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Re: [Universal_Life_Church] MY EYEWITNESS REPORT ON THE HB5470 (Michigan Medical Marijuana Act) HEARING (attn.Ryan of 9&10 news)

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  • Peter Anton
    Hello Everyone, I m cleaning my internet household and am leaving this group. This list is supposedly a spiritual fourm, but is instead dominated by political
    Message 1 of 2 , Nov 29, 2006
      Hello Everyone,

      I'm cleaning my internet household and am leaving this group. This list
      is supposedly a spiritual fourm, but is instead dominated by political
      causes. No offense intended, just a personal decision.

      Rev. Peter Anton

      Rev. Steven B. Thompson wrote:

      > The hearing room was full and overflowing into the hallway when the
      > Michigan House of Representatives Committee on Government Operations
      > was called to order Tuesday, Nov 28th to hear public comment on
      > HB5470, the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act. And at least half of the
      > attendees, 30 or more, sported large buttons demanding the Legislature
      > stop arresting medical marijuana patients. Most of the others filling
      > the gallery were representing news media outlets from around the
      > state. Despite the fact that HB5470 is destined to die a quick death
      > in the four week lame duck session of the Michigan Legislature, this
      > hearing was widely regarded as an important step in moving medical
      > marijuana closer and closer into the mainstream. This was the first
      > Michigan legislative hearing on the topic in at least 20 years.
      > Co-leader of the Flint Medical Marijuana initiative already certified
      > to appear on the Feb.27,07 city ballot, Charles Snyder III, his wife
      > Shelby & daughter Nevaeh showed
      > their support for HB5470 before the hearing was called to order.
      > Representative Drolet, (R, Macomb Township), well known for his
      > libertarian leanings chaired the meeting. He first called Tim Beck,
      > Executive Director of Michigan NORML and the architect of the
      > successful Detroit Compassionate Care Committee’s 2004 measure
      > legalizing medical marijuana in that city. Tim introduced the proposed
      > bill and pointed out that it was actually quite conservative in
      > nature. It would be limited in scope to include only severely
      > disabling diseases falling into several narrow categories. Tim also
      > briefly touched on several other conservative hot buttons like small
      > government and reducing taxes before concluding his opening remarks in
      > preparation for the impressive slate of witnesses prepared to testify.
      > Before Tim could step away from the rostrum however, Representative
      > Sheen, (R, Plainwell) addressed one question to Tim that quickly
      > proceeded, through a series of leading, follow-up
      > questions, to the conclusion that people using medical marijuana are
      > not being arrested in Michigan. The state is deterred from doing so
      > because they don’t want to pick up the tab for medical care.
      > Oh,really?! Then will someone please let law enforcement know this!
      > Representative Sheen then went on to relate that his brother had used
      > marijuana to relieve the symptoms of AIDS. It was the Representative's
      > opinion, based on his brother’s experience, that anyone who wants to
      > use marijuana already can with little fear of arrest. The police
      > invariably exercise their discretion and show sound judgment by not
      > arresting medical marijuana users anyway. So why change the law? He
      > then went on express his fear of the slippery slope. Medical marijuana
      > for cancer patients now, what’s next Representative Sheen asked,
      > “medical marijuana for hang nails?” It just wasn’t worth changing the
      > laws and then risking unintended consequences or opening the gateway.
