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October 14th, 2010
02:40 PM ET

Scientist's Fight for Medical Marijuana in Tennessee

Bernie Ellis is a public health scientist who grew marijuana on his farm in Tennessee to help
dull the pain from Fibromyalgia and degenerative disorder in his hip and spine.
That's until the federal government raided the farm– and sent him to jail. Now he's fighting
back to get medical marijuana legalized in his home state. Tony Harris has this story.


Filed under: CNN Newsroom • Tony Harris
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Kathryn J.

    As a trained biologist/biochemist, when I watched this clip I was heartbroken for this man and angered by the specious excuses given by the opponents. They claim that there are other anti-nausea drugs, but then fail to explain how expensive and dangerous are the current synthetic anti-nauseas. For example, phenergan is a very effective antiemetic, yet you might as well take an animal tranquilizer, as this medication renders its patient completely incapacitated and unable to function. The next drug used in cancer patients is Zofran, but its cost for a one month supply is a whopping $10,000. Sure there are other drugs, and of course, all made by pharmaceutical companies who wish to keep their chemical financial monopoly on pain and suffering. Marijuana, if regulated properly, is no more dangerous than alcohol, and actually much less so. The opponents of legal marijuana know nothing of biochemistry, obviously, or they'd be too embarrassed to stand up and say what they claim, and are simplly the strict proponents of big pharma, corporate greed, and the uneducated, out-dated fears from the 60's.

    October 14, 2010 at 3:50 pm |
  2. RugbyKennedy TN

    Apparently we have forgotten about the "The 'Great' Nobel Experiment," 18th Amendment, PROHIBITION!!! And, names like Al Capone and Bugs Moran. Or events such as the St. Valentines Day Massacre. Obviously outlawing the sale of Alcohol didn't work and the out lawing Marijuana and other narcautics isn't working out to well either.

    If and when Washington Decides to legalize Marijuana; majority of violent organized/gang related Crime rates will drop dramatically. (There is always going to be violent criminals.) Prisons won't be overcrowded. We'll have money and resources to fix our school systems. people will have more job oppertunities, instead of being black balled. Tax Payer dollars will stop being wasted on a lost cause, like they were from 1920-1933.

    October 14, 2010 at 4:18 pm |
  3. Paul, Xenia, Ohio

    Go Bernie, with you all the way. Been on pain meds for years , tired of the side effects. ready to start using the pot for pain.

    October 14, 2010 at 4:30 pm |
  4. Dan

    Legalize it. Then, let's legalize Cocaine, and while we are at it, let's just legalize all drugs that currently are illegal. Alcohol is legal, and indirectly, it is a drug. Cigarettes are legal, and just like alcohol, is a drug.
    If someone wants to ruin their body/life, let them.
    The government will then step in and take care of them.

    October 15, 2010 at 6:01 am |
  5. Mikey

    Legalize it,Regulate it, Tax it, grow it organicly on American farms,use the police elsewhere. Instead to fight this modern day proabition . It is time for America to come to grips with this plant. 14 states allow medical use,who thinks this number is not going to go up? No one. Based on the revenue alone, I expect many more states to fall in line. After California legalizes it, the myths will continue to fall by the wayside with this plant.The synthetic trash these drug companies are feeding you, with a list of side effects worse than the illness itself, are making them rich and keeping you poor. Imagine a drug that can help many people that grows like a weed,scares the death out of big pharma.
    The drug companys are out for their interest, that is why they fight so hard with their anti- marijuana lobby.

    October 15, 2010 at 10:54 am |
  6. tfg

    Remeber, these "scientist" that are for legal weed are the same people that believe in evolution.

    October 15, 2010 at 1:10 pm |
  7. Kat

    For the past 33 years, since the first and last time I tried marijuana, I was certain I would never use it again.

    I'll never forget the effect it had on me, a teenage girl who obtained a sufficient amount of sleep and was always watching my weight. Almost immediately I was asleep for several hours, after which I awoke famished, eating whatever I could find for hours and gaining at least five extra pounds in the process.

