Pubdate: Sun, 26 Jul 1998
Date: 07/26/1998
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Author: J. Thomas Ungerleider MD

Kudos to Robert Scheer for his overview of the futility of our current
drug abuse efforts in general and those of the drug czar in particular
(Column Left, July 21). We are all concerned about drug abuse in our
families and our society. But drug czar Barry McCaffrey, an ex
general, has become obsessed with the medical marijuana issue.

The general has changed the "war on drugs" into a "war on physicians
and their patients"! McCaffrey keeps threatening to criminally
prosecute physicians for talking to their patients, if they suggest
(not even prescribe) marijuana for symptom relief for any medical
illness, no matter how terminal the patient. Emboldened by this, Sen.
Jesse Helms has introduced a bill stating that the physician must
serve not less than eight years in the federal penitentiary if the
patient was even one day under 21 when the medical marijuana
suggestion was given.

In response to this folly, medical organizations have quickly adopted
medical marijuana policy statements reaffirming that physicians can
and, in fact, should talk to their patients about all health-related
matters. And a federal judge has issued a restraining order against
the government.

J.Thomas Ungerleider MD Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry UCLA Medical