will help relieve cancer pain.

 (The American Cancer Society. 2014)

Some supporters also claim that marijuana has anti-bacterial properties, inhibits tumor growth, and enlarges the airways, which they believe can ease the severity of asthma attacks. Others claim that marijuana can be used to control seizures and muscle spasms in people who have epilepsy and spinal cord injuries. 

Local News

Tara Cordle, of Wheelersburg, started researching possible methods of treatment of her 8-year-old son, Waylon Jenkins. In 2012, Waylon began having problems with Viral Encephalitis, which left him with brain damage. He is also suffering from intractable epilepsy.

Cordle is currently gathering signatures on a petition and doing public speaking in support of putting the use of medical marijuana on the ballot. She claims her son's condition spurred her into action. Cordle believes the knowledge she is spreading about legalization of medical marijuana is the key to understanding its great potential.

Cordle has postponed possible brain surgery on her son in an attempt to try to legalize medicinal marijuana before she commits to electing this irreversible surgery. She claims she was "never the kind of person to support legalization for any reason" until Waylon contracted his problems.

“I’m not for potheads being able to get high, because there is something different in medical marijuana, where parts of it that get you high are taken out and the medical parts that can help are there.”

Cordle said her son is currently on five medications, and she claims many have too many adverse side effects to work well. One med, hemp oil, seems to help. She said that she currently has her son on hemp oil to treat his epilepsy, but feels, through her research, that the actual drug would be better. She has given Waylon hemp oil for nearly 30 days, and she reports the improvement has been "a game changer for them."

Here is another similar article from the Chicago Tribune about the positive effects of medical marijuana extract for a child's epileptic seizures:

Dr. Adams' Opinion

Scioto County Health Commissioner Aaron Adams said he is against the legalization of marijuana because he believes it is a gateway drug. He believes the debate on legalization of medical marijuana needs to be extended until more thorough research has been completed.

"... I oppose that (legalization), because we are trying to get a handle on the problems in Scioto County with prescription drugs that have been flipped over to heroin. We’ve really got a lot of problems,” he said.

Adams went on to say we don’t know how medicinal marijuana can be used, particularly for epilepsy.

“I’m for what’s doing best for patients to make them feel better, whether it is a benign pain situation or malignant pain, I think we need to do the best we can, but not understanding the full medicinal potential of that [marijuana], and I don’t know. I think we need to look into that very closely,” he said.

Adams said a variant of medicinal marijuana is being used already -- a drug called Marinol used for loss of appetite associated with weight loss in patients with AIDS. Adams said many local cancer patients are prescribed Marinol as an appetite booster and an anti-nausea medication.

Sheriff Donini's Opinion

Scioto County Sheriff Marty Donini said he also disagrees with the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

“There are enough other medications out there that can be used to get the same effects that they say marijuana allegedly does for medical reasons. That (legalization) I’m against,” he said.
Donini said that since he has no experience with legalized marijuana use, he can only speculate on the outcome it would have on the community.

“It’s going to be a little bit like the pain clinics. It is just going to be a hassle,” he said. “We’re going to find people with bags of marijuana and prescriptions where it was prescribed to them. It may not be on the same scale as the pain clinics, but I believe it would result in basically the same way.”

Donini said that before the local pain clinics were shut down, an increase in crime rate occurred and said “nine times out of ten” local incidents involve an addict.

"... the only thing I can say is if it is marijuana then it is marijuana. I’m not going to change my position. I’m a former certified DARE officer and I have a belief marijuana isn’t good. There are other medicines out there that doctors can prescribe without opening Pandora’s Box,” Donini said.

(Joseph Pratt. "Wheelersburg Mother Advocating Medicinal Marijuana For Her Son." 
The Portsmouth Daily Times. February 25, 2014)

The Bottom Line

This is an issue that draws a lot of fire. This is what I mean: Either people are totally against legalization for any purpose, or they are wildly in favor of widespread governmental approval for dispensing the substance.

One should be cautious when researching the issue of legalizing marijuana because, usually, the positive reports stem from special interest groups, liberal politicos, and those who stand to profit from sales. But, to be fair in judgment of pros and cons, marijuana can cause health concerns, but it has been the victim of a lot of unfair demonization.

