MMJ Topic of High Debate in Wilton Forum

MMJ Topic of High Debate in Wilton Forum
Posted by CN Staff on December 06, 2007 at 08:58:55 PT
By Justin Reynolds
Source: Wilton Bulletin
Connecticut -- The topic of the legalization of medical marijuana has elicited high debate in the past, and last week was no exception. The Wilton League of Women Voters continued its “hot topic” discussion series, hosting a forum on the topic in the Brubeck Room of the Wilton Library last Thursday.The league invited two politicians to discuss the legal aspects of medical marijuana and two physicians to talk about the medical side.
State Rep. Toni Boucher, Republican of the 143rd District, spoke against the legalization of medical marijuana while State Rep. Michael Lawlor, Democrat of the 99th District, voiced his support.“For me, this issue has a lot to do with the integrity of the criminal justice system,” said Mr. Lawlor, a lawyer and professor of criminal justice at the University of New Haven. “When the criminal justice system is fighting a losing battle” we must “reconsider whether or not the criminal justice system is the right venue” to address the issue.Mr. Lawlor said most law enforcement officers would not arrest someone for possession of marijuana if it was clear that person was using the drug to help combat a “legitimate illness.”Mr. Lawlor told the story of Mark Braunstein, a librarian at Connecticut College, who became paralyzed from the waist down in 1990. Mr. Braunstein has been very vocal of the fact he grows marijuana in his house and smokes it to help alleviate his pain.“To this day, no law enforcement agency has taken action against him,” Mr. Lawlor said.Because this law is not being enforced, Mr. Lawlor said he believes it needs to be changed.“Without a modification of the law, people will lose respect for the criminal justice system,” he said.Earlier this year, Connecticut’s House of Representatives passed a bill that would have legalized medical marijuana, by a vote of 89-58. The bill would have allowed sick patients to grow up to four, four-foot plants. The state Senate voted in favor of the bill, 23-13.Mr. Lawlor said the bill was “debated at great length” and “modified significantly.”“We talked about all the legitimate concerns,” Mr. Lawlor said. “It seems to me this proposal met the legitimate concerns of the people who raised them.”Mr. Lawlor described the vote as “overwhelmingly bipartisan.”Gov. M. Jodi Rell, however, vetoed the bill in June, which would have made Connecticut the 14th state to have legalized medical marijuana. Ms. Boucher supported Ms. Rell in her veto, and continued her support of the governor’s stance on the issue at Thursday’s forum.“Proponents have gone a long way to say the drug is benign,” Ms. Boucher said. “The facts just simply are not there.”Ms. Boucher said studies have shown marijuana can lead to tumors, damaged lungs, cancer and impaired memory and learning.“Legalizing marijuana for any purpose undermines everything we’ve done,” Ms. Boucher said. “It is not the same drug of the 60s and 70s. It is much more powerful and addictive.”“We want them to live a healthy life,” Ms. Boucher said of potential medical marijuana patients. By prescribing them marijuana, patients could develop “a secondary problem that could be worse than the first,” she said.Ms. Boucher went on to say legalizing medical marijuana was “counterintuitive to everything we know.”An elected official’s job is “to improve the living of people we represent,” she said. “It does not save or improve lives,” she said of marijuana.Larry Katz, a father who lost his son to an overdose in 1996, commented to the panel after their presentations.“We have to set clear guidelines for young people,” Mr. Katz said, adding that legalizing medical marijuana is “giving children another reason to take it” by telling their parents it’s a medicine.  Medical SideTwo physicians who treat cancer patients were also on the panel. Dr. Andrea Ruskin, of Norwalk Hospital, and Dr. Seyed Aleali, of St. Vincent’s Hospital generally agreed they wouldn’t prescribe marijuana to their patients and that enough research hasn’t yet been done to conclude there are enough medicinal benefits of the drug.“I’m not so convinced that marijuana is a great pain reliever. I’m not so convinced marijuana controls nausea,” Dr. Ruskin said, adding that more studies need to be done to verify or disprove these claims.If new studies show medicinal benefits, “I would be all for approval,” she said.“What is lacking is a mode of delivery for THC,” Dr. Aleali said of marijuana’s most psychoactive chemical, tetrahydrocannabinol. “We have drugs that are much more powerful” than marijuana, he said. “As a physician, I think I have enough stuff at my disposal.”Selectman Ted Hoffstatter said while it was “great” to have the forum on a controversial topic, he “felt it was one sided.”“Studies all over the world have been done to show the possible benefits” of medicinal marijuana, Mr. Hoffstatter said.“I’ve heard story after story after story of people who were otherwise law-abiding citizens who told us that this helped them,” Mr. Lawlor said of medical marijuana patients. “Feeling that they’re breaking the law adds to their suffering. To me that’s the most compelling argument.”Since the law would allow patients to grow four, four-foot plants, Ms. Boucher said it would be difficult to monitor whether it was obeyed.