Pubdate: Tue, 06 May 2008
Source: Duluth News-Tribune (MN)
Copyright: 2008 Forum Communications Co.
Author: Tony Ryan
Note: The writer was a decorated Denver police officer for 36 years and is
now a board member of and speaker for LEAP, Law Enforcement Against
Prohibition. (


Whenever I read an anti-marijuana opinion, especially about medical
use, my blood pressure goes up. So when I read the piece by David
Taylor and Jeanette McDougal, "Medical' Marijuana Is Snake Oil
Remedy," in a recent News Tribune, I had to grit my teeth.

Cannabis (marijuana) has been a medicine used by humans for as long as
we have been recording history - more than 5,000 years. From Chinese
emperors to British queens, the medical legacy of cannabis is well
documented. Until the bigoted xenophobic anti-drug hysteria of the
early 20th century became official policy, cannabis was available on
the shelves of U.S. pharmacies.

In a study presented at a meeting of the American Thoracic Society in
San Diego in 2006, UCLA researcher Donald Tashkin presented findings
from his study of cannabis and the respiratory system. Tashkin
revealed that there was not a correlation between pot smoking and lung
cancer and that there may well be a protective effect provided by
cannabis against cancer. When asked at that meeting about separating
pot's high from the clinical benefits, San Francisco oncologist Dr.
Donald Abrams said, "I don't think that a drug that creates euphoria
in patients with terminal diseases is having an adverse effect."

In February of this year the American College of Physicians, the
second-largest doctors' group in the United States, endorsed
legitimizing marijuana for medical purposes. Anti-marijuana zealots
always fail to mention that, ironically, our federal government itself
is the sole legal provider of medical cannabis. It's true. They
provide approximately one half pound of pre-rolled marijuana
cigarettes each month to the remaining patients enrolled in the
Compassionate Investigational New Drug program, or CIND.

McDougall and Taylor leave much out of their rants. For instance, they
will tell the public that the government itself has known since 1974
of cannabis' anti-cancer properties. In a study conducted at the
Medical College of Virginia in 1974, researchers funded by the
National Institutes of Health set out to find evidence that marijuana
damages the immune system. What they discovered instead is that THC
slowed the growth of three kinds of cancer in mice - lung and breast
cancer, and a virus-induced leukemia. Those results were bolstered in
2000 when researchers in Madrid announced they had destroyed incurable
brain tumors in rats by injecting them with THC. Further research is
showing great potential for this once common home remedy as an
effective tool in the fight against cancer.

There is no factual justification for our jihad-like war against pot.
Our laws against cannabis are supported solely by a seven decades-long
program of propaganda rightly referred to as "Reefer Madness."
Cannabis was at one time a legitimate, sold over-the-counter medicine
and the raw plant form was a relatively obscure intoxicant. It has
risen to become the number one agricultural commodity in the United
States. Foreign cartels use our suburbs for illicit indoor growing
operations and our wild and remote forest lands - including even our
treasured national parks - for pot plantations that often contain
thousands of plants in one operation. These outdoor grows frequently
involve the clearing of many acres and the use of chemical
fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides that run off into our pristine
waterways. Best guess estimates from law enforcement indicate that we
interdict only 20 percent of the plants grown by these cartel-run

There is no legitimacy to Taylor's and McDougall's arguments. Rather,
there is only pontificating from these rabid mouthpieces for our
massive and ineffective drug war bureaucracy. Perpetuating cannabis
prohibition will only harm society. The prohibition against cannabis
has failed, and if there is any measure of success it is experienced
only by the criminals and their organizations in the billions of
dollars in profit they receive each year. They're the ones who have
control of our nation's most popular illegal drug.

Extremists like McDougall and Taylor have operated free from public
scrutiny for decades. But today their opposition has a voice, and the
truth of cannabis efficacy as a medicine is reaching the public's ear.
There are many supporters of legalization (not decriminalization),
myself among them, who would be glad to debate today's
prohibitionists, should they ever desire to come forth for the challenge.

Tony Ryan


The writer was a decorated Denver police officer for 36 years and is
now a board member of and speaker for LEAP, Law Enforcement Against
Prohibition. (
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