Roy Exum: Rx: Please Legalize Pot

Saturday, January 25, 2014 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

I am certainly no expert on pain or the treatment of it. But I have had enough first-hand experience with pain to make me a strong supporter of a very important bill that will be introduced in the Tennessee Legislature on Monday. It is called the Koozer-Kuhn Medical Cannabis Act and there is ample evidence marijuana can and will ease some cases of suffering in the best way known to man.

Whether the villain is glaucoma, epilepsy, chronic nausea or another on a long list of afflictions where pot has been proven to be profoundly effective, I see medicinal marijuana as a welcome addition to our arsenal to combat disease. Understand, I don’t smoke pot or have any other relationship with “weed” but there have been times in my life when I would have done darn near anything to make the pain go away.

So proudly include me among those who are begging our state legislature to allow sound and compassionate reasoning to take the place of bias and perception. Let’s join a growing number of states – 21 thus far -- that allow marijuana to be carefully controlled and legally available to those who would benefit from it in Tennessee.

Forget that “street dope” is readily available in almost every town in every state. I’m talking about removing the stigma of breaking the law. I am also begging that medicinal cannabis be carefully controlled and regulated, that the quality be laboratory consistent, and that the patients be vetted by healthcare professionals. I have seen too many cases where its usefulness is unparalleled, so help me I have.

I had a dear friend who was such a stickler for society’s rules that he would go nuts if anyone around him had illegal drugs or weed. But when he was in the final stages of Lou Gehrig’s Disease a few years back, I personally saw how the marijuana he once hated eased the horrifying load he was forced to carry. I know a glaucoma patient who will swear under oath marijuana is the undisputed champion of her pain. And I know personally other sufferers who would gladly testify in open court.

The American Medical Association has even announced: “Research has demonstrated that cannabis reduces neuropathic pain, improves appetite, and relieves spasticity and pain in patients with multiple sclerosis.” They could have easily added Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Crohn’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, the treatment and pain of cancer, Hepatitis C, or a dozen other very real diseases.

House Bill 1385 is called the Koozer-Kuhn Act because cannabis is the reason Piper Koozer’s family were forced to leave Ooltewah and move to Colorado. It’s there the two-year-old girl’s parents can get legal marijuana oil – with its quality assured -- to fight her savage Aicardi Syndrome where her tiny body is wracked with otherwise uncontrollable seizures. The “Kuhn” name is in memory of Jeanne Kuhn, a Nashville mother who relied heavily on the once-despised pot in the final stages of breast cancer and chemotherapy.

Like 58 percent of Americans, I believe the time has come to legalize marijuana the same way we do alcohol. Billions have been spent and wasted fighting marijuana in the United States and the war is clearly lost. Legalize it, tax it, and control it in a way that runs the cartels out of the game and gets the tax cash to the taxpayers. Colorado and Washington State have already done it. It is simply a matter of time before the economic pressure alone will sway even the last puritan.

But it is both foolish and inhumane not to legalize medicinal cannabis as fast as is prudently possible. If I am any judge Tennessee will be among the very last states to approve recreational marijuana – that’s just the way we are – but medicinal cannabis is a far cry from recreation; no one can deny it instead provides a quality of life.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Sherry Jones (D-Nashville) is being cosponsored by Rep. JoAnne Favors RN (D-Chattanooga) and Rep. Darren Jernigan (D-Nashville), will be introduced with briefings on “Lobby Day” this Monday. Following an afternoon press conference that will feature the bill’s author, Bernie Ellis, MA, MPH, a two-hour panel including legislators, academicians and actual patients will be held at Vanderbilt’s School of Management.

The Koozer-Kuhn plan promises to be “the most tightly controlled medical cannabis program in the country, and (key phrase) the most patient-friendly.” The guidelines call for licensed processors to sell medical cannabis to regulated dispensaries, all under the supervision of the state’s Department of Health.

It just makes sense. On Thursday Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the National Football League, said the NFL would most certainly be receptive if medical experts find that using marijuana is a legitimate solution to help treat concussions and other head injuries. How can it hurt? And isn’t it ironic that marijuana has been legalized in both the states of the teams that will meet in the Super Bowl?

Tennessee’s proposed Koozer-Kuhn Medical Cannabis Act is a wonderful thing. Our legislators should be urged to approve it because it is clear -- it will improve the lives of some who suffer in Tennessee.

royexum@aol.com


Tropical Rain Forest Climate At Memorial Auditorium

My wife and I have been to two events at the Memorial Auditorium in the past two weeks, and both times the climate inside was akin to a tropical rain forest. With all the quality acts that are being brought to Chattanooga, why can't Memorial Auditorium provide a comfortable environment for patrons to enjoy these great acts?   We don't have this problem at the Tivoli.  ... (click for more)

Look At The Town Of Signal Mountain Water Options

The town of Signal Mountain is preparing a Request for Proposal so Walden’s Ridge Utility District and Tennessee American Water can have the opportunity to bid on buying our water system. Another option would be to hire a water manager and keep the water system.  The town has approximately 3.2 million in cash and investments, paid into the system by our rate ... (click for more)

Fire Displaces Mother And Son At House Near Dodds Avenue

No one was home when fire broke out in a Chattanooga home near Dodds Avenue late Friday morning. The Chattanooga Fire Department received the alarm around 11 a.m. and responded to 2609 Reece St. with four fire companies.  Battalion Chief Carlos Hampton said the firefighters made a quick, interior attack and got the fire under control in roughly 10 minutes. ... (click for more)

Planning Commission To Review New Form-Based Code Monday At 1 PM; Start Zoning Cases At 3 PM

The Planning Commission on Monday afternoon will be reviewing the proposed Form Based Code in addition to a large number of zoning cases.   Officials said the new code and the zoning cases "have generated significant public interest so we are expecting a large crowd."  The review of the Form-Based Code by the Planning Commission is scheduled to take ... (click for more)

Mustangs Clip Raiders, 4-3, On Chambers' Clutch RBI Hit In 10th

CLEVELAND, Tenn. – Winning two regular season games against Cleveland was no picnic for the Walker Valley Mustangs. Capturing a win-or-go-home District 5-3A tournament showdown with the Blue Raiders was even tougher to nail down for coach Joe Shamblin’s squad. Bunts by Jacob McCall and Hunter Shamblin set the stage for Jacob Chambers’ walk-off RBI single in the 10 th ... (click for more)

East Ridge And CFCA Reach New Contract

The city of East Ridge and the Chattanooga Futbol Club Academy (CFCA) have agreed to a new five-year soccer field-use agreement for five fields at Camp Jordan Park. The agreement allows CFCA to practice at Camp Jordan Park and play games there on fields 1-5. The East Ridge Futbol Club (ERFC) plays recreation soccer on fields 6-8 and often works with CFCA to use field 5 on Saturday ... (click for more)