Pubdate: Tues, 23 Mar 1999
Source: San Mateo County Times (CA)
Copyright: 1999 by MediaNews Group, Inc. and ANG Newspapers
Author: Tom O'Connell



YOUR NAIVE hope that the Institute of Medicine report would allow reason and
evidence to control implementation of California's medical marijuana law is
almost certainly forlorn.

For one thing, Barry McCaffrey has already flatly stated even though a pure
aerosolized cannabinoid is not available, "smoked marijuana" will remain
illegal on the grounds that it is unhealthy - never mind that many of the
patients who gain unique relief from it are already dying and most have no
other effective alternative.

Furthermore, there is absolutely no evidence that the requisite amount of
smoking has ever produced one cancer - in other words, the smoking objection
is entirely theoretical.

In truth, the report is unduly timid in its conclusions, which are
substantially no different than those of every blue ribbon panel (there have
been many) to look at the issue since Britain appointed its India Hemp
Commission in 1896.

All have found marijuana to be innocuous, nonaddictive, and undeserving of
criminal sanctions. Indeed, in order to continue our present policy,
President Nixon was forced to completely ignore his own panel, the Shafer
Commission, which recommended decriminalization of recreational marijuana
exactly 27 years ago this month.

Our federal reefer madness has never been driven by science or logic, so a
watered-down report by a craven bureaucratic panel is not about to change

As for Bill Lockyer, the same sick patients charged under Lungren are either
in prison or being prosecuted; new ones have been charged, usually for
cultivation, even though that's the only option for courts have given them.

It will take a lot more than pious hopes to reverse reefer madness.

Dr. Tom O'Connell

San Mateo

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