“The opportunity for abuse here is just so high,” she said. “Four plants can produce thousands of joints of marijuana” and “there’s no way to administer dosage.”The medical community has yet to come to an agreement on its stance on medical marijuana, the doctors said.“It would put us in an awkward situation as doctors,” Dr. Ruskin said. “There’s no consensus in the medical community that the benefits outweigh the risk. I would have a lot of ethical issues writing prescriptions.”“I don’t think there is any reason for us with all this information to use marijuana as a pain reliever,” Dr. Aleali said, adding legalization of medical marijuana will “never ever” occur, “not in my lifetime, not in your lifetime.” Bigger Picture While the forum was centered around the discussion of medical marijuana, many agreed the push to approve medical marijuana was part of the issue of outright legalization of the drug and the effect it might have on children.Ms. Boucher said more people are now seeking treatment for marijuana than for heroin and cocaine.“We know we have a system where over 90% are arrested for personal use,” Mr. Hoffstatter said, adding it “doesn’t mean they’re addicts” and that they’re “mandated to go to treatment” by the courts.Clifford Thornton, the Green Party’s candidate for governor of Connecticut in 2006, attended the event. Mr. Thornton also serves on the Board of Directors for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.“I think there was a lot of mis- and dis-information given,” Mr. Thornton said in an interview following the event. “It was a decent forum, but most of the people there were uninformed.”Mr. Thornton took the approach of listener at the forum, as he said he wanted to sit back and hear what people thought about the issue and not influence the discussion himself.“What I picked up is that a lot of people are still in the dark,” he said. “I’m not arguing for drug use, I’m arguing for a reasonable approach to this problem,” he said, adding the problem is “created and sustained by the very laws themselves.”Mr. Lawlor repeated he was mostly interested in the criminal justice side of the issue.“The goal of our policy should be to prevent the use of drugs,” he said, adding that our country’s current policy doesn’t seem to eliminate drug use.“How well are we doing with the War on Drugs?” Mr. Lawlor asked. “Thirty years is enough time to see if the policy is working. We’re spending more money to run prisons in Connecticut than we are spending on colleges. What we’re doing now is just not working.”Mr. Lawlor said poll data suggests as many as 80% of Americans favor decriminalization of marijuana.“It’s important to point out that on this issue, if you look at polls, an overwhelming percent support the idea of decriminalization and regulating medical marijuana,” he said.“I do feel like polls are not accurate,” Ms. Boucher said, adding “questions are phrased unfairly.”“Yes, we have a massive problem here” but if we legalize medical marijuana “our problems can be magnified, our costs can be magnified,” she said. “The agenda is not about medical marijuana, but about the legalization of drugs.”Mr. Thornton said Connecticut stood to gain millions of dollars from legalized marijuana, and agreed with Ms. Boucher’s sentiment that legalizing medical marijuana is a step towards pushing for the legalization of marijuana.“It’s definitely a wedge issue,” Mr. Thornton said. “Don’t get me wrong here, the push for medical marijuana is for sick people, however — and to me it’s a no-brainer — it is definitely a wedge issue and the broader issue is the outright legalization of marijuana.”“What we need to do is expose the issue,” he said. “In this history of man, no one has died from direct ingestion of marijuana. People are never going to stop using this drug, at least that’s what history shows.”“I do not advocate the use of drugs in any way, shape, or form,” Mr. Hoffstatter said, adding he thinks the medical marijuana bill, however, “should have passed.” Complete Title: Medical Marijuana Topic of High Debate in Wilton ForumSource: Wilton Bulletin (CT)Author: Justin ReynoldsPublished: December 6, 2007Copyright: 2007 by Hersam Acorn NewspapersWebsite: newsroom Related Articles and Web Site:NORML Panel in Wilton To Debate The Pros & Cons Vetoes Bill To Legalize Medical Marijuana
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Comment #20 posted by FoM on December 06, 2007 at 17:58:13 PT
Washington Times: A Ganja Old Party Challenge 
December 6, 2007The Marijuana Policy Project wants top Republican presidential candidates to prove they know what they're talking about when it comes to medical marijuana.The group, which fights criminal penalties for marijuana possession, says its supporters have asked Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney and John McCain, and all of them have said marijuana is "too dangerous" for medical use or not necessary.At a press conference today in front of Mr. Giuliani's New Hampshire campaign headquarters in Manchester, MPP offered $10,000 — the maximum contribution allowed from a political action committee — if any of the three candidates offered scientific evidence to back up their claims.MPP promised that any campaign that responds will have its claims "evaluated by an independent panel of medical experts."— Stephen Dinan, national political reporter, The Washington Times Copyright: 2007 The Washington Times, LLC.
