Pubdate: Tue, 18 May 2010
Source: Citizens' Voice, The (Wilkes-Barre, PA)
Copyright: 2010 The Citizens' Voice
Author: Bob Kalinowski
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


The debate over legalizing medical marijuana continues  to heat up locally.

Critics of medical marijuana have planned a rally for  Wednesday to 
voice opposition to two bills in the state  legislature that would 
allow people to buy and smoke  marijuana to treat approved medical conditions.

"Medical marijuana would grant legitimacy and cultural  acceptance of 
this drug. We don't think that's a good  thing," said Susan Mizenko, 
prevention education  supervisor for Wyoming Valley Alcohol and Drug Services.

Mizenko's organization will join with area law  enforcement, members 
of the medical community and other  area anti-drug coalitions for a 
press conference  Wednesday at 3 p.m. in the rotunda of the Luzerne 
County Courthouse.

Wyoming Valley Alcohol and Drug Services will  distribute a 10-page 
position paper that advocates and  explains the organization's strong 
disapproval for  medicinal marijuana, Mizenko said.

Bills in the state House and state Senate would create 
doctor-supervised marijuana programs that would allow  patients to 
purchase and smoke the drug to treat  debilitating medical 
conditions, such as cancer,  glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, and chronic pain. 
State Rep. Phyllis Mundy, D-Kingston, is a co-sponsor of the 
House  bill, titled the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana  Act. 
Pennsylvania would join 14 other states that have  legalized medical marijuana.

Dr. Edward Carey, who operates a family medical  practice in Forty 
Fort, said he is strongly opposed to  the bills and is supporting 
Wednesday's opposition  effort. He said medical marijuana already 
exists in  pill form, a prescription drug known as Marinol that 
contains THC, the active chemical in marijuana.

Carey said the drug, approved by the federal Food and  Drug 
Administration, is proven useful in treating some  medical issues, 
but doesn't deliver the intoxicating  high that comes with smoking 
marijuana. Many want to  legalize the smoking of medical marijuana, 
rather than  use the pill, because "there's no high" to the pill, Carey said.

The chief executive officer of another drug and alcohol  prevention 
organization in Luzerne County said he  disagrees with those planning 
Wednesday's event.

"While I respect my colleagues, I think they are sadly  misinformed," 
said Ed Pane, director of Serento Gardens  in Hazleton. "The research 
is unequivocal. The drug  works. The idea that it should never be 
accepted as  medicine because it produces a high means virtually any 
medicine could be banned."

Pane, who testified in favor of medical marijuana in  state 
legislative hearings, said the use of marijuana  for medical 
treatment is widely accepted by the medical  community. He opposes 
the recreational use as much as  he would oppose the recreational use 
of morphine or  Zanax, he said. Pane said he welcomes a chance 
to  debate those locally who oppose medical marijuana.

The press release from Wyoming Valley Drug and Alcohol  Services 
about Wednesday's news conference says the  Luzerne County District 
Attorneys Office is taking part  in the press conference.

On Monday, Luzerne County District Attorney Jackie  Musto Carroll 
only would say, "My job is to enforce the  law as written. We follow 
the law. It's up to the  legislature to make the laws."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom