Medical Marijuana Debate Goes Local

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  Medical Marijuana Debate Goes Local

Posted by CN Staff on May 05, 2009 at 09:06:44 PT
By Paul Swiech 
Source: Pantagraph 

Bloomington -- Legalizing marijuana use for chronic pain relief would be a compassionate move and its time has come, supporters said. But opponents argue that allowing marijuana — even for medical reasons — would open the door to all sorts of abuse.Thirteen states allow marijuana use for medical reasons. Illinois legislators are considering a bill that has more support this year than when it was defeated in the Illinois Senate in 2007.
Senate Bill 1381 says when a person is diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition, the patient — with his or her physician’s permission — would be allowed to have up to seven marijuana plants and two ounces of cannabis for medical reasons.Advocates — such as the Marijuana Policy Project, a nationwide group — argue that marijuana may provide pain relief from cancer, HIV/AIDS and other diseases because it reduces inflammation and relaxes people, and may help control spasticity associated with spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease, and agitation associated with Alzheimer’s disease.Marijuana also may reduce nausea from chemotherapy because the primary active ingredient in marijuana has a calming effect on the stomach, and may discourage loss of appetite in HIV/AIDS and cancer patients because marijuana encourages people to eat, supporters said. Opening Pandora's Box?   Detractors argue that the risks of legalizing marijuana use outweigh the benefits.“Are we going to open a Pandora’s box?” asked state Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington.Brady opposes the legislation because — though well-intentioned — the law would be difficult to enforce. If marijuana became legal for medical reasons but remained illegal for non-medical reasons, how would police enforce the law?“People would abuse it,” Brady contended. “Some people would get the drug legally and use it for illegal means or would take it from someone using it for medical reasons.”State Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, also opposes the bill, saying “Illinois is not equipped to monitor medical marijuana.”Dr. Ramsin Benyamin, medical director of Millennium Pain Center in Bloomington, treats chronic pain patients for whom conservative treatments have not worked. Most of his patients have chronic back pain. Some of his patients are on opioid medicines delivered by pill, patch or pumps implanted into a patient’s body. For most patients, those medicines provide some relief, Benyamin said.“As far as the benefit (of medical marijuana), there is no good scientific evidence to prove a major advantage of marijuana over currently prescribed and legally used pain medicines,” Benyamin said.Any benefit would be outweighed by the risk of the marijuana being abused, he said. In addition, many patients would smoke the marijuana after the medical community has been successful in getting people to quit smoking cigarettes.“My opinion is the risk outweighs the possible benefit,” Benyamin said.Dr. Robert Sawicki, medical director of OSF Home Care Services, said 95 percent of symptoms for patients seeking pain relief are managed with available therapies, such as medicines, implantable pumps and surgeries.“In the studies I have read, the evidence in favor of medical marijuana is not very compelling,” Sawicki said. “If it would be no better or worse than what is already out there, why bring it to market?”But Gregg Brown, a Bloomington environmental activist who favors legalization of medical marijuana, pointed to an Illinois Nurses Association position paper that says cannabis has been used throughout the world for medicinal purposes for centuries and may be used safely under doctor supervision. The paper further argues that marijuana use does not lead to morphine, cocaine or heroin addiction and that there is a growing body of scientific evidence supporting cannabis use.Seth Satorius, an Illinois State University student and secretary of the ISU chapter of Students for a Sensible Drug Policy, said the U.S. government has not allowed clinical trials of marijuana and that’s why there isn’t more scientific evidence. But small scale research indicates relief of symptoms from AIDS, cancer and multiple sclerosis.Legalizing marijuana for medical reasons won’t encourage people to smoke cigarettes, Brown said. Medical marijuana also may be breathed using a vaporizer or baked into cookies or brownies and eaten, he said.As for the risk-of-abuse argument, advocates said that exists with any medicine.“With states that have approved it (medical marijuana), the social order is not falling apart,” Satorius said.A survey by the Marijuana Policy Project showed 68 percent of Illinoisans support allowing seriously and terminally ill patients to use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it.“The public is right on this,” Brown said. Patient: Compassionate Care Favors The Use of Medicinal Marijuana: Pantagraph, The (Bloomington, IL)Author: Paul SwiechPublished: Tuesday, May 5, 2009 Copyright: 2009 Pantagraph Publishing Co.Contact: letters pantagraph.comWebsite: Articles:Medical Marijuana Debate Heats Up Deserve Right To Medical Marijuana

