Georgia to Begin Medical Marijuana Research Trials
(APN) ATLANTA — “Yes We Cannabis” was the rallying cry of many individuals and organizations on the grounds of the State Capitol, Wednesday, April 20, 2011, in support of marijuana policy reform in the State of Georgia.
The group also celebrated the fact that Georgia has started to implement the Medical Marijuana Necessities Act of 1981 (MMNA 1981) that will establish procedures and a medical board for which patients can be prescribed legal medical marijuana in Georgia as part of clinical research trials.
The Georgia legislature passed the MMNA in 1981; however, after the political climate quickly shifted against marijuana under the President Ronald Reagan Administration, the trials were de-funded. Until now, the state has continued to fail to implement the law.
Over 50 people, representing diverse organizations, rallied at the event, including Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), Coalition for the Abolition of Marijuana Prohibition (CAMP), Georgia Taxpayers Alliance, Student for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), Educators for Sensible Drug Policy (EFSDP), and Cannabis Culture magazine.
The goals of the Rally for Cannabis Reform were to raise public awareness and education about the current, failing marijuana policies, and to announce to the public the beginning of clinical cannabis research in Georgia.
The initial clinical trials and research into therapeutic application of medical marijuana are for treating glaucoma and the side effects of chemotherapy radiation in cancer patients.
According to a copy of the law obtained by Atlanta Progressive News, the Board shall act as a sponsor of statewide investigational studies, shall develop protocols and guidelines for such studies, and shall apply to the National Institute on Drug Abuse for receipt of marijuana.
While the statement of intent within the law is to develop research on the value of medicinal use of marijuana, the law does not explain how the findings of the study will be used or even considered.
This long overdue research is possible because the “Georgia law which allowed the Governor to appoint nominees to the Georgia Composite State Board of Medical Examiners (GCMB) was invalidated last year,” Rt. Rev. Gregory K. Davis of the Universal Orthodox Diocese of Georgia explained. The Universal Orthodox Diocese believes that marijuana is from God, and that it is the Tree of Life.
“Now medical decisions and research has been taken out of the hands of the politicians and put in the hands of doctors where it belongs,” Davis said.
“Only doctors and patients have a right to decide how their medical problems are treated and what medicine they are prescribed,” Paul Corwell with CAMP said.
The GCMB is currently recruiting physicians from various specialties for this historic medical marijuana research project in Georgia.
According to a copy of the recruitment flyer obtained by APN, “The Georgia Composite Medical Board is recruiting physicians for the Patient Qualification Review Board (PQRB) who elect to participate to evaluate the response rates of oral THC, standardized smoking, and patient controlled smoking of anti-emetics in cancer patients who have failed to respond to conventional anti-emetics therapy.”
“The PQRB is limited to clinical trials and research into therapeutic applications of marijuana only for use in treating glaucoma and in treating the side effects of chemotherapeutic agents and radiation and should not be construed as either encouraging or sanctioning the social use of marijuana. For additional information, see O.C.G.A. 43-34-121 Article 5, Use of Marijuana for Treatment of Cancer and Glaucoma,” the recruitment flyer states.
The Board is recruiting members who are Board certified physicians of Ophthalmology Surgery, Internal Medicine and Medical Oncology, Psychiatry, Radiology, as well as licensed pharmacists.
The GCMB is housed under the Georgia Department of Community Health.
Cornwell was instrumental in getting the state medical board to reinstate the clinical trials.
“Anyone who has a grandmother or friend wasting away from cancer or AIDS because they can’t keep food down should favor compassionate relief,” Cornwell explains.
Tim Trout and Mat Thomas, both former Georgia Tech students, were the primary organizers of the rally. This was their first time organizing an event but will not be their last. The musical entertainment was provided by 3052 dub Collective.
Fifteen states and Washington, DC, have legalized the medical use of marijuana. They are Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. Maryland, a sixteenth state, limits penalties for medical marijuana use to one hundred dollars.
Ten states with pending legislation to legalize medical marijuana are Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and North Carolina.
Comprehensive reports on possible medical uses of marijuana include the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report in 1999 and the American Medical Association position paper of 2001.
The IOM report found that marijuana can provide superior relief to patients who suffer from metastic cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, and epilepsy.
The Canadian Medical Association Journal in a recent scientific study found a reduction in chronic neuropathic pain by those who use medical marijuana.
In March 1999, a New York Times article reported that “the active ingredients in marijuana appear to be useful for treating pain, nausea and the severe weight loss associated with AIDS, according to a new study commissioned by the Government.”
The report, the most comprehensive analysis to date of the medical literature about marijuana, said there was no evidence that giving the drug to sick people would increase illicit use in the general population. Nor is marijuana a gateway drug that prompts patients to use harder drugs like cocaine and heroin, the study said.
“Georgia has one of the highest incarceration rates in the free world,” James Bell with Georgia Taxpayers Alliance said. “Our friends and neighbors are being locked away in jails and prison not for crimes against another person but for smoking cannabis. It is time to empty our prisons of nonviolent people. These Draconian laws are causing a tax burden on everyone and destroying people’s lives.”
In 2007 the US Department of Justice reported about 872,720 persons were arrested for marijuana offenses. In 2006, 829,627 people were arrested for marijuana. In 2005 there were 786,545 marijuana arrests, meaning that the number of arrests increased by 86,000 in just two years.
Georgia marijuana penalties for possession of less than one ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor and can be punished by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to one thousand dollars. Possession of one ounce or more is a felony and is punishable by one to ten years in prison, according to NORML’s website.
Al Herman, with NORML, invites Atlantians to join with 200 other cities on Saturday, May 07, 2011, in the Global Cannabis March to legalize medical cannabis. Activists will assemble at Freedom Park in Little Five Points at 4pm, and will march first to the Carter Center, then to Findley Plaza in Little Five Points.
(END / 2011)