Wednesday, March 08, 2006


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 ( 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.


Blogger ANGrem said...

while i can't lend my support financially or by physically being there, I do hope this year's conference can make some kind of difference.
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12:56 PM


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