Pubdate: Sat, 14 Aug 2004
Source: Press Democrat, The (Santa Rosa, CA)
Copyright: 2004 The Press Democrat
Author: David R. Ford
Cited: Drug Enforcement Administration
Cited: National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Opinion)


I am responding to the opinion piece by Dr. Kevin Costello, "How 'a
little' dope can hurt."

I do not have an M.D. by my name. However, I have spent 58 years
exposing marijuana propaganda and have authored two books on this
subject. I have had doctors consult with me. I have interacted with
thousands of medical and social users of cannabis and have interviewed
hundreds of them.

Some of Dr. Costello's inaccuracies, to give him the benefit of the
doubt, come from disproved government propaganda. (Trusting the
government to tell the truth about marijuana makes as much sense as
trusting Dracula to guard our blood bank.)

The doctor's claims include that marijuana is physically addictive. It
is not. The 1997 Institute of Medicine study, a division of the
National Academy of Sciences, stated: "There is no evidence that
marijuana serves as a stepping stone on the basis of its particular
physiological effect." Saying that cannabis is more addictive than
alcohol is what causes people to use alcohol and other dangerous drugs.

Costello worries that pot use will interfere with the ability of
students to succeed. I'm against any drug, including pot, used in
school. However, no studies have found that using marijuana interferes
with college students' academic performance. Most researchers have
found that pot users have the same grades as nonusers. A few have
found higher grades among marijuana users.

The doctor mentions some people "hold responsible positions and
continue to perform relatively well. These folks are probably very
bright and are able to accommodate the decrease in mental capacity.
They may not, however, be the people you want performing brain surgery
or negotiating an important contract." About 100 million Americans
have admitted smoking pot. Most are doing just fine and have not lost
their minds. Some people are predisposed to failure. However, pot
didn't cause their failure.

One of thousands of super-successful "potheads" was the
world-renowned astronomer, Carl Sagan, professor at Cornell
University. He credited cannabis for inspiration in his lectures and
his popular science books, among them "Cosmos," "Contact," and "The
Dragons of Eden." Sagan also credited cannabis for his inspiring
essays and scientific insight and for improving his sex life.

Dr. Costello is convinced that marijuana is a "gateway drug" and that
it leads users to other drugs including heroin. The National Academy
of Sciences studied pot as a "gateway drug" in 1982. It concluded
that "Over the past 40 years, marijuana has been accused of causing
an array of antisocial effects, including: in the 1930's, provoking
crime and violence; in the early 1950's, leading to heroin addiction.
Although belief in these effects persists, they have not been
substantiated by scientific evidence."

Dr. Costello writes, "I've saved the worst for last." He parrots
frightening diseases straight from pot prohibitionists.

In 1995, relying on 30 years of scientific research, editors of the
internationally respected British medical journal Lancet concluded,
"The smoking of cannabis, even long term, is not harmful to health."

If cannabis is relatively harmless, why is it illegal, and placed in
the same category as heroin? Pot is competition to alcohol, tobacco
and primarily pharmaceutical companies.

In May 2002 medical journalist Carl Wagner gave this answer in the
Hull Daily Mail (United Kingdom): "The truth is that herbal cannabis
in natural forms would yield little profit for pharmaceutical
corporations, while eliminating in the long term profit-driven patent
drugs. Why allow people to use a safe plant for pennies when you can
sell them a pill for a pound?"

Costello placed in quotes the words "medical marijuana," speaking to
his prejudice regarding the proven medical benefits of marijuana,
including no restriction on age.

In 1972 the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws
(NORML) sued the DEA to remove cannabis from its Schedule I list
(which includes drugs like heroin), so that it could be medically
prescribed. The DEA said it would keep an open mind, so long as its
own judge would rule on it. Their judge, Francis Young, related the
story of a 3-year-old boy with cancer. "The child vomited for days
after chemotherapy. Standard medications failed. With the doctor's
approval, the mother made tea and cookies from marijuana for her
child. He did not vomit. His strength returned. He regained lost
weight. His spirits revived." Later Judge Young stated: "Marijuana,
in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active
substances known to man." The DEA rejected their own judge's findings.

Cannabis is not a dangerous drug and should be nationally legalized as
medicine. Due to government corruption, young men such as Dennis
Hunter, medical marijuana grower, are facing 20 years to life in
prison for the crime of compassion.

David R. Ford

David R. Ford of Sonoma is the author of "Marijuana: Not Guilty As
Charged" and "Good Medicine, Great Sex! How Marijuana Brought Me
Creativity, Passion, and Prosperity." He can be contacted  
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