Wisconsin Senate and Assembly consider bill this month.

December 2, 2009 – Linda Moon felt crippled by medications prescribed for her by doctors.

“For three years, I laid in bed. I was almost comatose, and couldn’t move,” she said.

One day, the 50-year-old Fond du Lac woman threw away 25 different kinds of pills and turned to marijuana to treat chronic conditions that had left her disabled.

“I was able to get food in my system. I could get out of bed and I had a personality again,” Moon said.

She is among the supporters of a state medical marijuana bill co-sponsored by state Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, and Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Waunakee. If the legislation passes and is signed into law, a person with a prescription from a doctor could obtain up to three ounces of marijuana from a licensed dispensary or grow up to 12 plants at home.

The Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act would cover people with cancer, AIDS, Crohn’s disease, Hepatitis C, Alzheimer’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder and other diseases that could be labeled serious medical conditions.

In October, the Obama administration announced that the federal government will not prosecute users or distributors of medicinal marijuana as long as they follow state laws. The announcement is the latest part of a trend that has seen several states, including Minnesota, take an increased interest in the issue.

Currently, 13 states have legalized marijuana for medicinal use.

Personal stories

Teresa Shepherd of Jackson chairs the community outreach committee for the new Milwaukee chapter of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

A gymnast and martial artist, the 34-year-old suffers from fibromyalgia, degenerative disc disease and arthritis.

“The medications I was given made me sicker than I was,” said Shepherd, mentioning Vicodin and Lyrica. “I have been unable to work for over a year now. I didn’t think there was any hope.”

Marijuana use put her back on her feet, with no side effects.

“The people coming forward — they aren’t just trying to get high,” Shepherd said. “These are intelligent people who do not want to live on disability.”

Shepherd said she goes through about an ounce and a half each month, obtained through people she most likely would not talk to otherwise in the black market.

“I’m coming forward for every fibromyalgia patient out there. I’m tired of the suffering,” she said.

Jeffrey Smith of Brillion was paralyzed from the chest down 20 years ago and lives in constant pain.

The drugs prescribed for him — Baclofen and Gabapentin — had ill effects and their dosages were life threatening, he said.

“The Gabapentin didn’t stop the pain so much as it gave me a ‘chemical lobotomy,’ made me too spaced out to speak. On the other hand, the use of cannabis hemp as a medicinal treatment has given me a greatly improved living quality. I can once again compose music, perform it and even write for two online magazines. It has given me a life that patented medication surely took away,” he said.

Pros and cons

Dr. Steve Harvey, anesthesiologist and board-certified pain physician with Aurora Health Care in Fond du Lac and Sheboygan, sees medical marijuana as playing a significant role in treating debilitating conditions caused by cancer and chronic pain.

“I think in the case of patients with nerve pain, shingles or post-shingle pain, with pain that radiates down the leg or arms, or herniated discs, it has a direct analgesic effect,” Harvey said.

Particularly useful, he said, is marijuana’s demonstrated anti-nausea effects on cancer patients.

“There are forms of cannabis available outside of smoking it. Any arrow in the quiver that is available to us can be very useful and I think that is being demonstrated in other parts of the country. Frankly, I don’t have a problem with it,” he said.

Marijuana opponent and Fond du Lac psychiatrist Dr. Darold Treffert says the push for medical marijuana is misdirected, unnecessary and holds great risk.

“I have treated patients with AODA problems, including marijuana, for over 40 years. And marijuana is not harmless. Whatever the benefits, if any, of making medical marijuana available by prescription are far outweighed by the risks of how easily in other states it has led to ‘sham clinics’ with mass diversion to street use,” he said.

In Michigan, which recently made medical marijuana available, there are 1,000 new applications per month from patients and growers, and a “cannabis college” has been established to teach students how to grow the plants most effectively. In dispensaries, the marijuana often has rather exotic, non-medicinal-sounding names.

“I sympathize, and do have compassion, for patients experiencing long term pain or other intractable problems. But the risks of diversion and all its attendant problems far outweigh the benefits of making medical marijuana (smoked) readily available, and there are other alternatives available for such circumstances without those risks,” Treffert said. “Research is under way to synthesize THC or other cannabinols that can be delivered in standardized doses in a conventional manner. I support that research. It is simply a more sensible and less dangerous way to proceed.”

Agnesian HealthCare was unable to provide a physician that would discuss the use of medical marijuana.

More views

State Rep. John Townsend said he opposes any marijuana use, and would vote against the bill.

“Under federal law, it is an illegal substance, and there may by some problems with that. Some state statutes allow medical marijuana, but my question is whether it is really being used for medical purposes — or is it recreational? And who is regulating this use? I’ve been in contact with the local medical community, and they are not in favor of it,” he said.

Disabled veteran Steve Passehl of Wittenberg broke three vertebrae during the Gulf War and has undergone 13 surgeries.

“Marijuana helps with spasms from my paralysis and neck injury. It helps me deal with chronic pain, fights my depression, and gets me to eat,” he said.

According to a story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, House and Senate Bills (AB 554 and SB 368) define how many people can be cared for and place caps on the amount of marijuana that can be available in compassion centers, as well as allowing production and distribution facilities.

