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Narrow Medical Marijuana Laws Exclude Sick Children

Narrow Medical Marijuana Laws Exclude Sick Children

As a wave of medical cannabis laws sweeps the nation, with even conservative states jumping on the bandwagon, the mainstream press sometimes makes it appear as though laws are proposed, passed, and then simply help millions of patients improve their conditions with the kind herb.

However, many states have passed or in the process of passing very narrow, limited medical cannabis laws that exclude millions of sick children and adults. Chronically and severely ill patients who find little or no relief — and plenty of negative side effects — from conventional therapies and pharmaceutical drugs are desperate for help. After having exhausted traditional treatments, doctors and friends often recommend medical marijuana as a last resort.

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Unfortunately, many of these patients, with conditions such as epilepsy, severe pain, and PTSD, are breaking the law if they try something as benign as a CBD oil (which contains no THC and can’t get them high). From conservative Louisiana to progressive Colorado, laws supposedly crafted to help the sick and dying often exclude major diseases and, in the process, leave millions in pain and suffering who could otherwise be helped.

Louisiana Deprives Epileptic Children

One example is Ella Grace Hall, a four-year-old girl in Louisiana who suffers from severe epilepsy. Hall consumes six separate drugs each day in an attempt to control her seizures and give her a semblance of a normal life. The only problem: The drugs aren’t working. Amazingly, Louisiana’s law doesn’t cover epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, PTSD, or even Crohn’s disease.

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The lack of legal protection for treating a major condition like epilepsy has caused Hall’s mother to split up her family, moving her daughter to Colorado where CBD oil is legal and readily available. Like hundreds of other families, Hall is a “cannabis refugee” who must leave her home and loved ones to reside in a more enlightened, reasonable state that permits her to treat her condition with CBD oil and other derivatives of the plant.

Even Colorado is Guilty

Which, of course, makes Colorado appear to be the smartest kid on the block in terms of progressive compassion and science-based public policy. Unfortunately, even the Centennial State is guilty of excluding major conditions from its list of those qualifying for legal consumption of marijuana to gain relief. As recently as July 15, the Colorado Board of Health, in a vote of 6-2, elected to continue excluding PTSD from its list of qualifying conditions.

A number of other states, including New York, North Carolina, and Alabama, have passed very narrow medical cannabis laws that do not include a long list of major conditions. These states relegate thousands of very sick patients to obtaining their herbal medicine from the black market, with no legal protections or assurances of purity or quality.

Even in progressive Colorado, a state that has become the beacon of hope for millions of sick people and marijuana legalization advocates throughout the nation, patients are sometimes denied safe, legal access to an herb for which overwhelming empirical and anecdotal evidence is available (especially for conditions like epilepsy, PTSD, and Crohn’s disease).

Until state governors and legislative leaders cease using medical marijuana as a political football and bill signing photo opp, thousands of patients will continue to needlessly suffer. Those who defend prohibition and exclusion of major conditions from very narrow state laws due to a lack of research — but then defend the Schedule I status of cannabis that prevents research from occurring — are playing a hypocritical and illogical game that insults patients and perpetuates a crude and decades-long culture war.

And until that stops, very sick patients like Ella Grace Hall will continue to suffer or be separated from their families — or worse, die.

Colorado Board Votes Against Adding PTSD to Medical Marijuana Conditions List

Colorado Board Votes Against Adding PTSD to Medical Marijuana Conditions List

On Wednesday, July 15, the Colorado Board of Health voted against adding  post-traumatic-stress-disorder (PTSD) to the list of conditions which qualify a patient for medical marijuana.

The 6-2 vote, which was met by boos and shouts from the crowd, went against the recommendation of the state’s chief medical officer.

Tony Cappello (photo below), an epidemiologist and president of the board, reported that he could not get behind the approval of medical marijuana for PTSD because of the lack of scientific evidence supporting it.

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Another board member who felt that science did not provide enough evidence, Dr. Christopher Stanley, stated:

“I’m struggling with the science piece.”

The American and Colorado psychiatric associations, including board member Dr. Ray Estacio, an internist at Denver Health and associate professor in medicine at the University of Colorado Denver, do not support marijuana as a treatment for PTSD.

John Evans, the director of Veterans 4 Freedom, was vocal about his dislike for the ruling:

“It is our brothers and sisters who are committing suicide every day. We know cannabis can help. We’re not going to go away.”

The court featured a dozen veterans who said cannabis has helped to save their lives where pharmaceuticals have failed. The issue many veterans expressed about the legally prescribed drugs that are given to them for the treatment of PTSD symptoms, such as antidepressants, antipsychotics and opioids, is that the drugs have almost killed them or have hurt their overall quality of life.

In a state where recreational marijuana has been legalized, Evans feels that Colorado is putting income over helping veterans:

“We’ve legalized it. We’ll take the tax dollars from our tourists (for recreational marijuana) before we’ll help our vets.”

One of the two board members who voted in favor of medical marijuana for PTSD, Joan Sowinski, said the testimonies from veterans who suffer from PTSD along with recent research was persuasive enough for her to support it.

Until the issue can be revisited by the board, it appears that it will be up to further scientific evidence to change the mind of the voters.

photo credit: South Platte Sentinel

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