April 15, 2010

Wisconsin Needs to Use Logic and Approve Medical Marijuana

April 15, 2010

Wisconsin Medical Marijuana

The Wisconsin legislature has until April 22nd to pass Assembly Bill 554, the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act. If April 22nd comes and passes with no approval, the legislative session will be over, along with the chances of medical marijuana in Wisconsin this year. Technically, a medical marijuana research bill was passed in Wisconsin on April 20, 1982. However, the language of the 1982 legislation assumed that the federal government was going to lead such research, so it was never implemented. I was not in Wisconsin in 1982, and I’m curious why the state would approve research for medical marijuana, yet leave control with the feds (especially under the Reagan Administration). Maybe there is a Wisconsin reader out there that can shed some light in the comments section of this article…

Gary Storck, president of Wisconsin NORML and Director of Communications for ‘Is My Medicine Legal Yet’ was quoted as saying “Many people are being harmed because they are being forced to take these drugs that are bad for their bodies. Many of the patients who are on these drugs say that they don’t work well, were addictive or gave them symptoms that were intolerable. Marijuana has never been proven to be harmful. It has never killed any lab animals during tests, and it doesn’t mess with serotonin levels in the brain. It is a natural herb that has been used for thousands of years, so it has a long-term history of being very healthy. We have until April 22 for it to pass out of both committees and have a floor vote. So far, no vote has been scheduled at this time. We really aren’t seeing a lot of movement. No Republicans have come out and said that they will vote for the bill. Many have said that they support it, but aren’t actively working to make it happen.”

Mr. Storck recently debated David Nordstrom, a professor at UW-Whitewater. Professor Nordstrom has a different view on the medical benefits of medical marijuana. “There are those who want to throw the FDA out the window and go through the legislative political process to choose drugs. That’s not right in my opinion,” Nordstrom said. Considering the fact that the FDA didn’t regulate tobacco until 2009, I wonder if professor Nordstrom was out crusading for tobacco prohibition. He claims to not be an activist, and claims to be neutral on this issue. However, I think that his actions speak volumes. He is a prohibitionist, plain and simple.

Professor Nordstrom’s views seem to be spreading to other people at the university. “Marijuana is a harmful drug that has adverse effects such as psychotic disorders, increased anxiety and depression. Research has also shown that the drug affects heart rate, coordination and memory and could cause learning difficulties,” said William Stephan, a student nurse’s aide at UW. In the previously cited news article, Professor Nordstrom claims that ‘he doesn’t think there is much backing for the drug by health officials or medical providers.’ After looking at Mr. Stephan’s quote, it seems that Professor Nordstrom’s view is shared by at least one the University’s students. Do they get the news, newspapers, or internet access on UW’s campus??

Just in case Mr. Stephan and Professor Nordstrom have been living in a hole the last eleven years, here is a breakdown of what has been going on in the medical world:

“The findings in this report generally agreed with the CSA’s assessment of the evidence on the potential medical utility of synthetic and plant-derived cannabinoids. The IOM report also concurred with the CSA that further research on the medical utility of marijuana and individual cannabinoids was warranted…” — American Medical Association (1999)

“Smoked cannabis reduced pain in HIV patients. In one study, 50 patients assigned either to cannabis or placebo finished the study. Although 52% of those who smoked marijuana had a 30% or more reduction in pain intensity, just 24% of those in the placebo group did. The study is published in the journal Neurology. In another study, 28 HIV patients were assigned to either marijuana or placebo — and 46% of pot smokers compared to 18% of the placebo group reported 30% or more pain relief. That study is in Neuropsychopharmacology. Marijuana helped reduce pain in people suffering spinal cord injury and other conditions. In this study, 38 patients smoked either high-dose or low-dose marijuana; 32 finished all three sessions. Both doses reduced neuropathic pain from different causes. Results appear in the Journal of Pain. Medium doses of marijuana can reduce pain perception, another study found. Fifteen healthy volunteers smoked a low, medium, or high dose of marijuana to see if it could counteract the pain produced by an injection of capsaicin, the ”hot” ingredient in chili peppers. The higher the dose, the greater the pain relief. The study was published in Anesthesiology. Vaporized marijuana can be safe, other research found. In this study, 14 volunteers were assigned to get low, medium, or high doses of pot, either smoked or by vaporization delivery, on six different occasions. The vaporized method was found safe; patients preferred it to smoking. The study is in Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics.” – WebMD (2010)

“The future of cannabinoid-based medicine lies in the rapidly evolving field of botanical drug substance development, as well as the design of molecules that target various aspects of the endocannabinoid system. To the extent that rescheduling marijuana out of Schedule I will benefit this effort, such a move can be supported.” — American Medical Association (2010)

I can go on and on; however, I think that people get the point. How ‘educated’ people in Wisconsin can say things like ‘marijuana is a harmful drug’ and ‘there is no backing by health officials or medical providers,’ is beyond me. At least there is one person in Wisconsin that is fighting hard for this thing, and has logical reasoning skills. “The benefits outweigh the risks,” said Gary Storck, president of Wisconsin NORML.

To read the full text of the bill click here


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