High priority: Medical marijuana, patients rights debated at Capitol with MSP

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LANSING, Mich. – Medical marijuana can be a sticky issue when it comes to what’s legal and what’s not in the state. Thursday morning safe access for medical marijuana was the topic of a House of Representatives Judiciary Committee hearing in Lansing.

Medical marijuana patients, caregivers, and their families lined the hearing room to give public testimony alongside the Michigan State Police. The committee debated two pending bills.

First House Bill 4209 proposes the Provisioning Center Regulation Act, which would essentially legalize dispensaries. The second, House Bill 4210, or the smoking-alternative medical marijuana bill, would expand the definition of legal “usable marijuana,” and include additional products like extract, plant resins, and oils.

Speaking at the hearing was the Powers Family. Ryan Powers is a kindergartener who is full of life; but not too long ago, this was not the case.

Ryan’s parents, Jim and Erin Powers, told FOX 17 News that Ryan has an auto-immune condition called minimal change disease, which used to cause him a lot of pain.

“He had pain in his legs: his top was very heavy, his legs were very small, so he couldn’t even run around after all the other kids,” said Erin Powers. “You’d see him waddling after them.”

Ryan takes a medical marijuana oil orally twice per day. The oil is high in cannabidiol, or CBD, which is a marijuana plant extract that has medical implications but does not get him high. His parents said Ryan was able to get off of a few prescriptions that were actually hurting his kidneys, and now he’s in remission.

“Once we were able to add cannabis oil to his treatment, he immediately came to long-term remission: before cannabis oil he maintained a remission of approximately 14 days, and today he’s been in remission for about 330,” said Jim Powers.

The Powers spoke to the benefits of medical marijuana in hopes of pushing the two bills into law, which the National Patient Rights Association spearheaded. Alongside them was the Michigan State Police.

“We have to be able to ensure that whatever the consumers are using, that it’s safe,” said Sgt. Amy Dehner, MSP legislative liaison.

An emotionally charged issue with many sides, Dehner said at this point, this is a complex issue and they are not taking a stance. However, Dehner did say once they address all concerns with consumer and food safety issues, then they will be a good position to move forward with the legislation.

“It’s not going to be solved overnight,” said Dehner. “Do I think there are solutions out there? Absolutely, but when you have an issue this complex, you have to make sure that you take your time, that you address what needs to be addressed.”

NPRA Legislative Liaison Robin Schneider said the organization is working to make medical marijuana patients’ rights a top priority in Michigan.

“Right now they can smoke [marijuana], but the real medicine, the capsules, the tinctures, the topical oils, those are the medications that are going to help somebody with cancer,” said Schneider. “Those are the medications that can go into a feeding tube. Those are the medications that will stop a child’s seizures.”

Meanwhile, Jim Powers said he wants to fight for his son’s access to the medication he believes works, and be protected under the law.

“This is all about protecting sick people, protecting families, keeping them safe from arrest, and making sure that they’re able to maintain custody of their children,” said Jim Powers.

The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee will continue its hearings on this potential medical marijuana legislation next week.

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8 comments

  • Brian Kelly

    When a loved one is in pain, wasting away unable to eat, and needs this marvelous herb in order to increase their appetite, reduce the overwhelming pain, and live as as healthy and happily as they can with the time they have left, let’s have the compassion to allow them to have it.

    Stop treating Medical Marijuana Patients like second rate citizens and common criminals by forcing them to the dangerous black market for their medicine.

    Risking incarceration to obtain the medicine you need is no way to be forced to live.

    Support Medical Marijuana Now!

    “[A] federal policy that prohibits physicians from alleviating suffering by prescribing marijuana for seriously ill patients is misguided, heavy-handed, and inhumane.” — Dr. Jerome Kassirer, “Federal Foolishness and Marijuana,” editorial, New England Journal of Medicine, January 30, 1997

    “[The AAFP accepts the use of medical marijuana] under medical supervision and control for specific medical indications.” — American Academy of Family Physicians, 1989, reaffirmed in 2001

    “[We] recommend … allow[ing] [marijuana] prescription where medically appropriate.” — National Association for Public Health Policy, November 15, 1998

    “Therefore be it resolved that the American Nurses Association will: — Support the right of patients to have safe access to therapeutic marijuana/cannabis under appropriate prescriber supervision.” — American Nurses Association, resolution, 2003

    “The National Nurses Society on Addictions urges the federal government to remove marijuana from the Schedule I category immediately, and make it available for physicians to prescribe. NNSA urges the American Nurses’ Association and other health care professional organizations to support patient access to this medicine.” — National Nurses Society on Addictions, May 1, 1995

