Medical Community Split on Marijuana Bill
function share_this(num) {
 tit=encodeURIComponent('Medical Community Split on Marijuana Bill');
 site = new Array(5);
 return false;

Medical Community Split on Marijuana Bill
Posted by CN Staff on June 17, 2009 at 08:16:29 PT
By Heather Clark, GateHouse News Service
Source: Sussex Countian
Delaware -- If a bill before the state Senate is passed, Delaware soon could join 13 other states that have legalized the possession of marijuana for medical use, but while there appears to be significant popular support for the measure, some legislators and physicians aren’t quite ready to jump on the bandwagon.When Senate Bill 94, sponsored by Sen. Margaret Rose Henry, D-Wilmington, was heard in the Senate Health and Social Services Committee earlier this month, not one person testified in opposition to the legislation.
Before voting to release the bill, the committee listened as a parade of medical marijuana users and advocates outlined their support for the measure. Many provided anecdotal evidence from their own experiences that suggested marijuana is a perfect treatment for chronic pain and symptoms like nausea and lack of appetite as a result of cancer, AIDS, hepatitis C and other serious diseases. But for as outspoken as the bill’s supporters have been, those whose endorsement could ring the loudest have been relatively quiet on the issue: doctors.The Medical Society of Delaware decided to remain neutral on medical marijuana, since its members could not come to an agreement over whether to support the plan or oppose it.Newark family physician and Medical Society President Dr. Nicholas Biasotto said his organization was split over the bill, which would allow patients to posses up to six ounces of marijuana and grow as many as 12 plants to treat a serious condition with a doctor’s consent. “It’s a mixed bag in our group,” he said. “It’s maybe 50-50.”Biasotto said the doctors who are in favor of the plan are satisfied with how programs have been administered in other states, and they’re convinced that marijuana is a viable supplemental treatment, especially for side effects caused by powerful prescription drugs used to fight serious diseases.“Other states have shown the benefits for individuals who have used marijuana to increase appetite, decrease pain, plus offset the side effects of medications,” he said. Supporters also say marijuana would be a low-cost, safer alternative to opiate pain pills like Oxycontin and Vicodin.“Those medications have been shown to have some danger about them, plus they’re very expensive.” Biasotto said. “If you pass Sen. Henry’s bill, you can grow your own, for which the only cost is the seeds, or obtain up to six ounces, which would probably be a nominal fee compared to pills.”Biasotto said he leans in favor of the bill, but understands why some doctors don’t.The bill spells out a dozen specific diseases and symptoms for which marijuana can be prescribed and establishes an identification card system for registered users and caregivers — individuals authorized to transport and grow marijuana for up to five patients. It also sets up a network of non-profit dispensaries, called “Compassionate Care Centers,” where cardholders can go to purchase their marijuana. These centers would be able to grow marijuana on a larger scale and offer it for sale to those who can’t grow their own or choose not to.Biasotto said doctors who oppose the plan think the system of controls could break down and physicians could be held accountable when marijuana they prescribe is misused.“The reason people are against it is because it creates an opportunity for abuse,” he said.Those opponents also say prescription drugs work as well as marijuana, and they’re already tightly regulated and controlled, Biasotto added. ‘We Can Trust Doctors’  Noah Mamber, a legislative analyst with the Washington D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project, said his group wants to reassure doctors that a medical marijuana law would not usurp their authority to work with their patients in the best way they see fit. He also cited several research studies that show marijuana is a better tool for treating certain conditions than pharmaceuticals.Mamber, whose organization helped draft Henry’s bill and similar legislation in other states, said medical marijuana laws are based on the doctor-patient relationship, just like regulations in place to control the distribution of other drugs.“We trust doctors a lot in our society. We trust them to prescribe very serious drugs like opiates, which can cause overdoses that can lead to death,” he said. “Clearly, if we can trust doctors to prescribe these much more serious and dangerous drugs, we can trust doctors to do the right thing and have the right judgment in prescribing medical marijuana to patients who need it.”Mamber said his group’s research shows no significant increase in marijuana arrests after states implement medical marijuana laws. An analysis of data from 11 states with medical marijuana laws compiled by the MPP also showed a significant decrease in marijuana use by teenagers.Fallon Hanley is co-founder of GrassRoots Medical Clinic in Boulder, Colo., a facility that dispenses no marijuana but connects eligible patients with doctors who support the treatment and will help those in their care obtain proper authorization from the state health department.Hanley, who is not a doctor, said the physicians in his clinic observe the same ethics that any doctor must adhere to when prescribing drugs. But while they’re always on the lookout for potential patients who may be exaggerating their conditions to obtain a marijuana prescription, they base all decisions on medical records and face-to-face consultations.“Probably right now 70% of the people we’re seeing have documented conditions, these individuals have a doctor who they deal with on a regular basis who for whatever reason isn’t comfortable dealing with medical marijuana,” he said. “Our doctor isn’t there to look at a patient and say they’re lying, the doctor just has to use his best judgment, which he would do to prescribe Viagra or to prescribe Percocet.”Hanley described GrassRoots as a pro-marijuana doctor’s office, but emphasized the fact that his facility is a not a place where a stoner can go for a rubberstamp prescription on a trumped-up ailment. “The screening process is such that if we actually fill an application out for you to send to the department of health, we’re 99% sure that it’s going to be accepted,” he said. “One of the requirements for getting accepted into the program is that other avenues have been tried, we’re going to do some other things before marijuana is prescribed. It’s not our first plan of attack.” Physician Senator Suggests Additional Amendment  The lone physician in the Delaware General Assembly offered his cautious support for the bill, but said he’s heard both sides of the debate and wants to make sure any medical marijuana plan implemented in the state is undertaken carefully.Sen. Dr. Michael S. Katz, D-Centerville, said he’d like to offer an amendment to the bill that would make the law subject to review by the General Assembly’s Joint Sunset Committee if passed. The committee is responsible for periodically evaluating the effectiveness of state agencies and programs and recommending necessary changes.Katz, an anesthesiologist, said he recognizes the split in the medical community, but thinks anything that grants patients access to better treatments for pain should be given a chance.“There are certain situations, it seems, where people respond well to medical marijuana, however there are some concerns about controls and efficacy and how its used and whom it’s prescribed to,” Katz said. “I’m willing to support it because there are some people in pain that can benefit from it, however I would like to see it sunset over the next few years to see if it works out in the state and if there are any issues we have to address.”Dover Democrat Sen. Brian J. Bushweller said he’s not opposed to the bill either, but he still needs more guidance to sort through the varying medical opinions and individual testimonials.“I’ve heard the anecdotal stuff on both sides of the issue,” he said. “There are people who say that they suffer from some serious illness and that smoking marijuana truly helps them, on the other side of the coin there are people who say if we authorize marijuana for medical use what we’re really doing is opening the door for full legalization.”Bushweller said he’ll base his decision on scientific data.“I’ve asked for peer-reviewed, researched data that demonstrates the extent to which marijuana is a better choice than existing therapies … and I will base my decision as to how to vote largely on the research I’m shown and what it says.” Source: Sussex Countian (DE)Author: Heather Clark, GateHouse News Service Published: June 17, 2009Copyright: 2009 GateHouse Media, Inc.Contact: editor sussexcountian.comWebsite: Articles: Marijuana Bill Clears Del. Senate Committee Bill Clears Delaware Senate Panel
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help 

