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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Memo to Legislators: Understanding the Need for Cannabis Concentrates - by Dr. Beth Fisher

    Cannabis concentrates are currently at the epicenter of controversy in Michigan. Instead of attempting to explain and persuade others on the benefits of concentrates, I going to share a single case study of what happens when this higher potency medicine is not available. Understanding how Cannabis addresses specific medical symptoms and aides in the healing process is critical information. Individuals who may ultimately decide the fate of medical Cannabis need to be aware and informed regarding this natural, herbal medicine. (Note: As a social scientist, I use scientific terms. Marihuana, the term that is used in the Michigan Cannabis law, is pejorative; those who are educated in scientific biological classification prefer to use the correct term, Cannabis sativa or simply Cannabis.)

    The single case study is me. I am self-declared workaholic. I manage to be up before dawn, 12 to 15 hour work days are typical. I travel all over the country speaking with seniors about medical Cannabis; in order to maintain this schedule, I keep myself in top physical shape. I eat organic foods, drink plenty of water, incorporate healthy habits into my daily schedule, and exercise daily. I run, golf (poorly), paddle board, and practice yoga one to two times a day. 

    I am also a certified medical Cannabis patient in the states of Michigan and California. I medicate mostly at night for severe pain issues. And herein begins the study. 

    On April 10, 2014, I injured my gluteus maximus, gluteus medina, and bicep femoris. Unable to walk without falling suddenly stopped my work outs and the ability to think without pain was nonexistent. The muscle spasms would start without warning and continue up to 30 minutes. 

    While I want to tell you I was able to reach for the proper Cannabis medicine, take it and experience relief, I can’t. I didn’t have the medicine I needed due to a 2013 Michigan Court decision. As result, my pain continued much longer than it should have as did the healing time. 

    So to the Michigan Court of Appeals justices & state legislators, I’m providing you with a brief criteria of who is qualified to determine Cannabis medicine strength, additional information for the court to consider the next time they are faced with this issue, and what happens when a patient does not have the proper Cannabis medicine strength. 

    Let’s start with who really is qualified to make important medical decisions for Cannabis patients: 

•  A formally trained medical professional; 

•  this medical professional has personally reviewed Cannabis research studies and understands the concept of Homeostasis (having the body maintain internal stability); 

•  is themselves a medical Cannabis patient (verified through drug testing)

    Anyone other than those above individuals are not in a position to determine my course of treatment, nor qualified to determine potency amounts of medical Cannabis. 

    If a justice or legislator was at this level of understanding, they would know Cannabis is absorbed by the body to the degree that the body needs the medicine. Whether palliative or medicinal, Cannabis heals the injury and reduces the pain simultaneously.  Specifically, in my case, I didn’t have what I needed as a patient; I needed a higher strength of medical Cannabis, which meant I should have been using concentrates. 

    To understand why I didn’t get the medicine I needed, let’s look back a year. In 2013, the Michigan Court of Appeals decided for Michigan medical Cannabis patients that the law passed in 2008 excluded resins from the definition ergo, any mixture or preparation with resin is illegal. 

    Unfortunately for Michigan medical Cannabis patients, the court did not understand that concentrates weren’t being used to the same degree they are now (due to new ways of medical Cannabis manufacturing).  There was simply no need to include the term “resins.” I believe that the authors’ intent was for Michigan residents to use legally medical Cannabis to relieve and heal; and the term, “resins” would have been clearly listed in the description, which would mean patients would currently have legal access to this form of medicine.  

    The court looked at the seminal intent from the 2008 law. But if they had looked further, they would have seen a precedent from before 1937. Before Cannabis prohibition, there were between two and three hundred thousand legal manufactures of Cannabis medicine. Companies like Eli Lily, were making up to 20 different kinds of Cannabis concentrates at one time. These companies knew patients needed stronger medicine than the plant alone (“usable marihuana” form). So concentrates were legally being used before 1937 were acceptable, but not in 2013? An interesting question for the court. 

    Let’s return to my case. Screaming from the pain, I tried pharmaceuticals. I did not want to, I wanted my medicine that was approved through the passing of Michigan Medical Marijuana Initiative Proposal 1 by a vote of 3,008, 980 votes.  

    Because I did not have the appropriate Cannabis medicine, I had no choice but to use pharmaceuticals; Flexeril, 10 mg; Celebrex, 100 mg; Ibuprofen 800 mg. These medicines suppressed the pain, but did nothing for the healing. I also learned that after a few doses of the medicine, I needed secondary pharmaceuticals for heartburn and irritable bowel syndrome. 

    A couple of these prescriptions reduced the pain, but they made me confused, nausea, and aggressive. What I needed were the Cannabis concentrates that I took in California. Strain, strength, and recommended dose were clearly listed on the bottle. I knew what to expect as far as pain control and healing factors. Within 20 minutes, the pain would leave, my muscles would relax, and I could rest and heal. That is the beauty of Cannabis medicine. It treats the symptoms like pharmaceuticals, but it also helps with the healing process.

    Thankfully, I have my caregiver.  She began to make flower only “usable marijuana” caps. Which meant she finely ground flowers and placed them in gelatin caps. I started taking the caps and they started to help. The pain was subsiding, muscles spasms stopped. I was able to rest without screaming when I turned over. 

    But they weren’t concentrates. I needed a higher potency of medicine that the courts deemed “illegal.” It was the same medicine…just condensed. Think of it this way, I needed ibuprofen in a strength that fit my pain level, ergo the physician wrote me a prescription for 800 mg. Why would it be any different with Cannabis? I needed a higher concentration, which would have been a concentrated capsule or a medible. 

    While I want to report the flower capsules worked as effectively as the concentrates, they did not. After a few days of taking this form of Cannabis (up to 24 a day), I began to have irritation in my lower intestine and had to modify my diet to adjust for this irritation. 

    The real problem is that certain individuals in Lansing still see Cannabis as the “demon weed.” They are still shaking their heads that the majority of Michigan residents voted for medical Cannabis; they truly do not see Cannabis as medicine. In short, a few individuals are not willing to do their homework when it comes to medical Cannabis; a perfect example for the aforementioned determination criteria. If you do not know about the benefits of Cannabis sativa, you don’t get to participate in the discussion. It might be easier to do your homework. Or easier yet, contact me; I can help you understand.

Dr. Beth Fisher may be reached at:


  1. Interestingly, I didn't think you could obtain marijuana in concentrated form. I imagine this would be better when being used for medicinal purposes. Can anyone provide me with some information on how it is used as medicine?
    Jayden Eden |

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