Amid concerns about new medical marijuana regulations in Colorado, an alliance of healthcare professionals, researchers and patient advocacy groups are joining forces to defend their access to cannabis as a medicine.
“Most patients turn to medical marijuana out of desperation when traditional medications have failed to relieve their suffering. When they find relief, they learn their fight is really just beginning because of the stigma they now face in their community” said Stacey Linn, a founding member of the IMPACT Alliance and Executive Director of the CannAbility Foundation – known for helping pass Jack’s Law, which ensures medically fragile children have access to medical marijuana at school.
The IMPACT Alliance members believe new regulations on medical marijuana by the Department of Revenue’s Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) could restrict research and development on cannabis as medicine, and reduce outreach and education to patients.
“The Marijuana Enforcement Division met with government regulators and other stakeholders to determine the fate of patients, but did not talk to patient groups for input on how the rules would impact them,” said Bridget Seritt of Cannabis Patient Rights Coalition.
“We ask that the MED hold final adoption until the patient voice is represented in this discussion.”
The alliance claims that the “Department of Public Health’s Board of Medical Examiners (BME) has begun pulling the licenses of physicians who are recommending a patient try medical marijuana for severe medical conditions that require extended plant counts.”
Michele Ross, Ph.D. and cannabinoid medicine expert says, “They used no scientific evidence or research to support the decision to pull these physician’s licenses, nor have they offered guidance on what plant counts they believe are appropriate for each condition so physicians have guidance moving forward.”
In an announcement, the alliance noted that the Department of Health issued a statement last year restricting physicians from recommending cannabis to more than 30% of their patients or potentially face action against their license.
“How do you make a doctor choose which 3 out of 10 cancer patients deserve access to cannabis treatment?” questioned Dr. Ross. “What is the scientific basis for this decision?”
The IMPACT Alliance believes chronically ill people should have the right to grow their own medicine without having elected officials disrupt the doctor-patient relationship. They note that the dispensary model can be unaffordable for many ill patients, so growing plants provides access to needed medicine.
“We are here to be a resource to policy makers. We want to work together to protect our communities and patients,” said Ms. Linn. “We are asking for inclusion, reason and compassion in this discussion.”