The Newnan Times-Herald

Opinion

Remove roadblocks for patients who need medical cannabis


  • By The Newnan Times-Herald
  • |
  • Sep. 19, 2018 - 3:58 PM

How would you feel if your child’s access to medicine is severed due to special interests who distort the facts to get their way?

That’s exactly what might happen in Georgia with medical cannabis if opponents succeed.

Here are two examples of parents that are forced to take matters into their own hands:
Jennifer Conforti, a parent of an autistic child, said her child was self-injurious prior to cannabis oil and is vastly improved.  However, Jennifer has to extract black market medical cannabis in her kitchen to get the product her child needs. Jimmy Wages said his daughter’s seizures have greatly improved with cannabis oil.  His supplier has to break federal law to get the oil to him.

In 2015 and several times since, the Georgia General Assembly passed laws that allowed possession of cannabis oil up to 5 percent THC for several medical conditions.  The problem is, the past laws defined no way for patients to acquire such products.
Federal law prohibits transport of cannabis across state lines.  This means the only solution to patient access is in-state cultivation.  

Opponents raised several arguments against approving a highly regulated in-state cultivation:

Driver Safety: Opponents claimed there is an increased risk of driver safety due to medical cannabis.  However, studies show traffic fatalities in states that have adopted a medical cannabis program actually decrease.  

Traffic fatality decrease in medical cannabis states has been demonstrated in multiple studies in American Journal of Public Health and National Bureau of Economic Research, among others.  Simply put, there is no conclusive proof that medical cannabis access increases traffic fatalities. If anything, traffic fatalities decrease in medical cannabis states.

Teen Drug Use:  Another claim by opponents was that medical cannabis access increases teen drug use.  Also false. Multiple studies have shown a decrease in teen use in medical cannabis states, including the federally-funded National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Using only FDA-approved Drugs:  Opponents stated that FDA approved drugs based on cannabis exist and patients should just use those because they are safety tested by the FDA.  Let’s not forget the opioid epidemic that kills tens of thousands of people each year is also fueled by supposedly safe FDA-approved pharmaceuticals.  

Opponents suggested these FDA approved cannabis products were functionally equivalent to medical cannabis from natural plants.  They are not. Unfortunately, the opposition’s position that one size fits all for medicines is simply not how the human body works.

We strongly recommend the following action items for lawmakers and our future governor.  

One, get the special interests out of the process here so we can have an honest conversation.  Treatment decisions should be between patients and their doctors, not politicians and lobbyists.  

Two, let’s put Georgia first and not expect the federal government to assist on this issue.  Numerous other states have allowed medical cannabis, so let’s not say “we need the federal government to act on this.”

Three, we must solve the issue of access.  We’ve had two study commissions now focusing on the access issue.  In 2019, the General Assembly should act to help our suffering citizens gain affordable, lab-tested, diverse, quality medical cannabis products in a highly regulated system with distribution points across the state.

Anything less and we’re failing some of our most vulnerable and suffering citizens. For further information on this issue, please see Georgia’s Hope on Facebook or go to www.georgiashope.com

Aaron Klepinger
Marietta