Pubdate: Sun, 19 Dec 2004
Source: Buffalo News (NY)
Copyright: 2004 The Buffalo News
Author: Elizabeth Wolfe, Associated Press
Cited: AARP
Cited: AARP magazine
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


The AARP, With 35 Million Members, Says It Has No Political Position
on Medical Marijuana.

WASHINGTON - Nearly three-fourths of older Americans support
legalizing marijuana for medical use, according to a poll done for the
nation's largest advocacy group for seniors.

More than half of those questioned said they believe marijuana has
medical benefits, while a larger majority agreed the drug is addictive.

AARP, with 35 million members, says it has no political position on
medical marijuana and that its local branches have not chosen sides in
the scores of state ballot initiatives on the issue in recent
elections. But with medical marijuana at the center of a Supreme Court
case to be decided next year, and nearly a dozen states with medical
marijuana laws on their books, AARP decided to study the issue.

"The use of medical marijuana applies to many older Americans who may
benefit from cannabis," said Ed Dwyer, an editor at AARP The Magazine,
which will discuss medical marijuana in its March/April issue
appearing in late January.

Among the 1,706 adults polled in AARP's random telephone survey in
November, opinions varied along regional and generational lines and
among the 30 percent of respondents who said they have smoked pot.
AARP members represented 37 percent of respondents.

Overall, 72 percent of respondents agreed "adults should be allowed to
legally use marijuana for medical purposes if a physician recommends
it." Those in the Northeast (79 percent) and West (82 percent) were
more receptive to the idea than in the Midwest (67 percent) and
Southwest (65 percent). In Southern states, 70 percent agreed with the
statement. Though 69 percent of those age 70 and older said they
support legal medical marijuana use, less than half agreed it has
medical benefits. Seventy percent of respondents age 45-49 said they
believe in the medical benefits of pot, as did 59 percent of those in
the 50-69 age group.

And while 74 percent of all people surveyed said pot is addictive,
older respondents were more likely to think so: 83 percent of those 70
and older, compared with 61 percent of those aged 45-49. Generational
lines also divided those who have smoked pot: Just 8 percent of those
70 and older admitted having lit up, compared with 58 percent of the
45-49 group, 37 percent of those between 50 and 59 and 15 percent of
the 60-69 set.

National polls in recent years have found majority support for
allowing the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

Last month, the Supreme Court heard arguments over whether federal
agents can pursue sick people who use homegrown marijuana with their
doctors' permission and their states' approval. The Bush
administration has argued that allowing medical marijuana in
California would undermine federal drug control programs, and that pot
grown for medical use could end up on the illegal market and cross
state lines.

The AARP poll of adults age 45 and older was conducted Nov. 10-21 by
International Communications Research of Media, Pa. The margin of
sampling error was plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake