Medical Marijuana is No Dopey Matter 

Medical Marijuana is No Dopey Matter 
Posted by CN Staff on March 17, 2005 at 13:22:22 PT
By Jennifer MacDonald, Staff Writer 
Source: Pasadena Courier 
Myasthenia gravis, a rare neurological disorder that affects the muscles causing loss of strength with each use of that muscle, is one of many illnesses for which marijuana is prescribed. The naturally growing plant can aid in reducing side effects like loss of appetite and stomach cramps caused by medication taken to alleviate symptoms of the disease.
In California someone suffering from myasthenia gravis or a number of other illnesses can receive a prescription from a doctor allowing legal marijuana use at least under state law. But the patient can't wander down to Rite Aid to fill this prescription. And most places set up to provide marijuana to medical users called "Cannabis Clubs," are raided by narcotics agents. This prevents medical users from having a reliable source for the medicine and they are left to buy the beneficial herb off the streets.The legalization of marijuana for medical use on the state level is a step in the right direction toward a system where AIDS, cancer and glaucoma patients could obtain the medicine in an organized, legal and safe way. But the federal government not only continues to oppose legalization for medical use, they refuse to declassify marijuana as a Schedule I substance: illegal and having no medical benefits.Marijuana was technically still legal for doctors to prescribe until the Uniform Controlled Substances Act of 1970 placed it in the same class as heroin.No medical benefits? Then why do cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy praise the drug, saying it reduces nausea and increases their appetite? Why do multiple sclerosis patients say it relives muscle spasms?Research has proven its ability to protect brain cells from toxic levels of chemicals that occur during a stroke. For those who suffer from glaucoma, marijuana reduces pressure on the ocular nerve resulting in less damage to the nerve so vision is not lost.With federal approval, research could be further explored to tap into the potential medical benefits of the primary components of marijuana, tetrahydocannabinol (THC) and cannabinol.But the federal government is too stubborn to legalize marijuana. In 1992 the federal compassionate use program, which still provides "joints" to a handful of seriously ill patients, was discontinued because it was said to undercut the war on drugs.The population is supposedly saved from marijuana at the expense of the sick and potentially sick.Over the years, the government has called marijuana a "gateway drug" to heroin, the drug of choice for lazy potheads, and the cause of teenage psychosis. Since medical marijuana remains banned in the United States, it seems the plant's role as a potentially helpful medicine has been overshadowed by unfounded rumors of its dark side.So where did the negative association with marijuana come from? To understand, one must understand the herb's history that dates back to 1 A.D. where it is identified in a Chinese pharmaceutical book as a cure for over 100 ailments. Over the centuries, marijuana was used all over the world as both a medicine and a recreational drug. In the United States during the early 1900s, cocaine and opium were available in over-the-counter elixirs. The population quickly became addicted to these narcotics, prompting a series of laws that eventually banned these drugs. But marijuana was left untouched until the 1930s when Harry J. Anslinger, head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, launched a campaign against the drug that was stereotypically used by jazz musicians and Mexican immigrants. This is where marijuana gained its reputation as an evil drug that drives its user to harder drugs or insanity.Fearful, states quickly prohibited the non-medical use of the drug. But the federal government wasn't satisfied so it enacted the Marihuana Tax Act that imposed so high a tax on importation that doctors stopped prescribing the drug.The government's control of marijuana has been sneaky and unfair. For thousands of years the sick used marijuana as medicine. Now we have many other drugs that have been developed, but current research has also shown new ways marijuana can help sick people.Until the federal government is willing to listen to the patients, doctors, researchers and historians who support the legalization of medical marijuana, its use by the sick for healing will remain a criminal act and its values will be left untapped.Source: Pasadena Courier (Pasadena City College, CA)Author: Jennifer MacDonald, Staff Writer Published: March 17, 2005Copyright: 2005 CourierContact: pasadenacourier Website: Marijuana Information Links News Medical Marijuana Archives 
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on March 17, 2005 at 14:18:59 PT
DPA: Working Toward a New Bottom Line in States
Thursday, March 17, 2005Most state legislatures hold their sessions in the first part of the year, so winter and spring are a very busy time for the Alliance's state campaigns. New Mexico is not the only state where great work is going on around drug policy reform - check out what's going on elsewhere in the country:
 Alabama: Legislation sponsored by the Alliance as part of the Alabama New Bottom Line Campaign has just passed the state Senate and now goes to the House. SB 365, "The Alabama Effective Parole and Probation Public Safety Act," would dramatically reduce parole and probation periods in a state with an extremely high rate of incarceration for nonviolent drug offenses. Current parole periods for these offenses are often 10-15 years long, and SB 365 would instead create a two-year limit.
