Man Makes Case for Medical Use of Marijuana

Man Makes Case for Medical Use of Marijuana
Posted by CN Staff on June 19, 2005 at 18:45:10 PT
By Brenda J. Buote, Globe Staff 
Source: Boston Globe
Massachusetts -- Scott Mortimer of Newburyport deals daily with debilitating back pain, an agony so intense it sometimes causes him to break out in a cold sweat.Traditional medications have failed, so for the better part of a decade, the soft-spoken 37-year-old has relied on the black market to ease his suffering. Mortimer's drug of choice: marijuana.
The point is not to get stoned, but to get relief.''I use a vaporizer," said Mortimer, who suffers from degenerative disk disease. ''It allows me to inhale the active ingredients of the plant material without burning it, virtually eliminating all the tars and harmful byproducts of smoking."This daily ritual has placed Mortimer at the center of a debate over use of medical marijuana. The cannabis that eases his pain has inspired him to activism. Mortimer is a foot soldier in the battle to change drug policy in Massachusetts.He wants public awareness and education. He wants access to a reliable supplier, a manufacturer who can guarantee that the marijuana he uses is free of dangerous pesticides or chemical fertilizers. And he wants to be free of the stigma attached to illegal drug use and the fear of police action.On June 7, Mortimer testified before the Judiciary Committee on Beacon Hill and urged legislators to embrace Senate Bill 998, a proposal that seeks to legalize the medical use of marijuana. The measure, sponsored by Lynn Democrat Thomas M. McGee, would protect patients, their doctors, and caregivers from arrest and state prosecution if the doctor signs a written statement that the patient has a ''chronic or debilitating" medical condition and would benefit from the use of marijuana. A similar measure has been introduced in the House.''People who are living with chronic pain, who are just trying to manage their pain enough to make it through each day, should not have to live in fear of arrest," said Mortimer, who was one of seven people to testify in favor of the bill at the public hearing, which was standing room only. Similar bills were offered in 2001 and 2003. They never made it to the floor for a vote.However, this year's legislative effort may not suffer the same fate. Voters have expressed overwhelming support for the measure. In November 2004, Steven Epstein, a Georgetown resident and cofounder of the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition, asked voters in other areas of the state whether they would favor legislation that legalized marijuana for medical use. Pittsfield voters approved the ballot question with 10,821 votes to 4,139. Voters in a district that includes Cambridge, Arlington, and Belmont passed the same nonbinding question, 14,676 votes to 4,588.''People who suffer from debilitating illnesses for which there is no other cure for their pain, those people need to have options," said state Representative Barbara A. L'Italien, an Andover Democrat who represents parts of Boxford, Haverhill, and Georgetown, and who signed on to the House version of the bill. ''Studies have shown that marijuana use could help certain patients, including those who suffer from multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, and some forms of cancer."If this year's version of the Senate bill is passed, patients and their caregivers would be able to possess up to 10 plants or 4 ounces of usable marijuana at any time. To date, 10 states, including Maine and Vermont, have passed laws allowing sick people to use marijuana for medical purposes.In those states, patients like Mortimer are shielded from state prosecution. However, federal authorities could take action. On June 6, the US Supreme Court ruled that the federal government has the power to ban the possession and use of marijuana, even in states that have legalized its production and use for medical reasons. Under the federal Controlled Substances Act, marijuana is classified as a Schedule One drug, a category reserved for the most dangerous of illegal drugs, including heroin and LSD.Congress on Wednesday rejected a proposal that would have amended the appropriations bill that funds the Justice Department, so tax dollars could not be used to prosecute users of therapeutic marijuana in states that permit it. However, a second proposal that seeks to shield seriously ill people from federal prosecution for marijuana use is still under consideration. Cosponsored by US Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts, the measure would reclassify medical marijuana so the drug could be used with a doctor's prescription.''The high court's decision makes it even more apparent to us why we need a law in Massachusetts to protect our medical community and patients from state prosecution," said Whitney Taylor, executive director of the Drug Policy Forum of Massachusetts, a statewide nonprofit that seeks to change drug laws and reduce the harms caused by drug use. She noted that fewer than 1 percent of arrests for marijuana possession are made by federal authorities.''I don't think there are many people in Massachusetts being carted off and taken to jail for medical marijuana, so although there is the fear of arrest, it's not the main reason I decided to testify in favor of the Senate bill," said Mortimer. ''As a patient who relies on marijuana to manage my pain, my primary concern is quality control. I want to be sure the cannabis I'm using was grown organically, and I'd like to be able to order the strains of marijuana that work particularly well as a muscle relaxer. My hope is that our state legislators can show some leadership and provide some measure of protection for people like myself to use marijuana."Complete Title: Newburyport Man Makes Case for Medical Use of MarijuanaSource: Boston Globe (MA)Author: Brenda J. Buote, Globe Staff Published: June 19, 2005Copyright: 2005 Globe Newspaper CompanyContact: letter globe.comWebsite: Articles & Web Sites:MassCann Case Addles Supreme Court Fight is Hypocritical 
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Comment #9 posted by Hope on June 20, 2005 at 14:27:08 PT
That's right, Whig...
