Kentucky Medical Association’s Willful Ignorance

In an article on the Louisville Business First website the President of the Kentucky Medical Association is quoted as saying that its members need more information on medical marijuana before they could support medical marijuana legalization.   Dr. David Bemsema said that, ‘if there was a well-designed study that showed a positive medical benefit from marijuana use , Kentucky Doctors would have to consider an alternative delivery method. It wouldn’t consider smoking it as a delivery method because the group is opposed to smoking.”

Let’s just start with the willful ignorance of the members of the KMA.  There are numerous studies proving the efficacy and safety of medical marijuana.  Actually too many to list here but let’s just review the ones listed in the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws web library under the listing Gliomas/cancer.

[1] Guzman et al. 1998. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol induces apoptosis in C6 glioma cells. FEBS Letters 436: 6-10.

[2] Guzman et al. 2000. Anti-tumoral action of cannabinoids: involvement of sustained ceramide accumulation and extracellular signal-regulated kinase activation. Nature Medicine 6: 313-319.

[3] Guzman et al. 2003. Inhibition of tumor angiogenesis by cannabinoids. The FASEB Journal 17: 529-531.

[4] Massi et al. 2004. Antitumor effects of cannabidiol, a non-psychotropic cannabinoid, on human glioma cell lines. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics Fast Forward 308: 838-845.

[5] Guzman et al. 2004. Cannabinoids inhibit the vascular endothelial growth factor pathways in gliomas (PDF). Cancer Research 64: 5617-5623.

[6] Allister et al. 2005. Cannabinoids selectively inhibit proliferation and induce death of cultured human glioblastoma multiforme cells. Journal of Neurooncology 74: 31-40.

[7] Torres et al. 2011. A combined preclinical therapy of cannabinoids and Temozolomide against glioma. Molecular Cannabis Therapeutics 10: 90.

[8] Guzman et al. 2006. A pilot clinical study of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol in patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme. British Journal of Cancer (E-pub ahead of print).

[9] Parolaro and Massi. 2008. Cannabinoids as a potential new drug therapy for the treatment of gliomas. Expert Reviews of Neurotherapeutics 8: 37-49

[10] Galanti et al. 2007. Delta9-Tetrahydrocannabinol inhibits cell cycle progression by downregulation of E2F1 in human glioblastoma multiforme cells. Acta Oncologica 12: 1-9.

[11] Calatozzolo et al. 2007. Expression of cannabinoid receptors and neurotrophins in human gliomas. Neurological Sciences 28: 304-310.

[12] Foroughi et al. 2011. Spontaneous regression of septum pellucidum/forniceal pilocytic astrocytomas — possible role of cannabis inhalation. Child’s Nervous System 27: 671-679.

[13] Cafferal et al. 2006. Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol inhibits cell cycle progression in human breast cancer cells through Cdc2 regulation. Cancer Research 66: 6615-6621.

[14] Di Marzo et al. 2006. Anti-tumor activity of plant cannabinoids with emphasis on the effect of cannabidiol on human breast carcinoma. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics Fast Forward 318: 1375-1387.

[15] De Petrocellis et al. 1998. The endogenous cannabinoid anandamide inhibits human breast cancer cell proliferation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 95: 8375-8380.

[16] McAllister et al. 2007. Cannabidiol as a novel inhibitor of Id-1 gene expression in aggressive breast cancer cells. Molecular Cancer Therapeutics 6: 2921-2927.

[17] Cafferal et al. 2010. Cannabinoids reduce ErbB2-driven breast cancer progression through Akt inhibition. Molecular Cancer 9: 196.

[18] Sarfaraz et al. 2005. Cannabinoid receptors as a novel target for the treatment of prostate cancer. Cancer Research 65: 1635-1641.

[19] Mimeault et al. 2003. Anti-proliferative and apoptotic effects of anandamide in human prostatic cancer cell lines. Prostate 56: 1-12.

[20] Ruiz et al. 1999. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol induces apoptosis in human prostate PC-3 cells via a receptor-independent mechanism. FEBS Letters 458: 400-404.

[21] Ramos and Bianco. 2012. The role of cannabinoids in prostate cancer: Basic science perspective and potential clinical applications. Journal of Urology 28: 9-14.

[22] DePetrocellis et al. 2013. Non-THC cannabinoids inhibit prostate carcinoma growth in vitro and in vivo: pro-apoptotic effects and underlying mechanisms. British Journal of Pharmacology 168: 79-102.

[23] Pastos et al. 2005. The endogenous cannabinoid, anandamide, induces cell death in colorectal carcinoma cells: a possible role for cyclooxygenase-2. Gut 54: 1741-1750.

[24] Aviello et al. 2012. Chemopreventive effect of the non-psychotropic phytocannabinoid cannabidiol on experimental colon cancer. Journal of Molecular Medicine [E-pub ahead of print]

[25] Di Marzo et al. 2006. op. cit

[26] Casanova et al. Inhibition of skin tumor growth and angiogenesis in vivo by activation of cannabinoid receptors. 2003. Journal of Clinical Investigation 111: 43-50.

[27] Powles et al. 2005. Cannabis-induced cytotoxicity in leukemic cell lines. Blood 105: 1214-1221

[28] Jia et al 2006. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol-induced apoptosis in Jurkat leukemic T cells in regulated by translocation of Bad to mitochondria. Molecular Cancer Research 4: 549-562.

[29] Liu et al. 2008. Enhancing the in vitro cytotoxic activity of Ä9-tetrahydrocannabinol in leukemic cells through a combinatorial approach. Leukemia and Lymphoma 49: 1800-1809.

[30] Scott et al. 2013. Enhancing the activity of cannabidiol and other cannabinoids in vitro through modifications to drug combinations and treatment schedules 33: 4373-4380.

[31] Manuel Guzman. 2003. Cannabinoids: potential anticancer agents (PDF). Nature Reviews Cancer 3: 745-755.

[32] Marcu et al. 2010. Cannabidiol enhances the inhibitory effects of delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol on human glioblastoma cell proliferation and survival. Molecular Cancer Therapeutics 9: 180-189.

[33] Guzman. 2003 op. cit.

[34] Preet et al. 2008. Delta9-Tetrahydrocannabinol inhibits epithelial growth factor-induced lung cancer cell migration in vitro as well as its growth and metastasis in vivo. Oncogene 10: 339-346.

[35] Manuel Guzman. 2003. Cannabinoids: potential anticancer agents (PDF). Nature Reviews Cancer 3: 745-755.

[36] Baek et al. 1998. Antitumor activity of cannabigerol against human oral epitheloid carcinoma cells. Archives of Pharmacal Research: 21: 353-356.

[37] Carracedo et al. 2006. Cannabinoids induce apoptosis of pancreatic tumor cells via endoplasmic reticulum stress-related genes. Cancer Research 66: 6748-6755.

[38] Michalski et al. 2008. Cannabinoids in pancreatic cancer: correlation with survival and pain. International Journal of Cancer 122: 742-750.

[39] Ramer and Hinz. 2008. Inhibition of cancer cell invasion by cannabinoids via increased cell expression of tissue inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinases-1. Journal of the National Cancer Institute 100: 59-69.

[40] Whyte et al. 2010. Cannabinoids inhibit cellular respiration of human oral cancer cells. Pharmacology 85: 328-335.

[41] Leelawat et al. 2010. The dual effects of delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol on cholangiocarcinoma cells: anti-invasion activity at low concentration and apoptosis induction at high concentration. Cancer Investigation 28: 357-363.

[42] Gustafsson et al. 2006. Cannabinoid receptor-mediated apoptosis induced by R(+)-methanandamide and Win55,212 is associated with ceramide accumulation and p38 activation in mantle cell lymphoma. Molecular Pharmacology 70: 1612-1620.

[43] Gustafsson et al. 2008. Expression of cannabinoid receptors type 1 and type 2 in non-Hodgkin lymphoma: Growth inhibition by receptor activation. International Journal of Cancer 123: 1025-1033.

