Medical marijuana: what it is and isn’t about

By Blaine Cloud

 

Guest Columnist

As the Georgia Legis­lature nears hopefully passing a bill that adds conditions to Geor­gia’s medical cannabis law, there have been several inconsistent and misleading reports as to what this law has done and will do.

My daughter suffers from uncontrollable seizures, and we have seen success using medical cannabis oil.

This law has allowed us to work with our doctor to determine what medicine is best for her. Contrary to what a vocal minority of opponents say, we are not trying to legally smoke pot and we are not trying to make money. We are trying to gain access to the best medicine available, backed by research, that helps our daughter. Period.

Because of these inaccuracies I feel it is important to lay out what these medical cannabis laws are, and what they are not.

This is not about recreational use. Despite our opponents’ insistence, or complete lack of understanding, medical and recreational use of cannabis are two completely different sets of issues and arguments.

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We, and many others, simply want medical cannabis as an option to treat our debilitating conditions. We want a safe, consistent, lab-tested product that our doctors can work with.

This is not about drug abuse. If you want to abuse marijuana, then you can easily do so today. Our children and other patients actually get more “high” and addicted to all of the current pharmaceuticals we are forced to take today.

Our opponents point to studies that show teen use of marijuana “may” cause some long-term impacts to developing brains. These studies were conducted on non-sick teenagers who were smoking pot. Our children are already on four to 10 medications per day that can cause much more severe side effects.

This is about putting medical cannabis on the same playing field as every other medication doctors are allowed to prescribe.

Opponents say they want research showing the benefits. The research is out there; they just refuse to read it. They say they want double-blind placebo trials. Those are out there too, but in small quantities because the federal government blocks this kind of research, at the same time as asking why it’s not available.

Why is medical cannabis treated differently? As parents wanting what is best for their child, we are forced to fight for state laws to circumvent the immoral federal laws. All these state laws do is allow patients to work with their doctors in determining if medical cannabis even works for them.

This is also about the success stories we’ve already seen here in Georgia.

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Georgia’s current program has more than 1,300 patients, more than 300 registered doctors, zero instances of abuse and more than 1,000 success stories. There’s the child whose seizure count has been reduced from 20-50 per day to an average of one per day. There’s the elderly churchgoer with severe pain from a damaged nerve in his face who is now able to drive, go out to eat with his family and drop two of his dangerous pharmaceuticals.

There’s the autistic child who had to be locked in her room because of rages and her danger to others, who can now carry on a conversation and go to restaurants with her parents. There’s the Tourette syndrome patient whose tics have been drastically reduced. There’s the multiple sclerosis patient whose spasms have decreased dramatically.

There’s the teenage Crohn’s disease patient whose symptoms and pain have been greatly reduced, and he can now attend school again. And there’s the namesake of Georgia’s first medical cannabis bill, Haleigh, who instead of being in a hospital bed with numerous seizures, just said “Momma” for the first time. And on and on …

These are stories of real Georgians who have been given their lives back because of medical cannabis.

We need more success stories. The only way to get them is to allow more people the ability to work with their doctors to see if medical cannabis is an option. Why would anyone want to prevent a doctor from having all the options available to them?

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(The writer and his wife, Shannon, are the parents of Alaina Cloud, who suffers from Dravet syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy. They are co-founders of Georgia’s Hope and live in Smyrna.)

 

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