Pubdate: Thu, 19 Jan 2017
Source: Leader-Telegram (Eau Claire, WI)
Copyright: 2017 Eau Claire Press
Author: Liam Marlaire


Medical marijuana use should be legal in Wisconsin.

Twenty-eight states -- Arkansas, Florida, North Dakota and Ohio joined in
November -- and the District of Columbia allow for such use. California
was the first to legalize medical marijuana 11 years ago.

There are signs that Wisconsin may eventually adopt that stance. Although
Republicans in the state often have opposed such measures, The Associated
Press reported that state Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, is circulating a
bill that would make possessing a marijuana extract used to prevent
seizures legal with a doctor's certification.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, also recently told AP he would
consider it, though Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and
Gov. Scott Walker remain opposed. Advocates have said it's less harmful
than opiates as painkillers. Approved drugs often are as intoxicating as
marijuana but can be more habit-forming.

"If you get a prescription to use an opiate or you get a prescription to
use marijuana, to me I think that's the same thing," Vos said. "I would be
open to that."

Democrats have rekindled the issue as well. The AP reported that state
Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, and Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, are
looking for bill co-sponsors. "They say ... the public supports such a
move to help those who are suffering with debilitating illness," the story

* * *

A new report from The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and
Medicine addresses the issue in detail.

"One of the therapeutic uses of cannabis and cannabinoids is to treat
chronic pain in adults," the report reads. "The committee found evidence
to support that patients who were treated with cannabis or cannabinoids
were more likely to experience a significant reduction in pain symptoms.

"Furthermore, in adults with chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting,
there was conclusive evidence that certain oral cannabinoids were
effective in preventing and treating those ailments."

It also improves patient-reported multiple sclerosis spasticity symptoms.
Other conclusions in the report included:

There is "moderate evidence" that cannabis or cannabinoids are effective for:

* Improving short-term sleep outcomes in those with sleep disturbance
associated with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, fibromyalgia, chronic
pain and multiple sclerosis.

There is "limited evidence" that cannabis or cannabinoids are effective for:

* Increasing appetite and decreasing weight loss associated with

* Improving Tourette syndrome, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder

The study addressed harmful side effects as well, though almost any drug
will have drawbacks. It also lists several ailments for which marijuana
doesn't help and made specific suggestions regarding future research.

* * *

Medical marijuana should not be a partisan issue, though it will require a
bipartisan effort in Wisconsin.

We need to explore all possible avenues when treating a person in
chemotherapy who cannot eat because of severe nausea, a patient enduring
chronic pain or a victim suffering the debilitating effects of multiple

Legislation legalizing medical marijuana use can include parameters to
limit its use and avoid abuse. But let's leave it to the doctors, not
legislators, on how it should be applied.

It's critical for health care providers to have as many resources as
possible. Medical marijuana would be one more tool with which they could
provide the best care possible.
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