OP-ED: Exposing contradictions on cannabis


There have been a number of roadblocks in my ongoing journey to help Pennsylvania's sick and suffering — especially children with seizures and veterans with PTSD — by bringing medical cannabis to the commonwealth.

While I understand and appreciate many of the concerns that have been raised, I also worry about misinformation and disinformation that has been disseminated and contributed to the delay of my Senate Bill 3.

For example, several opponents of legalizing medical cannabis in Pennsylvania have pointed out to me an AP medical article written by Lindsey Tanner regarding recently published articles in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). These opponents perceive this article as negative. I perceive it as nothing new, and irrelevant to my Senate Bill 3 to allow for medical cannabis in the commonwealth.

Here's why.

First, the "small study" that indicates labels for edible cannabis products are inaccurate (i.e. baked goods and drinks) — Senate Bill 3 does not allow edible products in Pennsylvania. Second, the article states "evidence is weak for ... anxiety, sleep disorders, and Tourette's syndrome ..."

None of these conditions are included in Senate Bill 3, and nobody claims cannabis is a "cure-all."

To me, this is like saying allergy medications won't prevent heart attacks — that's not what they are prescribed for, no medication helps any and everything.

Third, as for the possible side effects of medical cannabis: dizziness, dry mouth and sleepiness. Doesn't sound too bad to me, considering the alternatives (all of the following are seizure medications and possible side effects according to Benzodiazepines (Valium, Ativan, Klonopin, Onfi) — dependence, possible severe seizures on sudden withdrawal, respiratory depression, increased risk of glaucoma and liver injury; Ezogabine/Retigabine (Potiga) — potentially irreversible eye damage and skin discoloration; Felbamate (Felbalol) — liver failure and potentially fatal anemia; Tiagabine (Gabitril) — tremors, agitation and seizures in non-epilepsy patients; and the list goes on and on.

I'd take a dry mouth over liver failure any day, or feeling drowsy over irreversible eye damage.

The AP medical article also points out that "marijuana is illegal under federal law and some scientists say research stymied by government hurdles including a declaration that marijuana is a controlled substance with no accepted medical use."

The federal government knows cannabis has medical value: U.S. Patent 6630507 states that cannabis is a neuroprotectent and an antioxidant.

The Pennsylvania Senate carefully deliberated legislation to allow medical cannabis in the Commonwealth for over a year. There have been numerous hearings, meetings, and testimonies to support this medication.

Over 20 states have already enacted medical cannabis laws to help their patients, why are Pennsylvanians less entitled and deserving of this help?

— State Sen, Mike Folmer is a Republican representing the 48th District, which includes parts of York County.