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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Massachusetts medical marijuana and legalization, breaking news update

On Tuesday, marijuana legalization was the subject of discussion before the MA Joint Judiciary Committee at the State House. With a roomful of supporters from Suffolk University NORML, MassCann/NORML, LEAP, BU NORML, Emerson SSDP,,, and more, the turnout for legalizers was more than encouraging.

Among those speaking were Steven Epstein, Dick Evans, Scott Matalon of Stingray Body Art, Jeff Morris of Suffolk University NORML and the founder of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Jack Cole.

On the medical marijuana front, there is also some new hope for the bill H 2160 moving out of the Committee on Public Health.

Bill Downing delivered the postcards gathered to Rep. Sanchez' Office before yesterday's State House legalization hearing. I have received a report from an aide of Rep. Sanchez that they will act this month on the bill.

Today, Rep. Smizik, lead sponsor hosted a Medical Marijuana Panel Discussion with Dr. Lester Grinspoon, Associate Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and renowned author on the subject of medical marijuana, and a medical marijuana patient. He invited the entire House of Representatives to this event. In his invitation he wrote:

I am writing to ask for your support for H. 2160, the medical marijuana bill currently being considered by the Joint Committee on Public Health. To date, 14 states have enacted effective medical marijuana laws, and polling by Suffolk University shows that 81% of Massachusetts residents support this reform. Furthermore, the Department of Justice has announced that it will no longer prosecute medical marijuana patients who follow state law. The time is right for medical marijuana reform.

Much attention has recently been given to the problem of abuse of prescription drugs in the Commonwealth. It should therefore come as no surprise that many patients who are prescribed powerful opiate drugs for chronic pain are seeking less potent alternatives, hoping to avoid the addiction, digestive problems, liver damage, and severe intoxication associated with these drugs. For these suffering patients, medical marijuana can provide an effective alternative for treating chronic pain.

In California, a 10 year $8.7 million state sponsored effort to research the benefits of medical marijuana is coming to a close. Scientists have completed five studies at University of California campuses, concluding that medical marijuana can alleviate pain due to injuries or diseases of the nervous system.

Please review the document attached here, which includes a very brief review of some studies indicating that medical marijuana is an effective analgesic as well as statements from chronic pain patients who have been able to reduce or eliminate their use of opiates with the help of medical marijuana.

As legislators in Massachusetts, we have the opportunity to pass a medical
marijuana bill that will become the model of how effective medical marijuana programs should operate. Unlike the unmonitored medical marijuana program in California which is often maligned in the press, the proposal I support would require the Department of Public Health to approve all doctor recommendations, and to strictly regulate a limited number of treatment centers. These centers would be responsible for maintaining a secure chain of custody from their grow site, to the treatment center, and finally to the patients who are certified by DPH. Please join us at this event for more information about medical marijuana reform.

Tomorrow night, March 4th, another screening of "Waiting to Inhale" at
6:30pm, Boston University, Kenmore Classroom Building 101,
565 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston.

Link to ; to watch all the marijuana legalization hearing videos from yesterday as they are posted, all in one spot.

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