Cancer Survivor Backs Bill on Medical Marijuana 

Cancer Survivor Backs Bill on Medical Marijuana 
Posted by CN Staff on February 08, 2005 at 07:14:38 PT
By Steve Terrell, The New Mexican
Source: Santa Fe New Mexican 
Erin Armstrong, a 23-year-old woman from Santa Fe who is a cancer survivor, dreads the day she gets taken off her parents' insurance plan. After that, the medication she takes for nausea will cost her $3,000 a month. That's why she is asking state lawmakers to pass a medical-marijuana bill.Sen. Cisco McSorley, D-Albuquerque, told reporters Monday that he will sponsor a bill in which the state Health Department would oversee a program to legally provide marijuana to sufferers of specific medical conditions.
Armstrong, who was diagnosed with cancer when she was 17, said, "It's not just a drug issue. It's a patients-rights issue. Patients should not have to decide if keeping down your next meal is worth getting arrested."Armstrong, who now lives in Albuquerque, said she takes a drug called Zofran to control her nausea. It works well, she said, but it's very expensive.Without insurance, a bottle of 36 pills costs more than $1,000, she said. It would cost more than $3,000 a month for Zofran without insurance."I'm afraid I won't have access to affordable treatment," Armstrong said.In past medical-marijuana debates, some opponents of the idea have touted a drug called Marinol, which contains THC, a chemical found in marijuana. However, that drug, manufactured by the Solvay company, also is very expensive. According to Web sites selling prescription drugs, Marinol costs between $4.31 and more than $16 a pill, depending on the strength.McSorley, at a news conference Monday, said under his bill, medical marijuana, grown at a facility licensed by the state, would be free to patients suffering from cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, HIV or AIDS, epilepsy or spinal-cord injuries.In the past, the pharmaceutical industry has not been visibly active in opposing medical-marijuana legislation. But the industry -- which in 2002 contributed more than $97,000 to New Mexico political campaigns, including $40,000 to Gov. Bill Richardson -- stands to lose if marijuana became a free and legal treatment.GlaxoSmithKline, the company that manufactures Zofran, contributed more than $13,000 to New Mexico politicians in 2002, according to the Institute of Money in State Politics -- h No New Mexico political contributions could be found for the Solvay company. The most visible opposition to medical marijuana has come from law enforcement. That also could be the case this year.Mike Bowen, a retired state-police commander who works as a lobbyist for police organizations, said Monday he hasn't yet seen the bill, but his organizations probably would oppose McSorley's legislation if it is similar to past bills."It's mainly because of not enough controls built in," he said. "Also, there are synthetic drugs that can be used. And it's still against federal law."The U.S. Supreme Court currently is considering a case that could determine whether the federal government can prosecute ailing marijuana users who use the drug with their state's approval.Legislative support for medical marijuana seems to have withered from the days of former Gov. Gary Johnson, who made drug-law reform a legislative priority.In 2001, the Legislature came close to passing medical-marijuana legislation. The House and the Senate approved separate bills that year, but neither bill passed both chambers. However in 2003, a medical-marijuana bill was killed in the House by an overwhelming margin. Eight Democrats and seven Republicans who had voted for medical marijuana in 2001 voted against it in 2003.But, McSorley said, in the last election no legislator who voted for medical marijuana in the past was defeated because of that issue. "This is a bill of freedom and justice, not of old prejudices and hateful things people want you to believe about medical marijuana."Two of the most aggressive medical-marijuana opponents -- Rep. Ron Godbey, R-Cedar Crest, and Sen. Ramsay Gorham, R-Albuquerque -- are no longer in the Legislature.A 2002 Mason-Dixon poll for The New Mexican and KOB-TV showed 72 percent of New Mexicans in favor of allowing seriously ill people to use marijuana to treat their symptoms. Only 20 percent were against it.  Source: Santa Fe New Mexican (NM)Author: Steve Terrell, The New Mexican Published: February 8, 2005 Copyright: 2005 The Santa Fe New MexicanContact: letters sfnewmexican.comWebsite: Related Article & Web Site:Medical Marijuana Information Links Marijuana Proposal Back Before Legislature Medical Marijuana Archives 
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Comment #3 posted by sixtyfps on February 08, 2005 at 12:59:11 PT
"It's mainly because of not enough controls built in," he said. "Also, there are synthetic drugs that can be used. And it's still against federal law."----------------------------Translated:"...not enough controls built in" = Law enforcement senses a drop in business"...there are synthetic drugs..." = Has ties to Big Pharma"And it's still against federal law" = Knows where his bread 'n butter come from
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on February 08, 2005 at 09:43:46 PT
I wish your state the best of luck! I'm hoping that it happens for you!
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Comment #1 posted by siege on February 08, 2005 at 09:42:18 PT
Take Action Now! TENNESSEE
Take Action Now! Friends:NORML is pleased to announce that Senate Bill 1944, the "Tennessee Medical
Marijuana Act" (along with its companion bill, House Bill 968), has been
introduced in the Tennessee Legislature. This is the first time in recent
memory that your state elected officials will have the opportunity to
debate this vital issue. Now is the time to contact your state elected
officials and urge them to stop arresting medicinal marijuana patients.The use of marijuana as medicine is a public health issue; it should not
be part of the war on drugs. Modern science suggests that cannabis is a
valuable aid in the treatment of a wide range of clinical applications.
These include pain relief, particularly of neuropathic pain (pain from
nerve damage); nausea; spasticity; glaucoma; and movement disorders.
Marijuana is also a powerful appetite stimulant, specifically for patients
suffering from HIV, the AIDS wasting syndrome, or dementia. Emerging
research suggests that marijuana's medicinal properties may protect the
body against some types of malignant tumors and are neuroprotective. 
According to a recent national survey of U.S. physicians conducted for the
American Society of Addiction Medicine, nearly half of all doctors with
opinions support legalizing marijuana as a medicine.The "Tennessee Medical Marijuana Act" will ensure that medical marijuana
patients who grow and possess cannabis will no longer have to fear arrest
or prosecution from state law enforcement. However, this bill will only
receive serious consideration if Tennessee's elected officials hear an
unmistakable message of support from their constituents.Please take two minutes of your time to write your state Senator and tell
him or her how important it is that they support medical marijuana. NORML
has created pre-written letters that you can send to your legislators by
visiting: you have sent a letter to your Senator, please take the time to send
a second pre-written letter to your State Representative in support to the
House version of the bill, by visiting: you for your help.Sincerely,Kris Krane
Associate Director
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