      > His brother had assured him that
      > sick people just don’t get arrested for using marijuana. If only all
      > medical marijuana users were so fortunate as to have a brother who is
      > a State Representative. Representative Hoogendyk, (R, Portage) next
      > expressed his fear of doctor shopping. What would stop someone from
      > going from doctor to doctor until finding a quack who would write a
      > recommendation where it was not warranted? What if one doctor set up a
      > recommendation mill, churning out medical marijuana recommendations
      > willy-nilly? He seemed to feel the Legislature needed to exert
      > oversight on this matter rather than professional boards. He also
      > questioned HB5470 because it made no provision for how patients would
      > obtain their medicine. Since there was no way for patients to obtain
      > it legally, then there was really no need to legalize possession
      > either, was there? Tim rose admirably to the challenge of rebutting
      > these arguments. Chairman Drolet next called Don Murphy, (R, former MD
      > Delegate) and State
      > Representative, Penny Bacchiochi, (R, CT) representing, Republicans
      > for Compassionate Access. Mr. Murphy began the testimony by affirming
      > his Republican credentials. He then spoke of Republican values,
      > specifically citing small government and respect for the right of
      > citizens to be free of an over reaching government. Representative
      > Bacchiochi followed up with moving testimony about being faced with
      > the necessity of choosing between obeying the law or obtaining
      > marijuana for her husband, dying of Ewings Sarcoma. Committee member
      > Representative Garfield, (R, Rochester Hills) spoke of his own use of
      > heavy doses of Vicodan to offset the pain of severely damaged back and
      > neck vertebrae. He then asked for information on the relative benefits
      > of Marinol and cannabis. Representative Garfield also was curious how
      > authorized users would be protected? How would the police sort out who
      > had a legitimate recommendation and who just wanted to get high? Rep
      > Bacchiochi briefly sketched
      > out an outline of a card system she envisions for Connecticut. Next up
      > to bat was ONDCP Deputy Director Scott Burns. Chairman Drolet set the
      > mood during his introduction by noting that Deputy Burns was from the
      > Federal government and he was here to help us. Not deterred, Deputy
      > Burns launched into his familiar routine. He testified that as
      > recently as last April the FDA has confirmed that smoked marijuana is
      > not an approved medicine. Furthermore, by federal mandate, the FDA has
      > sole regulatory control over investigating, evaluating and approving
      > medicines. Not State Legislatures and definitely not ballot
      > initiatives. Deputy Burns next gave a brief rationale for federal
      > oversight of medications. He cited snake oil salesmen of old and told
      > the committee that marijuana was no different. Like users of 1880’s
      > patent nostrums, people smoking marijuana only think they feel better.
      > But aside from their anecdotal reports there is no evidence that they
      > really do. They just think
      > they do. But they really don’t. Ummm, OK. Deputy Burns continued his
      > testimony by condemning at length smoking as a drug delivery system.
      > He also induced the biggest laugh of the morning when he reminded the
      > committee that marijuana was the most commonly abused drug by
      > teenagers and in fact accounted for the lion’s share of rehabilitation
      > center admissions. His concluding comment was to mention that the FDA
      > had not approved smoked marijuana as medicine and FDA regulatory
      > processes are there to protect the public. Apparently that last
      > comment was too much for Chairman Drolet, who cut the Deputy Czar off
      > by shooting the question, “Did the FDA approve Vioxx?” Deputy Burns
      > showed his pique by shooting right back, “If you treat me with
      > respect, I will treat you with respect.” Somebody sounded just a bit
      > peeved. How about a little respect for us MM patients,Mr.Burns? HB5470
      > sponsor Lemmons, D, Detroit then took up the questioning. He first
      > stated that the ONDCP was on record as
      > saying Prohibition was apolitical in nature. Rep Lemmons challenged
      > that assumption and opined that indeed it was all about politics, not
      > sound public policy. He noted that alcohol continues to be a common
      > ingredient in various OTC medications. Lastly he conceded that smoking
      > was not an optimal drug delivery system, but what about vaporization?
      > What was the Deputy’s take on that delivery system? Deputy Burns
      > responded to Representative Lemmon’s first comment. He insisted that
      > alcohol use had brought down upon society a wide range of ills and
      > that Prohibition, be it alcohol or other drugs, is not about politics,
      > it’s about reducing that damage. He noted that there are an estimated
      > 123 million alcohol users in the US and less than 1.5 users of illegal
      > drugs. With all the havoc alcohol had wrought on our culture, “do we
      > really need pot?” Representative Lemmons noted that cocaine was a
      > Schedule II drug, doctors could prescribe that as a part of their
      > legitimate practice. Why
      > not marijuana? Deputy Burns demurred, citing his lack of medical
      > training or expertise to comment on that particular nuance of the law.
