Pubdate: Mon, 22 Aug 2011 Source: Saipan Tribune (US MP) Copyright: 2011 Saipan Tribune Contact: http://www.saipantribune.com/contact.aspx?user_num Website: http://www.saipantribune.com/ Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/2666 Author: Haidee V. Eugenio, Reporter THIS TIME, JUST 'MEDICAL MARIJUANA' BILL Rep. Stanley Torres (Ind-Saipan) pre-filed late Friday afternoon a bill seeking to legalize marijuana only for medicinal purpose-nine months after the Senate killed a bill legalizing marijuana for both recreational and medical uses. In an interview, Torres said he hopes there will be stronger support this time around from House and Senate members, considering that his bill focuses only on medicinal marijuana. Most lawmakers asked yesterday, including Senate President Paul Manglona (Ind-Rota) and Rep. Trenton Conner (R-Tinian) said they would want to see a copy of Torres' bill first before making a statement whether or not they will support the new bill. Manglona said once the bill passes the House, the Senate leadership will refer the measure to the Senate Committee on Health for review and recommendation. Only House floor leader George Camacho (Ind-Saipan) made known his position, saying his vote will remain "no" on marijuana, whether for medicinal or for any other purpose. House Bill 17-213 claims that marijuana is a safe and effective treatment for dozens of conditions, including cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, pain, migraines, glaucoma and epilepsy. "This Act should not serve as a message to our youth that the Legislature condones drug abuse. We do not. We simply seek to allow physicians to prescribe it if needed, and to allow patients to use marijuana without societal stigma," it says. Torres' bill says recent trends in legislation indicate that the medicinal use of marijuana is becoming an acceptable practice subject to legal restrictions. It says the economic impact of this legalization include the non-incarceration of terminally ill patients and revenue generated from the taxes imposed on the legal sale of medicinal marijuana from licensed, law-abiding suppliers. HB 17-213 says the use of marijuana for medicinal purpose is now legal in 15 states in the U.S., including Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. The bill recognizes opponents' concerns. For example, opponents maintain that marijuana is a drug that is subject to abuse and that people who abuse marijuana can and will hurt themselves and others. "While passionate and reasonable people on both sides of the debate continue to argue, only one fact is generally accepted by both sides of the argument: that seriously ill individuals who suffer from AIDS, cancer, diabetes, glaucoma and other conditions such as arthritis, migraine, menstrual cramps, alcohol and opiate addiction, depression and other debilitating mood disorders cannot obtain relief from marijuana without fear of arrest and imprisonment," the bill says. It says those who find marijuana to be helpful are forced to do one of two things: live and suffer without marijuana, or illegally obtain it at the risk of arrest and usually at a cost that reflects its illegal status. When Torres introduced a marijuana legalization bill for both medicinal and recreational purposes last year, the bill passed the House but it was killed by the Senate in November. Four months after the Senate killed the bill, Torres again introduced in March this year a similar bill. Five months later, Torres again introduced another bill that focuses only on legalizing marijuana for medicinal use. The bill is also called the Legalization of Medical Marijuana Act of 2011. Gov. Benigno R. Fitial came out in support of a medical marijuana measure if the bill gets the nod of the Senate. - --- MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.