Medical Marijuana Laws and Patient Access [Interview][Transcript]

cindy_perlin_marijuana_patient_accessGuest: Cindy Perlin, LCSW
Presenter: Neal Howard
Guest Bio: Cindy Perlin is a licensed clinical social worker, certified biofeedback practitioner, chronic pain survivor, past president of the Northeast Regional Biofeedback Society and the author of The Truth About Chronic Pain Treatments: The Best and Worst Strategies for Becoming Pain Free. She has been in private practice in the Albany, NY area for about 25 years. Her website is

Segment overview: In this segment, Cindy Perlin, LCSW, discusses recent legislative activity in the U.S., U.K. and Australia and how it affects patient access to medical marijuana.

Health Professional Radio – Medical Marijuana Laws

Neal Howard:   Hello, I’m your host Neal Howard here on Health Professional Radio. Thank you for joining us today. Our guest in studio is Cindy Perlin. Now Cindy is a licensed Clinical Social Worker, a Certified Biofeedback Practitioner, a Chronic Pain Survivor and past President of the Northeast Regional Biofeedback Society. In addition, she’s also the author of the bestselling book, “The Truth About Chronic Pain Treatments: The Best and Worst Strategies for Becoming Pain Free.” And she’s returning with us today and to talk about some of the recent legislation that is taking place during this election here in the United States and also marijuana legislation in the United Kingdom and Australia as well and how legislation is affecting patient access across the board. Welcome to Health Professional Radio Cindy.

Cindy Perlin:   Thank you.

N:   Thank you. Now you’ve been doing some research and actively involved in the, I guess for lack of a better word, getting the awareness out about the effectiveness and safety of marijuana and its use for chronic pain. Now you’re a chronic pain survivor and a licensed Clinical Social Worker, talk about a bit about how your experience with chronic pain landed you as an expert in dealing with chronic pain.

C:   Social workers have a lot to offer in terms of treating chronic pain because it’s a mind-body phenomenon, so you have to really approach it by both ends if you want to recover from it. So I as I said was the chronic pain survivor and when I was 25 years old I hurt my back running and things got worst and worst until I couldn’t function at all. And I ended up spending 3 ½ years unable to function and in agonizing pain. The doctors were useless, the drugs they gave me didn’t help and had side effects that were intolerable and pretentious risks that were unacceptable. And I was in despair, I didn’t know what to do. And I stumbled upon a book talking about the mind-body connection and it mentioned biofeedback, can I use biofeedback to help me get well. It has an amazing very rapid effect in terms of turning my pain around. And then I just became interested in optimizing my health and feeling the best that I could. And for the last 35 years or so, I’ve been researching, experimenting personally working with pain patients and then you know for the last few years researching my book about how people can get better from chronic pain.

N:   Do you know of any instances where biofeedback changes dramatically with marijuana use or any other type of pain treatment?

C:   When we’re doing brain wave biofeedback and looking at the brain, you go see a dampening effect and brain function with marijuana where the brain slows down and if you use a lot of it, it can slow down cognitive processing but when you use medical marijuana for the treatment of chronic pain, you’re using very little. Very little like one puff on a joint can eliminate pain for hours, so you’re trying mend it in a very small amount and you’re also talking about, if you’re talking about medical marijuana, you’re talking about marijuana that’s been bred to not have as much THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) which is the perfect gets you high and has more of the other cannabinoids which is the pain relieving parts of marijuana. So and some people use straight CBD which is one of the compounds in marijuana that has been shown to reduce pain. And you can orally administer it, you can use it topically, you can vaporize it rather than burn it which releases the vapors of the beneficial components without having to have the toxins that come with smoking. So there’s many ways to safely use marijuana for pain that don’t negatively affect your functioning and don’t have any risks.

N:   So if I am understanding correctly, folks that are living in locales where they can legally obtain medical marijuana – if they can afford it – are getting marijuana that will get you high a lot less than I guess the illegal marijuana that’s being sold in many more locales. Is that what am I understanding?

C:   Yes, because the illegal marijuana that you can get out of the street, that’s been bred for psychoactive properties. When people traditionally have used marijuana recreationally, what they want is the high. And that’s not the part that is really helpful for pain, except that to a small degree, pain comes with anxiety and depression and the psychoactive properties of marijuana can help with anxiety and depression. So if you go to a legal marijuana dispensary they have what’s called different strains that have different amounts, balances of the psychoactive THT versus the CBD which is the more pain relieving compound. And based on your condition and your needs, you can select the strain that works best for you.

