HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html State Pushed On Medical Marijuana
Pubdate: Fri, 01 Apr 2005
Source: Montgomery Advertiser (AL)
Copyright: 2005 The Advertiser Co.
Author: Jannell McGrew
Note: Letters from the newspaper's circulation area receive publishing
Cited: Drug Policy Alliance
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


[Sidebar: States where the medicinal use of marijuana is legal: Alaska,
California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont,
Washington. Source: Drug Policy Alliance]

Laura Campbell Knows It's Illegal For Her To Smoke Pot.

But the 32-year-old mother of three has a debilitating illness that
ravages her joints and causes excruciating pain, often leaving her
crouched in the fetal position and rocking in agony. She and others
like her want the Alabama Legislature to pass a law making medicinal
use of marijuana legal.

State Rep. Laura Hall, D-Huntsville, is pushing legislation that would
legalize the use of the drug for the seriously ill and dying.
Campbell, who suffers from three forms of arthritis and fibromyalgia,
is hopeful the bill will make its way to the governor's desk and be
signed into law.

"I take 14 pills a day," Campbell said during a news conference
announcing the proposed legislation Thursday. "It hurts so bad, you
shake. You can't find a physician to make the pain stop."

Under the proposed legislation, use of marijuana would be strictly
limited to medicinal purposes, said Hall, the principal sponsor.

"It's with a doctor's recommendation," Hall said. "It would be illegal
for an individual to get it and sell it."

Hall's measure would allow patients access to marijuana for relief of
their symptoms. Similar measures have found support in other states,
and a poll last year indicated a healthy majority of Alabamians backed
the idea.

According to the survey by the Mobile Register and the University of
South Alabama, 76 percent of Alabama residents believe adults should
be allowed to use marijuana if their physicians recommended it.

Despite public opinion, Gov. Bob Riley said he would not support such
a measure.

"There's no way I can support legalization of marijuana or any other
illegal drug," the governor said Thursday. "There are a multitude of
other prescription options I think are still viable."

The Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Family Physicians,
and the American Public Health Association have endorsed the medicinal
value of marijuana, said Naomi Long, national field coordinator for
the Drug Policy Alliance.

The New York-based Drug Policy Alliance has supported similar
legislation in 10 states, including Alaska, California, Colorado and

Long said 36 other states, and the District of Columbia, have passed
legislation recognizing the drug's medicinal value.

"Not only does this bill protect the rights of Alabamians to receive
compassionate care, but it also protects their sacred relationship
with the physicians," Long said. "It's about really helping those
patients who are terminally ill and treating them with the kind of
compassion that allows them access to alternative medications for pain

Hall said the measure could help many AIDS patients, some of whom
simply cannot take traditional medicines to quiet pain.

"Some of the individuals dealing with AIDS can't take anything, and
they've gone through the whole medical regimen," Hall said.

Campbell said she is allergic to 95 percent of pain medications. She
pulled out her notebook and rattled off the lengthy list of drugs. Her
husband, who declined to release his name, said he would be fired from
his job "in an instant" if his employers discovered his wife used
marijuana for her illnesses.

"I watch her suffer every day," he said.

Campbell said she is in constant fear of being arrested for drug

"I'm stuck being a lawbreaker, but I have no other choices," she

According to local authorities, a person convicted of felony
possession of marijuana could pay up to $5,000 in fines and serve up
to 10 years in prison. Conviction for misdemeanor possession carries a
fine of up to $2,000 and a year in jail.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin