The head of Serento Gardens Alcoholism & Drug Services will appear before Pennsylvania lawmakers this week to speak in favor of medical marijuana.
Ed Pane, president and chief executive officer of the Hazleton organization, said he'll deliver testimony Wednesday when the House of Representatives' Health and Human Services Subcommittee holds its first hearing on House Bill 1393, the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act.
Pane said he supports the use of marijuana as medicine only - and not as a recreational drug.
"My testimony is several pages," he said, noting he pulled information from scholarly research - all of which is cited and endorsed. "My specific area is to dispel the myth that this is a gateway drug to other drugs - that the medical use of it would lead to a spate of other addictions."
Pane was one of the first drug and alcoholism counselors to publicly support marijuana's medical use, but noted there is "tremendous" support among the majority of addiction counselors.
Pane said that about 20 other drug and alcoholism counselors from across the state will travel to the Capitol to speak in favor of the drug's use. In addition to those representing the clinical end, patients who have used medical marijuana will be there, too.
House Bill 1393, sponsored by Majority Caucus Chairman Mark B. Cohen, was introduced to the House on April 29. The legislation, if passed, would allow registered patients to purchase marijuana through "compassion centers."
According to text in the bill, "Modern medical research has discovered a beneficial use for marijuana in treating or alleviating the pain or other symptoms associated with certain debilitating medical conditions, as found by the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine in March 1999."
Under the bill, those with "debilitating medical conditions" like cancer, glaucoma, AIDS or chronic pain would be permitted to use marijuana to treat symptoms including pain and nausea. The patients would need approval from a doctor, who would assess the patient's medical history and find that the "medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the health risks for the qualifying patient and would likely be superior to treatment without the medical use of marijuana," according to the bill.
Marijuana sales would be taxed, and those using the drug with a doctor's approval would not be arrested or penalized, the bill states.
"Although federal law currently prohibits the use of marijuana, the laws of Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington permit the use of marijuana for medical purposes, and in Arizona doctors are permitted to prescribe marijuana. Pennsylvania joins this effort for the health and welfare of its citizens," the bill states.
December 1, 2009
The Citizens' Voice
Head Of Hazleton Drug Services Group Advocates Medical Marijuana