Open Letter to Hawaii Senator Josh Green on Banning Medical Marijuana Patients

Dr. Green,

I  am  a  medical  doctor  who  helps  many  people  in  Hawaii  with  medical  marijuana.  I do not break the law, I help patients to legally and medically fulfill it.  I  am aware of the Senate Bill 1458 you are supporting that would severely limit the  ability  for  people  to  medically  use  marijuana  unless  they  have  multiple  sclerosis,  cancer, HIV/AIDS or glaucoma.  This would effectively disqualify more than 9 out of  ten  patients  currently  registered.  I  strongly  believe  you  are  hurting  the  people  of  Hawaii by supporting this bill.

In the news on April 27, 2011, you were quoted in  regards to the majority of current patients’ marijuana medical qualifications:

“As a physician I find (it) pretty hard to wrap my mind around,” said Green, who also is an emergency room doctor. “I’m not talking about someone who’s born with a terrible degenerative condition and just had to have any kind of medical solution. I’m talking about people with common injuries.”

The Hawaii state medical marijuana law HRS 3294121 through 128  does not
require that a patient have a “terrible degenerative condition” as you suggest, but a  “debilitating condition”.

§329-122 Medical use of marijuana; conditions of use.

(a) Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, the medical use of marijuana by a qualifying patient shall be permitted only if:
(1)  The qualifying patient has been diagnosed by a physician as having a debilitating medical condition;
(2)  The qualifying patient’s physician has certified in writing that, in the physician’s professional opinion, the potential benefits of the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the health risks for the particular qualifying patient; and

The Law specifically defines a debilitating condition as:

[§329-121] Definitions.

“Debilitating medical condition” means:
(1)  Cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or the treatment of these conditions;
(2)  A chronic or debilitating disease or  medical condition or its treatment that produces one or more of the following:
(A)  Cachexia or wasting syndrome;
(B)  Severe pain;
(C)  Severe nausea;
(D)  Seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy; or
(E)  Severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis or Crohn’s disease; or
(3)  Any other medical condition approved by the department of health pursuant to administrative rules in response to a  request from a physician or potentially qualifying patient.

Note  specifically  the  current  law  requirement  can  be  a  common  chronic  medical condition or its treatment that causes severe pain and nausea.  I have many  sincere,  honorable  patients  of  all  ages (over  18yo) that  have  common  persistently  painful conditions that are part of their life, and are recurrently severe.  If physical  therapy  doesn’t  help,  they  are  left  with  either  bearing  the  pain,  taking  NSAIDS,  narcotics, injections  or  surgery.    It  is  my  professional  opinion  as  a  medical  doctor and as an expert in natural alternatives to pain relief, that for mature, responsible, medically  qualified  patients  who  tolerate  marijuana  well  psychologically,  and who  do not abuse the smoking and effects of this herb, the benefits of using this medicine  far outweigh the dangers, especially as compared to NSAIDS, narcotics and surgery.  If  it  was  your  chronic  neck  or  shoulder  or  wrist  or  ankle  or  knee  or  back  pain,  migraines, queasiness, and you had to go work hard at a manual labor job, perhaps  you would see the amazing properties and safe use of this self-evidently medicinal  herb.  (The law of course limits its use to “not in the workplace”).  Perhaps then you  too would feel the abuse of power of such laws.

The  biggest  danger  to  my  patients who  are  law-abiding citizens,  is  not marijuana’s  effect  on  their  health (that  they  swear  to  me  and  the  state  see  as  a  benefit)  rather it  is  the  law  enforcement’s effect  on  their  health.    This,  I  have  witnessed, over and over, to be the most negative side effect of medical marijuana.

These  patients  have  entrusted  to  the  state  government  that  they  use  and  grow  marijuana  and  they  expected  the  respect  of  the  government  as  required  by  law.

Instead they have their applications delayed processing for five months as routine;  The vice helicopters regularly break the law hovering too low over patients’ houses;   The vice and county police too frequently enter legal patient’s private property with  automatic weapons and scare the kids and animals and are terrifying to law-abiding  patients and their families.   The state has systematically intimidated and slandered  those doctors  who  have  pursued  focusing  on  helping  patients  with  marijuana;

Patients are arrested and convicted for possessing and transporting their medicine within  the  state  – every  patient  must take  their  medicine  to  their  house  at  some  point and are thus  placed in jeopardy of  being arrested for  the very law they are  fulfilling.     Police and the NED and county prosecutors have continually abused the  fundamental rights of these legal patients who should be protected from these legal  abuses.  Even the NED’s website says:

The Hawaii’s law states, however, that the “acquisition, possession, cultivation, use, distribution (defined as only the transfer of marijuana  and paraphernalia from the primary caregiver to the qualifying patient), or  transportation of marijuana” for medicinal use is specifically protected.

Your bill would also do something that is severely unethical: You take away
rights of people who have come honestly  forward to be legal and who rely on this medicine for  their relief; and  now  the  NED/Public  Safety has their  names  and numbers  and  know  that  they  use  and  grow  marijuana.    That  is  like  the  Nazis  allowing  freedom  of  religion  as  long  as  you  register  with  them,  and  then  later change the law and go after those  that have registered.   These thousands of legal  patients  who  would  be  disqualified  by  your  new  bill  could hold  you  personally  responsible  for  their  persistent  severe  pain,  nausea,  dysfunction,  sleepless  nights,  and especially anxiety they develop because they are either forced into using more toxic medicines or into breaking the law, knowing that the police have their names  and addresses.

Dr. Green, I have respected your legislative approaches in the past and have
heard very good things about you as a person and doctor.  I was surprised to read  this recent article quoted above.    Tell me one real human being whom your revised  bill  helps. Does  it  help  the  kids  to  think  their  parents, who  are using  medical  marijuana,  are  now  criminals?    It  further  restricts  people,  intimidates  them,  and puts your citizens into fear for using a medicine that has been shown through much  research, to have medicinal properties, and that they know, wholeheartedly, that it  helps  them  to  better  tolerate  their severe  medical condition better  than  the  pharmaceutical  alternatives.  Do  you  think  90%  of  the  patients  are  lying and  me  and  thousands  of  other  doctors  as  well,  and  that  cannabis  really  does  not  help  humans to tolerate their condition?  I have witnessed the truth of these patients and  know it helps them, and that it can be used safely.

As you know, in 2008, 53% of the people on the Big Island successfully voted
to  ask  the  county  police  to  treat  24  plants  of  marijuana  and  24oz  as  the  lowest priority.    And now you want to further restrict an already established restrictive  medical law that real patients medically rely on.  Who exactly are you representing?   The  people?    Which  people?    Certainly  not  the many  honorable  and  kind  folks on  these Islands, I as a law-abiding and sincere medical doctor, have come to know and  respect.

Please  consider  removing  the severe  medical  restrictions from  Senate  Bill
1458 and be nice to the patients.  Please help require the state itself, and the county  police, live up to the laws they are required, by law, to uphold.

Jim Berg, MD

via : Hawaii News Daily

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