Pubdate: Sun, 23 Mar 2014
Source: AlterNet (US Web)
Copyright: 2014 Independent Media Institute
Author: Martin A. Lee


Marijuana Medicine's Near-Miraculous Healing Powers Require the Whole
Plant-Not Just One Oil Extract

CBD-only laws are a pretext to extend marijuana prohibition under the
guise of 'protecting the children.'

A version of this article was originally published on the Pediatric
Cannabis Therapy website.

Ever since marijuana was banned by the federal government in the
1930s, proponents of prohibition have insisted that cannabis must
remain illegal to protect America's children. "Protecting the
children" continues to be the calculated cornerstone of anti-marijuana
propaganda, the cynical centerpiece of the war on drugs.

How ironic, then, that today thousands of families in the United
States are desperately seeking cannabis remedies to protect their
children from deadly diseases. The erstwhile "Assassin of Youth" has
become the savior for kids with catastrophic seizure disorders and
other life-threatening conditions.

Drawn by the near-miraculous healing power of oil extracted from the
marijuana plant, families have been flocking to Colorado and other
cannabis-friendly states, where they hope to find a remedy that helps
their children, some of whom suffer a hundred seizures a day.

Parents are reporting a dramatic reduction in seizures - often 50 to
90 percent - when their children are given oral extracts rich in
cannabidiol (CBD), a nonpsychoactive cannabis component; these
extracts are low in THC, the compound that causes the high marijuana
is famous for.

For every family that has uprooted and moved to Colorado, many more
have chosen to stay home and lobby local officials in an effort to
change state law so they might access an essential medicine. Their
poignant pleas are having an impact. Politicians from both parties
have been rushing to approve bills that would legalize marijuana for
therapeutic purposes in such unlikely places as Kentucky, Georgia,
Tennessee, Nebraska, South Carolina, Oklahoma, and Utah.

However, there's a catch: The bills under consideration will only
allow the use of CBD-rich oil extracts with hardly any THC. Apparently
marijuana is still the evil weed to many lawmakers, but somehow
certain parts of the plant are good - and now they're claiming the
good parts aren't actually marijuana!

According to this political pretzel logic, marijuana gets you high,
but CBD-rich marijuana doesn't get you high; therefore, CBD-rich
marijuana is not marijuana.

"This is not medical marijuana. It's just an oil derived from that
plant," according to Wisconsin GOP state representative John Spiros, a
former police officer who voted to approve CBD-only legislation. Gage
Froerer, a Utah state legislator, weighed in with similar rhetorical
gimmickry about CBD: "It's not a drug. It's not medical marijuana."

Last week, Alabama became the first state to approve a CBD-only

During the notorious vote that outlawed cannabis in America in 1937, a
befuddled U.S. Congressman asked House Majority Leader Sam Rayburn
from Texas, "What is this bill about?" Rayburn replied, "It has
something to do with a thing called marijuana. I think it is a
narcotic of some kind." Still clueless more than seven decades later,
influential state lawmakers are claiming that the CBD-only legislation
they favor has something to do with a thing called "not marijuana."

Promoted by impassioned parents, do-gooders, and entrepreneurs with a
financial interest in seeing such laws pass, CBD-only legislation has
triggered a serious controversy within the medical marijuana
community. Some see it as a key first step, a viable tactic for
cracking open the prohibitionist door in states governed by retro pols
and religious zealots.

Others are less sanguine about the prospect of CBD-only laws.
"CBD-only legalization is like being half pregnant. It doesn't make
sense," says Garyn Angel, founder of Magical Butter, a homemaker's
device for extracting cannabis oil. Angel, who is not enamored of
efforts to legalize only low THC concentrates, has provided financial
assistance to poor families so they could join the CBD children's
crusade to Colorado.

