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Boucher: Medical Marijuana Teaches Wrong Lesson

She represents the 26th District, which includes Bethel, New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, Westport and Wilton.

Earlier this week, Senator Toni Boucher (R-26th) — who represents Bethel, New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, , Westport and Wilton — released the following statement in response to HB 5389: An Act Concerning the Palliative Use of Marijuana.

"It is disappointing that in this year’s session, filled with hope for educational reform, we should be considering a bill that would send such a negative message to our families and children- the very ones that education reform is meant to assist in making the most of their potential."

Full Testimony for HB 5389: An Act Concerning the Palliative Use of Marijuana

Dear Senator Coleman, Representative Fox, Senator Kissel and Representative Hetherington and other distinguished members of the Judiciary Committee.

Thank you for your consideration of my testimony in opposition to HB 5389 An Act Concerning the Palliative Use of Marijuana.

It is disappointing that in this year’s session, filled with hope for educational reform, we should be considering a bill that would send a  such a negative message to our families and children- the very ones that education reform is meant to assist in making the most of their potential.

I think we can all agree that Connecticut students already have so many barriers to success. Many Connecticut students live in homes where substance abuse creates a difficult learning environment. Many of those students' mothers tell me that they want the drugs and their negative influence out of their neighborhoods.

The destructive influence of drugs is everywhere we turn. Pick up any newspaper to read about those whose lives are ruined and whose talents are wasted due to drug use. Turn on the TV news to see stories about the collateral damage families endure because of drugs. I would also ask you to think about Connecticut's foster children. Consider this fact: 80% of our foster children were taken from homes affected by addiction.

I have reams of data which speak to the unhealthy effects of marijuana on the heart, lungs, immune system, and brain. Doctors tell me that it is particularly harmful for post-traumatic stress disorder. Going over that data with you could literally take me days.

If in fact this is about helping the afflicted manage pain, there are many alternative drugs that would keep patients alert and functional as they look forward recovery from a serious illness. If it does not matter that a smoked substance can further harm the heart, lungs and brain then change this bill to apply palliative care for the terminally ill. If it was restricted to those cases, I could actually encourage support of this initiative.

Instead, HB 5389 would increase substance abuse, crime and legal challenges in Connecticut that have characterized medical marijuana programs in other states.  Please consider that the committee is deliberating on a serious policy change that puts us in direct conflict with the US Department of Justice. California voters approved use of medicinal marijuana in 1996, but its use remains illegal under federal law.

Note that on March 5, 2012 in San Diego a federal judge on Monday dismissed a lawsuit brought by San Diego medical marijuana advocates that aimed to halt the government’s efforts to close dispensaries. The suit was one of several filed in California in November following efforts by U.S. attorneys to shut down dispensaries. Letters were sent to dispensaries and landlords ordering them to close within 45 days or risk prosecution and forfeiture of assets. The judge concluded that federal law does not allow marijuana to be dispensed and prescribed for medicinal use as other drugs can, and it is not a fundamental right protected by the U.S. Constitution.

Lawsuits are sure to follow as the bill changes marijuana to a schedule II drug in CT. U.S. law supersedes CT law, and marijuana is still a federal schedule I drug as explained in the addendum to this testimony.  This bill also sends a powerfully negative message to young people, especially after last session’s reduction in penalties for possession.

I strongly urge the committee to vote against HB 5389. Thank you for the opportunity to testify on this bill.

Addendum
I first began work on this issue after an emotional appeal from a mother and father who had found their son dead from a drug overdose at home in his bed. They and countless others warned that this measure would be devastating to our state and their concerns have been confirmed by medical research studies and the consequences of medical marijuana in other states. After exhaustive study and consultations with many state and national experts as well as cancer patients, I am convinced that the argument that smoked marijuana is medically necessary is untrue.

Marijuana proponents argue that the drug is a useful medicine. In fact, the FDA and other major medical organizations (such as the American Medical Association, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, American Glaucoma Society and the American Cancer Society) have all opposed medical marijuana. Marijuana bills, such as HB 5389, continue to include glaucoma as a condition for which marijuana can be recommended, even though the American Glaucoma Society warned patients that marijuana can make their glaucoma worse. In addition, marijuana produces heart problems, suppresses the immune system, and is dangerous to patients suffering from cancer and AIDS. It can even increase the risk of Kaposi’s sarcoma in AIDS sufferers.

