Reasoned Approach Needed On Medical Cannabis Plants

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I miss the days when Kathys Diner was open in downtown Northampton. My wife and I would bring our kids there for breakfast on Saturday mornings. Police officers often sat at the counter and my son would chat with them, enamored of their presence and smart uniforms.

This was before the National Guard, state police and local officers raided my home to collect the medical cannabis plants they spied from their military helicopters. I was never found guilty of a crime, in large part due to community support, but the experience left my 8-year-old son wondering if his father was going to be taken away every time a helicopter flies over.

Margaret Holcomb, the 81-year-old Amherst resident who was raided for a single plant in the same manner, a year and a day after I was, is not a stoner looking to get high. She (and many in her demographic who are now fearful of a similar fate) are law-abiding community members who choose to use a plant instead of a big-pharma pill to treat aches and pains and get a good nights sleep.

If you, or a family member, are dealing with chronic ailments, certainly you know that not all pharmaceuticals are miracle cures. Months before I was raided, I confidentially guided a local police officer in the use of medical cannabis. He felt the opiates he was prescribed for pain were worse than the risk of breaking the law.

Medical cannabis will never fit nicely into the Food and Drug Administration model of pharmaceuticals because it is a plant one can grow in ones back yard. The compounds are too complex, the potential for profit too low. Its not for lack of medical evidence. Type cannabinoid scholarly into an internet search and read the scientific data that federal agencies – unaffiliated with the Drug Enforcement Agency – present to the public.

Meanwhile, legal marijuana dispensaries in Massachusetts have sold thousands of pounds of marijuana, cookies, chocolates and processed concentrates since they opened last year. Not a single direct fatality has occurred, yet in the same period, hundreds in the state have died from FDA-approved drug overdoses, alcohol poisonings, and medical error. Holcombs plant could conceivably have been grown from a seed found in legal cannabis. Those who write and enforce the law might benefit from brushing up on the laws of plant biology.

The Pioneer Valley is a well-informed community whose residents know there is a disparity between bona fide scientific fact and the DEAs stance on cannabis. When local law-enforcement acquiesces to military-style tactics to purportedly eradicate contraband, their image in the community weakens.

My children and I have had good talks about my work as a cannabis consultant and the police raid. My son is still traumatized by the idea that my seemingly boring plants could have taken his parents away from him. He doesnt understand why they needed to go into his room or ransack his parents bedroom closet. Because I am a cannabis educator and concerned parent, he also has a healthy fear of cannabis. But the trust and reverence he once felt for the police has diminished.

I miss the days of Kathys Diner when my family chatted with police on neutral ground. I want to make a plea to law enforcement that they seek out unbiased professionals in understanding the danger a lone cannabis plant poses to a community in comparison to the potentially fatal pharmaceuticals present in their own medicine cabinets. Ask an emergency room doctor which is more dangerous.

Is there a net gain in eroding community trust, spending tens of thousands of dollars per raid, and harassing octogenarians when our state has already voted in favor of citizens using this medicinal plant? When law enforcement and the medical community does not embrace science, rational thought and the will of communities in developing thoughtful legislation, big marijuana will swoop in and fill the void. Are plants growing in backyards more dangerous to children than out-of-state corporations churning out maximum product for the highest profit?

I encourage law enforcement communities who say they are unaware that such enforcement actions (are) taking place to find out more and present their findings publicly. Cannabis is here to stay. Lets work together on both sides of the war on drugs to keep our communities safe.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Reasoned Approach Needed On Medical Cannabis Plants
Author: Ezra Parzybok
Contact: 413-584-5000
Photo Credit: None Found
Website: Daily Hampshire Gazette