Pubdate: Thu, 13 Jun 2002
Source: Union, The (CA)
Copyright: 2002 Nevada County Publishing Company
Author: Matthew Hulett, and Robert Sharpe


You have a very self-centered sense of humor to take pleasure in seeing the
sick tossed through the court system paying a price for those who would
exploit the law to cover their recreational cultivation.

Of course, your pot laws are a joke. The Report of the Research Advisory
Panel for the State of California, 1989, recommended you should permit the
cultivation of marijuana for personal use.

As concerns this issue, there has been debate about it. You have Oakland
allowing over 100 plants indoors (indoor yields are far lower than
outdoors), albeit I believe they may have halved that to around 70
recently. This number was arrived at after an honest debate concerning how
much marijuana the government provides to users (300 joints per month)
through the Compassionate Use Program. I believe personally that a number
in the range of 30 might be acceptable to many, as long as you allow
exceptions for those whose need is higher. And, they do exist legitimately.

If you pay attention to the wording of Proposition 215, it instructed state
officials to investigate the creation of a distribution system. If they
would do so, and serve their constituents versus being lap dogs for the
federal government, you could exert more control over the cultivation and
distribution of medical marijuana within your borders.

Of course, if you also took an honest look at plant confiscation numbers
overall, versus those claimed to be for medical use, you would find the
vast majority are not fraudulent claims. I think you do not support
Proposition 215. Instead of finding ways to make it work best for the
patients, you will do what little you can to undermine public support for
it. Perhaps you might realize the silliness of this before you undermine
your journalistic standards any farther. There are answers.

Matthew Hulett

Short Hills, N.J.
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Rethinking Marijuana Laws

Regarding your June 3 editorial on California's problematic medical
marijuana law, not only should medical marijuana be made available to
patients, but marijuana prohibition itself should be subjected to a
cost-benefit analysis. Unfortunately, a review of marijuana legislation
would open up a Pandora's box most politicians would just as soon avoid.
America's marijuana laws are based on culture and xenophobia, not science.

These days marijuana is confused with 1960s counterculture, but that wasn't
always the case. The first marijuana laws were enacted in response to
Mexican migration during the early 1900s, despite opposition from the
American Medical Association. White Americans did not even begin to smoke
marijuana until a soon-to-be entrenched government bureaucracy began
funding reefer madness propaganda.

Dire warnings that marijuana inspires homicidal rages have been
counterproductive at best. An estimated 38 percent of Americans have now
smoked pot. The reefer madness myths have long been discredited, forcing
the drug war gravy train to spend millions of tax dollars on politicized
research, trying to find harm in a relatively harmless plant. Meanwhile,
research that might demonstrate the medical efficacy of marijuana is
consistently blocked.

The direct experience of millions of Americans contradicts the
sensationalistic myths used to justify marijuana prohibition. Illegal drug
use is the only public health issue wherein key stakeholders are not only
ignored, but actively persecuted and incarcerated. In terms of medical
marijuana, those stakeholders happen to be cancer and AIDS patients.

California patients may be protected, but state medical marijuana clubs
aren't. Under the leadership of Attorney General John Ashcroft, the
Department of Justice has raided numerous medical marijuana clubs. For
culture warriors like Ashcroft, enforcing outdated marijuana laws is
seemingly just as important as protecting the country from terrorism.

Robert Sharpe,

M.P.A. Program Officer Drug Policy Alliance

Washington, D.C.
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