by John Trump
Former Managing Editor, Carolina Journal
Is it time for North Carolina to get into the “weeds?”
Nationally, wrote the CJ’s Kari Travis, The Marijuana Effective Drug Study Act of 2017, sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, would simplify rules for scientists who want to learn more about the plant’s pros and cons. North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis is a bill sponsor.
The idea, as Hatch said in his press release introducing the bill, is to evaluate the “effectiveness, safety, dosing, administration, and quality of medical marijuana.” Fresh studies could determine if pot is a legitimate, less-addictive alternative to opioids in treating chronic pain, for instance.
Military veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, for example, champion medical marijuana. But progress has been slow, Michael Krawitz, executive director of Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access, says in a recent article in Reason magazine.Twenty-four of the 29 states that have legalized medical marijuana recognize the drug specifically for its ability to treat PTSD. Yet the federal government still classifies the plant as a Schedule I drug. The feds claim it has no medical properties; holds a high potential for abuse; and is too difficult to determine safe doses. Pot is in the same classification as heroin and Ecstasy.
Pennsylvania, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, will approve the use of medical marijuana, with six months.
“You have my commitment: It’s going to happen,” John Collins, that state’s director of the Office of Medical Marijuana, said in a news conference in Harrisburg, the paper wrote.
The story goes on: His promise, echoed by acting health secretary and physician general Rachel Levine, came as officials announced the creation of an online registry for medical marijuana patients, caregivers and physicians. The registry — accessible at medicalmarijuana.pa.gov — allows people start the approval process for receiving medical marijuana, and to identify doctors qualified to prescribe it.
To obtain medical marijuana, patients must register, then have a doctor certify that they have at least one of 17 conditions ranging from autism to HIV to cancer and multiple sclerosis. With that certification, patients will be able to pay for an ID card that will eventually allow them to obtain marijuana from a dispensary in the state.
The Department of Health announced Wednesday that 109 physicians have completed the four hours of training required to issue a certification. Of those, 26 doctors have offices in Philadelphia and 10 have offices in Allegheny County, which includes Pittsburgh. Additional doctors have offices in the regions surrounding those areas.
Dr. Levine said nearly 200 more doctors are going through training, and the state hopes to continue to recruit more physicians for the program.
“It’s absolutely critically important that we have physicians in many different specialties throughout the commonwealth to register and take the education and become practitioners in the program,” Dr. Levine said after the news conference.
In North Carolina, writes Travis, Gov. Roy Cooper, who serves on President Trump’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and Opioid Crisis, says he wants to learn more about the impact of marijuana in other states before moving to legalize it in North Carolina.