For immediate release: February 2, 1998

Contact: Joseph Vigorito (303) 258-3990 Laura Kriho (303) 784-5632

Therapeutic Cannabis Initiative Proposed for Colorado Ballot

[Denver] -- On Friday, January 30, Colorado Citizens for Compassionate Cannabis filed a ballot initiative, the Compassionate Therapeutic Cannabis Act, that would allow the therapeutic use of cannabis by medical patients under the advice of their physicians. CCCC is a group of Colorado patients and family members, medical professionals, caregivers, and others who support the compassionate use of cannabis in the treatment of symptoms of a variety of illnesses.

The Compassionate Therapeutic Cannabis Act (CTCA) would allow patients, under the care of a physician, to obtain and cultivate cannabis for the purpose of alleviating the symptoms of adverse medical conditions or of the side-effects caused by other treatments. Cannabis is beneficial in the treatment of symptoms caused by many illnesses, including cancer, AIDS, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, chronic pain, wasting syndrome, and nausea caused by chemotherapy and radiation therapy. The initiative also allows patients to appoint primary caregivers to help them obtain their medicine.

In order to clarify the intent of the amendment, the CTCA eliminates the term "marihuana" from all Colorado statutes and mandates the use of accurate terminology based on the historic uses and varieties of Cannabis sativa. The initiative redefines marihuana in three distinct classes: cannabis (formerly marihuana), cannabis concentrate (formerly marihuana concentrate), and hemp (non-psychoactive industrial hemp.) The clarification of the former definition of marihuana necessitates the treatment of industrial hemp as an agricultural product.

"The time for redefinition of cannabis, to include two of the most historically significant uses, is upon us," says Joeseph Vigorito, co-author of the amendment. "In the face of overwhelming evidence to this effect, our federal government is intransigent. The people, in the states, must now take this lead."

The CTCA creates the Therapeutic Cannabis Commission, composed of seven members appointed by the Governor, to aid in the implementation of the article. The Commission will enact licensing requirements for therapeutic cannabis dispensaries to ensure a safe supply of medicine to patients who cannot cultivate their own. The Commission will also enact requirements for therapeutic cannabis use by minor patients under 18 years of age, including provisions for adequate parental control and notification of therapeutic cannabis use.

The initiative does not provide for the recreational or personal use of cannabis nor does it allow the use of cannabis by minor patients unless they meet the requirements to be set forth by the Therapeutic Cannabis Commission.

"Our initiative is about compassion. There are thousands of people in Colorado that would benefit from cannabis as medicine if they were allowed to use it," says Kathleen Chippi, CCCC spokesperson.

The CTCA has been proposed in opposition to a medical marijuana initiative sponsored by California-based Americans for Medical Rights. CCCC believes the AMR initiative would endanger patients and encourage a black market in cannabis. The AMR initiative sets limits on cultivation and possession that would prohibit a patient from maintaining an adequate supply of medicine. In addition, the AMR initiative fails to set up a legitimate distribution system. This will put seriously-ill patients into danger by forcing them into the black market frequently to re-supply their medicine.

The AMR initiative would also allow children under the age of 18 to use marijuana as medicine. "We didn't feel comfortable with a group from California deciding how to best regulate the use of cannabis as medicine by sick children. These decisions should be made by the Colorado parents and physicians, not by Californians," says Laura Kriho, co-author of the CTCA.

AMR has stated that their initiative was written to appease the concerns of the law enforcement community. The AMR initiative has therefore received the label "the law enforcement model of medicine."

"The CTCA is based on the therapeutic model of medicine. We value the needs of the patient foremost and trust licensed physicians to determine the medical needs of their patients. To address the concerns of law enforcement, the CTCA allows law enforcement to participate in the Therapeutic Cannabis Commission. But we feel it is best to leave medical decisions to physicians, not police," says Kriho.

The authors of the CTCA hope it will be used as the therapeutic model for cannabis reform in the country. But they will fight a tough battle with AMR's law enforcement model. AMR is funded primarily by billionaire George Soros, and thus AMR is confident that they can buy election wins in Colorado, Washington, D.C., Maine, Alaska, Washington state, Oregon, and Nevada. As in Colorado, many of the local patients and advocates question AMR's motives.

"The American people are strongly in favor of therapeutic cannabis. But if AMR's model is allowed to succeed, patients may actually be put in further danger. We proposed the CTCA to help prevent AMR's model from becoming constitutional law in Colorado and to help patients and advocates in other states see that there is an alternative to the law enforcement approach," Kriho says. "The American people are ready for some honesty and compassion in their laws."

CTCA Signature Deadline: August 3, 1998 Needed: 55,000 valid signatures

Donations are essential:

Colorado Citizens for Compassionate Cannabis
P.O. Box 729
Nederland, CO 80466
Phone: (303) 784-5632