Pennsylvania Considers Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act

PITTSTON, PA – Should marijuana be available to Pennsylvanians who suffer from cancer, AIDS and other life-threatening illnesses? Recent testimony before the Pennsylvania House of Representatives supports the practice of using marijuana as a safe and effective means to manage the pain of grave disease as well as subsequent treatments. Our lawmakers are considering House Bill 1393, the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, but not all in Harrisburg support the promoted therapeutic use of this illegal drug.

Representative Mark Cohen introduced House Bill 1393 on April 30, 2009, which provides for the medical use of marijuana to treat symptoms or pain associated with serious medical conditions. According to a press release issued by Representative Cohen, a survey on his web site determined that 80 percent supported the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes. Internet polls in Wilkes-Barre for television station WYOU and in Philadelphia for the Philadelphia Metro found 79 percent and 96 percent support, respectively. In a statewide poll on the issue, a sampling in the 2006 Casey-Santorum U.S. Senate race taken by Franklin and Marshall College Center for Politics and Public Affairs found 76 percent of the sample, disproportionately weighted with Republicans, in favor of medical marijuana with 20 percent against.

Dr. Petro is recognized world-wide as the first clinical researcher to conduct a double-blind, placebo controlled clinical trial of THC (a substance derived from marijuana) demonstrating the efficacy of marijuana in treating painful muscle spasms in patients with multiple sclerosis. According to testimony presented by Dr. Petro before the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, “Marijuana is recognized by the medical community as safe and effective in the treatment of the pain and muscle spasms associated with multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury, and CNS (Central Nervous System) injury.” Dr. Petro does not limit the use of medical marijuana to injuries of the central nervous system. “When compared with potent opioid analgestic agents such as Vicodin, marijuana is a safe and effective therapeutic modality in treatment of patients with severe and disabling chronic pain and in relieving cancer pain.” Moreover, “Additional research done by the US National Institutes of Health in Bethesda demonstrated the antioxidant and neuroprotective properties of cannabinoids leading to the award of Patient ( #6,630,507) on cannabis as useful in the prevention and treatment of age-related inflammatory and autoimmune diseases and nervous system disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and HIV dementia.”

Mr. Bradley Walter, a local resident who has AIDS and uses medical marijuana has been HIV-Positive for five years. He risks arrest each time he purchases marijuana. Still, Walter states that the drugs that help keep him alive have severe side effects. Walter’s daily use of marijuana helps manage the side effects as well as his pain.

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