Lawmakers Consider Medical Marijuana 

Lawmakers Consider Medical Marijuana 
Posted by CN Staff on January 08, 2006 at 08:46:43 PT
By Edward Mason, Staff Writer 
Source: Eagle-Tribune
Boston -- Massachusetts could become the fourth New England state to legalize medical marijuana under a plan before state lawmakers.On the heels of Rhode Island's approval last week of medical marijuana use, lawmakers here are pushing a measure, with the support of some North of Boston legislators, that would allow doctors to treat patients with marijuana. Backers say people who suffer from debilitating pain and chronic diseases should be able to gain relief without fear of arrest, something 11 states have approved.
But the initiative faces high hurdles. It is opposed by the Romney administration. Local lawmakers, aware of the plague of opiate addiction in the Merrimack Valley, want to ensure access to medical marijuana is airtight. Also, marijuana use — even under a doctor's care — is illegal under federal law, and the Supreme Court holds that permissive state laws are trumped by the federal prohibition.Under the Massachusetts proposal, authored by Brookline Democrat Rep. Frank I. Smizik, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health would certify patients using or growing marijuana, also called cannabis, for medicinal purposes. The state would issue identification cards to patients and also would designate a single caretaker who could handle or grow marijuana for a disabled patient. Patients would be limited in how much marijuana they could use and grow. Doctors would be restricted in the types of afflictions they could prescribe cannabis for, including HIV/AIDS, severe pain and nausea, multiple sclerosis and Crohn's disease.Rep. Barbara A. L'Italien, D-Andover, is a co-sponsor of the bill and one of several North of Boston lawmakers who have expressed support for the proposal. She opposes legalizing marijuana for recreational use, but thinks it can help those with serious illnesses."I feel very strongly that there are people who have chronic illnesses or pain for whom this seems to bring some measure of relief and they don't respond to alternatives for pain relief," L'Italien said. "Why wouldn't we want those folks to have relief and some quality of life?"L'Italien's argument resonates with many area legislators, especially those who have family members or friends who have suffered with long-term ailments.For Rep. Harriett L. Stanley, D-West Newbury, her mother's losing battle with lung cancer cemented her support for legalized, government-regulated, medical marijuana. Stanley said toward the end of her life her mother might have found relief from marijuana.Another local official who came to support medical marijuana through a personal experience is Rep. Joyce Spiliotis, D-Peabody. Her father was treated for lung cancer in the early 1980s. At the time, a doctor couldn't write a prescription for marijuana to ease the nausea associated with radiation and chemotherapy. Spiliotis said she'd like to see patients be able to get marijuana legally, if a doctor recommends it.The debate over legalizing marijuana for medical use kicked up when Rhode Island last week became the third New England state — along with Maine and Vermont — to pass a medical marijuana law. The Rhode Island law, passed over the governor's veto, lets people grow up to 12 marijuana plants or buy 2.5 ounces. Medical marijuana users must register with the state and get a photo identification card.With Rhode Island, 11 states now allow marijuana to be grown and used for medicinal purposes. The other states are Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.Even with the state laws, marijuana use and sale can be prosecuted under federal law. The Drug Policy Forum of Massachusetts says fear of prosecution makes it difficult to know how many use marijuana to cope with long-term pain and disease.Some, though, feel strong enough about legalizing medical marijuana that they do go public. Scott Mortimer, 37, of Newburyport uses marijuana to relieve crippling lower back pain that has tortured him since he was a teenager, following an operation to correct a spinal defect.Muscle relaxants left Mortimer lethargic. Prescription pain relievers, including opiates, caused severe stomach bleeding. Grasping for an alternative, Mortimer began using marijuana in 1995. Although the cannabis relieves his agony, he has taken on a new burden: fear of arrest. "You don't want to add legal problems to dealing with a serious illness," Mortimer said.Even those who conceptually support the bill have worries about whether it conflicts with efforts to curb a drug-abuse epidemic.Rep. Barry R. Finegold, D-Andover, said he sympathizes with people who suffer from chronic ailments and only find relief from marijuana. But he quickly points out that the North of Boston region has been plagued by heroin and Oxycontin abuse, and he worries that any drug problem would be worsened if there weren't strict controls on access."How do you prevent it from getting into the wrong hands?" Finegold asked. Rep. Arthur J. Broadhurst, D-Methuen, gave conditional support to legalizing medical marijuana. A lawyer, Broadhurst said he would back the measure so long as the final law requires patients to acquire their cannabis legallyFinally, even if the Legislature approves the marijuana bill, there is the federal government to contend with. Not only does marijuana use and cultivation remain illegal under federal law, but the U.S. Supreme Court last year ruled that state medical marijuana laws are trumped by the federal ban.Washington is behind the curve on medical marijuana, according to Sen. Susan Tucker, D-Andover. "Public opinion is changing," Tucker said. "Most people prefer to put our resources fighting the epidemic of heroin and methamphetamine and not prosecute a sick person."Mortimer agrees."I shouldn't have to break the law to get relief," Mortimer said. Source: Eagle-Tribune, The (MA)Author: Edward Mason, Staff Writer Published: Sunday, January 08, 2006 Copyright: 2006 The Eagle-TribuneContact: letters eagletribune.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:DPFMA Favors Allowing Medical Use of Marijuana Pro-Pot Decision Won’t Sway His Opposition
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Comment #13 posted by unkat27 on January 09, 2006 at 10:07:16 PT
Romney is a Vampire
Like RI's Carcieri, if the Mass. Legislative does pass this bill, we can expect a veto from Romney. He's a glowing young Republican who reinforced the Mass. Police-state during his first year as governor and he's been on the Bush payroll ever since. Bush money got him the Governor's seat and he owes them favors. We can only hope that the legislative will have the same balls as RI to over-ride the veto.