Modern medical science has other treatments and pain relievers that are more effective than smoked marijuana. There is no FDA approved medication which is smoked, since it is difficult for physicians to determine the correct dosage. Furthermore, smoking any substance introduces harmful particulate matter into the lungs which can lead to respiratory problems. From this standpoint, marijuana smoke is very dangerous, since it contains more cancer causing agents than cigarette smoke, and leaves four times the amount of residue in the mouth and throat. Even if marijuana were the best medicine for any ailment, there are derivatives such as Marinol and Sativex that deliver marijuana's effects without causing the same health problems as inhalation.

In addition to marijuana’s unsuitability as medicine, allowing medical marijuana would also present serious legal challenges to Connecticut. Although HB 5389 changes marijuana from a schedule I to a schedule II drug under Connecticut’s controlled substances list, marijuana is still classified as a schedule I controlled substance under federal law and would remain illegal regardless of any state law authorizing its use. This discrepancy between state and federal law may leave Connecticut open to litigation by the Department of Justice, which has strongly committed itself to enforcing the Controlled Substances Act. Recently, the U.S. Attorney in Colorado indicated that there were no “safe harbors” for dispensaries in that state, because the federal government considers marijuana an illegal substance.

Similar problems involving dispensaries have arisen in other states. Last year, the state of Montana was forced to overhaul its medical marijuana laws in the face of criticism that the rapidly expanding marijuana industry in the state had led to widespread abuse. In October 2011, the federal government ordered many of California’s marijuana dispensaries to shut down, with prosecutors arguing that California’s medical marijuana industry is engaged in illegal sales under the guise of supplying qualifying patients. A lawsuit by medical marijuana advocates to oppose the government’s efforts to shut down these dispensaries was dismissed on March 5, 2012 by a federal judge in San Diego, who ruled that that federal law prohibits the sale of marijuana. The ever increasing supply of marijuana in states such as California, Montana and Oregon has dramatically swelled the number of marijuana users who are obtaining the drug, under laws which were originally intended to benefit only a small number of very ill patients.

As shown by the experience of other states, the abuse inherent in this bill cannot be prevented. The few states that have taken this path have seen an alarming increase in marijuana use, crime, higher cost to communities and state services, law enforcement and lower property values and negatives changes in the quality of life in their communities. Classifying marijuana as medicine creates the false impression that it is benign, and increases its use. A University of Michigan survey of 46,000 American teenagers concluded that marijuana use has risen to the point where more teens are smoking pot than cigarettes. This survey not only concluded that teenage use of marijuana had risen, but that this rise correlates with an increasingly favorable perception of the drug among high school students.

Marijuana is a harmful, Schedule I, federally illegal drug that does not save or improve lives. It can undermine the seriously ill’s best prospect of recovery and is the wrong prescription for Connecticut. I am tremendously grateful and proud that we have fought repeated attempts in the past to take our state down this dangerous path and have not broken a trust with our constituents of doing no harm. Let us all work to continue to keep our children and neighborhoods safe.

Senator Toni Boucher 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Mirror March 09, 2012 at 01:31 PM
Further, her argument goes in circles, essentially saying that because marijuana is illegal, there are laws against it. Ms. Boucher, it is the unjust law that is the problem. But she is increasingly in the minority. More and more states are reexamining their policies towards marijuana, because intelligent people have realized that this criminal, racist and utterly unwinnable War on Drugs is a far worse problem than marijuana smoke has ever been. We are rapidly approaching the tipping point, where the federal government will be forced to change its outdated and medically unsupportable position. We now know the DARE program is useless in fighting drug use. We know that virtually all of the studies like those that Ms. Boucher cites were funded by the government and run by “scientists” whose future funding depended upon finding what their overseers demanded they find. Independent studies have found far different results, and are easy to find online for anyone willing to look. And we know that building prisons is a major growth industry and that lobbyists across the country are filling politicians’ war chests with donations for candidates that hold Ms. Boucher’s position. I’m willing to believe that Ms. Boucher has good intentions. Unfortunately, she is locked into supporting a position that has not only proven destructive and unsustainable, but ends up hurting the people that she hopes to help.
Mark H March 09, 2012 at 01:32 PM
No need to argue with people like this who clearly do not represent you. Do the right thing. VOTE! Vote this moralistic idiot out of office at the first opportunity.
pfroehlich2004 March 09, 2012 at 02:21 PM
Everyone has done a great job of responding to Senator Boucher's obfuscations and baseless speculations. I would just like to add that anyone from the 26th State Senate District who wants to see her out of office would do well to register as a Republican and organize a primary election challenge to Ms. Boucher. The 26th is a solidly Republican district and the likelihood of Toni losing a general election is slim to none. However, if some libertarian-minded candidate can snatch the Republican nomination from her, they will be a shoo-in for the general election. State Rep. John Frey (111th) is a Republican from Boucher's district who has voted twice in favor of medical marijuana. Wonder if he'd be interested in challenging Toni for the nomination?
Thinking Clearly March 09, 2012 at 02:33 PM
http://marijuanamovie.org/full-documentary/ I have a hard time believing that "teaching children" and using marijuana for medicine are being mentioned in the same conversation. No child of anyone's family will ever be found dead from smoking marijuana. Its impossible. We cannot say that about any other drug in our pharmacopeia of medicines. Why would we wish to protect our children from a substance safer than aspirin? What kind of a message is that? In this society if all we ever thought about was the message we send to children when voting and passing laws, many things would be prohibited. Our country is composed of adults, not children. The prohibition of alcohol in America experienced the same logic, but ended up being the most disastrous policy we ever thought up. We learned that prohibition created crime by creating one of the biggest disasters of the 20th century. Marijuana has been used as medicine worldwide for 5000 years and I can see it has not provided for the destruction of any civilization during that time. IF we were to invent right now a medicine that had a toxic threshold so low that one could never overdose on it, it would be touted as the miracle miracle drug of our time. We have that now in marijuana which has proven to be both safe and effective.
Thinking Clearly March 09, 2012 at 02:43 PM
P.S. - I highly recommend Senator Toni Boucher (R-26th) watch the above video presentation.
EMR March 09, 2012 at 02:43 PM
I feel ashamed to have voted for Ms. Boucher in the last election. If there is anyone out there who you think can defeat this ill advised and near neurotic representative please let us know.
Steven Sharpe March 09, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Looks like someone needs ot read more. Any ailment and then enter Cannabis into your search engine and then came back and lie to the sheep Sentor. Cannabis cures cancer and our government knew about it in 1974 so get a grip and read before you lie to people.
blahblahblah March 09, 2012 at 04:10 PM
You'd think if she had DAYS of evidence, she could have simply picked the best 5 sources. Either someone's lying, or they didn't take comp I. And she says that you only have to pick up any newspaper to see the users who wasted their lives. Yeah, Forbes 500 maybe. Both bill gates and Steve jobs smoked pot. But obviously, Ms. Bouchers intellect far exceeds theirs. It's sad to see just how hypocritical and stupid our politicians are.
Jason Glenn March 09, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Is there anyone who agrees with this crazy witch hunter?
John Monahan March 09, 2012 at 05:06 PM
I think that most dangerous message we can send to our students is that hypocrisy is acceptable. I've taught in urban public schools for almost 15 years, and I have seen first hand that what is holding these kids back most is prohibition of drugs, rather than the drugs themselves. Kids growing up in homes where one or both parents are in jail, kids who can't walk down the street or sit on their front steps without being shaken down by the police, kids who see little hope in excelling in school because they know that the odds are that they will be dead or in jail before they graduate, these are the collateral damage of our misguided war on drugs. It would be far better for these kids, their communities and our nation as a whole if we acted responsibly, legalized marijuana and regulated and taxed it like tobacco and alcohol. We could then take all the money we save on outdated law enforcement, plus the money made on marijuana taxes and invest that in education. Being able to admit the mistake we made in trying to control what substances consenting adults can take into their bodies, and then taking action to rectify the mistake would send a powerful and positive message to our children.
