Protesters Rally for a Dose of Their Own Medicine

Protesters Rally for a Dose of Their Own Medicine
Posted by CN Staff on October 27, 2005 at 07:33:06 PT
By Damon C. Williams
Source: Philadelphia Daily News 
Pennsylvania -- NORML - the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws - isn't just blowing smoke as it launches a campaign to legalize pot for medical use.The group wants Congress and the Department of Health and Human Services to change its classification of marijuana and to eliminate punishment for its use as medicine. "We're trying to get some attention on the issues," said Nikolas Varrone, co-founder and treasurer of Philly NORML, during a rally yesterday outside of the Health and Human Services offices at 6th and Sansom streets.
"We want to make people aware of what's going on."What's going on, at least according to NORML, is that HHS has failed to respond to petitions to "reschedule" marijuana. Scheduling is the process of classifying and regulating drugs, with most fitting into one of five drug schedules.As is, marijuana is classified as a schedule 1 drug, on a par with heroin, PCP and LSD, and its scheduling also means that as far as the government is concerned, marijuana has no accepted medical value and is prone to high levels of abuse.Varonne and the NORML movement want to downgrade marijuana to at least a schedule 2 drug.He believes that money now being spent on catching, prosecuting and eventually jailing medicinal marijuana users could go to a much better cause."When you think about all the money that goes into it, especially when we're trying to fight several wars on different fronts, it's an awful lot of money down the toilet," said Varrone, who has been affiliated with NORML for two years."Seven thousand Philadelphians last year were arrested [for possession], and that's according to Pennsylvania Unified Crime Reporting statistics."Varrone is aware of the risk of his message being tainted by casual users and by those who sell marijuana, which in turn can lead to violence and death.He believes that there is a distinct division between what NORML is doing and what the street-side seller is doing, and thinks the government knows the difference as well."If the government is aiming for anyone, they're aiming for sales; with sales, you can get into a bit of trouble," Varrone said. "The problem is with sales, you have to hold your turf. These guys are law-breakers; they buy themselves a Tec-9, outfit it to be fully automatic, and they set up shop. When they get kicked out of an area, they only come back to fight for more space."I think [the government] wants the sellers. I don't think they even want to go after the recreational user."According to NORML, the organization is closer to obtaining a congressional ruling now than five years ago, but it's still a slow burn."There's growing support," Varrone said. "The last few years, they have been trying to pass legislation called the States Right to Medical Marijuana Act."One prominent politician seems to side with at least some of what NORML is saying. Sen. Arlen Specter, himself battling Hodgkin's disease, told the Daily News in June he may introduce legislation in the Senate in support of medicinal marijuana. Source: Philadelphia Daily News (PA)Author: Damon C. WilliamsPublished: Thursday, October 27, 2005Copyright: 2005 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc.Contact: Views phillynews.comWebsite: Medical Marijuana Archives
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on October 27, 2005 at 21:09:27 PT
Related Article from BBSNews
Group Targets HHS with Medical Marijuana Lawsuit ***  
Thursday, October 27 2005 Data Quality Lawsuit Over Medical Marijuana Targets HHS ASA via BBSNews - 2005-10-27 -- In the continued push to resolve the state-federal conflict over medical marijuana laws, hundreds of patients and advocates rallied today at the Washington DC headquarters of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and six regional outposts of in San Francisco, Denver, Seattle, Kansas City, Philadelphia and Dallas, demanding that HHS head Michael Leavitt respond to rescheduling petitions and admit marijuana has medical use. Advocates also delivered “medical evidence” of 6500 studies from medical journals demonstrating a multitude of medical uses for marijuana. Americans for Safe Access, the national medical marijuana advocacy group responsible for the protests, is one of the 2002 petitioners to HHS to reclassify marijuana. The group also launched a legal challenge to HHS in 2004 to correct published medical marijuana misinformation under the Data Quality Act (DQA), a little-known law that requires federal agencies to rely on sound science. According to group spokespeople, responses by HHS to both petitions are long overdue. During the Washington DC rally, Michael Leavitt, Secretary of Health and Human Services, was served with both official Notice of Intent to Sue for illegally delaying reply to the DQA petition, and 20,000 signatures from patients nationwide demanding that science and public health prevail when HHS makes its decision on petition requests to reschedule marijuana. John Shaw, a San Francisco AIDS survivor who uses marijuana to treat his neuropathy, spoke to the crowd in San Francisco, “Michael Leavitt, your time is up. We presented the medical evidence almost four years ago to HHS, and we are still waiting for any response. People with AIDS throughout America cannot wait any longer – we deserve an answer!” If the patient-advocacy group prevails in its DQA petition, the Department of Health and Human Services will have to change its tune on medical marijuana and publicly admit that marijuana is now routinely used for medical treatment, clearing the way for doctors to prescribe it to their patients. According to both petitions, public health must prevail when it comes to marijuana law, since established research, federal reports and patient experience all show marijuana works for pain, nausea, loss of appetite, anxiety, and spasticity, the severe muscle spasms associated with Multiple Sclerosis, spinal injury and other conditions. Currently, ten states have laws permitting patients to legally use marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation, but these laws are at odds with the federal prohibition that categorizes marijuana as more dangerous than cocaine or amphetamines. The Department of Health and Human Services is one of the four entities that can independently change the classification of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act. The others are the Drug Enforcement Administration, Congress, and the Executive Branch. 
Copyright: 2005 BBSNews
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Comment #3 posted by phatcyclist on October 27, 2005 at 17:31:46 PT:
To accept...or not to accept... the truth.
Marijuana has no “accepted” medical value; this much is true. The non- “accepted” values, as most who read this are familiar, are voluminous. What bothers me most as a casual and recreational user is the suggestion that marijuana is at all “prone to high levels of abuse.” So frequently we hear our Presidents and public figures claim to have experimented with cannabis only to “not inhale” or other such humors. Why have these men and women of the government who experimented with marijuana not become junkies after stepping through the “gateway” of the hemp plant? Why am I not a chronic, daily user considering that I enjoy the herb’s effects and I am financially capable of supplying myself constant access? Why is the Big Mac with Cheese combo meal not scheduled as a level 1 substance with the rationale that its effects on the user are adverse and it is “prone to high levels of abuse?” (There are many 300lb+ individuals which could be considered medically and morbidly obese who are living testaments to this fact.) I applaud NORML for their efforts in this issue. 
An Intelligent Discourse On Marijuana
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Comment #2 posted by runderwo on October 27, 2005 at 10:06:36 PT
"Varrone is aware of the risk of his message being tainted by casual users and by those who sell marijuana, which in turn can lead to violence and death."Marijuana does not cause violence and death. Selling marijuana does not cause violence and death. Marijuana prohibition causes violence and death."I think [the government] wants the sellers. I don't think they even want to go after the recreational user."Yeah, whatever. Just like ONDCP going on record saying that they don't target medical users, meanwhile the DEA is busting down Angel Raich's door as a counterexample. I think 750,000 marijuana possession arrests in 2004 is reasonable proof that the government does indeed target users.
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on October 27, 2005 at 09:06:53 PT
I hope things aren't as bad as are quoted in this article. I'll never want to visit Philly again if it's true. Cannabis people aren't violent people that I have ever heard about. Hard drugs I would agree but Cannabis only I can't believe it's that bad.
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