Some of the recent advocates for the legalization of marijuana include Snoop Lion, Cheech and Chong, Willie Nelson, Wiz Khalifa, and a local mother who states that she would walk through fire and crawl through glass for her son.
Tara Cordle, of Wheelersburg, didn’t agree with the legalization of marijuana in any aspect before she started researching possible methods of treatment of her 8-year-old son, Waylon Jenkins. Her son began having problems in 2012 with Viral Encephalitis, which left him with brain damage and suffering from intractable epilepsy.
“My goal is to educate people more in the medical marijuana world,” Cordle said. “I also have petitions that I am gathering signatures for to have it put on the ballot.”
Cordle has been passing out information to the community at local businesses, the Shawnee State University campus, and has given speeches about the positives of medicinal marijuana. Cordle recently gave a speech at the Jackson County Library during a petition signing, and also spent a day at the Wheelersburg McDonald’s giving out information and gathering signatures to put the vote on the ballot; both of these events happened over the course of last weekend.
Cordle said that she never would have been the kind of person who would have supported the legalization of marijuana for any reason, but her son’s condition has made her look into it more.
“I’m not for potheads being able to get high, because there is something different in medical marijuana, where parts of it that get you high are taken out and the medical parts that can help are there.”
Cordle said that she currently has her son on hemp oil to treat his epilepsy, which is different from medicinal marijuana, but feels that the actual drug would be better. She said Waylon has been on it for nearly 30 days and the improvement from just the oil has been a game changer for them.
“I’ve lost count the many times I’ve had to physically perform CPR on my son. He is on five other seizure medications on top of his monthly treatments. If you research some of the stuff that has happened in Colorado with their treatments, their children are awesome and are not seizing, because of the medications they are taking with medical marijuana. It is like night and day,” she said.
Scioto County Health Commissioner Aaron Adams said he is against the legalization of marijuana, because he believes it is a gateway drug.
“We have enough drug dependency and abuse in Scioto County. To legalize the use of marijuana as a recreational use, like in Colorado, I oppose that, because we are trying to get a handle of the problems in Scioto County with prescription drugs that have been flipped over to heroin. We’ve really got a lot of problems,” he said.
Adams went on to say we don’t know how medicinal marijuana can be used, particularly for epilepsy.
“I’m for what’s doing best for patients to make them feel better, whether it is a benign pain situation or malignant pain, I think we need to do the best we can, but not understanding the full medicinal potential of that [marijuana], and I don’t know. I think we need to look into that very closely,” he said.
Adams said a variant of medicinal marijuana is being used already, with a drug called Marinol used for loss of appetite associated with weight loss in patients with AIDS. Adams said many local cancer patients are prescribed Marinol as an appetite booster and anti-nausea.
“I know from listening to the media there are stories where people have done better on stuff like medical marijuana, rather than other medications, but I’m not an expert. I think the debate needs to be extended. We need to read more and do more research. What we don’t want to do is add another gateway drug to an already drug ridden community,” Adams said.
Scioto County Sheriff Marty Donini said he also disagrees with the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
“There are enough other medications out there that can be used to get the same effects that they say marijuana allegedly does for medical reasons. That I’m against,” he said.
Cordle said that even with the five medications her son is on, he still seizes and has issues. Not only that, but she said the side effects of these drugs sometimes outweigh the benefits.
“I say to them that knowledge is key,” Cordle said. “When I see my son suffer from the side effects of his medicine and still have seizures and to know that this God given plant could change his life. I also show them story after story of kids that have benefited from this. If they [the opposition] give me the time I am usually able to change their mind.”
Donini said that since he has no experience with legalized marijuana use, he can only speculate on the outcome it would have on the community.
“It’s going to be a little bit like the pain clinics. It is just going to be a hassle,” he said. “We’re going to find people with bags of marijuana and prescriptions where it was prescribed to them. It may not be on the same scale as the pain clinics, but I believe it would result in basically the same way.”
Donini said that before the local pain clinics were shut down, an increase in crime rate occurred and said “nine times out of ten” local incidents involve an addict.
“I’m not very fluent on medicinal marijuana, how they alter it or anything like that, but the only thing I can say is if it is marijuana then it is marijuana. I’m not going to change my position. I’m a former certified DARE officer and I have a belief marijuana isn’t good. There are other medicines out there that doctors can prescribe without opening Pandora’s Box,” Donini said.
He said the questions of medical marijuana are hard to answer and he feels for the Cordle family.
Cordle is confident enough in the medicinal properties of marijuana that she has postponed possible brain surgery on her son, in attempt to try to legalize medicinal marijuana before she makes the move to have an irreversible surgery performed on her son.
Joseph Pratt can be contacted at Portsmouth Daily Times 740-353-3101, EXT 287 or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.