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Medical Marijuana: Bills Introduced in Michigan, South Carolina, Massachusetts, Vermont and Soon in New Mexico

With state legislatures getting down to business around the country this month, the medical marijuana issue is showing up at the statehouse. So far, bills to okay the medicinal use of the herb have been introduced in Michigan and South Carolina, with one planned in New Mexico. Meanwhile, in Vermont, which approved medical marijuana in 2004, a bill has been introduced that would expand the range of conditions for which it could be used.

Medical marijuana is currently legal in 11 states, beginning with a California initiative in 1996. Since then, seven more states (Alaska, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Maine and Washington) have approved medical marijuana through the initiative process, while in three states (Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Vermont), it was approved by the legislature.

Arizona voters also approved medical marijuana at the polls, but the law there is effectively dead because it requires a doctor to prescribe it, which the DEA will not allow. Other states learned from Arizona's experience and require only a doctor's recommendation, thus getting around the DEA roadblock. In Maryland, the medicinal use of marijuana can be offered as an affirmative offense in the event a patient is arrested.

Whether this year will see additions to the list of medical marijuana states remains to be seen, of course, but some legislators have been quick off the mark. In Michigan, where medical marijuana obtained its first legislative hearing ever in November, Rep. Lamar Lemmons Jr. is set to introduce HB 4038, which is essentially the same bill as last year's. According to the Michigan legislature's web site, it will be formally introduced on Monday.

In South Carolina, state Sen. William Mescher (R-Pinopolis) last week introduced a bill, S 220, which would allow patients suffering from any open-ended list of medical ailments and their caregivers to possess up to six plants and one ounce of marijuana. Patients would have to register with the state, which would issue identification cards.

Mescher told the Florence Morning News his wife had died of lung cancer 24 years ago, and doctors at the time told him marijuana might alleviate some of her symptoms, but that she could become dependent. "There were concerns that she would become addicted," he said. "Here this woman had maybe two or three months to live -- and in extreme pain. It didn't make any difference if she became addicted."

A friend in similar circumstances now compelled him to act, he said. "To me, it's no different than morphine or any other painkiller that a doctor can prescribe. Some doctors say it doesn't help. But if the person thinks it's helping them, then it's helping them."

Mescher has a reputation as a determined crusader in South Carolina. He fought for a decade to legalize tattooing in the state so it could be regulated. "It took me 10 years to get tattooing regulated in South Carolina," Mescher said. "I've got a bulldog tenacity."

In New Mexico, the Drug Policy Alliance Network announced this week that it is again pushing the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act (last year's version here). For the past two years, the measure has passed every legislative hurdle, but not received a House floor vote for reasons primarily unrelated to the issue.

The law requires a patient to receive a recommendation for medical marijuana from his or her medical provider, after which the patient must submit an application to the New Mexico Department of Health for approval. The department will then issue an ID card that permits the patient and a primary caregiver to possess medical marijuana. A licensed facility approved by the Department of Health will be responsible for producing, distributing, and dispensing medical cannabis to patients.

In Massachusetts, the Drug Policy Forum of Massachusetts reports that Rep. Frank Smizik has reintroduced a medical marijuana bill, with this year's version numbered H 2507. (Last year's version is here.) Modeled on the law adopted next store in Rhode Island, the bill would provide protection for patients with a written recommendation from their doctors.

Meanwhile in Vermont, which passed a medical marijuana bill in 2004, Sen. Richard Sears (D-Bennington), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has introduced a bill would expand the law to include additional diseases and conditions and allow patients to grow more marijuana for their own use. Under the current law, only cancer, HIV/AIDS, and multiple sclerosis patients qualified, but under Sears' proposed S 007 that list would expand to include any "life threatening, progressive, and debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces severe, persistent, and intractable symptoms such as: cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe pain; severe nausea; or seizures."

The bill increases the number of plants patients or caregivers can grow from one mature plant to six and from two immature plants to 18. The amount of usable marijuana they can possess would be increased from one ounce to four.

