Pubdate: Wed, 16 Jul 1997
Source: Orange County Register (CA)
Author: Keith Stroup

Your recent story on a supposed link between
marijuana and heroin ["Marijuana found to act as
a 'gateway' to other drugs," news,June 27] seriously
distorts the facts of the case.

While it is true that scientists have found some
similarities in the effect of these two substances on
portions of the brain, it must be noted that the same
researchers found the same effect with nicotine and
alcohol. Yet no one is suggesting that smoking cigarettes
or drinking wine leads to heroin addiction.

As Dr. Lester Grinspoon Of Harvard points out, the
effect noted in these studies may well be part of the
neurochemistry of a general pleasure response. "If you
hit a home run in baseball, the same pathway is probably
activated," he suggests.

One cannot help but conclude that legitimate scientific
research is being twisted to fit the politically
correct demand of our government's insatiable "war on
drugs." These new studies, while they may add to our
understanding of the neurophysiology of cannabis, cannot
be used to justify the misguided policy of equating
marijuana with heroin under federal law, a policy that
condemns tens of thousands of American to prison each
year, and hundreds of thousands to arrest.

Keith Stroup
Washington, D.C.