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House nears passage of expanded medical marijuana bill

MONTPELIER, VERMONT — By a voice vote, the House of Representatives passed a bill today that would improve Vermont's medical marijuana law.

Tuesdays’ vote, originally planned for today, clears the bill for a final House vote, which could come today. If it passes, the bill will go to a conference committee so it can be consolidated with the Senate's version, which the Senate passed at the end of February.

If passed into law, the bill would add serious conditions that cause nausea, wasting, chronic pain, or seizures to the list of conditions covered by Vermont's medical marijuana law. The current law, passed in 2004, only protects patients suffering from HIV/AIDS, cancer, and multiple sclerosis from the threat of arrest and imprisonment. The new law would also increase the number of plants registered patients are allowed to grow.

"Our House of Representatives made a compassionate decision by passing this bill today," said Steve Perry of Randolph Center, a former heating and plumbing contractor now disabled by a degenerative joint disease not covered under Vermont's current law. "I am grateful that they considered suffering patients like me who could benefit from this medicine, but are forbidden from obtaining it regardless of whether our doctors recommend it. I sincerely hope Gov. Douglas does the same when this legislation arrives at his desk."

Of the 12 state medical marijuana laws, Vermont's law is the most restrictive in terms of qualifying medical conditions.

"This bill gets Vermont's law much closer to reflecting what scientific research tells us about medical cannabis's potential applications," said Joseph McSherry, a Burlington neurologist. "If a patient and doctor believe medical cannabis to be an appropriate treatment, and that opinion is supported by the available research, then the law should permit the treatment. This is a significant improvement that the legislature has enacted."

Bistro Sauce

New editor named at Vermont Life

MONTPELIER— A former editor at Eating Well will become the seventh editor of the 60-year-old Vermont Life, officials announced Monday.

Mary Hegarty Nowlan of Moretown succeeds Tom Slayton, who retired in February after 23 years at the helm of the state’s official quarterly publication.

In her position, Nowlan will be responsible for oversight of all the editorial functions of the award-winning magazine under Tom Kelly, the magazine’s publisher.U

“We couldn’t be more pleased to have attracted someone of Mary’s caliber for this position,” said Bruce Hyde, the state’s tourism and marketing commissioner. “She brings a tremendous amount of editorial skill and knowledge to the position, along with a high level of creative energy and enthusiasm.”

Nowlan said she has no immediate changes in store, but does believe the magazine has potential for growth.

“Vermont Life has an extraordinary record of achievement, and I’m honored to have been chosen to carry on a great tradition,” said Nowlan. “I also believe the magazine has enormous potential for further growth.”

A native of Connecticut, Nowlan has lived in Vermont since 1992 and worked as an editor at Eating Well magazine from 1992 to 1998. Most recently she has worked as a freelance writer for various newspapers.

Nowlan has a master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, where she graduated in 1992 from the magazine publishing program and received the Crain Award for outstanding management potential.

She received a bachelor’s degree in English from Dartmouth College in 1989, where she was named a Rufus Choate Scholar in recognition of her high class standing.

In 2006, Vermont Life celebrated 60 years in print, and has won nearly 100 national awards for excellence in the past two decades alone.

Slayton will work with the publication as editor emeritus.

“In his remarkable career, Tom has made the magazine one of the most respected state publications in the country,” Hyde said. “We are pleased that he will be able to continue to share his accumulated wisdom and experience with Mary and the Vermont Life enterprise.”

Nowlan said she understands that the magazine is a Vermont institution and said that any editorial changes would be made slowly and with respect to the magazine’s traditions.

“Vermont is a very special place, and the talents of the Vermont Life staff and the magazine’s amazing group of contributing writers and photographers deserve to be more widely shared,” she said. “I know Vermont Life can reach an even broader reader base, and I’m excited to help make that happen.”

Posted May 2, 2007

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