Friday, February 8, 2008

History made in KANSAS: MPP

First medical marijuana bill in Kansas' history introduced

On Monday, February 11 at 1:30 p.m. in Room 136-N of the Kansas Legislature, the Senate Health Care Strategies Committee will hold hearings on a bill that would create an affirmative defense for medical marijuana patients and protect doctors who make medical marijuana recommendations.

Please contact the committee members today and ask them to give this legislation their utmost consideration.

Also known as the Medical Marijuana Defense Act, SB 556 would allow physicians to make written recommendations that using marijuana would likely be of benefit to their patients. If arrested for possession of marijuana, a patient holding a recommendation from his or her physician would be able to assert an affirmative defense to any charges arising from his or her medical use of marijuana. If a court accepts the affirmative defense, it would mean that a patient could avoid criminal charges. The bill would not, however, protect patients from the initial arrest.

Only seriously ill patients would be able to assert the affirmative defense. Qualifying conditions include: cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and Crohn's disease.

Certain chronic or debilitating diseases that produce one or more of the following would also be covered: cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe pain; severe nausea; seizures (epilepsy); Alzheimer's disease; or severe and persistent muscle spasms (multiple sclerosis).

One of the main reasons that medical marijuana is finally an issue being discussed in Topeka is because of the hard work of the Kansas Compassionate Care Coalition. KSCCC has secured support from the medical community, numerous patients, as well as current and former state officials such as former Kansas Attorney General Robert Stephan. Click here to find out how you can become involved with KSCCC's efforts to move this year's bill forward.

If you are interested in attending the hearing, remember to arrive early (at least 30 minutes), dress appropriately (no shirts with marijuana leaves on them), and be respectful to everyone in attendance, including opponents. It is very important that Kansas legislators are left with a favorable first impression from the activist community, so please do everything you can to make this happen.

Thank you for supporting the Marijuana Policy Project and all of our allies. Please pass this alert on to others in Kansas who might be interested in making sure SB 556 receives the attention it deserves this year.

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