Conscious medicine and medical cannabis


Dear Editor:

On Sept. 9, I attended the 2018 Florida Medical Cannabis Conference in Tampa, based on a last-minute invite by a friend in the medical field. I thought to myself: “It’s Saturday morning, and I’m not doing anything else, so why not go and learn the facts about the topic from those who have the most knowledge?”

Outside of experimenting in my younger years, recreational marijuana was never something I used, but I have always recognized that it has medicinal value. I was surprised by how much information and understanding that I gained at the conference.

Questions to Ask, medical cannabis, letter

Florida legalized medical marijuana in 2016, making it the 26th state in the U.S. to do so, and in 2017, conditions were expanded. Below is a list of the medical conditions that are qualified for medical cannabis use under the Florida Statutes 381.986 (2):

  • Cancer

  • Epilepsy

  • Glaucoma

  • Positive status for human immunodeficiency virus

  • Acquired immune deficiency syndrome

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

  • Crohn’s disease

  • Parkinson’s disease

  • Multiple sclerosis

  • A terminal condition diagnosed by a physician other than the qualified physician issuing the physician certification

  • Chronic nonmalignant pain

The presentation that was of most interest to me was presented by Terel S. Newton, M.D., a Jacksonville-based interventional pain management specialist with certifications in FMA/FOMA low-THC cannabis, anesthesiology, treatment of opioid dependence, advanced cardiac life support and pain medicine.

Oh, and he was the only black man on the lineup of more than 27 presenters.

Dr. Newton provided information about dosage levels for patients with ailments ranging from ADHD to PTSD, and from Alzheimer’s to HIV/AIDS. He even explained the various parts of the marijuana plant and what parts are medicinal or nutritional.

At the conference, I spoke in depth with the only other black man in attendance, Dr. Andre C. Hines, also known as “The Other Dr. Dre.” He is a seasoned chiropractor and practitioner of conscious medicine, the practice of bridging non-traditional and effective medicine with ancient spirituality.

Dr. Hines recently opened a new clinic, CLI Integrative Medicine, in Palm Harbor. His clinic offers a team approach to health and healing using functional medicine, and he encourages his patients to consider natural approaches before surgery.

I met first Dr. Hines when an attorney I work with recommended that I attend one of his monthly events called “Dinner with the Doc.” For this event, he invites a group of people from the community to have dinner at a local restaurant and he shares the ideas and background on his approach.

At the Dinner with the Doc event I attended, the valuable information given about stem cell treatment and Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) injections to treat knee injuries was truly enlightening. Dr. Hines is adamant about wanting to focus on bringing the community together and educating the public on their options that have long-term benefits as well as the downfalls of traditional medicine.

When asked how he sees medical cannabis as a cog in the wheel of holistic, or conscious, medicine, Dr. Hines stated, “It’s the only medical treatment that has been around for thousands of years and have the lowest amount of side effects, deaths and overdoses. It produces far more benefits than a majority of medications currently on the market.”

Although medical cannabis is becoming more mainstream, for a large part of the population there is still a stigma associated with it. Such thinking, according to Dr. Hines, can “limit some amazing alternatives treatments from the marijuana plant such as pain management and other health benefits.”

A fun fact: In a recent Gallup poll, 64 percent of Florida respondents wanted the use of recreational marijuana to be legalized. This is the highest response rate in favor of legalization that Gallup has recorded since 1969.

Considering the level of issues that Florida has with opioid addiction stemming from pain management, Dr. Hines said, “Medical cannabis is a far safer, affordable and non-toxic option. It has a far better track record than any pain medications.”

At the Florida Medical Cannabis Conference, there were mostly medical professionals, such as Sasha N. Noe, D.O, Ph.D., who is a dual doctorate, board-certified family physician and medical cannabis physician, as well as a renowned speaker on the matter. There were also patients who were looking for answers. One woman expressed her concern about the doctor with whom she recently consulted that did not assess her full condition and just prescribed her the cannabis.

Dr. Newton’s presentation was balanced; he showed the potential risks of cannabis treatment and the dosage needs of those who have never been recreational marijuana users versus those who had smoked recreationally throughout their life.

The conference got me to thinking – with the many benefits of medical marijuana being legalized in more than 30 states–some for medicinal purposes only and others for recreational as well–where does that leave us? Black men and women, in large numbers, have been incarcerated for marijuana possession charges in many of these states.

In San Diego, Proposition 64 was passed, which allowed the possibility of a felony conviction of marijuana possession to be reduced to a misdemeanor and some charges to be dismissed or expunged.

The question is: Would states with a high prison population and garner high revenue from mass incarceration allow the legalization of marijuana? If so, would they allow retroactive reduction of sentences?

Louisiana, Oklahoma and Alabama have some of the highest numbers of inmates per 100,000 residents – neither of these states has legalized recreational marijuana; however, Oklahoma and Louisiana have passed laws legalizing medical marijuana.

I asked Dr. Hines his opinion regarding a possible correlation between the states that have not legalized marijuana, at least recreationally, and the states with the higher prison populations who would potentially lose revenue by the legalization of marijuana.

Dr. Hines stated, “First, one must revisit the history of marijuana and how it became illegal. There was an agenda for pushing the marijuana industry into hiding by using racial fearmongering to force the felony designation to its possession.  This led to a disproportionate crackdown in neighborhoods and ethnic areas for possession.

“Majority of the prisons are privately owned and need a way to recoup their investment in government detention centers.  Legalization of marijuana would force the restructuring of the prisoner sentences, charges, leading to expungement from records.”

As with anything that has previously been criminalized and stigmatized, marijuana will not be accepted by all people, regardless of its proven benefits to those who truly need it. The key is to push education on the topic, thwart false information and encourage others to do their own research on the subject.

 Isn’t it “high time” that we lose all preconceived notions and learn the facts?

Ylana Palmer

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