At a time when the national debate over "marijuana medicine" continues to rage, this spring saw a large group of dedicated health professionals gather to quietly, yet excitedly, present and discuss the latest findings in science and medicine relating to the use of medical cannabis. Make no mistake, the Clinical Conference in Portland, Oregon was historic.
Physicians, scientists, nurses, caregivers, patients, and others came to Portland from literally all over the nation and the world. State cannabis program presentations representing Colorado, Hawaii, California, and Oregon showed the strength of the States in securing help for their citizens despite Federal interference. Noted scientists from England, Canada, and the United States presented the latest in research.
Patients Out of Time brought together many of the remaining Federal IND patients including George McMahon, Elvy Musikka, and Irvin Rosenfeld. A detailed and comprehensive study of these patients by Dr. Ethan Russo was presented, clearly demonstrating no negative side effects in these long time medical cannabis patients.
While the Federal Government irrationally denies any medical utility for cannabis, the sponsors of the conference felt that truth seeking was more important than politics. Those sponsors included:
- Patients Out of Time
- Portland Community College Institute for Health Professionals
- Oregon Department of Human Services
- Oregon Nurses Association
- Mothers Against Misuse and Abuse
With the exception of a benefit dinner and auction the conference was all business. Presentations began promptly each morning at 8:00 AM and continued through working lunches until late each afternoon. The conference was expertly moderated by Al Byrne of Patients Out of Time. Copies of abstracts were provided to participants along with note pads. Video cameras rolled constantly recording historic presentations. Public Broadcasting conducted interviews and filming for a special on medical cannabis to be aired this fall. The Portland Community College District provided formal Continuing Education Units to Health Professionals attending the conference while exhibitors provided the latest in everything from vaporizers to medical cannabis historical displays.
The American Alliance for Medical Cannabis was well represented at the conference with members from California and Oregon including Oregon State Director Art Livermore, Lane County Director Jim Freire, El Dorado County representative Shelly Arnold, Humboldt County representative Eric Heimstadt, and National Director Dr. Jay R. Cavanaugh.
Prominent Californians attending included Dr. Tom O’Connell, former editor of DrugSense, Jeff Jones of Oakland, Mike Aldrich of CHAMPS, and Valerie Corral, founder of Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana in Santa Cruz.
Much of the information presented was technical in nature. A blizzard of Power Point slide presentations, graphs, tables, and photographs were showered on the participants. Summaries of the key presentations will follow this introduction. Suffice to say here that the evidence of efficacy derived from histological, anatomical, biochemical, and many other methods, was overwhelming and convincing.
In general, the efficacy of medical cannabis was discussed for disorders ranging from the treatment of chronic pain, to movement disorders, glaucoma, wasting diseases, and spasticity. The operations and role of cannabis compassion centers from Vancouver to Eugene to Santa Cruz were discussed. Expert cultivation and gardening information was presented. New cannabis and cannabis like drug delivery systems were discussed including GW’s sublingual sprays and the transdermal patches being developed at the University of Kentucky.
Patients, scientists, physicians, and caregivers agreed that medical cannabis is a major tool in both treating and preventing many major chronic illnesses and disabilities. Not only is cannabis more effective than many existing medications, it is demonstrably safer than most medications prescribed.