Group Campaigns to make Marijuana a Legal Medicine

Group Campaigns to make Marijuana a Legal Medicine
See also:
Cannabis as a medicine,
as a “drug”,
drug risks
Affidavit by Dr. Grinspoon (Canada, 1997)
The Hemp Control Law
Group Campaigns to make Marijuana a Legal Medicine
by Michael Nendick
from New Observer, March 2000
If Ogasawara Kenji lived in different times he would be able to take the
medicine he needs for his condition. Today in Japan doing so would make
him a criminal. That medicine is marijuana. Ogasawara is campaigning to
allow patients in need of relief legal access to the medicine which has
helped him. He is one of the founders of the Japanese Association for
Medical Marijuana, JAMM, a non-profit group formed for just that
purpose.
Ogasawara, a 34 year old Tokyo businessman, was diagnosed with multiple
sclerosis five years ago. “I experience recurring problems with balance
and bladder control and get very severe pins and needles, often so bad
that I lose the feeling in my hands and feet,” explains Ogasawara. “For
a year and a half I was confined to bed and then for a further year and
a half I could only get about in a wheelchair.” The medicine prescribed
by his doctors bring some relief from his condition but cause some
severe side effects. The steroids cause weight gain, weakening of the
bones leading to frequent fracturing, and, very commonly, extreme
depression. “The steroids cause a very noticeable mood change, always
for the worse,” says Ogasawara. He knows of several MS sufferers who
have committed suicide.
When Ogasawara had been wheelchair-bound for over a year, one of his
doctors who had heard that marijuana was useful as a pain reliever and
anti-spasmodic in cases of multiple sclerosis suggested that Ogasawara
go to Hawaii to try marijuana as medicine. Although wary at first, “I
thought marijuana was a dangerous narcotic,” recalls Ogasawara, he was
desperate enough to check it out and flew to Hawaii. “A doctor supplied
marijuana to me unofficially and I smoked it three times a day for three
weeks,” he reports. What Ogasawara experienced is something he wants
everyone to know about. “I started to feel an improvement very quickly.
I arrived in Hawaii in a wheelchair and three weeks later left walking
with a cane.” Although Ogasawara’s symptoms can come and go in their
severity, he is certain that marijuana is a useful medicine. “It is a
wonderful alternative medicine,” enthuses Ogasawara. “It eased the pain
greatly and also created a general feeling of well being. I did not
experience any of the side effects that I experienced with my other
medicines.”
Ogasawara is not alone in his experiences. In the USA, California and
Arizona state ballots have approved legalizing medical use of marijuana
and thousands of patients are obtaining some relief from some very
severe symptoms.
Harvard University medical professor Dr. Lester Grinspoon, author of two
well-known books about marijuana, has reviewed hundreds of studies and
patient testimonies. He has found strong evidence for a variety of
medical applications of marijuana: it reduces nausea and vomiting
associated with cancer chemotherapy and treatment of AIDS symptoms, it
reverses weight loss experienced by many AIDS patients, it helps to
control epileptic seizures, it relieves severe symptoms of glaucoma, and
it alleviates muscle spasms associated with multiple sclerosis and
paraplegia and quadriplegia. Experts also agree that marijuana is a
remarkably safe substance with no known lethal dose and, unlike many
prescribed medicines, is not addictive.
Hemp in Japan…
While both morphine and cocaine are recognised as legal medicines in
Japan, marijuana is not. Possession, supply and use of hemp was outlawed
in the 1948 Hemp Control Law of the occupying US administration, and the
law has not been changed since.
The law outlaws consumption of marijuana, also known as hemp and
cannabis, even as a medicine. The law also makes it illegal for a doctor
to prescribe marijuana. It is these two aspects of Japanese law which
JAMM has dedicated itself to changing.
Koichi Maeda, owner of a hemp restaurant, a hemp shop and writer of
several books about hemp, is another founder member of JAMM. He points
out that medical studies from around the world have proved that
marijuana is a very useful medicine. In fact, hemp, another name for
marijuana, a.k.a. cannabis, has been valued as a medicine for thousand
of years. The earliest known reference to medical use of marijuana is by
Chinese emperor Shen-Nung in 2737 BC “Marijuana was for a long time used
in Japan as a safe natural medicine, for easing pain, asthma and
insomnia,” said Maeda.
Marijuana is deeply rooted in Japanese history. It was used as a fiber
crop in the Jomon era around 10,000 years ago and has traditionally been
regarded as a symbol of purity. Even today, ropes and clothing made from
the marijuana plant are used in Sumo tournaments and Shinto ceremonies,
including the Emperor’s coronation.
While a handful of people are issued licenses by the government to grow
hemp, if you are not one of these people, the attitude of the Japanese
government is to simply say “No, Absolutely No!” to marijuana use.
