cannabisnews.com: Medical Pot Has Support in Austin 





Medical Pot Has Support in Austin 
Posted by CN Staff on February 16, 2005 at 21:58:08 PT
By Lomi Kriel, Express-News Austin Bureau
Source: San Antonio Express-News
Austin -- Steve never imagined he'd smoke pot like many of the criminals he once helped put away. He grew up a tall, active teenager in what he describes as a "Leave-it-to-Beaver household." He went to church. He joined the military, spending four years traversing Central and South America. After coming home, he worked as an undercover narcotics officer in a select task force in the state, busting big drug deals from San Antonio to West Texas. Now he fears identifying the task force, or his last name, because he worries about retribution from convicts.
"But it comes to a point," he says, "when you have a fear of actually dying. You don't care if smoking weed is illegal or not, if it just makes you feel better." And it's for feeling a little better that Steve will join about 100 others involved with Texans for Medical Marijuana on Thursday as they lobby the Legislature to pass House Bill 658. That proposal, authored by Rep. Elliott Naishtat, an Austin Democrat, would allow patients to use their medical condition as a defense against a marijuana possession charge  if they have a valid recommendation from their doctor. Steve, 34, suffers from Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome, a rare illness affecting only 1,100 Americans. The disease is pretty much what it sounds like  any time you ingest anything, even water, you vomit. This happens frequently throughout the day; Steve says at its worst, it can get to 30 times an hour. That makes everything difficult, from going on a date or hanging out with friends to pretty much anything that contributes toward a normal life, but the vomiting is the least of his concerns. "It's the nausea, the incapacitating nausea," he says. "The best way to describe it is, I sit in the bottom of the shower, praying for death." During the late 1990s, Steve realized something wasn't right. He was losing weight. He was getting sick  a lot. After countless hospital visits, he was diagnosed, but the disease still is so new and so rare, doctors don't know what to prescribe for it, never mind a cure. "You name the drug, I tried it," Steve says. But nothing worked and he kept shedding weight until he teetered on 98 pounds. Doctor after doctor, he says, recommended he try medical marijuana and move to California or one of the other eight states where its use is legal. But because of his background, "I was never too keen on it," Steve says. "When I finally gave in to it, it had gotten to the point that I was so emaciated." That was about three months ago. Now Steve is 50 pounds heavier. He still gets sick  "three-quarters of the time I ingest anything"  and he still has nausea  "it's almost under control, on average about 5-6 hours a day. "But it's a damn sight better than what it used to be," he adds. "I'm still sick, but I feel better." Steve worries about a lot of things, including getting caught with marijuana and having to suffer the debilitating nausea in jail without it. But he also worries that the campaign for medical marijuana will be wrongly perceived as a fight to legalize all drugs. "That's not my concern," he says. "My concern is only the medical aspect." Steve wants a day when he can buy medical marijuana freely. That is not near; even under Naishtat's proposal, the criminal code simply would be amended to give patients a defense in court. Even though Republican Reps. Terry Keel of Austin and Suzanna Gratia Hupp of Lampasas  both of them leaders in the GOP-controlled House  signed on to support the bill, a similar proposal never passed out of committee when it was proposed in 2001. This year, the conservative Texas Eagle Forum says it won't stop until that measure is defeated again. "We are absolutely opposed to it," says Cathie Adams, its director. She speculates about the medical value of marijuana and says patients have plenty other medical alternatives. "I don't think the word 'medical' should ever describe marijuana," Adams says. "I just don't accept the notion that marijuana is better than those other drugs." Adams also charges that marijuana is a gateway drug and fears patients who use it will experience a "different kind of suffering," namely drug addiction. According to a recent Scripps Howard Texas Poll, 75 percent of respondents favored allowing people with major illnesses to use marijuana, as long as their doctors agreed. Maybe this year the proposal stands a better chance. At least, Steve hopes so. "I shouldn't be seen as a criminal for doing something that keeps me alive," he says. Source: San Antonio Express-News (TX)Author: Lomi Kriel, Express-News Austin Bureau Published: February 16, 2005Copyright: 2005 San Antonio Express-NewsContact: letters express-news.netWebsite: http://www.mysanantonio.com/Related Articles & Web Site:Texans For Medical Marijuanahttp://texansformedicalmarijuana.org/MMJ: Texas Needs a Thoughtful Discussionhttp://cannabisnews.com/news/thread20234.shtmlMedical Pot Law Backers Hopefulhttp://cannabisnews.com/news/thread20152.shtmlPoll Finds 75% of Texans Support Med Marijuanahttp://cannabisnews.com/news/thread19840.shtml
