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  Lecture on Legalizing Medical Marijuana
Posted by CN Staff on September 29, 2003 at 21:58:37 PT
By Alyson Zillmann, Collegian Correspondent 
Source: Daily Collegian  

medical Studies have shown that patients with incurable pain have substantially benefited from the use of cannabis while avoiding the side effects of many FDA-approved drugs, Dr. Ethan Russo said in his lecture on medical marijuana last night.

Russo, who practiced clinical neurology with a specialty in child neurology, migraines and chronic pain in Minnesota for 20 years, gave a medical history of cannabis to a crowd of about 60 at Stockbridge Hall.

Russo said there are records that show that cannabis was used to reduce excessive menstrual bleeding as far back as ancient Egypt and 13th-century Italy. Medical texts claiming that cannabis diminishes menstrual cramping and bleeding have persisted until today. According to Russo, 51 percent of Australian women now reportedly use medicated cannabis to relieve cramping.

Russo said that many of the women in Jamaica smoke cannabis throughout their pregnancies; they have no evidence of miscarriage or negative effects on the birth weight and growth of their children. However, he said Jamaican women report increased appetite, sleep duration and energy, and diminished symptoms of morning sickness during their pregnancies.

Russo also said that cannabis has been shown to reduce symptoms of asthma, bone disorders, multiple sclerosis and glaucoma. He performed a study on four subjects who were legally receiving medical cannabis from the government for years. Russo said that one subject suffered from a long-term addiction to heroin because it was the only way he could control his pain. This subject, who he said was formerly wheelchair-bound, now walks and uses cannabis as his only painkiller.

Russo said he found no negative side effects caused by cannabis in any of his subjects. He tested for all the rumored side effects, but found no evidence to support any of them.

For example, he tested for brain shrinkage using magnetic resonance imaging, and found that none of the subjects suffered from this problem. His studies further showed that none of the subjects were depressed, and that the rate of acquisition of complex new verbal material was normal.

Russo said cannabis was an improvement over the best available standard medications in all cases.

Marcy Duda, a woman who attended the lecture, said she has been smoking cannabis since the age of 12 and believes it saved her life. She said she had two sisters, both who died of aneurysms (blood clots in the brain) at young ages. Duda had five aneurysms, none of which ever popped. She said she credits this to the fact that she smoked cannabis.

Since having brain surgery to remove the aneurysms, Duda said, she suffers from headaches so painful they make her want to slam her head against a wall. She said she didn't know what she would do without cannabis, which she smokes and takes in the form of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.

"I always say 'either give me a gun or give me a joint,'" said Duda, who is an activist for the legalization of marijuana.

Duda has been testifying at the Statehouse for the last four years to try to legalize marijuana. She said congress is one vote away from decriminalizing marijuana, which is "the first step on the ladder."

There is no reason cannabis should be illegal, Russo said, since it is less harmful than other legal, addictive substances like nicotine, alcohol caffeine.

There is no evidence - such as tolerance or withdrawal - that cannabis is addictive, Russo said.

He said none of his subjects ever had to increase their dosages, and that if anything, some of them improved and were able to decrease their intake amounts. The patients had "cannabis drought," meaning they suffered from pain related to their illnesses if their cannabis shipment was late, but there was no evidence of withdrawal, he said.

Russo ended his lecture by saying the audience should be open-minded.

"You don't need to believe anything I say tonight, but read what is out there and see if there might be a different way of thinking about these issues. Make up your own mind."

Complete Title: Students, Activists and Supporters Gather for Lecture on Legalizing Medical Marijuana

Source: Massachusetts Daily Collegian (MA Edu)
Author: Alyson Zillmann, Collegian Correspondent
Published: September 30, 2003
Copyright: 2003 Daily Collegian
Contact: editorial@dailycollegian.com
Website: http://www.dailycollegian.com/

Re;ated Articles & Web Site:

Cannabis Treatments in Obstetrics
http://freedomtoexhale.com/russo-ob.pdf

New Book on Women and Cannabis
http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread15752.shtml

Transcripts: Ethan Russo MD: CNews Chat
http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread15220.shtml

Pot Pioneer - Ethan Russo M.D.
http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread13060.shtml

Long-Term Pot-Use Study: No Ill Health Effects
http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread10533.shtml


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Comment #13 posted by Matt Elrod on October 07, 2003 at 20:48:12 PT:

Re: Huh?
Jose wrote:

"I'm not convinced that Dr. Russo's position implies that if cannabis were more harmful, it should be illegal. The current claim from the opposition is that it's addictive and harmful, and ought to remain illegal for those reasons. What am I missing here?"

The counter argument, advanced backhandedly by Dr. Russo that it is not addictive and harmful and should therefore not be illegal. Therein lies the implication that were it addictive and harmful it should remain illegal.

The more harmful and addictive the drug, the less I want the Hell's Angels in charge of it. I would argue that we should legalize heroin first *because* it is addictive and harmful. There is less of a pressing need to legalize cannabis because, even with no quality control or warning labels whatsoever, it is practically impossible to kill yourself with the herb and most users eventually quit on their own unscathed.

