Pubdate: Thu, 01 Feb 2007
Source: Winona Daily News (MN)
Copyright: 2007 Winona Daily News
Author: Brian Voerding, Winona Daily News
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Chronic Pain)

Healthy Weed:


State Sen. Steve Murphy and other Minnesota lawmakers are making 
another run at passing a medical marijuana bill.

Lawmakers have introduced similar bills several times in recent 
years, though none have ever come close to final approval.

"We're talking about quality of life issues," said Murphy, a DFLer 
from Red Wing and chief author of the bill. "This isn't for 
everybody. This is another tool in the doctor's toolbox, if (the 
patient) feels it's appropriate and they're willing to give it a try."

Murphy said he warmed up to the proposal two years ago when his 
father died of cancer after nine months of intense pain.

"If that would have been an option for him and he would have chosen 
it, I would have understood," he said. "I watched him waste away, and 
he was in incredible pain."

Under the legislation, anyone who suffers from a "chronic or 
debilitating disease" would qualify to receive a registration card 
and get up to 12 plants or 2.5 ounces of marijuana.

Marijuana can help alleviate pain, loss of appetite, nausea and 
vomiting -- common symptoms associated with chronic illnesses. It's 
most commonly used by patients with AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, severe 
arthritis and multiple sclerosis among other diseases. Some patients 
use it to avoid getting addicted to prescription painkillers such as Vicodin.

Some doctors and other health officials have spoken against the 
legislation because smoking can lead to respiratory disease; in 
response, drug companies have developed ways to distribute marijuana 
through a prescription inhaler.

Former Winona senator Bob Kierlin carried the bill in 2005; he said 
then that he supported the bill out of compassion for suffering patients.

Eleven states have legalized medical marijuana in some form, though 
conflicts have arisen because federal courts don't always recognize 
state legislation.

Washington in particular has struggled with vague laws. One patient 
who was arrested three years ago for using marijuana took a case all 
the way to the Washington Supreme Court, which upheld her sentence of 
two months' home confinement. Some growers and state advocacy groups 
have been subjected to raids by federal drug officials.

For more information on the legislation, go online to 
and enter SF345 in the search box in the upper left corner. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake