Pubdate: Tue, 08 Oct 2002
Source: Caledonian-Record, The  (VT)
Copyright: 2002 The Caledonian-Record
Author: Katherine Perera


To the Editor:

I had the opportunity to work with both Anthony Pollina and Peter Shumlin 
this past year. It was during the hearings for the medical marijuana bill. 
It did not take me long to see which one plays the game of politics and 
which one truly cares about seriously ill Vermonters.

In June, I recognized 20 years of HIV infection as a result of a blood 
transfusion. I have been treated for HIV with drugs since 1988. I have also 
experienced severe side effects from most of these drugs. Mostly, I suffer 
from nausea and vomiting and severe rashes.

I am very fortunate to have survived this disease for this long, and I pray 
I will continue living in relative good health for many more years.

However, the use of marijuana, for medical purposes, is one of the reasons 
I am doing as well as I am today. It allows me to ease my nausea and 
vomiting, allowing me to eat well and retain what I ingest. When all my 
attention is not consumed by the nausea, I am able to be a better mother, 
wife, sister, daughter, business owner and citizen of Vermont.

Peter Shumlin misled us to believe that he supported the medical marijuana 
bill that came to the Senate after it passed the House. On Feb. 15, 2002, 
he stated in the Rutland Herald that he thought it was "a thoughtful bill."

However, Peter Shumlin, while holding a high position in the Senate, 
essentially ensured that this bill died.

It takes true leadership to make difficult decisions. Allowing patients to 
improve their quality of life through the medicinal use of marijuana, when 
a doctor and patient together determine whether the benefits outweigh the 
risks, would be a true act of leadership.

Bowing to political party pressures (when the majority of Vermonters 
understand and support the need for medical marijuana) is an act of 
cowardice, not leadership.

I had extensive conversations with Anthony Pollina over this issue and he 
truly gets it - he understands the needs of seriously ill Vermonters and he 
has a compassion and empathy that is truly lacking in Peter Shumlin.

I know in my heart that Anthony Pollina has the courage and the integrity 
to listen to Vermonters - to really listen. Anthony was right there with us 
in supporting this bill - beside us, working with us. I believe that is 
where he will be as lieutenant governor.

Katherine Perera

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