Matt

[ Post Comment ]
 
Comment #12 posted by Patrick on October 02, 2003 at 21:35:43 PT
Dr. Russo
Sweet music to my ears...

Based on its side effect profile, cannabis portends to be a far safer alternative than many current licensed pharmaceutical products. It should return to our available armamentarium of life-sustaining medications.

Thank you for being a light at the end of the prohibition tunnel. sublingual tinctures hmmmmmm

[ Post Comment ]

 
Comment #11 posted by Jose Melendez on October 02, 2003 at 13:38:03 PT
huh?
I respect your writings, Mr. Elrod. Thank you for your inspring words, published around the world.

I'm not convinced that Dr. Russo's position implies that if cannabis were more harmful, it should be illegal.

"There is no reason cannabis should be illegal, Russo said, since it is less harmful than other legal, addictive substances like nicotine, alcohol caffeine."

The current claim from the opposition is that it's addictive and harmful, and ought to remain illegal for those reasons. What am I missing here?

[ Post Comment ]

 
Comment #10 posted by Matt Elrod on October 02, 2003 at 10:03:42 PT:

Harmful drugs should be illegal?
"There is no reason cannabis should be illegal, Russo said, since it is less harmful than other legal, addictive substances like nicotine, alcohol caffeine."

The implication is that if cannabis were more harmful than caffiene, tobacco and alcohol then abdicating control of it to organized crime would make sense.

Contrary to popular misconception, perpetuated here by Dr. Russo, prohibition is at the bottom, not the top of the regulatory scale.

ME

[ Post Comment ]
 
Comment #9 posted by Virgil on September 30, 2003 at 18:00:51 PT
The SOL is a joke and here is the punchline
The Schedule One Lie is "Marijuana has no medical value" along with other lies that are defended with the stonewall technique to keep what should be legal anyway from the pain of suffering of those that would benefit by it. Yeah, the prohibitionists are proud of their joke. Well here is the punchline- they are all conspirators to mass murder.

I see that there is another article up about epilepsy- http://www.cannabisnews.com/news/thread17435.shtml#1 . John the Engineer Turmell who took it to the courts of Canada continually speaks of the death that epileptics have because of the denial of cannabis. He says repeatedly at medpot at yahoo groups that 10 epileptic people a day in Canada and reminds us continually that Terry Parker who ushered in the demise of possession laws in Ontario and elsewhere was an epileptic.

The SOL joke is not funny now is it once you here the punchline that says those that intentionally and maliciously misclassify cannabis as a Schedule 1 Narcotic are conspirators in mass murder now is it?

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Comment #8 posted by Mike on September 30, 2003 at 14:01:38 PT
Dr. Russo
Thank you. You have done much over the years. I always enjoy reading what you have to say, Dr. Russo. Thank you for gracing these pages (FoM's "Cannabis Drudge Report")

Interesting that sound arguments made by professional and thinking individuals like yourself are always so articulate and filled with useful details. There's not even one peep of name-calling or stereotypical slang that's spewed from the anti crowd. Oh I would love to see you debate Johnny. It will never ever happen, as the man is a spineless chicken turd.

[ Post Comment ]

 
Comment #7 posted by Truth on September 30, 2003 at 08:34:09 PT
Dr. Russo
The world needs more doctors like you.

[ Post Comment ]
 
Comment #6 posted by Ethan Russo MD on September 30, 2003 at 07:14:19 PT:

Comments
I would like to thank Dr. Lyle Craker for inviting me to speak at UMass, from whose medical school I graduated in 1978. I would also like to thank Allyson Zillman for covering the event and to clarify a few points.

Firstly, I am a resident of Montana.

In relation to the Chronic Use Study:

http://www.maps.org/mmj/russo2002.pdf

there certainly were some side effects of cannabis usage in these patients, but these were minor in relation to the benefits that they enjoyed. Two of the four had mild to moderate obstructive pulmonary disease, but this may have been partially attributable to cigarette smoking in one, and to effects of his connective tissue disease in the other.

I specifically repeat that I do not recommend smoking for patients who require cannabis treatment, but rather suggest the use of alternative delivery methods, such as oral administration, vaporization, or use of sublingual tinctures that eliminate any pulmonary risks.

Secondly, our patients did have minor problems with immediate attention and concentration, but all function normally with enhanced lifestyles as a result of their legal access to cannabis, and one is a very successful stockbroker.

I did say that the concept of withdrawal from cannabis in humans is an unproven one according to the latest comprehensive review by N.T. Smith. Although there are occasional people who seem to develop at least a psychological "dependency" to cannabis, and medical patients do develop a tolerance to its side effects, in practice, clinical cannabis patients do not demonstrate a tolerance to its benefits. In other words, the amount required to control their pain, spasm or other symptoms remains stable over time, and in some instances, goes down.

Based on its side effect profile, cannabis portends to be a far safer alternative than many current licensed pharmaceutical products. It should return to our available armamentarium of life-sustaining medications.

