Pubdate: Mon, 22 Mar 1999
Source: Morning Call (PA)
Copyright: 1999 The Morning Call Inc.
Author: Pat Rogers


To the Editor:

U.S. Rep. Bill McCollum, R-Fla., who leads the effort against the
medicinal use of marijuana, told the Los Angeles Times, ''When smoking
a dangerous and highly addictive drug is labeled 'therapeutic,' we are
sending the wrong message to our youth.'' The summary of the Institute
of Medicine report released on March 17, ''Marijuana and Medicine,
Assessing the Science Base'' states, relative to McCollum's
description, ''Although few marijuana users develop dependence, some
do.'' The good scientists do not make it sound like it is highly addictive.

Regarding McCollum's reasoning on messages to our youth, the report
summary states, ''There is broad social concern that sanctioning the
medical use of marijuana might increase its use among the general
population. At this point there is no convincing data to support this
concern. The existing data are consistent with the idea that this
would not be a problem if the medical use of marijuana were as closely
regulated as other medications with abuse potential.''

Then there is the ''gateway drug theory,'' that marijuana leads to
addictive drugs. This theory has been an underpinning of the national
policy of prohibition of marijuana for 80 years. The IOM report
summary states, ''There is no conclusive evidence that the drug
effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of
other drugs.''

I submit that if marijuana is not highly addictive and if medical
marijuana use will not increase use in the nation's general
population, and if marijuana is not a ''gateway'' to abuse of
addictive drugs, then the hundreds of thousands of Americans in jail
for non-violent, marijuana-related crimes are suffering an injustice.
Arresting and imprisoning Americans for marijuana use and subjecting
them to minimum sentences that are greater than sentences served by
some rapists and killers is cruel and unusual punishment.

Pat Rogers
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake