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Treating Parkinson’s 

MMJ is one treatment that can help, but our state needs some convincing

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April is Parkinson's Awareness Month and so now is a good time to have some discussion about cannabis treatments for these conditions and the state of Medical Marijuana in Arizona.

There are now 90,000 Arizonans enjoying safe legal access to cannabis thanks to the 2010 passage of the AMMA. Many of these patients report substantial improvements in their symptoms, their pain levels are more manageable, many have reduced or eliminated narcotic pain medications, their sleep is better, also with less pills, their blood sugars and blood pressures also respond favorably, and this all comes from a natural non toxic herb.

Parkinson's disease causes tremors, insomnia, and painful stiffness in joints and limbs, these symptoms can cause severe emotional discomfort in the form of anxiety as well. Huntington's has similar associated symptoms affecting movement but also has a high incidence of even more severe mental illness like OCD, bipolar or suicidal ideation, all of this can be well controlled with cannabis.  

Old times die hard however and our state is still a conservative one. Expansions to the AMMA have been few and efforts to expand the program have been fought vigorously by the Department of Health. In a petition filed last July, the Arizona Cannabis Nurses Association (AZCNA) sought to add Parkinson's, Huntington's and 6 other seriosixsly debilitating medical conditions to our program. All eight were denied, 6 with no reason given. Huntington's and Parkinson's were denied due to lack of research that meets FDA standards, this type of research has been systematically denied study drug from the only federally approved cultivation site run by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The problem for the Department of Health is that the AMMA provides us with a process to add conditions thru a public hearing, similar to the one that resulted in a denial and subsequent victory on appeal for PTSD the only condition to successfully have been added to the program. The other problem they have is that Ken Sobel the attorney for the AZCNA is a freedom fighter, who will go to extreme lengths to fight injustice and oppression,  and a few of us in the cannabis Industry believe in him, the AZCNA, and in  this just  cause enough to see this thru. We have public hearings for the petitions on Parkinson's disease and Huntington's disease in Phoenix in early May. The department takes the position that our scientific evidence is inadequate. Sobel has presented two observational studies that show significant results in favor of these treatments. The former director of the AZDHS Will Humble allowed a hearing regarding PTSD on the basis of a single observational study. So why aren't two similar studies good enough for the department now. Sobel is confidant that he can prove that these two debilitating conditions deserve a place in their own right as approved conditions qualifying a suffering patient for the AMMA. He also plans to appeal the denial of the other six petitions so stay tuned.

The law is clear, Proposition 203, created processes to enact, administer, and modify the AMMA, but  for more than five years the state has fought us at every turn. Implementation was delayed for more than a year. No new licensure has been issued to allow for more dispensaries. Petitions for new conditions are routinely denied. The AZDHS blatantly ignores these and other procedures established by law, in favor of its "because I said so rulemaking." Meanwhile patients in need languish without the safe legal access they need to the safest least toxic treatment for their conditions. They suffer unnecessarily and their families are forced to watch them live a less fulfilling life than they deserve. We can do better than this. We should do better than this. If you or someone you love suffers from one of these conditions your story could be useful at the upcoming hearings. If these issues are important to you then you can help raise awareness, help raise money to cover legal fees, or make a donation to the AZCNA yourself..

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More by Aari Ruben

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