Pubdate: Tue, 12 Nov 2013
Source: Salt Lake Tribune (UT)
Copyright: 2013 The Salt Lake Tribune


It is obvious that Utahns should be allowed access to a 
marijuana-derived medicine to limit epileptic seizures. One need only 
hear the stories about heroic parents to know this is not about 
dodging drug laws.

That is not to say the science has been proven. It's simply that the 
science should be allowed to go forward, including in Utah. While 
some of the medical marijuana industry may indeed be a smokescreen 
for access to recreational pot, it is impossible to dismiss the real 
research that has produced promising results. This past weekend Salt 
Lake Tribune reporter Kirsten Stewart detailed results on children in 
Colorado whose seizures have not been controlled by more widely 
prescribed pharmaceuticals. And while there is evidence of success in 
many young patients, there has been no evidence of harm.

The research focuses on cannabis-derived products that are higher in 
cannabidiol, which helps control seizures and pain, and lower in 
tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which produces marijuana's high. We're 
talking about THC levels around the level of hemp rope. This research 
has been limited by the U.S. government's classification of marijuana 
as a Schedule 1 narcotic with no medicinal value. And access to the 
medicine has been limited by the fact that only 20 states have passed 
laws to allow medicinal marijuana use.

This has produced medical "refugees," people who move their families 
in search of cannabis-derived medicine. For a handful of Utah 
families, it raises the prospect of moving to Colorado. Some already 
have done it.

But there is a panel of Utah experts -- the state Controlled 
Substance Advisory Group - that could help keep those families in 
Utah. The group is made up of doctors, police and prosecutors who 
advise lawmakers on what drugs should be legally kept from Utahns. 
Some of those Utah families will make their pitch to the group at its 
meeting Tuesday.

There is a growing body of disciplined, peer-reviewed medicinal 
marijuana research with double-blind studies that meet the standards 
of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for evaluating drug 
efficacy. Indeed, this research is of a higher quality than much of 
the science used to justify products coming out of the nutritional 
supplement industry, which has resisted more FDA oversight.

The debate over full marijuana legalization is complex. Questions 
abound about whether consumption by minors would increase and whether 
alcohol abuse would decrease, among other possible outcomes. The 
legal and social experiments that referendums in Colorado and 
Washington will provide are well worth watching.

But this isn't about letting the kids have their pot. It's about 
letting sick kids have cannabis-derived medicine in a controlled, 
clinical setting. Don't let reefer madness cloud the thinking.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom