Medical Marijuana Measure Advances

Medical Marijuana Measure Advances
Posted by CN Staff on February 14, 2009 at 05:55:26 PT
By Mike Dennison of the Missoulian State Bureau
Source: Missoulian
Helena, MT -- A bill increasing the amount of medical marijuana that can be possessed by patients won a surprise endorsement from a Senate committee late Friday, sending it to the full Senate for further action.Senate Bill 326 also expands the types of diseases that can be treated legally with marijuana in Montana and has other changes that supporters said make it easier for approved patients to get the amount of drugs they need.
“I'm overjoyed,” patient and caregiver Eric Billings of Lewistown said after the vote by the Senate Public Health Committee. “I can't thank the committee enough.”“We really want to work with law enforcement to make this program workable,” he said. “The committee got it today. They really understood.”The panel voted 5-2 to endorse SB326, but not before amending it to allow patients to possess up to 3 ounces of marijuana rather than the 12 ounces in the original bill.Current state law says patients and caregivers, who are people licensed to supply drugs to a registered medical marijuana patient, can possess only 1 ounce of marijuana at a time.Supporters of the bill said the single ounce is far from adequate, forcing patients to repeatedly make new attempts to acquire what they need.Two Republicans and three Democrats on the panel voted for the bill, including Sen. Dave Lewis, R-Helena.Lewis said he hadn't been planning on supporting the measure, but that a woman he knew in Helena who had ovarian cancer “slipped a note in my pocket (after the hearing) and said, ‘This treatment is the only thing that is keeping me sane.' ”Tom Daubert of Patients and Families United, a group formed by medical marijuana patients and their families, said “the power of patient testimony” at the Feb. 6 hearing clearly moved committee members.“Their vote today signals their compassionate support,” he said after Friday's vote.Sen. Ron Erickson, D-Missoula, the sponsor of the bill, said Friday that anyone who sits through a hearing and listens to patients' testimony “knows that this is one of the laws in Montana that does a heck of a lot of good.”SB326 now heads to the Senate floor, perhaps next week, where it faces a debate and vote by the full Senate.Montana voters enacted the state's medical marijuana law with a 2004 initiative, allowing those with debilitating diseases to become registered patients with approval from a physician. Supporters say the drug relieves chronic pain suffered by cancer patients and others.The law said patients or caregivers could possess up to 1 ounce of the drug and have up to six plants.SB326 increases the amount to 3 ounces; says patients or caregivers can have up to six “mature” plants; allows patients to acquire the drug from more than one caregiver; and adds several diseases that can be treated with marijuana, including diabetes, post-traumatic stress disorder, Alzheimer's disease and hepatitis C.Billings, who has HIV, said Friday that the drug has “changed my life,” relieving chronic pain and enabling him to eat, and saves about $30,000 a year in prescription drug costs, which had been covered by Medicaid, the state-federal health insurance for the poor.Joining Lewis in voting for the measure were Sens. Terry Murphy, R-Cardwell; Trudi Schmidt, D-Great Falls; Cliff Larsen, D-Missoula; and Carol Juneau, D-Browning. Voting against it were Sens. Roy Brown, R-Billings, and Greg Hinkle, R-Thompson Falls. Source: Missoulian (MT) Author: Mike Dennison of the Missoulian State BureauPublished: February 14, 2009Copyright: 2009 Missoulian Contact: oped missoulian.comWebsite URL: Articles:Panel OKs Medical Marijuana Expansion on Medical Marijuana Stopped in Tie
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help

Post Comment