Press Release


April 10, 2012

Committee for Compassionate Medicine Panel Advocates for Putting Patients First

Boston, MA – The Committee for Compassionate Medicine testified today before the Joint Committee of Public Health in Gardner Auditorium in favor of an initiative petition that would regulate access to medical marijuana for patients suffering from debilitating disease in the Commonwealth. The panel was made up of anesthesiologist Dr. Karen Munkacy, New England Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NECCS) board member Lynne Graziano Morin, former prosecutor Jack Corrigan and Jeffrey Wyda, a Western MA nurse and patient, suffering from ulcerative colitis and chronic pain.

In her testimony, Dr. Munkacy stated, “Medical marijuana works on CB1 receptors in the brain. The CB1 receptors, when activated by medical marijuana: decrease pain, decrease muscle spasms, and decrease nausea and vomiting. And medical marijuana is the only anti-nausea medicine that also increases appetite, which is especially helpful for cancer patients,” she testified. “Hopefully, in our great state, with its world-renowned schools and research laboratories, we will get the laws aligned with the science. We now know, down to the cellular level, down to the molecular level, how medical marijuana works and why it works.”

While hopeful that the Legislature will act on the initiative petition, the Committee for Compassionate Medicine will take the issue of allowing regulated access to medical marijuana to the voters this November should the Legislature not take up the issue prior to the May 2nd deadline for action.

“Anyone who has seen a loved one struggle with the diagnosis of cancer, and then undergo painful, sometimes unsuccessful, treatments understands that cancer impacts not just individuals, but whole families. Wasting, severe nausea, and chronic pain are the hallmarks of the disease and its treatment,” said Lynne Graziano Morin of NECCS. “At NECCS, we know many cancer survivors have found that medical marijuana can reduce nausea and help patients eat and endure chemotherapy. It literally prolongs lives by allowing patients to continue taking life-extending treatments.”

Jack Corrigan, a former prosecutor, drafted the initiative petition to address concerns in other states -about access to medical marijuana. “We drafted the initiative petition with the intent to make the Massachusetts medical marijuana law the strongest in the country. One which would protect access for patients whose doctors feel that this medicine was necessary, while at the same time strengthening penalties for abuse,” said Corrigan. “If the petition passes, an individual who comes into possession of marijuana by virtue of defrauding the medical marijuana system will face criminal penalties of up to 6 months in the house of correction. And if that person abuses the system to distribute marijuana for profit, he or she will face the possibility of a 5-year prison term. So, a person who now faces a mere civil fine could be dealing with a criminal conviction, and a jail sentence.”

About the Committee: The Committee for Compassionate Medicine includes medical professionals and caregivers, patients, and other Massachusetts citizens.


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