Friday, March 24, 2006

Fed’s medpot is schwag, says POT conference organizer

At high noon on April 7th, Patients Out of Time organizer Al Byrne will open a sealed can of U.S. government marijuana, to prove that what they have been sending to patients in their IND* program is mostly schwag—seeds, sticks, stems, etc.

This event, to which the public and the media are cordially invited, will take place on April 6-8 in Santa Barbara, California, at the Fourth National Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics, co-sponsored by the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine and the California Nurses Association—in conjunction with Patients Out of Time.

Byrne was accused by government agencies of “doctoring” photographs showing the poor quality of the federally supplied medicinal marijuana. This time the sealed can will be opened in front of witnesses.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for supplying the drug to seven patients, including Barbara Douglass, Irv Rosenfeld, George McMahon and Elvy Musikka, who will be present at this event, and available for interviews.

So if you want to see egg on the faces of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the two agencies that were questioning the authenticity of Byrne’s photographs, visit the campus of Santa Barbara City College on April 7th. Should be a barrel of laughs!

For further information, please visit the POT website at http://www.medicalcannabis.com/.


* The program under which seven patients are still receiving U.S. government marijuana was started under the Carter administration. It’s called the Compassionate Investigational New Drug (IND) program and is administered by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Four of these patients are on the Board of Directors of the Virginia-based advocacy group, Patients Out of Time (POT). A fifth patient, Elvy Musikka, is the national spokesperson of POT. Their personal stories can be accessed through the POT website at www.medicalcannabis.com.

Ethan Russo, MD of Missoula, Montana, intensively examined four of the patients over a 3-day period in 2001, looking closely at every system in their bodies, to determine any effects of prolonged marijuana use.

The Missoula Chronic Use Study, as it is widely known, came to the conclusion that the subjects, after having used cannabis therapeutically for 11 to 27 years, depending on each case, were all in fine condition, considering their original illness and the effects of age.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

THE FIGHT TO RESCHEDULE MARIJUANA

In 1970, the Nixon Administration passed the Controlled Substances Act that classified marijuana as a Schedule One drug.

President Nixon also ordered Mexican cannabis fields to be sprayed with toxic paraquat.

A commission in 1972 called for legalization of marijuana, but this was instantly rejected by the government. The organization.NORML launched a petition to have cannabis reclassified. That petition took 22 years to be reviewed and rejected. The second petition was launched by Jon Gettman and High Times magazine in 1995. This was dismissed on a technicality 7 years later.

The Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis launched a third petition in 2002. The Department of Health and Human Services has to issue a ruling on the petition by 2007.

The Coalition includes the American Alliance for Medical Cannabis; California NORML; the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws; Iowans for Medical Marijuana; Gettman and High Times; as well as Patients Out of Time.

Patients Out of Time (POT) are the Virginia-based organizers of the Fourth National Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics to be held in Santa Barbara, California on April 6-8, 2006. POT represents five IND patients who still receive medical pot from the U.S. government, under a program started during the Carter administration.

Cannabis is lumped with heroin, LSD, ecstasy, and qualuudes as a Schedule One drug, meaning that it "has a high potential for abuse, "has no currently accepted medical use," and exhibits a "lack of accepted safety.under medical supervision."

By comparison, morphine, cocaine, and methamphetamine are Schedule Two, meaning that they have a currently accepted medical use.

If cannabis is rescheduled to at least Schedule Two, its medical uses will be more easily accessible.The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) opposes rescheduling cannabis. DEA officials quote the 1999 report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) that concluded that "smoked marijuana should generally not be recommended for medical use." The DEA conveniently omits mention of other parts of this IOM report. For instance, the report also says that "the accumulated data indicate a potential therapeutic value for cannabinoid drugs, particularly for symptoms such as pain relief, control of nausea and vomiting, and appetite stimulation." It specifically says that "cannabinoids would be moderately well suited for particular conditions, such as chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and AIDS-wasting."

The IOM had more qualms about the negative effects of smoked marijuana rather than the effects of the drug itself. Even the DEA indirectly admitted that cannabinoids are therapeutic, when they classified Marinol, the synthetic THC drug, as Schedule Three.

Overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the DEA still insists that cannabis is not therapeutic, but POT has been instrumental in getting 13 Nurses Associations, including the prestigious American Nurses Association, to call for rescheduling of medical marijuana.

The oldest and largest health organization in the U.S., the American Public Health Association, followed suit, as did the legislatures of the 11 states that have legalized the use of medical cannabis within their borders.

POT representative Al Byrne says that the government has done a poor job of defending marijuana's Schedule One status, and that he and other rescheduling proponents believe that the case for rescheduling has already been made.

For further details, please visit the POT website, at http://www.medicalcannabis.com/.

Friday, March 10, 2006

TRUE GRIT AND COURAGE OF IND PATIENTS, “PATIENTS OUT OF TIME”

Barbara Douglass, George McMahon, Corrine Miller, and Irvin Rosenfeld have more than one thing in common. They not only receive legal pot from the U.S. government, but all four of them are on the Board of Directors of the Virginia-based medpot advocacy group, Patients Out of Time.

Their personal stories of courage in the face of suffering are truly inspirational. You can read all about them and Patients Out of Time on the organization’s website, at http://www.medicalcannabis.com/.

A Florida stockbroker, Irv Rosenfeld has smoked over 220 pounds of government-supplied marijuana during the last 23 years. He suffers from chronic pain. The program under which he is allowed medicinal marijuana is called the Compassionate Investigational New Drug (IND) program of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

In 1978, Robert Randall filed a lawsuit demanding that the U.S. government acknowledge the medical necessity of cannabis therapy for his glaucoma. The Carter administration subsequently launched the IND program, and Randall was one of the few individuals who were supplied with government-grown marijuana. He smoked it for 23 years, before he died of AIDS-related complications.

George McMahon suffers from a very rare neurological condition, Nail Patella Syndrome (NPS). He was operated on 19 times and has been prescribed countless medications. He was rushed to hospital six times because of the side effects of the harsh drugs he was given. He was so drugged, that he couldn’t function normally, and his stomach refused to accept food, without feeling nausea.

George obtained marijuana illegally for 20 years, before he was admitted to the IND program. Now he can smoke it legally in any one of the fifty states. The beneficial cannabinoids in cannabis help to control the symptoms of his disease, and have enabled him to eat normally once again.

Looking like a banker in his three-piece suit, the 50-year old McMahon describes himself as a “regular family man who has had to make wide adjustments because of the propensity for illness.” His wife, Margaret, credits therapeutic cannabis for his survival. “If he did not receive the marijuana, George would probably be dead by now from all the other narcotics he would be taking for his pain.”

The reason IND patients remain active in the fight to decriminalize medical marijuana, is because they recognize their privileged position. George McMahon’s website refers to Todd McCormick, who received compassionate pot according to the laws of California, but was imprisoned by the federal government, regardless of his status as a cancer survivor with four fused vertebrae.

McCormick worked for Peter McWilliams, who was a New York Times best-selling author. Judge George King ordered both men off their medical marijuana, allegedly causing the death of McWilliams. During the trial, these men were instructed not to talk about medical marijuana and the state guidelines they were following.

The quality of the federally supplied marijuana is so poor, that a number of IND patients have had to supplement their supply from “private sources.” This weed is grown at the University of Mississippi, and is packaged and distributed by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA).

In 2001, Ethan Russo, MD’s Missoula Chronic Cannabis Use Study subjected four IND patients to a rigorous testing of all their bodily systems, and came to the conclusion that prolonged marijuana use had no adverse effects.

The Missoula Study also examined the quality of the federally supplied marijuana, and found that “a close inspection of NIDA supplied cigarettes reveals them to be a crude mixture of leaf with an abundance of stem and seed components.”

The IND patients are also involved in the effort to have Washington reclassify marijuana as a Schedule II or Schedule III drug, instead of the Schedule I classification where it was placed under the Nixon administration in 1970.

The Controlled Substances Act, which was passed that year, put cannabis in the same category as heroin and LSD, claiming that it has no accepted medical uses and has a potential for abuse. By contrast, morphine, cocaine, and metamphetamine are Schedule II, and Marinol is Schedule III, acknowledging their potential medical benefits.

