A Richmond County advocate for changing medical cannabis availability to veterans was invited to speak recently on several panels at the Southern Harm Reduction and Drug Policy Network in Atlanta, Ga.
The Southern Harm Reduction and Drug Police Conference was a three-day conference at which speakers addressed topics like trans-gender health and harm reduction, mass incarceration, 911 Good Samaritan laws, sex work in the South, crack user and injection drug user harm reduction. Speakers included members of the Centers for Disease Control, members of Atlanta and North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition, members of Georgia Department of Public Health, members of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, reverends and university staff.
Perry Parks of Rockingham is a retired Chief Warrant Officer and President of the North Carolina Cannabis Patients Network, a non-profit organization aiming to make cannabis available to all patients with symptoms that allow patients to receive the medicine in other states.
States in which cannabis is administered legally as a medicine include Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Washington, D.C., Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, according to MedicalMarijuana.procon.org. Several other states have pending legislation that could be passed to allow the use of cannabis as a medicine.
“I wear the uniform as a symbol of distress for the veterans in those remaining 33 states that continue to arrest and jail them simply for using cannabis to treat their war wounds,” said Parks at the conference. “Seventeen states and the District of Columbia now protect vets for cannabis use and the Veterans Administration has issued a directive on cannabis use in those states. In effect, if a veteran is injured in war, his treatment options are limited by the state in which he/she lives. How can this be tolerated, given the excellent clinical trail results in Israel with its soldiers?”
Parks referred to the Israeli government’s decision in January 2012 to regulate cannabis as a medicine.
Posted on the website of the office of the Israeli Prime Minister (translated from Hebrew) in January, “The Cabinet today approved arrangements and supervision regarding the supply of cannabis for medical and research uses. This is in recognition that the medical use of cannabis is necessary in certain cases. The Health Ministry will — in coordination with the Israel Police and the Israel Anti-Drug Authority — oversee the foregoing and will also be responsible for supplies from imports and local cultivation.”
Parks said patients in Israel now have access to and can grow their own medicinal cannabis, and the same may soon be true for North Carolina.
“The synergistic and holistic benefits of medicinal cannabis can’t be disputed,” said Parks on Tuesday. “It’s safer than peanuts.”
Parks carries with him the abstract of a study, funded by the Department of Defense and conducted by the American Association for Cancer Research in 2007, which said, “Here, we report that cannabidiol (CBD), a cannabinoid with a low-toxicity profile, could down-regulate Id-1 (an inhibitor of basic helix-loop-helix transcription factors) expression in aggressive human breast cancer calls. CBD was able to inhibit Id-1 expression at the mRNA and protein level in a concentration-dependent fashion. In conclusion, CBD represents the first nontoxic exogenous agent that can significantly decrease Id-1 expression in metastatic breast cancer cells leading to the down-regulation of tumor aggressiveness.”
His non-profit organization, NCCPN, is close to reaching 1,000 members, he said. He hopes to unite with others who share his passion, during early February 2013 in Raleigh, for a Medical Cannabis Action Legislative Day. According to Parks, legislation previously introduced to the state legislature — which was blocked — will be reintroduced when lawmakers head back into session.
For more information on NCCPN, visit www.nccpn.org.
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at email@example.com.