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IMMLY responds to Dr. Darold Treffert's letters to the editor opposing Underheim medical marijuana bill 

Darold A. Treffert, M.D., of Fond du Lac, is past chairperson of the Controlled Substances Board and Medical Examining Board of Wisconsin. His letter to the editor and OPED linked below begged responses. As our responses were not published, we present them here:
Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI)
Author: Darold A. Treffert
Pubdate: Fri, 9 Jan 2004
Letter to the Editor: Marijuana: Proposed Legislation Not Necessary Now

IMMLY's response to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which was not published:

From: "Is My Medicine Legal YET?" 
To: <Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel>
Subject: RE: "Proposed legislation not necessary now" (Jan. 9).
Date: Friday, January 16, 2004 11:12 AM

Dear Editor,

RE: "Proposed legislation not necessary now" (Jan. 9).

Why is Dr. Darold A. Treffert promoting Marinol, a synthetic form of THC, as an acceptable substitute for natural marijuana, when his own research, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on March 18, 1983, found "that adverse central nervous system side effects were prevalent, especially in older patients."

Treffert's findings were even cited in a report prepared for the U.S. Congress in 2002, "Medical Use of Marijuana: Policy and Regulatory Issues.

In a recent opinion piece in the Fond du Lac Reporter, Treffert said that Marinol was superior to natural cannabis because "it produces dysphoria rather than euphoria, so abuse potential is very low."

American Heritage® Dictionary defines dysphoria as "an emotional state characterized by anxiety, depression, or unease". Why would anyone who is already sick want to take a medication that makes them sicker? Treffert then admits Marinol is "not always effective" and calls it a "beginning effort".

That illustrates the problem. Marinol was basically rushed into production to counter a wave of state laws that attempted to create state-sponsored research programs using federally supplied marijuana in the late 1970's and early 1980's. Wisconsin passed such a law in 1981, and Governor Lee Sherman Dreyfus signed it in April 1982. But this attempt at compassion by our state legislature and those of 25 other states was thwarted when federal authorities balked at supplying whole marijuana because Marinol was available.

How many patients ran out of legal options and time in the 2+ decades since Gov. Dreyfus signed that bill into law?

God created cannabis for people who need it, man manufactures THC to make money. Is Treffert trying to tell the public he knows something God doesn't? Science did not have an effective alternative to natural cannabis then, and still does not today. Rather than criticizing Rep. Underheim for having the courage to take a fresh look at medical marijuana after gaining new insight into how critical it can be, Treffert ought to get out of the way and join him. It's called compassion. 

Jacki Rickert
Founder and executive director, Is My Medicine Legal YET?

Gary Storck
director of communications
Is My Medicine Legal YET?

Source: Fond du Lac Reporter
Author: Darold A. Treffert
Pubdate: Tue, 13 Jan 2004
OPED: Law Allows Medical Marijuana in Capsule Form

IMMLY's response to the Fond du Lac Reporter, which was not published:

From: "Is My Medicine Legal YET?"
To: <Fond du Lac Reporter>
Subject: Law allows medical marijuana in capsule form
Date: Thursday, January 15, 2004 2:12 PM

Dear Editor,

In reading psychiatrist Darold Treffert's opinion piece; "Law allows medical marijuana in capsule form" (Jan. 13), We were struck by the fact the word compassion did not appear once in the nearly 500-word article.

While Treffert argues that Marinol is the same thing as whole marijuana, he also admits that it is a "beginning effort" and "not always effective". He says Marinol is "a Schedule II substance that any Wisconsin physician can prescribe for several medical conditions including nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy in cancer patients."

As past chairperson of the Controlled Substances Board and Medical Examining Board of Wisconsin, he should be aware that Marinol has been a Schedule III substance for several years, both at the federal and state levels. And Marinol's prescribing information, supplied by its manufacturer, Unimed, notes that it is indicated only for the treatment of anorexia associated with weight loss in patients with AIDS; and nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy."

The FDA has not approved Marinol for off-label uses like treatment of multiple sclerosis spasticity, glaucoma, or any other of the hundreds of medical conditions for which whole marijuana has been shown to be effective. Treffert gives no indication of what course should be taken for patients suffering from other serious illnesses. Should they ask their doctors to prescribe Marinol for unapproved medical conditions? And for those using Marinol for it's two FDA-approved uses, what happens if it does not work?

That is why the lack of the word compassion is so striking. Why would anyone want to use an illegal medicine if legal alternatives worked adequately?

TV talk show host Montel Williams, a multiple sclerosis sufferer, recently revealed he had been utilizing marijuana for several years in his new book "Climbing Higher". He devoted an entire show to his battle with MS on Jan. 13, including how marijuana was the only substance that would treat his MS-related pain, pain so severe he stated he contemplated suicide.

As Montel put it, "why do we want to withhold medicine from people who can use it?

Does Treffert think Montel Williams has "a bait-and-switch agenda toward legalization of marijuana for recreational use"? How about state medical groups that support legal access to whole marijuana under medical supervision like the Wisconsin Nurses Association, Wisconsin Public Health Association and the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin?

Rep. Underheim's proposed legislation is neither "premature", nor "not necessary", but instead a compassionate response from someone who has been there and seen enough to make him change his mind.

Montel said it pretty well himself by asking his audience what lengths they would go to if faced with a decision where marijuana offered the only hope in keeping a loved one alive, or easing their suffering so they can participate in life again. No one raised their hand to object.

Jacki Rickert
Founder and executive director, Is My Medicine Legal YET?

Gary Storck
director of communications
Is My Medicine Legal YET?

Updated Tuesday, June 08, 2010



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