Pubdate: Wed, 31 Aug 2005
Source: Times Argus (Barre, VT)
Copyright: 2005 Times Argus
Author: Rep. Anne Donahue
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


As a legislator deeply involved in working to achieve a compromise that 
would allow access to marijuana for symptom relief for those with severe 
illnesses, I certainly have great sympathy for the gentleman who cannot 
access it from his nursing home.

However, there is significant misinformation flying all over the place 
about what the bill did or did not do.

First, it did not legalize "medical marijuana." It allowed limited access 
without fear of state prosecution. Shame on Commissioner Kerry Sleeper, 
himself a fierce opponent of the bill, for now referring to it as 
"medication" on WCAX. The Legislature did not choose to play physician or 
scientist by defining it that way, and it is a misleading reference under 
the law.

Second, having a registration card under Vermont law has not been shown to 
be "worthless." The gentleman was not arrested for possession of marijuana 
by state authorities, which is exactly the protection the law offers.

Fortunately, it was not federal authorities who came in. It has been 
explicit from the beginning that federal law is not affected by Vermont's 
agreement not to prosecute.

Third, the law does not give anyone a right to possess marijuana except in 
"a building or room equipped with locks or other security devices that 
permit access only by a registered caregiver or registered patient."

Fourth, the law does not create any obligation on the part of a property 
owner to allow a registered patient to keep or use marijuana on the 
premises, and because its presence on one's property may place one in 
violation of federal law, there are good reasons for someone -- whether an 
ordinary landlord or a nursing home -- to say no.

It may be a fair debate to argue whether a person in a nursing home should 
have specific protection added to the law if they are a registered patient 
for marijuana use. But let's not confuse the facts of current law, as 
though unanswered questions swirl around the confiscation of this 
particular marijuana cigarette.

Rep. Anne Donahue

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