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Denver To Host Experts To Talk Medical Marijuana & Parkinson's Disease

DENVER (CBS4) - For the first time, the Parkinson's Foundation is openly talking about the use of medical marijuana for Parkinson's disease (PD). Experts from across the globe will gather in Denver, March 6-7,  to address the benefits and risks of cannabis.

A recent survey, conducted by the foundation and Northwestern University, found that 80 percent of patients with Parkinson's have used marijuana.

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David Garner (credit: CBS)

David Garner, 82, is one of them. The Denver man has had Parkinson's for a decade.

"One evening, I fell for no apparent reason," explained Garner.

That was his first warning sign in 2008. Then Garner noticed tremors.

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(credit: David Garner)

"Balance issues, softening of the voice ..." he told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.

The former corporate executive, college professor and marathoner was diagnosed with Parkinson's. Gradually, his symptoms included depression and anxiety.

"I found myself becoming agitated for no apparent reason," Garner explained.

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(credit: CBS)

He said, early on, a Parkinson's medication made things worse. A year ago, he took a puff of pot at a wedding.

"And found that it reduced my tremors within five to 10 minutes."

Garner got a Colorado medical marijuana card.

"This is the device that I use," he said holding a vaping device. "The brown that you see is the medicine itself."

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(credit: CBS)

Garner has found that one hit of a blend of three parts CBD and one part THC, twice a day, is extremely beneficial.

"I don't experience a high, I experience a leveling of my symptoms," he said meaning all symptoms, including depression. "Reduced that almost to the point of being non-existent."

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CBS4's Kathy Walsh interviews David Garner. (credit: CBS)

Garner will tell his story at the Denver conference. He will encourage more research, but also push for legalizing medical pot nationally.

"We must accept the positives of this particular herb," Garner said.

Dr. Benzi Kluger is Garner's doctor at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital. Kluger is co-chair of the conference and Professor of Neurology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

In a news release Kluger said, "Having worked as a clinician for the past decade in Colorado, a state at the forefront of medical marijuana use, it is clear that people with PD and their families are intensely interested in the potential of marijuana and cannabinoids in helping manage symptoms and other aspects of their disease. To date, there is more hype than actual data to provide meaningful clinical information to patients with PD. There is a critical need to analyze existing data on medical marijuana and to set priorities for future research."

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