      > The only medical knowledge that he could claim was that the FDA has
      > not approved smoked marijuana. Chairman Drolet asked what experience
      > other states with medical marijuana laws had regarding rising or
      > falling rates of teen use? Deputy Burns replied that teen use was down
      > 20% nationwide. Unfortunately the marijuana teens smoke today is not
      > the marijuana their parents smoked in the 60’s & 70’s. That marijuana
      > was 1% to 2% THC. Marijuana today is 8% to 10%. B.C. Bud can go as
      > high as 30%. Chairman Drolet asked again, how do rates of teen use
      > compare in states that have legalized medical marijuana and those who
      > have not? Deputy Burns reported that there simply is no data. Any
      > reports on the matter are strictly anecdotal. According to Deputy
      > Burns, there have been no studies, nor did he give the impression that
      > he was particularly interested
      > in doing any, either. Representative Garfield threw out the rhetorical
      > question, could the FDA ever make an error? They were after all a
      > government agency, staffed by human beings. Was it within the range of
      > possibilities that the FDA could ever make a mistake? Representative
      > Hoogendyk asked, has the FDA done any testing on marijuana? Deputy
      > Burns stated emphatically that, yes, research has been done. And the
      > Iowa Study concluded that the risks of smoked marijuana clearly
      > outweigh any benefit. The FDA has a system for approving new drugs and
      > smoked marijuana simply does not meet the criteria. Representative
      > Hoogendyk: “What are the criteria for Schedule I. Does marijuana meet
      > those criteria? Deputy Burns replied, yes, it meets all 3 criteria to
      > be placed on Schedule I. On the other hand, FDA has determined that
      > smoked marijuana does not meet the criteria for approval as medicine.
      > Representative Sheen, rousing himself from the newspaper he avidly
      > perused through most of the
      > hearing, came to the defense of the FDA’s integrity. He asked the
      > rhetorical question, how many lives had the FDA approval system saved
      > vs. how many lives had been lost due to FDA errors? Chairman Drolet
      > felt that tangent was not particularly germane and attempted to
      > redirect Representative Sheen back on topic. Representative Lemmons
      > returned once again to his attempt to get Deputy Burns to go on record
      > regarding vaporization as a delivery system. He also suggested that by
      > legalizing marijuana, it would then be possible to regulate THC
      > content. Deputy Burns repeated, the FDA has not approved smoked
      > marijuana. “I understand that. But what about vaporization.”
      > Representative Lemmons asked again? No longer able to dodge the
      > question Deputy Burns stated he had no knowledge of vaporization, had
      > never heard of it and the bill didn’t mention it anyway. He quickly
      > retreated from there back onto more secure ground, wrapping up by
      > reminding the committee that the FDA has not
      > approved smoked marijuana. His summary hit a few more quick high
      > spots, to wit: The federal goal is to reduce use of marijuana. Any
      > attempt by the states to legalize medical marijuana interferes with
      > that federal goal. Political pressure and snickering in the gallery—a
      > clear jibe at the assembled activists who had made their amusement at
      > his testimony quite apparent--is not how medicines are approved in
      > this country. As for cocaine, the FDA had approved it. The FDA has not
      > approved smoked marijuana. Once the Deputy Director had left the
      > witness desk, and just as quickly excited the hearing room, never to
      > be seen again, Irvin Rosenfeld took his place at the microphone. Irvin
      > gave a high energy, highly entertaining account of his experience in
      > the Experimental Drug Program which has been providing him 11 ounces
      > of government marijuana per month for the past 25 years. Irvin was
      > able to give graphic evidence by his appearance and lucidity that in
      > his case at least, long term,
      > responsible use of cannabis is not harmful. He brought in his tin,
      > filled near to the brim with pre-rolled marijuana cigarettes grown at
      > the University of Mississippi. “In what kind of bizarre universe does
      > the government say it is OK to provide me marijuana for 25 years but,”
      > and then he turned to point to 80 year old Helen Thompson of Benzonia
      > (mother of Rev.Steven B.Thompson,Director of Benzie County NORML) in
      > her wheelchair, “she’s a criminal?” Laura Barber, who led the 2005
      > Traverse City medical marijuana initiative to victory was next. Laura
      > spoke on behalf of her husband, Matthew who suffers from Gulf War
      > Syndrome. She described in graphic detail the severity of his
      > disabilities including two types of MS and multiple lesions on his
      > brain and spinal cord. Before Matthew began to use cannabis, he was
