Five physicians in Australia have been cleared to continue practicing medicine after a medical marijuana controversy. Health authorities in the southern state of Victoria declared that the doctors did not place the community in harms way by prescribing medical marijuana to a few patients suffering from debilitating medical conditions like epilepsy.
Under Australian law, recreational marijuana use is illegal. However, in South Australia, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory, possession of up to 100 grams of cannabis is decriminalized and punishable by a civil fine, so the country does have some progressive laws in place. In the state of Victoria, the use of medical marijuana by qualifying patients is expected to be legalized in the near future. The Herald Sun reports that despite the promise of legal medical marijuana, many families and practicing physicians are still being hassled by child protection authorities.
Agents of child protection services and one large hospital representative in the state have reportedly filed complaints against five physicians who used medical marijuana to treat patients. Even though it is supposed to be legalized sometime soon, the use of all forms of cannabis is still technically illegal even for medicinal purposes. However, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency decided not to reprimand the doctors under investigation.
The doctors under investigation were found to have only used medical marijuana to treat patients suffering from medical conditions like epilepsy, a condition in which cannabis oil has been proven to reduce the number of and severity of seizures. It would be a waste of time, money and resources to build a case against physicians for prescribing medical marijuana in Victoria if it will be legalized in the near future.
photo credit: shapehomeloans, TheAge.com
The amount of research that has been conducted on the efficacy and use of cannabis in the treatment of different forms of epilepsy and other seizure disorders far under-represents the public demand for such information. Although more research does need to be completed, cannabis therapy has proven to be quite successful in the treatment of many different forms of debilitating medical conditions, including childhood and adult forms of epilepsy.
It is the non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in marijuana, cannabidiol (CBD), that has demonstrated the ability to lessen the frequency and severity of seizures in patients of all ages. Parents of children suffering from such conditions in the United States, South America and the rest of the world have organized many rallies to draw attention to the fact that medical marijuana should be available globally. In many cases, CBD oil has been the only treatment that has worked successfully for patients.
After a recent protest in South America’s largest country, the Brazilian government’s Health Surveillance Agency announced that legalizing medical marijuana will be discussed in January 2015. The small protest that sparked this response from the government was in support of legalizing CBD oil to treat epilepsy. This protest came after a decision made by the Federal Medical Council in early December, which approved neurologists and psychiatrists to recommend cannabidiol oil to treat children and teens suffering from epilepsy in Brazil. This authorization came with the stipulation that these patients must have been unsuccessfully treated with the more commonly prescribed pharmaceuticals. This change did not, however, come with any legislation to allow the production or distribution of such medication.
Most seeking cannabis therapy in Brazil obtain their medicine through a secret society of cultivators who make the cannabidiol oil, and then donate it to patients. According to one mom’s statement to the Associated Press, this band of kind, care-giving outlaws will not even allow for patients to cover the cost of shipping. All CBD oil is provided at no cost to the patient. Although these families of patients suffering from epilepsy are excited about the recent measure allowing doctors to prescribe CBD oil, they do not want to have to receive medicine illegally.
Several trials to study the efficacy of CBD in the treatment of epilepsy have just recently been approved in the United States, and the United Kingdom. If medical marijuana is legalized in Brazil, perhaps this will open doors to more medical studies and research on this subject in the future.
Tom Davis is the republican senator who authored and introduced the medical cannabis oil legislation in the South Carolina. The bill, S 1035, which Governor Nikki Haley signed into law in June of this year, allows physicians to prescribe cannabidiol (CBD) oil to patients with epilepsy to treat symptoms and seizures. Now senator Davis, pictured below holding a sign stating what he was thankful for on the holiday last month, is looking to expand the medical marijuana law to include patients suffering from many other debilitating medical conditions.
The medical marijuana bill passed by the South Carolina general assembly in June also allowed the formation of a medical marijuana study committee with the purpose of learning more about the cannabis plant including how to cultivate it and how to use it for medicinal or therapeutic treatment purposes.
In the effort for education, the committee has held four hearings, so far, throughout the state where people come to share their personal experiences with the use of medical marijuana. From just four hearings, Davis reported that he was amazed at how much he has learned about how cannabis has helped to treat many different patients suffering from a variety of ailments, including post-traumatic-stress-disorder, autism, pain management, and glaucoma as well as epilepsy and other seizure disorders.
Science and humanity seem to be the inspiration for Davis. It is what he learned about the endocannabinoid receptor system in the human brain, and how it responds to the phytocannabinoids provided by using cannabis, combined with the first-hand human experience stories that have inspired him to push for the expansion of the medical marijuana program in the Palmetto State. He anticipates introducing the amendment when the legislature reconvenes in 2015.
