Marijuana Debate Sharpens
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Marijuana Debate Sharpens
Posted by CN Staff on May 14, 2009 at 07:00:25 PT
By Lauren R. Dorgan, Monitor Staff
Source: Concord Monitor
New Hampshire -- State Attorney General Kelly Ayotte and county prosecutors have aggressively pushed back against a bill that would legalize marijuana for some seriously ill patients, sending lawmakers a letter calling marijuana an addictive drug and claiming that reclassifying marijuana as medicine could undermine efforts to keep youths from trying drugs. The bill's supporters decry the letter as "misleading" and have circulated a seven-page rebuttal of the two-page letter.
The bill easily passed the House in March and the Senate last month, but its future remains in doubt. Gov. John Lynch has stopped short of vowing to veto it, saying he has "serious concerns" and calling the Senate version of the bill "unacceptable." In the House, supporters put the brakes on the bill last week, voting not to accept the Senate's amendments to the bill and instead calling for a conference committee to hammer out a final bill - with an eye toward crafting something Lynch will accept. State Rep. Cindy Rosenwald said she met with senior Lynch staffers and left certain that Lynch would veto the current incarnation of the bill if it was sent to his desk. She left the meeting with a list of eight issues flagged by the governor's staff, the most difficult one of which is distribution. The current bill would allow medicinal marijuana users - individuals who suffer from specific illnesses or symptoms, who've been prescribed the drug by a doctor and who have registered with the state - to grow their own marijuana. They're also allowed to obtain it from other patients, including those from patients in one of the 13 states where medicinal marijuana is legal. Lynch, Rosenwald said, is "not comfortable with marijuana grown in residences." "I was absolutely clear when I left the meeting that he would not allow the Senate version to become law," said Rosenwald, a Nashua Democrat. That, she said, "is why I asked for a committee of conference." Debate over Ayotte's letter is a microcosm of debate over the bill itself, an argument in which the urge to help human suffering competes against fears about human frailty, where practical considerations meet a backdrop of the decades-long national fight over marijuana policy, including questions over whether the drug is addictive and whether it is a "gateway" to other drugs. Matt Simon, the executive director of the New Hampshire Coalition for Common Sense Marijuana Policy, distributed a seven-page response to Ayotte's letter peppered with footnotes. The response says the letter co-signed by Ayotte and nine of the state's 10 county attorneys "makes several points that are simply incorrect and several other misleading statements," in particular taking on claims about marijuana as an addictive, gateway drug. "I wish they would cite their sources and say where they're getting their information," Simon said in an interview yesterday. Ayotte said she stands by every point in the letter and said there's no incarnation of a medicinal marijuana law that she could support. In addition to concerns cited in the letter, she cited practical concerns and noted that marijuana hasn't been through a normal approval process by the Food and Drug Administration. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, she said, despite the recent statements by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder pledging not to raid marijuana dispensaries that are legal under state law. "I have to say that, despite the attorney general's statement, the law, the federal law is still the same," Ayotte said. "It's against federal law. The law hasn't changed."  Medicinal Validity?  Ayotte's letter cut to the heart of the bill, questioning the medicinal value of marijuana use. "In fact, marijuana is an addictive drug that poses significant health consequences to its users, including those who may be using it for medical purposes," the letter said. "The use of smoked marijuana is opposed by all credible medical groups nationwide." Matt Simon, the executive director of the New Hampshire Coalition for Common Sense Marijuana Policy, called that claim "simply untrue" and "the most frustrating." His response includes a list of several dozen medical groups that have "favorable medical marijuana positions," including the American Academy of Physicians, the American Nurses Association and the American Public Health Association. Not on the list: the New Hampshire Medical Society, which is not taking a position on this bill. Also missing is the American Medical Association, which for years has called for further study of medicinal marijuana, a position that is extremely common among medical groups. In a 2001 report, the AMA noted evidence that marijuana has helped those suffering from certain ailments, such as HIV wasting syndrome or chemotherapy-induced nausea, but concluded that a dearth of serious study into the benefits and risks of the drugs prevented the group from endorsing the drug. "The lack of this evidence base continues to hamper development of rational public policy," the association report said. The American Academy of Physicians went a step further last year, calling for a review of marijuana's current classification federally as a schedule 1 drug, the most serious classification, for drugs