Pubdate: Wed, 24 Aug 2016
Source: Metro Times (Detroit, MI)
Column: Higher Ground
Copyright: 2016 C.E.G.W./Times-Shamrock
Author: Larry Gabriel


"I hurt daily," says former NFL and Michigan State University 
football player Andre Rison. "Marijuana candy helps."

Rison has been in the news recently due to legal troubles in 
connection with his child support payments and testing positive for 
marijuana while on probation. I don't know anything about his child 
support issues, but I sympathize with the guy when it comes to his 
pain. Football players work in a physically violent arena, and most 
of them suffer debilitating pain on a regular basis. I've met people 
who still suffer from having played high school football. Imagine 
what it's like after having banged around with massively muscular 
300-pound people for a living. That's why I totally support the 
choices of players such as Barry Sanders, who walked away from the 
game hopefully while they were still ahead.

"I hurt every day," Rison emphasized to the news media.

Pain is part of the game, but when the game is gone, the pain remains 
and can get worse over time. I've heard plenty of stories about 
former players in their 40s who can barely walk. I've heard that 
opioid painkillers are easily available in NFL locker rooms. All of 
which feeds into the opioid addiction epidemic that has swept across 
the nation.

Pain is the primary reason most medical marijuana patients seek 
certification. Like Rison, some football players have sought an 
alternative to addictive pharmaceuticals to treat their pain - not to 
mention brain trauma and other sports-related injuries. The Gridiron 
Cannabis Coalition, or GCC, is "dedicated to the advancement of 
medical marijuana in the modern age," according to their website. 
"The sport of American football is plagued with multiple ailments and 
diseases currently void of non-addictive treatments and cures."

The GCC is not a bunch of stoners looking for an excuse to get high. 
They are trying to find the best way to help ailing football players. 
The group has entered a partnership with Constance Therapeutics, or 
CT, a California whole plant cannabis extract producer, to do an 
eight-week pain study.

"Back in November, we approached the Gridiron Cannabis Coalition and 
suggested an observational study," says Constance Finley, founder and 
CEO of CT.

The study is just getting started with the participation of Dr. Arno 
Hazekamp, but Finley is confident in her products. "There's no 
question that the bioactive compounds in cannabis are truly 
pain-killing, in a standardized approach as medicine," she says. "For 
severe chronic pain we use a fairly high THC product ... and 
carefully dose with a regimen that they can rely on. We're getting 
miraculous results. We don't have NSAID problems and don't have 
addiction problems. It's been miraculous in my own life."

NSAIDs are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, 
ibuprofen, celecoxib, and others which can cause upset stomach and 
ulcers. Addiction problems come with the stronger opioid drugs such 
as morphine and oxycodone.

Finley says that CT produces about 20 different oils with varying 
ratios of THC, CBD, and other plant products. Some oils have as high 
as 72 percent CBD and THC as high as 82 percent, although it's more 
probable that a treatment might have a mix of 15 percent CBD and 50 
percent THC.

CT is trying to create products that are more prescriptive than most 
cannabis products. Many people who use medical marijuana talk about 
having to experiment with strains and levels of cannabinoids to get 
effective relief. Then they have a problem consistently getting the 
same stuff at the same strength. Consistency is a goal for this company.

Finley's confidence in her products comes from personal experience. 
After nearly dying from pharmaceutical drugs prescribed for an 
autoimmune disease, the former clinical psychologist turned to 
cannabis. Her success led to a fascination with just what is in the 
plant and how it works. She learned about THC, CBD, and the many 
other cannabinoids and terpenes in the plant. In 2012, she began 
working with an oncologist in treating stage four cancer patients.

"We have a fair amount of experience with late-stage cancer 
patients," she says. "They drop morphine very quickly. People call us 
with gratitude even when their loved one ultimately dies. They can be 

One problem with cannabis cancer treatments is that patients tend to 
turn to cannabis only when all mainstream treatments fail and doctors 
tell them there is no other treatment available. Sometimes it's just 
too late to make a difference.

"That was the case back in 2013," Finley says. "Every single one of 
them was out of options. Out of 28 who did it (used CT oil 
protocols), 26 went into a cancer-free state. The good news for us as 
a company is that, with our scientific approach, people are beginning 
to be referred to us earlier."

However, in order to access CT oils, you must live in California and 
have a California medical marijuana certification.

"We're not a dispensary; our products are not something you can find 
in a dispensary," Finley says. "We can be as disciplined and as 
scientific in our standardization as [pharmaceuticals] are. Patients 
need to be able to rely on something that will work for them."

The study with GCC may find good treatments for the ailments that 
beset athletes and others with similar injuries. Hopefully it will 
lead to them being able to find relief without having to worry about 
running afoul of the law and complicating already difficult situations.

In Rison's case, using cannabis helps his physical pain, but it adds 
more complication to his legal issues. Hopefully, the GCC study will 
help open more eyes and help us all down the path toward more 
effective, tolerant, and compassionate use of marijuana.

Still no change

The long hoped-for decision on rescheduling by the U.S. Drug 
Enforcement Administration came last week, and medical marijuana 
supporters were disappointed.

The DEA decided marijuana will remain a Schedule 1 controlled 
substance with "no currently accepted medical use." "The DEA and the 
FDA continue to believe that scientifically valid and well-controlled 
clinical trials conducted under investigational new drug (IND) 
applications are the most appropriate way to conduct research on the 
medicinal uses of marijuana," the DEA said in a statement.

Tom Angell, chairman of the group Marijuana Majority, responds: "It's 
really sad that DEA has chosen to continue decades of ignoring the 
voices of patients who benefit from medical marijuana. President 
Obama always said he would let science - and not ideology - dictate 
policy, but in this case his administration is upholding a failed 
drug war approach instead of looking at real, existing evidence that 
marijuana has medical value."

A lot of people expected the DEA to reschedule this year, especially 
with even more states voting on recreational and medical legalization 
this fall. They're disappointed, but that could quickly change. 
Hillary Clinton says that she will reschedule marijuana if elected 
president. Polls are showing that her election is a likely outcome. 
And rescheduling truly makes sense, especially if a few more states 
legalize medical and recreational use on Election Day.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom