Ray Lakers, a Multiple Sclerosis patient, served time in jail for possession of less than one gram of marijuana. Jeff Elton, a Diabetic Neuropathic Gastroparesis patient, claims marijuana to be the only medicine that stops his nausea. Lisa Jackson will explain what it's like to live with Fibromyalgia and how medical marijuana saved her from overdosing on her old medications. Also speaking will be Jacob Orr, a severe chronic pain patient who replaced highly addictive and dangerous opiates with medical marijuana.
The event is being led by Jimmy Morrison, a grassroots organizer for the largest medical marijuana lobbyist organization in the country. Carl Olsen will explain the progress his lawsuit has made in finally addressing the medical marijuana legislation already passed in this state in 1979. They hope to answer the many questions Iowans may have about the bill S.F. 293, which Senator Joe Bolkcom (D-Iowa City) introduced to be debated in the spring of 2010. There are currently 13 states who have legalized medical marijuana, the most recent being Michigan where a ballot initiative was passed with 63% of the vote. None of these states have found an increase in teen drug use since passing legislation.
The federal government started the Investigational New Drug Program decades ago, which grows and provides medical marijuana for free to fifteen patients. Although the program has been shut down and only four patients are still alive, George McMahon and Barbara Douglass, both Iowa residents, continue to receive legal medical marijuana every month. George McMahon suffers from Nail-Patella Syndrome and Barbara Douglass has Multiple Sclerosis.
In 1988, DEA Chief Administrative Law Judge Francis Young ruled marijuana to be "in its natural form, one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man." In 1999, the White House commissioned the Institute of Medicine to review all medical literature on marijuana. This review found "Nausea, appetite loss, pain, and anxiety are all afflictions of wasting and can be mitigated by marijuana. Although some medications are more effective than marijuana for these problems, they are not equally effective in all patients." Since February of 2007, three studies have shown marijuana relieves neuropathic pain, commonly associated with AIDS, Multiple Sclerosis, Diabetes, and other illnesses.
Marijuana is Schedule I in Iowa, which means it has no accepted medical value. This schedule includes such drugs as LSD and pure heroine; however, marijuana is also Schedule II in Iowa, which means it has accepted medical value. Schedule II includes such drugs as cocaine, morpheine, oxycodone, other opiates, and methamphetamine. In 1979, the Iowa Board of Pharmacy Examiners, a bureacracy, was supposed to study and decide if there is accepted medical value in the United States. They recently disobeyed a court order to address the issue.
The documentary to be shown, "Waiting to Inhale", was produced and directed by Jed Riffe and was partially funded by the Marijuana Policy Project's grants program. The film examines the medical marijuana debate up close by taking you inside the lives of patients, doctors, and activists, while seeking to understand why opponents support the continued criminalization of our sick and dying. "Waiting to Inhale" has already played to critical acclaim, having won the 2005 CINE Golden Eagle Award, the Gold Special Jury Remi Award at the 38th Annual WorldFest-Houston, and the 2005 Best Documentary Film/Video at the New Jersey International Film Festival.