Being reclassified would allow marijuana to be legally prescribed according to federal law, in the eleven states that allow medpot. Among thirteen other such organizations, the Illinois Nurses Association passed a Resolution in 2004 to “support legislation to remove criminal penalties including arrest and imprisonment for bona fide patients and prescribers of therapeutic cannabis.”

The national spokesperson of Patients Out of Time is another IND patient, Elvy Musikka. She suffers from glaucoma, and has made some wrong choices about surgeries. As a result, she is now blind in one eye. She finds that medpot helps ease the pressure in her functioning eyeball. “For 25 years, it has been the most efficient, reliable, and the safest part of my treatment.”

Musikka is passionate about her cause. “Millions of Americans use cannabis daily, thus I suspect that we are the largest minority in the United States. We come from every segment of society and every financial background. We are for the most part, responsible adults who maintain occupations, families, and contribute to our communities. (Still we arrest 700,000 people yearly, for choosing a ‘Wiser Bud.’) We consider hemp/cannabis/marijuana prohibition a blasphemy on the Creator’s work.”

Patients Out of Time is organizing the Fourth National Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics in Santa Barbara, California on April 6-8, 2006. The previous conference held in 2004 in Virginia, was attended by 250 health professionals, caregivers, and patients and featured the world’s finest cannabis researchers.

This year, the topics scheduled to be discussed include the use of cannabis in pain management and palliative care; the current status of cannabis research in Israel, Canada, Spain, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom; treating MS and AIDS with cannabis; cannabis and mental health; therapeutic cannabis use in pregnancy; and the experiences of patients with medical marijuana.

Accredited by the University of California, San Francisco, hosted by the Santa Barbara City College, and co-sponsored by the California Nurses Association, this high-powered conference will once again challenge the U.S. government claim that cannabis has no medicinal value.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

FOURTH NATIONAL CONFERENCE ON CANNABIS THERAPEUTICS

The latest instalment of the only series of nationally-recognized clinical conferences on medical marijuana is taking place in April in Santa, Barbara, California.

The latest conference is organized by the non-profit advocacy group Patients Out of Time; the Fourth National Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics will be held in Santa Barbara, California on April 6-8, 2006.

Accredited by the University of California, San Francisco, hosted by the Santa Barbara City College, and co-sponsored by the California Nurses Association, this professional conference challenges the government’s claim that cannabis has no medicinal value at all.

Many prominent physicians and researchers will head panels and deliver papers. Donald Abrams, MD will greet the participants. He is Professor of Clinical Medicine and Head of the Hematology-Oncology Section, of UCSC, San Francisco General Hospital. He will also deliver a lecture on “Cannabis in Pain and Palliative Care.”

Natalya Kogan, PhD will talk on “The Current Status of Cannabinoid Research in Israel.” Mark Wallace, MD will address the “Efficacy of Smoked Cannabis on Human Experimental Pain.” Daniele Piomelli, PhD, a Professor of Pharmacology and Biological Chemistry at the University of California, Irvine, will enlighten participants with “Cannabis: Synthetic vs. Natural.”

The Santa Barbara conference will feature around 30 different sessions over a two-day period. Presenters will talk about treating Multiple Sclerosis, HIV and other conditions using cannabis. They will discuss medicinal cannabis in the UK, Canada, the Netherlands, and Spain, therapeutic cannabis use in pregnancy, cannabis and mental health; there will be patients talking about their experiences with medical marijuana.

Patients Out of Time (http://www.medicalcannabis.com/) was founded by the partnership of a highly regarded Registered Nurse and a retired Naval Officer. Mary Lynn Mathre, RN, MSN, CARN is President of the organization, whose primary purpose is to educate health professionals and the general public with regard to the medical uses of marijuana.

Co-founder and Secretary-Treasurer of Patients Out of Time is Al Byrne, the son of a cancer patient who had used cannabis in 1966 to relieve the negative side-effects of cancer chemotherapy. Byrne served for 24 years as a Naval Officer, and for 5 years as an outreach counsellor in Appalachia for Vietnam vet victims of Agent Orange.

