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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Becky DeKeuster of Berkeley Patients Group

On December 17th, our post dealt with the State of Maine setting up their medical marijuana program. A few days later we received a comment on our post via Live Journal from Becky DeKeuster of Berkeley Patients Group. We shared Becky DeKeuster's comments with you on December 31, 2009, and we promised to respond to Ms. DeKeuster. Please see below our comments.

Dear Ms. DeKeuster,
Thank you for taking the time to respond to my post and for so eloquently sharing important information. I understand that you needed to correct my statement: "The same people who are helping Maine set up a medical marijuana program are also trying to have full on legalization voted on in the next year in California." I will agree with you this statement is rather broad. Without enough research, I implied, based on an assumption from the news articles that the Berkeley Patients Group would be in favor of full legalization. I did not mean to imply that you have or would take an official stand on legal or recreational use of cannabis. After all, as far as legal use, medicinal legal use was passed in California in 1996 and Berkeley Patients Group was founded in 1999. I understand now that recreational legalization is not part of BPG's agenda.

I have now visited your web site and read your mission statement. I have also taken the time to read the PDF "Declare Saturday, October 31 2009, 'Berkeley Patients Group Day' In the City Of Berkeley." This declaration was very informative, providing a historical review of Proposition 215 and Berkeley Patients Group activities over the past 13 years.

I appreciate your clarification and your wish for a "do-over" regarding the wild-west metaphor. I, too, have been following this topic for a number of years and I recognize that each state finds they must individually navigate these waters very carefully and diligently. I am frequently amazed at the obvious differences in how medicinal marijuana dispensaries are managed in northern California towns and cities, as compared to what I see and read about in Southern California.

I don't think we are too far apart regarding the pharmacology issues. I did not mean to imply that I believe that marijuana should only be available in pharmacies distributed in THC pill form. What I wanted to assure is that it be regulated and, therefore, look forward to it not only in a synthesized formula, but also the natural herbal form being distributed by pharmacies. I do understand that patients indicate that the delivery format of the herbal form appears to be more efficient for pain relief, not unlike, I would think, the surgical patient receiving a morphine drip, as opposed to a Vicodin tablet.

The bigger question remains, should marijuana be approved for recreational sale and use, like alcohol? And if it is, how will it be managed, controlled, sold, distributed? We know addiction is a disease. Many people use marijuana, but like alcohol drinkers not all are abusers. Addiction affects minimally 25% of the population. Managing medicinal marijuana use will be perhaps left to our health care providers, who will need to decide if herbal marijuana is the correct course for each individual patient.

Going forward we will continue our work to educate and assist those seeking recovery and sobriety.

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