Medical marijuana rally hits Capitol

April 12, 2005

Anthony Giovanini, State Hornet (Sacramento State Univ.)

Smoke rose from the steps of the state Capitol Saturday from individuals practicing their legal right to use medicinal marijuana.

'This is a coming out rally for the medical marijuana community,' said Peter Keyes, chief financial officer for Compassionate Coalition.

The free rally was sponsored by Compassionate Coalition, a non-profit organization formed in support of medicinal marijuana.

'I have a kidney transplant patient from Sacramento State who gets their medication from us,' said Louis Fowler, owner of Alternative Specialties, a local medical cannabis provider.

Medicinal marijuana doesn't seem to be a big concern to Sac State students as a whole. Out of 100 students who were randomly asked about their stance, 23 had no opinion, 56 were for medicinal marijuana and 21 were opposed. But many said it depended on the circumstances.

'I'm personally against all illicit drugs,' said Jeff Allen, a Sac State senior in management of information systems who is also former president of the College Republicans.

Justin Knighten, a public relations sophomore and member of the College Democrats said, 'If it's for medical purposes, I'm for it.'

'I'm in favor of medical marijuana in terms of pain management of side effects for cancer chemotherapy,' said Robyn Nelson, director of the nursing department.

A major concern in the medicinal marijuana community is a case accepted by the Supreme Court regarding Angel Raich, a 39-year-old mother of two who suffers from an inoperable brain tumor, who sued the state of California over the use of homegrown medicinal marijuana and won the case. Despite the ruling for Raich in the California case the case now faces the possibility of being overturned by the Supreme Court.

Medicinal marijuana users attending the rally had a variety of reasons for their individual legal prescriptions.

'I have full-blown AIDS,' said Ryan Landers, California state director for the American Alliance for Medical Cannabis. 'I get a loss of appetite as well as vomiting; marijuana controls those pains happening in my stomach.'

A few individuals attending the rally spoke of their personal testimonials for use of medicinal marijuana.

'Medical marijuana has made a massive difference in my life,' said Keyes, who suffers from irritable bowl syndrome and has been a permitted user since 2000.

Compassionate Coalition was hoping to have a turnout of a 1,000 participants; however, the crowd never was larger than just over 100 people at any one time.

Dana Jay, president for Ahima International, gave a speech about marijuana safety in growing the plant.

'I think marijuana is now an accepted medicine,' said Nathan Sands, director of marketing and communications and a representative on the board of directors for Compassionate Coalition.

'The quarter I started using marijuana were my highest grades I'd received at school,' said Sands, who is a UC Davis graduate.

Compassionate Coalition formed over a year ago in the hopes of defending patients' rights and meeting the needs of the medicinal marijuana community.

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