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Two Springfield Councilmen Host Medical Marijuana Forum Tonight


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Two Springfield councilmen host medical marijuana forum tonight

Councilmen taking issue to citizens after it doesn't make council priority list.

Amos Bridges • News-Leader • December 14, 2010


After failing to gain traction with their fellows on City Council, two Springfield officials hope to strike up a conversation about medicinal marijuana with the public.




Councilmen Doug Burlison and Dan Chiles have scheduled a public meeting tonight at the Library Center to talk about the topic, which they failed to have added to the city's list of 2011 legislative priorities.

The 6:30 p.m. event is expected to run through about 9 p.m. and will feature an airing of the film, "What if Cannabis Cured Cancer?"

The keynote speaker is Mark Pederson, director of Sensible Missouri, a statewide patient advocacy group, and founder of the nationwide Cannabis Patient Network.


A panel discussion with patients who use marijuana medicinally and a question-and-answer session will follow the film.

"What we want to do is just open up a public discussion about this," Chiles said. "Fourteen other states and the District of Columbia have allowed medical marijuana and it's time for Missouri to start talking about this."

Chiles said the issue became important to him after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, while Burlison is a long-time supporter of legalization efforts.

Chiles said that since bringing up the topic he's received "a storm of phone calls and messages, letters and e-mails from people who think it's time for us to begin this discussion."

Burlison said he hopes the meeting will help dispel some of the "misconceptions and myths" surrounding the drug.

"I think folks will realize that marijuana is not just a funny Cheech and Chong thing, but has the potential to be one of the greatest medicines of this century," he said. "I hope to get some better information out there and initiate the public discussion."

Pederson, who has led similar presentations in other Missouri cities, said the goal is to "re-educate America about the value of cannabis" and spotlight its benefits for patients "with legitimate illnesses."

"When we're talking about cannabis being used as medicine, what we're really talking about is auto-immune disease," Pederson said. "You're basically helping your own auto-immune system to fight disease."

Pederson said he has interviewed about 150 patients using medicinal marijuana for the Cannabis Patient Network and expects several from southern Missouri to attend tonight.

The feature-length film that will be shown at the meeting focuses on the scientific support for medicinal marijuana use, he said.

"It's important to get the science out there -- the science is what people aren't hearing about," he said. "These are actual scientists, actual physicians talking, people who are specialists in their field."

Pederson said he is planning a follow-up meeting in Springfield in January and hopes to hold similar meetings throughout the state in 2011 with a goal of circulating a petition initiative in 2012 to take the issue to a statewide vote.




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