A Higher Calling

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Tomorrow begins a new chapter in my life as I have accepted a position as an administrator for a clinic in Florida that will soon be offering medical cannabis to patients suffering from chronic illness.

If you’ve ever listened to me on the radio over the course of my 15 year career, you’ll know I’ve always been an advocate in favor of ending the prohibition on marijuana.

Word cannot explain how excited I feel about the opportunity to help people suffering from illnesses. With marijuana’s 70+ year prohibition, people have been forced to be subjected to pharmaceutically produced prescription medication often with horrific consequence.

The Brief History Of Medical Marijuana

The first ever recorded use of cannabis for medicinal purposes happened in 2737 BC and was reportedly used by Emperor Shen Neng of China. In 1800, marijuana plantations flourished in the south (Mississippi, Georgia, California, South Carolina, Nebraska, New York, and Kentucky). From 1850 – 1915, marijuana was widely used in the United States for medicinal purposes and could be easily obtained from any local pharmacy.

The first Federal regulation of cannabis occurred in 1906 with the Pure Food and Drug Act which regulated the labeling of products containing Alcohol, Opiates, Cocaine, and Cannabis, among others. More regulation came in 1914 with The Harrison Act, which defined marijuana use as a crime. 1933 saw the repeal of prohibition and the complete prohibition of cannabis within the United States.

It was then that the Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act which completely criminalized the drug. The medical community was reeling in horror. Dr. William C. Woodward, testifying on behalf of the AMA, told Congress that, “The American Medical Association knows of no evidence that marijuana is a dangerous drug” and warned that a prohibition “loses sight of the fact that future investigation may show that there are substantial medical uses for Cannabis.” His comments were ignored by Congress.

A part of the testimony for Congress to pass the 1937 act derived from articles in newspapers owned by William Randolph Hearst, who had significant financial interests in the timber industry, which manufactured his newsprint paper.

In 1941, Cannabis is removed from the U.S. Pharmacopoeia and it’s medicinal use is no longer recognized in America.

A Renewed Interest

For years, scientists, clinicians, and doctors within the medical community have been ignored, purposefully discredited, and have had their opinions stifled when in reference to the true medicinal uses of marijuana.

In 1988, the DEA’s Chief Administrative Law Judge, Francis L. Young, ruled after extensive hearings that, “Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known… It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for the DEA to continue to stand between those sufferers and the benefits of this substance…” Yet the DEA refused to implement this ruling based on a procedural technicality and resists rescheduling to this day.

The tide finally began to turn in 1996 when California was the first state in the union to legalize cannabis for medicinal use. Currently there are now 28 states (and the District of Columbia) with legal medicinal marijuana.

There have been several studies and reports by the American Medical Association (the main governing body of the medical community in the US) and other respected journals worldwide that show cannabis therapy can ease the suffering of people with epilepsy, lung disease, help stop the spread of cancer, decrease anxiety, ease the pain of MS and muscle spasms, inflammatory bowel disease and other digestive disorders, relieve symptoms of arthritis, helps ease symptoms of autoimmune diseases like AIDS and Lupus, helps sooth the tremors of Parkinson’s, helps people suffering from PTSD, protects the brain after a stroke, stimulates appetite and helps eliminate nausea, has been shown to eliminate nightmares, and everyday is showing a greater benefit with fewer negative consequences that Big Pharma’s concoctions.  

Watching my father slowly succumb to the mental extinguishment of dementia, I was personally surprised to see marijuana has been shown to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s.

A New Florida

On November 8, the voters of Florida overwhelmingly passed State Issue #2. The Florida Medical Marijuana Initiative required 60% passage. It received over 71%, showing that the electorate had decided by super majority that medical marijuana was the right of people suffering from chronic illnesses to help ease their pain and give them a better quality of life.

While the movement is progressing, it’s not without continued opposition. In taking this new role, I’ve been trying to get the word out to people in my area that can benefit from our clinic’s care. Both Facebook and Google will not allow a legal medical practice to advertise so long as they write prescriptions for cannabis.

When I shared a link last night on a local Facebook group, the moderator accused me of trying to peddle drugs and promptly deleted my post and me from the group. Others have commented things such as being “scared” about people driving behind the wheel of a car or “kids” getting into this newly legalized “weed”. As I type this, I just received an email from a “concerned citizen” demanding to know where in her city this clinic will be located so she can get the city involved.

Legal for medical use at the state level, local municipalities in Florida are allowed to permit or decline Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (MMTC’s or dispensary) within their boundaries. Some cities on the east coast of Florida have flat out prohibited anything that caters to the compassionate use of cannabis with the use of zoning laws. Others have placed year long moratoriums on the discussion of anything dealing with medical cannabis. In my own city of North Port, while the government recognizes the benefits, they’ve still enacted decently restrictive regulation on where  dispensaries can be and how many can exist (only two in the largest city in Sarasota county).

End The Hypocrisy

I am leading a medical practice, a doctor’s office. In no other respect of medical practice there is ever a concern. Internists, family clinics, and urgent care centers are everywhere writing prescriptions for dangerous narcotics and opiates. Patients then take these scripts to their nearest pharmacy (and in Florida there’s one on nearly every corner) to pick up their bag full of manufactured chemistry.

My physician has been in practice with an active and unrestricted DEA license since 1981.

We wonder where the heroin epidemic came from. It doesn’t take much research to find out big pharma’s unchecked marketing of OxyContin in the late 90s have been the major contributing factor to the fact that one person is dying every 19 minutes in the US from an opiate overdose.

The time of uneducated, self biased medical cannabis prohibition is over. I take great pride in the fact that everyday I will be helping provide a better quality of life to individuals otherwise suffering. I also will dedicate my voice and share my personal research of the benefits of cannabis therapy to furthering the cause to all.

By continuing the same falsehoods and pharmaceutical industry rhetoric we are condoning the suffering of everyday individuals.

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