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A new study, published earlier this week, in the Journal of the American Medical Association, was conducted by emergency room doctors at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora. The study, which aimed to provide a balanced perspective for other states to look at when considering marijuana legalization, began on this first day of 2014 when recreational marijuana sales became legal in the state of Colorado.
The published report begins with a brief history of marijuana in the state of Colorado, starting with the legalization of medical marijuana in the year 2000. Also included in the report is both the expected and unexpected health system effects of legalization, the positive results of medical marijuana use in treating many debilitating medical conditions, and the challenges presented by marijuana edibles.
The study reports both the positives and negatives seen by the doctors in this emergency room. Dr. Andrew Monte, lead study author and toxicologist told The Denver Channel, “The poison is always in the dose. We have to understand in the right circumstances, marijuana and its components can be very beneficial. However it can also have risks as well.”
The study confirms what many other studies have relayed about the benefits medical marijuana has had on such medical conditions as epilepsy and inflammatory bowl disease, acknowledging the anti-inflammatory properties in cannabis. The beneficial role medical marijuana has played in replacing patient need for pain relieving pharmaceuticals, resulting in a decrease in opioid-related deaths, is also covered. Most importantly, marijuana legalization has opened the door for honest conversation and research.
The negatives acknowledged in the study seemed to center around ingestible forms of marijuana. Approximately 2,000 patients are admitted to the emergency room at the University of Colorado Aurora each week. Of those 2,000 patients, 1 or 2 people may be admitted for marijuana intoxication. People suffering from marijuana intoxication may demonstrate such symptoms as panic attacks and anxiety, public intoxication or vomiting. The study reports that the majority of marijuana intoxication cases were the result of consuming marijuana edibles. Cases like these, caused by inexperience and lack of marijuana edible education will likely increase in the very near future, but decrease over the long term, as more research and studies are completed to, ultimately, educate the public.
More cannabis research and clinical studies must be completed. At least this is a step in the direction of openness and honesty in regards to marijuana research. As Dr. Monte pointed out, “The take away is that there are both positives and negatives for marijuana legalization and liberalization.”
The CannaMoms and CannaBabes landed back in Florida last night after spending two weeks in San Francisco, California on a mission for medical marijuana education and treatment.
These moms have been forced to seek medical marijuana treatments for their children outside of their home state because the plant is not currently legal in the state of Florida, even for medical use. The CannaMoms, along with many others, are hoping that will change after election day next week when Floridians have the opportunity to Vote Yes on Amendment 2. Amendment 2 will allow medical marijuana dispensaries to cultivate, produce and distribute medical marijuana to patients with qualifying medical conditions. These families just want safe, consistent access to medical marijuana for their children, and they want it to be available in their home state of Florida to avoid having to move or travel just to obtain medication.
The CannaMoms organization consists of a “group of passionate mothers advocating for the right and option to utilize cannabis in the care of their critically ill children.” The three strong moms who started the organization, Jacel Delgadillo, Moriah Barnhart and Renee Petro have children who suffer from severe medical conditions such as brain tumors and different types of epilepsy, and they are frustrated with the horrible side effects caused by the pharmaceutical medications prescribed by physicians to treat their children’s symptoms.
During an interview with 5KPIX San Francisco at the Steep Hill Lab, Renee Petro explains some of the harm caused by pharmaceutical medications given to her son, Brandon, who suffers from epilepsy. She explained that when Brandon is on the pharmaceutical benzo drugs he has bad side effects that make him want to commit suicide. He has asked her several times to kill him, but with the medical marijuana treatment, at night, he asks for a bag of Cheetos instead.
Back in Florida last night, at the Tampa airport, Petro shared the good news about Brandon (pictured below) with WFLA,
“He’s been seizure free for two weeks!”
Brandon has been using a mist spray form of medical marijuana that contains equal amounts of CBD and THC. Petro was filled with feelings of both thanks and anger because there is an injustice that no one realizes, which she explained to WFLA,
“It was very upsetting not knowing what I know now, that something could have possibly spared him the amount of pharmaceuticals he has taken and the horrible side effects. It angers me, why something that is available in other states, that is available and legal, is not legal here [in Florida].”
Moriah Barnhart and her young daughter, Dahlia, who has a brain tumor, were also on the trip to California for medical marijuana education and treatment. Dahlia has also seen success in using cannabis oil treatments while in California. After landing at the Tampa airport in Florida last night, Barnhart told WFLA that they have seen immediate results in Dahlia that include,
“Sleeping through the night, eating and she is no longer being threatened with a feeding tube.”
Floridians against medical marijuana fear that the risks are too high to vote yes on Amendment 2. For the CannaMoms and many others, the only risk associated with Amendment 2 is if it is not approved by voters next week. Not allowing the use of medical marijuana in the state of Florida risks a future filled with a good quality of life for these children and many others who suffer from debilitating medical conditions.
photo credit: steephilllab, Facebook/Cannamoms