Time To Act on Medical Marijuana 

Time To Act on Medical Marijuana 
Posted by CN Staff on March 03, 2005 at 21:35:46 PT
By Christopher Butler
Source: Warwick Beacon
The recent introduction of medical marijuana bills by of 60 percent of the Rhode Island General Assembly gives me great hope. As an advocate for people living with HIV and AIDS and as executive director of the oldest AIDS organization in Rhode Island, I have seen how important this bill is. AIDS Project Rhode Island is just one of many groups and medical experts supporting this sensible, humane legislation. We are joined by the Rhode Island Medical Society, the Rhode Island State Nurses Association and Dr. Kenneth Mayer, head of the Brown University AIDS Program, among many others.
It simply makes no sense to subject people living with HIV/AIDS – or other devastating illnesses like cancer or multiple sclerosis – to arrest and jail for trying to relieve some of the suffering caused by their condition. And the evidence is clear that medical marijuana provides real relief. For people living with HIV/AIDS, nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite – often caused by the harsh drugs used to keep the virus in check – are so serious they can literally be life threatening. A study published in December 2003 in the “Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes” found that these drug side effects are the leading reason that people with AIDS discontinue anti-HIV treatment. Marijuana relieves nausea and vomiting, making it possible for some patients to stay on the medicines that keep them alive. This January, the “Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes” published a study showing that patients suffering nausea from their AIDS drug cocktails stay on their therapy more consistently when using marijuana. There is no real doubt that marijuana helps some for whom conventional anti-nausea drugs fail. In a 1999 study commissioned by the White House, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences reported, “Nausea, appetite loss, pain and anxiety are all afflictions of wasting, and all can be mitigated by marijuana.” Since then, the evidence has continued to mount. In a study conducted at San Francisco General Hospital, patients on AIDS treatment who used medical marijuana gained more weight than those receiving a placebo. And, in contrast to the false claims sometimes made by medical marijuana opponents, the study found no sign that marijuana caused any harm to the patients’ immune systems. Indeed, those on medical marijuana actually gained critical immune system cells. Further research at the same institution suggests that marijuana can also ease the misery caused by peripheral neuropathy, another painful complication sometimes caused by HIV or the drugs used to treat it. In November 2003, the American Academy of HIV Medicine declared, “When appropriately prescribed and monitored, marijuana/cannabis can provide immeasurable benefits for the health and well-being of our patients.” Officials from the White House drug czar’s office sometimes claim that medical marijuana is unnecessary because a prescription pill is available containing THC, one of marijuana’s active components. But our clients regularly tell us that this pill, called Marinol, has major problems. When you’re nauseated, keeping a pill down may be impossible. Those who do manage to take Marinol often report that it is less effective than marijuana, and, because they have less control over the dose, that it makes them too “high” to function. Cost is another issue. My organization provides assistance with prescription drug costs, but at up to $500 per month the cost of Marinol quickly burns through the limited subsidies we can provide. Our clients wonder why they should use up that aid on this expensive pill when they can get better relief from a plant they can grow in their back yard. There is only one reason: Under Rhode Island law, that plant can land them in jail, and that’s just crazy. Medical care decisions should be between doctors and patients. Compassion and common sense demand that Rhode Island’s legislature pass the medical marijuana bill without delay. Christopher Butler is executive director of AIDS Project Rhode Island. Source: Warwick Beacon (RI)Author: Christopher ButlerPublished: March 03, 2005Copyright: 2005 Warwick BeaconContact: info warwickonline.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Medical Marijuana Information Links Believes There's Support for Marijuana Marijuana Bill Gains Legislative Support
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help

Post Comment