Pubdate: Sun, 22 Apr 2001
Source: Nevada Appeal (NV)
Copyright: 2001 Nevada Appeal
Author: Guy W. Farmer
Note: Guy Farmer is a semi-retired journalist and former U.S. diplomat.
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


Nevada voters, in their infinite wisdom (if that's the right word),
saddled state lawmakers with a legal dilemma by approving a "medical
marijuana" ballot initiative in 1998 and again last year. Lawmakers must
find a way to implement the measure without violating federal anti-drug
laws. Nevertheless, I still think medical marijuana is a bad idea. 

Assemblywoman Chris Giunchigliani, a Las Vegas Democrat, introduced
AB453, which would allow sick people to smoke marijuana with a doctor's
prescription and would lower penalties for possession of small amounts
of the drug. 

Under her plan, the state would grow pot for sale to licensed users;
Sen. Mark James (R-Las Vegas) introduced a companion bill in the State
Senate. Attorney General Frankie Sue Del Papa opposed the measures,
however, on grounds that the state shouldn't act until the U.S. Supreme
Court rules on the constitutionality of state-run medical marijuana

Another Las Vegas Democrat, Assemblywoman Barbara Buckley, also objected
to the medical marijuana proposals, arguing that the state should stay
out of the pot-growing business. Washoe County District Attorney Richard
Gammick and other law enforcement officials oppose the measures on
grounds that marijuana is a "gateway" drug that can lead to the use and
abuse of stronger drugs like cocaine and heroin. Currently, Nevada has
one of the toughest anti-marijuana laws in the country since possession
of small amounts of the drug is a felony. 

Gammick argues that a pharmaceutical version of marijuana is already on
the market under the brand name Marinol and, therefore, additional
legislation is unnecessary. His position is supported by a number of
anti-narcotics crusaders including former Drug Czar William Bennett and
Dr. Robert DuPont, ex-director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. 

"Those who want to move the war on drugs from the criminal to the
medical arena neglect the fact that laws against drug use promote
effective treatment," Bennett and DuPont wrote last month in the Miami
Herald. "More threatening than the efforts to medicalize drugs are the
efforts to legalize drugs." Unfortunately, that's what's happening in
Nevada and seven other states that have voted to legalize medical

They added that "we need to counter a pernicious myth cited by
drug-legalization supporters: that we have lost the war on drugs. That
is not so." According to reputable studies, the number of Americans
using illegal drugs, which peaked at 25.4 million in 1979, dropped to 12
million by 1992 because of a number of effective drug prevention
programs including Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" campaign. Drug usage
increased again during the Clinton presidency but is still far short of
the 1979 level. 

Drug laws are under review throughout the nation due in part to
high-profile cases like those of actor Robert Downey Jr., and baseball
player Darryl Strawberry. As former Deputy Drug Czar John Walters noted
recently in the Weekly Standard, "Downey only seems to get treated for
his addiction when he is forced to by the criminal justice system.
Indeed, it's hard to imagine a worse advertisement for the effectiveness
of drug treatment than Robert Downey Jr." 

Or Strawberry, I would add. He's been in and out of treatment more often
than Downey and he continues his self-destructive behavior. 

Those who advocate drug treatment programs instead of law enforcement
and incarceration are natural allies of the drug legalizers. "The
therapy-only lobby  is alive and well and more dogmatic than ever,"
observed Walters. The therapy-only folks contend that drug addiction is
a disease, not a pattern of behavior for which people can be held

"The idea that our prisons are filled with people whose only offense was
possession of an illegal drug is utter fantasy," Walters asserted. 

The drug legalization lobby is financed by a few wealthy contributors
including billionaire George Soros and George Zimmer, owner of the Men's
Wearhouse and star of those irritating "I guarantee it" TV commercials.
Zimmer, a prominent participant in a "State of Ecstasy" conference in
San Francisco last February, told a reporter that he and his wife only
take the designer drug Ecstasy for "therapeutic purposes." Oh sure, and
I saw the Easter Bunny here in Carson last weekend. 

Another disturbing development is Hollywood's tendency to glamorize
drugs. In the new movie "Blow," starring Johnny Depp as real-life
cocaine king George Jung, a Washington Post reviewer said Depp's job "is
to buff up Jung's drug-dealing history with winning ways, a compelling
history and a good-looking face." 

And on NBC's popular "West Wing," ultra-liberal President Bartlett
(Martin Sheen) sees the fight against drugs as a lost cause and favors
drug legalization. But as another ex-Drug Czar, Barry McCaffrey, wrote
in the Los Angeles Times, "President Bartlett ... should take a harder
look at the real impact of legalizing drugs. Each year drug use costs
the U.S. 52,000 drug-related deaths and roughly $110 billion in
additional societal costs. Legalizing drugs would compound this

In my opinion, the legalization of medical marijuana contributes to the
availability of other, more dangerous drugs. And since there's no
scientific evidence to support the notion that smoking weed is a cure
for anything, the state Legislature should impose strict controls on
so-called medical marijuana.

Otherwise, Bay Area-type "cannabis clubs" will spring up all over the
Silver State, and their patrons aren't sick people; they're pot smokers,
plain and simple. Let's just say no to that sick idea.
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MAP posted-by: Doc-Hawk