Esoteric Knowledge March 09, 2012 at 08:44 PM
In My Opinion: It's very easy to out-debate this individual who hopes the authorities are not lying to all of us. Or she just sides up to liars and hopes their authority will some how make psychosis trump reality. We need to grow up as a society. We don't need people making plants illegal. I'm really tired. We don't need to deal with these authoritarian falsehood plasterers for one more hour or one more day. Just stop, please. I don't need or want thumbsuckers declaring themselves God and claims the power over the plants of earth! It's so stupid and transparent how immoral that is. It has nothing to do with health, the reasons marijuana is illegal is very deep, and not talked about, and goes to the very core of humanity. We need freedom. That's it. End of story, you are not God, grow up and get over it...this is what we should say to social conservatives(who apparently don't read books or think). She listed a lot of organizations that don't support medical marijuana, sorry to say, they are all liars, and they are liars because they don't want people to be taken off the nipple of chemo and other expensive medical system equipment. It's a huge authoritian system that can't examine itself. If people start grinding up herbs to heal themselves, they are out of a job. And this business of smoked drug is bad, chemo has a 1% success rate. That poor kid did not die from a marijuana overdose. I could go on, but long thoughts don't fit into little comment boxes.
Shawn Christopher March 09, 2012 at 09:18 PM
"Prohibition... goes beyond the bound of reason in that it attempts to control a man's appetite by legislation and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes. A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded" -Abraham Lincoln "The prestige of government has undoubtedly been lowered considerably by the prohibition law. For nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced. It is an open secret that the dangerous increase of crime in this country is closely connected with this." - Albert Einstein quote on Hemp "Two of my favorite things are sitting on my front porch smoking a pipe of sweet hemp, and playing my Hohner harmonica." - Abraham Lincoln (from a letter written by Lincoln during his presidency to the head of the Hohner Harmonica Company in Germany) "Hemp is of first necessity to the wealth & protection of the country." - Thomas Jefferson, U.S. President "Make the most you can of the Indian Hemp seed and sow it everywhere." - George Washington, U.S. President "We shall, by and by, want a world of hemp more for our own consumption." - John Adams, U.S. President
Shawn Christopher March 09, 2012 at 09:22 PM
the Biggest treat to our youth is PROHIBITION, NOT MARIJUANA!!!!!!!! we are letting the government lock up our children in droves, It's our latest crime against humanity, as bad as slavery. how can we let this happen? It's appaulling , sickening and when it's finally legalized, Which it will be. humans will be looking back, going" what the FU@% were we thinking, it's so irrational to have these laws in place, our founding fathers said it best. Maybe this ladie should read some history and some medical journals before spouting off this complete and utter nonsense, she should be ashamed of herself.
Kevin Gallagher March 09, 2012 at 10:39 PM
Medicinal cannabis is not only palliative! There is mounting evidence that cannabinoids cause apoptosis of cancer cells, where they reprogram the cancerous cells to die. Applied to the skin, it cures all kinds of skin problems, and has cured basal cell carcinoma in a matter of mere days! As a matter of fact, there are few problems that cannabis doesn't help. That's why it was the most doctor recommended substance in this country for over 100 years! It is horrendous to keep this wonder drug off of the market!
David K March 09, 2012 at 11:59 PM
I worked as a psychologist in the schools in Arizona for 35 years and observed first hand what you mention. Although during that time I never observed a single person overdosing on marijuana I did observe countless families torn apart by the drug war and countless children thrown into foster settings as a result. Our solution to the "drug problem" by using a War on Drugs is far worse than the harms caused by marijuana itself and goes well beyond those caused for law enforcement and the court system. Many families are thrown into the poverty system because the main breadwinner is arrested for marijuana. When they return they are unable to get jobs (they are excons) and the family remains on public assistance. This insanity must stop! This senator needs to be replaced. She is blind to the damage that she causes. Marijuana is an incredible medicine that has been in use for over 5,000 years. Between 1850 and 1900 about half of the prescriptions written by doctors contained cannabis. The War on Drugs has met none of the initial ten goals that were established during the Nixon administration. We have wasted over a trillion dollars that might have bought free college educations for any desiring to attend had we spent this money on higher education.
David K March 10, 2012 at 12:12 AM
There is mounting evidence by Donald Tashkin (google it) and others that marijuana smoke does not cause cancer but rather may be associated with a protective effect due to its anticancer properties. The National Institute of Health actually posted information about the anticancer properties of cannabis on their website. Apparently the DEA or FDA did not want that information to go out to the public but cannabis is still listed in the professional section regarding alternative cancer treatments. Funny how you can't take the truth back once it begins to emerge. This senator needs to be removed, not medical marijuana.
