Patients And Caregivers
Prior to the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, Cannabis was available in a wide variety of preparations and made by most pharmaceutical companies prior to the cannabis prohibition. It was a standard medicine frequently dispensed by physicians as they ministered to the ill. By 1941 Cannabis was removed from the U.S. Pharmacopoeia and no longer taught in medical schools. With the passage of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, cannabis was officially placed in the most restrictive category - Schedule I. To be placed in Schedule I, a drug must 1) be highly addictive, 2) have no medical value and 3) not be safe for medical use. Physicians are taught that marijuana is an illegal drug of abuse and most are unaware of the tremendous amount of supportive research that has been conducted within the U.S. and beyond.
Patients and Caregivers find themselves in a real bind when they discover that cannabis could be a valuable medicine but few physicians will even mention it as an option. How can it be that this plant is illegal to grow, possess, buy or sell and doctors can't prescribe it if it truly is an effective medicine? Marijuana prohibitionists claim that patients are being duped and used as pawns by legalizers who simple want marijuana legal for recreational use. Patients experience the benefits of cannabis and caregivers can see the benefits from cannabis; they can tell the difference. Healthcare professionals and others who hear about the benefits of cannabis from real patients will understand the urgency of Patients Out of Time and understand the simple truth: Cannabis is a safe and effective medicine.
Patients Out of Time are exactly that - patients who need this medicine now. Despite all the exciting research and political progress, despite a growing number of states that have passed medical marijuana laws, and as more doctors tell patients that Cannabis could help them - even now legions of America’s chronically ill have no means or hope of acquiring medical-grade Cannabis in amounts necessary to alleviate their suffering. They are forced to rely on pharmaceutical medications with debilitating side-effects - often narcotics that slow down gastro-intestinal and other bodily processes - unsuitable for treatment of chronic, prolonged illnesses. Often the suffering have to sign a "pain contract" that forbids the use of Cannabis as an adjunct medicine (enforced with urine tests) - even as science now shows using Cannabis can enable chronic pain patients to reduce their pain pills by up to two-thirds. History shows that our ancestors used this same combination, making Cannabis indica the most common ingredient in pharmaceutical preparations of the late 19th century.
So, the chronically ill have a dilemma. Do they give up their natural right to a God-given herbal medicine and their civil right to personal privacy for legal narcotics? Or do they leave the system - risking their freedom, jobs and health benefits to seek their medicine on the "black market", where medical grade Cannabis is expensive and rare? Do they risk their homes and families to "grow their own" - often the only way to assure quality and supply?
The most critical information that healthcare professionals need in order to make appropriate assessments and guide their treatment decisions comes directly from the patient. These patient testimonials help bring the realities of the efficacy of cannabis and the cruelty of its prohibition to light. These testimonials also serve as a source of comfort to other cannabis patients who remain in the shadows for concern over the consequences that could occur if their neighbors, employer, or law officials learn of their cannabis use. It is very difficult for a patient be considered a criminal when his or her only crime is to use a plant as medicine. It is good to know that they are not alone and that there are other patients with similar health problems who have found similar relief with cannabis.
Family members are also caught up in the medicinal cannabis issue when they see that this is good medicine for their loved one. Parents, spouses, siblings and even the sons and daughters see that cannabis helps relieve the suffering of their loved ones and can't understand why this isn't readily available. Some family members find themselves in back alleys or parking lots trying to buy this medicine on the black market.
Many compassion clubs in states that have passed medical marijuana laws provide education on the safe use of the cannabis plant and offer other services for the patients as well. Yhe key is to know which clubs are concerned about quality and service more than simply profit.
Believe it or not, the federal government sends free pre-rolled cannabis cigarettes to a special, but dwindling group of patients on a regular basis beginning in 1976 with Robert Randall. It all started when Robert was arrested for growing cannabis on his back deck and had to prove that this medicine was essential in to prevent his progressive loss of vision from glaucoma. Robert Randall won his case and subsequently the federal goverrnment allowed him access to the federal cannabis supply through the Compassionate Investigational New Drug (IND) Program that was under the authority of the FDA.
By1992 the program had grown to 15 patients and the FDA was flooded with patient applications for cannabis (primarily HIV/AIDS patients) so the federal government closed the program. The 15 pateints would continue to receive their medication, but approximately 35 patients who had recently just been approved to enter the program were now told they would never receive their medicine. The hundreds of applications waiting for a decision would never even be reviewed.
As of 2008 only 4 patients remain in the IND program and they are Irv Rosenfeld, Elvy Musikka, George McMahon and Barbara Douglass. They are all on the Board of Directors of Patients Out of Time. They are glad to have this access, but know it is not fair that other patients don't have this treatment option. So, how can our federal govrnment continue to claim that marijuana has no therapeutic value on one hand and with the other provide these few patients with cannabis for medical use?
Cannabis hemp can be found growing wild along the highways in the heartland of America. It was planted years ago as an effective soil erosion control measure. When recreational use of marijuana became prevalent in the 1960s, most of it was smuggled in from Mexico, Central America and elsewhere. With the advent of the war on drugs more and more marijuana users began to grow the plant inside the U.S. border and today some of the best quality is found in this country. Growers learned to dispose of the male plants as soon as the sex could be determined. This left the female plants unfertilized (sinsemilla) so that they could focus their energies on developing the buds or flowers that contained the active components of the plant.
Until medicinal cannabis is legal and supplied in a regulated quality-controlled market (dispensary or pharmacy), patients must grow their own supply or find someone they can trust to grow the medicine for them. Most patients don't have this horticultural skill or are too ill to properly care for their plants. This section will offer some guidelines about growing medicinal grade cannabis.
Sometime in the hopefully near future the U.S. government and the world will recognize the wealth of benefits that this plant contains and end the senseless prohibition. While the flowers offer medicine, the seeds and seed oil offer nutrition, the stalks offer valuable fiber for paper and textile production. It is an environmentally friendly plant and its growth should be encouraged rather than outlawed. Research in cannabis cultivation should focus on such questions as: Which strain of cannabis is the most effective in the treatment of specific symptoms or illnesses? Is there a significant difference between plants grown indoors under artificial lighting or outdoors with natural sunlight?
The prohibition of cannabis results in profits for the outlaw dealers and serious roadblocks to patients and their caregivers. How do they find a reputalble grower? What kind of reaction will they get if they talk to their healthcare provider about thier use of cannabis? What if they get arrested for growing or using this plant as medicine? The marijuana prohibition simply leads to ignorance for those who should understand the scientific evidence; it leads to extreme profits for those who sell it on the black market; and it leads to a great financial burden on our society as we prosecute and punish countless citizens who have only tried to ease their suffering or the suffering of others.
Patients Out of Time will attempt to provide information that can guide patients and caregivers to make informed decisions regarding the use of medcinal cannabis. We will include links to directories of compassion clubs that provide quality-controlled medication and directories to healthcare providers who are knowledgeable on the efficacy of cannabis. We will also include links to lawyers and expert witnesses who may be needed to defend a patient or a patient's grower who faces legal charges.