University Iowa Hold Mj Meet

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The420Guy

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Apr. 11, 00
The Daily Iowan
By Cassie Huisman
U-WIRE
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George McMahon, who has been in and out of hospitals for much of his life, explained how medicinal marijuana has drastically improved the quality of his life during the First National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics. The conference, held at the Iowa State University IMU over the weekend, gave 49-year-old McMahon a chance to address health-care professionals, lawyers and other patients on why medicinal marijuana should be more widely available. "There is no good reason why marijuana should be illegal to anyone," said McMahon, a Bode, Iowa, resident and one of only eight people in the country who gets marijuana legally.
The federal government quit taking applications for medicinal cannabis in 1992. An estimated 75-80 people used the conference as an opportunity to discuss the uses and variations of marijuana, said Richard Schmitz, the director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C. "Medical marijuana has not received the exposure it deserves," he said.
An 18-month study done by the Institute of Medicine was also discussed throughout the conference in an effort to provide information on research and to re-educate clinicians about the effects of medical marijuana, said Melanie Dreher, the dean of the nursing school, who helped to organize the conference. Patients who take marijuana for medical reasons, whether legally or illegally, often use it to help with the effects of cancer, glaucoma, chronic pain and other problems. "Politicians and drug warriors are saying a patient who uses marijuana is less than human ... they have no compassion," McMahon said. He said he smokes approximately 10 marijuana cigarettes a day to alleviate such medical problems as pain, spasms and nausea. The government drug is grown in Mississippi and shipped to his pharmacy via Federal Express.
Conference Co-chairwoman Mary Lynn Mathre said she hopes people were able to see the issue of medical marijuana use from a different perspective after listening to the various presentations. "We're not trying to say it has no problems or that it works for everyone," she said. "We're trying to get information out to health-care officials." The conference was broadcast live via satellite to sites in Arkansas, Colorado, Oregon, Virginia and Canada. Overall, the conference was a success, Mathre said, although she had hoped to see more medical and nursing students there. She said she hopes some students will take the time to watch the conference, which will be available on video. Dreher said attendance at the conference was fairly high, considering the subject. "What can you expect for a very controversial topic?" Dreher said. "Marijuana use is a stigmatized issue." The conference was sponsored by the UI Colleges of Nursing and Medicine, along with Patients Out of Time. "We've taught you; now go teach others," McMahon said at the conclusion of the conference.

(U-WIRE) Iowa City, Iowa
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