Shawn Christopher March 10, 2012 at 12:18 AM
more people need to speak out publicly against prohibition. My father was arrested over 5 grams of marijuana. was beaten every day in jail and ended up serving a prison sentence in Rahway state prison in New Jersey for "bad behavior" because he was beaten every day. they don't take sides, if your beaten up you "Were involved in a fight" and are punished accordingly...he was like prey for the animals in prison. he was sodomized and beaten daily and eventually beaten so bad and denied his medication. he almost died in there, after 3 months of soltary and almost killing him they just let him out from fear of legal repercussions. he died 3 weeks later due to complications from the beatings and being denied his medications. I grew up without a father over 5 grams of weed. It's f^ckin sick and people should be sick and tired of losing family members to this drug war over a plant that has NEVER KILLED ANYBODY
Shawn Christopher March 10, 2012 at 12:41 AM
WIN THE DRUG WAR TOMORROW! END CANNABIS PROHIBITION TODAY. How can something so obvious be so hard for people to see? Edning Prohibtion and replacing it with a tax and regulate system would literally kills drug cartels overnight. they would lose 70% of thier income over nigth. This happened so dramatically after the ending of alcohol prohibtion was ended and it was so obvious to everyone that it was such an utter failure, yet, Richard Nixon insisted on doing it again. this time with something we now know for a fact is far less harmful (if harmful at all) than acohol. It's had the same effects of oppressing youth with criminal records they will have for life. It was mothers who fought for ending prohibition which is having the same exact and exaggerated effects as it did back then. how can they be so blind to these facts when we have such a perfect example in prohibitions early failure?
Shawn Christopher March 10, 2012 at 12:44 AM
Let me ask this question....What would you, as a parent prefer, talking to your kids about the dangers of drugs, or do you want the federal government "rehabilitating" your kids by exposing them to murderers and rapists in jail, that will, most definitely will sodomize and beat your kids into submission. That's their way of "rehabilitating"
Shawn Christopher March 10, 2012 at 12:44 AM
the bottom line prohibition kills. marijuana doesn't. "Prohibition... goes beyond the bound of reason in that it attempts to control a man's appetite by legislation and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes. A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded" -Abraham Lincoln "The prestige of government has undoubtedly been lowered considerably by the prohibition law. For nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced. It is an open secret that the dangerous increase of crime in this country is closely connected with this." - Albert Einstein quote on Hemp "Two of my favorite things are sitting on my front porch smoking a pipe of sweet hemp, and playing my Hohner harmonica." - Abraham Lincoln (from a letter written by Lincoln during his presidency to the head of the Hohner Harmonica Company in Germany) "Hemp is of first necessity to the wealth & protection of the country." - Thomas Jefferson, U.S. President "Make the most you can of the Indian Hemp seed and sow it everywhere." - George Washington, U.S. President "We shall, by and by, want a world of hemp more for our own consumption." - John Adams, U.S. President
EMR March 10, 2012 at 01:23 AM
would love to have ms. boucher's FDA opinion on it's relevance to protecting our citizens after thousands upon thousands of unwarranted deaths.. she's very opinionated.
Thinking Clearly March 10, 2012 at 01:36 AM
Who is teaching who the wrong lesson?
Bruce Johnson March 10, 2012 at 02:07 AM
Here, here! The most sensible person on the thread.
Hemp Hotti March 10, 2012 at 06:07 AM
Senator Toni Boucher is a idiot... CANNABIS CURES, dumba$$
Hemp Hotti March 10, 2012 at 06:08 AM
Senator Toni Boucher is a idiot... CANNABIS CURES, dumba$$
Clint March 10, 2012 at 04:00 PM
The opponents of marijuana legalization need to read the book: "Marijuana Gateway to Health: How Cannabis Protects Us from Cancer and Alzheimer's Disease" to learn what the recent scientific findings prove...that using marijuana (adult use) is health-positive behavior. The reefer madness studies that opponents cite are tailored to produce the desired negative results using pseudoscience techniques such as injecting rats with artificial cannabinoids and then claiming the findings somehow relate to humans smoking marijuana.
Darin March 10, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Any drug should be for the adult to decide for their self based on their own research. I don't need her telling me what is best for me, nor do I need the govt DICTATING to me what they believe is best for me.
155Staples March 11, 2012 at 12:27 PM
Are you kidding me? I think this prohibitionist just sealed her fate for the next election. Ignorance or being blind to the truth is no excuse.
Dennis March 12, 2012 at 10:32 PM
If Toni Boucher, the Dept. of Health, the DEA, and President Obama, and the Supreme Court, could guarantee that if I did all they told me to do, I would have a healthy and quality life of 120 years (Biblical length of days), I might begin to believe them. But they can't care for themselves to approach 120 with all their government power. So, lieing, bullying, claiming save the children, does not work anymore. And when they ignore a Peoples' Initiative that became Law, it demonstrates their inability or unwillingness to represent the People, and they need to be replaced by vote. This is election year People, make your vote count.
Siwanoy March 14, 2012 at 03:07 PM
Let her know how you feel! http://ctsenaterepublicans.com/contact-boucher/ Ive been emailing her once a week since she voted against decriminalization under 4 ounces. She has also yet to actually respond to any of the questions I have sent her, what a great representative...

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