Pubdate: Mon, 27 Sep 2004
Source: Michigan Daily (Ann Arbor, MI Edu)
Copyright: 2004 The Michigan Daily
Author: Bruce Mirken
Cited: Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana ( )
Cited: Drug Enforcement Administration ( )
Bookmark: (Opinion)
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Santa Cruz v. Ashcroft)
Bookmark: (Conant vs. McCaffrey)


To the Daily:

Prof. Lloyd Johnston's statements about medical marijuana laws are simply 
false (Medicinal pot use on A2 ballot, 09/23/04). Johnston asserts, "There 
has never been a real implementation of laws (to legalize medical 
marijuana) because the federal law always trumps the state laws, and state 
laws in turn trump local laws." In fact, not only are nine state medical 
marijuana laws in force and being implemented every day -- protecting tens 
and probably hundreds of thousands of patients from arrest by state and 
local police -- but federal courts have put severe limits on federal 
government attempts to undermine such laws.

For example, the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana, a patient-run 
co-op in Santa Cruz, Calif., was raided by the federal Drug Enforcement 
Administration in September 2002. It now operates under the protection of a 
federal court injunction barring further DEA raids. The state of Oregon 
alone has over 10,000 registered patients in its medical marijuana program.

Johnston further claims, "Federal authorities made it clear that physicians 
prescribing marijuana risked losing their licenses to prescribe all 
controlled substances, including all of the traditional psychotherapeutic 
drugs." In fact, physicians in states with medical marijuana laws do not 
"prescribe" marijuana, they recommend it -- a right that has been 
specifically upheld by the federal courts in a case known as Conant v. 
Walters. As a result of this litigation, federal authorities are absolutely 
barred from threatening the prescribing rights of doctors who recommend 
medical marijuana.

Johnston, who presides over a huge, annual, federally funded study of drug 
use, should not put his academic credibility at risk by repeating blatant 
misinformation -- misinformation that coincidentally happens to track 
perfectly with federal opposition to medical marijuana.

Bruce Mirken Director of Communications, Marijuana Policy Project
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