Oregon's Nursing Leadership Leaves patients Out in the Cold-
Come and welcome the Oregon Nurses Association to Corvallis!
When: Thursday, April 7, 2005 7AM-10AM
Where: LaSells Stewart Complex
100 LaSells Stewart Center
Contact: Ed Glick, RN
The Center is located on the corner of Western Blvd. and 26th street, next
to Reesers Stadium. Western Blvd. is in South Corvallis, and intersects
with 99W (4th street)). Free parking will be available across 26th street
next to the stadium, including a number of handicapped parking spaces.
Organizational activities will begin at 0630, with picketing at the mall
area next to the public sidewalk.
The venue is wheelchair accessible, and bathrooms are available in the
Convention Center. We have permission to utilize the bathrooms.
Please bring signs, handouts and a willingness to show nurses that cannabis
patients deserve the same respect and consideration as anyone else who
suffers from disease.
Tell Nurses that Nurse Practitioners should support Senate Bill 772.
Blessings to everyone, let us have a peaceful and strong demonstration in
support of cannabis and Senate Bill 772.
For 8 years, the ONA has refused repeated attempts to approve a
position which supports cannabis patients in Oregon. Many discussions,
over the years have rehashed the same tired rhetoric: There's no
evidence, how can patients be expected to monitor their use?, the feds
will ruin nurses, smoking is not an acceptable route of administration.
For eight years ONA leadership has willfully neglected to educate
itself about the answers to all these questions. It has refused to
support patient-friendly legislation. More important, the ONA has
steadfastly refused to express outrage at laws which criminalize ill
and suffering people-and by this omission have abdicated their ethical
obligation to stand by their patients.
This years' convention is dedicated to educating nurses about pain
treatment, with many programs and seminars addressing pain treatment
options and issues. There is no mention of cannabis as a treatment for
pain. Cannabis patients are left out in the cold.
Patients, nurses, and supporters are encouraged to join me at the
conference site, to pass literature, talk with nurses, and tell ONA
that "patients come before politics.," Bring signs, stories, and a
desire to help our nurses know that cannabis patients deserve to be
treated with respect and dignity, not like drug-abusing miscreants.
Please come and stand with me out in the cold, and express your opinion
to the ONA nurses.
Patients Left Out in the Cold- Nurse Practitioners refuse practice expansion
in support of cannabis patients. Oregon Nurses Association Annual Convention,
April 6,7,8 2005 - Corvallis, Oregon
This years' Oregon Nurses Association annual conference is devoted to pain.
More specifically, over documented and under treated pain. Cannabis patients
in Oregon, whether registered in the Medical Marijuana Program or not,
suffer from the same malady-- extensive knowledge that does not effect
benefit to patients.
Nearly ten-thousand patients are protected by the Oregon Medical Marijuana
Program. Overwhelmingly they suffer from chronic pain. Eighty nine percent
of OMMP registrants list "severe pain" as their qualifying condition.
Inadequate pain management is perhaps the single greatest failing of our
medical system. Another ten thousand remain unregistered due to mistrust of
their doctor or police. For eight years, the OMMP has stood as a bulwark, a
protection for our patients against the insane U. S. government position
forbidding any and all medical marijuana use. There is no exception- no
allowance for anyone living with inoperable cancer, AIDS, or intractable
pain. The federal position has not changed in 25 years, even as the patient
experience, and scientific understanding has exploded. Neither has the
Oregon Nurses Association's position.
In Oregon, many cannabis patients are still left out in the cold. They are
excluded from describing to their doctors how they are sick, literally, of
benzodiazepines and narcotic analgesics. Patients describe cannabis as a
drug which lessens medication side-effects, lessens use of narcotics,
improves sleep, reduces pain, and allows them to function. But some nurses
don't know that. Instead they rely on discredited pabulum spoon fed by
Federal drug war neocons, who would prefer that all cannabis patients just
It is sadly fitting that ONA excludes medical cannabis patients from this
convention, whilst at the same time putting on a pain treatment smorgasbord.
The inadequate treatment of pain in Oregon, and the U.S., is mostly due to
nurses and doctors NOT listening to their patients. Instead doctors and
Nurse Practitioners listen to wealthy, connected pharmaceutical companies.