[44] Natalya Kogan. 2005. Cannabinoids and cancer. Mini-Reviews in Medicinal Chemistry 5: 941-952.

[45] Sarafaraz et al. 2008. Cannabinoids for cancer treatment: progress and promise. Cancer Research 68: 339-342.

[46] Study shows non-hallucinogenic cannabinoids are effective anti-cancer drugs. October 14, 2013.

[47] Haartz. Israeli researchers say more doctors should recommend marijuana to cancer patients. January 30, 2012.

Marijuana has shown promise or actual benefits for many conditions to include epilepsy, cancer, Alzheimer’s, fibromyalgia, dystonia, hepatitis C, diabetes, pruritus, osteoporosis, MRSA, Huntington’s disease, multiple sclerosis, ALS, chronic pain, Tourette’s syndrome, HIV, hypertension, and arthritis.  All of these can be researched at this link—

http://norml.org/library/recent-research-on-medical-marijuana

The members of the KMA need to bone up on the facts.  The medical benefits of medical cannabis are undeniable.  As far as delivery method, the work of Dr Tashkin reported in the Journal of thoracic medicine shows that marijuana smokers get head neck and lung cancer at the same rate as non-smokers.  Vaporizing whole plant marijuana has shown to be the most effective and safe method of delivery with smoking second.  Vaporizing is 80% effective versus 60% effective for smoking.  I’m sure if there was a problem with smoking as delivery method it would have surfaced in the last 20 years medical marijuana has been available to the citizens of California.

So lets put this nonsense behind us and move forward.  Kentucky’s sick and disabled need compassion and support, they need medical marijuana, and they need their Doctors to be up to date on the facts.

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Ending Criminal Prohibition as theWay to Control Our Drug Problem

The prohibition of drugs has been a complete failure.  This policy of limiting freedom to keep drugs in check has not gotten us any closer to controlling drugs.  Matter of fact prohibition is the opposite of control because it abdicates the responsibility for controlling drugs and lays it at the feet of the law enforcement community.   We should allow freedom to chart our policies. Allow people the freedom to use if they want and have a robust rehabilitation program for when they are ready to quit. Something similar to Portugal whose policies for dealing with drug abuse are more advanced than any other nation and respect the dignity of all involved with this issue.

Prohibition started with the Harrison Act in 1914. This was in response not to a huge problem with drug users but as a response to the thousands of Chinese railroad workers coming into the country who used opium as their drug of choice. It was also used in the 20’s to crack down on the Black community over cocaine. Cut to the 30s and the prohibition of pot was started in California to harass Mexicans and push them back across the border so they won’t take American jobs. Mexicans used marijuana and Anglos used alcohol. After alcohol prohibition ended marijuana suddenly assumed all the negative consequences of alcohol and marijuana prohibition became national.  This was used to crack down on anti-war protesters in the 70s and continues to this day to be used as an excuse for the police to harass the citizens.   The eighties saw an increase in the use of crack cocaine and the crackdown, as history shows, landed on the African American community.  Not the White suburbs but in the inner cities.   Now in the 2000s we are cracking down on prescription drug use and, here in Kentucky, have made it almost impossible for even legitimate users to get the medicine they need.  The result, a heroin epidemic!

Not one of our drug laws were put in place because of drug use but rather to keep some segment of the population in check.  With the exception of marijuana law reform at the State level, there actually has been no movement to reform our drug laws to reflect the science of medicine and not the science of repression we are using now to treat addiction.

Let us end this wasteful and ineffective policy and craft a drug policy based on science and facts instead of prejudice and fear of our fellow citizens!  Let us begin by ending marijuana prohibition as a start.  The results of state legalization have shown that none of the predicted harms of marijuana legalization touted by those supporting prohibition have surfaced nor will they.  Let us start there and go forward and create a drug policy that works, is fair and relies on science and logic to attain its goals.

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Baptist Convention Brags About Killing Medical Cannabis Bill

The Director of the Baptist Convention is bragging about killing the Medical Cannabis Bill claiming victory in doing so. Let’s look at what he has actually done and see if he is still proud of his accomplishment. The ignorance of Baptist Convention Director, Mr. Chitwood and the Baptists on this issue is stunning. Many Religious organizations support the legalization of marijuana for medical reasons.  78 years of prohibition and misinformation certainly worked on Mr. Chitwood!  I bet he still believes marijuana will make little Tommy kill Grandma with her skillet!!!  Another serious question is who elected Mr. Chitwood to the Assembly and why is he practicing medicine without a license?

His warning that if marijuana is legal for medical reasons then everyone will get it any time they want is the same argument given by the Feds in 1996 when California legalized medical marijuana.  It didn’t fly then and it doesn’t fly now!  But if it did let’s take it to its logical conclusion.   Ok, California has had medical for 28 years.  If as you say, anyone can get it, then I challenge you to show us where the bodies are? Where are the schizophrenic teens, the Heroin addicted users that went from pot to heroin? (Studies show a 25% drop in prescription opioid drug abuse in medical marijuana states).  Where is the increase in fatal traffic accidents?

None of this has happened!   In addition to this, teen use in these states is either unchanged or has dropped slightly.

Mr. Chitwood may be patting himself on the back but it’s for stopping thousands of our fellow citizens, many of whom (if statics are to be believed) belong to the Baptist faith, from safely and legally obtaining and using a medicine that is effective for a number of conditions.

A special thanks to you from Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access.  We represent the thousands of Veterans who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder who need it as the only effective medicine for this insidious condition as testified to at the Interim Joint Assembly hearing of the Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection Committee held on 10 July 2014. Those who suffer from intractable pain from their service offer a special thanks for insuring another year of either suffering with it or breaking the law and risking jail to mitigate their pain.

Oh well so much for the cry, ‘Whatever the troops need’!

I certainly hope you, Mr. Chitwood, and all the Baptists in the State are able to look your version of Jesus in the eye and tell him that you are doing his work by insuring the suffering of tens of thousands of your fellow citizens for another year.  I’m sure He will be pleased to hear it, don’t you?

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An Apalling Lack of Respect and Knowledge

Last night on Kentucky Educational Television’s ‘Kentucky Tonight’ show with Bill Goodman a prominent Northern Kentucky State Senator was asked a question about the Medical Cannabis legislation.  He responded that while fighting heroin he was loath to allow our citizens access to another drug, thus equating the need for medical cannabis with heroin addiction.

His answer, while disrespecting the tens of thousands of our citizens who legitimately need medical cannabis, also shows a total lack of knowledge of either medical cannabis or heroin.  The facts show that medical cannabis can be an effective tool when dealing with heroin abuse. Recent studies show a drop of approximately 25% in opioid drug abuse to include heroin in States that have effective medical cannabis laws and many addicts report success when using medical cannabis to break their heroin addiction.

The citizens of Kentucky who require medical cannabis deserve more than the mouthing of 77 year old debunked drug war propaganda.  They deserve legislators who respond to their needs and take the time to educate themselves about these issues.  They need and deserve access to medical cannabis now, not tomorrow!

You Legislators need to show that you have compassion! Show these citizens that they matter and pass a Colorado style medical cannabis bill this session.

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Undoing A Great Deception

The Legislators who appeared on the January 5th 2015 episode of Kentucky Tonight on Kentucky Educational Television that focused on the upcoming session of the Kentucky Assembly, alluded to the ‘hidden costs‘ to society if cannabis were legalized here in Kentucky. They said these ‘hidden costs’ would surely show up if they were to legalize cannabis.
I wonder? With medical cannabis laws in effect for 18 years in California and 14 years in Colorado, exactly how many years should we wait for these ‘costs’ to show up?
At this stage all the arguments against legalization have been pretty well debunked by science and logic. Even the Drug Enforcement Administration, the ultimate in prohibition and excuses for continuing prohibition as drug policy, has been reduced to citing only 4 reasons for continuing cannabis prohibition. These were published in response to an editorial in the New York Times calling for cannabis legalization. They were,
1. Marijuana affects the developing brain. This one started in 2009 when Gordon Brown was Prime Minister of England. He wanted to raise the penalties for cannabis claiming marijuana caused mental illness and schizophrenia. He was trying to gin up votes from the Conservatives. His Chief Medical Advisor quit over it. Since then, with no evidence to support it, this notion has devolved to, ‘Cannabis causes schizophrenia in teens’, and from that to, ‘cognitive impairment in the developing brain’. None of this has any solid evidence to support it.
2. Marijuana has a detrimental effect on academic achievement. Students who get d’s and f’s are more likely to be cannabis users. Ok. Let’s just say that having low grades are also more likely to come from teenagers living in dysfunctional circumstances. Which came first, dysfunctional families or cannabis use? Most likely the dysfunctional family.
These first two points are moot anyway because cannabis will still remain illegal for persons under 21.
3. Marijuana is addictive. Yes cannabis is somewhat addictive in the same way ice cream or Twinkies or television can be addictive and we haven’t made them illegal to save the citizens from them.
4. Drugged driving is a threat to our roadways. This one’s easy to debunk. Like the schizophrenia claim, one has only to ask, “Where are the bodies?” Just as there no numbers supporting the schizophrenia claim there is no increase in traffic accidents to support this claim either. Seventeen years of Californians accessing cannabis and no numbers showing any increase in accidents. Reliable studies show cannabis users get into accidents at the same rate as straight drivers.
Right now across the Commonwealth, tens of thousands of our fellow citizens are using cannabis for medical and recreational purposes every day and we have called them criminals for 78 years. Now, however science, logic, history and the experience of the citizens of the 27 states that have already passed medical cannabis laws show that the prohibition of cannabis is not only unjust but it has been a complete and total failure. Instead of spouting debunked propaganda to continue this unjust prohibition our legislators should be looking towards ending this 78 year mistake.
When Kentucky voted to make marijuana illegal back in 1937, it wasn’t till after the collapse of the cannabis market here in Kentucky that they realized they had been duped. If the writers of the law had used the English name cannabis and not the Mexican word marijuana, the law would have never passed. Our legislators now have the chance to undo this deception and they can begin by passing a comprehensive medical cannabis bill this session.

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Getting Veterans The Medicine They Need

The July 10, 2014 Hearing of the Kentucky Assembly Interim Joint Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection focused on Veteran Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. There were three representatives testifying for the Veterans Health Administration. They were from the Louisville Veterans Affairs Hospital, in the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Program there. They testified that there are 350,000 cases of PTSD among Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans. They also testified about the many therapies and drugs they use to treat Veteran Post Traumatic Stress and that these therapies and drugs are minimally effective at best.
Veterans at the hearing testified that medical cannabis used by thousands of Veterans in Medical Cannabis States to deal with their PTSD report cannabis is very effective in controlling and relieving their symptoms. Many reject the drugs proffered by the Veterans Administration in favor of cannabis simply because it works and without the horrible side effects they experience when using pharmaceutical drugs. Veteran patients, recently applying for the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program, report a 70% reduction in symptoms when using medical cannabis. Additionally the Vietnam Veterans Longitudinal Study recently reported that there are 283,000 cases of PTSD among Vietnam Veterans giving us a reported total of 633,000 cases of PTSD. This does not include Korean, Gulf War or Cold War Veterans.
Will the Veterans Administration listen? There are some signs that they are. The VA has recently issued guidelines for dealing with Veteran medical cannabis patients and no longer demands they give up their medical cannabis to be treated by a VA pain doctor. While this is some progress, it is not the ultimate goal which is for the VA to provide medical cannabis for its Veteran patients.
There is hope! A legal case over the Scheduling of cannabis as Schedule I, dangerous and having no medical value is currently in progress. Should it result in a classification of anything less than Schedule I, it could allow VA doctors to prescribe it for their Veteran patients. Also there is a PTSD/Cannabis study approved to go forward but is temporarily on hold. Once it begins the science will most certainly show there is no excuse for denying Veteran patients access to this effective medicine.
We hear our legislators and would be legislators on the campaign trail saying all the time, “Anything for our Veterans” and “They deserve all we can do for them”. Well Gentlemen and Ladies, your Veterans need access to medical cannabis now. Not tomorrow, but right now. On this Veterans Day, how about your actions match your words. How about passing legislation that will make this medicine available to those who by their devotion and sacrifice, in your words many times over, “Deserve all we can give them.”