Previous bills in Wisconsin relating to the topic failed despite occasional bi-partisan support.
By Sharon Roznik. Source.

Additional Facts
WHAT’S NEXT

# A hearing on the medical marijuana bill is set for Dec. 15 in front of the Senate and Assembly health committees. Written testimony can be e-mailed to Kelly.Johnson@legis.wisconsin.gov in state Sen. Jon Erpenbach’s office. The mailing address is Room 8 South, State Capitol, P.O. Box 7882, Madison, WI 53707-7882. Erpenbach’s office will make all submitted written testimony available to all members of both committees.
# The complete bill can be read at http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/AB-554.pdf.

Advertisements

Professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Dr. Mechoulam describes the role of Cannabinoids as anti-inflammatory for arthritis, as neuroprotectant for brain injury and as a possible treatment for PTSD. Dr. Mechoulam first isolated THC in 1964. Conference hosted by Patients Out of Time. DVDs are available. http://MedicalCannabis.com

November 7, 2009 – The use of marijuana (cannabinoids) may be helpful in treating patients who have post-traumatic stress disorder, according to a new study released by the University of Haifa’sptsd Department of Psychology. Post-traumatic stress disorder is especially a concern among war veterans.

Post-traumatic stress disorder:
Nearly 7.7 million Americans have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at any given time, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, which also notes that about 30 percent of men and women who have spent time in war zones experience the disorder. PTSD is a debilitating condition that often follows a horrifying emotional or physical event, which causes the individual to have persistent, terrifying memories and thoughts, or flashbacks, of the situation. PTSD was once referred to as “shell shock” or “battle fatigue” because of its high prevalence among war veterans.

For people who have PTSD, the most prominent symptoms include reawakened trauma, avoiding anything that could recall the trauma, and psychological and physiological disturbances. It is difficult to treat PTSD patients because they are frequently exposed to additional stress, which hinders their efforts to overcome the trauma.

Marijuana and PTSD study
In the study from the University of Haifa, the researchers examined the efficiency of cannabinoids as a medical treatment for coping with the symptoms of PTSD. The researchers used a synthetic form of marijuana that has properties similar to those in the natural plant, and chose a rat model.

During the first stage of the experiment, the researchers noted how long it took for rats to overcome a traumatic experience without any intervention. Briefly, the experiment involved placing some rats in a cell colored white on one side and black on the other. The rats were placed in the white area, but when they moved to the black area, which they prefer, they received a light electric shock. The researchers brought the rats to the white area over a series of days. Immediately after the rats were exposed to the shock, they stopped moving to the black area voluntarily. However, after a few days of not receiving further electric shocks in the black area, they moved there without hesitation.

During the second phase of the experiment, a second group of rats were placed on a platform after receiving the electric shock, which added stress to the traumatic situation. The rats avoided the black area for a much longer time, which showed that exposure to additional stress hinders the process of overcoming trauma.

The third phase of the experiment involved another group of rats that were exposed to the electric shock and additional stress, but before they were placed on the platform they received an injection of synthetic marijuana in the amygdala area of the brain, which is connected to emotional memory. These rats returned to the black area after the same amount of time as the first group, which indicated that the marijuana eliminated the symptoms of stress. Even when the researchers administered marijuana injections at different times to additional groups of rats, the stress symptoms did not return. When the researchers examined hormone levels in the rats during the experiment, they found that synthetic marijuana prevented the release of the hormone produced by the body during times of stress.

The University of Haifa investigators believe their results indicate that marijuana can have an important role in treating stress-related conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Individuals who worry that using marijuana for PTSD may encourage illicit drug use can turn to another study in which researchers examined the relation between PTSD symptom severity and motives for marijuana use among 103 young adult marijuana users. After considering other variables, including cigarette and alcohol use, the investigators found PTSD symptom severity was significantly related to marijuana use coping motives but no other motives for its use. Source.

SOURCES:
Bonn-Miller MO et al. Journal of Traumatic Stress 2007 Aug; 20(4): 577-86
University of Haifa news release

Dr. Phillip Leveque spent his life as a Combat Infantryman, Pharmacologist, Forensic Toxicologist and Physician.

Feb-13-2009 – (MOLALLA, Ore.) – I was asked by a healthcare professional at the Portland VA Hospital if I would help PTSD Veteran Victims to get permits to use legalized medical marijuana. I already had some Veteran patients from WWII, Korea and Vietnam.

The doctors and other healthcare professionals had heard from a sprinkling of Nam Vets that marijuana provided good relief PTSD and probably other battle related problems including pain from gunshots, mine blasts and almost anything else.

I told her yes and within two weeks I had more than 50 Nam Vets requesting my help. As part of their medical history I asked what previous medicines they had been given or prescribed.

I was astonished to review the lists. There were two main types: strong pain killers like Oxycontin and Morphine and every related pain killer.

Apparently many of these were given just to knock out the patients. These drugs are called narcotics because they CAUSE sleep.

Most PTSD victims have insomnia or difficulty going to or staying asleep. The second type of drugs were anti-depressants. Severe pain causes depression and some do enable sleep. Full article here.