The Vermont Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing January 11. Max Schlueter, head of the Vermont Crime Information Center, told the committee there were 29 people registered for the program. Patients like Steve Perry and Mark Tucci helped explain why the law needs to be changed.

Perry suffers from degenerative bone disease and would like to use marijuana to ease its symptoms, but it is not currently on the list of approved diseases. "Because the law doesn't allow me to legally use or obtain marijuana, I have to put myself at risk of being arrested and going to jail every time I need to ease the pain," Perry said.

Mark Tucci has multiple sclerosis, one of the currently approved trio of ailments, but he said the current law doesn't allow him to produce enough to supply his needs and forces him into the black market. "I'm getting sick of going out to try to find the stuff," said Tucci.

The legislative season in the states is young, but medical marijuana is off to a fast start in a handful of them.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Land of the . . . Subjected to majority opinion

In a society where we tout ourselves internationally as being free, we certainly have trouble allowing minority groups the freedom to live the way they want.

This goes not only for drug prohibition but also gay rights.

All I want is to be able to do what I want (as long as it doesnt negatively affect someone else), and to have the same rights everyone else has. Why are these such difficult concepts to achieve in a society such as the USA who's foundation is based on the principles of freedom and equality?


The United States was founded as a federal republic that upholds liberty. I wouldn't say that we are directly founded upon freedom and equality, but liberty and equity. Equality and freedom (the ideas) are idealistic, but I understand where you're coming from.

the dea

is going to be very busy.

WRONG about AZ, scrips

"Arizona voters also approved medical marijuana at the polls, but the law there is effectively dead because it requires a doctor to prescribe it, which the DEA will not allow. Other states learned from Arizona's experience and require only a doctor's recommendation, thus getting around the DEA roadblock."

When will you stop propagating this goddam LIE?! A recommendation IS a prescription, a prescription IS a recommend'n. The feds can't stop a doctor, or a butcher, a baker, or a candlestick maker, from prescribing marijuana. The roadblock in Ariz. is the requirement that the schedule 1 substance be dispensed by a pharmacy, and THAT is where the feds have their leverage.

Robert Goodman


AZ: Robert is not incorrect, but not entirely correct. If a doctor prescribes medication, then that medication must be picked up at a pharmacy. A doctor can't *prescribe* an illegal substance, because you can't write out a prescription to a drug dealer. Fact. One word makes the difference, yes. It's not a federal issue, it's a diction issue. However, the federal government is surely involved, because it won't allow marijuana being sold in pharmacies... because it's illegal.

MD: one other minor correction: "affirmative defense," not "affirmative offense." Affirmative defense means that, once arrested and brought before a judge, you can use medical necessity as a defense. Affirmatively.


why not use confiscated marijuana?

Just get over it.You cant stop everything.

My wife has Eosenephilic granuloma. The so called caring government we have put 40,000.00 into research for this "rare" blood disorder that slowly is eating away at her skull,ribs,and spine.It also can attack your organs too slowly or relentlessly.I am on probation for 2 years,and she had 1 in pennsylvania for finding a way to provide her pot to keep her from being in pain,and keeping her from taking the loving,caring food and drug administrations legalized DOPE,Aka,OXYCOTIN and at the same time watching TV ch16 WNEP news headlining a cop getting busted selling oxycotin to a informant today. The government,dea,and fda only care that you pay for the garbage you take that is addicting and they say it is OK.They would rather fund research on opiates etc...Then try to listen to the REAL truth about marijuanna.They will never admit they were wrong about it because they wouldnt want you to know they are human too.All of the studies our tax dollars have payed for over the years tell them that it is non addicting,and had no lasting detrimental effects on people were thrown straight in the garbage by president Nixon soon as they hit his desk. So now we must fight for our rights as responsible users and hope THE PEOPLE do actually have a say in what we comsume into our lungs and stomach.So dont just sit there and wait,go to marches,get involved,write your representatives of your state. Because otherwise your a pot head to them and it will never hit the floor of the senate,or supreme court to be overturned for people like you,me,my wife,or your children.
[email protected]
Genesis 1:11/1:12/1:29/1:30

