Tracknum: 12018.46a8b48d.37d.116c.23219
Pubdate: Thu, 26 Jul 2007
Source: Los Angeles City Beat (CA)
Copyright: 2007 Southland Publishing
Author: Bruce Mirken


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

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.