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on February 17, 2005 at 14:47:31 PT
AP: Supporters of Medical Pot Lobby at Capitol
 Kelly ShannonFebruary 17, 2005Associated PressAUSTIN - Proponents of the medical use of marijuana gathered Thursday to urge the Texas Legislature to listen to their plea: Allow sick and dying patients to turn to marijuana to relieve their pain.Texans suffering from leukemia, multiple sclerosis, paralysis and other afflictions told of the pain-reducing benefits of marijuana and said medical marijuana users should be given grounds to avoid prosecution."I'm not asking Texas to legalize anything," said Chris Cain, 36, a quadriplegic from the Beaumont area. "Let me defend myself in court."Rep. Elliott Naishtat, an Austin Democrat, has filed a bill that would create a defense to prosecution for patients who are being treated by a licensed physician and who use marijuana to relieve the effects of a legitimate medical condition. The bill also offers protection for doctors who discuss marijuana with their patients as a treatment option, but it would not allow physicians to write a prescription for marijuana.Republican Reps. Terry Keel of Austin, a former sheriff and prosecutor, and Suzanna Hupp of Lampasas are co-sponsoring the proposal.At least 10 states have passed measures allowing use of medical marijuana.Later this year, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on whether the federal government can prosecute sick people who grow marijuana and use it if a state allows use of pot for medical purposes.Naishtat said his bill would not legalize marijuana in Texas, but it would allow medical marijuana users, if they are charged, to tell a jury that they are treating a health condition and should not be prosecuted.He filed similar legislation four years ago, but that bill died without getting out of committee. The Legislature has grown even more conservative in its makeup since then, and at least one conservative group, the Texas Eagle Forum, has opposed the proposal.But Naishtat noted that both Republican and Democratic legislators are supporting the bill and said it stands a good chance of passing this legislative session.Marcia Baker, 40, hopes it succeeds.To ease her suffering from head tremors, spasms and pain caused by multiple sclerosis, Baker tried assorted other drugs but found better relief in marijuana."Texans support this, and I wish our Legislature would, too," Baker said.Cain, who was left paralyzed 20 years ago after a shallow-water diving accident, said he tried Valium and other prescription drugs to relieve his chronic pain and spasms. But he said in 1994 he discovered medical marijuana worked best and didn't leave him feeling overtaken by drugs, as other medicines did."It gave me back my life," he said.Over the past decade, he said, has earned a bachelor's degree and started a Web site business. But Cain said he was arrested and his computers were seized by sheriff's officers who confiscated a misdemeanor amount of marijuana in his possession.The Sheriff's Association of Texas isn't taking a public position on the medical marijuana bill at this point, said Steve Westbrook, the group's executive director."We just want to get more information before we say one way or the other," said Westbrook, whose association includes the sheriffs of all 254 Texas counties.---The medical marijuana bill is HB658.ON THE NETTexans for Medical Marijuana at: http://www.texansformedicalmarijuana.org
 Copyright: 2005 Associated Presshttp://www.dfw.com/mld/startelegram/news/state/10926727.htm?1c
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on February 17, 2005 at 13:41:52 PT
Related Article from KGBT 4 
Proponents in Austin Urge Medical Use of Marijuana
 
 February 17, 2005AUSTIN -- Proponents of the medical use of marijuana today urged the Texas Legislature to let sick and dying patients use marijuana to relieve their pain.Texans suffering from leukemia, multiple sclerosis, paralysis and other afflictions told of the pain-reducing benefits of marijuana and said medical marijuana users should be given legal grounds to avoid prosecution.Representative Elliott Naishtat, an Austin Democrat, has filed a bill that would create a defense to prosecution for patients who are being treated by a licensed physician and who use marijuana to relieve the effects of a legitimate medical condition.The bill also offers protection for doctors who discuss marijuana with their patients as a treatment option.Republican Representatives Terry Keel of Austin, a former prosecutor, and Suzanna Hupp of Lampasas are co-sponsoring the proposal.Naishtat introduced a similar bill four years ago but it died without even getting out of committee.The Legislature has grown even more conservative in its makeup since then.Copyright 2005 Associated Presshttp://www.team4news.com/Global/story.asp?S=2964742
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