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2/1/2013 9:22:00 AM
Kavanagh adds laetrile to proposal to repeal medical marijuana law

Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services

PHOENIX -- A state lawmaker trying to repeal medical marijuana has decided it's also time to scrap a law that currently allows Arizonans to dose themselves with another drug, this one linked to cyanide.

Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, said his fight against marijuana is based on his belief that it does no medical good and can actually be harmful. He said the state should never be in a position of sanctioning such phony medications.

Anyway, he noted, marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

But Kavanagh conceded he was unaware of a law dating back more than three decades, which actually allows Arizonans to buy and use laetrile despite a ban by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. So he said that, to be consistent, he now wants that law repealed.

HB 2521, filed Thursday, would do that.

The fight involves laetrile, also known amygdalin and vitamin B17,

Arizona law makes it illegal to manufacture, sell or even give away any drug unless it has been approved by the federal government.

But in the 1970s, lawmakers crafted an exception for laetrile, calling it a "nutritional supplement.' The argument at the time was that the drug, processed from apricot pits, was an effective treatment of cancer, one the government refused to recognize.

According to the American Cancer Society, the drug contains a substance that the body converts to cyanide and there have been reports of poisoning. But the state law permitting its manufacture and sale here remains.

The statute remained unnoticed until earlier this week when Kavanagh was defending his measure to ask voters to repeal the 2010 law allowing doctors to recommend marijuana for medical purposes. He said when deciding the question of whether drugs should be legal the state should look to the FDA, along with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the American Medical Association.

"When they say it's safe and it works, then we allow it to be sold,' Kavanagh said. In all three cases, the organizations have decided otherwise.

"We don't let people on their own dose themselves with heroin, marijuana or arsenic or anything,' he continued.

But he conceded, after being questioned later, that Arizona does let people dose themselves with cyanide. He said laetrile "has since been shown to not only not help cancer but actually be dangerous once it metabolizes in the body as cyanide.'

Kavanagh said there are some parallels between the 1970s laetrile law and the 2010 Arizona Medical Marijuana Act.

"Proponents of laetrile, which was not FDA approved, managed to get it approved politically in Arizona through the Legislature,' he said.

"This is an example of politics trumping science and endangering patients,' Kavanagh said. "And it's kind of embarrassing that we still have this permission for laetrile, a bogus drug.'

The only difference between the laetrile law and the one on marijuana, he said, is the latter was approved by voters.

No date has been set for a hearing on Kavanagh's measure.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, February 2, 2013
Article comment by: Almost hilarious!

Fact check, please. Mr. Kavanagh is the only one who should be embarrassed, but I'm sure even these facts won't will register for him. Most people on this warpath have no interest in actual facts.


Dude. U.S. Government patent number 6,630,507 states unequivocally that cannabinoids are useful in the prevention and treatment of a wide variety of diseases including auto-immune disorders, stroke, trauma, Parkinson's, Alzeheimer's and HIV dementia. The patent, awarded in 2003, is based on research done by the National Institute of Health, and is assigned to the US Dept. of Health and Human Services."

If this tirade wasn't so despicable in how much it keeps good natural medicine from those who need it, it would be hilarious, indeed...

Posted: Saturday, February 2, 2013
Article comment by: Nonna Yabiznes

This man is entirely brainwashed if he believes that marijuana has no medical effect, one that's been around four thousands of years!! Or...maybe he cannot read, and only believes what he is told..

Posted: Saturday, February 2, 2013
Article comment by: james merkle

we need to get this guy out of office asap!

Posted: Friday, February 1, 2013
Article comment by: james merkle

we need to repeal kavanah!

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