Open Reply to Seth Hyman, Parent of Epileptic Daughter
Around the State
I very much appreciate you reaching out. To answer the subject of your letter, I hope to be a dad soon. I am the cousin of a child suffering from multiple disorders including seizures. I am also the grandson of multiple grandparents who have died of cancer.
But to get to the crux of your email, I had not seen that inflammatory, inaccurate and unprofessional article (reference, Nancy Smith's March 5 commentary, "Anti-Legalization Advocate Trying to Snuff Out Medical Marijuana Bill").
Unlike some in the scientific world, I actually do think there is great potential in all cannabinoids, most certainly including CBD. The fact that the evidence is only pre-clinical (or based on anecdote) is not a problem for me. My beef with the current legislation in Florida is that it is heavy on the surface and very light in substance. So the question for me is not "if" this helps -- it is "how do we do it right?"
I've personally seen numerous families have awful experiences with fake CBD (that has high amounts of THC) as well as the false promise of "Colorado as a promised land" (finding out quickly that there are long lines and waits for certain CBD products). So rather than focusing on supporting that route, I have been spending dozens of hours -- ironic given the vitriol expressed in that article -- on the phone with botanists, federal agencies, companies who claim to have pure CBD, lawyers to help me better understand federal and international law in this area, etc. -- trying to find a better solution.
My organization even sent a letter to the FDA on this and a related matter yesterday, and I personally have contact with FDA Commissioner Peggy Hamburg and the DEA administrator. I've found quickly that there are no easy solutions and that the best of all the imperfect ones is an FDA IND Program (expanded from its current form) to allow for immediate access. Planting in Florida is certainly not faster (eight months at best with the spring planting and fall harvest), and it would require a level of expertise unseen in the state for the difficult process to extract CBD and lose the THC.
But that doesn't mean I hold the slightest bit of ill-will toward you or any other parent in your pursuit of getting the best medication, the fastest way, for your child. My issue, though, is "how we do get the best medicines to the most number of people" in the name of public health.
A final note of distaste I cannot in good conscience ignore: Right now, legalization advocates -- including trial lawyers and political operatives with much larger and wider aspirations -- are clinging to vulnerable parents like you for the wrong reasons. They are saying that "in the name of the children" we need marijuana. It's preposterous as much as it is offensive. They are simply clinging on to your struggle in pursuit of their much wider agenda. That certainly doesn't sit well with me, never mind how it does little to help your cause in the minds of scientists and objective authorities.
I really wish you well in your journey. I can't imagine to understand your struggles; I don't pretend to. I simply hope that our mutual objectives of increasing health are achieved. I wish you well on your journey with Becca.
Kevin Sabet, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of psychiatry, director of the Drug Policy Institute at the University of Florida, a consultant, professor, author, and drug policy adviser. With Patrick J. Kennedy, he co-founded Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) in January 2013.