David J. Barton MD is a clinician in Pain Medicine and a progressive medical political activist. He has been a physician for over 36 years. Originally trained in General and Cancer Surgery followed by plastic and reconstructive surgery, he was forced to change his specialization due to a neck injury, spine surgery, and chronic pain. He completed a pain medicine fellowship in 2004, and became board certified in Pain Medicine by the American Board of Pain Medicine in 2005. Past board certifications include General Surgery (1992) and Plastic Surgery (1995).
Lifetime member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Interval memberships in the International Cannabinoid Research Society.
Military service: United States Army Reserve, general combat surgeon, Medical Corp Officer, honorable discharge at the rank of Major, 1990-1999, with temporary active duty in Desert Storm. Current volunteer Chief Medical Officer of Malama First, LLC; A non-profit organization for the enhancement of healthcare and well-being in Native Hawaiians.
"I was a practicing plastic surgeon until I developed neck pain and cervical disc herniation, which tend to be an occupational hazard in surgeons. I had two level neck fusion surgery which made things worse, a not too uncommon result of cervical spine surgery. I have lived in the "Pain World" since the late 1990s. Unable to continue my surgical career, I retrained in Pain and Palliative Care at the University of Utah in 2003, completing a rigorous fellowship which allowed for my third board certification."
Dr. Barton, by his nature, personality and training, is a conservative physician. It required an evolutionary process to arrive at this point in his clinical outlook concerning the use of medical cannabis. "My politics are traditional yet progressive, and I work for the improvement of our society throuh peaceful non-violent means". In Hawaii, he has worked with the ACLU as a medical activist to improve patient care, and to improve the lives of federally recognized protected groups such as the disabled and physically challenged. We even took on the State of Hawaii Attorney General in a case where the government was clearly discriminating against homebound medical cannabis patients.
"I was a traditional Pain Doc until I came to realize that there are a lot of holes in regular "western" or what I call "corporate" medicine. I also realized the truth about cannabis and its huge potential to relieve a great amount of suffering. It filled many of the medical niches for a myriad of conditions that have no or only partially effective treatments. This is especially true in the field of Pain Medicine unde the current political climate of opioid misuse and over dosing deaths. A lot of chronic pain conditions and syndromes have no effective treatments, and many others are very poor at controlling the pain. Other regimens require so many medications that the side effects are overwhelming and even dangerous to life. Patients and their families are left to suffer for years needlessly. Disability overwhelms, causing family and social dysfunction. Too many of my patients just lived month to month on a handful of different types of ”drugs", all of which were narcotics, or heavily controlled substances, leading to dependency and at times, serious adverse effects.
If the goals of improved functionality and well-being are of prime importance, then any substance or effective treatment technique is valid. There is NOTHING morally superior about pills and patches and pharmaceutical drugs, versus a plant that is well known for its safety.
The bottom line? It is safer than nearly all the usual medications out there! This has now become a political activism on my part with much disdain for those with ulterior motives who continue to spread ignorant statements and suppress and even actively block effective treatments that would go far to relieve human suffering and even save lives.
I am not advocating that patients start smoking pot. There are other delivery systems and modalities which are quite promising in the reduction of pain, including ointments, lotions, tinctures, and edibles besides the use of vaporizers. I have seen great results with juicing cannabis plants, which provides very good and strong anti-inflammatory effects for patients without the psychogenic effects, and similar adverse side effects from their NSAIDs medications. The reality is that the majority of patients prefer to smoke or vaporize cannabis, which allows for easy titration or metering of the dosage. In Hawaii, we must all be politically active so that SAFE ACCESS can be realized, and so patients can get improved processed products, made difficult to get because of the severe restrictions of the current laws.
I have an old website at www.ecpain.com if you would like to learn more about chronic pain, and the various wisdoms of coping with it.
THE BOTTOM LINE? Those who suffer with chronic pain and other disabling conditions will do whatever it takes to obtain relief, even if it does not follow the dictates of the Federal Government, or the personal opinions of some law enforcement individuals, who might feel some special privilege in acting against medical cannabis patients, the law and the Will of the People of Hawaii. All Hawaiians must stand for what is right in protecting those who are the most at risk and least able to protect themselves. There is enough shame and fear in the world, let alone the world of disability and pain.
There is a great deal of suffering in the world. Most politicians and regulators do not see it. Perhaps their narcissistic tendencies intefere with their ability to demonstrate compassion. Chronic severe pain is the number one medical condition in the world! Medical Cannabis can be the best answer for many of these poorly treated conditions. Through surveys of over one thousand patients, about 75% are able to get off their usual medications, including pain medications, muscle relaxants, sleeping meds, and other psych medications. About 90% say that Medical Cannabis is moderately to very effective for the relief of their pain. This can be interpreted in several ways, but basically, it means that Cannabis has to be taken seriously as a modality to relieve pain and suffering. Compare that to opioids, where the common experience and teachings of pain clinics are that opioids relieve only about 30% to 40% of pain.
My Motto: “thousands of Hawaiians can't be wrong. I learned from you"
Hawaiian-Pacific Pain and Palliative Care is based on Oahu. We are a medical clinic, and qualify each patient according to the law and appropriate standards of medicine, with compassion. We do things the right way, which protects all of our patients, both medically and legally. I will stand by each recommend in any legal proceedings.
I was a member of 2009 Hawaii State Medical Cannabis Working Group. (A committee organized under Hawaii Sen. Will Espero that reflected the Law and Will of the Hawaii Legislature in the formation of the Medical Cannabis Task Force. It consisted of a group of professionals from various backgrounds, who made recommendations for members of the state legislature).
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