Medical Marijuana Proposal Back Before Legislature

Medical Marijuana Proposal Back Before Legislature
Posted by CN Staff on February 07, 2005 at 21:11:12 PT
By Barry Massey, The Associated Press 
Source: Albuquerque Journal 
Santa Fe -- Erin Armstrong's soft voice trembles as she recounts her six-year fight against cancer and asks lawmakers to legalize the medical use of marijuana.   "This isn't a drug issue at all. This is a patients' rights issue," said Armstrong, who suffers from nausea because of treatments for the cancer she's battled since she was 17.
"I am here on behalf of myself and all other suffering patients who should never have to choose whether or not keeping down the next meal is worth getting arrested," said Armstrong, who grew up in Santa Fe but lives in Albuquerque.   A proposal in the Legislature would allow the use of marijuana for pain or other symptoms of debilitating illnesses such as cancer, glaucoma, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, HIV-AIDS and certain spinal cord injuries.   "It's so hard to manage chronic nausea. It's so hard to gain the courage to leave your home, to leave the proximity of a restroom. It's hard to go to school. It's hard to go to work," Armstrong said Monday at a news conference at which the legislation was announced.   She hasn't tried marijuana for her nausea. For now, she's taking a prescription drug that costs more than $3,000 a month. She's still covered by her parents' health insurance but said other patients aren't so lucky.   Essie DeBonet, 60, of Albuquerque, was diagnosed with AIDS in 1994 and constantly suffers from nausea.   "I had to carry what I called a vomit bucket every place I went because I never knew when it was going to hit me and I was going to heave my guts out," she said.   New Mexico lawmakers have debated medical marijuana before.   Former Republican Gov. Gary Johnson supported the proposal as part of a package of drug law changes. In 2001, the House and Senate approved separate bills to permit the medical use of marijuana but never agreed on the same version of the proposal. In 2003, however, the House overwhelmingly rejected a medical marijuana measure.   A sponsor of this year's measure, Sen. Cisco McSorley, D-Albuquerque, said lawmakers should no longer fear any political fallout from voting for medical marijuana.   "Not one senator, not one representative lost their seat because of this issue," said McSorley. "This is a bill of freedom and justice, not of old prejudices and hateful things people want you to believe about medical marijuana."   Ten states allow the use of marijuana as medicine: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Oregon, Nevada, Vermont and Washington. Arizona has a law permitting marijuana prescriptions but no active program.   In most states, patients must grow their own marijuana or have a designated caregiver do it for them. That would not be allowed by the New Mexico proposal.   Under The Legislation:      The state Health Department would license producers to provide the marijuana. The only cost to patients would be an annual registration fee set by the agency.      A doctor must recommend the use of marijuana for a patient and the individual would apply to the department. A review board of doctors would consider each application. If approved by the board, patients would be registered by the state to possess enough marijuana to treat their illnesses.   District attorneys and law enforcement groups opposed the 2003 legislation.   Lemuel Martinez, president of the New Mexico District Attorneys' Association, said no formal vote has been taken by the group but he expects continued opposition because a user of medical marijuana    even if allowed in New Mexico    could be subject to federal drug charges.   The legislation also raises legal questions, he said, because it calls for a state agency to license marijuana producers.   "I believe it would probably run afoul of federal law," Martinez, the district attorney in Valencia, Cibola and part of Sandoval counties, said in a telephone interview.   A case is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court on whether the federal government can prosecute sick people who use marijuana with state approval and the permission of their doctors. Source: Albuquerque Journal (NM)Author: Barry Massey, The Associated Press Published: February 7, 2005 Copyright: 2005 Albuquerque JournalContact: opinion abqjournal.comWebsite: Medical Marijuana Information Links Medical Marijuana Archives
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Comment #5 posted by sixtyfps on February 08, 2005 at 12:50:25 PT
Don't Let's Allow the Sick to Get High
It sure would bother me if people had to trade unimaginable pain for mild euphoria, increased appreciation for the little things in life, and a lasting sense of goodwill.
