Pubdate: Fri, 07 Jul 2000 Date: 07/07/2000 Source: Journal Gazette (IN) Author: R. Keith Stroup Rep. Mark Souder continues to demonstrate his insensitivity to sick and dying patients for whom marijuana provides relief from pain and suffering. Marijuana provides much needed relief to many patients suffering from a range of illnesses, including cancer, AIDS, MS and other diseases involving spasticity, and for whom traditional medications have been ineffective. Contrary to the overly simplistic analysis offered by the congressman, not all federal laws overrule state law. In fact, only when Congress specifically declares its intention to usurp the field does federal law trump state law, and no such declaration has been made regarding marijuana policy. It would do enormous damage to our democratic principles were Congress to overrule the valid state elections approving the medical use of marijuana in seven states. While it is true that NORML supports decriminalizing the responsible recreational use of marijuana, as well as the medical use by seriously ill patients, the two issues are separate and each must be evaluated on its own merits. Rep. Souder seems unable to distinguish between the two, and he is willing to deny an effective medication to seriously ill patients in order to demonstrate his "tough on drugs" credentials. Shame on you, Rep. Souder. R. KEITH STROUP, Executive Director, NORML, Washington, D.C.