Photo by Ben Muro

Medical cannabis oil was provided to editor Mike Buffington to try as part of his efforts to bring attention to the need to allow the growing of cannabis for medical study in Georgia.

Originally published in The Jackson Herald on January 14, 2016

This is Part 2 of a 3 part series. If you haven't read Part 1, click here.

Medical Cannabis Oil

I'm writing this editorial a few minutes after having smoked medical marijuana. But I’m not high or, as some phrase it, “stoned.”

Last week I wrote about my plans to grow a marijuana plant as an act of civil disobedience to Georgia laws that prevent the growing of cannabis plants for medical research. Evidence suggests that some compounds in the cannabis plant, particularly CBD, are effective in helping several serious medical conditions, including seizures.

Since I have a son who has suffered uncontrolled seizures for 15 years, this is an issue that I have a personal interest in. If there is a compound that might help him and others who suffer from seizures, then I don’t care if it’s from a marijuana plant or a jalapeno pepper.

Last year, the Georgia Legislature took the first step in addressing this issue by passing Haleigh’s Hope Act that allows Georgians who have a special medical card to possess up to 20 oz. of medical cannabis oil that is low in THC, the active ingredient that gives the “high” of pot smoking. That oil can also be used for other conditions beyond seizures, including Parkinson’s, MS, Crohn’s Disease and cancer.

But there’s a problem: While Georgians can now possess medical cannabis oil, there is no facility in the state to grow, process and extract the CBD. The oil has to come from other states that allow such medical research.

The Georgia Legislature began meeting this week and Rep. Allen Peake, who introduced Haleigh’s Hope Act last year, has introduced a companion bill this year that would allow the growing and processing of medical cannabis in the state. Gov. Nathan Deal, however, has opposed that.

Given that political logjam, I decided to grow a pot plant in protest of the state’s current prohibition on growing medical cannabis.

The response has been overwhelming. I’ve heard from a number of people and done several radio interviews. Every comment I’ve gotten has been positive.

When I first decided to grow a pot plant, I had planned to just grow some street pot since seeds for that are easily available.

But after last week’s article, I found a couple of sources for the seeds of high-CBD cannabis and one West Coast medical cannabis firm offered to give me some seedlings of high-CBD plants. There is a huge amount of interest in the state about this issue and people are much more aware of it than I thought.

So now I plan to grow the real thing, a marijuana strain that has been hybridized to have high CBD and low THC for medical use. And if Gov. Deal changes his mind and supports Rep. Peake’s legislation, I’ll give my cannabis plant to the governor as decoration for his office.

For those not familiar with “medical cannabis,” marijuana isn’t just one kind of plant. There are hundreds of hybrids, some focusing on high THC for recreational users who are looking for a “high,” while others have low THC and high CBD for medical use. Like many people, I had no idea that such a variety of cannabis existed until I began to research this issue closely.

One of the problems with medical research on marijuana is that the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency has classified cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug, the highest and most regulated drug schedule. Marijuana is listed along with heroin, LSD and ecstasy.

Many other dangerous drugs, however, are Schedule 2 and less regulated. Those drugs include cocaine, OxyContin, and Demerol.

There’s an obvious disconnect in that: Why is marijuana considered more dangerous than OxyContin or cocaine?

That DEA classification is what has led Georgia and other states to be reluctant to open the door to medical research on cannabis. If the feds reclassified cannabis to a more reasonable Schedule 2 or Schedule 3, it would spark a tremendous amount of medical research across the nation.

You have to wonder why President Obama, who has used executive orders to implement a variety of policies around Congress, hasn’t used that power to order the DEA to reclassify cannabis.

After last week’s article, a local gentleman who is involved in medical cannabis research contacted me. He gave me some medical cannabis in a “vape pen” and said maybe I could try it and report on its effects.

A vape pen is an electronic device that heats up a liquid for inhaling. This particular vape pen is charged by plugging it into a USB port on a computer.

So that’s what I did this week. I charged the pen, then attached it to the cannabis oil and took five strong puffs just before writing this editorial. While I can tell that I’ve smoked something, the low THC cannabis oil didn’t give me a “high.” I’m not a pot smoker and five strong hits of a high THC oil would probably have made me loopy and unable to concentrate enough to type these words.

The CBD cannabis didn’t seem to hurt me. In fact, I had a headache before inhaling the CBD oil and now the headache’s gone.

Vaping is just one way to deliver cannabis oil and is generally used for those needing immediate relief from pain. For children, the oil is usually administered orally.

Readers here can judge for themselves if the medical cannabis made my writing better or worse.

In the coming weeks, I’m going to concentrate on getting my cannabis plant growing. I’ll update readers on its progress (with photos) and on the progress of Rep. Peake’s legislation that would allow medical cannabis to be legally grown in Georgia.

Let’s hope both flourish in the sunlight.