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MMJ Opinion 

During Epilepsy awareness month, let’s remind ourselves why legalization is important

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November is epilepsy awareness month and that is cause for celebration in the cannabis world because cannabis has been shown to be a safe, effective and far less toxic treatment option when compared to the usual allopathic anticonvulsants. This is accomplished through the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties found in the cannabinoids and terpenoids that are the major active components.  

These compounds help to turn down the music for many who suffer from epileptic conditions. With cannabis they are able to live fuller lives, without their development being interfered with by pills.

For some who are dependent on these treatments the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act  provides a narrow exception to the Controlled Substances Act allowing them to possess the cannabis and cannabis infused products that give them a better life. There are barriers to entry into this legal market, which make participation difficult for some. Because of heavy handed taxation and regulation, cost of the products to the consumer is high, no pun intended. A patient must maintain their patient status year by year, with a renewal fee to the state and a visit to the doctor providing the recommendation. This can be too expensive or cumbersome a process for some patients in need.

The AMMA also has a very limited set of approved conditions for an Arizona marijuana recommendation. Many people who might benefit from cannabis are left out of the program. The Arizona Cannabis Nurses Association filed for eight new conditions to be added to the program but the Department of Health Services denied all eight without public hearing or comment. Surely the AZCNA will appeal as they did when PTSD was denied in the same abrupt way a few years ago.

Other patients languish in limbo as well, unable to participate for other reasons. The many who are here without papers or proper identification are also unable to get a medical marijuana card, regardless of how much they might be willing to pay for it. Aren't those humans entitled to be able to safe legal access to high-quality, lab-tested cannabis if that is the treatment that works best for them?We need to legalize cannabis in Arizona, and eventually the U.S. to eliminate these barriers. There are multiple ballot initiatives being circulated and there is much infighting among the parties. The best-funded initiative is being promoted by the Marijuana Policy Project and it is largely criticized as being far too limiting a law by Arizonans for Mindful Regulation.

I am strongly in favor of the more permissive initiative promoted by the AZFMR. Many that represent the AZFMR feel that the MPP initiative does more harm than good, if the MPP bill sits alone on the ballot in November 2016 they will lobby against their own issue for fear that the MPP law gives the cannabis industry to big business and the industrial prison complex on a silver platter.  

I do not support the idea that the MPP law does more harm than good. It is my hope that in the event the AZFMR initiative does not qualify for the ballot, that the MPP bill will prevail so that the people of Arizona, who do not already qualify for the AMMA, may care for themselves and their families, and that the market might mature to give widespread access to high quality products at a more reasonable price.

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