Pubdate: Tue, 02 Mar 2004
Source: Austin Business Journal (TX)
Copyright: 2004 American City Business Journals
Author: Ann Hatchitt, Austin Business Journal Staff
Cited: Texans for Medical Marijuana
Cited: National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws
Cited: Texas Medical Association
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


A newly organized group has launched a campaign to promote the
medicinal use of marijuana in Texas.

Texans for Medical Marijuana will work to change current law so that
seriously ill Texans can have the right to use marijuana under a
doctor's recommendation. The group plans to encourage Texans to
influence state legislators to support medical marijuana

"It's an abomination that a safe and effective medicine is kept
illegal and out of the hands of patients who need it," says Susan
Robbins, a University of Houston professor and a member of the
advisory board for Texans for Medical Marijuana.

The group kicked off its campaign Tuesday in Austin.

Noelle Davis, executive director of Texans for Medical Marijuana,
says: "It's time for Texas to guarantee that seriously ill patients
have safe and legal access to medical marijuana under their doctor's

Ten states now permit medicinal use of marijuana. Maryland and Hawaii
have passed laws, and Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Maine,
Nevada, Oregon and Washington went through the more arduous initiative
process -- gathering signatures in support of ballot measures that
eventually were passed.

Patients in those 10 states must receive written clearance from their
doctors to use marijuana for medical purposes, according to
Christopher Mulligan, development coordinator for the Washington,
D.C.-based National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws. It's then
up to a patient to obtain the marijuana from a private source,
Mulligan says.

Marijuana is effective in treating chronic pain, nausea and epilepsy,
and can be used for appetite stimulation for patients suffering from
AIDS, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and other diseases, according to

The Austin-based Texas Medical Association, whose members are
thousands of doctors, remains neutral on the issue, spokeswoman Pam
Baggett says.

In January 1997, The New England Journal of Medicine in January 1997
came out in support of legalizing marijuana for medical uses.

"Federal authorities should rescind their prohibition of the medical
use of marijuana for seriously ill patients and allow physicians to
decide which patients to treat. The government should change
marijuana's status from that of a Schedule I drug ... to that of a
Schedule II drug ... and regulate it accordingly."
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