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Comment #4 posted by afterburner on February 08, 2005 at 12:23:33 PT
Good One, siege
And thanx, Dr. Russo, for the Sativex update. It's not just the smoke they fear, it's the "high," too. 
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Comment #3 posted by siege on February 08, 2005 at 09:33:51 PT
public servant's
How many of our Gov't. public servant's have stock's in the company of ((Solvay SA)) to keep it the ((Only company))  that is aloud to "sell synthetic copy of cannabis". What is wrong with the "real thing pure cannabis extract" that has been used for thousand's of years. The citizens of the USA are not good enough for the REAL thing. If ONE of the public servant's was in nead of ""pure cannabis extract"" they would have it yesterday.
What is funny is this,, Robert J. Meyer, told a congressional committee that the FDA would "continue to be receptive to sound, scientifically based research into the medicinal uses of botanical marijuana and other cannabinoids" With all the Good scientifically based research since the 1970 and before what is there problem, OH it's the DEA that stops every thing, of good for the citizens of the country, They all should be shiped to the WAR zone and left there for the next 20 years, for brain renewal and sensitivity of the citizens that pay there wages. maybe we all could tell the Gov't. to get rid of them all together that would save them Gov't. alot of money. And put it back where it belongs! In the Doctors hands. Not the Cops playing Doctors or God. 
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Comment #2 posted by Ethan Russo MD on February 08, 2005 at 07:18:50 PT:
Unrelated Sativex Story
Please see below. There is a misconception in the article that psychotropic ingredients are bred out of the plant. This is not accurate. Sativex combines extracts from a high-THC strain with that from a high-CBD strain. CBD does minimize THC-associated side effects. Medical Marijuana Gets BackingIn Canada, Mouth Spray
Wins Preliminary Approval;
U.K. and U.S. Tests LoomBy JEANNE WHALEN 
February 8, 2005; Page D7As some popular painkillers come under fire for causing dangerous side effects, an often-shunned alternative is gaining legitimacy in pain relief: cannabis.Medical marijuana has been winning legal endorsement through the efforts of a British pharmaceutical firm. GW Pharmaceuticals of Salisbury, England, has spent years developing and promoting a cannabis-based mouth spray that the company claims eases severe pain and muscle stiffness without causing a psychotropic high. Winning the backing of health authorities has been an uphill battle, but Canadian officials recently gave it preliminary approval for treatment of neuropathic pain in multiple sclerosis sufferers. Studies concluded not long ago also showed the product effective at treating severe cancer pain.Now GW is aiming for approval in the United Kingdom, and longer-term, in the U.S., where medical marijuana is likely to come up against greater resistance. "The deepness and polarity of the [marijuana] debate in the U.S. is unique," acknowledges Geoffrey Guy, executive chairman of GW. GW hopes the Canadian approval "will force the U.S. to address this issue once and for all and make a decision," says Managing Director Justin Gover. If the product is approved in more markets, GW believes it one day could be used by a million patients suffering from pain associated with MS, cancer and other ailments.The treatment, called Sativex, is an extract of a hybrid form of cannabis grown by GW. The company says the plants are specially bred to remove most of the psychotropic agents and to increase the presence of helpful properties such as cannabidiol. The company, which won a special license from the U.K. to breed cannabis and carry out research, grows 50,000 plants every year in greenhouses in a location it keeps secret so as to avoid curiosity seekers, protesters and potheads.Founded in 1998 to research the medicinal uses of cannabis, GW is traded on the London Stock Exchange. The company has a few other cannabis-derived products in early development.Richard Payne, a 56-year-old Briton with multiple sclerosis, began taking Sativex three years ago as part of a clinical trial and says the medicine helps relieve his muscle stiffness and gives him better bladder control. It also has alleviated the violent muscle spasms that used to keep him awake at night.Finding the Right Dosage"When I was finding a level that suited me I did get in an intoxicated state once," he says, but he's since decreased the dosage, as he believes most pain sufferers would. "If you took all