"Cannabis: The Medicine Plant” By Al Byrne

by Al Byrne, co-founder, Patients Out of Time

It has been 80 years since an American medical school taught its students about the clinical applications of cannabis utilized to treat the ill. It will be 10 years in the spring of 2010 that Patients Out of Time has been re-establishing clinical cannabis knowledge in the medical and nursing communities.

Much is written these days of a need for more cannabis research. We are all for more work to be done to find unknown and exciting possibilities for cannabis treatment but we have enough science now to know beyond any line of credible doubt that cannabis is a medicine and a safe one. The research Patients Out of Time has assembled is world-wide in scope. It is an enormous collection of science from around the globe. An assemblage of medical cannabis science from the earliest research through that conducted up until 2002 can be found at www.drugscience.org. Here Dr. Jon Gettman and Patients Out of Time, with the assistance of other groups, have posted a copy of The Petition to Reschedule Cannabis.

The Petition, defined as a demand in this instance, asks the federal government to consider the submitted research and rule up or down if cannabis is medicine. After taking the full three years allowed by law the DEA finally passed the request to the Department of Health and Human Services. At present that institution is almost two years late by law in answering the petition’s request. Patients Out of Time can only assume that HHS is unwilling to admit cannabis is medicine for political reasons. The Petition’s authors await the new Surgeon General who is the responsible agent to answer this demand.

A lot has been written and debated, almost always by lay folks who have no medical education, about the shortcomings of cannabis and especially that the medical demand for cannabis is nothing but a cover for cannabis legalization for recreational use. Cannabis used medically does not work for all patients. No medicine has that capability. But it is the safest plant substance for a human to use in any capacity known to mankind. It is not just the oft quoted DEA Administrative Law Judge Young that reached that conclusion, it is held by every toxicologist that ever studied the LD-50 (LD or lethal dose, the amount of a substance that kills 50% of those tested) of cannabis. It can’t kill you no matter how much you inhale or ingest.

As for the medical cannabis movement being a sham, accused by talking heads of no medical validity including federal government anti-cannabis professionals, to be a movement of doctors, nurses, scientists and advocates from around the world who have entered into a huge conspiracy, even creating mounds of false documentation that they deluded their professional counterparts into thinking was real, so they could smoke marijuana in their livings rooms – is absurd. Yet that plays well in the media, the fire fanned by federal government propaganda. In reality the sophistication of the medical cannabis research grows exponentially around the world.

On April 15-17, 2010 in Warwick (Providence), RI, The Sixth National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics was held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Speakers from Canada, Jamaica, Brazil, Israel and the US presented their state-of-the-art findings. Dr. Mechoulam, pioneer cannabis researcher and the investigator that isolated and identified delta-9- THC in cannabis discussed his 45 plus years in the field of cannabis science and his latest findings which include the use of cannabis for head trauma and PTSD symptoms exhibited by injured Israeli soldiers, male and female. Dr. Andrew Weil, author and world famous alternative medical educator and physician addressed the attendees by a live video feed during a benefit dinner party. Dr. Lyle Craker, Professor at the U. of Massachusetts reported on his years-long struggle to grow and study medical cannabis strains at his university. Speakers also discussed cannabis use as an oral medicine, as a topical as well as an inhalant. Participants, many of whom received continuing education credits, heard of cannabis use for osteoporosis, as an ophthalmic preparation, for muscle spasms, MS, Parkinson’s, epilepsy, bipolar disorder and social anxiety, pain, and it’s interaction with opioids and other medications.

If this conference and the research that will be presented is somehow an excuse for legalization it’s news to us at Patients Out of Time. We are the leading cannabis educational group on the North American continent. Our IRS designation is an “educational charity” and all members are unpaid volunteers. We do have a complimentary organization in Europe, The International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines (IACM) that holds its cannabis educational forums on odd numbered years while Patients Out of Time holds ours on the even years. We are also led by the four living federally supplied cannabis patients and a cadre of clinical cannabis MD’s and RN’s with years of clinical cannabis experience in all medical fields from addictions to hospice.

In this respect we are a unique organization in the cannabis debate. Other cannabis organizations are essentially for legalization of cannabis that includes the use as a medicine… we have no opinion about legal cannabis for recreation, only on its medical use. Our organization does not use words such as Americans, National or the slang term marijuana to identify its purpose, the first word in our name and in our minds is – patients. Patients Out of Time is not headed by a spokesperson that is a professional administrator, a lawyer or a fund raiser as are the other cannabis groups named – our President is a nurse.

Patients Out of Time, founded in VA in 1995 as a non-profit, has established its credibility as an organization that provides accurate and unimpeachable documentation of medicinal cannabis efficacy. In our years of existence, holding five national conferences, the production of dozens of medical cannabis lectures available on You Tube and Google video, books and other published documents, our work has never been challenged as inaccurate by any individual, organization or government. We will keep that level of quality in our work.

As patients or those of you who care for the ill or a special person, cannabis should be available to you or them as an option to exercise in maintaining health or treating illness. This to us is a given but all is not easy and this cannabis debate is complicated by health professionals themselves. As you may have concluded at the start of this essay, Patients Out of Time saw a need unfulfilled. The need of course was the lack of knowledge held by nurses and doctors about cannabis the medicine. While we have educated scores of health professionals, the vast number remain uninformed about medicinal cannabis. No doctor, nurse practitioner, physician’s assistant or registered nurse is about to give a medicine to a patient without understanding the risks of such administration. You may bark to the world about its safety and reliability but to a health professional that is not enough.

Professionals want a product that is known to be safe, its origin and rearing documented. What strain is it? Were pesticides used? Fertilizers? Is it free of contaminants? What is the proper dose of this strain? Legitimate, responsible questions that need to be and can be answered. First the health professional needs to know what to ask let alone understand the answer. That is where we come in as a group and where you can make a difference, in your own life and others as well.

The conferences I have referenced are being placed on-line at the web site of the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine. Direct link is available at  www.medicalcannabis.com. The 2008 forum held in Monterey, CA is on-line and the 2006 forum held in Santa Barbara, CA in 2006 will be available. This professionally directed education of cannabis efficacy is available to your doctor and your nurse. It is up to you to tell them about this site. It is up to you to ensure the entire network of patients and groups you work with are informed of this accredited knowledge base. It is your effort that will make the media look at the site, the huge cache of cannabis education, the dozens of organizations that have signed on to our support list, the partnership that Patients Out of Time has forged with the ANA and the AMA to educate US physicians and nurses about cannabis. Your effort is needed. Now.

Please do your part. Encourage your care providers see that they and others know the science is good and available on-line.

Keep us in your thoughts because all of us are Patients Out of Time.

– Al Byrne, co-founder, Patients Out of Time

This piece has been edited. The original article can be found on www.medicalcannabis.com.

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