    However, in the last several years, since being diagnosed with and debilitated by severe fibromyalgia, ankylosing spondylosis, and pain from bulging, slipped, herniated, ruptured and degenerative discs throughout my entire spine, along with bone spurs, my thinking has changed.

    Were it not for the fact that I have had such severe allergic reactions to every pain-relieving opioid (narcotic) medication prescribed for me, including a non-opioid called Tramadol, I wouldn't even be interested in medical marijuana.

    To have such excruciating and agonizing pain, to feel as though one's body is on fire day in and day out and that, simultaneously, various instruments of torture are sporadically being used to further torment you, to have no control over the all-consuming corrosion of yourself and your body, and to have to endure that pain day after day, pain so torturous that at times you honestly believe you are going insane, has often caused me to consider suicide.

    I would not, would and could never smoke marijuana, but I would be open to trying it in pill form. What have I got to lose? In every aspect of living, I'm already dead. And I have no more options. But my state likely will never legalize it and I cannot move, so I guess that's the end for me.

    October 15, 2010 at 8:08 pm |
  8. Walkingstick

    And now for the real "zinger"...The government claims that marijuana has no medical use and is highly addictive (hence its SCHEDULE 1 status). However, that same government that wants to protect us from the dangers of marijuana actually has a patent on its antioxidant and neuroprotective properties!!!

    In 2003, the United States Patent Office awarded the Department of Health and Human Services patent #6,630,507, “Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants.” (In case you don’t know, cannabis is another name for marijuana. AND in case you don't know, neuroprotection means protection for your your brain, where there are many neurons, your spine, where there are also many neurons, and other aspects of your nervous system.)

    What a joke our government has become...

    October 16, 2010 at 12:20 am |
  9. Phyllis Lowe

    Legalized marijuana. When prescribed for cancer patients and other patients in extreme pain who could benefit from the pain-relieving properties of marijuana should be able to grow or obtain marijuana legally.

    I know Bernie Ellis – a kind and sympathethic individual who is bright intellectually as a shining star. Bernie has been grossly mistreated by the Tennessee "crime fighters" and the feds who do not understand the healing properties of marijuana. Bernie is a man who is always trying to help people and not for his own benefit.

    God bless him and other people like him.

    October 16, 2010 at 8:54 pm |
  10. Christine

    I would have to agree with everyone here on the reasons to legalize it. Drug companies would lose out on the big money they have been accustomed to. Too bad for them. Isn't there something more important? The greater good....I think Mary Jane should be regulated and grown organically. Outlawing doesn't change anything. Prohibition didn't work.

    Excise taxes are placed on alcohol and cigarettes. These taxes generate the revenue the government needs to run. Decriminalize weed and tax it. Those cartels that make the news won't be so powerful in their weed market.

    Weed growing in America can be regulated by the Health Department or FDA to grow weed organically and create jobs at the same time. Unemployment rates drop and the government gets tons of revenue to fix domestic issues. So what's the problem?

    October 16, 2010 at 10:34 pm |
  11. mike

    only crimnals who proffitt from prohibition are against legalizing . goverment , drug cartels .police .big pharma. all despicable proffitters in human misery,

    October 17, 2010 at 1:29 pm |
  12. Alex

    I'm a big fan of forcing advocates of these types of changes to talk to how we will manage the second and third order effects – I will not have anyone using this drug driving my children's bus 8 hours after consuming, my pilots won't be flying for me anymore, and recreational users will be paying more for medical insurance. The medical and scientific communities are still at odds on the effects, each toting various studies. You had the former SG on your show and she stated the drug is not addictive... she must be getting old. See entry in Web MD on the subject.

    Bottom-line: we as a nation continue to fail to address the root causes of our cancerous need to "get high," – escaping a reality we fear, hate, or find hopeless.

    October 17, 2010 at 5:48 pm |