and the fact are these things any different than trying to ban a plant growing out of the earth?Water, occasionally known as dihydrogen monoxide, gravity, and sunshine, can all be dangerous.Prohibitionists are insane. They supposedly are human. Why can't they come to their senses? Meanwhile, Runruff and others of us are being dragged to prison, persecuted, and robbed because of horribly unjust laws and the quite literal insanity of the prohibitionists. This prohibition of cannibis will be viewed by historians as equal in idiocy to the witch burnings, once considered a righteous passtime of self-righteous, utterly insane people. Prohibitionists and "Preventionists" are so worthy of being despised and hated. They are a shame and a disgrace and the day will come when that is clear to all.They've got to be stopped.
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Comment #8 posted by whig on June 20, 2005 at 12:16:00 PT
Re: #7
And think of all the people who've died from dihydrogen monoxide!
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Comment #7 posted by Hope on June 20, 2005 at 11:51:21 PT
"They might as well prohibit gravity!"
Very interesting thought, Whig.Even though gravity is natural, like cannabis, it's so danged dangerous. So many people have been hurt, maimed, and killed by gravity. We ought to do something to protect people from it. Just think of the lives that could be saved.If we can save even one child from the detrustive influence of will be worth it.People really have no natural right to gravity or anything else just because it's here or natural, even if they don't harm others with it. 
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Comment #6 posted by whig on June 20, 2005 at 11:34:18 PT
Re: #5
Not suggesting that we take on multiple battles, only that we ought to FACIALLY challenge the CSA if we want to win. Suggesting that the CSA is alright, but we want cannabis rescheduled will not make it less prosecutable. And the court has already ruled it won't carve out a non-commercial medical use exception.
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Comment #5 posted by runderwo on June 20, 2005 at 10:27:51 PT
One battle at a time is enough. I think it would suffice to simply correct people who claim that psychedelics such as LSD, psilocybin, or mescaline are "dangerous", at least if they are talking about any danger to the responsible user. I think once we have won the cannabis battle, other things will fall into place as the lies and distortions start breaking down due to all the money and lives saved by the truth. Trying to fight a battle on many fronts at once is to guarantee a loss, and the way I see it, cannabis is different from other psychedelics and demands a different regulatory framework.
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Comment #4 posted by afterburner on June 19, 2005 at 21:04:52 PT
An outpouring of medical marijuana patient voices 
Hemp'n It Ain't Easy.
Hemp'n It Ain't Easy with Pot-TV 
Running Time: 20 min. 
Date Entered: 10 Jun 2005. 
Viewer Rating: 0.00 (0 votes) 
Number of Views: 410 
 "The Modesto city council makes preparations to ban cannabis dispensaries. An outpouring of medical marijuana patients voice their opinions and personal life experiences. It is impossible for the council to ignore this powerful & emotional testimony." 
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Comment #3 posted by whig on June 19, 2005 at 20:56:10 PT
Schedule 1: The most dangerous of illegal drugs?
I reference the quote about schedule one being reserved for "the most dangerous of illegal drugs, including heroin and LSD." We don't need to create unnecessary divisions and dump on psychedelics to support our cause, indeed we only do ourselves harm by this tactic. Schedule 1 includes many relatively "soft" drugs like Mescaline and MDMA, as well. Heroin is, if anything, the exception, a highly addictive substance with substantial numbers of overdose deaths associated.The Raich case failed LARGELY because the plaintiffs stipulated the congressional authority under the commerce clause to prohibit things by scheduling them. They tried to carve out a really small exception. Since there was no FACIAL challenge to congressional authority, the court had only the question before it of whether to recognize this small exception. If the congress is stipulated to have authority to ban peyote, it has authority to ban cannabis.They have no such authority. It is patently ridiculous to think they do, in fact, because peyote and cannabis are simply natural plants which have existed for millions of years, before man existed and certainly before any such notion of a congress was invented. They might as well prohibit gravity!Moreover, to the extent that the congress and the administration acting under their purported authority attempt to destroy natural species, they are trying to commit a kind of genocide. This is an abomination.
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Comment #2 posted by ekim on June 19, 2005 at 19:55:38 PT
Compassionate Care Conference 
Last summer, disabled Gulf War veteran Matthew Barber brought the issue of medical marijuana to the attention of local citizens and officials. 
