A Remedy Or An Excuse

  A Remedy Or An Excuse

Posted by CN Staff on June 12, 2005 at 23:03:23 PT
By Robert Crowe 
Source: Houston Chronicle 

USA -- Scooting around the grocery in a motorized wheelchair, Marcia Baker doesn't look like a criminal.But when she gets home to her Fort Bend County subdivision, the 41-year-old former accountant sometimes breaks the law. Most afternoons, she says, she eats brownies made with marijuana to help her cope with multiple sclerosis. Pot, she says, relieves the head tremors and stinging pain in her limbs without inducing the catatonic state typically caused by doses of Vicodin, baclofen, Klonopin and Neurontin her doctor prescribes.
"Does marijuana replace the other drugs? No," Baker said last week. "Does it allow me to take less of the other drugs? Yes."The controversy over so-called "medical marijuana" received new attention last week when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the federal government may enter people's homes and arrest them on federal charges — even in states where such use has been made legal.Texas is not one of those states; an effort to liberalize its marijuana stance stalled in the just-ended legislative session. But 11 other states already have laws that protect patients' medical marijuana use, and recent polls indicate significant support for medical marijuana.In this battle, Baker has become a reluctant activist. She contributes to advocacy groups, and testified before the state House committee considering the medical marijuana bill."I do consider myself an activist," she said, then added, "I've always been a wimp for anything. I've actually been very shy most of my life."Baker was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system, in 1990, and it progressed so much by 1995 that she had to quit working. A couple of years later, at the urging of friends, she decided to try marijuana and found it helped. She said she won't even tell her doctor what she's doing for fear of putting him in jeopardy. She has concerns for herself as well. As much as she finds the drug beneficial, she says she has a moral problem with breaking the law. She also has a more practical worry."I really don't want police after me or DEA (U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency) after me," she said. "I'm not a bad person. I'm a human being who got dealt a bad body."Snipped:Complete Article: Houston Chronicle (TX)Author: Robert CrowePublished: June 13, 2005Copyright: 2005 Houston Chronicle Website: viewpoints chron.comRelated Articles & Web Site:Medical Marijuana Information Links Judicial Fantasies Take a Toll on Marijuana Leaders Should Act To Protect 

