Pubdate: Tue, 07 Jan 1997
Source: San Francisco Examiner (CA)
Author: Thomas J. O'Connell M.D.

Regarding the opposing views of Gen. Barry McCaffrey and Ethan Nadelmann
on medical marijuana (Opinion Page, Dec. 27): the two essays nice summarize
the deep abyss of reason and intellectually honesty separating the opposing

McCaffrey takes the obdurate federal position that marijuana is a
dangerous drug without redeeming attributes. Based on rhetoric alone, if
our government had the power, marijuana not only would be illegal, it would
be extinct.

Millions of Americans who disagree with their government assessment
support a hugh recreational market that thrives despite a half-million
arrests per year and despite an enormously expensive suppression effort
that could be labeled futile and fatuous. Those adjectives also aptly
describe the general's laundry list of complaints about marijuana, all of
which have been heard ad nauseam and refuted.

Nadelmann's essay makes eminent good sense: there is abundant evidence
that marijuana provides a growing number of patients with unique relief of
disabling symptoms in a way that is safe and economical.

The government has consistently blocked controlled studies that might shed
additional light, apparently so as to be able to continue to deny allowing
medical pot. California voters have demanded that pot be made available to
patients. Temporarily reclassifying marijuana as a "Schedule 2" drug is all
that is required -- hardly a big deal.

The shrill vehemence with which the government asserts its dubious
position betrays an anxiety about something more than just medical
marijuana. Could it be that the foundations for the whole drug war are
equally dishonest?

Thomas J. O'Connell
San Mateo, California