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OTHER VOICES: Are we moving too fast to approve marijuana-derived drug?
by Virginia Galloway
September 02, 2014 03:41 PM | 2804 views | 1 1 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Virginia Galloway
Virginia Galloway
I grew up hearing, “The road to Hades is paved with good intentions.” Never more true than in the current proposed legislation that would legalize some forms of marijuana for medical use. Few question the good intentions of the legislators, or parents of children who are awfully sick. But good intentions don’t always equal good policy.

Most Georgia legislators are too wise to follow the lead of states like Colorado and Washington, and legalize marijuana outright. Suddenly a rash of medical marijuana bills have appeared across the country, in otherwise conservative states. On the upcoming Florida referendum, Sheriff Judd in Polk County, Fla., says plainly, “It’s about money, it’s about greed.” Legislators say, “It’s for the children.” Is that why legislators are suddenly playing doctor?

Cannabidiol oil, a marijuana derivative, is the proposed treatment for children with severe seizure disorders. Charlotte’s Web, a low THC strain, has some anecdotal evidence of effectiveness. In Georgia, that was the first bill considered, quickly followed by a research study proposal, then a bill that allowed an unknown quantity of strains for anyone who has seizures and may “medically benefit.”

A certified psychiatrist specializing in addiction, Dr. Christian Thurstone, published an article in June exposing the dangers of Charlotte’s Web. He notes that even low levels of THC could cause more convulsions and brain damage, the product quality is inconsistent, and, “Unfortunately, news reports and legislative hearings focus pretty much on success stories. Sadly, we hear very little about the dashed hopes of many families whose children are not responding.”

When it comes to something as complex as chemical reactions activated in the brain by medications, rigorous testing is and should be the norm. Even with testing, some meds have later proven dangerous, a few deadly. Georgia legislators tread on dangerous ground when they jump ahead of the deliberate, long-term, double-blind study we expect on new drugs and treatments.

Aside from that, there are practical considerations. Who grows it in Georgia, as it’s illegal to transport across state lines? Research universities risk losing all federal funding, if they grow it. How can officers tell the difference between low and high THC strains? Could someone carrying the legal form lose their car or other private property, due to our lax civil forfeiture controls? CNN reported that [the Division of Family and Children Services] took children from homes with medical marijuana, which feds still classify as a Schedule 1 drug. How do we prevent the marijuana equivalent of pill mills?

Let’s agree that legislators are promoting this for the right reasons. All of us want sick children to get better. But Georgia legislators are crossing over the line – of medical research expertise – when they circumvent the FDA approval process. Are we setting precedent by defying the FDA? Unless Georgia is going to start its own drug approval research agency, we should respect the current process.

Editor’s note: Virginia Galloway is a Paulding County resident and regional field director for the Faith and Freedom Coalition.

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