By destroying communication, healthcare providers shut the door on
meaningful understanding of their patients- and destroy the trust which is
at the basis of all medical care.
Thousands of patients, tired of being rebuffed by their doctor, come to
medical clinics- like the Compassion Center in Eugene, and MAMA in Portland-
in search of an honest evaluation of cannabis use for their particular
condition. Most suffer from chronic pain.
Unfortunately, the ONA is not alone in it's disregard for cannabis
patients. The Board of Medical Examiners and the Oregon Medical Association
(as well as law-enforcement leaders) in Oregon have shown disdain,
disinterest, or outright opposition to marijuana as medicine, and to the
sick people who use it. Prosecutors in Counties all over Oregon swim like
sharks outside a school of small fish, in their zeal to snuff out cannabis.
An unending stream of prosecutions, arrests, searches, child protective
service investigations, and convictions continues to trap cannabis patients.
Entire medical systems- including Samaritan Health Services here in
Corvallis and Sacred Heart Hospital in Eugene- issue blanket injunctions to
their physicians forbidding them from supporting their cannabis patients.
Physicians groups, like the Oregon Medical Association, issue
recommendations fairly shouting at physicians to not participate. Patients
are out in the cold again.
To their credit, some physicians have signed their signature to a medical
marijuana recommendation. Over 1500 Oregon doctors have put their patient
first. And some, like Phil Leveque, have paid the ultimate price- license
revocation by the BME- for alleged laxity. But Dr. Leveque stood up when
other physicians wouldn't. He understood and respected the cries of help
from his (thousands ) of patients. In the medical community he is dismissed,
in the patient community he is respected.
This is the failure of Oregon's medical leaders: the ONA, the OMA, the Board
of Medical Examiners. They have been unwilling to grant human rights to
cannabis patients- which acknowledge any ill person's right to treatment.
They have been unwilling to craft rules, or support legislative changes that
carve out protections for these vulnerable people, instead relying on
worn-out objections like: "there's not enough research". This is the mindset
which vexes pain management practices today: We'll over prescribe powerful
and debilitating drugs, but not a safe herb. Patients are not stupid.
Today, vast public moneys are being spent by federal drug-war miscreants and
local law enforcement officials to prosecute the war against sick people.
Nursing silence in this context amounts to an endorsement of patient
torture. It also violates the first edict of the Code for Nurses which says:
"The nurse provides services with respect for human dignity and the
uniqueness of the client unrestricted by considerations of social or
economic status, personal attributes, or the nature of the health problem."
The Nurse Practitioners of Oregon- an ONA affiliate- have recently decided
to NOT support cannabis patients through practice expansion. Senate Bill
772 could have allowed NP's to "recommend" the medical marijuana Program
for their patients, thus protecting them from legal jeopardy. Their refusal
to do so places the NP's of Oregon in support of the ONA official position-
"more research, not access". Eight years after the passage of the Oregon
Medical Marijuana Act, and ten thousand patients later, the ONA still does
not recognize the human rights of patient self-determination and support. Or
the ANA position on medical cannabis approved by the 2003 national assembly.
Oregon has the greatest number of cannabis patients, per capita, in the
country. The ONA, and the Nurse Practitioners of Oregon- have shown
disregard for their responsibility to protect suffering people from
capricious and cruel government policy.
I plead with all nurses at the ONA convention in Corvallis to ask Senator
Bill Morrisette to include language in SB 772 which would allow Nurse
Practitioners to function as "attending physicians" for purposes of the
Oregon Medical Marijuana Act. Please tell Senator Morrisette that, as
nurses, we want all cannabis patients protected, not just the ones who are
fortunate enough to have a compassionate doctor.
I also request the 2005 ONA convention to place before the House of
Delegates an emergency resolution for consideration, and approval, which
will adopt the language of the 2003 American Nurses Association position on
An ONA position firmly supporting cannabis patients will reinvigorate the
unique place we occupy in patients lives, and hopefully it will begin too
close the gap between understanding a problem- like intractable pain- and
dealing with it.
Ed Glick, RN
ONA member since 1992
Senator Bill Morrisette's number is - 503-986-1706
the ONA Conference Bulletin Board
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