Pubdate: Mon, 22 Aug 2011
Source: Saipan Tribune (US MP)
Copyright: 2011 Saipan Tribune
Author: Haidee V. Eugenio, Reporter


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

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. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.