Make Room in Minnesota for Medical Marijuana

  Make Room in Minnesota for Medical Marijuana

Posted by CN Staff on April 17, 2008 at 11:45:47 PT
Source: Pioneer Press 

Minnesota -- On the subject of pot smoking to relieve serious suffering, here's what we said during the Minnesota legislative session two years ago: Isn't it weird that we've figured out how to create and manage a system that delivers hallucinogenics, paralytics, depressants, antidepressants, stimulants, steroids, opioids, alpha blockers, beta blockers, hypnotics, antibiotics, antifungals, antivirals, antihistamines, anti-metabolites, hormones, immune-suppressants, immune-stimulants, muscle relaxants, analgesics, suppositories and laughing gas to patients who need them, but we can't figure out how to get them medical marijuana?
And here it is, still the case. Still weird. There's good legislation before the Minnesota Legislature this year that would allow certain sick people limited access to limited amounts of marijuana for limited reasons in limited circumstances. It has passed the Senate. It ought to pass the House, and the governor ought to sign it. The legislation would allow the use of medical marijuana for people suffering from cancer, AIDS, hepatitis C, intractable pain, severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those related to multiple sclerosis and Crohn's disease, wasting syndrome, severe nausea, Tourette's syndrome, seizures and agitation of Alzheimer's disease. Qualified patients could possess only small amounts of marijuana, which would have to be obtained from a nonprofit organization registered with and regulated by the state. Other safeguards in the legislation protect employers, insurers and the public. Opposition to the idea comes from people concerned about conflict with federal drug policy; about the idea that looser restriction on marijuana will lead to its abuse; about making life more difficult for law enforcement officers; about the lack of endorsement or regulation by the Food and Drug Administration. These concerns are sincere. In Minnesota's legislative process, they have been taken seriously, which is why in the years the idea has been before the Legislature it has been tightened and tightened again. Twelve states — Hawaii, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Montana, Maine, Vermont and Rhode Island — have laws of varying complexity that allow the use of marijuana for medical reasons. The laws in those states are working, "and there's simply no empirical data anywhere that says otherwise," said Rep. Chris DeLaForest, R-Andover. DeLaForest is among the co-sponsors of the bill in the House of Representatives. He's for the bill for several reasons, including compassion for sick people, respect for the doctor-patient relationship, and because, he says, "this is a conservative issue." Washington isn't the sole repository of good policy, he notes. He's right. In this case, Minnesota should make better policy.Source: St. Paul Pioneer Press (MN)Published: April 16, 2008Copyright: 2008 St. Paul Pioneer PressContact: letters pioneerpress.comWebsite: Related Articles & Web Site:Minnesota Cares Marijuana Merits State Support Bill Nears House Vote

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Comment #6 posted by FoM on April 17, 2008 at 15:11:50 PT
Thank you.
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Comment #5 posted by RevRayGreen on April 17, 2008 at 15:07:32 PT

I'll be
looking on for the news release.
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on April 17, 2008 at 14:53:00 PT

I'll keep looking for a news article. I can't wait to post one. Go Barney!
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Comment #3 posted by dongenero on April 17, 2008 at 14:49:40 PT

Beautiful statement by Senator Frank. Thank you Senator!
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on April 17, 2008 at 14:27:35 PT

Press Release From The Marijuana Policy Project
Barney Frank Introduces Bold Reform of Federal Marijuana LawsApril 17, 2008 Washington, D.C. -- Officials of the Marijuana Policy Project praised the “Personal Use of Marijuana by Responsible Adults Act of 2008,” introduced today by Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), as an important step toward bringing federal law into line with scientific fact, practical reality and public opinion.“Congressman Frank’s bill represents a major step toward sanity in federal marijuana policy,” said MPP director of government relations Aaron Houston. “The decades-long federal war on marijuana protects no one and in fact has ruined countless lives. Most Americans do not believe that simple possession of a small amount of marijuana should be a criminal matter, and it’s time Congress listened to the voters.”URL:
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on April 17, 2008 at 13:54:59 PT

News Release from Barney Frank
Contact: Peter Kovar (202) 225-9400  Congressman, 4th District, Massachusetts
2252 Rayburn Building · Washington, D.C. 20515 · (202) 225-5931 April 17, 2008FRANK INTRODUCES LEGISLATION TO REMOVE FEDERAL PENALTIES ON PERSONAL MARIJUANA USECongressman Also Files Bill Permitting Medical Use of Marijuana in States that Choose to Allow it with Doctor’s RecommendationCongressman Barney Frank today introduced bi-partisan legislation aimed at removing federal restrictions on the individual use of marijuana. One bill would remove federal penalties for the personal use of marijuana, and the other – versions of which Frank has filed in several preceding sessions of Congress – would allow the medical use of marijuana in states that have chosen to make its use for medical purposes legal with a doctor’s recommendation. Representative Ron Paul (R-TX) joined Frank as a cosponsor of the federal penalties bill. The cosponsors of the medical marijuana bill are Rep. Paul, along with Reps. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), and Sam Farr (D-CA).Congressman Frank released the following statement explaining the legislation.“I think it is poor law enforcement to keep on the books legislation that establishes as a crime something which in fact society does not seriously wish to prosecute. In my view, having federal law enforcement agents engaged in the prosecution of people who are personally using marijuana is a waste of scarce resources better used for serious crimes. In fact, this type of prosecution often meets with public disapproval. The most frequent recent examples have been federal prosecutions of individuals using marijuana for medical purposes in states that have voted – usually by public referenda – to allow such use. Because current federal law has been interpreted as superseding state law in this area, most states that have made medical use of marijuana legal have been unable to actually implement their laws."When doctors recommend the use of marijuana for their patients and states are willing to permit it, I think it’s wrong for the federal government to subject either the doctors or the patients to criminal prosecution. More broadly speaking, the norm in America is for the states to decide whether particular behaviors should be made criminal. To make the smoking of marijuana, whether for medical purposes or not, one of those extremely rare instances of federal crime – literally, to make a ‘federal case’ out of it – is wholly disproportionate to the activity involved. We do not have federal criminal prohibitions against drinking alcoholic beverages, and there are generally no criminal penalties for the use of tobacco at the state and federal levels for adults. There is no rational argument for treating marijuana so differently from these other substances.”“To those who say that the government should not be encouraging the smoking of marijuana, my response is that I completely agree. But it is a great mistake to divide all human activity into two categories: those that are criminally prohibited, and those that are encouraged. In a free society, there must be a very considerable zone of activity between those two poles in which people are allowed to make their own choices as long as they are not impinging on the rights, freedom, or property of others. I believe it is important with regard to tobacco, marijuana and alcohol, among other things, that we strictly regulate the age at which people may use these substances. And, enforcement of age restrictions should be firm. But, criminalizing choices that adults make because we think they are unwise ones, when the choices involved have no negative effect on the rights of others, is not appropriate in a free society.”“If the laws I am proposing pass, states will still be free to treat marijuana as they wish. But I do not believe that the federal government should treat adults who choose to smoke marijuana as criminals. Federal law enforcement is a serious business, and we should be concentrating our efforts in this regard on measures that truly protect the public.”
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