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Marijuana vote should resurface

May 12, 2004
Editorial Board
Amity Observer

The medical marijuana bill that state Rep. James Abrams (D-83) reintroduced this year, after it failed in the House by 12 votes in 2003, deserves a third try and careful consideration during next year's session.

The bill would allow patients suffering from such diseases as cancer, AIDS and multiple sclerosis to cultivate marijuana legally for medicinal purposes. The drug reportedly eases pain, stimulates appetite and controls nausea.

For now, put aside whether you believe marijuana should be legal for medicinal use. Let's focus instead on the process by which it might become legal, or be denied such legitimacy.

This session, Abrams' bill faced scrutiny from three committees - Judiciary, Appropriations and Public Health - and all three approved the bill. So it went to the House floor for a vote.

Normally, a bill approved on the House floor is then sent to the Senate for its approval; or, if the Senate approves the bill first, it travels to the governor's office for his signature.

The medical marijuana bill passed the House with a majority vote, so it should have gone on to the Senate. Since the House approved the bill less than a week before the session was scheduled to end, time was of the essence.

But time was not on the side of this bill. Majority Leader James Amann (D-118) said the bill, as submitted in its final form, required additional review by the Finance Committee, and therefore he sent it there. The delay ultimately doomed the medical marijuana bill for this session.

The Finance Committee actually passed the medical marijuana bill, but House leaders refused to return it to the floor for another vote before the session ended.

Many people supported this bill - including a majority of the state representatives - and it very nearly graduated to official legislation.

Since it came so close and drew such support, clearly it deserves serious debate during the next legislative session.

Copyright © 2004, Amity Observer