I've always thought to myself that if you have a substance that God puts natural on this earth that can help people that are sick with chronic disease and such, its got to be better than these compounded drugs like Oxycontin," said Georgia State Representative Alan Powell (R-Hartwell), after co-signing a 2016 bill filed by State Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon), as reported by the Macon Telegraph.
Like our former President Bill Clinton, I've never inhaled. I've never toked, smoked or once gotten high on marijuana or any type of tobacco. I once attempted to take a hit from a water pipe filled with Hashish in the early 80s'. I choked so hard I thought I was coughing up a lung. I'm no angel, I have made many other stupid choices, most involving alcohol consumption, but coming from a family of life-long smokers, with bad health results, a combination of fear and revulsion removed any and all attraction for me.
My loving mother now lives in an ever-shrinking world attached and defined by the tether of the vinyl line feeding from her oxygen tank. I held my grandfather and namesake's hands as he drowned in the fluid filling his lungs brought on by advanced stage emphysema. Bud Crane declined the ventilator, having a living will and DNR order in place, and I was with him for those last several hours of his life, as he struggled and gasped his final few and painful breaths. My paternal grandmothers succumbed to a combination or heart and lung ailments following a difficult heart surgery, caused by her COPD, advancing emphysema and longtime corticosteroid use.
But with cannabis oil, I have witnessed children who went from experiencing dozens of painful seizures each day to a periodic or monthly episode. I have seen a severe Parkinson's sufferer, unable to complete sentence or easily consume a meal witness his tremors cease and be able to almost instantaneously converse as well as share a supper.
Unlike the aforementioned oxycontin and other severely addictive opiod pain relief prescriptions, medicinal cannabis oil is naturally derived and rarely addictive. It does not require greater and larger quantities of this drug to sustain treatment levels, reduce pain and improve patient quality of life.
And yet, here in Georgia, with thousands of our residents eligible for these treatments, only several hundred have registered as the products are not cultivated here and must be brought into Georgia in effect illegally to reach patients. The closest legally grown product in the southeast is at a federally authorized experiment station in Oxford at the University of Mississippi.
To our northern border, Canada has legalized marijuana of all stripes, in attempt to wipe out the black market there and allow for highly regulated purchase, sale and personal possession of up to 30-grams of pot. One wonders how President Donald Trump might be planning to tariff or Border Wall that.
Thankfully, there is some hope at hand. The U.S. Senate of late excoriated for its handling of the most recent U.S. Supreme Court justice confirmation hearings, is considering the 2018 Farm Bill. Disagreements over the funding and management of SNAP (U.S. Food Stamps program), which comprises the largest share of the USDA budget, and complications caused by billions in crop damage and destruction brought by Hurricane Michael, have likely pushed consideration of the bill into early 2019.
Congress must pass a Farm Bill sometime soon. The 2014 re-authorization, which included multi-year funding streams, expired on September 30, 2018. The combination of Hurricane Michael emergency loan assistance and the ongoing and growing expense of SNAP make a compelling case for immediate passage of legislation, complicated by the increasingly potential shift of partisan control of the U.S. House in November.
As of August 2018, 30 states as well as the District of Columbia have legalized some form of medicinal marijuana consumption. As with the seismic attitudinal shift among Americans acceptance of same-sex marriage during this decade, nearing 70 percent of Americans in most polls and surveys support legalization of medicinal marijuana.
I'm not going to be signing any petition from NORML anytime soon, but it is high time we gave this option to our sick, ailing and those in near constant pain. And there is enough support for this issue on both side of the aisle that it could be one of those few instances of bi-partisanship and high-fives that we all could use a bit more of these days as well.