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Comment #19 posted by fight_4_freedom on December 06, 2007 at 17:42:32 PT:
I don't know where I got Tulsa from. Big difference there, sorry about that one.
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Comment #18 posted by Hope on December 06, 2007 at 17:30:37 PT
Do you mean Omaha?
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Comment #17 posted by fight_4_freedom on December 06, 2007 at 16:46:59 PT:
I betcha that truck will be gettin' a lot of honks
and hoots and hollars!!! It's definitely a good way of getting attention. Think of all the people that will see it while they 're on their way to Boston. It should gain some media exposure, but i doubt it will be a major headline anytime soon. I hope at some point this issue gets discussed more in depth by the candidates. This should be a topic included in every debate, republican and democratic. Hopefully it will pop up at the next one.
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Comment #16 posted by dongenero on December 06, 2007 at 14:56:18 PT
MPP pinocchio billboard
I think it's a great opportunity to call out the prohibitionists' lies in a high profile, public manner.Pretty savvy I would say. Of course the candidates will try very hard to ignore it and shut out anyone who might ask further embarrassing questions on the issue. The media? They'll probably ignore it because none of them will want to appear pro cannabis. I imagine if a "corporate" journalist appears soft on cannabis, there would be a lot of wink,wink, nudge ,nudge going on in their office. Most would view it as a liability to their career, afraid of having a "stoner" stigma in today's world of "corporate" journalism.I don't know, what do you think? 
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Comment #15 posted by FoM on December 06, 2007 at 14:17:15 PT
That's different. 
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Comment #14 posted by fight_4_freedom on December 06, 2007 at 14:11:03 PT:
Yep, that must be the billboard. Although I pictured something different before.It's a very clever idea by MPP though. They'll be traveling to Romney's headquarters in Boston next. Hopefully the media picks this one up.But in all likelihood, it's not going to get much coverage.
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Comment #13 posted by FoM on December 06, 2007 at 13:51:01 PT
I looked and saw a picture with the three of them with long noses. Is that the billboard?
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Comment #12 posted by fight_4_freedom on December 06, 2007 at 13:13:38 PT:
 Giuliani, McCain, Romney: Prove It, or Stop lying
December 6, 2007MANCHESTER, NEW HAMPSHIRE -- At a press conference in front of Rudy Giuliani's Manchester headquarters this morning with a massive mobile truck billboard in tow, a representative of the Marijuana Policy Project joined two New Hampshire patients to challenge presidential candidates Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and Mitt Romney to back up their statements regarding medical marijuana with scientific evidence, offering the legal maximum $10,000 campaign contribution to any of the three who can prove that their statements are true........
entire article
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Comment #11 posted by FoM on December 06, 2007 at 12:08:49 PT
I appreciate your comment. Thank you.
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Comment #10 posted by yanxor on December 06, 2007 at 12:05:35 PT
I'd like to thank him for thinking period, rather than spouting frightning bs.
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Comment #9 posted by yanxor on December 06, 2007 at 12:02:49 PT
Sam Adams
I thought the same thing - how can these politicians and physicians be getting it so wrong.And then I realized that one of those politicians is a republican. And the doctors...well, they're the people who connect you to the pharmaceuticals - and I'm assuming that plays some sort of role in their statements. Also, I think the doctors both think that from a medical standpoint, smoking any type of plant matter is harmful (and it is). Not sure what kind of cop-out (if any) they would make for vaporization though.
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on December 06, 2007 at 12:02:45 PT
State Rep. Michael Lawlor
I wanted to thank State Rep. Michael Lawlor for trying to think outside the box.
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Comment #7 posted by yanxor on December 06, 2007 at 11:59:01 PT
Fight 4 freedom
I hear you about the Tulsa thing. The first thing I read about that shooting was a headline on CNN which was a quote from the suspect: "At least now I'll be famous."How retarded is it that they post this stuff all over the news and give it intensive coverage. I'm somewhat convinced that if the media covered (mall/school/postal) shootings as well as they cover positive research results about cannabis, there would be a lot less of those shootings.Oh, and in case somebody is wondering what that 12.5micromolar translates into in terms of cannabis consumption - we're talking on the order of an ounce or so per day.This might sound insane, but it would actually be very practical if we gave it orally. Since cannabinoids dont absorb well through the digestive tract, the concentrations of cannabinoids inside of the digestive tract can get incredibly high (no pun intended) without the large dosage mentioned above.So, the application of the research would probably only be practical in cancers relating to the digestive tract - but the digestive tract has a high level (in the study cited by the paper 92/150 malignant tumors overexpressed ABCG2, when only digestive tract cancers were considered the number was something to the effect of 28/30) of ABCG2 expression and cancers of the digestive tract often do have mutated ABCG2.
