PA Nurses Pick a Side on the Medical Marijuana Debate

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WILKES-BARRE -- The Pennsylvania State Nurses Association is standing behind medical marijuana.

They are the first health care group in the state of Pennsylvania to support the drug legislation.

"It seemed like the right time when our patients began asking about it, and their families, about what we can do to help them," said Betsy Snook, the CEO of the PA Nurses Association.

If approved, the bill SB 1182, would protect patients and health care providers from prosecution if they use or prescribe the drug.

The CEO of the nurses association said she believes medical marijuana is safe.

"There have been no studies that found that medical especially have had any types of dependency, anything more than the illicit drugs or legal drugs that people are using now," said Snook.

But not everyone is on the same side as the nurses association. A drug treatment facility in Luzerne County thinks it's a bad idea.

"I've had hundreds of clients come in to me and tell me specifically, not from me but from them, that they are psychologically addicted to marijuana, so that's a major issue," said Jason Harlen, the CEO of Wyoming Valley Alcohol and Drug Services.

Officials at Wyoming Valley Alcohol and Drug Services said marijuana is too popular to regulate, medical or not.

"It's definitely the second most abused drug in this area besides alcohol," Said Harlen.

But the PSNA said, for some patients, the drug is a great alternative.

"One family in particular in our area is saying that her son has as many as 60 seizures a day and the conventional therapies and conventional medicines are not working," said Snook.

James Bingham from Taylor said if people want the drug they should be able to get it. "I'm for it. I mean for medical reasons or whatever. You know what I mean?"

The Senate will have a hearing on the bill on Tuesday.


  • Vinnie

    I would have to say at least 40% of the people I know use marijuana, weather it is a few times a year, or on a daily basis. Me on the other hand, I choose not to use it, tried it when I was younger and I don’t enjoy the “lazy” feeling I got. It didn’t give me thoughts or ideas, it just made me feel tired, hungry, and worst of all dizzy. Anyhow, as long as it is illegal crime is going to come with it, in some cases even death (drug deals). So weather its legal or not people are going to keep using it as much as they want, and get it just as easy if it was legal so why not let the state make money off of it. It could possibly lower taxes in other areas, maybe help fix the roads up a little, help out local cities and jobs, such as what happened in Scranton last year. It would bring in a HUGE revenue, just like the casino did. Prior to the casino being open, between friends, co workers, etc. there was a “poker night” every day of the week. Now I haven’t heard of one in years, which means the state is making money off of these games that used to be played in peoples basements. So I say we make it legal and put the money towards something to help out our economy because smoking pot will always be there legal or not.

  • Billy

    I vote B. the pharmaceutical companies won’t make any money off of a drug you can grow In your own house. What company will take care of our governor?

  • Ue

    People need it so yes i know it would help me live a better life i am an epileptic with a broken spine and neck it can help in many ways. Also my Dr. has been trying to help legalize it for medical purposes for years now.

  • Sally

    Medical marijuana should be legalized – no question. I also would support legalizing marijuana. Marijuana isn’t any more harmful than alcohol.

  • jim

    i vote yesss! its harmless and for the record,,, no one has crashed a car when they were smoking pot! alchahol makes you sloppy, pot does not, i think the world would actually be a happier place! LEAGALIZE MARIJUANA! it you are an adult,, it should be a recreational choice just like having a beer at a bar!

  • Sarah Panullo

    Seems it’s mostly users that want the drug legalized. The only thing its good for is appetite. It’s not an effective drug for pain. The drugs that the doctors are already prescribing are way more effective. If it is legalized,they shouldn’t give it out to anyone for dumb reasons like anxiety, like they do with so many of the other drugs they give now. They are already way over prescribed. There is a rise in crime in areas where it’s already legalized.

    • Jim

      Source for your claim about crime? The only crime from legalization I can think of is robberies in the shops that are forced to keep huge quantities of money in their stores, which is dangerous.

      100% disagree in your claim that MJ doesn’t relieve pain. Either you’ve never used it or had the wrong strain because (at least in my experience) it’s an absolutely fabulous painkiller with no risk of physical dependence.

      It’s also proven helpful with anxiety and even more severe versions like PTSD as well. Time for a fact check I think; your claims have been thoroughly debunked already.

      • Sarah Panullo

        I have never used it, but I know people who have and quit and they say it’s not only addictive, it intensifies pain. It also can cause pain. I have also seen violence, paranoia and DUI issues from it. If you are using, you aren’t going to admit any of that.

