Dispelling Myths About Cannabis
By Dale E. Alsager, D.O., Ph.D.
Maple Valley resident and property owner
- Cannabis is a plant species that lends itself to farm production (agriculture) in the soil type and climate which we enjoy here in Western Washington.
- The cannabis plant is capable of producing a number of useful chemical components. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the well-known bi-product, which produces hallucinogenic effects when consumed. THC is the component tested for when screening for unauthorized or illegal use such as in the work place, while driving, etc. CBD (cannabinoldiol), of which there appears to be several chemical sub-types, imparts no hallucinogenic properties to the user, but has highest potential for medical therapies for conditions including, but not limited to, insomnia, seizures, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, headaches, colitis, intractable nausea, and many others. The discovery of endocannabinoids (chemical messengers) and their receptors occurring naturally with the human body is a relatively recent and exciting discovery. 1, 5
- Cannabis production and sale was legalized in Washington State by legislative action in 2012 and is currently regulated by the State of Washington Liquor and Cannabis Control Board.
- “Marijuana legalization in Washington State has, by some measures, been an immediate success. Criminal charges for marijuana possession in Washington State have but vanished. A once thriving black market is being day lighted. Recreational users’ wink-and-a-nod exploitation of the medical marijuana system is gone. Legal marijuana is producing gobs of tax revenue to pay for important State services. The State’s budget is expected to bank an eye-popping $1.1-billion in cannabis revenue through 2018.” 2
- All conditions have been met for a conditional use permit for a production area to be established in Maple Valley, WA.
- The proposed grow area in Maple Valley is located on agricultural ground which, for the past 15 years, has been under organic farm production, for livestock grazing, and oat production under a managed farm plan authorized by the King County Conservation Department. There is no history of pesticide use at this site and is therefore ideal for raising any organically grown crop for human consumption. Wild life and wetland habitats are co-managed with agriculture under the approved and existing farm management plan.
- The location in Maple Valley is isolated, invisible, remote, well-secured and presents no hazard or easy access to anyone, besides the operator.
- The Liquor and Cannabis Board of Washington State does not allow processing for retail purposes, or retailing of any type from a regulated production grow site. Fears that a production site will result in cash-carrying customers coming to and from the community in large numbers to access the site are just not true.
- Each plant raised at the site will be under strict inventory control and can only be distributed to a licensed facility authorized by the Liquor and Cannabis Control Board. Production farms are not permitted to participate in retailing at or near the grow site. Fears of increased crime in communities where grow sites operate are nothing more than rumor and untested speculation. In fact, since the legalization of Cannabis by Washington State in 2012, records show than cannabis related crimes and arrests have plummeted. 2
- There are no opportunities for “on-farm sales” of a retail nature so there are no traffic or unwelcome visitor issues. The production sites are wholesale only and when the crop is taken off at optimal harvest time, it is delivered to authorized facilities outside the area. Public access or visitation by non-employees is strictly controlled and is not allowed at any time. Fears of excess traffic and increased crime in the community are unfounded and false.
- The largest production plot permitted in Washington State at the present time is 30,000 square feet (300 feet by 100 feet) – not a very big area. Certainly not an activity that is likely to cause obnoxious smells or noise or activity in the process of growing. The growing season is approximately mid-June to September and the balance of the year there is very little, if any, farming activity. Fears of ongoing industrial noises, smells, and pollution are sensationalist exaggerations and are false.
- The farm staff required is approximately 2-3 workers, licensed and bonded, primarily only working during the summer growth period. The entire site is well secured with 24/7 surveillance and is completely fenced to prevent trespassing. All farm activities are contained and occur within an eight-foot cedar fence. Special needs for wildlife, including large ungulate movements has been addressed and mitigated within the management plan for this site. Modest greenhouse and plant isolation equipment is contained within the fenced and secured production area. There is no opportunity for unintended environmental disaster, including accidental discharge of waste from this site.
- Business transactions by these farm production units are handled via banks like any other legitimate business. No illegal or any unusual forms of currency, or exchange of cash will occur. Rumors of illegal cash transactions are false.
- The CBD component of the plant is what imparts its therapeutic quality and is the desired end product. There have been no reported overdose deaths with CBD or cannabis products and they have strong potential for the development of badly needed alternatives to opiate prescription medications for pain control. 2 p. 70, p. 145. 3
- Cannabis production in Washington State presents an opportunity for new technology and science. Other countries, including Canada, are ahead of us in evaluating cannabis by-products as a cure for a number of dreaded diseases and it is important that we develop a safe and reasonable environment for culturing and developing this new technology. 1 p. 217 It is important that Americans are the prime benefactors and developers of new and safe products for health purposes to reduce suffering in our communities and throughout the world.
- Special interest groups such as the Arthritis Society4 have offered grants, which are now available for scientists to study and evaluate specific CBD varieties of cannabis plants as a possible cure for arthritis. The healing potential for this plant species and its bi-products are limitless, and should not be inhibited by fear and baseless rumors.
- Thank you for assisting us to move ahead with new developments in modern agriculture, health care and science in our community.
- Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base Institute of Medicine Report http//bob.nap.edu/books/0309071550/html/
- Seattle Times Editorial, Wednesday, May 18, 2016
- Cannabis in Palliative Medicine: Improving care and Reducing Opioid-Related Morbidity. Carter, et al: Am. Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, 2011 http://ajhpm.sagepub.com
- Alsager, DE, 2016. Personal communication Arthritis Society of Canada