[ Post Comment ]

 
Comment #5 posted by Treeanna on September 30, 2003 at 06:36:55 PT
Nice to see one of our own make positive headlines
Good for you, Dr. Russo! :)

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Comment #4 posted by BigDawg on September 30, 2003 at 06:22:32 PT
Ed makes a good point.
A parole/probationer can get a prescription for narcotics... but can get in trouble for using MMJ in an effort to reduce the use of addictive drugs.

It just makes no sense.

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Comment #3 posted by BigDawg on September 30, 2003 at 06:19:17 PT
Thanks Doc
>Russo said cannabis was an improvement over the best available standard medications in all cases....

There is no reason cannabis should be illegal, Russo said, since it is less harmful than other legal, addictive substances like nicotine, alcohol caffeine....

You don't need to believe anything I say tonight, but read what is out there and see if there might be a different way of thinking about these issues. Make up your own mind.<

You go doc!!!

Thanks for doing what you do. A voice of reason....

[ Post Comment ]

 
Comment #2 posted by global_warming on September 30, 2003 at 04:28:22 PT
Ed Rosenthal
http://independent.org/tii/news/030929Rosenthal.html

The Cannabis Crusades: Medical Marijuana and the Recall Election By Ed Rosenthal*

The San Francisco Chronicle recently published an article in which I expressed regret at not being allowed to vote in the upcoming California gubernatorial recall -- the first election in which I would not be voting since I turned 18, 40 years ago. I had been told by my probation officer that my three felony convictions related to cultivating medicinal marijuana had also resulted in the loss of my right to vote.

Although I was spared prison time, the loss of my voting rights was cruel punishment for me, because I have always been politically and civically active.

It is remarkable that I ended up with the felonies, since I had been deputized by the city of Oakland and promised immunity from prosecution for providing medicine to qualified patients.

Still, I feel a certain satisfaction about the recall campaign. I watched one of my daydreams come true in the first debate. Medical marijuana was the only issue that all the candidates agreed upon: all pledged to uphold California’s marijuana laws. State Sen. Tom McClintock, R-Northridge, the most conservative, was the most ardent -- stating that the federal government should stay out of the state's business.

When Dennis Peron opened San Francisco’s first medical marijuana dispensary nearly 10 years ago, there was virtually unanimous agreement among politicians and the criminal justice community that marijuana wasn't a medicine. Furthermore, the risk was too great for the medicine to be permitted. What a difference a decade makes. In 1994, no reporter would have asked the question, but if they had, every candidate would have pledged to redouble efforts to eliminate “the assassin of youth.”

All the candidates agreed that medical marijuana should be “legal,” but there are definite differences in their attitudes toward what legal means and who should decide. This is significant, because some California state agencies are still at war against this popular medicine. The California attorney general's Medical Board is prosecuting doctors based on complaints. Neither patients, their caregivers, nor their loved ones are complaining. No, all the complaints are being filed by officers or prosecutors thwarted when they attempt to arrest or prosecute a patient. Police and prosecutors in some counties have declared war on medical patients, spending an inordinate amount of time and taxpayers' money to harass people whose only crime is that they are ill.

State probation and parole orders sometimes limit use of medical marijuana, even in life-threatening cases. Could you imagine the uproar if a judge denied a diabetic the use of insulin?

These actions are being fueled by the inflammatory rhetoric of the California Narcotic Officers’ Association. The organization denies that marijuana has any medical use and encourages police and prosecutors to view all medical cases as bogus. Its lobbyists use obstructionist tactics and threaten legislators inclined to vote to implement provisions of Proposition 215, California's medical marijuana law. CNOA functions as a clique of verbal terrorists fighting against patient's rights.

The problem with the implementation of Proposition 215 is that it is based on the “stakeholders theory,” where all the interested parties reach a compromise. This policy may work for water rights, but it is insane when patients' health is compromised.

The idea that the criminal justice system is a stakeholder in a health and medical issue is ridiculous on its face. The police have training only in identifying marijuana and arresting its owners. They have no cultivation expertise, know next to nothing about the herb’s medical use and have no sociological knowledge to lend to the discussion. The police's only vested interest in marijuana is using tax dollars to arrest and incarcerate users of any type, recreational or medical. The police industry's influence in this medical and sociological debate is inappropriate, since their representatives mostly deny marijuana's medical benefits and view arrests as an employment issue.

That's why this recall campaign is such a watershed. All the candidates accept marijuana as medicine. How each one would implement the law is of prime importance to the 70,000 Californians holding medical marijuana recommendations. Will patients using this exceedingly safe herbal medicine continue to be held hostage to “stakeholders’ whose interest is a high arrest count?

Meanwhile, readers of my article in the Chronicle contacted the newspaper to correct the disinformation my probation officer had given me -- as a convicted felon not currently in prison or on parole, I in fact retain my right to vote. Ironically, just as the jury in my trial only learned the truth of my case outside of the courtroom, I only learned the truth about my voting rights outside of the criminal justice system. While I was certainly pleased to learn that my right to vote remains unbreached, I wonder more than ever how long we will allow our criminal justice system to misrepresent the facts to achieve its own ends.



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Comment #1 posted by FoM on September 29, 2003 at 22:08:55 PT
Dr. Russo! Thank You!
There is no reason cannabis should be illegal, Russo said.

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