    “[M]arijuana has an extremely wide acute margin of safety for use under medical supervision and cannot cause lethal reactions … [G]reater harm is caused by the legal consequences of its prohibition than possible risks of medicinal use.” — American Public Health Association, Resolution #9513, “Access to Therapeutic Marijuana/Cannabis,” 1995

    “When appropriately prescribed and monitored, marijuana/cannabis can provide immeasurable benefits for the health and well-being of our patients … We support state and federal legislation not only to remove criminal penalties associated with medical marijuana, but further to exclude marijuana/cannabis from classification as a Schedule I drug.” — American Academy of HIV Medicine, letter to New York Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, November 11, 2003

    • Brian Kelly

      “Low-THC strain only” seems to be a new trend in prohibitionist propaganda rhetoric.

      Read carefully:

      Charlotte’s story and the concern for other young patients have led some lawmakers to consider passing legislation that only allows patients to access marijuana oils that are high in CBD and that have little or no THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). While it is heartening to see lawmakers’ concern for the plight of patients with catastrophic seizure disorders, these proposals unfortunately exclude the vast majority of those who can benefit from medical marijuana, some of whom also face life-threatening ailments.

      Relative Rarity

      While CBD appears to be particularly effective at treating seizures, the number of individuals treating seizure disorders through medical marijuana programs is relatively low. For example, only 2% of the registered patients in both Rhode Island and Colorado report seizures as their qualifying conditions. While it is imperative that these individuals be allowed to legally access medical marijuana – and the strain they need – it is just as important to remember that there are tens of thousands of other men and women and a small number of children who suffer from a variety of debilitating conditions whose symptoms are alleviated by medical marijuana. The vast majority of those patients have symptoms that benefit from strains of marijuana that include more than trace amounts of THC.

      THC: Why It Matters

      Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is just one of the roughly 85 cannabinoids found naturally in marijuana. Clinical trials and the experiences of hundreds of thousands of patients have shown that THC, and strains of marijuana that include THC, provide important medical benefits for individuals suffering from pain, multiple sclerosis, nausea, and wasting disease. THC is also the cannabinoid most responsible for marijuana’s psychoactive effects. While THC does cause marijuana’s “high,” patients use marijuana for relief, not for euphoria. Patients who inhale marijuana can titrate their dosage precisely to use only as much as they need, reducing or eliminating the euphoria. Some use marijuana only before bed.

      The federal government has officially recognized THC’s medical properties since 1985, when the FDA approved a prescription drug that is made of synthetic THC — Marinol — for nausea. Yet, Marinol is not adequate for many patients who can benefit from marijuana. For nauseated patients, a pill can be impossible to keep down. Meanwhile, many patients benefit from the synergistic effect of THC and the other cannabinoids, such as CBD. Natural marijuana is less intoxicating than Marinol because patients can titrate their dosage and other cannabinoids moderate THC’s psychoactive properties.

      Studies have shown that marijuana that includes THC can alleviate a host of debilitating conditions, including:

      Nausea and appetite loss: Researchers have found THC and marijuana with THC are effective anti-emetics and appetite stimulants for individuals suffering from the side effects of cancer chemotherapy or AIDS treatments.
      Multiple sclerosis: Research has found that marijuana with THC can alleviate spasticity. In addition, Canada, the U.K., and several other countries approved an oral marijuana extract made of equal proportions of CBD and THC.
      Pain: Several studies have found that marijuana strains that include THC can alleviate neuropathic pain — a notoriously difficult-to-treat nerve pain commonly found in amputees, AIDS patients, and patients with multiple sclerosis.
      Since the 1970’s, the federal government has been providing a handful of individuals who suffer from various ailments with marijuana grown at the University of Mississippi as part of the Compassionate Investigational New Drug program. The four surviving patients still receiving federal marijuana receive a strain with almost no CBD that has been essential to managing their conditions — a rare bone spur disorder, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, and a painful condition called nail patella syndrome, respectively. The marijuana these individuals have benefitted from would not be allowed under CBD-only proposals.

      Conclusion

      Medical marijuana legislation should not be so restrictive as to leave behind around 98% of the individuals who can benefit from it. THC has proven medical benefits and individuals who can benefit from strains that include it should not be forgotten when legislators debate medical marijuana bills.

      http://www.mpp.org/assets/documents/low-or-no-thc-high-cbd.html

  • Dave K

    Experts have shown that when certain parts of cannabis are used to treat cancer tumors alongside radiotherapy treatment the growths can virtually disappear.