that lack medicinal use and carry a high potential for abuse, along with LSD and heroin. Cocaine is a schedule 2 drug. "A clear discord exists between the scientific community and federal legal and regulatory agencies over the medicinal value of marijuana, which impedes the expansion of research," the report said. It concluded: "Evidence not only supports the use of medical marijuana in certain conditions but also suggests numerous indications for cannabinoids. Additional research is needed to further clarify the therapeutic value of cannabinoids and determine optimal routes of administration. The science on medical marijuana should not be obscured or hindered by the debate surrounding the legalization of marijuana for general use." Ayotte said those reports don't counter her claim that medical groups oppose smoking the drug. "I think the letter expressly says that smoked marijuana is opposed by medical groups," she said. It's unquestionably true that many medical groups have often urged scientific research into ways of getting the medicinal benefits of cannabinoids that don't involve smoking. A 1999 report by the Institute of Medicine, for example, likened smoking marijuana to smoking cigarettes: "Smoking marijuana is clearly harmful, especially in people with chronic conditions, and is not an ideal drug delivery system." As for addiction, the Institute of Medicine report found that a "vulnerable subpopulation" of marijuana users may be at risk of becoming dependent but considered addiction "relatively rare" compared with other drugs. Simon said marijuana's potential for dependence should be considered in the context of other drugs, such as cigarettes, alcohol and painkillers. "The addiction possibility of pharmaceutical painkillers are off the charts compared to marijuana," Simon said.  Other Concerns  Ayotte's letter also delves into longstanding debates about marijuana policy, including whether it is a "gateway drug." "One of the most harmful consequences of marijuana use is the role it plays in leading to the use of other illegal drugs. Studies have shown that very few young people turn to illegal drugs such as cocaine or heroin without first experimenting with marijuana," Ayotte's letter said. "The New Hampshire law enforcement community works diligently to discourage young people from venturing down that path. Those efforts will be significantly undermined by the passage of legislation legalizing the use of marijuana to any degree." Simon said that claim had no merit. "The gateway theory has never been substantiated by any science, despite repeated attempts to prove its validity," he said. He pointed to the 1999 Institute of Medicine Report, which found there was no conclusive evidence that marijuana's drug effects cause users to move on to other drugs. "In the sense that marijuana use typically precedes rather than follows initiation of other illicit drug use, it is indeed a 'gateway' drug," the report found. "But because underage smoking and alcohol use typically precede marijuana use, marijuana is not the most common, and is rarely the first, 'gateway' to illicit drug use. There is no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs." Ayotte said her experience as a prosecutor has shown otherwise. She said if she were to ask officers of the undercover drug task force, which is run through her office, "many of them would tell me that, unfortunately, marijuana is a gateway drug." Ayotte's deputy, Assistant Attorney Karin Eckel, pointed to another part of the Institute of Medicine report that dealt with the gateway drug question. The report discussed marijuana as an entree into the social environment of drug use, a theory that is "supported, although not proven, by the available data." Sen. Kathy Sgambati, a Tilton Democrat who supported the bill, said she didn't find the gateway drug debate relevant to the medicinal marijuana bill. She was moved, she said, by testimony from cancer patients and others who said they'd been able to find relief by smoking marijuana. Many of those who testified had legal access to extremely potent medicines, she said. "Ninety percent at least of the people who testified have medicine chests full of opiates," Sgambati said. "So this is not somebody seeking a stronger drug." Only one of the 10 county attorneys didn't sign the letter: Coos County's Bob Mekeel. He cited two reasons. "The first is, really just as a general principle. It's my job to enforce the laws. It's not my job to make them," he said. "I just don't think it's appropriate to tell the Legislature what the law ought to be." His second: As a personal-injury lawyer for 25 years, he represented people who were in "terrible plights" and had lost limbs. "In those instances, really if anyone in that situation can get relief from anything, I just don't think I should stand in the way of that," Mekeel said. So far, he said, he hasn't heard much negative feedback on his stance, he said. "I just think reasonable minds can disagree," he said. Source: Concord Monitor (NH)Author: Lauren R. Dorgan, Monitor StaffPublished: May 14, 2009Copyright: 2009 Monitor Publishing CompanyContact: letters cmonitor.comWebsite: URL: Medical Marijuana Archives
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on May 18, 2009 at 04:36:02 PT
Welcome to CNews. Most people here do read the comments so we don't need to keep reposting on every article. Thank you for the consideration and join the discussion if you like.
