HIV/Aids


December 4, 2009 – Wisconsin – To celebrate his 54th birthday last April 23, medical marijuana advocate Gary Storck began lobbying for the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act at the state Capital with his friend Mary Powers, a wheelchair-bound U.S. Army veteran who was fighting AIDS, Hepatitis C and several forms of cancer.

“By the summer’s end we were there weekly, and I would make a short movie each week, just a couple minutes, ‘The Mary and Gary Show’,” Storck said. “There are seven on YouTube. Mary and I hit more than 80 offices, and soon other patients joined us. Mary was often having a hard time, but she was always there waiting for me in the rotunda on lobby days. She became a familiar figure in the hallways and offices.”

Mary’s last day of lobbying was Oct. 7.

“She was using an oxygen tank,” Storck said. “I took her into (Senate Republican leader) Scott Fitzgerald’s office to show them the face of medical marijuana, after his spokesperson, Kimber Leidl, issued statements saying ‘the risks outweighed the benefits’.”

Mary Powers died in her sleep Oct. 22.

“It devastated our tight little group. Jacki (Rickert), myself and others had spoken to Mary every day,” Storck said. “We are grieving, but we know Mary is with us, and her efforts have inspired many more to pick up this cause. Her suffering was too great, and we are glad she is free. Mary was also the founder of Wisconsin Veterans for Medical Marijuana Access, and we are trying to carry on her work with another veteran.”

Storck discovered the medicinal benefits of marijuana by accident in 1972 when it relieved his congenital glaucoma. He was inspired to fight for medical marijuana in 1997 when a staph infection after his third open heart surgery almost killed him.

“As a doctor was removing the staples from the wound left in my groin by the heart lung pump, she infected me with staph,” he said. “48 hours later I was
deathly ill. I went to the ER and right into surgery. They took a lot of infected tissue out of my right groin. What followed were the worst 2 weeks of my life. I had several more surgeries, including removal of a 32-square-inch skin graft off my thigh to cover the hole in my groin. I was on the strongest antibiotics and a morphine drip. I believed I would die there in that hospital.”

On the ninth day on what he thought was his deathbed, Storck said he was visited by a “cannabis angel” with an edible. The cannabis angel returned the next day.

“By the third day, I was able to go outside and smoke a joint. And it was the best joint ever, because I knew I was going to make it out alive!” Storck said.

“And I vowed that day that I would use this extra time I was given to see that medical cannabis was finally legal in Wisconsin. It’s looking like, with a little luck and the blessings of the cannabis angels, that those efforts will soon come to fruition. But, there is still a lot of work yet, and the people of Wisconsin need to make their 80% support heard. But from a very long view, we are very close to the Promised Land.”

KEY POINTS OF THE JACKI RICKERT MEDICAL MARIJUANA ACT

The Act allows three categories of medical marijuana users:

1) cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, a positive HIV test, Crohn’s disease, a Hepatitis C virus infection, Alzheimer’s disease, Amytrophic Lateral Sclerosis, nail patella syndrome,

Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, or the treatment of these conditions;

2) a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition, or the treatment of such a disease or condition, that causes wasting away, severe pain, severe nausea, seizures, or severe and persistent muscle spasms;

3) any other medical condition or treatment for a medical condition designated as a debilitating medical condition or treatment in rules promulgated by the Department of Health Services.

A qualifying patient may invoke the medical necessity defense if he or she acquires, possesses, cultivates, transports, or uses marijuana to alleviate the symptoms or effects of his or her debilitating medical condition or treatment.

Maximum authorized amount of marijuana: 12 marijuana plants and three ounces – approximately 85 grams – of marijuana leaves or flowers.

The bill requires DHS to establish a registry for medical users of marijuana. A person claiming to be a qualifying patient may apply for a registry identification card by submitting a signed application, accompanied by a written certification and a registration fee of not more than $150. Source.

