Patients Out of Time: The True Face of Medical Marijuana
Posted by Marijuana Doctors on 03/30/2011 in Medical Marijuana
Although the demographics of medical marijuana in the US are as diverse as those of the nation itself, this is a reality that is often poorly reflected in the traditional media. What progress has been made has come as a result of the long and hard fight of patient advocate groups who have chosen to stand up to the propaganda and face the social stigma head on. For many, the medicinal properties of cannabis are simply useful items on a list of talking points favoring or opposing various legal statuses. However, for those who rely on it to live a dignified life, the issue is integral to their hopes, dreams and fundamental rights as human beings. Here at MarijuanaDoctors.com we would like to highlight the excellent work done by Patients Out of Time to support medical cannabis patients, help them share their stories and educate the public. Patients Out of Time is an organization that strives to be the voice of those who simply do not have the luxury of waiting for the slow crawl of legislative and judicial action; it is also one with a history tied to the modern rebirth of the medical marijuana movement.
The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) achieved a major media victory when in 1990 it got CSPAN coverage for its annual conference in Washington DC. This was not an impromptu college student gathering or easily dismissed protest rally but a reasoned discussion by real people in great need. The patients and physicians put a serious face on the issue of cannabis that had up to then been almost entirely absent from the national dialogue. The move spurred renewed interest in Marijuana reform and its medicinal benefits. In 1995, NORML board members Al Byrne and Mary Lynn Mathre joined three of the five federal marijuana patients to incorporate Patients Out of Time as a non-profit organization.
The federal patients, only four of whom are alive today, are the only people ever to get government grown and packaged marijuana as part of a long defunct program. In many ways their very existence is a challenge to decades of propaganda and the official government position. How can the DEA assert that there are no medical uses for cannabis while someone on a federal payroll is growing it, rolling it up and mailing it to these patients? Thankfully, these federal patients have made it their goal to spread awareness about medical marijuana and government’s hypocrisy regarding it.
Since 2000, Patients Out of Time has organized six bi-annual clinical conferences on marijuana therapeutics. These events have played a key part in defining the dynamic and diverse face of the medical cannabis movement. The speakers here are not celebrities or exceptionally passionate recreational users; they are doctors and attorneys, people with real stories and a serious purpose who can command the debate with vast amounts of knowledge and experience. Their audiences at these conferences are often fellow professionals; they are physicians, their patients and families, all in search of answers and a sensible government policy. This is a forum where the story of Mae Nutt, an 84 year-old grandmother who used cannabis to help her son deal with his terminal cancer gets as much time and attention as a talk by Rick Doblin, founder of MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) about the frustration of dealing with the DEA. Over the years, the conferences have covered a wide range of topics across hundreds of speeches and panels. Detailed information can be found at their website, www.medicalcannabis.com.
Since the last conference, in April 2010, there has been a lot of movement on the medical marijuana front all across the nation. Due to this, the 2012 conference, to be held in Tucson, AZ on April 26th through the 28thhas the opportunity to reach an audience that will be more attuned to its message than ever before. It is in the interest of the entire pro-marijuana movement to pay attention and make sure the media sees the real face of medical cannabis, one that cannot be dismissed and refuses to be disenfranchised.