Pubdate: Mon, 1 Jun 2009
Source: Delaware County Daily Times (PA)
Copyright: 2009 The Daily Times
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)


State Rep. Mark Cohen, D-Phila., introduced legislation (H.B. 1393) at
the end of April that would allow the use of medical marijuana in

Few subjects stimulate the heated discussion legalizing a drug
vilified for decades as a gateway to further drug abuse can cause.

But Cohen is right to say the time has come to recognize a need to
expand options for health care and help alleviate patient suffering.

Medical cannabis, (commonly referred to as "Medical marijuana"),
refers to the use of the cannabis plant as a physician-recommended

Its use is legalized in Canada, Austria, the Netherlands, Spain,
Israel, Finland and Portugal and in 14 U.S. states -- Alaska,
California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Montana,
Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

Pennsylvania joins four other states considering medical-marijuana
bills -- Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey and New York.

One of the earlier difficulties facing legislatures attempting to
legalize the use of marijuana to alleviate patient suffering has been
the response of the federal government.

Under the administration of George W. Bush, federal agents raided
California "dispensaries" selling medical cannabis, claiming the state
had no right to pass the bill since marijuana was prohibited under
federal law.

That has changed under the Barack Obama administration. In February,
Attorney General Eric Holder announced the federal government would no
longer raid medical-marijuana clubs that abide by state laws.

At the news conference announcing his legislation, Cohen noted that
modern medical research has discovered marijuana is beneficial in
treating or alleviating the pain or other symptoms associated with
certain debilitating medical conditions. The other option for helping
those with such illnesses is prescription painkillers.

But as Cohen said, "Many of today's prescribed pain medications have
severe side effects and reactions that can be so horrible some
patients would rather have the pain. Many of today's pain medicines
are strongly addictive, leaving people with terrible withdrawal

So addiction cannot be a reason to refuse patients medical cannabis
because legal medical marijuana is not physically addictive for most

Cohen said a survey on his Web site - -- found 80
percent supported the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes.
And there is good reason. Opposition to this bill seems to be based on
fear and misinformation.

A woman dying from brain cancer two years ago was able to get
marijuana in pill form to alleviate her suffering. The pharmaceutical
company manufacturing that pain reliever charged her $200 for each

Cohen's bill remains in the House Health and Human Services Committee.
It is a fair attempt, as he said, "to create a new image for marijuana
- - one as a medicine that when prescribed by responsible doctors could
help thousands of patients across this commonwealth."

Cohen is not asking for marijuana to be sold to anyone who asks for
it. He wants sick patients with a doctor's prescription to be able to
go to an approved facility and get something to relieve their pain --
something that would benefit the patient, not the pharmaceutical
company charging an outlandish fee for a single pill.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake