Pubdate: Mon, 09 Feb 1998
Date: 09/02/1998
Source: Seattle Times (WA)
Author: Aaron Palmer


The Clinton administration is still stalling a full year after the
National Institutes of Health (NIH) expert group recommended policy
changes that would have expedited medicinal-marijuana research. It is
vital that this research be allowed to proceed in order for marijuana
to be approved by the FDA as a prescription medicine as soon as possible:

Tens of thousands of seriously ill people nationwide are already using
marijuana for medicinal purposes - illegally.

The federal penalties are up to one year in prison for possession of
one joint and up to five years in prison for cultivation of one
marijuana plant.

People with AIDS, cancer, glaucoma and multiple sclerosis who are
benefiting from medicinal marijuana must live in constant fear of
being arrested and sent to prison. On Aug. 8, 1997, the NIH Ad Hoc
Group of Experts released a report on its "Workshop on the Medical
Utility of Marijuana," conducted on Feb. 19 and 20, 1997. The report
urged the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to make it easier
for researchers to obtain NIDA's supply of marijuana.

NIDA has a monopoly on the legal supply of marijuana for research in
the United States. It is now one year since the release of the NIH
report, and NIDA still has not changed its unnecessarily restrictive

The Clinton administration will be hard-pressed to oppose the
medicinal-marijuana voter initiatives in six states this November.
When the drug czar and others say that there should first be more
research, the voters will say, "Sorry, you had your chance."

Aaron Palmer, Kent