After a routine traffic stop led to his arrest for possession, Matthew and his wife, Laura, went public with the story of his long battle with multiple sclerosis, the laundry list of treatments and medications which had carried debilitating side effects and brought him no relief, and the desperation which pushed them to follow the recommendation of a neurologist that Matthew try cannabis. The herb allowed him to discontinue or greatly reduce many of his other medications, increasing his alertness and his ability to care for himself. Although cannabis cannot cure MS or reverse the course of Matthew's disease, it has slowed its progression, and significantly improved his quality of life.
At Matthew's sentencing, Judge Michael Haley acknowledged the need for legislative change on the issue of medical marijuana, and urged the Barbers to continue their efforts toward reforming the laws. He even gave Matthew time off from house arrest to speak in support of a medical marijuana initiative in the city of Ann Arbor (which was ultimately successful).
This year, through the newly-founded patient advocacy group, Coalition for Compassionate Care, the Barbers are bringing an initiative on medical marijuana before the voters of Traverse City,
and they need your help.
Soon, the Coalition will begin gathering signatures, and petition circulators are needed to ensure that the measure will be placed on November's ballot. Circulators must be registered voters residing within the Traverse City limits. Training will be provided, so even if you've never petitioned before, you will be prepared.
On July 23, at the Civic Center, the Coalition will host a Compassionate Care Conference to educate the community about issues around the medical use of cannabis and patients' quality of life. 
Speakers will include, among others, medical experts; local patients who will share their stories; Elvy Musikka, a patient in the discontinued Federal Investigational New Drugs (IND) program, which will provide her with a cannister of pre-rolled joints to treat her glaucoma every month for the rest of her life; activists from around the state and nation; and Jack Herer, author of The Emperor Wears No Clothes (widely regarded as the Hemp Bible), and himself a medical patient. Space will be provided for alternative practitioners who wish to set up displays, demonstrations, etc., and for vending. Dinner will be available for a donation, and evening entertainment provided by the bands Soul Pollution and Buddha Fulla Rymez.
Tickets are $15, but because our primary goal is education and outreach, no one will be turned away for lack of money. 
We need:
1) Participation. Come on out! We need patients and caregivers to tell their stories or just be willing to wave when we say "Look at all the patients here. Don't they look just like the rest of us? Imagine all these folks going to jail just for trying to be well." We need people with questions about the initiative or medical cannabis in general to come out and ASK. (Even if they don't agree with us. We are seeking honest dialogue.) There will be plenty of literature and time for Q&A. We need vendors and alternative practioners willing to share their creative energies and juice up the vibe. If you know any of these people (or if you are any of these people), CALL US. Let's talk.
2) Volunteers. We need volunteers to help with fundraising events (bake sales, etc); we need volunteers to help with publicity (you can start by passing this email on to anyone/everyone and announcing us at your events); we need volunteers for set-up, clean-up, and every phase in between. Frankly, we need volunteers for so many things we're not even sure yet what they all are --- but we WILL let you know. 
3) Of course, donations. In order to put on a quality conference with high-caliber speakers from around the country, we need to raise $5000, and we need to raise it now. 
As a fledgling organization, we don't have any long-term relationships with the traditional funders of drug-policy reform measures, and the very idea of a conference in support of a ballot initiative is new to them. In the past, their strategies have not included such large-scale, transparent efforts to engage the whole community in dialogue; but we believe that the people in this area respect openess and have a sincere desire to be involved and educated on the issues. So we are relying on grass-roots efforts (donation jars in businesses, bake sales, dinners), our own grocery money, and the generous hearts of our commUnity. 
Won't you please help to educate the community and protect patients' quality of life? Checks or money orders can be made out to Coalition for Compassionate Care and mailed to 2802 Holiday Pines Road Traverse City MI 49686.
For more information, to volunteer, or to obtain advance conference tickets, please contact Melody at (231)885-2993 or Laura at (231)218-0204, or email us at tcmedmj
Thank you in advance for any help you can offer.
Together, we will speak the Truth and stand in solidarity to protect our most vulnerable citizens.
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Comment #1 posted by ekim on June 19, 2005 at 19:48:34 PT
help Howard speak at a event near you
Read these articles:Journal-Advocate of Sterling, Colorado, Thursday, June 16, 2005
Ex-lawman rides to legalize it,1413,120~7826~2924398,00.html
Colorado Daily of Boulder, Colorado, Thursday, June 16, 2005
Legalize (and tax) it?
Brush News Tribune of Brush, Colorado, Thursday, June 16, 2005
Personal Space - Drugstore Cowboy,1413,226%257E23961%257E2922439,00.html?search=filter
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