Colorado has long been at the forefront of the revolution to legalize marijuana. Now, the state is once again taking strides to make the most of the booming, relatively new industry through its recent Marijuana and Health Symposium.
Held at Denver’s National Jewish Health, the conference presented an opportunity for health professionals and consumers alike to learn more about the various medical uses of marijuana. Attendees also explored almost a dozen recent studies on the effects of cannabis on a variety of different medical conditions, including seizures and insomnia.
One of the stories shared at the symposium was that of 15-year-old Coltyn Turner, a recent Colorado transplant and longtime Crohn’s disease sufferer. Coltyn and his family moved from the Midwest last year and are one of many families flocking to Colorado to get cannabis-related medical treatments that are, to date, not allowed in most states. Turner said of his decision to turn to cannabis oil to help alleviate the symptoms of the disease known to cause abdominal pain, severe cramps and related complications:
“I’d rather be illegally alive than legally dead. I was just on every pharmaceutical there was out there until I wound up in a wheelchair.”
Diagnosed at age 11, Coltyn (photo above) had become progressively sicker over time and had all but given up when his family, in search of a miracle, chose to move to Colorado to try cannabis oil. He began taking it four times a day, and the results were far from disappointing. In the year since they moved, the Turner family said, Coltyn went from spending time in hospital beds to spending it on Colorado mountaintops.
Now, events such as the Marijuana and Health Symposium are helping researchers and medical professionals further explore the role cannabis can play in treating various diseases.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Ken Gershman explained that nine other studies are either in process or in the planning stages, and that these studies explore everything from marijuana’s effect on inflammatory bowel disease to whether it is an effective treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. Gershman spoke on the need to continue research the role of cannabis on various medical conditions:
“We can’t bury our heads in the sand. We need to learn more and make sensible decisions based on evidence.”
After their own experience and seeing the dramatic changes in Coltyn after beginning treatment with cannabis oil, Coltyn’s family members hope that, in due time, those who would benefit from medical marijuana will come to view it as something to try immediately, rather than as a last resort.