Pubdate: Sat, 03 Jan 2015
Source: Chattanooga Times Free Press (TN)
Copyright: 2015 Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc.
Note: Paper does not publish LTE's outside its circulation area
Author: Brian Lawson, AL. Com


HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - A young Huntsville man suffering from a 
debilitating disease has had surgery to relieve the condition, but 
still laments that a potential treatment was denied under Alabama law.

For Vanderbilt graduate Itamar Shapira his Dec. 19 surgery has not 
lessened his frustration that CBD oil, a derivative of the marijuana 
plant, was not available to him. CBD oil, Cannabidiol, is derived 
from another variety of cannabis plant, which is used for making hemp.

A person cannot get high from CBD oil because it has no psychoactive 
properties. Hemp plants are high in CBD and very low in THC, the 
substance that makes a marijuana smoker high. Traditional marijuana 
plants are high in THC, low in CBD.

Shapira, 21, was diagnosed in January with ulcerative colitis, an 
excruciatingly painful intestinal disorder that produces so many 
ulcers in the colon that the body cannot properly absorb food.

Access to CBD oil might have reduced his symptoms and prevented the 
need for the removal of his colon, Shapira believes.

"In terms of just myself, I want people to understand, I've been 
through a lot and it's regrettable what I've gone through. But now 
there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It is not the route we 
wanted but this was the final line in the sand.

"I'm now dealing with it both physically and emotionally and also 
figuring out my own life again."

The same CBD oil has been approved by the Alabama Legislature as part 
of an experimental program for children suffering from epileptic 
seizures. But the measure, known as Carly's Law, did not allow access 
to the program for patients suffering from other afflictions who 
might benefit from the use of CBD.

The CBD oil program slated to be run through the University of 
Alabama-Birmingham is not yet distributing any CBD oil for the 
children, many who suffer daily seizures, and their desperate families.

Shapira had resisted surgery for months, using antibiotics and an 
incredibly restricted diet to try to avoid the surgery that would 
remove his colon. Shapira studied biomedical engineering at 
Vanderbilt and found studies showing the effectiveness on CBD for 
people with a number of different conditions, including ulcerative colitis.

He was released from the hospital in Weston, Fla., on Dec. 31. He had 
two parts of a typically three-part surgery during an eight-hour 
procedure. His colon was removed and a J- pouch was formed using part 
of his small intestine. The pouch will be connected through another surgery.

A former cross-country runner at Grissom High School, Shapira must 
still take it slow.

"I expect a period of weeks of recovery," he said. "Of physical 
activity, I'm not supposed to do much beyond walking for six weeks 
and I'll be on a restricted diet for four weeks and then I have to 
come back and have the second surgery."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom