Sufferers of medical conditions argue legalizing medical cannabis would improve quality of life

06/18/2014 03:02 PM

The benefits of passing legislation to permit the legal use of medical marijuana in Kentucky would outweigh the challenges, according to a group of Kentuckians asking lawmakers for help Wednesday.

Currently, medical marijuana is legal in 22 states and the District of Columbia.

Several testified before the Interim Joint Committee on Health and Welfare Wednesday, trying to gain support for Kentucky to be the 23rd state to allow the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes with the argument that it would lower some medical costs for patients as well as improve their quality of life.

Eric Crawford is a Mason County resident who suffered a spinal injury in a 1994 auto accident which left him a quadriplegic.

Crawford told the committee from his wheelchair that he currently has to take a large amount of pills per month for his numerous conditions and the use of medical marijuana would eliminate the need for a good portion of his current medication.

“If I could legally use medical cannabis, I would not need any narcotics,” Crawford said. “I could use less of the other pills too.”

Tori Burgin, of Louisville, is a mother and wife who is caring for her husband who suffers from cancer. Burgin told the committee that the use of medical marijuana would help her husband, Robert, cope better with his illness.

“Not only can it help the tumors, it helps his pain,” Burgin said. “He’s in so much pain. He is prescribed over $10,000 of medicine a month.”

Committee co-chair Sen. Julie Denton, R-Louisville, warned that the big challenge was going to be finding a way to legalize medical cannabis while making people in the state comfortable with the medical use of the drug.

“There may be support for doing it, but when push comes to shove, it’s how do you achieve it so that the concerns people have of it being misused, of it being diverted, those sorts of things, can be addressed,” Denton said.

Oliver Olson, a Kentucky registered nurse practitioner says that he’s had patients tell him about the benefits for medicinal purposes.

“Over the years, patients have said ‘I’ve used this medicine and it helps with nausea, it helps with Crohn’s, it helps with auto immune conditions,’” Olson said.


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