Tyler Markwart, head of non-profit organization Allele Seeds Research, suggests program.
Senior philosophy major Tyler Markwart suggested to President Elson S. Floyd and Provost Warwick M. Bayly that WSU grow medical marijuana at the Dec. 8 budget forum.
In response to the suggestion, Floyd said it would be better to arrange a meeting for those involved with the idea at a later time. According to Markwart, he and Floyd have not yet had a meeting.
“Medical marijuana right now has such an amazing profit turnover that Washington state has the opportunity to make about $4 million a year on one quarter acre of land,” he said.
The university could access millions of dollars of research grant money for marijuana if a legal program was set up to research and produce marijuana on campus, he said.
“If you took a football-sized field and grew that outdoors for crop in one season, you would be able to bring in over $10 million into the university in less than seven months,” Markwart said.
This plan could help the university make money, help terminally ill people and keep current students and professors at WSU, he said.
“Anything that Washington State University would propose to sell, or offer as a service that would generate a fee, has to be approved by the legislature,” Bayly said at the budget forum.
Markwart is the head of the Pullman-based non-profit organization Allele Seeds Research (ASR). Markwart said ASR helps eligible patients in Washington state access medical marijuana.
“We provide patients who are terminally ill with free medication,” Markwart said. “Most terminally ill patients have to deal with high costs of chemotherapy, hospital bills and stuff like that. They usually don’t have a lot of money for side medications.” Recreationally, Markwart said cannabis is a safer substance than tobacco and alcohol.
“Clearly, you can see that from the hospital records over the years,” he said. “There’s not one single report of an overdose leading to death from marijuana consumption.” However, Markwart also said he believes the abuse of any substance is not good.
“It’s not whether one is better than the other, it’s a matter of regulation and saying ‘Look, you can consume these things if that’s your choice, but you have to consume them responsibly,’” he said.
Dennis Garcia, senior associate medical director for WSU Health & Wellness Services, said medical marijuana can be an effective method to decrease nausea for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.
“For some, (medical marijuana) does help, such as in the instance of nausea for cancer and helping control the pressure involved with glaucoma,” he said. “As for pain control, it is not usually the best choice, as there are other alternatives that do a better job. In all cases, medical marijuana should be a last resort after all conventional methods have been tried.” However, Markwart said he uses medical marijuana for pain control. He has an intestinal condition that causes immense pain and sometimes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. He said he has used other medicines before, but marijuana works best to control the pain.
“(Medical marijuana) reduces the amount of spasms and reduces the pain, but it doesn’t cure what I have,” he said. “It allows me to operate on a day-to-day basis and go through my day. It allows me to go to class and still operate and function, get good grades and run my own business at the same time.” Garcia said, as a college health professional, there has been no need to consider medical marijuana in WSU’s patient population.
“Most people who seek marijuana as a treatment are usually quite ill or desperate and generally are not university students, nor in any position to be a university student,” he said. “So, from the Health & Wellness perspective, we are quite distant from the current ongoing debate and have very little interest, since it does not usually involve our patients.” Floyd and Bayly were unavailable for comment as of press time.