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Comment #6 posted by Sam Adams on December 06, 2007 at 11:56:19 PT
this is a good, long article. Unfortunately it offer abundant evidence that highly educated experts and leaders in American society will sit there for two hours and lie with impunity. There's every type of falsehood from bald-faced lie (plenty of those) to procrastinating lie (I haven't seen any studies yet, as soon as one comes out, I'll change my mind - even though studies have been coming out for 30 years). Exagerrations, fear mongering, even taunting - medical MJ will NEVER become legal! What the hell purpose does that statement serve? What a shame, I thought Connecticut was a land of very well educated smart people.  In this crazy time of advanced modern society it's amazing that the biggest experts are sometimes the biggest fools in the room.
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Comment #5 posted by Yanxor on December 06, 2007 at 11:50:50 PT
Speaking of cannabis and cancer
"Ms. Boucher said studies have shown marijuana can lead to tumors, damaged lungs, cancer and impaired memory and learning."1. I'd love to see the study that shows any causation between smoking marijuana and tumors, (long-term) imparied memory and (long term) impaired learning.2. I'd also love to see the study that shows a corralation between cannabis and cancer.Recently (this monday) I did a presentation for my Biochemistry class about a study that came out this past october. I won't get into the painful detail of it all, and for the sake of simplicity, here is a simplified version of the findings.The ABCG2 protein (when mutated) pumps chemotherapy drugs out of the cancerous cell. This gives the cell somewhat of an immunity to two families of chemotherapy drugs, since more and more of the drug must be used to kill the cancer cells. The study found that THC, CBD and CBN all inhibit the activity of the mutated ABCG2 (prevent it from pumping out those chemotherapy drugs). Therefore, smaller amounts of the drug will be effective at killing those cancerous cells.This was the first study that focused on the interaction between the ABCG2 (aka Breast Cancer Resistance Protein) protein and cannabinoids, and the researchers suggested that in the future cannabis might be administered to chemotherapy patients for its primary cancer-killing affects rather than for the pain/nausea/anorexia elimination.Also, the researchers found that completely seperate from all this ABCG2 protein stuff - at certain concentrations (12.5 microMolar) cannabinoids selectively cause cancer cells to die.Here's the paper from the british journal of pharmacology:
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Comment #4 posted by fight_4_freedom on December 06, 2007 at 11:40:54 PT:
Waitin' to hear some
news about MPP's challenge and the press conference they had this morning. So far I've heard nothing.It's a good day to have it as Romney had a big speech today that has been all over the news. And wouldn't it be sweet to ruin that for him by exposing his lies.On a more serious note, it's a very sad day in Tulsa. God Bless all the innocent victims and families affected by this tragedy. It's a sick, sad world out there. 
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Comment #3 posted by yanxor on December 06, 2007 at 11:39:13 PT
lol   outright stupidity
Dr. Aleali said, adding legalization of medical marijuana will “never ever” occur, “not in my lifetime, not in your lifetime.”The wording the doctor uses harkens back to "Segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever."Also, medical marijuana has already been thirteen states, and if the doctor is refering to "on a federal level" - well, unless Dr. Aleali plans to die very soon, and take us all with her - cannabis will make a liar out of her."Ms. Boucher said more people are now seeking treatment for marijuana than for heroin and cocaine."...Ms. Boucher evidently longs to see the day when more people would seek treatment for heroin and cocaine rather than marijuana - and so do I.“The agenda is not about medical marijuana, but about the legalization of drugs.”Really Ms. Boucher? Because I believe the article started with: "The topic of the legalization of medical marijuana" - and I mean, that's what the discussion was about and everything. The agenda is clearly medical marijuana with some discussion spilling into general cannabis legalization. But Ms. Boucher is better than that, and pulls a fast one on her opponents by associating dying cancer patients with the legalization of heroin and crack-cocaine.
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Comment #2 posted by fight_4_freedom on December 06, 2007 at 10:35:37 PT:
Got a quick question for Ms. Boucher
"Ms. Boucher said studies have shown marijuana can lead to tumors, damaged lungs, cancer and impaired memory and learning."Where are these studies? Tumors??? Cancer???
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on December 06, 2007 at 10:25:36 PT
A Comment On The Article
I appreciate the detail in this article.
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