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Comment #7 posted by count on May 18, 2009 at 01:51:21 PT:
dna of glaucoma - hb648 - med.marijuana-real truth
it is amazing that the writer for concord monitor lists 2 or 3 chronic diseases that qualify for hb 648. blindness affects over 10 million people that are legally blind to totally blind. yes glaucoma is a chronic disease with no cure. as far back i participated in a medical study regarding marijuana for the treatment for eye diseases, which glaucoma has the best targeted affects of marijuana to lower inocular pressure on the optic nerve and the next disease that benefits from marijuana is uvitus.
i was only seventeen at that time and flown to southern california from alaska paid for with federal and state taxes from the government and public taxation, for an experimental pioneering cataract and retina surgical procedure and benefited being one of the first hundred to have that procedure done. today that surgery can be done by out patiant procedure and part of preop and post operative experimental medicine for the surgury was marijuana which the methodology for injection into the body was smoking marijuana. yes marijuana is a medicine - some people fear the fact that natural plant called marijuana does have healing properties rather than synthetic opiates and morphine, especially when it comes to an antiinflamable medicine as marijuana and also as sedative pain reliever as compared to steroids and artificial synthetic pain medicine. the purpose for the marijuana study was to determine an alternative antiinflamatory and also reduce pain to relieve pressure in the eye, on the optic nerve and to have a lower amount of morphine in the body. i had be in a head restraint for a week after the experimental eye surgury, i had my totally removed from the eye socket to do the experimental retina surgury and the cataract surgury was done first.
people fear medicine natural and synthetic and people also fear laws that change laws, especially procecutors, lasw enforcement,judicial system and the penal system, for medical marijuana will affect those systems, they fear that consciously or unconsciously, prohibition is breaking down and the taxation principle will follow suit to fill that vacumn.
i have enclosed this note thread by count francisco durante
thread name
Dna of glaucoma & marijuana medicine
text body comment of my post
dna of glaucoma & marijuana medicine
glaucoma is a major cause of blindness. inocular pressure called vitrious humor fluid causes the optic nerve to degenerate and die causing blindness, blind sight,and total blindness and to have the eye surgically removed and a prostetic eye inserted. glaucoma causes severe inflamation to the eye, constant pain and migranes. any sun light and artificial light causes blindness meaning constantly flashes of light,distorted stimuli. basically unusable vision, loss of central vision and loss of peripheral acuity. one must wear dark glasses with uv filtered lensses to stay off the intense light that blinds you. that is glaucoma and there is no cure. the chronic eye disease from glaucoma can be combated by surguries and opthalmic eye drops are prescribed but there is no cure to stop the degenerative process from glaucoma. the smoking of marijuana causes the inocular pressure to be temporary lowered, migranes to be dulled and pain to be lowered.but the optic nerve still dies and after the thc from the marijuana wears out of the system the cycle of the inocular pressure is raised again by the fluid in the eye, more thc medicine is needed again for the treatment of glaucoma to lower the pressure again.and to slow down the dying of the optic nerve. the payoff of medical marijuana causes the process of total blindness to be slowed down. i have had glaucoma for over thirty years and are in the final stages of glaucoma and have known the benefits of eye surgeries thirty in all and eye drops and the use of marijuana to treat the glaucoma. I have retinitus pigmentosa a degenerative eye disease and uvitus an eye disease. Macular degeneration another degenerative eye disease. I have had cateracts and surguries to remove them. I have had detached retinas and surguries for detached retinas to have the retinas reattached. I also have chronic cornea eye disease and degeneration,
 the most eye disease is glaucoma and surpasses diabetic retinopy which is caused by diabeties and the disease can be stopped if caught early ,except juvenile diabetes and type one diabetes for those that were born with diabetes, diabetes in america is the most leading cause of blindness thou it is not severe to the eye as compared to the glaucoma and diabetes affects the blood vessels in the eye and the retinas and be stopped laser surgury and retina surgury to stop blindness and even restore eyesight. there is no restorative eye surguries for the optic to restore the optic. surgury can be donw to implant stints. tiny valves implanted in the eye to lower the innocular fluid and try and lower the pressure on the optic nerve. so have your eyes tested for innocular pressure done by an eye doctor and the test is painless and takes less time than a second. glaucoma is deadly to the eyes.
i was born in alaska.the state of alaska has medical marijuana where i was legal to grow and smoke marijuana. alaska was the first state in the union to decriminalize marijuana in the late nineteen seventies and recriminalizw the laws due the black mail of the united states government department of transportation to with hold federal monies for alaskan highway projects. thou alaska is real pioneer to decriminalize marijuana and marijuana as medicine for glaucoma so called medical marijuana. alaska again made its laws about medical marijuana and decriminal small of marijuana after prop 215 in california. california leads the way in dispensation of medical marijuana and its broad definition in how one qualifies for prescription. 