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November 29, 2009 – Marijuana used for medicinal purposes has a history that dates back all the way until 2737 BC. The issue of Marijuana being used as medicine has been a long debated topic where people have been fighting for both sides and very little has been accomplished. People such as politicians have been fighting to say that marijuana is an illegal drug no matter the benefits. Marijuana offers a remedy to medications and treatments that have extremely painful and long lasting side effects.

Some states have taken action on the matter and voted to decriminalize the use of medicinal marijuana for people with serious illness’ that would benefit from the drug. With this came serious regulations dealing with the distribution, possession, and who can receive the product. Medications with side effects such as loss of appetite and vomiting leave patients with more pain and potentially additional health problems than the disease its self causes. With all of the advantages that Marijuana offers medically, and how enormously effective the drug works with reducing pain, it should be obvious that medicinal marijuana should be legalized for the purpose of treating patients that are unable to deal with their pain.

Cannabis, commonly known as marijuana, has a history that dates back to ancient times. The first recorded use of marijuana came in 2737 BC, when Emperor Shen-Nung of China prescribed cannabis to people to help treat illnesses such as constipation, gout, and malaria. Marijuana was used quite frequently in ancient times for uses in medicine, and it is believed that Gautama Buddha survived by eating nothing but cannabis seeds. Medical Marijuana in the United States of America is not a new discovery. In 1850, Marijuana was added into United States Pharmacopeia, a publication that contains legally recognized standards of every aspect of a drug, and was prescribed for numerous medical conditions including labor pains, nausea, and rheumatism until 1941 when it was removed from the publication.

During the time period between 1850- 1930, cannabis was beginning to lose its image of a medicine and was starting to be viewed as an intoxicant and was looked down upon. In the mid 1930’s, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Narcotics started an initiative to depict marijuana as a controlling addicting substance that could possibly lead to addiction.

With the gaining support of the people, along with the encouragement from the press, the federal government passed the marijuana tax act in 1937, which federally prohibited the smoking of marijuana for any purpose. In 1970, the government passed an additional bill known as the controlled substance act, which created five categories based on drugs usefulness. Marijuana was considered as a Schedule 1 drug which said that cannabis had a high potential for abuse, and no medicinal purposes. (Booth)

As states began to legalize medicinal marijuana, conflicts between federal and state laws became evident. Although marijuana was legal in the state of California, patients that were prescribed the drug were being arrested because medicinal marijuana conflicted with both the controlled substance act, and the marijuana tax act, and federal law always overrides state law. Not until the court case of Gonzales v. Raich did users of medical marijuana have protection against being arrested for breaking federal law.

The issue presented to the court asked, is the Controlled Substances Act a constitutional use of the Commerce Clause? The court voted 6-3 in favor of the defendant and stated that, “the Controlled Substances Act is an unconstitutional exercise of Congress’ Commerce Clause authority,” and finally users of medical marijuana were protected under law from being arrested for breaking federal law. (Gonzales v. Raich)

Marijuana is widely known as one of the safest, low risk active substances if used properly. To this day, there have been no recorded deaths due to an overdose, and there are very few dangerous side effects. In addition, there is no evidence to show that marijuana carries a risk of true addiction to the body.(Gottfried) The same cannot be said for other medications that are used to treat diseases such as AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy.

Serious life threatening diseases require extreme amounts of medication on a daily basis that have the potential of causing the body extreme harm and great amounts of pain. For example, when an individual is diagnosed with cancer, one of the only effective treatments for the drug is known as chemotherapy. The drug is delivered to the patient through an IV causing symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and extreme pain are all side effects of the drug and coping with the pain can put a person through hell. (McMahon) The main chemical in marijuana known as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or TCH, is known to stimulate a person’s appetite when the drug is broken down by the body. Not only does TCH stimulate the body’s appetite, but it also helps alleviate the symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and pain that come along with the chemotherapy treatment.

