Pubdate: Mon, 08 Dec 1997
Source: Des Moines Register (IA)
Author: Carl E. Olsen

Regarding the Nov. 26 Further Reflections by Altoona Police Chief
John L. Gray ("The Medical Marijuana Deception"), I would like to
correct some errors.

Chief Gray is mistaken about the location of the recent vote on
medical marijuana. The vote was not in the state of New York, it
was in the state of Washington. Also, it was not really a vote on
medical marijuana.

The Washington initiative also included the medical use of
substances such as LSD and PCP. The Washington initiative was
clearly too radical for the voters. The inclusion of substances
such as LSD and PCP in the Washington initiative clearly
destroyed any chance of passage the initiative might have had.

Even though the initiative was crippled by the inclusion of other
illegal substances, it still got over 40 percent of the votes cast.
Gray is also in error when he accuses proponents of medical
marijuana of wanting to legalize illegal drugs for entertainment 

The voters in Washington just proved that they can make a
distinction between medical use of marijuana and other illegal 

If medical marijuana is a smoke screen for a scheme to sell angel
dust and methamphetamine to kids, then why aren't we hearing
arguments that medical use of cocaine and morphine is a smoke
screen for selling crack and heroin to kids?

The sad fact is that distortions such as those made by Gray
deprive medical patients of what an administrative law judge for
the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in 1988 called, "one of
the safest therapeutically active substances known to man."

More recently, medical marijuana was endorsed as a medicine by
the New England Journal of Medicine (Jan. 30, 1997).
If anyone is responsible for creating a decrease in the
perception of risk, it is the opponents of medical marijuana who
have exaggerated the risks. Credibility is an important tool in
the fight against drug abuse.

Perhaps the most revealing thing about Chief Gray's letter is his
praise of the intelligence that went to crafting Iowa's drug law.
Iowa's drug law has classified marijuana as a medicine since 1979.

If Chief Gray really means it when he says that police officials
are ready and willing to fullfil their sworn duty to uphold the
law, then he needs to take a moment to read the law and find out
what it says.

Carl E. Olsen
Des Moines