HB721 Bill Would Legalize Medical Marijuana

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by Superjoint, Mar 6, 2001.

  1. By Lori Ayotte, Associated Press
    Source: Boston.com

    A 49-year-old Merrimack man battling hepatitis C urged a House committee on Monday to pass legislation legalizing marijuana for medical reasons.
    The man, who only identified himself as ''Will,'' told the Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee that smoking the drug helped mitigate the headaches, nausea and vomiting he has endured as side effects from his medical treatments. He said he is off the drug now, but may have to use it again.

    ''It takes a toll on you that I don't know how to describe,'' said the man about the treatments he has undergone. ''You persevere just to be able to live longer.''

    Although the drug is illegal under federal law, state legislators are considering a bill to allow patients to use marijuana and grow a limited amount, as long as their doctors prescribe it. Patients and their caregivers would be limited to a supply of three mature and four immature plants.

    Advocates said the drug should be legalized for medical purposes because it alleviates pain and other symptoms of some patients who are seriously ill.

    Several states have legalized medical marijuana, but the federal government has increasingly called for evidence that the drug has therapeutic value. The U.S. Supreme Court also is considering a California case that questions whether marijuana can be provided to seriously ill patients.

    Representatives from the New Hampshire Medical Society said lawmakers shouldn't legalize smoked marijuana until scientific studies are conducted.

    ''There is actually very little rigorous scientific evidence concerning its efficacy,'' said Dr. John Dalco, representing the medical group. Evidence of any benefits are anecdotal, at best, he said.

    Dalco also said the health risks may not be worth the possible benefits. Many side effects, particularly among elderly patients, are associated with the drug, he said.

    Patients already have a pill form of the drug available for certain conditions, Dalco said.

    Some law enforcement officials also opposed the legislation. They said it would be difficult to enforce and be easily abused.

    ''This bill is nothing more than to legalize marijuana in the state of New Hampshire,'' said Enfield Police Chief Pete Giese, representing the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police.

    Giese said he is concerned the legislation would promote illegal drug use. He referred to marijuana as a ''gateway'' drug, and said those who take it often graduate to more serious substances.

    Law enforcement officials also said that because the legislation flouts federal law, some federal funding to the state could be jeopardized if the bill passes.

    Source: Associated Press
    Author: Lori Ayotte, Associated Press
    Published: March 5, 2001
    Copyright: 2001 Associated Press

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