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What Will They Do If Elected? Read The Platform!

Kentucky is considered a Republican State. The voters have overwhelmingly elected Republican candidates at the Federal level. To do this requires many in the lower half of the economic spectrum to vote Republican. Even though Republican economic policy mostly hurts the middle class and the poor, Republicans have managed to get the votes needed to come out on top. Democrats at the State level have control of the House and the Republicans control the Senate. The upcoming midterm elections have Republicans thinking they can take the House and are dreaming of the Governorship when the term of Governor Beshear is over.
Kentucky Republicans, in two articles in the September 3rd and 13th, 2014 editions of the Kentucky Enquirer, have released the Republican platform for the November elections. Republicans are calling it,’ Handshake with Kentucky’. I’m not sure who they are going to be shaking hands with, but the creators of the Kentucky Republican platform will not be shaking hands with me or anybody else at the lower end of Kentucky’s economy any time soon.
Republicans with this platform are doubling down on policies that benefit Kentucky’s wealthy at the expense of Kentucky’s poorest. Specifically they talk about repealing the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. This would shut down the KYNECT health insurance exchange and take health insurance away from roughly 500,000 of Kentucky’s citizens who now have health insurance as a result of the Affordable Care Act, (Obamacare). Republicans want a constitutional amendment that would, “prohibit any person, employer or healthcare provider from being compelled to participate in any healthcare system”. Not only do they not want the Federal Government to help you get Health Insurance, but they want it to have the force of law!
They announced they want to pass a so called, “right to work’ bill which has nothing to do with the right to work and everything to do with weakening the power of Unions to protect worker rights and wages. States (mostly red) with these kinds of laws have overall lower wages and benefits than States without them. Eliminating the Union eliminates protections for all workers not just Union members!
They want to create a board to review your malpractice claim before it can go forward. Never mind that a judge does this already, they want another level of scrutiny before you can sue for damage. I wonder if there will be patients or business types populating these review boards?
As always they want to cut taxes again. We just had a shortfall of the last budget so it is hard to imagine how cutting taxes will help matters. In Kansas with a Republican controlled Legislature and Republican Governor, they went tax cutting crazy and have caused panic because the State’s credit rating has been lowered 3 times by their actions. We do not need any financial shenanigans like that here.
Republicans will oppose any raise of the minimum wage here in Kentucky and at the Federal level. Since a raise in the minimum wage generally raises all wages over time, this little provision will hurt most of Kentucky’s working citizens.
Yep, the midterm elections are shaping up to be a referendum on which of our citizens will be represented in Frankfort and Washington. The wealthy, who have benefitted immensely from Republican economic policies to the detriment of the vast majority of our citizens, or the poor and middle class whose wages have been flat since Reagan was President? Will poor and middle class voters wake up and realize the power and value of their vote? Will they wake up and realize that there is not one economic policy in the Republican State Party platform that benefits anyone on the lower half of Kentucky’s economic ladder? We shall see in November.
The voters who are paying attention realize that in the end it always comes down to the money. Republicans in leadership recognize this and despite all the uproar about social issues, vote on their wallets. Kentucky’s poor and middle class should recognize this and do the same. Our wallets may not be as fat as that of the Republicans but our votes count just as much. Maybe it’s time our citizens on the lower end of the economic spectrum use the power of their vote to level the economic waters currently so out of balance.
Those of us who struggle every day to feed our families and make ends meet have the power to stop the inequality imposed and supported by Republican economic policies. Those who think it matters little how they vote need to awaken to the reality that, similar to Kentucky’s State motto, United we stand, divided we get ripped off!

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