THE STRAIGHT GOODS BY MARLENE WELLS
It seems every time I turn on the TV or open the newspaper there is something about medical marijuana. It doesn’t shock me, this has been coming for a long time, and it’s long past time. When someone suggested I write a column about the purchase agreement that Vida Cannabis has signed to produce marijuana in the old Clairtone building in Stellarton, I said, “What would I write? That’s great, good jobs, using a building already built, providing a necessary service. Great, good column, 13 words.” So I thought I would ask a few people what they thought of the whole idea of growing pot in Stellarton. Boy was I surprised!
Apparently there are folks out there who are completely appalled by the idea of a ‘pot farm’ springing up in their back yard. There are people seriously considering moving because ‘this will turn our town into a haven for drug lords.’ It is to these lovely folks that I write this column, in hopes that some education on marijuana will help you to feel that this is not a bad thing; in fact it is a great thing!
For most of us Sanjay Gupta is a household name. As a media personality on health-related issues, he is best known as CNN's multiple Emmy award-winning chief medical correspondent. It is also widely reported he was offered the position of U.S. surgeon general in 2009. He declined. Sanjay Gupta is also one of the world’s leading proponents of the use of medical marijuana. Last year he hosted a documentary titled ‘Weed’ and a follow-up ‘Weed 2.’ If you haven’t seen these and are interested in this issue, I highly recommend that you google ‘Weed, Sanjay Gupta’ and watch both on YouTube.
If I was not a proponent before, I was after watching these programs. One of the cases in the original ‘Weed’ documentary was about a little girl, Charlotte, a twin. While her sister enjoyed a normal childhood, running, walking, playing, eating and talking, Charlotte suffered from up to 300 seizures a week, a result of Dravet syndrome, a totally debilitating pediatric epilepsy. In effect, with every seizure she endured, her brain had to reboot making the learning of any life skill impossible. She was unable to walk, talk, play, eat or do anything we take for granted for children. Her parents tried everything conventional medical doctors offered, until they were told they had reached the end of the road, and that any moment, during any one of the seizures, Charlotte would expire due to the extreme pressure on her little body.
Her mom had heard about the use of marijuana to reduce seizures, but could not fathom giving her five-year-old daughter pot. She thought how crazy is that? Marijuana is made up of two main ingredients, CBD and THC. Most of us think about the ‘high’ pot induces – caused by the THC, (tetrahydrocannabinol). But this is only one of 483 known compounds in the plant. Pot can be grown to increase the amount of THC, or to decrease it. Similarly they can increase the amount of CBD (cannabinoids). It is then that we see the most effective medicinal properties of the drug.
Hearing of another success story with Dravet syndrome and the use of CBD, Paige Figi did her research and found a group in Colorado, the Realm of Caring, who were growing a strain of marijuana high in CBD and low in THC. With permission from her team of neurologists and pediatricians, she started Charlotte at low doses and charted her progress. The first week Charlotte went seven days seizure-free, down from the 300 grand mals she had the previous week. Three months later she reached 90 per cent seizure reduction and was free of all other pharmaceuticals. Eight months later she was at 99+ per cent seizure reduction.
Along with seizure control, there were other benefits from the medical cannabis. Despite having been entirely tube-fed, she is consistently eating and drinking on her own for the first time in years. She sleeps soundly through the night. Charlotte’s autism-like behaviours of self-injury, crying, zero sleep, and lack of social contact are a thing of the past. Charlotte now rides horses, skis, paints, dances, and hikes. She even has friends for the first time in her life. Her brain is healing and she is happy. Charlotte now has a real, and productive, life!
If you knew that your child, or grandchild, could benefit this greatly from the use of medical marijuana, wouldn’t you do anything you could to get them this help? The facility in Stellarton will make this a real possibility for thousands of patients living tortured lives due to medical conditions such as chronic pain, glaucoma, Tourette syndrome, or vomiting and nausea caused by chemotherapy. The drug could aid in treating symptoms of AIDS and alleviate symptoms of anorexia. It is being used to treat multiple sclerosis. In testing, marijuana is proven safer than opiates, like morphine, and has shown no problems with tolerance, abuse or addiction. For the patients treated, it’s not about getting high. It’s about getting well.
The ‘pot farm deal’ is scheduled to close on or before April 15 for a total purchase price of $500,000. Vida Canada has indicated they plan to start with between 20 and 30 workers and build as demand grows, possibly to a labour force of 250. I would like to thank Mayor Gennoe and Stellarton town council for seeing past the stigma and acting responsibly in tackling this controversial issue. Kudos to you!