Lawmakers weigh advantages and disadvantages of medical marijuana

07/08/2016 06:02 PM

FRANKFORT – Advocates for and against the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes had their chance to be heard on Friday during the meeting of Interim Joint Committee on Licensing and Occupations.

Sen. Perry Clark, D-Louisville, who has been a strong advocate over the years for using marijuana for medicinal purposes, told committee members, as well as the overflow crowd that assembled, that “cannabis is medicine,” and can be of a huge benefit to people who suffer from a number of diseases.

“The Salk Institute is saying that the THC and the other compounds found in marijuana can promote the cellular removal of amyloid beta, a toxic protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease,” Clark said. “We have an Alzheimer’s problem in this nation.”

Sen. Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville, has sponsored, and wants to continue to sponsor legislation where medical marijuana is used by patients who are inflicted with terminal illnesses.

“Why would we not allow medical cannabis to these people,” McGarvey asked. “If you’ve got eight months to live and something makes you comfortable, and provides comfort to you and your family, why wouldn’t we allow that?”

Jaime Montalvo, who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, and leads the pro-cannabis organization Kentuckians for Medical Marijuana, told legislators that he’s grown tired of all of the negative side affects of the prescription medicine that he’s taken and medical marijuana has given him comfort without any of undesirable side effects.

“It’s not about having a party, it’s not about having fun, it’s about quality of life,” Montalvo said. “Quality of life from patients who are suffering from illnesses such as Multiple Sclerosis, spinal cord injury, ALS. So many different conditions which all cause pain.”

However, some from the medical community, like Corey Meadows from the Kentucky Medical Association, say that his organization would like to see further clinical research as approved by the FDA to determine whether cannabis can be effective in the treatment of medical conditions.

“If scientific evidence confirms that cannabis derived substances possess medical benefits, certainly alternate delivery methods should be explored in order to avoid the inherent dangers of smoke inhalation and the uncontrolled variables affecting potency and dosage,” Meadows said.

Dr. Denesh Masloomdoost, also representing the Kentucky Medical Association, told legislators that he would like to see restraints in passing any medical marijuana bill, because of studies which have shown negative side effects of marijuana use, particularly with younger people.

“Like many psychoactive substances, early and regular users of marijuana show signs of developmental changes in the area of brain that help with motivation in coping skills,” Masloomdoost said. “That means that an adolescent user is biologically less
capable of self soothing and more prone to a lifetime of seeking chemical coping mechanisms.”

Van Ingram, of the Office of Drug Control Policy would like to see the committee hear from more input from stakeholders before jumping to a decision concerning the use of medical marijuana in the state.

“You need to hear from our substance abuse treatment community, because they’re on the front lines dealing with people with substance abuse disorders everyday and they have insights into this problem and marijuana,” Ingram said. “Twenty-three of the 25 highest states for teen use are medical marijuana states.”


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