Possession of marijuana carries a maximum prison sentence of five years.
The government’s uninformed but fixed attitude is a source of
frustration to Maeda. “The Ministry of Health says that marijuana is a
very dangerous drug,” he notes, “but it has never conducted research
into the physical and mental effects of marijuana.”
… And Overseas
Overseas studies have come down firmly in favor of medical use of
marijuana but governments there, too, have refused to act.
In November 1998, a House of Lords inquiry in the UK recommended that
marijuana be made legal for prescription by doctors and use by patients.
This recommendation was rejected by the UK government.
In March 1999, a US government-funded research review conducted by the
Institute of Medicine found “substantial consensus” to indicate that,
for some people, the potential medical benefits outweigh its risks. “We
acknowledge that there is no clear alternative for people suffering from
chronic conditions that might be relieved by smoking marijuana such as
pain or AIDS wasting,”. They recommended that doctors be allowed to
launch one-by-one clinical studies of marijuana, so making marijuana
available to patients. This recommendation was rejected by the US
government.
“So,” you may be thinking, “why are governments so determined not to
legalise marijuana for even medical use?” An answer becomes clear when
you think about the public perception of marijuana. When marijuana was
first controlled in the US in 1937, it was portrayed as a dangerous
intoxicant causing violence and insanity. Such ideas have since been
disproved but the myth has endured. Being seen as “soft on drugs” is
considered career suicide by many politicians today. While citizens,
doctors and researchers are calling for legalising medical use,
government leaders are standing firm in their opposition.
JAMM was formed late last year by a diverse group of individuals,
including multiple sclerosis patients, their families, a pharmacist, a
journalist, a writer, a civil rights activist, a lawyer, a ‘salaryman’,
and said restaurant owner. “About 2 times a month we got together and
studied the applications of marijuana,” said Maeda. “Through our studies
we became certain of the value of medical marijuana and we resolved to
change the law.”
Maeda points out that JAMM has several strategies to achieve its target.
Central to these is to change people’s understanding of the usefulness
of marijuana as a medicine. “We seek to change the law,” says Maeda.
“For that we need to change people’s awareness, to create real
understanding, especially among the medical community. We intend to
raise awareness among patients and doctors, and then the medical people
will tell the lawmakers.”
At present, even doctors are largely unaware of the applications of
marijuana. “There are only a few lines of explanation about hemp in
medical university text books, so even the medical people don’t know
about the medical usage of marijuana.” Maeda points out that, although
conservative, doctors show keen interest in the medical uses of
marijuana. “We met with a doctor who is a cancer specialist. He is very
interested. He is interested in any method that will do the patient
good. This is the fundamental attitude that all doctors have.”
Some people fear that any relaxation of marijuana laws would lead to
widespread abuse of the substance. However, as Maeda points out,
morphine and cocaine are both prescribed for patients without
contributing significantly to illegal use. “Control of medical marijuana
should be the responsibility of the medical establishment,” says Maeda.
“It is ridiculous to ban medical use just because there is misuse by
ordinary people.”
Maeda continues, “Patients have a right to any medicine which may have
some useful effect. Our group requests that the government respond to
the wishes of patients and their families to allow medical use of hemp.
If the government at least opens the path to study by doctors then we
think that the law will change.”
Maeda points to the valuable role marijuana can play in the treatment of
MS. “There aren’t many effective medicines for MS. No other medicine
compares with marijuana and its positive effects. There is a lot of
information emerging about the positive effects of marijuana in managing
MS. It’s not going to cure MS but it is one in an array of things that
can help with it.” Referring to the public perception of marijuana, “A
lot of people think that it is a dangerous drug, that it is addictive.
Not at all. There is no particular addictive effect.”
Mr. Ogasawara thinks that JAMM is a useful tool in providing accurate
information. “I would like to help to change the perception that
marijuana is merely a narcotic to it being recognised as a useful
medical drug.” He adds, “I would like to be able to take this very
useful medicine in my own country.”
JAMM, which is currently applying for non-profit organisation status,
hopes its support will grow quickly as its message reaches more people.
JAMM welcome inquiries from anyone who would like to know more about the
association and invites people to get involved as volunteers, financial
contributors and members.
JAMM (Japanese Association for Medical Marijuana) can be contacted at:
5-34-14-207 Daizawa
Setagaya-ku
Tokyo 155-0032
Tel: 03-5432-5591
Fax: 03-5432-5592
homepage: http://www. iryotaima.org
e-mail: [email protected]
(JAMM’s homepage is presently in Japanese but pages will soon be
available in English as well.)
For further information in English about the findings of the US
Government’s 1999 Institute of Medicine Study, refer to:
http://www.mpp.org/science.html
The Ministry of Health’s “No! Absolutely No!” homepage
in Japanese:
http://www.dapc.or.jp/info/index-i.htm
in English:
http://www.dapc.or.jp/english/index.htm
See also:
Hemp in religion,
for fibre, food and fuel,
as medicine.
If Ogasawara Kenji lived in different times he would be able to take the
medicine he needs for his condition. Today in Japan doing so would make
him a criminal. That medicine is marijuana. Ogasawara is campaigning to
allow patients in need of relief legal access to the medicine which has
helped him. He is one of the founders of the Japanese Association for
Medical Marijuana, JAMM, a non-profit group formed for just that
purpose.
Ogasawara, a 34 year old Tokyo businessman, was diagnosed with multiple
sclerosis five years ago. “I experience recurring problems with balance
and bladder control and get very severe pins and needles, often so bad
that I lose the feeling in my hands and feet,” explains Ogasawara. “For
a year and a half I was confined to bed and then for a further year and
a half I could only get about in a wheelchair.” The medicine prescribed
by his doctors bring some relief from his condition but cause some
severe side effects. The steroids cause weight gain, weakening of the
bones leading to frequent fracturing, and, very commonly, extreme
depression. “The steroids cause a very noticeable mood change, always
for the worse,” says Ogasawara. He knows of several MS sufferers who
have committed suicide.
When Ogasawara had been wheelchair-bound for over a year, one of his
doctors who had heard that marijuana was useful as a pain reliever and
anti-spasmodic in cases of multiple sclerosis suggested that Ogasawara
go to Hawaii to try marijuana as medicine. Although wary at first, “I
thought marijuana was a dangerous narcotic,” recalls Ogasawara, he was
desperate enough to check it out and flew to Hawaii. “A doctor supplied
marijuana to me unofficially and I smoked it three times a day for three
weeks,” he reports. What Ogasawara experienced is something he wants
everyone to know about. “I started to feel an improvement very quickly.
I arrived in Hawaii in a wheelchair and three weeks later left walking
with a cane.” Although Ogasawara’s symptoms can come and go in their
severity, he is certain that marijuana is a useful medicine. “It is a
wonderful alternative medicine,” enthuses Ogasawara. “It eased the pain
greatly and also created a general feeling of well being. I did not
experience any of the side effects that I experienced with my other
medicines.”
Ogasawara is not alone in his experiences. In the USA, California and
Arizona state ballots have approved legalizing medical use of marijuana
and thousands of patients are obtaining some relief from some very
severe symptoms.
Harvard University medical professor Dr. Lester Grinspoon, author of two
well-known books about marijuana, has reviewed hundreds of studies and
patient testimonies. He has found strong evidence for a variety of
medical applications of marijuana: it reduces nausea and vomiting
associated with cancer chemotherapy and treatment of AIDS symptoms, it
reverses weight loss experienced by many AIDS patients, it helps to
control epileptic seizures, it relieves severe symptoms of glaucoma, and
it alleviates muscle spasms associated with multiple sclerosis and
paraplegia and quadriplegia. Experts also agree that marijuana is a
remarkably safe substance with no known lethal dose and, unlike many
prescribed medicines, is not addictive.
Hemp in Japan…
While both morphine and cocaine are recognised as legal medicines in
Japan, marijuana is not. Possession, supply and use of hemp was outlawed
in the 1948 Hemp Control Law of the occupying US administration, and the
law has not been changed since.
The law outlaws consumption of marijuana, also known as hemp and
cannabis, even as a medicine. The law also makes it illegal for a doctor
to prescribe marijuana. It is these two aspects of Japanese law which
JAMM has dedicated itself to changing.
Koichi Maeda, owner of a hemp restaurant, a hemp shop and writer of
several books about hemp, is another founder member of JAMM. He points
out that medical studies from around the world have proved that
marijuana is a very useful medicine. In fact, hemp, another name for
marijuana, a.k.a. cannabis, has been valued as a medicine for thousand
of years. The earliest known reference to medical use of marijuana is by
Chinese emperor Shen-Nung in 2737 BC “Marijuana was for a long time used
in Japan as a safe natural medicine, for easing pain, asthma and
insomnia,” said Maeda.
Marijuana is deeply rooted in Japanese history. It was used as a fiber
crop in the Jomon era around 10,000 years ago and has traditionally been
regarded as a symbol of purity. Even today, ropes and clothing made from
the marijuana plant are used in Sumo tournaments and Shinto ceremonies,
including the Emperor’s coronation.
While a handful of people are issued licenses by the government to grow
hemp, if you are not one of these people, the attitude of the Japanese
government is to simply say “No, Absolutely No!” to marijuana use.
