Source: Daily Gazette (Schenectady, NY) Contact: Thu, 5 Mar 1998 Author: Walter F. Wouk LEGALIZE MARIJUANA FOR MEDICINAL PURPOSES A coalition of Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on crime has been very active in recent days. They approved a "sense of the House" resolution stating that "marijuana is a dangerous and addictive drug and should not be legalized for medical use." The resolution - introduced by subcommittee chair Bill McCollum (R-Fla.) - won the approval of all seven Republicans present, while being opposed by the two Democrats, Reps. John Conyers (Mich.) and Sheila Jackson Lee (Texas). Ironically, the subcommittee's action came just one day after the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine (IOM) held its third and final symposium on the merits of marijuana therapy. The IOM organized the conferences as part of a federally funded 18-month review of the scientific evidence demonstrating marijuana's therapeutic value. Because legislators have a profound impact upon the daily lives of Americans, they have an ethical obligation to seek out the truth. Mr. McCollum and his Republican cohort have rejected the truth about marijuana - - and that truth is that there is no proof that marijuana is either addictive or dangerous. The body of scientific evidence indicates that marijuana is a benign drug. Two years ago, the prestigious British medical journal The Lancet concluded that "the smoking of cannabis, even long term, is not harmful to health." If a gravely ill individual uses marijuana to ease their pain, they will be subject to legal sanctions that include - but are not limited to - fines, imprisonment, loss of driver's license, loss of employment and the seizure of assets under the civil forfeiture laws. The Republicans on the Judiciary Committee are willing to ignore the science and deny an effective medication to the sick and dying in order to advance their political agenda. Note: The writer is president of the Schoharie chapter of National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.