your eight-week supply in a few days you'd probably be very high," he says. "But I think people who suffer MS would rather have a better quality of life for eight weeks than have a couple of days where you don't know what's going on in the world."In late December, Canada's health agency issued what it calls a "qualifying notice" for the approval of Sativex to treat neuropathic pain in MS patients. The de facto approval will become official once GW submits extra forms agreeing to certain conditions, including an obligation to carry out additional clinical trials with the product. GW says it expects its partner, Bayer AG, to begin marketing Sativex within a few months in Canada, where 50,000 people have MS.Canadians, who legalized smoked marijuana for those with "grave and debilitating illnesses" in 2001, have a fairly accepting attitude toward the cannabis plant. The fact that British officials gave GW permission to grow and test its product in Britain gives the company hope that it may win approval there, too, possibly as soon as this summer.The U.S. will be a harder sell. Under the classification system of the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, marijuana is listed as having "no currently accepted medical use." That hasn't stopped gravely ill patients from smoking it on the sly, and in recent years 11 states have defied federal law by making marijuana legal for medicinal use. California was the first, passing its 1996 Compassionate Use Act after heavy lobbying by AIDS patients and others. Last year, Montana and Vermont became the latest states to pass similar laws.The Bush administration says the state laws interfere with federal efforts to combat illegal drugs and has sought to overturn them. In 2002, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents raided the home of a California woman who was growing marijuana to treat her lower-back pain. The woman and a colleague filed a lawsuit against the federal government, a case that has worked its way up to the Supreme Court. The court began hearing the case, Ashcroft v. Raich, last year, and is expected to rule in July.Doesn't Give a HighGW hopes Sativex will avoid similar controversy because it isn't smoked and, when used properly, doesn't give a high. The company has spent several years explaining its product in meetings with key U.S. officials and says it hopes to open discussions with the Food and Drug Administration in the coming months. As a first step, GW is aiming to win FDA permission to carry out a clinical trial of Sativex on American patients.An FDA spokeswoman declined to comment on Sativex's prospects for approval. Last summer, Robert J. Meyer, a director of the FDA's office of drug evaluation, told a congressional committee that the FDA would "continue to be receptive to sound, scientifically based research into the medicinal uses of botanical marijuana and other cannabinoids" and would "facilitate the work of manufacturers interested in bringing to the market safe and effective products."Sativex's approval in Canada won't make the product easily available to Americans driving over the border. The medicine will be available only by prescription in Canada and will be illegal back in the U.S.Several years ago, the FDA approved a medicine called Marinol that is made from a synthetic copy of a compound found in cannabis. The medicine, sold by Solvay SA of Belgium, is used to treat appetite loss and weight loss in AIDS patients. Other drug companies also are working on synthetic compounds that mimic cannabis, including Indevus Pharmaceuticals, which is testing such a product in late-stage human trials. Because Sativex is made from pure cannabis extract, it will be a harder sell.Write to Jeanne Whalen at jeanne.whalen
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Comment #1 posted by Sam Adams on February 08, 2005 at 04:56:56 PT
truth slipping out again!
"Not one senator, not one representative lost their seat because of this issue," said McSorley. "This is a bill of freedom and justice, not of old prejudices and hateful things people want you to believe about medical marijuana.Now, would it have been so hard for John Kerry to say these words? McSorley is a Democrat.I love Mr. DA (pig-in-a-suit?) at the end - er, there's probably going to be trouble with the feds, I'm not really sure though. Yeah, right. New Mexico is a virtual island among 8 other Western states that have effective legal medical marijuana, and he's not sure? Maybe he's not sure how much he's willing to lie in the face of cancer and AIDS patients. Maybe he's not sure he'll be able to sleep tonight.
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