S.16 bill expands medical marijuana use
A critical analysis of S.16 and
by Bob Orleck is a retired Vermont Pharmacist and a former Vermont Assistant Attorney General Contact: P.O. Box 174, Randolph, VT 05060. firstname.lastname@example.org 802-728-9806
There are so many things wrong with S.16 that even a child should be able to see. The bill has been presented as a “health bill” but nothing could be further from the truth. I have tried by focusing on parts of the bill, to make it clear to anyone really interested in analyzing its contents, that this bill is nothing more than an attempt to further the introduction of an addicting drug to Vermont. A review of even a few of the balloon comments next to the bill’s provisions should reveal the truth of what I have just pointed out. Passage of this bill will be one of the worse cases of legislative malpractice every done by a Vermont legislature.
The document may seem long but that is because it incorporates the language of S.16 so that comments could be put next to a specific section of the bill. With your computer mouse hover over the comment to read it.
Before you get to that, however, you will find some initial numbered comments that it seemed better to list at the beginning.
- One important point that should control is that no matter what “marijuana legalization bill” has or will be passed by the Vermont legislature and signed by the Governor, that act will be in direct conflict with the federal 1970 Controlled Substances Act. 16 is a bill that is expanding what was passed in years past and referred to as our “medical marijuana law”. The only reason that the law has been allowed to function is because Obama administration had chosen to not enforce the law in this area. Under the new federal administration that non-enforcement policy could soon be changing. As the dangers become more visible there will come a time when the law in this area will be enforced. http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/sessions-marijuana-policy-review/2017/04/06/id/782942/
- Marijuana is illegal to possess according to the 1970 federal “Controlled Substances Act” and that law has been constitutionally upheld. Any legalization by Vermont, be it for recreational or medical, would violate that law and would be violative of the United States Constitution’s Supremacy Clause.
- The proper way for well-controlled, trustworthy, authoritative studies to be done is to enable legitimate medical researchers to be able to possess marijuana for such test. If that enabling were possible, studies using double-blind, placebo controlled study for a particular medical treatment could be done. That is impossible now since under federal law, marijuana is a classified as a Schedule I drug and the active psychoactive ingredient, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is illegal to possess and has no recognized medical use. Efforts should be made to convince the federal administration to reclassify marijuana to Schedule II that would allow possession by those capable of doing those well-controlled clinical trials. It will be then and only then when there will be credible determinations of what value marijuana has for treatment for certain medical conditions.
A few other comments are offered to put the document into the proper perspective.
- Lawmakers are not educationally on informationally equipped to make decisions on medical conditions and their proper treatment choices. Such decisions cannot be left to the state. For uniformity and safety the Food and Drug Administration is the sole agency who can and should perform this role.
- As a pharmacist who practiced for over 50 years, I cannot tell you if marijuana has any value or what the value is in the treatment of the diseases listed in this bill. If I can’t do that, how can untrained legislators do that? I have an opinion but that is all it is, an opinion! That is all we could hope for from a legislator and for them not being trained even to the degree that I am, that is not a way to make a law.
- The bill is presented as a health bill but the medical community believes that healthcare should benefit a person’s health and not damage it. Much of the language is just cosmetic window dressing in order to paint this as responsible legislating. There can be no responsible legislating on this matter until proper risk/benefit and efficacy studies are done.
- The language regarding the conditions qualifying a person is specific in some respects but deteriorates into anything that a healthcare provider wants to certify a patient for. One can’t help but think of the old days when flim-flam men in horse drawn carts sold “snake oil” during their medicine shows as a cure for any and all diseases. The difference in the “fake medicine” then probably was some harmless substance but and now with marijuana, this fake medicine will have many casualties.
- In addition to the above, there are no provisions for standardization of the marijuana product so it is a consistent dosing. There are so many variations of marijuana that it needs to be specifically known what the active ingredients are each and every time a person doses. Science has been left out of this matter.
- Under this bill, all that seems necessary to be shown is that the patient has one of these conditions or other medical problems as well that are debilitating and they qualify for treatment with marijuana. One clause allows for qualification for “other diseases, conditions, or treatment as determined in writing by a qualifying patient’s health care professional.” How broad and vague is that? Such broad permission seems so inappropriate for a drug that has addicting qualities.
- 16 makes it easier for people to get marijuana by expanding the conditions that qualify a patient and the bill also makes the procedure for qualifying easier. With the expansion of the numbers of dispensaries, the advertising and provision for being a “for profit” dispensary, the result will be more availability of marijuana and more people using and being able to gain availability to the drug.
- Depending on what state you travel to, your treatment options with this drug will be different. The FDA provides the uniformity needed. Say you have been treated for PTSD or any condition permitted in Vermont and for long enough to be addicted to the marijuana and then you move to a state that respects the rule of law and has not legalized marijuana for any reason. Consider the dilemma that person is in now.
Click on this link to get the language of the bill and next to many of the provisions are simple, common sense, plain-talk comments on that provision. Put together they show that this bill has not been adequately vetted and passage as is would be a major case of medical malpractice!