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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Twin Medical Marijuana Bills Introduced on Beacon Hill

March 8, 2011

Matt Allen
Mass. Patient Advocacy Alliance

Amanda Rositano
Office of Rep. Frank Smizik

Twin Medical Marijuana Bills Introduced on Beacon Hill
Champions of legislation confident patients will see relief this session

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - Senate President Pro Tempore Stanley Rosenberg (D-Amherst) has joined Representative Frank I. Smizik (D-Brookline) in introducing companion legislation that would allow patients with certain debilitating conditions safe and legal access to medical marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation and approval from the Department of Public Health.  Legislators and medical marijuana patients across the state are preparing for a vote this legislative session.

“Fifteen other states now have medical marijuana laws on the books.  It's time for us to take action on this quality of life issue once and for all,” said Smizik, lead sponsor of H. 625.  “The bills that Senator Rosenberg and I have introduced include multiple levels of state regulation, such as state issued ID cards for qualifying patients and a rigorous licensing process that caps the amount of treatment centers that will open at nineteen.”

“There is no doubt that medical marijuana can help people with serious diseases who don't respond to existing medications,” agreed Rosenberg, lead sponsor of S. 1161.  “The Rhode Island program that our proposals are modeled after includes the necessary controls to allow patients access to this medicine while preventing abuse of the system.”  In an aggressive attempt to pass medical marijuana reform this session, legislative sponsors have filed the same bill in both the State Senate and House of Representatives.

Lorraine Kerz, a constituent of Sen. Rosenberg, recounted how medical marijuana helped her 29-year-old son Silas Bennett before he died of cancer.  “After enduring chemotherapy treatments Silas would often be nauseous and unable to keep food down.  After throwing up uncontrollably he would administer some medical marijuana.  A few minutes later he'd say, 'OK mom, I'm ready to try again,'” she said.  “Anyone who has seen how medical marijuana can help a family member suffering with cancer knows that passing this law is the right thing to do.”

“My body is being twisted from the uneven contractions of my muscles and my hands are balled into permanent fists.  After medicating with marijuana my muscles are relaxed and pliable.  Using medical marijuana is the difference between spending a comfortable day in my wheelchair or fighting with painful spasms throughout my body,” said Steve Saling from Chelsea, who has an advanced case of Lou Gehrig’s disease.  “In my condition, what right does anyone have to deny me a safe and effective treatment?  The decision to use medical marijuana or not should be made between patients and doctors.”

Both bills have been sent to the Joint Committee on Public Health for consideration and are awaiting a public hearing.

The entire text of the House Bill can be read at:

The Senate Bill at:


To arrange an interview with the legislators, contact Amanda Rositano, Office of Rep. Frank Smizik,  617.722.2676,

To arrange and interview with Lorraine Kerz or Steve Saling, contact Matt Allen, Massachusetts patient Advocacy Alliance at 508.410.1547,  Steve Saling suffers from an advanced case of Lou Gehrig’s disease.  Because of his condition, he cannot speak.  Steve communicates by using a computer that tracks his head movements to type responses, which are then read by the computer.  He is compelling and eager to share his story with the press.  Any questions for Steve should be forwarded to Matt Allen at the e-mail above.  Steve will gladly answer these questions and is happy to have his responses filmed, however he will need 24 hours to compose his answers to any questions.  To arrange an interview with Steve, contact Matt Allen at the e-mail or phone number above.

Matt Allen
Mass. Patient Advocacy Alliance

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