- Published on 06 March 2014
- Written by Epilepsy Foundation- Press Release
February 20, 2014
By Philip M. Gattone, President & CEO, Epilepsy Foundation, and
Warren Lammert, Chair, Epilepsy Foundation Board of Directors
With Commentary from Orrin Devinsky, M.D., Professor of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, Director, NYU Comprehensive Epilepsy Center Member of Epilepsy Foundation National Board of Directors
As parents and as advocates, we feel an urgency to respond and take action on an issue that has been brought to the Epilepsy Foundation from individuals we serve across the country-- the use of marijuana to treat epilepsy. We write this with advice and support from Nathan Fountain, Chairman of our Professional Advisory Board, and with advice and support from a range of other leading epilepsy professionals and board members.
2.3 million Americans live with epilepsy, a neurological condition that includes recurring seizures. More than 1 million of them live with uncontrolled seizures. Some of these people may be helped by surgery or other non-drug treatments, but for many, no answers have been found yet. People with uncontrolled seizures live with the continual risk of serious injuries and loss of life.
The Epilepsy Foundation supports the rights of patients and families living with seizures and epilepsy to access physician directed care, including medical marijuana. Nothing should stand in the way of patients gaining access to potentially life-saving treatment. If a patient and their healthcare professionals feel that the potential benefits of medical marijuana for uncontrolled epilepsy outweigh the risks, then families need to have that legal option now -- not in five years or ten years. For people living with severe uncontrolled epilepsy, time is not on their side. This is a very important, difficult, and personal decision that should be made by a patient and family working with their healthcare team.
Treatments for epilepsy with any form of marijuana come with risks, as there is much that is not known about its effects. The consistency of available formulations also needs to be addressed. Caution is appropriate, and we strongly recommend that patients with uncontrolled seizures seek out an epilepsy specialist. However, existing therapies have real side-effects both known and unknown, and, just as there are risks with any treatment, every day without seizure control is a risk to life. Every seizure is a possible opportunity lost to live, learn, and grow.
The Epilepsy Foundation calls for an end to Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) restrictions that limit clinical trials and research into medical marijuana for epilepsy. We applaud recent decisions that have allowed clinical trials of Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, to begin in several states. Certain components of medical marijuana, including CBD, have shown effectiveness in animal studies, and there have been encouraging anecdotal reports from patients. But further research and unbiased clinical trials are needed to establish whether and in what forms medical marijuana is or is not effective and safe. Restrictions on the use of medical marijuana continue to stand in the way of this research.
The Epilepsy Foundation believes that an end to seizures should not be determined by one’s zip code. Our current situation as an epilepsy community is not acceptable. Families looking to access medical marijuana as a treatment are facing terrible decisions. One parent may move across the country to live with a child to seek this treatment. Other families may uproot entirely, including leaving their job, to move where they can access CBD oil. In the past, when therapies not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) were available abroad and left only to those who could afford to travel, we fought for compassionate access. We are here to continue the fight.
The Epilepsy Foundation will be doing the following to support improved access and research into medical marijuana:
- Calling on the Drug Enforcement Administration to implement a lesser schedule for marijuana so that it can be more easily accessible for medical research.
- Supporting appropriate changes to state laws to increase access to medical marijuana as a treatment option for epilepsy, including pediatric use as supported by a treating physician.
- Supporting the inclusion of epilepsy as a condition that uses medical marijuana as a treatment option where it is currently available.
- Supporting research on multiple forms of cannabis and seizures.
What can you do to help? Advocate for increased access and for the freedom to conduct medical research on a potentially effective treatment against seizures and epilepsy. Join with us at http://capwiz.com/efa/mlm/signup.
- Published on 02 March 2014
- Written by Tony Vance (MSgt-Retired), Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access
A recent article in the Kentucky Enquirer’s USA Today pages titled, ‘Military Efforts to Treat Mental Illness Fall Short’, dated 21 Feb 2014, details the findings of a committee of 13 experts appointed by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. The researchers concluded that, “There is no substantive indication of effectiveness (of suicide prevention programs) and more importantly, there’s no evidence of an enduring impact”.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs about a thousand Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans are being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder each week.
Sadly the treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is not on the radar of those enforcing our drug laws. Here again we see the beautiful odiousness of the 1970 Controlled Substances Act in preventing any actions that might show marijuana is either effective medicine or safe for use. A Food and Drug Administration approved protocol for a study of marijuana for symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in US Veterans has been on hold for over 3 months waiting for the US Public Health Service to sell researchers the Government approved marijuana for the study. In the 40 plus years since enactment of the 1970 Controlled Substances Act the US Public Health Service has never provided the marijuana for any research and so far not for this Study either. No ‘approved’ research, thus allowing the Government to claim they can’t legalize or reschedule marijuana because there is no Government approved research showing marijuana is safe or has any medical value! Actually there is plenty of evidence, some of it gold standard research, showing the safety and efficacy of marijuana, just none supporting the ridiculous claims of the Government.
Happily though, many Veterans aren’t waiting and are turning to medical marijuana for help. Many are reporting that marijuana has helped them to live with and control their conditions giving them a more normal life; some saying it saved their lives. Along with the tons of anecdotal evidence from Veterans themselves there is the unexplainable drop in suicide rates in states that have medical marijuana laws. There is nothing that has changed in these states other than medical marijuana being available to the citizens to account for the drop in suicide rates.
We could easily change all this. According to the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, the head of the Justice Department can, with a stroke of a pen reschedule marijuana. Or we could just allow the Veterans access through the Veterans Administration. Do a voucher program with a local marijuana pharmacy for Veterans in States with medical marijuana laws and for Veterans not in States with medical marijuana laws, we can treat them the same as the survivors of the old Compassionate Care Program who still receive a tin of medical marijuana from the Government marijuana farm in Mississippi every month to treat their conditions.
We use statistics from the Veterans who use the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System all the time in studies and research. Why not believe the Veterans this time. Give them the medicine they swear is doing them good and see what happens. It’s not like it’s a medicine no one has used before! Veterans are using marijuana as medicine as I am writing this and have for 50 years that I can personally attest to and they pretty well know what the results of an honest study will show.
The citizens of 20 States and the District of Columbia have been allowed access to this medicine for over a decade. Our Veterans deserve no less! To have a treatment that has been shown to be effective and to forbid access to it for those who need it most is beyond the limits of decency and morality! It is a black mark on the report card of how we treat those who have sacrificed most for this country and suffer for that sacrifice the rest of their lives. It is long past time for the Veterans Administration to begin providing medical marijuana to Veterans with qualifying conditions. To do any less is a breach of the promise to do all we can, as stated in the mission statement of the Veterans Administration, to fulfill President Lincoln’s promise, ‘to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and for his orphan’.
-----------For more articles by Tony Vance see Tony's blog Thomyv.wordpress.com
Editors Note: There is a definite link between head trauma and the benefits of smoking marijuana. Years ago researchers in Israel came out with a study that some reform activist took to say a bit tongue in cheek that "you should keep a joint in your car's medical kit in case of an accident". Below is just a few series of links of interest on this topic and there are many more.