Roy Exum: ‘Would Marijuana Help?’

Wednesday, February 19, 2014 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

I was talking to one of my doctors last week who knows I wrestle with chronic pain and I brought up the fact that medicinal marijuana has become the national rage. Twenty-one states now allow it and Tennessee is one of about a dozen other states that is taking a hard look at a topic our best scientists admit they know too little about.

I’ll admit I am nearly paranoid in my fear of prescription narcotics but several months ago, after Colorado legalized marijuana, I became fascinated with the tale of tiny Charlotte Figi, a six-year-old girl who has a rare disease called Dravet Syndrome. The kid was having 200 grand mal seizures a week – about once every 25 minutes – and was in a living hell. Strapped in a wheelchair, the child had a one-word vocabulary.

Today young Charlotte can walk, speak in full sentences and has a blend of marijuana named in her honor called “Charlotte’s Web.” Her life has been totally changed after her desperate parents began to mix a strain of the embattled cannabis with olive oil and started giving Charlotte two treatments a day. There is documentable proof Charlotte and about 85 other kids have had their lives altered and today – get this -- there are 2,000 more people on a Colorado Springs waiting list. Over 100 families have literally moved to Colorado!

So I am talking to this doctor I trust with my life and I suddenly asked, “Would marijuana help me?” The answer came out easily. “It is illegal for me to prescribe it. It is illegal in the state of Tennessee … but I would not tell you not to try it … “

Holy smokes, that was unbelievable for me. That is the closest real-life example I have ever heard that maybe there is more to all the hoopla, and growing public acceptance. Seriously, maybe there really is more to marijuana than mainstream conservatives have been willing to admit until now but scientists worry there may be more we don’t know.

Amy Brooks-Kayal, the vice president of the American Epilepsy Society, was quoted in an Associated Press story the other day as saying "Until we have information (and proven research), as physicians, we can't follow our first creed, which is do no harm," she explained,  carefully noting that, to date, it hasn’t been proven there aren’t threatening side effects to the children who are now avoiding the life-threatening seizures.

The strain of cannabis that is being given to these kids with seizures reportedly contains a relatively small amount of tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive component in marijuana, which means the user doesn’t get the “high” that the marijuana being sold in Colorado’s regular pot stores provides. Doctors remain leery, of course, because there is virtually no data yet available.

Josh Stanley, who grows the strain, told the AP, “My brothers and I thought that this little-known compound might just be the missing link to provide some validity in the realm of cannabis research and as it turns out we were correct," he said.

"Now the plant we had created, while it may have immense medical benefits, is completely non-psychoactive... so we named the plant 'The Hippie's Disappointment' (but) it proved incredibly useful to Charlotte."

There is some belief – and worry – that medicinal marijuana is the last step towards totally legalizing the drug, which the state of Washington will be the next to do. In Florida legalizing marijuana is on the November ballot but – just to be safe -- three state senators just sponsored a separate bill for the medicinal cannabis to be approved by the legislature – not the popular vote.

"Charlotte’s Web helps patients improve their quality of life and offers hope to parents desperate to provide relief to their children," state Senator Rob Bradley said. "While many Floridians have significant concerns about medical marijuana being misused, SB 1030 offers a new opportunity for Floridians who have not found relief with current medications." And Senator Aaron Bean added, “This is completely different from what the public knows about marijuana. I’m excited about the possibility of ending seizures in medically challenged kids."

In New York a recent poll showed 88 percent of voters now favor medicinal marijuana and 58 percent favor recreational pot. According to government surveys, some 25 million Americans have smoked marijuana in the past year, and more than 14 million do so regularly despite harsh laws against its use. You can almost bet it will pass because New York and many other states are admittedly coveting Colorado’s tax haul, on pace to exceed $100 million a year (for the record, alcohol in Colorado nets $39 million in taxes annually).

Candidly, I think it is just a matter of time – a recent Wall Street Journal/CBS News poll showed 55 percent of Americans favor legal sales. I see medicinal marijuana in Tennessee on a fast track and, with the war on marijuana long a joke, let’s legalize and tax the stuff. The United States is spending an estimated $7.6 billion a year in its losing fight against marijuana possession laws and maybe we could use that money to help children who suffer from seizures.

royexum@aol.com


Discrepancies About The Power Uprate At Browns Ferry

Some facts regarding the power uprate at Browns Ferry to share with the Scottsboro Environmental group opposing the uprate:  1.  The reactor does not run at a higher temperature due to the uprate.  There is simply more flow of feedwater, thus more steam.  So the concern about higher temperatures is unwarranted.   2.  The change in the fuel was ... (click for more)

We Lost A Great Broadcaster In Jack Hatcher

This past week we lost another great broadcaster, Jack Wright Hatcher Sr.   I worked with Jack in the 60’s and 70’s.   Jack always would tell you what he thought.   Most of his thoughts were very conservative.   He was a trivia expert.   He could tell you just about any hit record from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s.   He also knew who starred in ... (click for more)

Fire Displaces Family Of 3 On Kemp Drive

No injuries were reported in connection with a house fire late Saturday afternoon. The Chattanooga Fire Department received the alarm shortly before  6 p.m.  and responded to 4605 Kemp Drive with five fire companies. Battalion Chief Rick Boatwright said the fire started in the kitchen and then spread up into the attic. The firefighters were able to bring the ... (click for more)

Michael Wilson Back In Bradley County; Due In Court On Monday

Michael Wilson is back in Bradley County, and was escorted into the Correctional Facility around 8:15 p.m. Wilson’s first appearance in court will be on Monday, at 9 a.m. in the Bradley County General Sessions Courtroom at the Judicial Complex at 2290 Blythe Ave. Wilson was arrested last week, after e ndangered Bradley County child Skyla Wilson was found safe in Colorado ... (click for more)

Unbeaten Baylor Volleyball Sweeps Three Region Foes

The Baylor Lady Red Raider volleyball team made a successful trip to Nashville this weekend where they remained unbeaten after 14 matches with wins over three region foes. Friday's match had Baylor sweeping Pope John Paul II by scores of 25-5, 25-10 and 25-11 before sweeping Ensworth and Father Ryan on Saturday.  Scores in the first match were 25-15, 25-12 and 25-5 while ... (click for more)

Mocs Volleyball Win Two Chattanooga Classic Matches Saturday

The Chattanooga Mocs volleyball team captured 3-0 sweeps against Presbyterian College and Mississippi Valley State on Saturday, their third sweep in as many matches as part of the Chattanooga Classic – presented by Hampton Inn & Suites (Downtown Chattanooga) – held in Maclellan Gym. The Mocs won the first two sets by scores of 25-10 and 25-14 before clinching the match ... (click for more)