Pubdate: Tue, 01 Dec 2009
Source: Citizens' Voice, The (Wilkes-Barre, PA)
Copyright: 2009 The Citizens' Voice
Author: Jill Whalen
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Chronic Pain)


The head of Serento Gardens Alcoholism & Drug Services  will appear
before Pennsylvania lawmakers this week to  speak in favor of medical

Ed Pane, president and chief executive officer of the  Hazleton
organization, said he'll deliver testimony  Wednesday when the House
of Representatives' Health and  Human Services Subcommittee holds its
first hearing on  House Bill 1393, the Compassionate Use Medical
Marijuana Act.

Pane said he supports the use of marijuana as medicine  only - and not
as a recreational drug.

"My testimony is several pages," he said, noting he  pulled
information from scholarly research - all of  which is cited and
endorsed. "My specific area is to  dispel the myth that this is a
gateway drug to other  drugs - that the medical use of it would lead
to a  spate of other addictions."

Pane was one of the first drug and alcoholism  counselors to publicly
support marijuana's medical use,  but noted there is "tremendous"
support among the  majority of addiction counselors.

Pane said that about 20 other drug and alcoholism  counselors from
across the state will travel to the  Capitol to speak in favor of the
drug's use. In  addition to those representing the clinical end,
patients who have used medical marijuana will be there,  too.

House Bill 1393, sponsored by Majority Caucus Chairman  Mark B. Cohen,
was introduced to the House on April 29.  The legislation, if passed,
would allow registered  patients to purchase marijuana through
"compassion  centers."

According to text in the bill, "Modern medical research  has
discovered a beneficial use for marijuana in  treating or alleviating
the pain or other symptoms  associated with certain debilitating
medical  conditions, as found by the National Academy of  Sciences'
Institute of Medicine in March 1999."

Under the bill, those with "debilitating medical  conditions" like
cancer, glaucoma, AIDS or chronic pain  would be permitted to use
marijuana to treat symptoms  including pain and nausea. The patients
would need  approval from a doctor, who would assess the patient's
medical history and find that the "medical use of  marijuana would
likely outweigh the health risks for  the qualifying patient and would
likely be superior to  treatment without the medical use of
marijuana,"  according to the bill.

Marijuana sales would be taxed, and those using the  drug with a
doctor's approval would not be arrested or  penalized, the bill states.

"Although federal law currently prohibits the use of  marijuana, the
laws of Alaska, California, Colorado,  Hawaii, Maine, Michigan,
Montana, Nevada, New Mexico,  Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and
Washington permit the  use of marijuana for medical purposes, and in
Arizona  doctors are permitted to prescribe marijuana.  Pennsylvania
joins this effort for the health and  welfare of its citizens," the
bill states. 
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