Pubdate: Tue, 05 May 2009
Source: Philadelphia Daily News (PA)
Copyright: 2009 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc.
Author: Mark B. Cohen


THE JOCULAR reference in the May 1 Clout column to the medical
marijuana bill that I've introduced did not include any of the reasons
why I believe this is a necessary and vital step.

Many people, especially as they age, suffer from serious diseases for
which existing prescription treatments are inadequate. Marijuana can
slow the progression of glaucoma and make other dreadfully painful
diseases, like cancer, HIV, multiple sclerosis or Crohn's disease,
more bearable.

There is a vast illegal trade in marijuana. Marijuana can be a gateway
drug to deadly drugs because it is part of the same criminal
distribution system. Allowing legal distribution in limited medical
circumstances takes some of its users out of the criminal system.

The medical uses of marijuana go back a long way. In 1937, when
Congress made possession and sale of marijuana illegal for the first
time at a federal level, the American Medical Association was opposed
because marijuana was so widely used for medical purposes.

There have been vast advances in prescription drugs in the years since
marijuana was made illegal. But it's clear from scientific research
and personal testimony that there are circumstances in which marijuana
recommended by a doctor can do more for a patient than can
prescription drugs.

The legalization of medical marijuana is now law in 13 states. U.S.
Attorney General Eric Holder has said that the federal government will
not prosecute sales of marijuana that are legal under state law. There
is substantial interest in the Congress in making medical marijuana
available nationally, and a number of states are expected to legalize
medical marijuana this year.

Pennsylvania should be one of them. Pennsylvanians should not have to
face the choice of either moving out of state or dealing with illegal
drug dealers in order to gain needed treatment recommended by their

State Rep. Mark B. Cohen

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