Occasional marijuana use is rarely seriously harmful. I believe, any ill effects of legalizing the substance should not be considered the same as the health epidemic caused by deadly opiates such as legal OxyContin and illegal heroin. Comparing apples and oranges -- comparing marijuana and opiates. OK, OK, I know it's a cliche. And, when I see them as different, I am speaking of immediate, deadly differences.

Is pot a "gateway" drug? In other words, does smoking marijuana make someone more likely to try hard stuff like cocaine, heroin, and ecstasy? The jury is still out, but the public must realize "gateways" can be traced to drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco, and numerous other behaviors that lower a person's resistance to engaging in a vice. Smoking, drinking, and taking illegal substances are all not merely habits but also potentially harmful vices. Do we need to add to our list of sources that can, and do, lead to the detrimental of society?

I understand why people want to cross argue their "freedom" as it relates to "legalization." And, it's easy to see why when the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports there are approximately 88,000 deaths attributable to excessive alcohol use each year in the United States.

Yes, alcohol -- legal, highly advertised, commonly consumed alcohol. I drink some and cannot defend my occasional imbibing against statistics like that.

In fact, alcohol use is the 3rd leading lifestyle-related cause of death for the nation. Excessive alcohol use is responsible for 2.5 million years of potential life lost (YPLL) annually, or an average of about 30 years of potential life lost for each death.

The question of whether to legalize medical use of marijuana is not simple to answer. Undoubtedly, many would misuse the "medical" definition and acquire the legalized drug for pleasure. More crime, illness, and lost production would surely result if marijuana were to be legalized. Yet, aren't these problems already exacerbated by legal alcohol and by legal drugs and by legal smoking and even by legal gambling?

I refuse to take a stand, knowing only that our society is too dependent on most everything to escape reality and understanding many "wait in the wings" to abuse the best intentions of chemists and healers. I want Waylon to get better, no matter the stigma of the treatment. If he were my son, I know I would fight to end his pain and suffering. Good luck to Mrs. Cordle in her struggles to acquire safe, effective medication for her son.

I will close by saying that marijuana use and drinking while driving are "dirty little secrets" openly  engaged in by many in our home county. I know of coverups for those in high positions receiving violations for using pot and violations for driving while intoxicated. I know of governmental organizations such as branches of our local enforcement who don't even require drug testing. If that isn't a crock! You cannot hide the facts of engaging in dangerous vices from the adult public or from the youth.

Youth model adult behaviors. I know that last year's PRIDE survey of eight Scioto County school districts revealed that 32 percent of 10th graders and 44 percent of 12th consumed alcohol in the last 30 days. I also know the survey reported that 25 percent of 10th graders and 22 percent of 12 graders smoked marijuana in the last 30 days. Most of these figures are much higher than the national average.

DARE alone evidently isn't the answer to lowering these figures and decreasing possible dependency and addiction. A pill, a joint, a syringe, a beer -- none hold danger in their actual "being." What does make our county particularly ill and decidedly dependent is the lack of direction, refusal to accept needed change, and total commitment to parity and justice. 

People are employing pills, syringes, joints, and alcohol now with great frequency. The safety controls and medical concerns of the people must be met. Educating the public about the dangerous results of using vices is the only hope that some little seed ignites self-discipline needed to save lives.

"Medical marijuana" sounds suspicious but not nearly as suspicious as prescription opioid pain killers, pill mills, or imported heroin. Or, for that matter, not nearly as suspicious as those greedy people in love with money and power willing to prey upon innocent others. There are wolves among us. If you intend to protect your loved ones, be vigilant, questioning, and informative.

I know people here often assume guns and security will guard against the worst bandits. Damn it, they'll just "blow away" their problems and stick to their guns. I think they are wrong. Changes begin in the brain. Educating people to make informed, logical decisions is much more effective than bullets when it comes to handling most serious threats at hand.

Kids and adults are currently consuming marijuana. The report in the Times explores another side of the issue of consumption. I would rather see people who need the substance obtain some legal form of the drug than to see all this pretense that the smoke is not currently "rolling on the river." I guess those with connections and position don't worry anyhow. Damn, I hate hypocrisy. It always strikes its hardest blows at the needy and poor.  

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