Pubdate: Sat, 13 Nov 2004
Source: Times Argus (Barre, VT)
Copyright: 2004 Times Argus
Author: Lisa Rathke, Associated Press
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


MONTPELIER -- About 30 Vermonters have shown interest in using
marijuana to treat medical conditions since the state started taking
applications late last month.

The Department of Public Safety has fielded calls and mailed out
roughly 30 applications to those who wish to use the drug legally to
alleviate symptoms of chronic diseases. The state expects to receive
completed applications in the coming weeks, said Frances Aumand,
director of the criminal justice services division in the Department
of Public Safety.

"I believe the people who inquired are serious," he said

Last spring, the Legislature passed a medical marijuana bill that Gov.
Jim Douglas later allowed to become law without his signature. The
state started taking applications for its new medical marijuana
registry Oct. 28.

The law exempts people with debilitating medical conditions from
prosecution or arrest for using a small amount of marijuana.

People eligible under the law must have terminal cancer or AIDS, or
recurring symptoms from cancer, AIDS, HIV or multiple sclerosis that
other medications do not seem to help. The patient and a caregiver
must register with the department and pay $100 to apply.

The state then has 30 days to contact the patient's doctor named in
the application to verify the medical condition.

If the application is approved, the individual will carry a
registration card that exempts her or him from prosecution for growing
and using small amounts of the drug. The law allows up to 2 ounces and
three marijuana plants, Aumand said.

Although the law excuses sick individuals from prosecution or arrest
for possession it does not address sale or distribution of marijuana
or the seeds to grow it.

"There is no method for someone to legally provide marijuana. The law
is silent," Aumand said.

The department will also maintain a database of those exempt from
prosecution so that police have a list they can check any time of day.

Rep. David Zuckerman, P-Burlington, who led the House effort to pass
the bill, said he feared going through the Department of Public Safety
may intimidate some applicants.

"One of the issues for me is that because it's through the Department
of Public Safety, if you apply and are denied, and you've been doing
it illegally," he said Friday. "Do I think the Department of Public
Safety is going to go in and start busting sick people? I doubt it."

He said he thought it would "less intimating" to register
confidentially with the Department of Health, as earlier versions of
the bill had suggested. 
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