Princeton Times

Letters to Editor

January 28, 2012

HB3251: How can medical marijuana help West Virginia's pill problem?

PRINCETON — The prescription drug epidemic has crippled the state of West Virginia and ruined the lives of countless families. The Centers for Disease Control cite West Virginia as the second-leading state for prescription pill overdoses. We are losing this war as we continue to lose family members. How many of you reading this now have lost someone close to you to this problem?  

I, myself have seen the damage firsthand. However, there is hope on the horizon in the form of pending legislation that is before the West Virginia Legislature.

The bill in question is HB 3251 which seeks to legalize the medical use of cannabis.

I know what you are thinking: “Cannabis? It is a Schedule One narcotic. How can it help?” According to Dr. Leonard Krivitsky, a Pennsylvania physician, cannabis has great benefit.  

Dr. Krivitsky is licensed by the state of Pennsylvania and has been certified by the American Society of Addiction Medicine since 2004. He has been working with addicts of various substances ranging from alcohol to heroin to prescription drugs. Dr. Krivitsky states cannabis is actually an “exit” substance instead of a “gateway drug.”    

How can this be true? In a testimony provided to his home state of Pennsylvania, where legalizing medical cannabis is also being debated, Dr. Krivitsky writes, “By relieving the “negative affective state,” along with its calming, anxiety-relieving actions, Cannabis may actually help recovering addicts to stay off alcohol or other, more harmful and addictive drugs with no danger of overdose or physical withdrawal resulting from the use of this substance.”

Personally, I have watched a loved one use cannabis to overcome their long-lived addiction to methadone, an opiate-based drug used primarily to help heroin addicts overcome their addiction.

When closely examining cannabis, we begin to see a very different story than we were taught by the government and other entities. How different exactly? According to Dr. Donald Abrams, a specialist in medicinal cannabis as well as an oncologist by training, cannabis is less addictive than caffeine and most certainly less addictive than nicotine and alcohol. On many occasions, he has stated; “I could give a patient five different medications, one for anxiety, one for insomnia, one for depression, one for pain, and one for mood swings, or I can give cannabis, which would be effective for all of the above conditions without any danger of overdose, and without inducing a physical dependence.”

Other examples of how cannabis can benefit individuals is it has been found to manage symptoms of PTSD, slow symptoms of Alzheimer's, reduce the size of cancerous growths, manage depression, anxiety, pain (minimizing the need to prescribe opiates), Crohn's disease, eating disorders, Hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS, violent behavior, and  insomnia. This is a short list of the effective medical benefits of cannabis. What is more, this is a plant which grows well in the climate of West Virginia.

For 5,000 years of recorded history, humans have smoked and ingested this herb in various forms without a single recorded death related to its use. HB 3251 can not only protect countless West Virginia patients from being arrested for using a nontoxic substance but will also allow cultivation of a small number of plants for personal use as well as the establishment of state authorized and monitored dispensaries. These allowances will keep patients away from the dangers of the black market.  

— Dustin Mays

National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws

West Virginia chapter

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