    The new research by specialists at St George’s, University of London, studied the treatment of brain cancer tumors in the laboratory and discovered that the most effective treatment was to combine active chemical components of the cannabis plant which are called cannabinoids.

    Two of these called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD)were tested as part of the research into brain cancer which is particularly difficult to treat and claims the lives of about 5,200 each year. It also has a particularly poor prognosis as the rate of survival after five years of patients’ diagnosis is around 10%.
    Cannabinoids are the active chemicals in cannabis and are also known more specifically as phytocannabinoids. There are 85 known cannabinoids in the cannabis plant.

    The new research is the first to show a drastic effect when combining THC and CBD with irradiation. Tumors growing in the brains of mice were drastically slowed down when THC/CBD was used with irradiation.
    Dr Wai Liu, Senior Research Fellow and lead researcher on the project, said: “The results are extremely exciting. The tumors were treated in a variety of ways, either with no treatment, the cannabinoids alone, and irradiation alone or with both the cannabinoids and irradiation at the same time.

    “Those treated with both irradiation and the cannabinoids saw the most beneficial results and a drastic reduction in size. In some cases, the tumors effectively disappeared in the animals. This augurs well for further research in humans in the future. At the moment this is a mostly fatal disease.

    “The benefits of the cannabis plant elements were known before but the drastic reduction of brain cancers if used with irradiation is something new and may well prove promising for patients who are in gravely serious situations with such cancers in the future.”

    Katherine A. Scott, Angus G. Dalgleish, and Wai M. Liu. The Combination of Cannabidiol and Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol Enhances the Anticancer Effects of Radiation in an Orthotopic Murine Glioma Model. Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, 2014; DOI: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-14-0402

    Read more at: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/11/141114085629.htm

  • Zegota

    I strongly support Medical Marijuana however, it must be treated and sold as Medical Marijuana. Being provided by licensed Pharmacists with prescription from a professional licensed Physician, this would help control the ridiculous runaway prices and the many different quality of Marijuana that is being provided to the consumer. Possibly even being covered under many of todays Health Coverage policies, including Medicaid and Medicare. A person would still be able to grow there own on private property, think about it, providing Medical Marijuana through the system could also provide much needed tax dollars for todays growing programs. Removing many of the profit hungry sharks from the picture. Increasing the availability, lowering the prices, increasing the quantity per purchase and again assuring a constant quality control. Because today, you really do not know what strength, or what price you will have to pay for a little bit of Medical Marijuana. Medical Marijuana is medicine, and it should be treated as such, good luck. Just my opinion people, like I said, I am not against Medical Marijuana at all, just want a better program of providers.

    • jermaine

      Only problem is that some of those medicines in the pharmacy cost $150 per pill. Have you ever been to a pharmacy before?

      Marihuana kills zero people per year while you can buy aspirin that kills 2000 people , per year in the USA.

      You should let people grow the plant, that has and will continue to reduce costs for everyone involved.

    • Charmie Gholson

      Dear Zegota
      Your definition of medicine doesn’t fit mine, and we live in the same society so please consider your view isn’t the only one. I use plant medicines to heal my family, not pharma drugs, and we utilize traditional health care practices. My families medicine rarely comes from the pharmacy and to take this plant — that is just like the other plant medicines I grow, harvest and make tinctures and other medicines from- and insist it be “provided by licensed Pharmacists with prescription from a professional licensed Physician” makes no sense. This isn’t how my medicine is manufactured, processed, distributed or consumed and we do NOT want it treated as such. If you want the system that has brought you pharmacies and health care insurance to manage your health care, that’s fine. but it’s not realistic to force others to fit into that mold as well.

      There’s no way on Gods Green Earth I want my medical marijuana to handled pharmacists and doctors! Are you kidding me?? They HATE medical marijuana lol and they don’t know a thing about it!! What you are proposing would completely eliminate our caregiver system, and those are the folks who know about medical marijuana and how to use it.

      Do you use medical marijuana, or do you just want us to conform to your idea off what medicine is so you’re more comfortable?

    • GregRx

      You could not be more wrong. I am a pharmacist and I can tell you that pharmaceutical companies want to stop the individual from growing their own. In fact the big Canadian growers have already past a law in Michigan to be the exclusive growers once the feds change the scheduling. Of course you have to give up your MMMP rights. Look at Marinol, a months supply is easy $1000 and it does not work near as well as smoking bud. According to advertised prices, the cost of an once is half of what it was when the law went into effect, and the quality is way up. No need for doctors and pharmacist when it is the safest drug on the shelf, including OTC .