Pubdate: Fri, 22 Apr 2016
Source: Casper Star-Tribune (WY)
Copyright: 2016 Lee Enterprises
Author: Edith Cook


Patrick and Beth Collins didn't want to get their daughter high. They 
wanted to get her well. "They wanted to get her CBD oil." So begins 
John Hudak's case description within The Brookings Institute's 
examination last month of "The Medical Marijuana Mess."

The Collinses had discovered a substance that might provide help for 
their daughter, but their government - at both federal and state 
levels - told them she was not allowed to have it.

With its injunctions against medical marijuana, our government keeps 
patients sick. It also keeps its constituents ignorant. The fact that 
marijuana's therapeutic effects are supported by hundreds, indeed 
thousands of years of effective treatments around the globe has not 
sufficed to get it removed from government prohibition.

Thousands of families across America seek relief from cannabis. For 
many, the drug improves their quality of life, sometimes 
dramatically. However, the journey to relief is fraught with tension, 
uncertainty, and fear. Even in states where it has been legalized, 
the conflicting signals about its legal status make people unsure 
about what to expect.

Doctors cannot write prescriptions for marijuana; instead, they must 
offer "recommendations" - to write "marijuana" on a prescription pad 
is a fast path to losing prescribing rights - and livelihood, writes Hudak.

These problems stem directly from rules issued by the federal agency 
responsible for regulating controlled substances, namely the U.S. 
Drug Enforcement Administration, headquartered just 8 miles from 
Rabbi Kahn's Takoma Wellness Center. Under current DEA designations, 
absolutely no medical condition allows a doctor to prescribe 
marijuana, or a pharmacy to dispense it, or a patient to buy or use it.

In 1970, the Controlled Substances Act created five "schedules of 
controlled substances." Ever since then, marijuana has suffered the 
slanderous label of a Schedule I Drug, complete with claims that it 
has the "highest potential for abuse" of all existing substances, and 
also that it has "no currently accepted medical use in the U.S." Both 
claims have proven false many times over.

The Schedule I consequences extend far beyond legal restrictions, 
having created biases that permeate much of society. Even after a 
doctor has recommended they use it, and even after they've gotten the 
approval of state authorities to do so, patients wanting to be 
treated with marijuana are often embarrassed and scared.

Yet clinical research and observational studies have shown that 
medical marijuana can make chemotherapy more tolerable, boost 
appetite, reduce the eye pressure of glaucoma, relieve pain, stop 
muscle spasms, treat depression or anxiety, alleviate PTSD, and help 
with a whole host of other medical conditions. But these findings, 
some of which have emerged from hospitals that are among the finest 
in the world, are only the beginning of what we need to know about 
the medical potential of marijuana. Any effort to learn more is 
seriously hindered by the legal obstacles thrown up by our 
government's prohibition on marijuana, which makes it difficult for 
researchers to conduct clinical testing.

Hence Hudak's conclusion: Federal marijuana policy is contradictory 
and unsustainable. Its adverse consequences are many, not only for 
state and local governments, but also for business owners, doctors, 
patients, and families. Marijuana prohibition has victimized 
Americans like Rabbi Jeffrey Kahn, young Jennifer Collins, and 
thousands like them. The president and Congress have a duty to design 
laws that advance medical research and reflect today's realities. 
Comprehensive reform ought to cover three key areas: research, access 
and legal protection.

Opposing prohibition has gained momentum in Washington. In response 
to an FDA request plus members of Congress calling for marijuana to 
be rescheduled, the DEA said it "hopes to release its determination 
in the first half of 2016."

Meanwhile the Drug Policy Alliance, the nation's leading organization 
of people who believe the war on drugs is doing more harm than good, 
continues to fight for drug policies grounded in science, compassion, 
health and human rights. It has obtained support from over 1,000 
leaders worldwide who have joined DPA in urging UN Secretary General 
Ban Ki-moon to set the stage "for real reform of global drug control 
policy." Ahead of the April 19-21 United Nations General Assembly 
Special Session on the World Drug Problem, their letter calls for a 
definitive end to the drug war.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom