Pubdate: Thu, 02 Jan 1997
Source: San Francisco Examiner (CA)
Author: Michael Sussman

It is a sign of the times that the Opinion Page of The Examiner on Dec. 27
featured opposing viewpoints on the subject of medical marijuana. For
years, we've read opinions like those of Gen. Barry McCaffrey ( "Con: Why
legal pot is bad policy" ), the spokesperson of drug war orthodoxy,
updating the reefer madness theory with a litany of shaky pseudo-science.
But after the November election, there is reason to believe voters are
becoming disenchanted with the old simplifications.

The Examiner, which has done a good job of covering new directions in the
public debate about drug policy, should be commended for allowing a
dissenting opinion by Ethan Nadelmann ( "Pro: The case for medical
marijuana" ).

Reading the opposing viewpoints, we can see how impoverished the drug
debate has been for the past 20 years. For every scientific claim McCaffrey
trots out to demonstrate marijuana's danger, Nadelmann has a competing
proof of its relative safety and efficacy as a medicine. Nadelmann shows
the difficulties doctors have had in demonstrating the legitimacy of
medical marijuana in the climate of hysteria created by sound-bite

In defending Clinton's drug war credentials, McCaffrey proposes to arrest
doctors who recommend marijuana under the terms of the new California law.
This only goes to show how heedless the ever-escalating drug war has become.

It's a good thing we have voices like those of Ethan Nadelmann to challenge
the failed dogma of the war on drugs.

Michael Sussman
San Francisco