Senate committee wants to expand use of medical marijuana

January 19, 2007

, Associated Press

MONTPELIER, Vt. - The Vermont Senate Judiciary Committee has approved a bill that would expand the state’s law to include more chronic disease symptoms and allow legal users to grow more marijuana for their personal use.
     The proposal passed the committee Friday by a vote of 4-1.
     The proposal would expand the marijuana registry to include patients with any chronic, progressive and debilitating condition that produces pain, nausea or seizures. Before being added to the registry, patients would have had to have tried traditional medical treatment.

     The bill would expand the number of plants a patient could have for his or her own use to four mature plants, up from one, and cut the yearly registration fee in half to $50.

The committee also agreed to let doctors outside Vermont certify that individuals applying for permission to use marijuana were eligible.

     “We aren’t legalizing marijuana,” said bill sponsor Sen. John Campbell, D-Windsor.
     “You have to look at this from a compassionate perspective,” Campbell said. “Someone suffering from such devastating illnesses as we address in this, they should be able to use a substance that will alleviate their symptoms.”
     The committee heard testimony from patients who say more ailments needed to be included in the law and others who felt the limit of one mature plant didn’t provide them with enough legal marijuana.
     Sen. Alice Nitka, D-Windsor, voted against the proposal. “It’s the expansion of the diseases,” she said. “It seems too unstructured to me.”
     Nitka also disagreed with the section allowing patients to grow more plants. “There seemed to be discrepancies in the amount of marijuana produced from a plant grown indoors.”
     The bill now heads to the Senate and Welfare Committee.

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