Genesis 1:29 sums it all up
And God said,Behold,I have given you every herb bearing seed,which is upon the face of all the earth,and every tree,in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed;to you it shall be for meat.


i am 57 yr old. i and most all my age knows why the gov. is so hard on pot. it is because the gov. was bought like a street whor. by the cigs co. by the alcoholic co. and the druge co. because it is not a druge. it is a earb... with a lot of wayes of helping the sick..i know people who lived 18 months longer than though possible. becauce pot made them eat more. yes in about 20 min they lost it but by then there body had 80% of what was there. pot smokers dont die of alltimers. because there braine dont swell when they get old. some 4 to 5 yr ago the enzines in pot was seen to be 2 to 3 hunred times stronger on pain than enything we have. did you all know that more than 20 millon have been jaild for pot. and low life much pain for a big lie.. that lie is every thing the gov. said about pot is a lie.they are still covering up for the lie... do you see how much money is spent by gov, on how bad pot is.ha ha no one has died from pot.. spend thoses millons on the reel drugs thoes that kill.. at least 50 millons of us know.. the facts.. spend that money on thoses who need and wont help.. you wont win the war . but you will win a battle. and that is better than you have done in the last 67 yr,,, from the start..

Pot will never be made legal

And you want to know why? It's because pharmacutical companies that produce prozac, xanax, oxycontin, lortabs, and everything else that could be replaced with a plant that grows and requires no money to bring it into futility. The government is run by corporate facists that seek only to make themselves richer. Ask yourself what would happen if pot were made legal...1. people would not be fooled into going into a war that makes no sense. 2. Yes the cigarette companies, alcohol, and pharmacutical industry would suffer heavy losses. 3. People would live longer if they could take pot for their illnesses and we all know the government takes population control very seriously.

I'd say it's high time that every one of us that smokes pot to fight back when or if getting arrested for it. I mean god they are calling it a war on drugs so why surrender to them. I say we take this war on them and see how they like it hehe.

Why not push for re-schedule first?

As someone that has used cannabis for severe back pain for 35 years, I know how effective it can be as a medicine. Not only does it help with the pain, but also with the depression brought on by 24/7 pain as well as the nausea and sick all over feelings I get from such drugs as Oxy. It seems to me that there is plenty of documented proof that there are medical uses for this wonderful herb, so why is it still Schedule 1? Especially concidering the reports that were ignored when Nixon rammed this down our throat, simply because he hated and feared all of us "pothead war protesters" If it were changed, even to S-2, then the Feds would loose much of their power over it and the states may feel freer to take action to allow it's use. It would remove the lie that many use as their reason for opposing it's use. Of coarse any lie repeated often enough becomes "truth" to the unthinking, just look how many still believe Sadam was behind 9/11 and had WMDs, so it may take a while for the lie to die.




You need to petition your politicians with scientific proof of its positive use supported by doctors who will agree, I think that anyone in pain should get whatever they want to lessen any suffering, life is too short the people in pain need a strong advocate, why not get the ball rolling.

Good Luck.

med mj

I am currently residing in s. carolina and really don't smoke m.j. anymore. I would like to start and quit taking all the pain pills in which are prescribed.I may have to move out of state just to live on a natural plant based pain reliever unless this state will allow it.


It makes me laugh and cry at the same time. When in this day and age there still would be someone who would want to indirectly stand in front of you and be able to put you in a cage because youve put some buds in a paper to smoke to feel an interesting mostly enjoyable feeling. People have these portable satellites(phones) and are using them as typewritters.....................................................There are states where oral sex puts you in the cage....................................? I don't believe in feeding, clothing, or housing evil(prisons)....they shouldn't suffer, but deffinately should be a room with happy gas, but removed...not paid for by us...If we feed the evil,it will grow strong and bite us. It's time some one speaks the truth................Someones hands must get dirty and thats what they are in denial about. They killed all the Indians and stole the land we think is of the free and the brave..........well go tell that to sitting bull. Coo? Its just that we will have to pave new pathways through the obstructed false freedoms we've been told were gifts to embrace. Down by law are we. Anyway Jerry's on and Im still looking for daddy.................start looking for me...Im Somenoon

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