WV: Cannabis As Medicine Is An Ethical Obligation

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Cannabis has been used as a medicinal herb for thousands of years, even before Jesus Christ walked the earth, according to evidence from ancient civilizations in China, India and Egypt.

The first clinical conference to discuss cannabis tinctures was held in 1860 by the Ohio State Medical Society and, in 1886, a landmark neurology textbook described use of “Indian hemp” tincture (aka “Squire’s extract”) to treat Parkinson’s tremor. Many well-known companies produced these products worldwide: Merck in Germany; Burroughs Wellcome in the United Kingdom; and Bristol Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly and Parke Davis in the United States.

Only in the last century did all this change. Decline in the use of cannabis tinctures by the 1930s had several causes. Legislation was introduced (Marijuana Tax Act of 1937). Political forces introduced propagandist films such as “Reefer Madness” and “Devil’s Harvest.” There were technical problems with replication and efficacy; and perhaps, most importantly, the introduction of hypodermic needles and morphine for pain control.

Today, West Virginia faces an ethical issue: How can we deny elderly veterans, pediatric patients and chronic pain sufferers an alternative medicine that has been deemed safe and effective for thousands of years?

How can we still deny these patients when 175 million U.S. citizens now have access to medical cannabis through state-based regulatory programs?

The non-profit group Compassion West Virginia believes that patients throughout the Mountain State deserve a well-regulated medical cannabis market that allows access to alternative medicines for a number of different treatable conditions including chronic pain, controlling the side effects of chemotherapy, intractable epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and opiate addiction.

The Drug Enforcement Agency has most recently denied multiple requests to “re-schedule” cannabis under the 1970 Controlled Substance Act. While the FDA continues to dribble out cannabinoid-based drugs (as it has since the 1980s), the agency’s ability to do more is restricted by the DEA and the fact that the plant Cannabis sativa is literally a square peg that cannot currently fit in the round regulatory holes of the FDA.

The agency is not really set up to regulate a plant with close to 500 chemical components in it, much less one that has perhaps a dozen viable individual cannabinoids and terpenes of true health and wellness significance. For example, it is not yet considered “Generally Recognized As Safe” (GRAS), as many medicinal herbs are, and this would allow some regulatory flexibility.

Given the FDA’s inability to regulate cannabis as a medicine at the federal level, states have embarked on an individual basis of laws with each state bringing its own personality and resources to result in a “patchwork effect” of regulation.

All approaches differ, but there is one thing they share: the ability to provide predictable and reliable jobs, income and revenue.

The state can no longer justify waiting for the federal government to create a national medical cannabis market. Not only does this betray our fierce sense of independence and self-reliance as Mountaineers, but it also willingly prolongs many very serious problems facing West Virginia (such as unemployment, opiate addiction and lack of state revenue).

Compassion West Virginia urges the leaders of the state to take action during the 2017 legislative session and provide its residents with the well-regulated medical cannabis market it deserves. Our very lives may depend on it.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Cannabis As Medicine Is An Ethical Obligation
Author: Erik R. Janus
Contact: 304-348-5100
Photo Credit: None Found
Website: Charleston Gazette-Mail