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Call it extracted oil, call it Alepsia, call it Charlotte’s Web, but the fact remains: it comes from the marijuana plant.
Last year, I had a meeting with an extremely conservative state senator in New Jersey. I went along with the mother of an epileptic child, and we talked to him about medical marijuana. We explained that the type of treatment the child needed was high in CBD, and we talked about the fact that it was non-psychoactive.
The Senator listened, and I could envision the little wheels spinning in his head. He had kids of his own. He felt sympathy for the child, for the family. He was a compassionate man. He was trying to figure out how he could support medical marijuana legislation, and long before the whole Alepsia thing in Utah, he found his answer: “Do we have to call it ‘marijuana’?” he asked. “Can’t we just call it something else?”
My answer was an unequivocal “No.” We couldn’t just call it something else because it IS marijuana.
We also told the Senator that many patients need THC in addition to CBD. I told him about my own experience with medical marijuana during my cancer treatment. I told him about the prescription pharmaceuticals I’d taken that made me ridiculously, unimaginably “high,” that made me hallucinate, that made me exhausted, depressed, and verging-on-suicidal. Conversely, I told him how the THC in marijuana helped me to be clear-headed, present, and yes, a little bit happier in addition to helping with my pain and nausea. Why on earth was feeling a little giddy or giggly from marijuana considered more dangerous than drugs that could make me feel depressed, suicidal, or so uncomfortably high I couldn’t even remember the names of my own relatives?
Prohibitionist propaganda remains so ingrained in some politicians – and even in some newly minted CBD-activists – that “marijuana” is still considered a dirty word. And these folks aren’t just rebranding marijuana with a new name, they are lobbying for legislation that allows only CBD-rich marijuana-but-we-won’t-call-it-marijuana extracts with only trace amounts of THC, and that’s definitely not ok.
Groups like Hope 4 Children With Epilepsy are advocating for a CBD-rich marijuana extract called Alepsia in Utah, but the group’s website states, “Hope 4 Children with Epilepsy (H4CE) is NOT advocating for a medical marijuana program.” Utah State Representative Gage Froerer has said of Alepsia, “This is not medical marijuana. This is entirely the opposite.”
Statements like this just me want to scream no, No, NO! Alepsia IS medical marijuana and you ARE advocating for a medical marijuana program – albeit a terribly restrictive and limited one that is unlikely to help your children. Please stop calling marijuana by other names and denying that this whole plant can do all kinds of amazing things for the human race. And while you’re at it, please stop talking shit about medical marijuana activists. If it hadn’t been for decades of work by activists, there would be no national attention to these issues. There would be no CNN specials. And there would be no CBD-rich cannabis extracts available anywhere!
I can’t help but think that somewhere, deep inside, these parents know better. It is so difficult for me to write about this, when I know they are only trying to save their children’s lives. But the fact is – like it or not – CBD, Alepsia, Charlotte’s Web, extracted oil, whatever-you-want-to-call it comes from marijuana. Even if you get a CBD-rich strain officially classified as hemp, the fact remains: this is medical marijuana, really, it is. And in addition to the CBD part, there’s this other awesome part of the plant called THC, which has an entourage effect with CBD that makes it work medicinally a whole lot better in combination than in isolation.
If we keep talking about how CBD is non-psychotropic, and we keep saying that CBD has no addictive potential, we are implying that THC is dangerous and addictive, and that medical marijuana without it is adequate – and it’s not.
Denying the therapeutic medicinal effects of THC is just as morally and scientifically wrong as denying the therapeutic medicinal effects of CBD. People are still dying from conditions that CBD-only marijuana doesn’t address. Cancer patients with wasting syndrome don’t get appetite stimulation from CBD-rich medicine. PTSD patients with suicidal tendencies don’t get emotional stability from CBD-rich medicine. My father died from Glioblastoma Multiforme, a terminal brain cancer that studies show might be treated effectively with certain ratios of CBD:THC that would likely contain a little too much THC under CBD-only laws. Not to mention that epileptic kids on CBD-rich medication often don’t get seizure control without the addition of THC.
Yes, I know that conservative politicians are more likely to embrace medical marijuana if we take out the ingredients that cause a high, give it a pretty name, and brand it as something that has no potential for abuse. But if we buy into that, we would be denying patients the parts of the plant that could save their lives. We would be creating legislation that only allows certain patients to access the type of marijuana they need. We would be blocking research that could drastically change the outcomes of fatal, currently untreatable diseases. We would be allowing politicians to “throw us a bone” that could radically affect the future of medical cannabis legislation. And we would be cheating ourselves and our children.