WEDNESDAY, June 11th at noon on "The Source" — Texas’ Compassionate Use Program (CUP) was first established in 2015. Its initial iteration was one of the country’s most restrictive.
House Bill 3703 from the 2019 state legislative session expanded the list of qualifying conditions that physicians can use to prescribe medical cannabis.
Individuals suffering from intractable epilepsy were initially the only patients allowed to be enrolled in CUP. With passage of HB 3703, patients suffering from seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, terminal cancer and several more qualify for medical cannabis treatment.
The bill expands the medicinal use of cannabis products like CBD oil that are low in THC, the psychoactive element in marijuana. CBD oil, derived from hemp, is non-intoxicating.
Currently, Texas allows the production and sale of CBD products with low levels of THC. Medicinal CBD products contain 0.5 percent THC while over-the-counter CBD products are capped at 0.3 percent.
What does science say about the effects of cannabis for medical use? What other conditions could be treated with these substances? How are they administered?
How can patients get more information about the state's Compassionate Use Program? How will these policy changes expand healthcare options for Texans?
Marijuana use among seniors in the U.S. rose tenfold over a decade as more baby boomers use it to treat a range of ailments, including pain, anxiety and depression, according to a University of Colorado study.
Some 3.7% of U.S. adults age 65 or older used cannabis in the past year, a more than tenfold increase from 0.3% in 2007, data from the National Survey of Drug Use and Health showed. In 2017, 9.4% of adults ages 60 to 64 reported using marijuana in the past year, up from 1.9% 10 years earlier.
As more states legalize medical and recreational cannabis, the number of older Americans using the drug is expected to rise, said Dr. Hillary Lum, assistant professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and co-author of a study published last month in the journal Drugs and Aging that examined pot use among Americans over age 60.
Recreational marijuana use is legal in Colorado and 10 other states and the District of Columbia, while medical marijuana is legal in 33 states. Even so, many older Americans are having trouble finding medical marijuana, Lum said.
Lum’s research team surveyed 136 people over age 60 at Colorado senior centers, health clinics and cannabis dispensaries in 2017. Many study participants said they had problems accessing medical cannabis, adding that there was a lack of education among physicians when it comes to treating ailments with marijuana. Some of the study’s participants didn’t ask their doctors about it because of the stigma.
The participants said doctors should work to learn more about medical marijuana, including dosage, method of usage and potential benefits or risks older adults face when using the drug. Some told the researchers their primary care doctors were either unable or unwilling to approve a medical marijuana card, which would allow them to purchase the drug at a medical dispensary.
“I think they should be a lot more open to learning about it and discussing it with their patients,” one study participant said. “Because at this point I have told my primary care I was using [marijuana] on my shoulder. And that was the end of the conversation. He didn’t want to know why, he didn’t want to know about effects, didn’t want to know about side effects, didn’t want to know anything.”
Many study participants said they chose to instead purchase their marijuana from recreational dispensaries, which often cost more, because of a reluctance to ask their doctors for a medical marijuana card or because they would have to leave their health insurance network to find another provider that would give them a card.
Meet the multimillionaire who’s been called the ‘Steve Jobs of cannabis’
The University of Colorado study comes as a number of researchers look into the impact marijuana may have on certain health issues, including obsessive compulsive disorder, cancer and ADHD. However, Lum said there’s still research that needs to be done on cannabis as a medical treatment.
More than 100 study participants mentioned the access process and barriers to getting a medical marijuana card. Lum said to increase physician awareness about medical cannabis, there needs to be more research done on the risks, benefits and challenges of marijuana use in older adults, “especially those who may be on other medications that could have interactions or other health conditions that could have interactions with their marijuana use.”
Once that research has been completed, Lum said, the evidence can be brought to practice, and health care providers will be more comfortable having discussions about medical cannabis.
“I feel doctors may not want to worsen stigma, but instead want to have really trust-based decisions and discussions, and that takes time and training,” Lum said.
Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law legislation legalizing hemp production and hemp-derived CBD products. But it could be awhile before there are fields of hemp across the Texas landscape.
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That’s mainly because federal regulators, the United States Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration have not yet issued their own guidelines for states wanting to grow hemp.
Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller said he's waiting for them.
“And once those guidelines come out, they’ll come out about July or August, I can begin my process of writing the rules, and I tell you right now how I’m going to write them, they’re going to have the bare minimum of the federal guidelines,” Miller said.
Miller's office has not yet issued a single permit, and he worried that the Texas market is already saturated.
“I encourage each farmer who grows this plant to make absolutely sure he has a contract buyer before he puts a single seed in the ground,” Miller said.
Congress legalized hemp and hemp-derived CBD in 2018 and defined hemp as having a 0.3% psychoactive THC concentration or lower.
Miller said if a field tests above that amount, state officials will be forced to burn the entire crop.
