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Measure 33 Allows Leeway


Creating licensed non-profit dispensaries for medicinal marijuana, limiting the number of patients a caregiver can serve with medicinal marijuana and increasing the amount of marijuana a registered patient or caregiver can possess is the crux of Measure 33 on November's ballot.

If passed, the measure will also allow licensed neuropaths and nurse practitioners to dispense medicinal marijuana.   The measure will set the number of patients a caregiver can serve at 10, without a medical marijuana dispensary license.   Currently, caregivers can treat an unlimited number of patients.

The measure will also increase the amount of marijuana that can be possessed by a registered patient or caregiver to 10 marijuana plants and one pound of usable marijuana at any one time.

One exception is if the patient or caregiver can prove to the state that they are growing only one crop per year, then that person may possess up to six pounds per patient immediately following the harvest.  With physician approval, the patient may also exceed state limits.

And the measure would expand the term "debilitating medical condition" to include any medical condition for which marijuana would benefit the patient as determined by a physician.

In Oregon, use of medicinal marijuana has been legal for several years.  Nationally, there is great debate on the pros and cons of medical marijuana.

Richard Carmona, surgeon general of the United States, is firmly against its use.

"Marijuana can harm the brain, lungs and mental health. Research also shows that marijuana is addictive," he said in a recent interview.

But his predecessor, Joycelyn Elders, currently professor of public health at the University of Arkansas Medical School, disagrees.

"The evidence is overwhelming that marijuana can relieve certain types of pain, nausea, vomiting and other symptoms caused by such illnesses as multiple sclerosis, cancer and AIDS - or by the harsh drugs sometimes used to treat them," she said.  "And it can do so with remarkable safety.   Indeed, marijuana is less toxic than many of the drugs that physicians prescribe every day."

Medicinal marijuana is most often used to alleviate pain and the side effects of chemotherapy treatments.   One of the most common side effects related to chemotherapy is fatigue.  Fatigue is a feeling of tiredness and lack of energy.   Fatigue faced by cancer patients differs greatly from fatigue faced by normal people.  Rest does not always relive this kind of fatigue and it can last for days, weeks or months.

Ashland cancer specialist Steven Strum, who has been on the cutting edge of medical advances in his treatment of cancer patients, sees no medical reason for using marijuana to combat nausea in chemotherapy patients.  And he noted there is no study available to show its positive effects in relieving fatigue.

"We need to go back to the old Jack Webb mentality - the facts ma'am, just the facts," he said.  "The question is, do we now have the things available now that are superior to marijuana in any form?"  The answer is absolutely, according to Strum.

"The seratonin antagonist drugs are far superior," he said.  "In the early '80s, I was a part of a study of a new drug, Reglan.   And that was a major breakthrough in the treatment of nausea and vomiting.  That was surpassed in the early '90s by newer drugs like Zofran and all analogs of Zofran, like Kitrol and multiple other anti-emetics.

"But it is only effective if the doctors use what is available in their toolbox.  If they give the patients a 10 mg Compozine and give them chemo, they are going to get sick.  In that setting, where the physician has not truly protected the patient, then marijuana has a role."

Strum was involved in a protocol study of government tetrahydrocarbinol (THC) in the form of capsules containing the ingredient.   And he noted, while serving in the U.S. Army in the '70s, a positive effect of the use of marijuana by soldiers.

"We noted significant improvement in nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy with soldiers who were actually smoking joints at Brooke Army Hospital in Texas," he said.  "We thought that was interesting and exciting.  We did nothing to stop the soldiers that were doing it because we saw improvement. That was 1970-72."

Newshawk: Yes on 33 http://www.yeson33.org/
Pubdate: Sat, 11 Sep 2004
Source: Ashland Daily Tidings (OR)
Copyright: 2004 Ashland Daily Tidings
Contact: tidingsopinion@dailytidings.com
Website: http://www.dailytidings.com/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/1165
Author: Steve Zimmerman, Ashland Daily Tidings
Cited: Measure 33 http://www.yeson33.org/
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/topics/Measure+33
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/mmj.htm (Cannabis - Medicinal)

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