Pubdate: Thu, 15 May 2014
Source: Times-Tribune, The (Scranton PA)
Copyright: 2014
Author: Jan Hefler, the Philadelphia Inquirer
Page: C8


The Garden State's Experience With Medical Marijuana

EGG HARBOR TWP., N.J. - Before buying cannabis at southern New 
Jersey's only medical-marijuana dispensary, patients must circle one 
of six animated faces that stare out from a clipboard.

The row of smiling, wincing, frowning and sobbing cartoon faces is 
being used to rank the degree of pain that patients experience due to 
cancer, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and several other conditions the 
state deems treatable by cannabis.

When the patients return to the Compassionate Care Foundation 
dispensary in Egg Harbor Twp., N.J., for a refill, they again are 
handed the Wong-Baker FACES Pain Rating Scale so that the effect of 
the marijuana can be assessed.

'Dramatic' results

The results so far are "absolutely dramatic," said Suzanne Miller, a 
researcher with a Ph.D. who sits on the dispensary's board of 
trustees. Dr. Miller is also the director of behavioral medicine at 
Fox Chase Cancer Center/ Temple Health in Philadelphia. About 80 
percent of the 145 CCF patients who completed the rankings at least 
twice over the last two months have charted significant improvement, she said.

The data show that on average, most patients are reporting their pain 
levels decreased by 30 to 50 percent, Dr. Miller said. "You usually 
see smaller results, about 10 percent, or 20 percent," she said.

An author of four books and a contributor to more than 100 academic 
articles, Dr. Miller will be the lead researcher on a report she 
plans to submit to medical journals for publication this fall. The 
dispensary has 600 registered patients and expects to have more data 
by that time.

$428 an ounce

On a gloomy, wet morning l ast week, several patients walked into the 
dispensary to purchase cannabis, which is packaged in plastic bottles 
and sold at $428 an ounce. Two patients who agreed to be interviewed 
said the marijuana they bought had changed their lives. Three other 
patients who were reached by phone said it markedly eased their pain.

Bill Thomas, the dispensary CEO, said those afflicted with seizures, 
multiple sclerosis, Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and 
glaucoma are reporting the greatest benefit. One patient who had 
Crohn's disease experienced a "total reversal" and was able to return 
to work, he said.

Because there is a dearth of scientific studies, anecdotal evidence 
is practically the only proof available at this time, Mr. Thomas said.

Marijuana's status as a federally prohibited drug has blocked studies 
on its medicinal value, he said.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom