Letters 4/30

April 30, 2002

Marijuana can be good medicine

To the editor:

The General Assembly has adjourned. Sadly there is one piece of unfinished business that leaves a small number of Marylanders with dashed hopes. Those are the uncounted Free Staters who suffer from cancer, multiple sclerosis, Crohn's disease, or AIDS who need marijuana to relieve pain, vomiting, or spasticity.

Everyone knows how dreaded cancer chemotherapy is - bouts of intense vomiting, diarrhea and fatigue. For many, there is no relief provided by the legal drugs. For some of these patients the only relief they get is from the illegal use of marijuana.

The voters understand this - in polls they overwhelmingly support allowing medical patients to use marijuana under their doctors' supervision. Del. Don Murphy (R-Catonsville) demonstrated great courage and persistence in facing down enormous ridicule from delegates and senators to advocate a bill that would protect such medical patients from prosecution.


His bill had 59 co-sponsors but needed to be amended to get out of the Judiciary Committee. There was great hope when the House of Delegates passed a bill, 80 to 56. The bill would have permitted a marijuana-using medical patient, if he were arrested, to offer evidence for the consideration of the court that the possession was due to a medical necessity. If the court found such evidence credible, the court would still be able to impose a punishment for breaking the law, by imposing a maximum fine of $100. This revised bill addressed a major concern of delegates that changing Maryland law might "seduce" Maryland residents into believing medical use of marijuana was legal, thus leaving them open to Federal prosecution.

But the bill was killed by a single vote in the Senate Committee on Judicial Proceedings.

Every parent and teacher wants drug-free schools, but keeping marijuana legally unavailable to patients has not contributed to any success in this regard. We all want drug-free drivers, but again, keeping bona-fide medical patients who use marijuana in the criminal justice system doesn't protect anyone.

Eric E. Sterling

Chevy Chase, Md.

Changes needed in Fulton County

To the editor:

I have stayed out of the Southern Fulton School District political arena for over five years. My main reason was to see if there was enough competent leaders in Southern Fulton area to get the job done properly and with the least amount of expense to the taxpayers.

After watching and gathering information for the past five years, I have decided a better caliber of leadership is needed. Therefore, I intend to run for Southern Fulton School District Board of Directors in 2003. This will probably not come as a surprise to some of the current board members. Nor will it be a surprise to some of the school district employees.

Some of the areas of special interest will be assurance that taxpayers are getting the most for their buck, taking an in-depth look at nepotism (favoritism shown to relatives when filling vacant positions in the district), qualifications of many of the teachers, an in-depth look at the office staff to determine conflict of interests, very liberal spending of taxpayer money and future impact of school expansion on the taxpayer.

There are some specific individuals who will be closely examined and truths will be published. The once favorite "Taxpayer's Coalition" newspaper will probably begin re-publication. If you've got nothing to hide, you have nothing to be concerned with.

I invite my comrade in arms, Spike, to join the effort. In the words of Arnold S, "I'll be back."

William D. Peck

Needmore, Pa.

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