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Comment #11 posted by FoM on May 05, 2009 at 16:21:40 PT

He is the Governor of California and name calling doesn't help this forum or our cause.
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Comment #9 posted by FoM on May 05, 2009 at 15:32:04 PT

Schwarzenegger Says 'Time for Debate' 
Schwarzenegger Says 'Time for Debate' on Legal Marijuana By Kevin Yamamura Tuesday, May 5, 2009 Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Tuesday it's time for California to study whether to legalize and tax marijuana for recreational use, though he's not yet advocating for such a change.URL:
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on May 05, 2009 at 15:19:00 PT

My 2 Cents
Taxing Marijuana isn't what I think is the way to go other then a normal sales tax if it was legalized but changing the law is what I believe should happen. How much tax is charged in Amsterdam in the coffee shops?
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on May 05, 2009 at 15:14:11 PT

Breaking News From The Associated Press
Schwarzenegger Says California Should Examine Other Nations' Experiences in Taxing Marijuana***By Associated Press May 5, 2009Davis, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger says it's time for a debate on whether to legalize marijuana, though he says he's not supporting the idea.Schwarzenegger spoke Tuesday in Davis during an event to promote wildfire safety. He warns against making potentially harmful decisions just to raise money and says some countries that have decriminalized pot have had negative experiences.Democratic state Assemblyman Tom Ammiano says legalizing marijuana for adults over age 21 and taxing it at $50 per ounce would bring the state more than $1 billion a year. He has a bill in the Legislature but has delayed seeking approval until next year.California became the first state to legalize the medical use of marijuana in 1996. A dozen other states now have similar laws.Copyright: 2009 Associated Press,1,3043845.story
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on May 05, 2009 at 15:06:38 PT

My reasoning is because of Illinois itself. Illinois is Obama's home state. Chicago to me is much like New York City. Chicago is generally liberal from my view. If Illinois does this it will impact other big states.
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Comment #5 posted by BobbyRa on May 05, 2009 at 14:57:54 PT

Sorry those were not Sen Haines exact words
in my previous post. The good thing, he is very supportive. 
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Comment #4 posted by NikoKun on May 05, 2009 at 14:56:47 PT

They may argue that... but doesn't make it true...
"Detractors argue that the risks of legalizing marijuana use outweigh the benefits."
LOL, they argue it, but they have no support to backup that claim. Only their ignorance and twisted ideals, and their level of hate when it comes to opposing marijuana reforms.How can the "risks" of allowing MEDICAL MARIJUANA *not legalizing marijuana*, be greater than the benefits?
What possible risks are there, for allowing patients the option to use Marijuana if it works for them? This issue is completely separate from the issue of Drug Abuse. We should not be allowing the battle against drug abuse, to hinder medical marijuana.One could easily write a book on all the benefits of allowing Medical Marijuana. And every point contained in it would be solid and undeniable. There is no reason for being so opposed to medical marijuana. The opposed-side simple harbors hatred and ignorance of this issue.
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Comment #3 posted by BobbyRa on May 05, 2009 at 14:50:38 PT

I had not considered the effect that Illinois
could have on the other large states (selfish of me), but you make a good point, a domino effect would be great and in order. I don't remember where I read it but Senator Haine stated the other day that he would like to have this on the table this week. Since today is their first day back after a 2 week spring break, I hope that progress is being made. 
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on May 05, 2009 at 13:30:01 PT

I really want Illinois to allow medical marijuana. Illinois is a major state. If it happens in Illinois so will it happen in New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey I think.
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Comment #1 posted by BobbyRa on May 05, 2009 at 13:24:19 PT

Hopefully Brady's vote won't be needed
and he's voted out of office next election. 
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