N:   We were talking initially about some of the recent legislation, not only here in the United States concerning medical marijuana but in the United Kingdom and Australia as well. Let’s talk about access to the medical marijuana patient in these locales, what would you say is the least obstructive as far as access to the drugs?

C:   Well it’s least obstructive in 29 states in the United States as of this week. Twenty nine states has approved medical marijuana, there’s varying degrees of access in terms of how many row blocks are put in place to people getting it. The New York State is one of the worst, you need to find the doctor who prescribe whether it has to be specially certified, you have to go in person to a dispensary, you can’t figure out who the doctors are.  Others states will let you grow your own up to a certain amount, you can have so many marijuana plants that your grow on yourself so there’s a very wide variations. In the United Kingdom there’s virtually no access, there’s a drug that’s derived from marijuana called Sativex and only people with multiple sclerosis could get it. A lot of people in the United Kingdom were using CBD products which is I mentioned earlier the THC is taken out, and it’s purely the compound and symptoms helps with chronic pain. Marijuana is an herb, it grows wild all over the planet except in the coldest climates and people were using these products until very recently in the UK. And then in the UK, within the last month or so banned CBD products, they classified them as medicine which sounds nice, so can the United Kingdom is accepting marijuana components as medicines. But in fact with that does, is now anybody, any organization that produces and sells CBD products must go through a drug approval process where they do clinical trials and prove that it is safe and effective for the condition that it’s going to be used for. And that can cause hundreds of thousands to hundreds of millions of dollars and it’s basically out of reach of the average company. So in affect access to medical marijuana and its derivative has just ended in the United Kingdom.

N:   Well let’s talk about a couple of the problems that can be associated with the legalization of medical marijuana. You’re in New York, what about people coming from others states into New York to attempt to get medical marijuana, they don’t live in New York but still need it outside of New York, how does that work?

C:   Well first of all they’d have to find the doctor that will certify to prescribe it which is as I said difficult because there’s no list. And then once they, I think they have to also apply to get certified as a patient and then once they do that they have to go to a dispensary in person. I think they just expanded it that dispensaries can deliver however they can only obviously deliver to New York addresses. And then there’s a problem if you get it of taking a bag to your home state because if marijuana is illegal on your home state you can get arrested for possession. And in New York State, small amount of even recreational marijuana, a possession of an ounce or less is considered a violation – you can get a fine. But in other states like Texas for instance possession of an ounce of marijuana can get you serious jail time so the real problem with going out of state to get it is getting arrested for possession in your home state.

N:   Do you see the other states coming on board with these 29 states that have  approved medical marijuana?

C:   Well I think there’s a lot of people who advocates to medical marijuana are saying now that this election was the turning point. Some states added recreational marijuana, anybody could buy it and it’s not a criminal offense. Others states have added medical marijuana so I think it’s becoming more widespread, at first the Southern states in the United States have legalized medical marijuana. Up to now it’s mainly Northeastern and Westcoast States, the first dozen states … Arkansas just legalized medical marijuana. And I just want to mention that when a state legalizes marijuana for medical purposes, it’s still going to be probably at least a couple years down the road before people could actually get it. Because all sorts of regulations have to be put in place, doctors have to be certified, sellers have to be certified, their products have to be approved so it’s a long process.

N:   Now in wrapping up Cindy, let’s tell our listeners where there can get more information about some of the recent legislation here in the United States, and also a copy of your book the bestselling Amazon book, “The Truth About Chronic Pain Treatments: The Best and Worst Strategies for Becoming Pain Free.”

C:   Okay, well in terms of the status of medical marijuana and recreational marijuana laws there is a website, there’s a national organization for the reform of marijuana laws and they have a website and they have a state by state breakdown of what the laws are and they keep it pretty up to date. You can search by your own states. My book The Truth about Chronic Pain Treatments is available on Amazon, you can also order at to your local bookstore, getting in And if people will go to my website they can also get more information about the book. They can also get a free download, the five best help tools where becoming pain free. Because don’t despair if you can’t get medical marijuana. There’s a lot of other things that can help you with chronic pain that you haven’t tried yet and all of them are mentioned in my book.

N:   Well it’s been a pleasure talking with you today Cindy.

C:   Thank you, it’s been a pleasure to talk with you too.

N:   You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio, I’m your host Neal Howard with Cindy Perlin, licensed Clinical Social Worker, and also the author of the bestselling book, “The Truth About Chronic Pain Treatments: The Best and Worst Strategies for Becoming Pain Free.” We’ve been talking about some of the recent legislation in the United States, in the United Kingdom and Australia and how that recent legislation affects patient access to medical marijuana. Transcripts and audio of this program are available at and also at, and you can also subscribe to this podcast on iTunes.

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