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Testimony to Maryland Legislature on Cannabis Legislation vis Americans for Safe Access

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The following is written testimony I submitted to the Maryland legislature, through Americans for Safe Access, a patients' advocacy organization:

It has only been about a month since my doctor diagnosed me with "secondary progressive multiple sclerosis;" however, as he himself noted, I have probably had the disease for at least 16 years. Like many MS patients, my disease was difficult to diagnose. As a result: 1) I have likely undergone neurological degeneration for over a decade and a half, with no treatment; 2) the fact that my disease is now in the progressive phase, limits the drugs applicable to my case; 3) my doctor said that the available conventional treatment for progressive MS carries the risk of heart muscle damage, and he did not push for me to take that risk; 4) my doctor recommends medical marijuana for his patients who live in Washington, D.C., but is unable to do so for his Maryland patients.

I have been told that the Maryland medical marijuana law will not be operational until at least April of 2016. Having to wait that long for treatment is difficult to accept, especially since I have already gone so long without treatment.

A comprehensive summation of studies by Americans for Safe Access points to marijuana/cannabis as a promising treatment for MS sufferers. This is all the more remarkable, given the recent observation by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, that the research on the benefits of marijuana has been severely stymied in the U.S., due to a bias in favor of finding harm. This
presents a strong argument for the legalization of cannabis beyond medical laws, as we are still learning the benefits of this plant.

In addition to the findings of several studies that cannabis can relieve the symptoms of MS, I am particularly interested in studies that suggest that marijuana may slow the progression of the disease. This means that time may be of the essence for MS patients like me.
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Many drug treatments force doctors to make difficult cost/benefit analyses in their use, as they have significant side effects. However, Dr. Gupta, as well as others, have pointed to the low side effect profile of cannabis. Even the psychological effects of THC has been shown to be mitigated by CBD.

Taken together:the promise of cannabis despite stymied research; the delay in the implementation of Maryland's medical marijuana law; the relative safety of cannabis and the public safety advantages of taking it out of the black market; create a powerful argument for SB 456, HB 490, HB 601,HB 1068, as well as for treating cannabis more like alcohol and tobacco in general.
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Amy Fried is the author of "Escaping Dick Cheney's Stomach." She received her Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior, and has been an advocate for church-state separation and other civil liberties issues. She writes on women's issues, media, veganism (more...)

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