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MMJ: Vermont Bill to Expand Theraputic Use of Cannabis Advances.


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A bill that would significantly expand Vermont's two-year-old medical marijuana program passed its first legislative hurdle last Friday as members of the state Senate Judiciary Committee voted 4-1 to advance it. The bill, S. 7, has now been referred to the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.

springtime in Vermont for patients?Under Vermont's current law, legal access to medical marijuana is limited to people suffering from cancer, HIV/AIDS, and multiple sclerosis. The new bill would expand that list 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."

But committee members heeded the fears of law enforcement officials, who testified earlier this month that broadening the law could lead to more drug crimes or more patients being targeted for theft. As introduced, the bill would have increased 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 could legally possess would have increased from one ounce to four. After pondering law enforcement concerns, the committee compromised. Under the language approved by the committee, patients would be allowed up to four mature plants and 10 immature ones. The amount of usable marijuana they could possess will be two ounces.

The bill will also allow patients to use recommendations from doctors outside the state. Current law restricts patients to in-state doctors. Finally, the bill would cut registration fees in half, from $100 to $50.

"We aren't legalizing marijuana," said Sen. John Campbell (D-Windsor), one of the bill's sponsors. "You have to look at this from a compassionate perspective," he explained. "Someone suffering from such devastating illnesses as we address in this, they should be able to use a substance that will alleviate their symptoms."

The Marijuana Policy Project is working the corridors in Montpelier. MPP lobbyist Adam Necrason told the Vermont Press Bureau that even with the modifications, the bill was a step in the right direction. "This bill marks a major step forward in Vermont's medical marijuana program," he said. "While not perfect, S. 7 will extend protection to many patients who suffer terribly but have no protection under our current law. The legislature and governor should pass this measure without delay."

Medical Marijuana: Vermont Bill to Expand Therapeutic Use of Cannabis Advances | StoptheDrugWar.org
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