Source: Tacoma News Tribune
Pubdate: February 03, 1998


Your Jan. 26 editorial ("Leave medical pot issue to science") seems to
imply that our bill to allow limited medicinal use of marijuana is in some
way a rushed effort to beat the scientific odds. We have no doubt, as
preliminary results have shown, that further federal research will also
prove that there are significant therapeutic benefits of marijuana for many

But while we support medical research, we also believe that we can't wait
years for yet another study to prove what so many patients with serious
medical conditions already know: Smoking marijuana can alleviate pain and
suffering. Shouldn't our loved ones who are gravely ill - indeed, dying -
be able to use a drug known to provide some respite from their plight
without being turned into criminals?

The editorial noted the overwhelming defeat of Initiative 685 by the
voters. In fact, we voted against it. But Senate Bill 6271 is a far cry
from the initiative. I-685 would have decriminalized many drug offenses and
would have allowed patients to use LSD, heroin, PCP and methamphetamine. It
went too far, and the people said so.

Our proposal, on the other hand, reasonably provides for marijuana use only
for limited, serious medical conditions and only with a doctor's
recommendation after finding no relief with conventional methods.

Marinol, a synthetic form of marijuana, is an important addition to the
medication choices available. But for many patients, it just doesn't work.
Its pill form is difficult for some to swallow and keep down, especially
when experiencing severe nausea from the effects of chemotherapy. Other
people experience side effects not present when smoking marijuana. Also,
Marinol is expensive, costing as much as 10 to 20 times more than marijuana.

The bottom line is that hundreds of Washingtonians are suffering from AIDS,
cancer, mulitple sclerosis and other diseases. Our concern is helping them
get some relief when it's medically warranted and with their physician's
authorization. The medicinal use of marijuana is not drug abuse. It's
compassionate care.

JEANNE KOHL State senator , 36th District

PAT THIBAUDEAU State senator, 43rd District