Pubdate: Fri, 26 Mar 1999
Date: 03/26/1999
Source: Daily Gazette (NY)
Author: Walter F. Wouk

The recent study by the Institute of Medicine - the IOM - concluded
that marijuana is not addictive, it's not a gateway drug, it's not a
dangerous drug and it has medical uses. According to the IOM,
short-term or occasional marijuana use has minimal risk.

It's important to note that the IOM did not conduct new research; they
merely reviewed the existing evidence. Dr. Donald Abrams, a physician
at the University of California at San Francisco who is conducting the
only approved study of medicinal marijuana, said, "they did the same
thing in 1982 and came up with similar findings."

The IOM report underscores the fact that, for many years, government
officials have willfully ignored the truth about marijuana use. Our
congressmen, our senators and our state representatives have all
ignored the facts because they didn't want to appear "soft on drugs."

Last September, the Republican-controlled Congress passed House Joint
Resolution 117 - a statement in which Congress claimed that marijuana
is "dangerous and addictive," and that Congress is unequivocally
opposed to the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes.

The Republican Party pushed this resolution knowing that it was based
upon lies. The Democratic Party kowtowed to Republican demands because
they lacked the courage to stand up for the truth. The Republicans are
hypocrites and Democrats are wimps.

NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws)
estimates that federal, state and local governments spend $7 billion
per year in the war against marijuana use. Every 45 seconds, an
individual is arrested for possessing marijuana.  Meanwhile, our
elected representatives continue to wallow in self-imposed ignorance.
It's time for a change.

WALTER F. WOUK Cobleskill The writer is president of the Capital
Region chapter of NORML.