HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html The Marijuana Bishop?
Pubdate: Wed, 07 Apr 2004
Source: Seven Days Vermont (Burlington, VT)
Copyright: 2004 Seven Days Vermont
Author: Peter Freyne
Cited: Marijuana Policy Project
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


Three major developments on the medical marijuana front since last

In a symbolic vote on the House floor last Wednesday, a tripartisan
majority backed an amendment by Prog Rep. David Zuckerman to add
medical marijuana to the list of medications that would be studied for
"pain management" in "the medical school, residency programs and
nursing schools in Vermont."

Zuckerman's amendment was adopted on a 79-57 roll call vote. It was
supported by several Republicans, including Judiciary Committee
Chairman Peg Flory and Ways and Means Chairman Dick Marron.

Then on Friday, the ice jam suddenly broke in the House Health and
Welfare Committee. That's where S.76, the Senate-passed medical
marijuana bill, has languished without discussion since last year.

Committee Democrats, with the support of Republican Rep. Anne Donahue
of Northfield, finally succeeded in getting Republican Chairman Tom
Koch of Barre to hold a vote on discussing the pot bill. On a 6-5
vote, the committee approved two days of testimony on April 14 and

Last week, we reported on the Zogby Poll that showed 71 percent of
Vermonters support changing state law to allow sick and dying
Vermonters to use pot for pain without the threat of state

However, as everyone knows, Republican Gov. Jim Douglas is a staunch
opponent of medical marijuana legislation.

As Gov. Scissorhands put it last week, "I think we need to find ways
to manage pain that don't involve the use of an illegal substance."

As for the polls that show widespread support for medical marijuana,
Gov. Douglas said, "I don't make my decisions based on public opinion
polls. I do what I think is right for the state."

But Gov. Scissorhands, the state's top ribbon-cutter, isn't the only
Vermont leader trying to do what's right for the state.

Seven Days has learned that the leader of Vermont's largest religious
denomination -- Roman Catholic Bishop Kenneth Angell -- supports the
Senate-passed medical marijuana bill.

That's right, our old pal from the Civil Unions War of 2000, the Bingo
Bishop, believes legalizing pot for the sick and suffering is the
Christian thing to do and the right way for Vermont to go.

Last month, the Marijuana Policy Project sent out a targeted mailing
to citizens in the home districts of House members who sit on the
Health and Welfare Committee. The other day, Rep. Bill Keogh
(D-Burlington) showed us the stack of about 300 postcards he'd
received urging him to support medical marijuana.

One of Keogh's postcards stood out. It was signed by "Kenneth A.
Angell" and listed the Burlington address of the Bishop's official

The Lord sure works in strange ways, eh?

Yours truly contacted the Catholic diocese and spoke with the Diocesan
Chancellor, Fr. Walter Miller. We asked if he was aware that his
Bishop supports the legalization of pot for medical purposes.

He said he was not.

Then we told him about Bishop Angell's pro-marijuana

Fr. Miller said someone would get back to us.

Because it's Holy Week, we were told the Bishop is "up to his neck" in
church-related activities and would not be able to speak personally
with Seven Days. Instead, Gloria Gibson, communications director for
diocese, sent us the following statement:

"Bishop Angell is indeed in favor of controlled substance
prescriptions for medical marijuana. The movement has substantial and
respectable support from physicians, social workers and legislators of
thought. Certainly the dangers of misuse can be no greater than the
existing legal availability of many controlled substances.

"'I believe that such low risk drugs are an important and humane
contribution to pain control and quality end-of-life care.'"

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