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Comment #8 posted by jose melendez on June 14, 2005 at 02:12:49 PT
Got crooked docs?
Skeptics, like Dr. Jose Carranza, the director of Psychiatry Consultation at Memorial Hermann Hospital, believe most medical marijuana users are lifetime recreational pot smokers who use ailments as an excuse to get high."To make a conclusion that marijuana is good for MS because one woman says it's good is *nonscientific," said Carranza. "It's not a medicine, but they love it and would like to continue to be high until they die." - - - . . . (B)y the terms of his medical license, Dr. Carranza should already be aware of the definition of a palliative: - Tending or serving to palliate. - Relieving or soothing the symptoms of a disease or disorder without effecting a cure. - One that palliates, especially a palliative drug or medicine. - - -* Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease affecting the Central Nervous System (CNS). MS exacerbations appear to be caused by abnormal immune activity that causes inflammation and the destruction of myelin (the protective covering of nerve fibres) in the brain or spinal cord. MS usually commences in early adult life, most frequently presenting at onset as a relapsing and remitting disorder, where symptoms come and go, and is more common in females. Current treatment of MS is primarily symptomatic, focussing on such problems as spasticity, pain, fatigue, bladder problems and depression. In the last 15 years, immunotherapy approaches have become available, but their efficacy in producing long-term benefits has been questioned (1). MS is one of the most frequent reasons that patients employ cannabis. Excellent reviews of THC, cannabis and MS are available (2, 3). Interim results of a small study (11 patients) of cannabis based medicine extracts (CBMEs) in bladder dysfunction were presented at a meeting of the International Association for Cannabis as Medicine (IACM)(4). Improvements were shown, compared to placebo, in nocturia, daytime frequency and incontinence episodes. A recent study in the UK of over 600 MS patients has demonstrated improvement with twice daily oral THC and a THC/CBD cannabis extract on walking times, and subjective measures of pain and spasticity, although an objective measure of spasticity (Ashworth score) did not show a significant effect (5). The authors concluded that their findings provide evidence that cannabinoids could be clinically useful in the treatment of symptoms related to MS. Although, the effects were modest, an accompanying editorial pointed out that current data supporting the benefit of cannabinoid treatment of spasticity in MS is now as strong as for any available pharmaceutical agent (6). The results of a Phase II study of CBME have also been published (7), performed in 24 subjects (18 with treatment-resistant MS) and employing a consecutive series of double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled single patient cross-over trials. Twenty of the subjects completed the trial. Pain relief was significantly superior to placebo and there were subjective improvements in spasm frequency, bladder control, spasticity and sleep. Of particular note was the finding that non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) appears to have significant analgesic and anti-spasticity effects. Adverse effects in the trial were predictable and well tolerated. 
Subsequent Phase III GW Pharmaceuticals trials have shown positive results including statistically significant reductions in neuropathic pain, spasticity and sleep disturbance. These results are currently awaiting publication but on 5 November 2002 GW issued a press release summarising results. References 1. Filippini G, Munari L, Incorvaia B, Ebers GC, Polman C, D'Amico R, et al. Interferons in relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis: a systematic review. Lancet 2003;361(9357):545-52. 2. Musty RE, Consroe P. Spastic disorders. In: Grotenhermen F, Russo EB, editors. Cannabis and cannabinoids: Pharmacology, toxicology, and therapeutic potential. Binghamton, NY: Haworth Press; 2002. p. 195-204. 3. Petro DJ. Cannabis in multiple sclerosis: Women's health concerns. Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics 2002;2(3-4):161-175. 4. Brady CM, DasGupta R, Wiseman OJ, Berkley KJ, Fowler CJ. Acute and chronic erfects of cannabis based medcinal extract on refractory lower urinary tract dysfunction in patients with advanced multiple sclerosis-Early results. In: Congress of the International Association for Cannabis as Medicine; 2001 October 26; Berlin, Germany; 2001. 5. Zajicek J, Fox P, Sanders H, Wright D, Vickery J, Nunn A, et al. Cannabinoids for treatment of spasticity and other symptoms related to multiple sclerosis (CAMS study): multicentre randomised placebo-controlled trial. Lancet 2003;362(9395):1517-26. 6. Metz L, Page S. Oral cannabinoids for spasticity in multiple sclerosis: will attitude continue to limit use? Lancet 2003;362(9395):1513. 
7. Wade DT, Robson P, House H, Makela P, Aram J. A preliminary controlled study to determine whether whole-plant cannabis extracts can improve intractable neurogenic symptoms. Clinical Rehabilitation 2003;17:18-26. - - -The above was removed last night or this morning from GW's site (!), but is available here: 
* Randomised double blind placebo controlled crossover trial
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Comment #7 posted by afterburner on June 13, 2005 at 20:33:43 PT
stain on our nation
That's exactly what cannabis prohibition is and has been since its dishonest beginnings. So far, the Bush administration doesn't seem to care. They slug away at the "tar baby" getting more stuck every day. 
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Comment #6 posted by Gary Storck on June 13, 2005 at 14:59:24 PT
the courage of patients
Marcia Baker deserves a lot of credit for coming out as a cannabis patient for this article! Multiple Sclerosis is the kind of illness that gives no quarter and it is a violation of common decency any MS patient should have to break the law to have their medicine. Marcia is also a member of the MS Patients Union.Last week, June 7, was the second anniversary of the passing of another MS patient activist, the late Cheryl Miller. The MSPU was founded by MS patients who came together for Cheryl's memorial in 2003 (, to carry on her activism. No disrespect intended, but in 1998 while Montel Williams said he was sitting in his closet hoping his gun would go off and relieve his misery, Cheryl, paralyzed from the neck down for many years, was getting arrested in Congressman Jim Rogan's office. In 1999, I was with her and Jim Miller and Jacki Rickert when Jim laid her in Bob Barr's doorway. She didn't wait to get arrested to get active.For the sake of patients who are willing to take on both their illness and the law, I hope that Congress comes to its senses and ends this stain on our nation.
Cherylheart Project
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on June 13, 2005 at 08:52:39 PT

You're very welcome. I just hope and pray that we can help make a difference.
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Comment #4 posted by jose melendez on June 13, 2005 at 08:50:38 PT

here is the correct link:
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Comment #3 posted by jose melendez on June 13, 2005 at 08:47:30 PT

Hinchey Medical Marijuana Amendment 2005
June 12, 2005 Dear DRCNet supporter:The pro-medical marijuana Hinchey/Rohrabacher amendment is expected to happen on Tuesday, June 13 (tomorrow). In the wake of Monday's Supreme Court ruling in the Angel Raich medical marijuana case, it is crucial that positive progress in the number of members of Congress voting for medical marijuana be shown. Please visit today to contact Congress in support of the Hinchey/Rohrabacher amendment, and please forward this appeal as widely as you can -- this is one of the most important votes on drug policy reform taking place in 2005. Sincerely,  David BordenExecutive Director
Contact Congress in support of the Hinchey/Rohrabacher amendment TODAY!
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Comment #2 posted by ekim on June 13, 2005 at 08:45:30 PT

Thanks for all you are doing FoM got his first can of legal pot in March of 1990. A year later, the Northwest Iowa woman became the last of the program's 13 participants. Then the program was promptly shut down by the first President Bush in 1992. Though 57 patients were approved, only 13 ever received legal marijuana.At that time, McMahon said, one prominent federal official warned that too many gay people would be reaping its benefits because scores of AIDS patients were gaining eligibility. The government also complained that with about 2,000 appications, too many people would be getting the stuff, putting too much demand on that Mississippi farm, and they feared the pot would be reaching the wrong hands, he added.
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on June 13, 2005 at 08:21:09 PT

Court's Ruling is Act of Exceptional Cruelty 
Human rights activist Rev. Troy Perry argues the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on medical marijuana treats sick people as criminals.  
 By The Reverend Dr. Troy D. Perry Monday, June 13, 2005 With its ruling on medical marijuana, the U.S. Supreme Court has voted to treat sick people as criminals.By a vote of 6-3, the Court has effectively invalidated compassionate state laws, thereby prohibiting the use of medical marijuana by people who suffer from diabetes, glaucoma, cancer and HIV/AIDS.The Supreme Court's ruling is an act of exceptional cruelty.California, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Vermont all have passed laws that allow for the compassionate use of this drug by individuals who suffer from chronic pain or the debilitating side effects of treatments for these illnesses. The Court's decision to invalidate these laws will lead to needless pain and suffering.In their decision, the majority justices ruled that Congress alone is responsible for passing federal legislation that will allow sick people access to this drug -- a drug that has been proven to alleviate pain, induce appetite, and relax muscles, and relieve suffering in ways that many prescription drugs cannot provide.Today, I am calling upon the Congress of the United States to enact legislation that will allow compassionate use in every state where doctors prescribe medical marijuana for their patients.Before the 1996 appearance of protease inhibitors and other HIV medications, medical marijuana was one of the few remedies that brought relief to people with HIV/AIDS. I am proud that some of our churches, including Golden Gate MCC and MCC San Francisco provided for the care of persons with HIV and AIDS by distributing medical marijuana to people with doctors' notes documenting their need. A hallmark of the LGBT community is that we have historically found ways to address our needs -- social, political, spiritual as well as medical -- when those needs have been ignored or devalued by the larger society.In 1996, Phyllis Nelson, a member of Metropolitan Community Churches and a mother who lost two sons to AIDS, said that any public official who had spent an entire morning, as she had, trying to help her son eat a half bowl of cereal, would never oppose the compassionate use of medical marijuana. The same is true today.It is time to end the hypocrisy that makes medical marijuana illegal, and it's time for the U.S. Congress to enact laws that will make medical marijuana available to anyone whose condition would be improved by its regulated use.Jesus said, "I desire mercy, and not sacrifice." (Gospel of Matthew 12:7) There is no virtue in people suffering pain or discomfort needlessly. I call on Congress to enact legislation that will show mercy to persons who are suffering, and I call the LGBT community to a new era of health activism. We must not become complacent in the face of any injustice. Had this ruling occurred 10 or 15 years ago, our community would have taken to the streets to publicly demonstrate our outrage. It is time for us to reclaim our voice, and our actions, and our activism. In Metropolitan Community Churches, we will not be done "Acting Up" until everyone has access to the health care they deserve, not as a privilege, but as a right.The Reverend Dr. Troy D. Perry, Moderator, Metropolitan Community Churches
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