Its Time Has Come Again: Cannabis as Legal Medicine in the US

It was years ago now, but I will never forget the day I learned that cannabis is medicine. I was speaking with a beekeeper friend of mine who began to talk about the medicinal qualities of cannabis, which he called a truly amazing plant. I am not sure why or how, but that conversation changed the path of my life, and I have never looked back.

My name is Eileen Konieczny, and I have been a registered nurse for over 20 years. For the last five of those years, I have also been an advocate for safe patient access to medical cannabis. I am proud to say that I played an instrumental role in helping 23 million people in Connecticut and New York gain access to this medicine.

As a nurse, I view cannabis as a necessary addition to our medicine drawer. Cannabis alleviates pain and suffering caused by cancer, epilepsy, arthritis, inflammation, multiple sclerosis, neuropathy, PTSD, Crohns, IBS, diabetes and so many other conditions. I have witnessed the healing effects of this plant first hand; its medicinal qualities improve quality of life and permit dignified end-of-life care.

It is time for physicians nationwide to accept the fact that for the last 70 years, they have been duped by propaganda that can be attributed to racism, wealth and power. Over 25 years ago, DEA Administrative Law Judge Francis L. Young ruled that cannabis is in fact safe medicine. He wrote:

“The evidence in this record [9-6-88 ruling] clearly shows that marijuana has been accepted as capable of relieving the distress of great numbers of very ill people, and doing so with safety under medical supervision. It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for DEA to continue to stand between those sufferers and the benefits of this substance in light of the evidence in this record.” -In the Matter of Marijuana Rescheduling Petition

Despite the years that have passed, we are still fighting for the right to use medical cannabis to alleviate “the distress of great numbers of very ill people.” And the fight will continue until every patient in the United States has safe, legal access to this medicine and healthcare professionals across the country understand the efficacy of using cannabis to alleviate patient pain and suffering.

Here’s a quick history of cannabis as medicine as originally compiled by www.jackherer.com:

  • For at least 3,000 years prior to 1842, widely varying marijuana extracts (bud, leaves, roots) were the most commonly used medicines in the world for the majority of mankind’s illnesses.
  • From 1842 through the 1880s, extremely strong marijuana (then known as cannabis extractums) including hashish extracts, tinctures, and elixirs were routinely used in America to alleviate human pain. The medicine was used for everyone, from birth through old age. These extracts were also used in veterinary medicine until the 1920s.
  • The U.S. Pharmacopoeia indicated cannabis should be used for treating such ailments as fatigue, fits of coughing, rheumatism, asthma, delirium tremens, migraine headaches, and the cramps and depressions associated with menstruation.
  • In this century, cannabis research has demonstrated therapeutic value and complete safety in the treatment of many health problems including asthma, glaucoma, nausea, tumors, epilepsy, infection, stress, migraines, anorexia, depression, rheumatism, arthritis, and possibly herpes.

When you take this information and pair it with the early 1990’s discovery of the endocannabinoid system, we have quite an argument for cannabinoid therapy.

So, here we are with scientific proof that the human body has a regulatory system that happens to work with the cannabis plant. We know that cannabis was a medicine for hundreds of thousands of years and has not been a medicine in the U.S. for the past 70 years. What do we do now?

We have an obligation to ourselves, to this plant, to our planet, and yes, to humanity to educate and reintroduce this amazing plant and its medicine that alleviates patient pain and suffering.

Cannabis as legal medicine: its time has come again. Welcome to the journey.

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