Two men pleaded with local legislators at their public meeting to support the legalization of the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

“It will be a good bill … for all the people in pain and suffering,” said Len Yenchenko of Cumberland.

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So far, only one medical marijuana bill has been filed, House Bill 15. The bill was filed by Delegate Cheryl Glenn of Baltimore.

“I have severe pain 24 hours a day,” said Dennis Steward of Cumberland. Medical marijuana is actually less likely to cause problems than some legal drugs, he said.

“No one has ever died from medical marijuana. There are people dying from pain pills,” said Steward. Steward said he also has glaucoma.

The men made their statements at the District 1 delegation’s prelegislative meeting with the public Wednesday at Allegany College of Maryland.

Delegate Kevin Kelly said he empathized with those in pain and serious illness.

Kelly said the issue in Maryland is complicated because federal law would still make growing and possessing the drug illegal. That scares off pharmacists and doctors, he said.

“Who is going to grow it?” Kelly asked. Advocates for outright legalization have hurt the chances for passage of a medical marijuana bill in the past, Kelly said.

Many legislators who might consider legalizing medical use of marijuana became concerned it was a step toward outright legalization for all purposes.

Yenchenko urged the legislators to take a hard look at the issue. “It does help, it really does help,” he said.

“We want to do something … but we’re trying to do it so that it does not open a can of worms,” Kelly said.

Medical marijuana is used to treat many forms of illness and pain, including HIV/AIDS, seizures, severe nausea from cancer and other treatments and muscle spasms, among others.

HB 15 would repeal a number of laws against marijuana use and possession of paraphernalia, but also limits the amount of marijuana that may be legally possessed by both a compassion center or a patient.

A state work group is divided over two approaches to use in Maryland. The group’s chairman is Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, secretary of the state’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Work group membership included a wide representation of stakeholders and experts, including legislators, patients, scientists, health care providers and law enforcement representatives.

As a result, the group decided to provide the Maryland General Assembly with two different proposals, according to a state press release. Kelly said the failure of the work group to come out with unified recommendations hurts the chances for a bill to get through the legislature.

The first proposal would emphasize continued study of marijuana and only make the drug available through medical research institutions, like university hospitals.

Access to the drug would be limited to test subjects and not be available to the general population of those suffering illness or pain that might respond to marijuana. There would be strict oversight of the research programs by the state.

Getting the drug to a wide range of patients would be the goal of the second proposal. The state would license or register academic institutions, growers and distributors. It would encourage access by patients throughout the state. HB 15 more closely follows this proposal.

News Hawk – 420 Warrior 420 MAGAZINE
Location: Cumberland, MD
Source: Cumberland Times News
Author: Matthew Bieniek
Contact: [email protected]
Copyright: © 2012 Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc.
Website: times-news.com