Cannabis has been around for 10,000 years and has been domesticated for the past 6,000 as evidenced by its medical applications in ancient China by Emperor Shen-Nung, aka the Father of Chinese Medicine. Since then, it found its way through the Hindu valleys of Nepal, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, spreading across Europe and ultimately landing in America with our founding fathers. Cannabis has three subspecies: Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis. Although there was a handful of landrace strains at the time and over the years, selective breeding and propagation has resulted in currently over 2,000 strains, mostly hybrids. Cannabis has over 400 chemical compounds with about 85 discovered cannabinoids (THC, CBD, THCV, CBN, CBG, etc. that are compounds that positively affect the human endocannabinoid system for our bodies to fight infection and diseases in order to heal and restore balance) and 135 terpenoids (the compounds that give marijuana its scent and taste that have tremendous medical value). Marijuana may be the most favored plant in the world, but it is also the most misunderstood given its complexity and uses.
With current technological advances in science, we are able to properly identify and understand how cannabinoids from cannabis benefit the advances in medicine and its applications. Some people think that any one type of marijuana strain can be used to treat any condition. This is not true given marijuana’s assortment of strains that have compounds to specifically treat specific conditions as evidenced by the patients who have been treated and are currently using it for treatment. The patients themselves have given testimonies on this fact as well as the results shown by their doctors. However, some people do not know that medical marijuana is not only used for pain management as stated by a recent letter to the editor written by a full legalization proponent. In fact there are other diseases that can be treated with medical marijuana such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder, to name a few, that have nothing to do with pain. Also, marijuana used as medication does not give the same effect on the patient as compared to the non-patient who uses it for recreational use. This is because the patient’s body and immune system uses the medication rapidly to treat and heal itself from the illness, thus reducing the high (psychoactive effects) as opposed to a person who is normal and not sick that receives the full effects to get high directly. This is also because the medical marijuana will have a differing ratio in regards to cannabinoids such as THC, the mind altering psychoactive compound, and CBD, the non-psychoactive and medicinal compound. Most patients that are suffering from serious medical conditions benefit from a higher ratio CBD strain versus a THC strain. In fact, although CBD has shown to be very promising in medicine in the past to a select few in the medical field, we now have medical scientists from all over the world that are currently researching and concluding that the non-psychoactive CBD (cannabidiol) compound is found to be the dominating X factor in treating most illnesses compared to the psychoactive THC.
For the sake of argument, if a person were to use the medical marijuana law by pretending to be sick to qualify as a patient only for the sole purpose of receiving marijuana to simply get high, surely he will find out that the high ratio, non-psychoactive CBD strain he has been “prescribed” will have little to no psychoactive effect at all, only resulting in dissatisfaction and a “buzz-kill,” which of course, is a waste of his time and money in going through the entire medical screening process, doctor visits and patient registration payments—all due to his ignorance. Medical marijuana is not recreational marijuana.
And for the sake of medical marijuana’s potential to the economy, according to research conducted by a recreational marijuana proponent, “Recreational marijuana comprised only 36 percent of total sales. This proves that…medical use is still the main purpose and it was visitors to Colorado who pushed the sales as their tourists industry increased revenues by 1.3 billion.” This is evidence that medical marijuana has more importance at 64 percent in total sales than recreational use and even more economic potential as a medical marijuana tourism industry. Colorado is currently seen as not only the marijuana capital of the world, it is also seen as the greatest refugee state for medical marijuana patients of all ages seeking medical marijuana treatment that is limited or restricted in their state or country for their types of illnesses. The CNMI may likely benefit from medical marijuana tourism after all. First, let us take care of our CNMI people who need the treatment as they do not have all the time in the world. Then we can look into the possibility of creating and preserving strains with cannabinoid and terpenoid derivatives of high medical value that will eventually create a “new industry in medicine.” This will be our economic potential if we take it further. A Guam advocacy group is pushing and getting support from Guam Delegate Bordallo to include Guam and U.S. territories in a U.S. Senate bill being proposed to reclassify marijuana from Schedule 1 to a Schedule 2 category. This means that the federal government will officially acknowledge, by law, marijuana’s value as a medicine. This will eventually allow for all possible opportunities that were restricted in the past to research and development of medical marijuana science and applications.
For those concerned about children, children in fact make up a big percentage of medical marijuana patients, in which marijuana is administered in non-smokeable forms such as oil or a capsule, taken orally, that is rich (high ratio) in CBD (cannabidiol) that does not produce the high such as recreational marijuana. Basically, the children get to be treated without getting high. These children are able to treat their autism, epilepsy, and certain cancers to name a few, which conventional medicines could not do. After all, a child’s laughter is the greatest gift to hear.
Medical marijuana and its uses is not recreational marijuana, and some people should stop trying to ride on the proposed Senate medical marijuana bill just to push for a recreational legalization agenda that has nothing to do with medicine. The topic is not a recreational issue and is highly irrelevant to the medical bill’s intent. It is a medical issue. It is a compassionate issue. We have a medical problem in the CNMI that we are trying to address by finding and giving solutions to those who are sick and dying. Give us this chance to give the patients a second chance at life. After all, isn’t this what makes us human?
I encourage all our brothers and sisters to please give your testimonies in support of the Senate medical marijuana bill so we may take care of our sick. Please submit your written testimonies if you do not wish to speak so your statements will be documented and to validate your support for medical marijuana’s acceptance as a medicine in the CNMI. For those who are not afraid to speak, please be heard. Most importantly, if you, a loved one, family member or friend has any knowledge or has been treated with medical marijuana and found it to be beneficial as a treatment, please submit your written or oral testimony, as it is the patients that we are representing and fighting for in the first place. As a compassionate society, we can make a difference in treating illnesses and saving the lives of those who need it most. We can start with medical marijuana. Cannabis saves lives. Thank you and Biba Marianas!
Gerry Palacios Hemley
Pro-medical marijuana advocate/representative for patients