Friday, March 29, 2013
MS Society Refuses Medical Marijuana Information
Imagine my surprise when I found out that the Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey (CMMNJ) had been invited to have a table at the Greater Delaware Valley MS Society's March 23rd "Beef and Beer" fundraiser.
I have been at odds with the National MS Society over their deliberate ignorance concerning the benefits of medical marijuana relative to MS symptoms since 1995. In 1997 Cheryl headed up the Cures Not Wars yearly May March down 5th Ave in Manhattan with a sign that said "MS Society's Dr. Reingold Lies About Medical Marijuana."
After the march, legal federal medical marijuana patient Elvy Musika accompanied us as we delivered the sign to the National MS Society's headquarters at 733 3rd Ave. Dr. Reingold chose not to come down to the lobby to accept it in person. He was the head of research and director of grants management for the MS Society at that time and he was doing everything that he could to see that marijuana was NOT clinically studied relative to MS, while at the same time marginalizing multiple sclerosis studies that had been done with THC. As more and more positive information about cannabis began emerging from the British and Canadian MS Societies, our National MS Society's Clinical Advisory Board had to start making certain stipulations such as, "Because inhaled smoked cannabis has more favorable pharmacokinetics than administration via oral or other routes, research should focus on the development of an inhaled mode of administration that gives results as close to smoked cannabis as possible." And, "There are sufficient data available to suggest that cannabiniods may have neuroprotective effects and that studies in this area should be aggressively pursued."
Although I have handed out medical marijuana information at MS Society walks and bike rides for 18 years, both with and without Cheryl, this would be my first time doing so by invitation. It seemed that we had indeed come a long way.
On Saturday, March 23, 2013 Cathi and I arrived at Heroes Hall FOP Lodge #5 on Caroline Road in N.E. Philadelphia, 40 minutes ahead of the 7:30 PM scheduled start of the fundraiser. We knew that there would be 250 attendees plunking down $40 apiece at the door before the actual fundraiser began. Although the night might prove to be financially beneficial for CMMNJ, the real reason that I was there was to interact with supporters who showed such commitment towards improving the lives of MS patients and their families. Statistically speaking, the vast majority would be glad to find out what they could do to help urge the MS Society to take a more active role in cannabis research relative to MS symptoms, and they would no doubt agree that two decades worth of saying that "we need more studies" without attempting to do those studies is no longer acceptable.
When fellow CMMNJ board member Nick Mellis arrived with our table material we all went in to set up. That is when "if it SEEMS too good to be true, it IS too good to be true" set in. As Nick was bringing the second tub of table material in we were told that "there is a problem with your table". It seems that that someone with ties to Clear Channel Outdoor (http://clearchanneloutdoor.com/about-us/) objected to medical marijuana information being available to MS patients and their families at the fundraiser, even if it originated from the MS Society itself, and they threatened to pull sponsorship from the event if we were allowed to set up.
This happened with plenty of time to inform us of the change, yet nobody bothered to notify anyone at CMMNJ. They left two extremely chagrined MS Society volunteers who supported us being there, to tell us to go home when we arrived. Against my initial instinct to react, I opted for leaving on the high road handed to us, and evaluating potential repercussions for that decision that would not be reactionary and immediate, but rather well thought out and planned with an end goal in mind all of the way.
When we are ready in a few days and our reply is fully fleshed out, I will be more than happy to deliver OUR counter offer to the Greater Delaware Valley MS Society's office unannounced and in person. Stay tuned for next weeks blog and a first look at my idea of a return volley. You are REALLY going to like this.
President and Co-Founder