Pubdate: Mon, 13 May 2002
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2002 The Washington Post Company
Author: Rob Kampia


As the proposer of a law that would remove criminal penalties for seriously 
ill patients in the District who use and grow marijuana with the approval 
of their physicians, I object to John Walters's characterization of the 
issue [op-ed, May 1].

The administration's spokesman alleged that such an initiative is a 
"cynical" ploy that will somehow lead to "drug legalization." But the 
contradictions between rhetoric and reality on medical marijuana are piling up:

i In 1997, drug czar Barry McCaffrey claimed that science, not politics, 
should determine whether marijuana has medical value, and he had the 
National Academy of Sciences review the scientific literature. The academy 
concluded that marijuana should be made available on a case-by-case basis 
for patients suffering from AIDS, cancer and chronic pain. Mr. McCaffrey 
dismissed the report and took no action on the recommendations.

i Since 1978 the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institute on 
Drug Abuse have been providing government-grown marijuana cigarettes to a 
small group of patients each month. A study found that medical marijuana 
provided "effective symptomatic relief of pain, muscle spasms and 
intraocular pressure elevations." Despite Mr. Walters's vague claims of 
brain damage, researchers found no sign of neurological harm in patients 
using large quantities of marijuana for as long as 20 years.

i Federal drug warriors say it is impossible to make marijuana available 
medically but have it remain illegal for recreational purposes, but if 
doctors can prescribe morphine and cocaine, surely they could prescribe 
marijuana, too.

We will continue to fight to remove criminal penalties against the medical 
use of marijuana in the District and in the states until the federal 
government changes the law to make marijuana medically available nationwide.


Executive Director

Marijuana Policy Project

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