    • ecolt

      As far as the medical benefits – the user who posted before that all it’s good for is increasing appetite is just flat-out wrong. Yes, it does increase appetite and lessen nausea. It’s also proven effective in managing certain types of seizure disorders, there is evidence that it can actually help fight cancer cells, it’s been used to treat veterans suffering from PTSD and others with anxiety issues. There are a lot of uses for medical marijuana, and more are being found.

      As to your assertion that it does not help with pain, you’re just wrong. Yes, many of the drugs currently available are more effective but there are problems. First off, most are terribly addictive, and as a result it’s getting harder and harder to find a doctor willing to prescribe them even in treating severe or chronic pain. Many patients prefer to avoid them for the same reason. Secondly, the side effects from many of the stronger pain killers are awful. Whenever I have to take any I pretty much fall asleep until I wake up to vomit. Pot may not be as effective against pain, but it does help and without many of the issues of opiates and such.

    • Cate Ashley

      Unfortunatly Ms. Panullo, better drugs are no longer available by doctors in the area. I had suffered chronic pain for years following a motor vehicle accident and after a while Ibuprofen and alieve no longer helped. I could not get out of bed and my life, as I once knew it, was over. A doctor in my home state began giving me pain medication and trigger point injections. I started to get my life back. Unfortunately I lost my medical insurance when my husband and I divorced and soon I found myself on medicaid. I could not find a doctor in the area that would continue treatment and no specialist in the area would accept medicaid. I had asked my primary care doctor to help me because I knew coming off the medicine could hurt me since I had been on the for a while. I did finally find a doctor who cared enough for me to help manage my pain medication. I never abused my use and I never sold any of my medication. I did not share them with no one. I recently received a letter from the medical practice stating that I will no longer be able to get prescriptions for any pain medications from this office.
      The reason was due to other patients abusing and selling their drugs. I am discriminated against because others abuse their prescriptions.
      So now I am right back where I started, in bed with no life. I am not an addict. Prior to receiving pain medication I had tried other methods; for example, I have been through years and years of physical therapy, trigger point injections (every 3-6 weeks), spinal injections, accupuncture, biofeedback, mental health therapy (which introduced me to many anti depressant drugs that made me crazy and severly depressed), massage therapy, chiropracters, and pain management doctors. I had major surgery and was only allowed only 24 hours of pain medicine. I could not get out of bed without the feeling that my wound was burning inside me and my insides were being ripped out of me. The hospital stay was a nightmare and I still, to this day, have nightmares about my stay and going home before I was ready. If you want to fight this legally, you have to go outside the region to get a lawyer who is qualified to handle cases like this. Unfortunatly, the area we live in does not have access to professionals both legal and medical who can help those who really need help. It is sad that we have to suffer like this. If marijuana is legallized we will have access to medication that will help us deal with nausea and pain.

    • az

      Have you ever read or listened to the LONG list of side affects for prescription drugs?! You must be ignorant. Open up a magazine and there are 3 pages full of side effects for prescription drugs. The only reason they are so “popular” is because the big wigs are making multi- millions off of them. They are not helping us; only making us worse and people are addicted to them. So many bad things about prescription drugs, i could go on for a very long time.

    • Charly Lucky

      Sarah, O M G !! What a ignorant statement, and I don’t smoke. LEGALIZE IT, TAX IT, AND TREAT THE SAME AS ALCOHOL, STATE RUN $TORE$

  • tera

    I agree there are so many ppl smoking marijuana to relieve pain who wants to live on pills that can harm u the jails are over crowded are economy is dropping some times professionals should just sit down close there mouths and listen to the ppl who use it its an herb what ppl get hooked on is the lighter fluid when they smoke out of other things other than a joint I read so much about how it helps ppl who have cancer n also calms tremmers its who u r inside weather u want to do it for the right way or wrong way

  • Paul & Kathy Sanko

    We believe that Marijuana should be made legal so that any adult who chooses can partake of it. Also people who need the drug can leagally get it from Doctors for their use.

  • judith smith-lupole

    If here are studies showing that marijuana can help in certain medical problems,then I’m for it. Otherwise,no.

  • Anonym

    Do the politicians care more about tax money or the health of the people.
    We know tobacco is addictive and those companies did what they can to make it more addictive. Let PA set an example for the rest of the country and stand up for what is right!

  • Missy

    Marijuana Debate— I feel it should be legal but with the same stipulatons as alcohol…Most ppl are more mellow w/ marijuana versus aggressive when drinking alcohol…Plus it helps as a pain reliever instead of putting all those other chemicals in your body from Percocet, vicodin ect….

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