A Republican congressman publicly stated that he has used medicinal marijuana to treat his arthritis pain. The admission underscores the growing acceptance of cannabis as a useful medicinal tool.
On May 24, Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California spoke with marijuana legalization activists of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) on Capitol Hill, according to Cannabis Radio.
Joined by four Democratic congressmen, Rohrabacher discussed the prospect of a federal reform of marijuana laws, admitting that he had personal experience with the benefits of medicinal cannabis.
An avid surfer for more than three decades, Rohrabacher’s tubular hobby had resulted in chronic arthritis pains.
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“I haven’t been able to go surfing for a year-and-a-half and I’ve been in severe pain,” Rohrabacher said, citing that the constant paddling has impacted the joints in his shoulders.
The Republican congressman explained that he had recently attended a festival in San Bernardino, where a medicinal marijuana vendor presented him with a cannabis-infused and wax-based topical for his shoulder pain.
“I tried it about two weeks ago, and it’s the first time in a year-and-a-half that I’ve had a decent night’s sleep, because the arthritis pain was gone,” Rohrabacher said.
Medicinal marijuana is legal in the state of California, but the usage of cannabis is prohibited by federal law. Marijuana remains a Schedule 1 drug, deemed as dangerous as heroin by federal authorities.
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“Now don’t tell anybody I broke the law,” Rohrabacher joked, clarifying that the product he used was indeed medicinal. “They’ll bust down my door and [...] take whatever’s inside and use it for evidence against me. The bottom line is that… there’s definitely cannabis in there, and it makes sure that I can sleep now.”
Executive Director Allen St. Pierre of NORML noted that Rohrabacher is “the first legislator in Congress in at least thirty-some-odd years who has acknowledged to using marijuana illegally.”
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is considering removing marijuana’s Schedule 1 status and will make its decision as soon as July, the Washington Post reports.
Because of the restrictive designation, an average of only 9 researchers a year have been allowed to officially study cannabis’ medicinal properties between 2010 and 2016.
While there is scant scientific evidence backing up the claims of some medicinal marijuana advocates who assert that the drug can help treat Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy or Parkinson’s disease, cannabis has proven effective in treating chronic pain and muscle stiffness, Vox reports.
Those ailments are currently treated across the country with opioid prescriptions. Painkillers have been attributed to 165,000 deaths since 1999 and have been a gateway to heroin use in some cases.