by Denise Harrington, July 5, 2016
(Patient, and One of the People for Medical Cannabis in Washington State)
- Patients are no longer able to find the medicines that work for them. Every patient is different and what works for one will not necessarily work for another.This is because different strains contain different amounts of different types of cannabinoids. There are currently 111 known cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. Sometimes it takes months, or even years for a cannabis patient to find what works best for their particular illness or condition.
- Not all forms of medical cannabis that was available in the self-regulated medical market will even be available under the new system. Many cannabis patients use edibles or specific types of cannabis oil for treatment Just like different strains of cannabis have different effects so do different forms of cannabis. Some patients use Rick Simpson oil; others use full extract cannabis oil. Many patients make their own oil from the plants they grow themselves. This allows them to tailor their oils to what
works best for them. Under the new policies patients in most cases will not be able to grow enough of their own cannabis for this process. The prices to purchase raw cannabis in the recreational market is too high for the majority of patients to even be able to purchase enough cannabis to make oil.
- Under the new medical cannabis laws patients can no longer grow together to save on costs unless they start a small communal garden, register it with the state, and it must be located at one patients’ residence. Patients must also contribute sweat labor to the growing of the plants. The requirements mean many patients cannot take advantage of belonging to such a garden. Those with physical ailments that limit their movement or those with intense pain, those who are wheelchair bound, those who are shut ins they cannot contribute physical labor so communal growing is out for these patients.
- Dosages patients need to effectively treat themselves are not available in the recreational cannabis market. The highest dosage available is 50Mg. Just like different strains and forms work differently for different patients, different patients need different dosages. For some patients 50Mg may work fine. However, for others they may need dosages of up to 500Mg. This means some patients would need to consume 10 maximum doses of cannabis edibles to get the same affect they would get with 1 dose before. The same goes with the strength of concentrates and even cannabis flower. The maximum under the new policies is woefully inadequate for some patient’s needs. Now you may ask where the DOH came up with the dosages. Well they originally wanted 10Mg max dosage, however patients repeatedly told them this was way too low so Ms. Weeks decided 50Mg was fine. She did not ask patients or even medical professionals she just plucked a number out of the air. Patients deserve better. Ms. Weeks is not qualified to decide patients dosages. That is a job for a doctor, nurse practitioner or other medical professional.
- The no share policy. Under the recreational market users are not allowed to share. Each person who wants to smoke/ingest cannabis must buy their own. This rule has been extended to the medical cannabis policy as well. This means even patients who reside together or even married couples have to purchase their medical needs separately from each other with each patient paying 37% tax to the state. The only reason for this rule is greed. Many cannabis patients are senior citizens or disabled people on a limited income. They should not have to pay double taxes for medicine being used in the same household.
- Children are now allowed in recreational cannabis stores! Yes, you read that right. Under the new medical cannabis policies patients of any age can be in the store to get their medication. Those under the age of 18 must have their designated provider (usually a parent or guardian) for them to enter the store. This means babies, toddlers, kids of all ages can now enter. Kids do not belong in cannabis stores ever! In the self-regulated medical cannabis market children under the age of 18 have not been allowed. They do not need to be there among the pipes, bongs and other paraphernalia associated with cannabis. Most child patients use oil. They do not even associate their medicine with recreational cannabis and they should not.
- Patient’s rights to privacy are obliterated under the new DOH policies. First there is the unneeded “voluntary” registry. Ms. Weeks said in DOH emails that were accessed by FOIA requests that if they needed to justify the registry they could just say “other states have them” Those other states however did not have legal recreational cannabis when the registries were created. The registries were needed to determine who could legally use cannabis in those states. Under the new DOH policies a patient’s medical condition must be shown on the form. This is no one’s business but the patient and their physician! Ms. Weeks said if asked they would just say that Americans for Safe Access recommends it. She also said the info was just too good to pass up. ASA does not represent all or even the majority of patients and should not be looked at in making policy decisions. Make no mistake the DOH does not consider registration to be voluntary at all. In many instances patients have been told by the DOH and by the recreational stores that patients must register. Patients who choose not to register get fewer plants allowed, less medicine they are able to buy and according to DOH no equal protection under the law. The DOH should not be able to require someone to volunteer for anything in order to have equal legal rights! Other state data bases have had data breaches making patients have concerns of identity theft. There are also concerns about the sheer number of agencies that can access patient’s information.
- Ms. Weeks has stated that she knows change is hard but patients will just have to adjust to the new market. Many patients however do not have the time to adjust as she calls it. Patients with Cancer, HIV, Fibromyalgia, Crohn’s disease, MS, Dravets, Zellweger syndrome, and many other diseases and disorders are often running out of time already. Others have made amazing progress using cannabis medicines. Some of those patients will die before they can “adjust” others such as children with various seizure disorders may lose all progress they have made before they “adjust” This is simply not acceptable.
- Simply not enough medical cannabis available. The truth is there is no incentive for cannabis growers to grow medical cannabis. There is also little to no reason for stores to stock it. Much of the cannabis that medical patients use is not attractive to the recreational market. It may have too low a THC content, or may not have effects that recreational users want or some they do not want. There are also many places in Washington that have laws against cannabis shops of any type. This leaves many patients without any access to the cannabis they use medically.
- The pesticide/chemical problem. There are many pesticides and other chemicals allowed in the manufacture and processing of recreational cannabis. There have also been instances of unlawful pesticides being used on cannabis destined for the recreational market. While those pesticides and other chemicals may not harm a healthy adult user, for those with compromised immune systems they can cause severe problems. In the self-regulated medical market many patients used grower’s markets where they could ask questions of the growers including what chemicals/pesticides were used. Most medical cannabis growers use non chemical pest control. Medical cannabis is also in a lot of cases grown in an extremely sterile environment. This is needed to make sure that nothing potentially harmful enters the grow space. In the new “medical” cannabis market patients do not know what chemicals or pesticides were used or under what conditions their medical cannabis was grown. For many patients this is crucial information.
Washington cannabis patients need safe, consistent and affordable access to the medicines they use. They need the person overseeing cannabis policy for the DOH to be knowledgeable about medical cannabis and one who has patients best interest in mind. Ms. Weeks is a legal person. Her function is to keep the DOH out of legal trouble and to defend them if they are sued. She has the DOH’s best interest in mind not the health and best interest of cannabis patients.