Pubdate: Wed, 07 Mar 2001
Source: Telegraph (NH)
Copyright: 2001 Telegraph Publishing Company
Contact:  P.O. Box 1008, Nashua N.H. 03061
Author:  Kevin Landrigan, Telegraph Staff


CONCORD -- Will, a 49-year-old health care worker, risked losing his 
privacy and his professional license Monday but wanted a legislative 
committee to know the medical relief he got from smoking marijuana.

A Merrimack resident and respiratory therapist, Will said he used pot 
for 18 months to deal with the vomiting, nausea and sweats that came 
from intravenous drug treatment for Hepatitis C, a deadly virus.

"Marijuana would mitigate these side effects. I was allowed to stay 
fully employed and that would not have been the case without 
marijuana,'' Will told the House Health, Human Services and Elderly 
Affairs Committee in a hearing on legalizing medical use of marijuana 
(HB 721).

Will insisted he did not find the need to increase his use of marijuana.

"You feel so lousy. You aren't trying to get a buzz on. You are 
trying to feel all right,'' he said.

But Enfield Police Chief Peter Giese, representing the New Hampshire 
Police Chiefs Association said the group opposes the bill. He 
insisted the agenda was more about drug legalization than alleviating 

"I am here because we believe this is nothing more than an entree 
into the legalization debate,'' Giese said. "This is a bill to 
legalize marijuana in the state of New Hampshire. If this debate were 
about relieving suffering, why not just make heroin available on 

If adopted, the state risks losing federal money because proscribing 
marijuana for medical use is against federal law, Giese warned.

Janet Monahan of the New Hampshire Medical Society said her 
organization joins the American Medical Association to oppose the 
smoking of marijuana for any reasons.

"Patients currently have a pill form of marijuana (Marinol) available 
to them for relief of symptoms and side effects caused by certain 
medical conditions and treatments,'' Monahan said.

John Dalco, a former doctor and mental health care consultant for the 
insurance industry, said studies have not shown marijuana to be an 
indispensable drug for pain caused by any condition.

Scientific research has shown it can help with sickness associated 
with cancer chemotherapy and counteract the loss of appetite for 
patients with the AIDS virus, but other legal drugs work as well, he 

"There are a lot of drugs on the market that don't have the side 
effects that marijuana has,'' Dalco said.

"It does relieve pain. But will a physician prescribe its use in a 
state when it's barred by the federal government? I would be very 
intimidated by the FDA," he said, referring to the U.S. Food and Drug 

The House of Representatives has rejected similar bills three of the 
past four years.

Rep. John Tholl, R-Whitefield, a retired state trooper and part-time 
police chief in Dalton, said the bill would allow a patient to 
possess enough pot to use for 51 months, which Tholl considered 
"extremely excessive.''
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