Feb 29, 00
Des Moines Register (IA)
Copyright: 2000, The Des Moines Register.
Author: Thomas R. O'Donnell
Alert: Please Help get the word out to medical professionals!
At the following URL is the conference brochure, registration form, information about carrying the conference by video link, and more: http://www.drugsense.org/ncct/ SEMINAR

U of Iowa Plans Conference On Medical Marijuana...

The University of Iowa will be host to a conference in April designed to re-educate doctors and nurses about the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Speakers at the National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics on April 7 and 8 include the organizer of a medical marijuana market in Los Angeles, the lead attorney in a class-action lawsuit seeking the use of marijuana for medical purposes, and two Iowans who have federal permission to treat their illnesses with the drug. Literature about the conference points out that health-care professionals have no formal training in the therapeutic use of cannabis, as marijuana also is known, "despite its illegal use by tens of thousands of patients throughout the country." "The content and presenters have been chosen to provide the fundamental knowledge essential for clinicians to ensure safe and appropriate care of patients who may benefit from its use," the document says. The conference is being staged by the U of I College of Nursing and the College of Medicine, in cooperation with Patients Out of Time, a nonprofit group dedicated to education on medicinal marijuana. Nursing Dean Melanie Dreher said Al Byrne and Mary Lynn Mathre, the husband-and-wife founders of Patients Out of Time, approached her about a conference. Dreher has done extensive research on medical marijuana use. "Other cultures have been using marijuana in a non-recreational atmosphere" for decades, she said. The program is designed to follow up on a report by the Institute of Medicine a year ago that said marijuana's active components have potential for treating some conditions. Bruce Upchurch, director of the Governor's Alliance on Substance Abuse, has his doubts about the real cause of those backing the medicinal use of cannabis. "The medical marijuana movement in this country mostly is supported by people who have an agenda of getting marijuana legalized," said Upchurch, a former federal Drug Enforcement Administration officer. The movement has 'sucked in people who believe they're doing the right thing or who believe there's some use for this . . . to alleviate pain and suffering." Upchurch said if there is some therapeutic use for the chemicals in marijuana, "Research will find a way to deliver it other than smoking. We don't smoke our medicine in this country." Byrne, from his office in Virginia, said marijuana is "the most studied plant on earth." He charged that Upchurch doesn't know what he's talking about. Upchurch is "a cop. I don't think he's been to medical school," Byrne said. Upchurch said he's not opposed to the conference. He and Byrne also agreed on the need for more research.