      > near blind and confined to a wheelchair. By using cannabis he was able
      > to regain much function and the semblance of a normal life. Laura told
      > of their brushes with the
      > law and assured the committee that medical marijuana users do indeed
      > get arrested. It was Matthew’s arrest that got her dander up enough to
      > push the Traverse City initiative. Laura tearfully begged the
      > committee, if they were going to take away the one thing that gave her
      > husband a decent quality of life, well then please, she needed the
      > telephone number for who ever is responsible for quality of life
      > because she and Matthew would be coming up short. The final witness of
      > the day was rather puzzling. He was introduced as Ben L., from Ann
      > Arbor Youth who wished to speak in opposition to the bill. Ben, who
      > appeared to be no more than 16 years old, took his place. He first
      > introduced himself as Ben L, an alcoholic, paused for the
      > acknowledgement that never came, and then admitted, he wasn’t exactly
      > opposed to the bill, he just, um, well thought, umm, that it had, “bad
      > wording.” Then Ben L sat back in his chair. It took a prompt from
      > Chairman Drolet to get him to say, what
      > exactly about the wording did he object to? After more stuttering and
      > stammering, Ben L eventually conveyed his opinion that the provision
      > for relief of severe pain was too open ended, that it would be too
      > easy for a malingerer to fake chronic, debilitating pain. The
      > committee adjourned shortly after Chairman Drolet thanked the
      > witnesses, those in the gallery and apologized to the several
      > witnesses that never had an opportunity to speak. Written testimony
      > was also submitted to the committee by several activists in
      > attendance. The after-hearing analysis and dissection at a near-by Big
      > Boy restaurant concluded that medical marijuana advocates definitely
      > carried the day. There were only two witnesses in opposition; Deputy
      > Director Burns who rather artlessly recited the company line and Ben
      > L, who in hind sight may have been from Alcoholics Anonymous Youth
      > rather than Ann Arbor Youth—did Chairman Drolet simply misread the
      > card? On the other hand, each of our witnesses was well
      > prepared and articulate. Even Tim, who was caught unawares, not
      > expecting to do more than provide a quick introduction and overview,
      > leaving the specifics to the witnesses he had lined up, rose to the
      > occasion. There is every reason to be optimistic that medical
      > marijuana will become legal in Michigan within the next few years. All
      > that remains to be determined is if it will happen through legislative
      > action or ballot initiative. In the meantime, persecution will
      > continue against us!
      > Follow-up:
      > The sad, short answer is that Leon and LaMar got screwed by our
      > DEMOCRAT "friends." Neither Tobocman or Lipsey showed up for the
      > hearing. If they had, we would have had the votes, as Garfield was
      > clearly in favor of the bill, and a vote would have been taken on the
      > spot!
      > Apparently powers that be in the Democratic Party leadership do not
      > want a floor vote anymore then does Republican Speaker Craig DeRoche.
      > Tobocman and Lipsey were told by leadership not to attend the meeting.
      > Apparently Tobocman is running for floor leader in the new Democrat
      > controlled legislature, and decided to do what he feels he needs to do
      > to win--- and that is, to basically kill the bill. Is this a sample of
      > the Dem's (who promised us change if we would vote for them) behavior
      > for 2007?
      > What irked me about Deputy Burns was the fact that our tax dollars
      > paid for him to be there and tell blatent lies!
      > I pointed out to Rep.Sheen after the hearing that everyone seems to be
      > missing the main point in that no-one has a right to tell me or anyone
      > what they can put into their own bodies as their choice of medicine or
      > otherwise. When I asked him if my 41 years of cannabis use had in any
      > way harmed or affected him, or his community, his simple reply was "no
      > it hadn't."
      > So what's the problem? Why do we allow prohibition to continue? Does
      > anybody give a damn at all about us??
      > Rev.Steven B.Thompson,Director
      > 6215 Smeltzer Rd.
      > Benzonia,MI 49616
      > (231) 882-9721
      > GENESIS 1; 11,12: And God said,"Let the earth burst forth with every
      > sort of grass and seed-bearing plant." And so it was,and God was pleased.
      > GENESIS 1; 29,31: "And look! I have given you the seed-bearing plants
      > throughout the earth for your food." Then God looked over all that he
      > had made,and it was excellent in every way.
      > Taken from "THE LIVING BIBLE"
      > ---------------------------------
      > Everyone is raving about the all-new Yahoo! Mail beta.
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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