Saturday, December 10, 2016 by Daniel Barker
Although there has been little scientific research conducted so far regarding the use of cannabis to treat Parkinson’s disease, the anecdotal evidence provided by an ex-cop named Larry Smith makes a very strong case for its efficacy.
Smith, who served 26 years in law enforcement before retiring in 1999, has been battling Parkinson’s for 20 years. His story is the subject of an upcoming documentary, Ride With Larry, which chronicles his fight against the disease.
Larry has been successful in controlling some of his symptoms through exercise, with particular emphasis on the use of a recumbent bicycle. In fact, the documentary follows Larry as he embarks on a 300-mile bike journey across South Dakota.
As Larry Smith’s disease progressed, he explored every treatment available to ease the symptoms. Recently, he turned to medical marijuana and found it to be amazingly effective in alleviating his dyskinesia (uncontrollable movements) and other symptoms.
On the Ride With Larry Facebook page, a three-part video series follows Larry and his wife, Elizabeth, as they travel to San Diego to try medical marijuana for the first time – medical marijuana is not legal in their home state, South Dakota.
In Part One of the series, Larry and Elizabeth arrive in San Diego and visit a doctor who gives him a prescription for medical marijuana. At this point, Larry’s symptoms are pronounced – he has trouble walking and is in pain, despite the 20 pills he takes each day.
In Part Two, the pair visit a marijuana dispensary and obtain $40 worth of cannabis buds. Elizabeth mentions the fact that one of Larry’s prescriptions costs $3,000 each time to fill.
In Part Three, a fellow Parkinson’s sufferer visits Larry and gives him some cannabis oil. At this point, Larry’s symptoms are pronounced, he has difficulty speaking and is in obvious pain as he tries to control his movements.
Within just a few minutes of placing one drop of cannabis oil under his tongue, Larry’s body completely relaxes – his tremors are gone, he can speak normally and his hands are steady.
It’s an astounding transformation. The video has now been viewed by nearly 40 million people, a testament to the dramatic nature of its content, and to the fact that many people are interested in the benefits of cannabis for treating Parkinson’s and other debilitating and difficult-to-treat conditions.
Yet medicinal marijuana remains illegal in many states, and is still prohibited by federal law.
“A person like me could really use marijuana,” said Larry in Part Three of the series. “And it makes me pretty angry that I can’t get it in my home state.”
Part Three also includes an interview with Dr. Daniele Piomelli, pharmacology professor at UC Irvine medical school, who said:
“The number one frustration that I have is knowing that there is this untapped potential — that comes from what marijuana is teaching us — to generate new medicines, and being stuck because of financial issues or political issues. That is extremely frustrating.”
Dr. Piomelli refers to animal experiments that have shown how marijuana alleviates Parkinson’s symptoms, and to anecdotal evidence such as Larry Smith’s experience, but acknowledges that there is little incentive to carry out further research, since there is no money to be made by Big Pharma on a plant that is so cheap and easy to grow.
“Pharmaceutical companies have no interest in marijuana because they cannot sell it,” said Dr. Piomelli.
It will be interesting to see how the new administration approaches the issue. If President Trump truly wants to serve the interests of the American people, he must see to it that medical marijuana is made available to every single person who can benefit from its use.