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October 13, 2010 - Image 6

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6A - Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

6A - Wednesday, October13, 2010 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

Ass't medical prof. says most of his
chronic pain patients using weed

From Page 1A
he or she has one of the "debilita-
tion medical conditions" specified
in the state law. The list includes
cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS,
Crohn's disease, Alzheimer's
disease. In addition, the various
symptoms of chronic or debilitat-
ing conditions are also included,
like severe or chronic pain, severe
nausea or wasting syndrome -
significant weight loss caused by
the AIDS virus or chronic fever
and diarrhea.
Dr. Daniel Berland, an assistant
professor of internal medicine and
anesthesiology at the University's
Medical School, treats patients
with acute and chronic pain at the
University Hospital. He said most
of his patients who go to the hospi-
tal for chronic pain are either using
marijuana or asking for it, which is
a "drastic change" from just a year
ago.
Dr. James Riddell IV, an associ-
ate professor of internal medicine
in the Medical School and an infec-
tious disease specialist at the Uni-
versity Hospital who works with
HIV/AIDS patients, said some doc-
tors refuse to recognize marijuana
as a treatment option, while others
not affiliated with the University
hand out written certifications for
their patients "willy nilly." He esti-
mated that about 25 percent of doc-
tors, like him, generally supportthe
possibility that marijuana has med-
ical benefits but want to see more
scientific evidence.
"You get varying attitudes, and
I think in general, physicians are
sort of a conservative bunch and in
general what we like to see before
we endorse any treatment is data,"
he said, adding that he has provided

written certifications to a "select
number" of his patients.
The law only gives a general list
of qualifying conditions. To help
physicians in the state, Riddell was
one of nine doctors at the Univer-
sity who put together a comprehen-
sive guide last March that details
how marijuana reportedly affects
patients with each qualifying con-
dition.
The guide - based on findings
from previous studies on the drug
- explains that there are more
effective medications for treating
each condition. Doctors also agree
that until more research is done,
marijuana should be used as a last
resort and only after other treat-
ments have failed.
Berland, who has never provided
a written certification for a patient,
said the scientific evidence behind
the medical benefits of marijuana
is simply not substantial enough
to merit the drug as a treatment
option. The research that is avail-
able, he said, consistently shows
that other proven treatments work
better and are often cheaper than
marijuana. For pain relief, marijua-
na is about as effective as Tylenol
with codeine, he said.
"We all want to have a bias that
this drugcould be useful, and many
of us have a bias that it should be
decriminalized," Berland said.
"The long and the short of it is
the scientific evidence is limited
to non-existent, and so therefore,
most (doctors) probably practice by
scientific evidence and are not giv-
ing it."
Mike Meno, director of commu-
nications for the Marijuana Policy
Project - the organization respon-
sible for drafting Michigan's medi-
cal marijuana law - said marijuana

is perhaps one of the most studied
plants of all time. The "myth" that
there is a lack of research on the
plant exists because none of the
research has been supported by the
federal government, he explained.
"While all these studies have
been going on in the United States
and other countries, the fed-
eral government for years has
actively blocked much needed
(United States Food and Drug
Administration) level research that
would allow marijuana to move
through the FDA approval pro-
cess," Meno said.
The reason there hasn't been
research done on the federal level,
he added, is because marijuana is
held to a "ridiculous standard."
The Drug Enforcement Agency
classifies marijuana, along with
GHB, heroin and LSD, as a schedule
I drug under the Controlled Sub-
stances Act. Schedule I is the most
restrictive out of the five drug clas-
sifications listed under the act. The
category consists of drugs that have
a high potential for abuse and no
accepted medical use in the United
States. In 2001, the DEA denied a
petition to make marijuana a less
restricted classification, citing its
lack of medical use as the primary
reason.
Meno disagrees with the DEA's
decision and said several studies
confirm marijuana's safety and
medicinal properties.
"It's a blatant lie for the federal
government to say (marijuana) has
no medical efficacy," Meno said.
"There are patients who are ben-
efiting from it right now."
One popular study published
in 1999 by the National Academy
of Sciences' Institute of Medicine
reported that cannabinoid drugs

