Medical marijuana nixed for Tourette's in CO: "The system has failed," Brian Vicente says

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Brian Vicente.
Yesterday, Colorado's board of health considered and then rejected the prospect of formally adding Tourette Syndrome as a condition that can be treated by medical marijuana in this state. It's a decision that incenses Sensible Colorado's Brian Vicente, who earlier petitioned the health department to allow medical marijuana use for people with post traumatic stress disorder. In his view, the Tourette's verdict proves "the system has failed."

Vicente adds that "it's very frustrating for patient advocates. I think this shows the board of health really does not recognize that marijuana is a legitimate medicine. It's protected in Colorado law, and it should be available for any patients who find relief from using it -- and certainly for individuals with incurable conditions like Tourette's Syndrome."

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Dr. Ned Calonge.
Tourette's was specifically mentioned by Dr. Ned Calonge, Colorado's chief medical officer, in an August interview following the announcement that he'd be leaving his post in early November to serve as president of The Colorado Trust.

Calonge insisted that he didn't want to impose FDA standards on conditions approved for treatment by medical marijuana. "If we did that, we'd never approve another condition -- and, to be honest, none of the ones in the constitution would be approved, either, because none of them have that robust evidence to prove that they're beneficial," he said. "So we tried to look at another standard -- at least one randomized trial on humans that shows it works. That's a really low standard, but one we think should at least elevate a condition to consideration either in front of the advisory board or the board of health."

Tourette Syndrome would be the first condition to be evaluated in this way, Calonge went on, "because there was a randomized trial of 24 individuals in Germany, and it showed some modest efficacy in terms of reducing tics. The size of the study is really minuscule, because of the 24 people in the trial, only seventeen of them finished. But it's the first petition where I've received any evidence of efficacy in humans -- and we're not going to add a condition on the basis of rat studies. There's no country in the world that approves medication on the basis of animal studies only. We need to have at least some shred of evidence from a good study that it's actually going to help humans -- do more good than harm."

In the end, the Tourette's evidence considered yesterday did nothing to sway the board of health -- and that doesn't surprise Vicente, who sees Calonge's self-imposed standard as contradicting language from Amendment 20, the constitutional measure that legalized medical marijuana in Colorado.

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