 The Alabama New Bottom Line Campaign - which includes The Ordinary People Society and works closely with the Alabama Sentencing Commission, the Alabama Leadership Council and others - is also working to educate policymakers about SB 258, which would change the drug sentencing guideline provisions and reduce the sentence for certain drug offenses  particularly for marijuana.
 California: An Alliance-sponsored bill that would correct sentencing differences for certain crimes involving crack cocaine and powder cocaine had a big success this week when it was approved by the Assembly Public Safety Committee. This victory was covered by ABC News and radio station KGO, among others. Another bill the Sacramento office has been working on that is currently being considered by the legislature, AB 296, would combat the current hepatitis C epidemic in California prisons by mandating harm reduction education and voluntary screening.
 Alliance staffer Nikos Leverenz also testified against two bills opposed by the Alliance, which then died in committee. One would have made it a felony to consume controlled substances in front of minors, and the other would have precluded overnight family visits for convicted felons. For more information on these bills and the Alliance's work in the California legislature, please click here. 
 Connecticut: A coalition group called the Connecticut Alliance, of which the Drug Policy Alliance is a member, has been working for drug and prison policy reform in the legislature this year. On March 28, there will be a public hearing for two important bills: HB 6578, a medical marijuana bill, and HB 5076, a bill to correct the sentencing disparities for crimes involving crack cocaine versus powder cocaine. For more information about the hearing and these bills, please visit the Connecticut Alliance website.
 Maryland: The Alliance is sponsoring two Maryland bills, one that would reform mandatory minimum sentencing laws for nonviolent drug offenders, and another that would restore voting rights to people with felony convictions once they have been released from prison. The bill that would reform mandatory minimums, SB 673, is being voted on in the Senate today and in the House next week. HB 12, the voting rights bill, will be voted on tomorrow in the House. 
 New York: The Real Reform Coalition is hosting a Rockefeller Reform rally on May 6th. Stay tuned for details on the rally at the Real Reform website. 
 Texas: On Monday, the Texas Justice Network, of which the Alliance is a founding member, held a Family Lobby Day in Austin around two bills: one to abolish regional drug task forces in Texas, and the other to eliminate racial profiling. Activists were present from all over the state, including Tulia, the site of the infamous drug task force power abuse scandal, and Hearne, another site of drug task force violations. The day was a tremendous success, with close to a thousand people receiving lobby day trainings followed by a rally at the Capitol.Wisconsin: As part of a campaign called TIP (Treatment Instead of Prisons), the Alliance wrote and is supporting a Proposition 36-style treatment-instead-of-incarceration bill which will be heard in the Budget Committee on April 12th. For more information on our work in Wisconsin, please visit our Wisconsin page or the TIP site.
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on March 17, 2005 at 14:05:45 PT
DPA: New Mexico on the Verge of Reform 
Thursday, March 17, 2005New Mexicans today are anxiously awaiting the outcome of a House vote on medical marijuana legislation. The work of both the Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico staff and New Mexico residents who have taken action in support of the bill has gotten it through the Senate and through every committee in the House - now all that remains is a floor vote. New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson has said he will sign the bill, so if the House passes it New Mexico will be the twelfth state to effectively remove criminal penalties for growing and/or possessing medical marijuana.Medical marijuana is supported by 81% of New Mexicans and has also received public support from a major newspaper, the Albuquerque Journal, which wrote an editorial calling for the legalization of medical marijuana as an "anti-starvation drug."New Mexico's SB 795 would allow qualified patients suffering from certain serious illnesses - such as cancer, HIV/AIDS and epilepsy - to use marijuana for relief from their symptoms. The law would require a patient to receive a recommendation for cannabis (i.e. medical marijuana) from his or her doctor. The patient could then apply to participate in the program through the Department of Health, and an independent review board of doctors would consider each application. Upon approval by the board, the patient would receive a registry identification card from the New Mexico Department of Health, certifying that he or she was a participant in the Lynn Pierson program. By registering in this way, the patient and the patient's primary caregiver would be allowed to possess only enough cannabis to treat the patient. Only physicians who already can prescribe controlled substances could recommend patients for the program. The Department of Health will develop regulations for licensed producers within the state, identifying standards for safety, security, and distribution.The new law would not allow medical marijuana use in public, and would penalize lying to a law enforcement officer regarding the medical use of marijuana. The Department of Health would keep a registry of participants so that law enforcement officers could confirm the validity of a patient's registration card. Patients under 18 years old could only participate with parental consent. 
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on March 17, 2005 at 13:59:19 PT
Poll: Medical Marijuana
Should states be allowed to legalize medical marijuana without federal legalization?Current Results:Yes -- 1692 - 71.2% No -- 685 - 28.8% Total votes: 2377Please Vote:
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