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Dr. Trish Hurford endorses medical cannabis for pain

Read the full interview at stlpublicradio.org

(excerpts of this story copied from stlpublicradio.org. Written by Jo Mannies)

Dr. Patricia Hurford, a Kirkwood-based physician, is optimistic that the wait will be worth it. She also practices in Illinois, which has had a medical-marijuana program in place for several years.

Hurford – whose specialties include pain management – offers a long list of maladies where sufferers often benefit by using pot: “Patients who suffer from chronic spasticity from multiple sclerosis, who have chronic pain conditions, cancer, glaucoma, epilepsy, severe debilitating diseases like Lou Gehrig’s Disease, sickle-cell anemia, hepatitis C are all good candidates for medical cannabis.”

Hunsford says her experience with patients in Illinois has been “profound” in demonstrating the potential power of pot.

“Medical cannabis can be used to decrease pain, improve sleep, improve energy levels or decrease fatigue,” she said.

“I think clearly there are major benefits to cannabis over opioids for pain control. I think it is a safer alternative, and it offers an option of better pain relief for many of the patients I treat.”

Hurford sits on the board of MoCannTrade, a new association set up after Missouri voters approved the medical use of cannabis.

Association spokesman Jack Cardetti said MoCannTrade’s board members and supporters include physicians, business people and potential patients. Its chief aim is to make sure that Missouri’s medical-marijuana program is implemented as Amendment 2’s provisions require.

Veteran lobbyist Steve Tilley, a former Missouri House speaker, has been hired to monitor state officials’ actions.

The public’s interest remains high since the election, Cardetti said, noting that Amendment 2 passed in 90 counties – and snagged almost two-thirds of the statewide vote.

“We’ve done a number of different public meetings across the state, and we’re blown away with the number of people who’ve attended those,” he said.

Hurford says Amendment 2 will allow a more expansive medical-marijuana program in Missouri, compared to Illinois. Among other things, Missouri’s constitutional amendment stipulates more illnesses eligible for legal treatment with pot.

When the state’s new program is fully implemented, Missouri will be among 33 states — plus the District of Columbia — that have legalized marijuana for at least medicinal use, according to Governing magazine. Ten of the states, plus Washington DC,  also allow recreational use of pot.

Meanwhile, John Payne – a leader of the campaign group New Approach Missouri that got Amendment 2 before voters – is still enjoying his success. New Approach expects to be involved in promoting the program.

“The role of the campaign going forward is to ensure a smooth implementation and to advocate keeping patients first in the process,” Payne said.

He remains amazed that voters rejected the two other medicinal marijuana proposals on the Nov. 6 ballot. That meant no legal fights and a clear-cut victory for Amendment 2, Payne said.

“We got more votes than anything else on the ballot,” he said. “More than (Republican U.S. Senate victor) Josh Hawley, more than ethics reform, more than the minimum wage, more even than bingo — which is kind of surprising that medical marijuana would be more popular than bingo in the state of Missouri.”

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

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