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Mundy backs medical marijuana

More addictive drugs now in use, state rep says about complaints


State Rep. Phyllis Mundy is a co-sponsor of a bill that would allow the use of marijuana to ease patients’ pain.

Mundy, D-Kingston, admits the bill is controversial and says it’s not a “legislative priority.” But, she said, it’s time to start thinking about the use of such drugs in treatment.

“House Bill 1393 seeks to ease human suffering by allowing those who are gravely or terminally ill to use marijuana to relieve their pain,” Mundy said. “It does not, as some may suggest, seek to promote the recreational use of marijuana or in any way legalize it for such use.

“While I realize this topic is controversial, I believe it is time to begin the discussion as to why we allow much more addictive drugs such as OxyContin and morphine to be prescribed for pain relief, but not marijuana, which is much less harmful and less expensive.”

The state House Committee on Health and Human Services heard testimony this week from patients, doctors and members of advocacy groups who say medical marijuana should be legal because it is effective in treating chronic pain, nausea and other ailments.

The bill is sponsored by state Rep. Mark Cohen, D-Philadelphia. It is not given much of a chance to pass. State Attorney General Tom Corbett opposes the bill and the Senate’s Republican majority is not expected to give it serious consideration.

In an Associated Press story on the hearings, an aide to Committee Chairman Frank Oliver, D-Philadelphia, said more hearings on the bill are planned before a vote is taken.

Brad Walter of Larksville testified before the committee. In the AP story, Walter said he smokes marijuana four or five times a day to relieve gastrointestinal pain and distress from the 14 pills he takes to counteract the effects of HIV.

Walter told the committee he takes the risk of getting pot illegally because nothing else — including Marinol, a government-approved prescription drug that contains the active ingredient in marijuana — helps nearly as much.

There are 13 other states that have approved similar laws, but opponents of the legislation have said those states have had instances in which marijuana was dispensed fraudulently.

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