The Norman Transcript

February 25, 2013

Medicinal marijuna bill to be heard in Senate Health and Human Services Committee today

Transcript Staff
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Sen. Constance N. Johnson has filed bills to legalize the use of medicinal marijuana in Oklahoma since 2006 and none of those measures were ever given a hearing in a Senate committee until this year.  The Oklahoma County democrat is pleased that the Senate Health and Human Services Committee has finally agreed to give the issue a hearing.  Senate Bill 710, creating the “Compassionate Use Act of 2013”, will be heard Monday afternoon in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee following session.

“I’m so pleased that committee leadership has finally agreed to give this bill a hearing.  This is an issue that is growing in popularity around the country and our citizens deserve the right to have this important issue considered,”Johnson said. “Nearly half the states have already passed laws to protect those who are sick and terminally-ill from prosecution for using medicinal marijuana. Unfortunately, though, in our state, doctors aren’t allowed to prescribe these patients access to this alternative medicine, which is terribly sad given that it is proven to help ease pain and suffering.” 

SB 710 would allow medical doctors to prescribe marijuana for a variety of medical conditions, including cancer, osteoarthritis, and Parkinson’s disease. Under the proposal, it would be legal for a patient to possess or cultivate marijuana for personal medical purposes with a written or oral recommendation or approval by a physician. 

The bill authorizes the Department of Health to issue licenses to cultivators and users as well as create rules pertaining to fees, licensing procedures, etc.  The Department of Agriculture would be authorized to enforce standards on edible medicinal marijuana. 

“My office has been inundated with letters, emails and calls over the years supporting the approval of medical marijuana. This is a legitimate concern in our state and it’s time that we listen to our citizens and have a discussion about this important issue,” Johnson said. “People who are sick or dying and are consulting with their doctors should, at a minimum, have the liberty to access the medicine that will best address their pain and suffering. Who are we to deprive them of that?”

The use of medicinal marijuana is legal in 18 states and the District of Columbia and eight other states — Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York and Oklahoma — have filed legislation this year to legalize medicinal marijuana. 

Dr. Sunil Aggarwal, a graduate of the University of Washington’s National Institutes of Health-supported Medical Scientist Training Program and an Associate Member of the New York Academy of Medicine, will give testimony on the use of medicinal marijuana. 

As a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, Dr. Aggarwal conducted and published human studies of medical cannabis use under the first-ever granted federal Certificates of Confidentiality which protected 176 enrolled study subjects recruited both from sites of both cannabis delivery and medical consultation. He has authored or co-authored papers on cannabinoid medical science, dosing, and human rights published in journals of Pain medicine, Hospice and Palliative Medicine, General Medicine, and Law, in addition to a book chapter for the general public and a chapter in a supportive oncology textbook.

Aggarwal has given presentations at the national meetings of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine, and the University of Denver School of Law, with his writing and testimony being used by several state health agencies in the United States such as the Iowa and Oregon Boards of Pharmacy as expert evidence in policymaking.

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