Pubdate: Mon, 14 May 2001
Source: Fox News Network (US)
Show: Hannity & Colmes
Copyright: 2001 Fox News Network, Inc.
Hosts: Alan Colmes, Sean Hannity
Guest: Keith Stroup
Cited: NORML:


HANNITY: As we continue on HANNITY & COLMES, supporters of medical
marijuana were dealt a setback today by the U.S. Supreme Court.  The
justices ruled that there is no exception in federal law for people to
use marijuana to ease the pain of a serious illness.  Nine states
currently allow medical marijuana, but today's ruling will make it
more difficult to get the drug because the court ruled distribution
violates federal law.

Joining us now, Keith Stroup.  He is the executive director of the
group NORML.

All right.  So you want to legalize all marijuana, right, on the
table?  So you were very upset about today's Supreme Court unanimous,
eight-zip ruling?

because, I think, the result of the -- today's decision is it will be
make it far more difficult for tens of thousands of seriously ill
patients to obtain their marijuana.

These so-called buyers' clubs are really patient-support groups, had
arisen in California to fill a need, and that was that they gave a
safe and secure environment for patients to get their medicine.
Without that, the only choice the patients really have -- they either
have to grow their own marijuana, or they have to -- they're forced to
go on the black market.

HANNITY: Keith, if I was convinced that this was the only drug that
would ease the pain of people that were going through chemotherapy and
they were suffering nausea -- and I've had -- I know a lot of people
that have been through it.  If I was convinced it was the only way to
help them, I -- I'd be on board with you, but I don't believe that.

With all that we have in all modern medicine and all medical
techniques available today and -- I just don't believe it's the only
drug, and I don't think anyone could make the case that it is.  But I
- -- I think it's a bigger issue.  I think those of you that support
your side of this argument are looking for any opening at all that you
can begin to have that -- go down that slippery slope to get to the
point where you really want to be, which is legalization.

STROUP: I think those are two separate issues.  It is true that I
support decriminalizing the responsible use of marijuana by adults
period. I...


STROUP: Whether it's for recreational use or medical use.  But I think
the medical question is a far more sort of crucial question because
you really are dealing with people in a vulnerable state.  If I could
go back to your last point, it is true that, for many cancer patients,
for example, traditional medications are effective for the side
effects of the chemotherapy, so they can undergo that chemotherapy and
have a chance for a cure.


STROUP: But there's at least 15 or 20 percent of cancer patients for
whom traditional medications just simply do not work...

HANNITY: Well, there's a lot of other things they...

STROUP: ... and for whom marijuana does work.

HANNITY: They might -- you might want to start medical studies, and
even Clarence Thomas said they could move in that direction, that he
would -- their government testing certainly is not exempt -- is exempt
from this, and they could move forward.  But I just -- in that sense,
I just think the National Institute on Drug Abuse -- kids who use
marijuana are 85 times more likely to try other drugs.  In other
words, it's a gateway drug.

STROUP: Well -- but you're...

HANNITY: Once you get to the point where it's legal, which is where
you -- you admit you want to have this, I believe that it's more
accessible, it's in purer, stronger forms, it costs less, and I think
we open the door for our kids to begin that path down the road to
harder drugs.

STROUP: That argument generally is summed up by our opponents as the
kids.  I think that's essentially what you were saying.  Let me point
out to you that drugs like morphine are readily available.

If you go in any cancer ward in America, patients are allowed to self-
administer morphine.  Doctors can prescribe amphetamines for weight
loss and cocaine for nose and throat operations.  Yet all of those
drugs can be abused on the street, and nobody is suggesting, because
we let dying cancer kids.

So I honestly think that's a disingenuous argument.

COLMES: Keith, it's Alan.  I agree with you on this.  I'm a liberal. I
think even liberals are afraid to take a decriminalization or pro-
marijuana stance in any sense.  I am with you in that the whole thing
should be decriminalized, but if -- let them claim slippery-slopeism
if they want.  The fact of the matter is that this is the best
delivery system, is it not, in terms...

STROUP: Well, in fact...

COLMES: ... of delivering this to people who need it?

STROUP: That's right.  Obviously, all of us would like to find a way
to deliver the effective ingredients in marijuana where the patient
didn't have to smoke it.  But what, in fact, is the reality -- the
Institute of Medicine that issued a comprehensive report about a year
ago said that we may be as long as 10 years off before we have those
rapid-active, alternative-delivery systems, and we sure as hell cannot
say to sick and dying patients...

COLMES: Right. And here's what I...

STROUP: ... "You have to sit there for 10 years."

COLMES: This is amazing, too.  Justice Thomas wrote the majority
decision for today's court, and he wrote that for the court basing the
decision on Congress determining there's no medical benefit for
marijuana - - because Congress determined that.  Meanwhile, 70 percent...

STROUP: Let me just...

COLMES: ... of cancer specialists in one survey say they could
prescribe this.  So since when does Congress become medical
authorities where they pass judgment on something like this?

STROUP: Well -- and, in fact, they made that determination back in
1970. That was 31 years ago.  They put marijuana in Schedule 1 and, by
definition, it said it had no accepted medical use.  There's been an
enormous amount of research showing marijuana helps cancer patients,
AIDS patients, MS patients, people with quadriplegia, etcetera.

So there's a lot of research since 1970.  What I would hope is that
this recent decision by the Supreme Court will be a springboard to
cause Congress to actually revisit the whole question...

COLMES: Also...

STROUP: ... of the medical use of marijuana.

COLMES: Eight people...

COLMES: Eight people in this country, as I understand it,

STROUP: That's right.

COLMES: ... get marijuana.  I don't know if the number

STROUP: From the federal government.

COLMES: Pardon me.

STROUP: From the federal government.

COLMES: That's right.  So what -- how does this ruling affect those
people who are legal users of marijuana according to our government?

STROUP: Well, if you notice, in the ruling, it does acknowledge the
one area for the exception, which is for medical research, and,
theoretically, these eight people are research projects.  Now the
reality is nobody is studying the effects of the marijuana on them.
They simply are given 300 cigarettes a month by the federal government
to help alleviate their symptoms.  It's what should be

HANNITY: All right.

STROUP: ... to the tens of thousands...

HANNITY: Keith...

STROUP: ... of other people.

HANNITY: ... we're going to go.  Now you're going to go -- you're not
going to go home and smoke pot, are you?

STROUP: No.  I think I'm going to go home and get a good night's

HANNITY: All right.  You -- on some nights, you do, though, don't

STROUP: You bet.

HANNITY: All right.

STROUP: I've been a responsible user of marijuana for about 30 years
now.  I first smoked it in law school.

HANNITY: All right.  Well, I'm sure all the liberals will be
applauding at home.  Thank you for your time.  Coming up...

COLMES: No conservatives smoke.  We know that.

HANNITY: ... should John Ashcroft be allowed to hold prayer sessions
at the office?  Alan goes one on one with former presidential
candidate Gary straight ahead.

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