Pubdate: Sun, 10 Apr 2011
Source: Press-Register (Mobile, AL)
Copyright: 2011 Loretta Nall
Author: Loretta Nall, Special to the Press-Register
Note: Loretta Nall is executive director of Alabamians for Compassionate Care.
Bookmark: (Alabama)


On March 31, the Michael Phillips Compassionate Care Act was
introduced in the Alabama House of Representatives.

This bill -- HB 386 -- would protect physicians who recommend, and
patients who use, marijuana as medicine from arrest and prosecution
under state law.

The bill has been assigned to the Health Committee.

More than a dozen states and the District of Columbia have already
passed similar laws. It's time Alabama joined them.

While some Alabama legislators consider this a controversial bill, it
is important to point out that 1) this bill passed the House Judiciary
committee last session, although too late to progress any further; and
2) Alabama already has a medical marijuana law on the books.

In 1979, the Legislature passed the Controlled Substances Therapeutic
Research Act and established rules for medical marijuana. (This can be
found in the Alabama Code sections 20-2-110 through 20-2-120.) The law
states that medical marijuana can be used in the treatment of cancer
and glaucoma.

Sadly, due to drug-war politics, that law was never

The time has come to not only implement the existing law but also to
update it to include the most recent research, which shows that the
marijuana plant can be beneficial not only to people suffering from
cancer and glaucoma but a whole host of other debilitating illnesses
as well.

Recently the National Cancer Institute posted information on its
website admitting for the first time what the federal government has
known since 1975: THC and other cannabinoids found in the whole
marijuana plant may induce apoptosis (defined as "controlled cell
death"), inhibit angiogenesis (the development of new blood vessels),
and prevent the metastatic spreading of cancer cells.

In short, marijuana may kill cancer.

Recent research shows that marijuana also can be beneficial in
treating the following diseases and conditions: Alzheimer's, ALS,
chronic pain, diabetes, dystonia, epilepsy, fibromyalgia,
gastrointestinal disorders, hepatitis C, HIV, hypertension, MRSA
(methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), multiple sclerosis,
osteoporosis, post-traumatic stress disorder and rheumatoid arthritis,
just to name a few.

There are other reasons this bill should be passed. Right now, a
sentencing and drug-law reform package is being debated in the Alabama
House, aimed at reducing prison overcrowding by not imprisoning
nonviolent, low-level drug offenders. It makes sense to take patients
out of the prison equation altogether.

Another reason to pass this legislation is the potential tax revenue
that could be generated for ailing state coffers.

Patients in Alabama deserve all options when it comes to treating
debilitating and sometimes deadly illnesses.

Patients are our family members, friends, neighbors and veterans. And
one day they could be you.

Basing access to medical marijuana on geographic location makes no
sense. Diseases don't strike based on geographic location, and
treatment should not be forbidden based on geographic location.

Government interference in the doctor/patient relationship is nothing
less than socialized medicine.

Imprisoning patients for using a plant that can potentially cure their
illness is morally bankrupt and sadistically cruel.

I urge people to contact their legislators and ask them to support HB
386. Let's do it for the people suffering from debilitating diseases
now and for those who will be diagnosed with them in the future.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake