Tracknum: 12018.46a8b48d.37d.116c.23219 Pubdate: Thu, 26 Jul 2007 Source: Los Angeles City Beat (CA) Copyright: 2007 Southland Publishing Contact: http://www.lacitybeat.com/ Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/2972 Referenced: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07/n866/a04.html Author: Bruce Mirken STAY ON THE GRASS! Congratulations on an excellent wrap-up of the latest in our government's unscientific and futile war on marijuana ["Stay Off the Grass!" July 19]. Readers should be aware that it's not just folks like the Marijuana Policy Project and the ever-wise Mick Farren questioning U.S. government dogma on marijuana. For example, a recent analysis in The Lancet, one of the planet's most prestigious medical journals, found marijuana to be markedly less dangerous than either alcohol or tobacco. And the British government's Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs has stated, "The high use of cannabis is not associated with major health problems for the individual or society." As for our government's repeated claims that marijuana has no medical value, a just-published Columbia University study is noteworthy. Researchers compared the THC pill marketed as Marinol -- often touted by officials as superior to natural marijuana -- to smoked marijuana in a group of HIV/AIDS patients. The marijuana tested was low-grade, government-grown marijuana supplied by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. While both medications proved effective at stimulating appetite, reducing the need for other medications to combat gastrointestinal problems, and helping patients sleep, it took eight times the recommended dose of Marinol to roughly equal the efficacy of weak, 3.9 percent THC marijuana. And even with the massive dose of Marinol, only the natural plant produced statistically significant improvements in patients' levels of hunger, desire to eat, and quality of sleep. One final note: Many politicians have learned that support for medical marijuana is not only safe, but actually popular. Several presidential candidates, including Sens. John Edwards and Hillary Clinton, have called for an end to federal medical marijuana raids. Another candidate, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, actually signed a medical marijuana bill into law in April. There is hope, but they need to keep hearing from voters that this issue matters. Bruce Mirken Director of Communications Marijuana Policy Project Washington, D.C.