Comment #2 posted by observer on June 17, 2009 at 11:59:24 PT
Doctors, Who are in Favor 
"It’s maybe 50-50." Biasotto said the doctors who are in favor of the plan are satisfied with how programs have been administered in other states, and they’re convinced that marijuana is a viable supplemental treatment, especially for side effects caused by powerful prescription drugs used to fight serious diseases.Never mind the rather curious omission of the mention of the very idea here of jail or prison. Which is what the medical marijuana laws are all about: simply NOT JAILING some small sliver of people who are obviously helped by this natural and ancient plant remedy. I guess mentioning "jail" or "prison" too close to the mention of the revered "doctors" there would give away the game there. Notice how propagandistic (this is a technique pionered by Propaganda father Edward Bernays) and misleading this is, asking Doctors to render judgment on what is a political and moral issue, the jailing of people for involvement with the cannabis plant. We're asked to suspend critical thinking and pretend that a doctor's skill and training in medicine has one iota of something to do with jailing or imprisoning people for using the cannabis plant. We're asked to transfer the authority that comes (or we presume comes) with a medical degree and a white smock and a stethoscope to the political and penal policy arena. True, if done with a straight face, you can fool most of the people most of the time. For a while at least. The "Four out of Five Doctors" technique: 
PR techniquesOne of Bernays' favorite techniques for manipulating public opinion was the indirect use of "third party authorities" to plead his clients' causes. "If you can influence the leaders, either with or without their conscious cooperation, you automatically influence the group which they sway", he said. In order to promote sales of bacon, for example, he conducted a survey of physicians and reported their recommendation that people eat heavy breakfasts. He sent the results of the survey to 5,000 physicians, along with publicity touting bacon and eggs as a heavy breakfast.
A "survey of physicians" - does that sound familiar? Classic! Classic propaganda technique, that is.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #1 posted by dongenero on June 17, 2009 at 09:05:40 PT
Minor Drug Offenses Costing Illinois Major Cash
from NPR - Chicago Public Radio
[ Post Comment ]

Post Comment