Senate Looks To Expand Rx Marijuana Bill

Senate Looks To Expand Rx Marijuana Bill
Posted by CN Staff on January 20, 2007 at 06:20:29 PT
By Louis Porter, Vermont Press Bureau
Source: Times Argus 
Montpelier, VT -- After 1996, when he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis after two years of symptoms, Mark Tucci of Manchester began taking a bunch of heavy duty medications.But those medications came with their own problems and side effects. Then he began smoking marijuana.
Tucci says his use of the drug has helped him to cut in half the number of prescription medicines he takes, and his illness is not progressing as rapidly as was expected. He has written a book for patients growing marijuana."Not only does smoking slow down the degenerative progress of my disease, you can see that, but I don't have to take the 17 narcotics I did have to take," Tucci, 50, said by telephone Friday.He spoke the same day the state Senate Judiciary Committee voted 4-1 to advance a bill expanding the state's medical marijuana statute, which became law in 2004.The concerns of law enforcement officials helped persuade members of the committee to stop short of giving advocates for medical marijuana everything they wanted, said Sen. Richard Sears, D-Bennington, the committee chairman. Police and prosecution officials testified earlier this month that there was a chance changing the law could contribute to an increase in drug crimes, or that patients might be targeted for theft."We listened to law enforcement and their concerns," Sears said.The bill, which now moves to the Health and Welfare Committee in the Senate, would expand Vermont's marijuana program significantly.If it becomes law, sufferers of chronic illnesses that are progressive and debilitating  but not life-threatening  will be able to legally possess and grow limited amounts of the drug. In the past, access was restricted to deadly diseases like cancer, AIDs and multiple sclerosis.Patients would be able to have four mature marijuana plants and 10 immature plants, as long as they registered the plants with state police and had the approval of their doctors.However, patients still would be restricted to possessing two ounces of marijuana. And strict rules about how the drugs are grown, and requirements about registration by patients, would remain in place, lawmakers said."The testimony we received was that it was working well for the people already on the registry," Sears said.So far, Vermont's law has not run afoul of federal authorities. Vermont's law protects patients from prosecution by state and local authorities, but not under federal drug laws.However, Vermont's medical marijuana law is significantly more restrictive than those in other states, like California, where federal authorities have stepped in to enforce U.S. laws, Sears said."We still believe that is unlikely to happen in Vermont," Sears said.He said it's important for Vermont to expand the list of ill patients who are eligible for medical use of the drug, and to increase the number of plants patients can grow for their own use. Otherwise, patients  whose diseases may have weakened them financially as well as physically  may be purchasing them much more expensively on the black market."Some of these people are just struggling to get by," Sears said.Sen. Alice Nitka, D-Windsor, voted against the bill in the Judiciary Committee."I certainly have sympathy for the people who are not included in the current law," she said. But "it's not something I was comfortable with."In part, there was too much conflicting testimony about how much of the drug could be collected from plants grown indoors, as Vermont's law requires, Nitka said."There was a very wide range, too wide for me," Nitka said.Adam Necrason, a lobbyist and lawyer for the Marijuana Policy Project, said that while advocates did not get everything they wanted, the bill is a step in the right direction"This bill marks a major step forward in Vermont's medical marijuana program," he said. "While not perfect, S.7 will extend protection to many patients who suffer terribly but have no protection under our current law. The Legislature and governor should pass this measure without delay."Sears said he expects the bill to receive broad support in the Senate. He is hopeful it can help people like the elderly man he spoke to recently who suffers terribly from shingles.As for Tucci, he wishes the committee had gone further toward adopting his and other advocates' recommendations for allowing patients to grow more plants and possess more marijuana. He vividly remembers the difference using marijuana medicinally made in his life  especially when he was able to get rid of some of the side effects of his other prescriptions."My God, I didn't feel like I was going to throw up anymore," he said. "My disease is progressing, there is no doubt about it," Tucci said. But "I can get rid of most of my pain and most of my spasms  It's about quality of life."Source: Times Argus (Barre, VT)Author: Louis Porter, Vermont Press Bureau Published: January 20, 2007 Copyright: 2007 Times ArgusContact: letters timesargus.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Marijuana Policy Project Marijuana Bill Aims To Change Conditions Patients Argue for Expansion of MMJ Law Allow Sick To Grow More Pot 
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Comment #5 posted by Toker00 on January 21, 2007 at 03:16:39 PT
What gets me, not even having anything to do with cannabis, is the fact that when you are hospitalized, there are many different doctors working on you that are prescribing pills that the other doctors aren't even aware of. This is how many toxicity deaths occur. Every MD is a Legal DRUG Dealer. Does the cocaine dealer care if you just bought crystal meth and heroin to go with it? Neither do the doctors. Sell drugs, treat, treat, treat with drugs. Don't do healing. (Your body does the healing over time, anyway, not the treatment) No long-term profit there. Pass laws to protect yourself, and what do you have to worry about? NOTHING. Love of Corporatism is the Global Root of All Evil.Wage Peace on war. END CANNABIS PROHIBITION NOW! 
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Comment #4 posted by Hope on January 20, 2007 at 16:01:18 PT
"I don't have to take the 17 narcotics I did have to take,.."Think that worries anyone in any powerful industries? I'm pretty sure that scares Big Pharmaceuticals and anyone invested in it...and they have money and power. Big Pharm certainly has BIG BIG money. You think they want marijuana out there for everyone...when it will defininitely make a dent in their bottom line and less of a dent in people's livers and perhaps even ten percent less of their poisons and near poisons consumed? Ten percent of billions and billions of dollars is actually quite a bit of money...or profit.Yep. Big Pharm has to be a big factor in what is holding up the drug war wall. It's them, the prison industry, and law enforcement that are keeping common sense and sanity from prevailing in the matter of this prohibition. We are held captive...our lives and choices are held captive by big industry. Who cares what so many people want? Minority opinions are supposed to matter. Yet, huge a minority that we are, we are still expected to have to be a majority to see any positive changes and then, even then, sometimes we, the people, are ignored and persecuted anyway. What really matters is what big money wants. Most of our leaders are more than happy, apparently, to cater to industry at all costs, no matter the harm and injustice to the people. To Big Business...Big Money is more important any day than any human being, their lives, or needs, who might somehow hinder that aquisition of wealth. Legalization of the good herb will hurt their pocket books...and right or wrong...they fight it.
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on January 20, 2007 at 15:34:19 PT
I thought she did very well. She said the dispensaries need regulations and I agree. They have to legalzie growing for dispensaries to make it work.I noticed that O'Reilly had to bring up San Francisco ( Nancy Pelosi's Babylon by the Bay) LOL!
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Comment #2 posted by Dankhank on January 20, 2007 at 15:24:48 PT
effective spokespersonO'Reilly was more even-handed than I would have expected ...a million bucks and handguns ...if you got a million you NEED guns, but what's up with a million in cash?
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on January 20, 2007 at 12:26:15 PT
Steph Sherer of ASA on The O'Reilly Factor
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