Mad Krow 
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Comment #12 posted by mayan on January 08, 2006 at 18:37:04 PT
"How do you prevent it from getting into the wrong hands?" Finegold asked.How do you prevent alcohol,tobacco,prescription dugs,firearms,etc. from getting into the wrong hands? Considering that all of those can kill and cannabis can't is it really that big of a problem that it justifies preventing the sick and dying from having the medicine they need? Trivialize and obfuscate the issue if you wish but at the end of the day you will simply be seen in a bad light and may soon find yourself out of work. 
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Comment #11 posted by FoM on January 08, 2006 at 13:16:41 PT
charmed quark 
I wonder that very thing myself.
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Comment #10 posted by siege on January 08, 2006 at 12:59:52 PT
'Prince of Pot''Prince of Pot' claims he's being investigated
				VANCOUVER (CP) - A Canadian pot activist wanted for extradition to the United States for allegedly selling marijuana seeds claims he is being investigated by Elections Canada for violations of third-party election advertising.Marc Emery says elections investigators will visit him on Monday about pamphlets he made supporting NDP candidates in the current federal election and for posters his magazine, Cannabis Culture, made for the 2004 federal election."They say I might have to register Cannabis Culture as a third party registrant," Emery said in a posting on his website,"And they want to know what (we) did in regard to that card we made in 2004!" 
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Comment #9 posted by charmed quark on January 08, 2006 at 12:58:25 PT
Is US using Sativex to endrun MM laws?
I'm amazed that suddenly the FDA approaved a Phase 3 study for Sativex for treating cancer pain. Could it be that they are trying to short-circuit all the Medical Marijuana bills that are popping up? Marinol was used in a similar manner.
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Comment #8 posted by whig on January 08, 2006 at 12:23:10 PT
Unbelievable quote from article:
For some parents with a concern for their child's future, a dabbling in cocaine is a far more digestible alternative. "I'd rather my son take a more proactive, less habitual drug like cocaine, than lock himself away and play video games" says Roxanne Richardson, 35, who has a young son, and is expecting another. "It's so lazy. At least with pills and coke you're out and about doing something."
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on January 08, 2006 at 12:21:38 PT
I almost posted that article but by the time I scanned thru it all it had driven me a little crazy so I passed. LOL!
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Comment #6 posted by whig on January 08, 2006 at 12:18:36 PT
Cannabis: Can it really drive you mad?
Two years after the law was relaxed, the nation's favourite recreational drug is to be reclassified. They say it is linked to psychosis, but can the odd spliff be that dangerous? Jeremy Laurance reports.
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Comment #5 posted by kaptinemo on January 08, 2006 at 10:52:41 PT:
I see it this way
The prohibs have always played fast and loose with that one, and have gotten away with it for the longest time. But, the voices of the electorate are being heard...and they are being heard thanks to the efforts of reformers. When reformers speak, the pol's ears are now taking note of them, especially after Rhode Island's stunning vote count numbers. No more waving off reformers as if they were annoying buzzing insects, unless by performing that act, you wish your career to be fatally stung. Receiving a notice of correction like what I propose from reformer quarters will register even stronger now on their political awareness scale, thanks to Rhode Island sticking up for its' citizens. *Especially* when it's pointed out what ulterior (read: economic, as in gravy train, etc.) motives the oh-so-unctuous prohibitionist groups have...and why they constantly try to *trick politicians with this nonsense of conflating two very different substances.* Point out the trick, and do so repeatedly, (letting the pols know you're watching them to see if they continue to do so and thus make themselves the target of future moves to remove them from office for not listening to the people) and the pols will be less inclined to fall for it again. Will the pols of MASS take the hint? I daresay they will.
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on January 08, 2006 at 10:15:38 PT
No Excuses Anymore
The news channels on TV know to stay in tune with the Internet or they will be left behind and considered not well informed. Any politician that is going to make a comment about Cannabis needs to be sure they know what they are talking about. No excuses anymore.
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Comment #3 posted by kaptinemo on January 08, 2006 at 10:10:09 PT:
"Conflation Alert! Conflation Alert!"
*Rep. Barry R. Finegold, D-Andover, said he...worries that any drug problem would be worsened if there weren't strict controls on access. "How do you prevent it from getting into the wrong hands?" Finegold asked.* (Ahem!) Somebody hand this gentleman a science bookCannabis is not, reapeat, NOT a narcotic. Opiates and opioids are narcotics. Narcotics are addictive; cannabis is not...or so says the IoM Report. Conflating cannabis use and opiates is a common trick of the prohibs, and this poor gentleman needs to be made aware of that soonest. Might I recommend that our MASS readers do so as soon as possible?
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on January 08, 2006 at 09:26:08 PT
I'll second the Amen!
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Comment #1 posted by Zandor on January 08, 2006 at 09:11:29 PT
Can I get an Amen!!
Mortimer agrees."I shouldn't have to break the law to get relief," Mortimer saidAmen to that
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