New organization created to promote medical cannabis treatment
SAN JUAN – A group of organizations, health professionals and patients came together Monday to promote the development, growth, regulation and access to medical marijuana through the Puerto Rico Medical Cannabis Association (PRMCA).
“The founding of this association comes as a natural step in the local development of the medicinal cannabis industry. It’s important for all industry members to have a single, strong voice to send the message about the contributions this treatment provides, as well as the opportunities for scientific investigation and economic development linked to it,” association spokeswoman Ingrid Schmidt said.
The new organization intends to bring together the industry’s various components, from doctors and researchers, to product development companies and patients in an effort to design new strategies to promote cannabis-based treatment for myriad debilitating medical conditions.
Dr. Alberto Rivera Sánchez expressed his concern for patients who have not received assistance in time to improve their quality of life after suffering through years of constant pain that could have been treated with a cannabis derivative.
“Cannabis significantly diminishes the body’s response to pain […] We must never confuse smoking marijuana out on the street with medical marijuana because, whereas smoked marijuana harms the lungs and promotes cardiovascular disease, medical marijuana lessens pain and the side effects of many drugs used to treat debilitating diseases,” Rivera Sánchez explained.
For Narely Cortés, a U.S. Air Force Iraq War veteran suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and Parkinson’s, considers herself living proof of how a cannabis-based treatment not only allowed her to manage her health conditions, but also improved her quality of life.
“After being bedridden for several years, I can now say I’m able to lead a more or less normal life,” said Cortés, who pays between $500 and $600 a month for her treatment because no insurance company nor the Veterans’ Administration currently covers it.
Nevertheless, according to Julián Londoño, from NextGen Pharma, this is in the process of changing.
“Some insurance companies have contacted us now that they have learned how effective this treatment is and how it impacts patients’ general health,” Londoño said.
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