Medical marijuana unlikely to pass House committee

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(Host) It appears that legislation allowing Vermonters to use marijuana for medicinal purposes faces a very tough future in the House Health and Welfare Committee. The bill passed the Senate last year and advocates are hoping to win approval in the House in the coming weeks.

Speaking Tuesday night on VPR’s Switchboard program, the chairman of the House Health and Welfare Committee – Barre Town Representative Tom Koch – was asked if his panel would be bringing the measure to the House floor for a vote:

(Koch) “Not if I can help it. I’m against the bill. The main reason is there is one agency in this country that decides what drugs can be used by Americans for their illnesses and it’s not the Vermont Legislature. I think we have to respect that. I don’t think it’s necessary. I think it’s a symbolic type move and I don’t think that we need the bill.”

(Host) Senate Health and Welfare Committee Chairman Jim Leddy said he hoped Koch would reconsider his position on this issue:

(Leddy) “Marijuana taken medically can offer very real relief and benefit. The question really is what we are proposing is very modest in terms of what it would do. Why our federal government would not study and bring forth with recommendations through the Food and Drug Administration around the use of something to help people who have not other medical recourse is a national shock. There’s no reason for it.”

(Host) Represetnative Koch says his committee is reviewing many other key health care bills and he doubts that the panel will have the time to seriously consider the medical marijuana legislation.

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