Medical pot use up in smoke

March 03, 2006

Emelie Rutherford, Daily News Tribune

Lawmakers effectively killed a bill to legalize marijuana for medical use in Massachusetts, citing concerns about a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing federal agents to arrest people who use pot to ease their pain or nausea from chemotherapy treatment.
    The joint Public Health Committee sent a medical marijuana bill to be studied on Wednesday, thus stopping it from advancing to the full Legislature and effectively killing it this session.
    "It was about the Supreme Court decision," state Rep. Peter Koutoujian, D-Waltham, House chairman of the committee, said about why the bill was sent to study.
    The committee, he said, didn’t "even really get to the issue of whether it should be allowed or not, because it was against the federal law and Constitution."
    State Rep. Frank Smizik, D-Brookline, had filed the bill. Its co-sponsors include state Reps. Deborah Blumer, D-Framingham, and Ruth Balser, D-Newton.
    The Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision last year allows federal agents to arrest people who use pot to treat pain regardless of whether their states have legalized medical marijuana. Rhode Island earlier this year became the 11th state to allow medical marijuana, joining states including Maine and Vermont.
    At the State House, separate legislation to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana was endorsed two weeks ago by the joint Mental Health and Substance Abuse Committee. That bill to make possession of less than one once of marijuana a civil offense is now before the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

Emelie Rutherford can be reached at 617-722-2495 or erutherford@cnc.com.


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