have a "therapeuticvalue" for "pain
relief, control of nausea and vomit-
ing and appetite stimulation." The
study also highlights the poten-
tial value of marijuana's positive
psychological effects on certain
patients. Like many scientific stud-
ies, the report asserted a need for
further research.
Official reports aside, many
patients who have turned to mari-
juana swear by its benefits.
Chuck Ream, a prominent local
medical marijuana advocate from
Scio Township, Mich. has suf-
fered from a debilitating stomach
condition since the 1960s. He said
marijuana helped him turn his life
around when his condition was at
its worst.
"I think (marijuana) saved my
life. I would've probably killed
myself just because I simply
couldn't get control of this," he
said. "I would get up in the morn-
ing, driven out of bed by pain, and
I would eat baby food out of the
can, out of the jar, and I would
get down in the fetal position and
rock back and forth for most of
the day, and it kept getting worse,
not better."
Ream, one of the founders of
MedMar Compassionate Health-
care - a non-profit organization on
Packard Street in Ann Arbor where
registered patients can purchase
marijuana products - said there
are other medications that work
well for him, but he still feels mari-
juana has a place in his treatment
regime.
"Cannabis is just part of my
healthy program," he said, "and I
can tell when smoking a joint would
really help me a lot, and I can tell
other times when it's not smoking a
joint I need."

Toyota owners
tell panel about
losing control
for no reason
Unintended Richard Zappa of Oceanside,
N.Y., said his 2010 Toyota Corolla
acceleration cases was so sluggish he was forced to
step down hard on the accelera-
still unsolved tor pedal just to hit speeds of 60
to 65 miles per hour on the high-
WASHINGTON (AP) - A way. But in late September, as he
government panel looking into was driving along the Northern
problems with unintended accel- State Parkway, he stepped down
eration in vehicles, a key issue in on the gas pedal and it wouldn't
Toyota's massive recalls, heard snap back until he slammed on
from car owners yesterday who the brakes.
said they suddenly lost control of Zappa said it wasn't amatter of
their automobiles - and no one the pedal getting stuck in the floor
can explain why. mat and he's convinced it involved
Members of a National Acad- some other problem. "The gas
emy of Sciences panel listened as pedal was stuck firm down. There
several car owners described har- was no carpet over this accelera-
rowing tales of their vehicles bolt- tor. I don't care what they say,"
ing as they drove along highways Zappa said by conference call.
or maneuvered through parking Toyota has said their recalls
lots. The cases, involving both have directly addressed the
Toyotas and cars built by other problems of sticking gas pedals
manufacturers, often remained and floor mat issues. The com-
unsolved. pany says it has made progress in
"I was frantically stepping on responding to the safety woes and
the brake with both feet, trying to established engineering teams to
bring it to ahalt," said Bob Tevis, examine cars that owners claim
whose 2008 Audi 8L crashed sped up on their own.
into a garage ticket machine and The Japanese automaker said
another car as he pulled into a last week it has not found any link
Summit, N.J., hospital. Tevis, who to electronic problems - a poten-
spoke to the committee by phone, tial culprit raisedby safety groups
said a vehicle inspector could find - after reviewing 4,200 vehicles
nothing wrong with the sedan's in which owners alleged accelera-
computer system and the dealer- tion problems.
ship told him there was nothing Separately, the Transportation
they could do. Department and NASA have been
The panel is reviewing poten- investigating the Toyota cases.
tial causes of unintended acceler- In August, the department said it
ation in vehicles across the entire had not uncovered an electronic
auto industry and expects to issue problem in runaway Toyotas,
itsfindings infall2011. Thereview citing research into event data
was prompted by Toyota's recall recorders, orvehicle blackboxes.
of more than 10 million vehicles Government investigators
worldwide because of problems studied the black boxes of58 vehi-
with sticking accelerator pedals cles in which sudden acceleration
and gas pedals becoming trapped was reported. In 35 of the 58 cases
by floor mats. reviewed, the data recorders
Some Toyota owners said they showed no brakes were applied,
were baffled by what caused their suggesting driver error could be
cars to suddenly accelerate and "to blame. The investigation con-
remained adamant that it wasn't tinues and the government has
an issue addressed by the recalls. not reached any conclusions.

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DOWN
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32 33 34 36 136
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By Dan Naddor 1 OMM4
(c)2010 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

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