"We need many kinds of cannabis, not just the CBD-dominant strains,"
says Arizona Dr. Suzanne Sisley, who recently testified before state
lawmakers in Kentucky and Minnesota about medical marijuana's
potential for helping veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress

Nearly four years earlier, Sisley had gotten FDA approval to
investigate whether medical marijuana, including a CBD-rich strain,
could be an effective treatment for PTSD. But her research was blocked
by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), which would not allow
access to cannabis for therapeutic studies. Last week, NIDA finally
relentedand approved Sisley's PTSD study, but approval from the DEA is
still required.

Apparently no physicians in Minnesota or Kentucky were willing to
speak on the record in favor of medicinal cannabis, so Dr. Sisley flew
in from Arizona at the behest of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP),
which has lobbied for legalizing medical marijuana in several states.

Two competing bills are being considered by Minnesota lawmakers - a
broader, more inclusive initiative supported by the MPP and a CBD-only
measure that would restrict patient access to non-smokable cannabis
oil extracts with negligible amounts of THC. Both bills made it past
the first House committee, but no less than nine other committees have
to sign off on medical marijuana legislation before it reaches the
Minnesota House floor for a full vote.

Polls show huge support for medical marijuana in Minnesota (where
selling cannabis to a teenager was once punishable by up to 40 years
in prison). Many Minnesota residents are using marijuana, albeit
illegally, to assuage chronic pain, stimulate appetite, quell
seizures, and offset the awful side effects of chemotherapy. But
elected officials in the North Star state seem more attuned to law
enforcement opinion, which opposes medical marijuana in its natural,
leafy form, than public opinion, which is overwhelmingly pro-choice
with respect to cannabis therapeutics.

Sisley could tell which way the wind was blowing as hitherto
anti-marijuana politicians lined up to jump on board the CBD-only bandwagon.

"I'm running into this blockade everywhere I go," said Sisley.
"CBD-oil bills are popping up in nearly every state that is examining
medical marijuana legislation. And it's making it much more difficult
to pass comprehensive legislation that can address a wide range of
conditions. I tried to explain to the legislators that a CBD-only law
would benefit a narrow segment of the patient population. The vast
majority of patients need access to a broader spectrum of whole plant
marijuana remedies. Even pediatric patients need more options."

The case of Jayden David, a child stricken with Dravet's Syndrome, is
instructive. In 2011, five-year-old Jayden, who had been on 22 pills
per day, was given a CBD-infused tincture, which his father obtained
from the Harborside Health Center, a medical marijuana dispensary in
Oakland. The CBD remedy worked wonders. For the next several months
the boy with intractable epilepsy was largely seizure-free. Featured
on national television, the story of Jayden's transformation was the
first broadcast that drew attention to the remarkable medicinal
properties of cannabidiol.

But the story doesn't end there. In due course, it became evident to
Jason David, Jayden's devoted father, that sometimes his son responded
better when more THC was added to the cannabis solution. If Jayden
lived in a state with a CBD-only law rather than cutting edge
California, he'd be out of luck, unable to legally access the medicine
that keeps him alive. Many pediatric epilepsy patients would not be
well served by CBD-only legislation. Nor would cancer patients,
chronic pain suffers, and people with Alzheimer's and autoimmune disorders.

Scientific research has established that CBD and THC interact
synergistically and potentiate each other's therapeutic effects. And
marijuana contains several hundred other compounds, including
flavonoids, terpenes, and dozens of minor cannabinoids in addition to
CBD and THC. Each of these compounds has particular healing
attributes, but when combined they create what scientists refer to as
an "entourage effect," so that the therapeutic impact of the whole
plant exceeds the sum of its parts. Therein lies the basic fallacy of
the CBD-only position.

When we launched Project CBD four years ago, I thought the
serendipitous rediscovery of CBD-rich cannabis would be the nail in
the coffin of marijuana prohibition. I didn't anticipate that CBD-only
laws would serve as a pretext to extend marijuana prohibition - under
the guise, once again, of protecting the children.
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MAP posted-by: Matt