Possession of marijuana carries a maximum prison sentence of five years.
The government’s uninformed but fixed attitude is a source of
frustration to Maeda. “The Ministry of Health says that marijuana is a
very dangerous drug,” he notes, “but it has never conducted research
into the physical and mental effects of marijuana.”
… And Overseas
Overseas studies have come down firmly in favor of medical use of
marijuana but governments there, too, have refused to act.
In November 1998, a House of Lords inquiry in the UK recommended that
marijuana be made legal for prescription by doctors and use by patients.
This recommendation was rejected by the UK government.
In March 1999, a US government-funded research review conducted by the
Institute of Medicine found “substantial consensus” to indicate that,
for some people, the potential medical benefits outweigh its risks. “We
acknowledge that there is no clear alternative for people suffering from
chronic conditions that might be relieved by smoking marijuana such as
pain or AIDS wasting,”. They recommended that doctors be allowed to
launch one-by-one clinical studies of marijuana, so making marijuana
available to patients. This recommendation was rejected by the US
government.
“So,” you may be thinking, “why are governments so determined not to
legalise marijuana for even medical use?” An answer becomes clear when
you think about the public perception of marijuana. When marijuana was
first controlled in the US in 1937, it was portrayed as a dangerous
intoxicant causing violence and insanity. Such ideas have since been
disproved but the myth has endured. Being seen as “soft on drugs” is
considered career suicide by many politicians today. While citizens,
doctors and researchers are calling for legalising medical use,
government leaders are standing firm in their opposition.
JAMM was formed late last year by a diverse group of individuals,
including multiple sclerosis patients, their families, a pharmacist, a
journalist, a writer, a civil rights activist, a lawyer, a ‘salaryman’,
and said restaurant owner. “About 2 times a month we got together and
studied the applications of marijuana,” said Maeda. “Through our studies
we became certain of the value of medical marijuana and we resolved to
change the law.”
Maeda points out that JAMM has several strategies to achieve its target.
Central to these is to change people’s understanding of the usefulness
of marijuana as a medicine. “We seek to change the law,” says Maeda.
“For that we need to change people’s awareness, to create real
understanding, especially among the medical community. We intend to
raise awareness among patients and doctors, and then the medical people
will tell the lawmakers.”
At present, even doctors are largely unaware of the applications of
marijuana. “There are only a few lines of explanation about hemp in
medical university text books, so even the medical people don’t know
about the medical usage of marijuana.” Maeda points out that, although
conservative, doctors show keen interest in the medical uses of
marijuana. “We met with a doctor who is a cancer specialist. He is very
interested. He is interested in any method that will do the patient
good. This is the fundamental attitude that all doctors have.”
Some people fear that any relaxation of marijuana laws would lead to
widespread abuse of the substance. However, as Maeda points out,
morphine and cocaine are both prescribed for patients without
contributing significantly to illegal use. “Control of medical marijuana
should be the responsibility of the medical establishment,” says Maeda.
“It is ridiculous to ban medical use just because there is misuse by
ordinary people.”
Maeda continues, “Patients have a right to any medicine which may have
some useful effect. Our group requests that the government respond to
the wishes of patients and their families to allow medical use of hemp.
If the government at least opens the path to study by doctors then we
think that the law will change.”
Maeda points to the valuable role marijuana can play in the treatment of
MS. “There aren’t many effective medicines for MS. No other medicine
compares with marijuana and its positive effects. There is a lot of
information emerging about the positive effects of marijuana in managing
MS. It’s not going to cure MS but it is one in an array of things that
can help with it.” Referring to the public perception of marijuana, “A
lot of people think that it is a dangerous drug, that it is addictive.
Not at all. There is no particular addictive effect.”
Mr. Ogasawara thinks that JAMM is a useful tool in providing accurate
information. “I would like to help to change the perception that
marijuana is merely a narcotic to it being recognised as a useful
medical drug.” He adds, “I would like to be able to take this very
useful medicine in my own country.”
JAMM, which is currently applying for non-profit organisation status,
hopes its support will grow quickly as its message reaches more people.
JAMM welcome inquiries from anyone who would like to know more about the
association and invites people to get involved as volunteers, financial
contributors and members.
JAMM (Japanese Association for Medical Marijuana) can be contacted at:
(JAMM’s homepage is presently in Japanese but pages will soon be
available in English as well.)
For further information in English about the findings of the US
Government’s 1999 Institute of Medicine Study, refer to:
http://www.mpp.org/science.html
The Ministry of Health’s “No! Absolutely No!” homepage
in Japanese:
http://www.dapc.or.jp/info/index-i.htm
in English:
http://www.dapc.or.jp/english/index.htm
See also:
Hemp in religion,
for fibre, food and fuel,
as medicine.
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