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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

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.

Newshawk: Cannabis News - marijuana, hemp, and cannabis news
Pubdate: Thu, 17 Jan 2002
Source: Frederick News Post (MD)
Copyright: 2002 Great Southern Printing and Manufacturing Company
Website: fredericknewspost.com | Frederick County Maryland Daily Newspaper
Details: Overload Warning
Author: Douglas Tallman, News-Post Staff
Cited: Marijuana Policy Project Marijuana Policy Project | We Change Laws
Marijuana Policy Project | We Change Laws
Bookmark: Overload Warning
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