Medical Marijuana Gaining Support

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by Superjoint, Jan 17, 2002.

  1. By Douglas Tallman, News-Post Staff
    Source: Frederick News Post

    Advocates of medicinal marijuana hailed the results of a poll released Wednesday that showed 37 percent of Maryland voters would be more likely to support a candidate who backs a medical marijuana law.
    "I needed an independent party to show elected officials can vote their conscience and do the right thing," said Delegate Donald Murphy, R-Baltimore County, who has proposed medical marijuana legislation for the past two years.

    The poll, by Gonzales/Arscott Research & Communications Inc., showed only 18 percent of voters would be less likely to vote for a supporter of a medical marijuana law. Forty percent of voters were undecided.

    "If my opponent wants to run against me on medical marijuana I will give him the stamps," Mr. Murphy joked.

    "Only an ill-advised, foolish candidate would launch an attack ad against a senator or delegate who voted for medical marijuana," said Billy Rogers, director of state policies of the Marijuana Policy Project.

    "It's not an issue of liberal or conservative. It's really an issue of whether patients should be arrested for taking their medicine," he said.

    Delegate Louise Snodgrass, R-Frederick/Washington, said the poll didn't affect her support for the issue.

    "Anyone who sees a loved one in the process of dying in so much pain, and thought marijuana would help, then marijuana is just another substance," said Ms. Snodgrass, a cancer survivor.

    Mr. Murphy's involvement with medical marijuana started when a friend, Darrell Putman of Woodbine, revealed that he had turned to marijuana to battle the pain and loss of appetite from Hodgkin's lymphoma.

    Mr. Putman, who operated a horse and carriage business in Frederick, was an anti-drug Vietnam veteran and turned to the drug reluctantly. By smoking marijuana, he ran the risk of losing his home and business.

    So he turned to Mr. Murphy for legislative relief.

    Mr. Murphy filed the bill in the 2000 General Assembly, but Mr. Putman died before the session's start. Since then, Mr. Murphy has been on a quest to get Maryland to become the ninth state to allow doctors to recommend their patients take marijuana.

    The 2000 bill, and one in the 2001 session, were killed by legislative committees before they faced full votes in either the House or Senate.

    Although Mr. Murphy has yet to file a bill for the 2002 session, Mr. Putman has already cast a shadow on this year's legislature.

    Delegate Thomas Hutchins, R-Charles, said his friendship with Mr. Putman inspired him to introduce legislation that would allow judges to consider medical necessity of someone convicted of a marijuana possession.

    Mr. Hutchins, a former state trooper, said he knew Mr. Putman when they were both in the Green Berets. The bill would lead to drug legalization, he said.

    "Someone who takes it, knowing the criminal aspect, but weighing that with a terminal illness, they ought to be able to present that at sentencing," Mr. Hutchins said.

    Mr. Murphy said the Hutchins bill isn't the same as his proposal. But he thought Mr. Hutchins' background gave the issue a credible law-enforcement supporter.

    "Is it my first choice? No. Will I vote for it? Yes," he said.

    Source: Frederick News Post (MD)
    Author: Douglas Tallman, News-Post Staff
    Published: Thursday, January 17, 2002
    Copyright: 2002 Great Southern Printing and Manufacturing Company

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