Monday, November 3, 2014

Pill Mills, Pain, and Pot: Why You May Want to Reconsider Your Position on Amendment 2

Cannabis sativa,  Hermann Adolf K√∂hler Illustration (1834 - 1879)

Tomorrow is Election Day! Plata Schott Law encourages all eligible voters to go to the polls tomorrow, and exercise your right to vote.

The conversation in Florida politics is centered on Amendment 2. For the last century, the harm of Marijuana or Cannabis has dominated the conversation. The 420 mentality has defiled the legitimate medical purposes of Cannabis. As we previously explained, marijuana is made up of several cannabinoids, which all have different effects. Just like growing different color flowers, marijuana growers can grow strands that are lower in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the thing that gets you high, and increase cannabidiol, the thing that calms and heals your mind and eases your pain in a safe, natural, and it is not killing people like Prescription Painkillers.

Problems and Solutions:

A cut is "healed" with stitches and bandages to close the wound, and antibiotics to keep the wound clean. A broken bone is set in a plaster cast. A damaged organ, or joint is removed, replaced or repaired in surgery. Cancer and infection are cut out and killed with chemicals and radiation that may be worse than the actual tumor.

But how do we (or should we) treat pain and other neurological and nerve-related conditions? It depends who you ask. 

The world knows very little about the mind- the source of pain. Neurological and nerve-related conditions such as seizures, headaches, Crohn's Disease, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Lou Gehrig's, HIV/AIDS, and many, many more are conditions for which we have no cure and patients just suffer. While narcotics are an option, legitimate medical professionals avoid prescribing these substances because the side effects may put patients are great risk. In the case of pain (related to a number of conditions), doctors who are licensed to prescribe narcotics are placed in a tough positions: how do you balance treatment with the risk of addiction?

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is a government agency that conducts surveys to determine abuse and addition to substances among Americans. According to SANHSA, 4.2 Million Americans "abuse" marijuana (1.2% of the population).  It was not made clear in the report whether they excluded prescribed users as the Federal government considers all use illegal, but the report also notes at 5.7 million Americans are daily users of marijuana, so it is likely that they are referring to people who are not prescribed. 1,879,000 are addicted to Prescription Painkillers with or without prescriptions. "Prescription painkillers" refers to opioid or narcotic pain relievers, including drugs such as Vicodin (hydrocodone), OxyContin (oxycodone), Opana (oxymorphone), and methadone. According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) pain medication abuse in on the rise in Florida, while marijuana abuse in on the decline.

Addiction Can Affect Anyone:

Just ask Pam Bondi. A large part of her re-election campaign  for Attorney General is based on her success in battling Pill Mills in Florida. Consider how easy it is to be prescribed Prescription Painkillers for something. Car accidents, surgery, dental procedures... these could all get you a prescription to "the good stuff." The average person, who has never sought to abuse illegal substances does not think twice about taking these medication to take the edge off, but consider this example...

You're in a car accident and experience back pain. You go to the emergency room as required by Florida Law within 14 days so that you do not lose coverage under your Personal Injury Protection Insurance (PIP). The young doctor writes you a prescription for a strong narcotic, warns about the possibility of addiction, and to be careful with the doses. They also suggest physical therapy. 

You go to a physical therapist, but it's hard, and you are in a lot of pain. You take your Prescription Painkillers, but slowly, they stop working. You go back to the doctor, and your pain is a 10 out of 10. They up the dose of Prescription Painkillers, but you are living with constant pain. 

Where do you go from there?

Does your mind and body succumb to the disease of addiction? Do you doctor-shop and ultimately get arrested for Obtaining Prescriptions by Fraud, followed by an inevitable downward spiral that may result in prison or suicide? Do you have surgery? Does that help? Do you seek alternatives? Physical therapy? Chiropractic care? Yoga? Acupuncture? Medical Marijuana (MMJ)?

This is not a conversation about getting high. This is a conversation about pain. We know there is a solution to help men, women, children that doesn't have the risk of death or addiction like Prescription Painkillers. Like every hot-button issue in politics, this is about a choice. Do we give people the choice to marry who they want? Do we give them a choice to choose the medicine that they prefer. And no, I will not put that word in quotations, because MMJ is medicine by definition.

"The Sunshine State" "The Oxy Express"

Florida has a notorious pill mill problem state-wide. In fact, our problem is so big that it's affecting other states. Pam Bondi has made it her mission to obliterate Florida pill mills. She may be succeeding, which is great for everyone.

For an illustrative documentary on the problem click here.

Pain Medication v. MMJ:

You heard it here: 4.2 million marijuana "abusers," 5.7 million daily users of marijuana versus 1.9 million abusers of pain medication. How many deaths did marijuana (prescribed or otherwise) cause last year?

ZERO. There are no recorded deaths linked to marijuana...ever.

How many Americans die everyday from Prescription Painkillers overdoses?

100.

In the SAMHAS report, abusers reported that 21.2% obtained the prescription from one doctor, 2.6% obtained it from more than one doctors, while 50% or more obtain it from friends or family who have a prescription. 83.3% of the family or friends obtained it from one doctor. Of the 100 dead, 17.3% obtained the prescription from a doctor and  55% of the dead obtained it free from a friend or relative who had a prescription.

People are literally killing themselves in droves to get high/pain relief on pain pills. Floridians who don't want to risk the addiction and death are suffering without MMJ.

Informed Voting:

If you rely on the television commercials, you aren't an informed voter. Amendment 2 will not be a free-for-all. Medical Marijuana will be regulated, and must be prescribed. Remember, there are no recorded deaths from marijuana ever, but Prescription Painkillers have filled our prisons and killed hundreds of thousands American. Is MMJ really an terrible alternative?

Rock the Vote tomorrow. We are all counting on you!

Plata Schott Attorneys & Counselors at Law are prepared to answer all of your Amendment 2  and MMJ questions. Email us at contact@plataschott.com for more information.