His activism on behalf of medicinal marijuana led him to serve on the Board of Directors (from 1989 to 1994) of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). During some of that time he also became Managing Director and National Secretary of that organization. Mathre also served on the NORML board. Byrne and Mathre left NORML after they suspected financial irregularities that many investigators believed originated from the then-executive director of NORML, who later resigned under a cloud of suspicion and now lives in Canada.

Mathre worked as an addictions consultant for the University of Virginia Health System. As a practicing nurse, she made a presentation to the Virginia Nurses Association in 1994, which resulted in that organization passing a Resolution in support of medical cannabis. They were the first of 13 state nursing associations to do so, thanks to the work of Patients Out of Time.

Mathre and Byrne worked intensively from 1990 to 1995, when they incorporated Patients Out of Time as a Virginia non-profit charity. Since then, their medpot gospel has been heard and heeded by the oldest and largest health organization in the U.S., the American Public Health Association, the American Nurses Association, and the powerful Institute of Medicine.

An award-winning video, “Marijuana as Medicine,” was the first major project undertaken by Patients Out of Time. Patients were portrayed as ordinary folks who were ill and were helped by cannabis in coping with their illness. Although only 18-minutes-long, this video was viewed by thousands of people in 20 different countries.

Then Mathre edited a major work, entitled “Cannabis in Medical Practice: A Legal and Pharmacological Overview of the Therapeutic Use of Marijuana” in 1997. It featured contributions by 17 different experts from such diverse places as Jamaica, the Netherlands, Brazil, and the U.S., and it continues to be referenced.

The First National Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics was held in April, 2000 at the University of Iowa. It was transmitted by satellite to remote sites in the U.S. and Canada. It was the first accredited cannabis educational program to be held in the U.S. since 1860.

The second of these conferences was held in May, 2002 in Portland, Oregon, co-sponsored by the Oregon Department of Human and Health Services, the Oregon Nurses Association, Mothers Against Misuse and Abuse, and the Portland Community College Institute of Health Professionals. Because of the accreditation involved, these conferences had and have to meet the highest academic standards.

The third conference followed the success of the first two. It took place in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2004, co-sponsored by the Medical, Law, and Nursing Schools of the University of Virginia, the Pain Management Center, and the Virginia Nurses Association. Another sponsor was Advanced Nutrients.

The upcoming Santa Barbara conference has attracted a lot of attention because of the political climate surrounding medical cannabis. As the federal government continues to attack medical cannabis providers and patients in states that have legalized medpot, a growing majority of Americans tell pollsters that they support the medicinal use of marijuana. Patients awaiting legal marijuana in states that don’t allow it are realizing that they are being deprived of valuable medicine.

The Board of Directors of Patients Out of Time includes four of the seven U.S. federal cannabis patients who are legally supplied with medicinal marijuana by the American government by the “Compassionate Investigational New Drug” (IND) program of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which was initiated by President Carter in the 1970’s and closed to new patients by a Republican administration. A fifth patient in this program, Elvy Musikka, suffers from glaucoma, and is the national spokesperson of the organization.

The personal histories of these five patients (2 of the 7 prefer to remain anonymous) will form the basis of our next blog submission. Nurse Mathre works with these individuals and Ethan Russo, MD of Missoula, Montana, intensively examined four of the patients over a 3-day period in 2001, looking closely at every system in their bodies, to determine any effects of prolonged marijuana use.

The Missoula Chronic Use Study, as it is widely known, came to the conclusion that the subjects, after having used cannabis therapeutically for 11 to 27 years, depending on each case, were all in fine condition, considering their original illness and the effects of age.

Byrne and Mathre, along with other medical cannabis experts, believe that federal officials never initiated a long-term study because they knew that such a study would scientifically validate the efficacy of cannabis.

Anyone interested in medical marijuana, health, justice, civil liberties, patient care, medicine, and related issues is encouraged to attend the Santa Barbara POT conference and to contribute funding and other assistance to POT, which is the most statured, ethical and effective medical cannabis lobbying organization in the world.