The Richmond Register
Medical marijuana in state deserves
KENTUCKY GUEST EDITORIAL Dec 27, 2016
Guest editorials do not necessarily reflect the views of The Register.
The question of medical marijuana deserves a detailed hearing and thorough research.
Clouded by controversies surrounding the recreational use of pot and a common view that it is a gateway to more serious drug abuse and addiction, medical applications of marijuana are not clearly understood.
Based on the reams of disclaimers included with every prescription, all forms of medicine have some unwanted — and potentially harmful — side effects. Certainly, marijuana will not be the exception.
But it’s hard to collect facts when research is not being conducted.
The federal Food and Drug Administration requires scientific clinical trials involving thousands of patients to determine the benefits and risks of any possible medication. So far, researchers have not conducted enough large-scale clinical trials to determine if the benefits of the marijuana plant outweigh its risks in patients it is meant to treat, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Most research conducted in university settings is grant dependent and it’s difficult to obtain federal money to research a product that’s defined as illegal. Pharmaceutical companies perform all manner of medicinal research. Unfortunately, natural products too often fall in priority to new medications with blockbuster copyright and profit potential.
While the plant itself remains off the market, scientific study of cannabinoids — chemicals in marijuana — resulted in two FDA-approved medications that contain these chemicals in pill form.
THC-based medications have been approved because they increase appetite and reduce nausea, which is particularly important for cancer patients ravaged by chemotherapy. CBD is a cannabinoid that does not affect the mind or behavior and may be useful in reducing pain and inflammation. It could have further benefits such as controlling epileptic seizures or addressing mental illness.
While Kentucky does not allow medical marijuana, state law does provide for the use of cannabis oil, a hemp-based extract.
Recently, a Rineyville family shared its very real story about the life-changing benefit of this medicinal option.
Tim and Julie Cantwell had major concerns about their son, Preston. He took seven different medications and 13 pills daily, but continued to deal with epilepsy issues including daily mini-seizures and grand mal convulsions once or twice each year.
While on the medication, the family says it seems to suppress all of the teenager’s emotions and ambitions — the Cantwells described as a “zombie-like” condition.
And then they found a cannabis extract that contains a high cannabidiol and low tetrahydrocannabinol. It’s legal in Kentucky and doesn’t typically cause the “high” associated with recreational marijuana.
Using a syringe, Preston receives 2.5 milliliters under his tongue each day.
The family said Preston experienced an almost immediate transformation. With a bright 16-year-old example, the family constantly takes on the issue by promoting Preston’s experiences on social media and reaching out to legislators. They are not alone in this fight.
An advocacy group founded in 2013 called Kentuckians for Medical Marijuana helped foster two bills in the 2014 legislative session. It gained some footing, including the first medical cannabis bill to be introduced in the state House of Representatives, the first to be passed with a favorable vote in committee and the first to have a hearing before the General Assembly.
That momentum will be difficult to build upon.
With a short session next year and a lot of Republican emphasis on right to work, pro-life measures and business-friendly tax reform, it would be fortunate to end the session with a study group established to report back to the 2018 legislature.
This topic needs and deserves a champion in the General Assembly. It’s unlikely that Hardin County’s delegation, which is quite conservative, will lead any such effort.
It is time to collect real information and give medical marijuana legislation a serious opportunity to be considered in the General Assembly and among federal regulators and legislators.
— The News-Enterprise