A Senate committee is weighing legislation that would allow doctors to
prescribe marijuana to patients when no other drugs are effective.

Sen. Keith Goodenough, D-Casper, told the Senate Judiciary Committee on
Friday that Senate File 99 would allow marijuana use to treat multiple
sclerosis, nausea accompanying chemotherapy and other debilitating

A similar bill passed the House but died in the Senate in 1992.

Goodenough said trying to change opinion about marijuana and its
legality is like "asking someone who believes the earth is flat to
change to believing in a round earth."

Tom Pagel, director of the state Division of Investigation, said the
bill would encourage more drug abuse. He said the bill is unenforceable
and does not identify or control "who grows, who transports and who

Moreover, licensed providers in states where the medical use of
marijuana is legal must purchase the drug on the black market. "Then it
goes from illegal to legal," he said.

Because the bill would allow the cultivation of marijuana for personal
use, anyone caught growing or transporting marijuana could claim it was
being used for medical purposes, he said.

Kathryn Valido, of Cheyenne, told the committee that marijuana could
have lessened her husband's suffering as he died from colon cancer. The
side effects of other anti-nausea drugs were so severe he eventually
rejected the medication.

"John's doctor should have been able to try this. There is no reason
medical marijuana should not be given," she said.

Pagel countered that much of the popular belief in medical marijuana has
been fed by propaganda from "a few billionaires" and special interest

Nor would a state medical marijuana law change federal laws; federal
officials could still arrest the same people under federal law, he said.

Committee member Sen. Rae Lynn Job, D-Rock Springs, spoke in favor of
the bill.

"I have known people who have had these conditions, and I would give
them anything," she said.

She urged fellow committee members to try to work out problems in the
bill. "I would rather try to fix something than throw it out."

Goodenough said, "It is extremely shortsighted to step between the
doctor and the patient. If a person is dying and becomes addicted, is
that a problem?"

Committee chairman Sen. John Schiffer, R-Kaycee, postponed further
debate on the bill until next week. He asked Goodenough to draft
amendments on how to control and supply the drug.

"If you bring them back, the committee will hear it," he said.

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Pubdate: Sun, 21 Jan 2001
Source: Rapid City Journal (SD)
Copyright: 2001 The Rapid City Journal
Address: Letters, Rapid City Journal, Box 450, Rapid City, SD 57709
Author: William Simonsen, Associated Press Writer
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)