i also lived in california and legally used medical marijuana in that state,
I also have lived in oahua and maui hawaii. I also used marijuana there for the treatment of glaucoma with a doctors letter and that was before hawaii had medical marijuana as law there.but now has passed laws for the legal use of medical marijuana.
i moved to new hampshire over 11 years ago and i now look forward to legally grow and smoke marijuana in legal residence, for the treatment of glaucoma. live free or die, maybe the legislature and the governor lynch will pass the hb 648 bill for medical marijuana and sign the bill into law in the state of new hampshire.
hopefully the general public that does not have a chronic disease that qualifies for medical marijuana can understand the purpose for medical marijuana legislation in new hampshire.for 
those who favor or who are against decriminalization of marijuana do not blur the lines in the medical marijuana legislation and decriminalization of marijuana legislation, for these are two different aremas in political parties and social parties and religious parties. decriminalazation and legal marijuana are subjuects of law that be proposed as bills and amendments to the legal use of marijuana for those who do not have a chronic disease for medical marijuana for another day and time when it comes to the reality of hb 648 now in process to become law in the state of new hampshire. fight one battle at time and in due course marijuana may be legal for all in the united states of america.
so please see the light to the many beneficial uses for medical marijuana for many chronic diseases and the people who need the medicine and have the legal right to use and grow marijuana and be protected by hb 648 from criminal prosecution.
a pioneering spirit can change the hearts and minds to make hb 648 law for medical marijuana and how to frame words as arrows and knowledge and wisdom mixed with restraint in contacting legislatures and news media and the internet the bottom line do not get the cart before the horse and stop the thetoric - for medical marijuana legislation. stay focused and keep an open mind filtered with a conscience.
an alaskan native who lives free or dies in the state of new hamshire
count francisco durante gilford,nh. i have a boxer as a guide dog and frank the boxer does not have glaucoma and has no need for the medicine for he has good vision. 
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Comment #6 posted by Joe on May 15, 2009 at 15:46:30 PT:
The "LIVE FREE OR DIE" State ???
I guess all these elected officials forget what State this is. The "LIVE FREE OR DIE" State or should the motto be changed to The "LIVE IN PAIN-THEN DIE" State...If people are sick,in pain and dying... Then they should have every right be able to try ANYTHING to help them feel better or get better... THAT IS IT !!!
Do you F****** idiots get it ???
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Comment #5 posted by Vincent on May 14, 2009 at 21:15:36 PT:
State Attorney General Kelly Ayotte
Kelly Ayotte says that "Marijuana is a dangerous, addictive drug that leads to problems...". Since 1969, Marijuana has been PROVEN to be not addictive. So why, some 39-40 years later, do these Conservatives continue running that LIE? And why do some Baby-Boomers, who should know better, believe that nonsense? I wish somebody had an answer for that.
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Comment #4 posted by Sam Adams on May 14, 2009 at 17:58:49 PT
this paper
look how the media worships the prosecutors and basically devotes an entire article to their viewpoint. They get all their crime news from the prosecutors, they're terrified of making them angry and getting scooped by TV news.I see that the AMA has now gone from one of many professional associations of doctors to a supreme medication-governing body - without the approval of this body we cannot take medication, regardless of what our personal doctor thinks, or dozens of nursing groups and other doctor groups, such as the ACP with 124,000 members. fascinating.
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Comment #3 posted by dongenero on May 14, 2009 at 08:52:42 PT
real gateways.....
the 800lb gateway in the room, Prohibition.
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Comment #2 posted by ripit on May 14, 2009 at 08:48:40 PT
well no duh!
how convenient!
She said if she were to ask officers of the undercover drug task force, which is run through her office, "many of them would tell me that, unfortunately, marijuana is a gateway drug."
anyone with half a brain knows the true gateways are camels and coors!
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Comment #1 posted by HempWorld on May 14, 2009 at 07:55:42 PT
Stumbling Block
This must be the most difficult fact for prohibs to understand, and it is the most mis-used argument:Marijuana is a gateway drug, yes and this is true BECAUSE IT IS ILLEGAL!This is a circular argument that prohibs are using to defend their position, only this is created by the premise of prohibition.
Legalize It!
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