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The Basics of Marijuana in Medicine
Many people across the Country use cannabis for medicinal purposes. Luckily for those in the state of Colorado they can now legally seek relief without fear of the law. In the November 2000 general election, the people of Colorado voted to legalize the use of medical marijuana for persons suffering from debilitating medical conditions. Amendment 20 allows a patient to have up to 2 ounces of cannabis in their possession and grow up to 6 plants.
What does this mean for you? Well, if you have one of the qualifying medical conditions then just follow this simple guide to legally apply for your medical cannabis card.
First you will need to schedule a medical marijuana evaluation with a state approved doctor. There are many resources for researching and choosing a compassionate doctor across Colorado, so be sure to do the proper research to find a reputable source. It's best to provide this doctor with your medical records if possible. While this makes the process easier for everyone, it's not required at many locations.
Your doctor will need to diagnose you with one of the following conditions to be eligible for the official Colorado Medical Marijuana Registry:
HIV or AIDS or a medical condition or treatment that produces, for this patient, one or more of the following and which, in the physician's professional opinion, may be alleviated by the medical use of marijuana.
Seizures (including those characteristic of epilepsy)
Persistent muscle spasms (including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis)
Once your doctor approves the recommendation, they will need to fill out the Physician Certification form. Only licensed medical doctor's in good standing with the state of Colorado may sign this form. Next is your official Registry Application Form. This needs to be signed, dated and notarized in front of an official state Notary. Then you need to include a photo copy of a valid Colorado ID (driver's license, state ID, etc). Finally, a $90 non-refundable application fee must be paid by an included check or money order payable to CDPHE.
All forms are available for download from the official Colorado Department of Public Health website. Be sure to make photo copies of everything! Then package and mail all the materials to the Registry's Office within 60 days of the doctor's signature:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Medical Marijuana Registry or MMR HSVRD-MMP-A1 4300 Cherry Creek Drive South Denver, CO 80246-1530
That's really all there is to it! Next you will have to play the waiting game because the Registry's Office is currently way behind on approving new applicants. Estimated wait times can be up to 6 months from when the Registry Office receives your application. The good news is you can use photo copies of all your documents as your temporary proof of registration until you receive your card in the mail.
Marijuana Can Benefit Millions In Pain
Marijuana is also known as pot, grass and weed but its formal name is actually cannabis. It comes from the leaves and flowers of the plant Cannabis sativa. It is considered an illegal substance in the US and many countries and possession of marijuana is a crime punishable by law. The FDA classifies marijuana as Schedule I, substances which have a very high potential for abuse and have no proven medical use. Over the years several studies claim that some substances found in marijuana have medicinal use, especially in terminal diseases such as cancer and AIDS. This started a fierce debate over the pros and cons of the use of medical marijuana. To settle this debate, the Institute of Medicine published the famous 1999 IOM report entitled Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base. The report was comprehensive but did not give a clear cut yes or no answer. The opposite camps of the medical marijuana issue often cite part of the report in their advocacy arguments. However, although the report clarified many things, it never settled the controversy once and for all.
Let's look at the issues that support why medical marijuana should be legalized.
(1) Marijuana is a naturally occurring herb and has been used from South America to Asia as an herbal medicine for millennia. In this day and age when the all natural and organic are important health buzzwords, a naturally occurring herb like marijuana might be more appealing to and safer for consumers than synthetic drugs.
(2) Marijuana has strong therapeutic potential. Several studies, as summarized in the IOM report, have observed that cannabis can be used as analgesic, e.g. to treat pain. A few studies showed that THC, a marijuana component is effective in treating chronic pain experienced by cancer patients. However, studies on acute pain such as those experienced during surgery and trauma have inconclusive reports. A few studies, also summarized in the IOM report, have demonstrated that some marijuana components have antiemetic properties and are, therefore, effective against nausea and vomiting, which are common side effects of cancer chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Some researchers are convinced that cannabis has some therapeutic potential against neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis. Specific compounds extracted from marijuana have strong therapeutic potential. Cannobidiol (CBD), a major component of marijuana, has been shown to have antipsychotic, anticancer and antioxidant properties. Other cannabinoids have been shown to prevent high intraocular pressure (IOP), a major risk factor for glaucoma. Drugs that contain active ingredients present in marijuana but have been synthetically produced in the laboratory have been approved by the US FDA. One example is Marinol, an antiemetic agent indicated for nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy. Its active ingredient is dronabinol, a synthetic delta-9- tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
(3) One of the major proponents of medical marijuana is the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), a US-based organization. Many medical professional societies and organizations have expressed their support. As an example, The American College of Physicians, recommended a re-evaluation of the Schedule I classification of marijuana in their 2008 position paper. ACP also expresses its strong support for research into the therapeutic role of marijuana as well as exemption from federal criminal prosecution; civil liability; or professional sanctioning for physicians who prescribe or dispense medical marijuana in accordance with state law. Similarly, protection from criminal or civil penalties for patients who use medical marijuana as permitted under state laws.
(4) Medical marijuana is legally used in many developed countries The argument of if they can do it, why not us? is another strong point. Some countries, including Canada, Belgium, Austria, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Spain, Israel, and Finland have legalized the therapeutic use of marijuana under strict prescription control. Some states in the US are also allowing exemptions.