The creaky stoner jokes are officially in the past, now that medical marijuana is so serious in Connecticut that nearly 5,000 patients are getting various amounts of daily relief.
That’s a landmark number of patients, which will only increase as more doctors finally get on board and more people with chronic conditions give medical-grade cannabis a try.
Imagine what that number may rise to by the time the 75-year-old lid on medical research is lifted. Finally, Dr. Deepak Cyril D’Souza, the main skeptic on the Board of Physicians that recommends new diseases for the program, may get all the “double-blind, placebo” research that has been lacking.
I’m thinking about the potential blow medical marijuana may eventually give to prescription pills and the opioids that have resulted in too many Connecticut residents becoming addicted and moving on to the much-cheaper, thoroughly dangerous heroin that’s a scourge and the kind of threat to public health that physicians are supposed to fight.
More and more patients are using “non-traditional” forms of the drug.
They’re not smoking the dried flowers, opposition to which the American Medical Society has used to hang their stethoscopes.
Patients are inhaling the vapors, which don’t include the chemicals caused by combustion. They’re putting breath-freshener-sized strips with measured amount of cannabis oil under their tongues.
They’re even eating cookies with psychoactive and other chemical profiles from the various strains that are being developed right here in Connecticut.
Gentle readers can give themselves their own tutorials. Start with the state Department of Consumer Protection’s website.
Currently patients found to have cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, MS, spinal injuries, epilepsy, cachexia, wasting syndrome, Crohn’s disease and post-traumatic stress disorder are allowed in the program.
There are seven more afflictions in the pipeline, on which the General Assembly’s Regulations Review Committeewill vote on, someday, in a glacial path to authorization, maybe in the first quarter of 2016.
Consumer Protection has information on the grow facilities and the dispensaries.
You can get online and see what dispensaries have to offer.
As a potential patient, your first move is to get your doctor on board.
Since only about 250 have signed up, it might behoove you to consider other physicians for second opinions.
But you have to develop a relationship with a doctor before they can recommend you for an ID card, which looks like a driver’s license and allows you into the doors of a dispensary.
Three years ago the Connecticut General Assembly approved the program, called the strictest in the nation, following the very-public debacle in Colorado where anyone with a pulse could get a medical ID.
Connecticut’s model requires a licensed pharmacist to consult with patients at the various dispensaries, to see what strains and forms of ingestion are most-helpful in alleviating symptoms and providing relief.
Since the National Institute on Drug Abuse has kept the lid on research for decades, there is very little peer-reviewed data on the efficacy of cannabis.
Heck, the feds still classify marijuana as Schedule I, meaning it is highly addictive with no medical benefits.
The General Assembly, thanks to advisory letters from the federal Justice Department, voted to make cannabis a Schedule II substance, with medical benefits.
Legislation that would have supported future research in Connecticut – Can you say “jobs”? – died this year in the final stages of the General Assembly mostly because of the threatened opposition of one lawmaker: Sen. Toni Boucher, R-Wilton.
Those left in despair included parents of children who have a form of epilepsy that has been found to respond very positively to chemicals in cannabis.
The Consumer Protection Department’s bill would have allowed parents to get their children on cannabis therapy.
Last week, D’Souza joined the three other doctors on the Board of Physicians to allow the program to include a disease I had never heard of: complex regional pain syndrome.
Dr. Jonathan Kost, a board member who heads the Pain Treatment Center at Hartford Hospital, said the need for solid studies is acute, but whatever they can do now for patients is important too.
“As we all know we are early on in the phases of learning about this medication and as Dr. D’Souza refers to quite frequently, we definitely want studies.
But we also have to be able to extrapolate based upon the evidence out there, just from a humanistic perspective, of how these chemicals in cannabis can potentially help patients,” Kost said during the board meeting.
“Anecdotally, I can tell you in our practice we probably see the greatest number of patients in the state of Connecticut just based upon the volume of practitioners we have and there’s no question in my mind that what I see in terms of significant benefit in terms of minimizing opioid usage and just improving the certain qualities of life, whether it be sleep patterns, anxiety issues, all of the other tangents that maybe haven’t been overly well studied yet, but I can tell you from an anecdotal perspective that there is no question in my mind that I see significant benefit associated with it,” Kost said.
Opponents of medical cannabis can put that in their pipes and smoke it.
You can view the full article at: http://www.ctpost.com/news/article/Marijuana-benefits-go-to-patients-and-far-6464368.php