Say the word “cancer” and most people feel one thing: fear. That’s because, now more than ever, cancer seems to strike across such a broad range of categories — young, old, thin, overweight, athletic, stationary and everything in between. With cancer’s prevalence, so too are its “cures,” many of which are wishy-washy in the name of science. But there’s one all-natural remedy for cancer that’s surprising scientists and patients alike: cannabis.
It’s well known that cannabis can help to alleviate pain and nausea associated with chemotherapy, but can cannabis oil actually kill cancer cells? A number of studies point in that direction, and the anecdotal evidence is stacking up as well.
Here’s how it works: There are at least 60 known cannabinoids in marijuana, which activate the cannabinoid receptors that naturally exist in the body. One of the most well-known compounds, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), produces the “high” that is associated with cannabis inhalation or consumption. But there are other compounds too, and they produce beneficial effects to the central nervous system and immune system, according to cancer.gov.
To date, several studies on humans and animals have solidified the link between cannabis compounds and cancer cell death. Essentially, when cannabinoids enter the body, they target cancer cells and force them to “commit suicide” — all while having no negative effect on healthy cells, according to molecular biologist Dr. Christina Sanchez from the University of Madrid.
Research has found the link between cannabis oil and cancer cell death.
Does that sound a little too good to be true? Perhaps you need to see the hard data. If that’s the case, here are some notable scientific findings about cannabis and cancer cells:
Back in 2003, Rick Simpson was diagnosed with skin cancer. When surgery proved to be unsuccessful, he decided to try something a little different. He extracted oil from cannabis and applied it directly to his skin, which cured the cancer in a matter of days. Since then, he’s been a medical marijuana activist and helped more than 5,000 patients cure their own ailments — for free.
When cancer patients use cannabis oil to inhibit the growth of cancer cells, they often use the Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) Protocol. The method involves consuming 60 grams of cannabis oil over the course of 90 days. Find out more about this method and how to extract your own oil here.
The research is sound by itself, but the anecdotal evidence is remarkable as well. A quick Youtube search for “cancer survivors and cannabis” yields dozens upon dozens of amazing stories. Here are some of the cancer survivors who have come forward about their controversial and lifesaving cannabis treatment.
After being diagnosed with stage-4 breast cancer at age 30, Larue left her high-stress work environment, changed her diet, used supplements, tried acupuncture and worked on personal fitness, along with six rounds of chemotherapy. When the cancer came back, Larue declined further chemo. Instead, she followed the Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) Protocol using cannabis oil until she was cancer-free.
When young Mykayla was diagnosed with childhood leukemia, her parents were determined to create a balance between conventional and natural medicine to give her the best chance. They fed her a vegetarian diet, free from processed foods and refined sugar. They also gave her supplements including vitamin C, green tea extract, milk thistle, coconut oil, vitamin D and more. In addition, they gave her cannabis juice, edibles and cannabis oil. She’s now in remission.
At age 64, Ashcraft was diagnosed with stage-4 mesothelioma from working with products containing asbestos. Thinking he only had one year to live, he took part in a clinical trial of monoclonal antibody amatuximab (MORAb 009). After three years of treatment, his health took a turn for the worse. That’s when he added cannabis oil to his regimen and eventually stopped chemotherapy. Now cancer-free, Ashcraft continues to use cannabis oil for health.
At age 54, Kelly was given nine months to live due to stage-4 lung cancer. After months of chemotherapy and the chemo tablet Tarceva, doctors told her that the cancer might slow down temporarily, but it would likely return — and more severely the next time. Without help or hope from the medical community, Kelly turned to cannabis oil and cannabis suppositories. After just seven months of treatment, she was declared cancer-free.
There’s no doubt that the research and stories are compelling. And should you add cannabis or cannabis oil to your treatment plan? Probably. But rely on it completely to cure cancer? Experts say this isn’t a good idea — yet.
Dr. Lester Grinspoon, Associate Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and author of several groundbreaking books on marijuana research, told Huffington Post, “I think the day will come when it or some cannabinoid derivatives will be demonstrated to have cancer curative powers. But in the meantime, we must be very cautious about what we promise these patients.”
Perhaps it’s time to finally put the war on weed behind us. The mounting scientific evidence of marijuana’s benefits is indisputable for a range of conditions, from kicking opioid addiction to managing epilepsy. But if you live in a state where weed isn’t legal yet, you need to know about your other options. Along with cannabis oil, there are a handful of cancer treatments that have risen to prominence in recent years.
If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, it’s imperative that you work with your primary care physician to determine the best course of action for you. Make sure to ask your doctor about these all-natural treatments that have garnered public support:
As is so often the case, perhaps the cure lies in nature. A growing community of scientists around the world certainly seem to think so. For the future of humanity’s sake, let’s hope that turns out to be the case.