Additionally, marijuana serves as an effective and long lasting treatment for glaucoma. Glaucoma is a disease when excessive pressure builds up on the eyeball, and almost always leads to loss of vision completely. Treatments for the disease include several different eye drops and oral medications, but with time the body builds an immunity to the drugs and they become ineffective. It has been proven that when smoked; marijuana reduces pressure on the eyeball making cannabis an excellent and long lasting way for glaucoma patients to deal with their pain. (Williams)

Similar to the treatment of cancer, hepatitis C also requires a long term treatment with medications that have very similar side effects to that of chemotherapy. Treatment for hepatitis C requires six months of therapy with the combination of two extremely potent drugs identified as interferon and ribavirin. Side effects of the treatment leave patients with severe fatigue, nausea, muscle aches, loss of appetite and depression. A recent study was conducted with the combined efforts of scientists at the University of California at San Francisco, and the Oakland substance abuse center. Researchers closely monitored the progress of 71 patients who were taking interferon and ribavirin to watch their progress. Out of the 71 patients, 22 of them smoked marijuana on a consistent basis to help ease the pain caused by the treatment. At the end of the six months, 19 of the 22 patients that used marijuana to help manage the effects of the treatment successfully completed the agonizing treatment while only 29 of the 49 people who chose not to use marijuana successfully completed the course. Months after the treatment, researchers went back to follow up and found that 54 percent of the group that were using marijuana during the treatment had no signs of the virus while only 18 percent of the non smokers achieved the same result. Although there was no documented evidence that shows the marijuana acted as a medicine itself to cure the illness, it appears that the people that chose to use marijuana were able to deal with the side effects and complete the treatment that many people are unable to endure. (Weiss)

Today in the United States of America, there are hundreds of laws prohibiting the use, possession, and distribution of marijuana. In the State of New Hampshire, possession of any useable amount is considered a misdemeanor and is punishable by up to one year in jail, and a fine of no more than 2,000 dollars. To this date, there have been 12 states that have decriminalized marijuana strictly for medicinal use. These states include Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. Although medicinal marijuana has been decriminalized in these states, laws have been put into effect to strictly regulate when a person can be prescribed and how much of the drug they will receive. In state of California, you must obtain written permission from a physician stating that you have a disease or illness that would benefit you from the use of marijuana. Under the law, eligible patients or their personal care givers are able to possess up to eight ounces of marijuana and no more than six marijuana plants. Patients are allowed to obtain more than state law allows under special circumstances if a physician decides that their patient would benefit from it. Frequent conditions that allow a physician to prescribe medicinal pot include cancer, anorexia, AIDS, chronic pain, glaucoma, arthritis, and migraines. (Akhavan)

Medical Marijuana is a largely debated topic that brings serious questions up. There have been thousands of studies conducted over the past century to find out if indeed marijuana has medicinal values. Marijuana has been shown to greatly reduce effects of medications that are given to patients with serious illnesses. Effects such as loss of appetite, nausea, and even depression are quite often side effects of treatments that could decide the fate of an individual’s life. Legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes leave some people thinking that the drug will be available to anyone who wants to get their hands on it. These views that people seem to have are completely irrational because such regulations have been placed on the drug that it is still almost impossible for people who are suffering to obtain medicinal marijuana legally.

Often times, people become so desperate because they have been suffering for so long, that individuals risk being arrested and take matters into their own hands and search out the drug illegally. People that need medical marijuana didn’t chose to have an illness that they are suffering from, it came upon them and there is nothing that anyone can do to cure it a lot of times. The fact that people are being arrested and punished because they are despite enough to risk going to jail to obtain medicinal marijuana saddens many people. Many states have realized how they are preventing their own citizens from obtaining medication that is only going to help, and have decriminalized the use of medicinal marijuana. With all the evidence that has been presented by world renown scientists that show the positive medical uses of marijuana, you would think that all 50 states would allows their citizens to obtain medical marijuana if they were suffering enough, not just 12. Source.