Lawmakers Consider Medical Marijuana Bill

Lawmakers Consider Medical Marijuana Bill
Posted by CN Staff on May 19, 2005 at 07:34:07 PT
By Eric Tucker
Source: The Day
Providence, R.I. -- Patients suffering from debilitating medical conditions would be able to grow and use marijuana without risking arrest under a bill up for debate before a legislative committee on Wednesday.The House Committee on Health, Education & Welfare heard testimony Wednesday evening on the Rhode Island Medical Marijuana Act, which would shield patients with diseases such as cancer and AIDS from being prosecuted for using marijuana.
Their doctors and caregivers also would be protected."We can all agree that there are people out there who are very sick and are using marijuana because it's the only thing that gives them relief,” Rep. Thomas C. Slater, D-Providence, sponsor of the House bill, told the committee.Slater said the bill was narrowly tailored and would not generally legalize marijuana. He said he believed the state Health Department would supply the drug to eligible patientsPatients with breast cancer, multiple sclerosis and other diseases took turns touting the benefits of the bill.“I urge you to avoid playing politics with medicine and pass this bill today,” said Rhonda O'Donnell, 42, of Warwick, who has multiple sclerosis.“Take a good look at me,” testified 52-year-old Debra Nievera, who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease and other ailments.“Do I look like someone who should be ... thrown in jail because I choose to use marijuana for my pain?” Nievera asked.But not everyone supports the bill. The state Health Department issued a three-page release against the measure. Law enforcement officials also voiced opposition.“Marijuana is a widely abused drug in Rhode Island,” State Police Lt. LeRoy Rose told the committee.The bill was filed in both legislative chambers. The Senate Committee on Judiciary was scheduled to consider a slightly different version of the legislation this afternoon.Ten states already have laws permitting the medical use and cultivation of marijuana, according to the text of the bill.“This is not a liberal bill,” Sen. Rhoda E. Perry, sponsor of the Senate bill, said before the hearing. “It's a medical bill. It's a bill that has to do with compassion and it's modeled after those bills that have been successful in both Colorado and Oregon.”Perry said she expected the Senate committee to vote on the bill today.Patients qualified to use marijuana for treatment would be issued special identification cards with their name, address and date of birth, as well as the name of their primary caregiver. The patients would then be allowed to possess up to 12 marijuana plants and 21/2 ounces of usable marijuana without facing arrest.According to statistics from the federal government, 99 percent of marijuana arrests are made under state law rather than federal law.“Consequently, changing state law will have the practical effect of protecting from arrest the vast majority of seriously ill people who have a medical need to use marijuana,” the bill states.Perry said she had a nephew who recently died of AIDS and “had extraordinary difficult times with pain management, with nausea, with wasting, etc.“In my own way, I'm dedicating the passage of this bill to him,” she said. Quote: “We can all agree that there are people out there who are very sick and are using marijuana because it's the only thing that gives them relief.” -- Rep. Thomas C. Slater, D-Providence Source: Day, The (CT)Author: Monte WhaleyPublished: May 19, 2005Copyright: 2005 The Day Publishing Co.Contact: editor theday.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Medical Marijuana Information Links Bill Sparks Debate, Cons of Medical Marijuana Get Hearing Medical-Marijuana Bill's Problems
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