Pubdate: Wed, 26 Apr 2000
Source: Honolulu Advertiser (HI)
Copyright: 2000 The Honolulu Advertiser, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.
Contact:  P.O. Box 3110 Honolulu, HI 96802
Fax: (808) 525-8037
Author: David Lamborne, Board Member, National Chronic Pain Outreach


In following the ongoing coverage of medical marijuana and the
possibility that state law may allow patients with a verifiable need
to possess and use marijuana, I cannot overcome the irony involved if
this legislation is passed and signed into law.

How quickly we forget the plight of the woman who took her life last
December because she “could not stand the pain.” With well over half
of all physicians nationwide admitting to under-medicating or
providing no medication at all to help their patients who live with
chronic pain, it is likely that Hawaii is no better, perhaps worse.

As long as physicians fear investigation for prescribing prescription
medicines that are already legal, it is unlikely that any physician in
Hawaii would be willing to take on the Drug Enforcement Agency on
behalf of medicinal marijuana.

Dr. Don Purcell, who was quoted in a recent article on medicinal
marijuana, lost his license to prescribe pain medicines because he was
just one of a very few physicians on Oahu willing to provide the care
patients with chronic pain so badly need.

Admittedly, managing severe, chronic pain requires a multi-modality
approach. No one treatment or medicine is the answer. Palliative care,
which includes counseling, physical therapy, relaxation techniques,
morphine and related prescription medicines, and yes, even the use of
marijuana, may all be important components to managing pain.

Synthetic marijuana, Marinol, is available to patients who may benefit
from the effects of its psychoactive component, delta-9 THC. However,
it is common knowledge that Marinol is not nearly as effective as its
natural counterpart, which provides almost immediate relief and can be
much less debilitating.

Regardless of whatever action is taken by the Hawaii Legislature,
appropriate treatment and care for those with intractable pain - be it
terminal or not - is far from becoming a reality.

David Lamborne
Board Member
National Chronic Pain Outreach Association
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