Pubdate: Mon, 27 Aug 2001
Source: Honolulu Advertiser (HI)
Copyright: 2001 The Honolulu Advertiser, a division of Gannett Co. Inc
Author: Pamela Lichty


Jeannette McDougal's column ("Real buzz on medical marijuana: toxic, bad" 
Aug. 20) is yet another litany of ill-informed assertions on the supposed 
dangers of medical marijuana based on propaganda and misinformation. To 
address some of her comments:

* Patients aren't seeking the "high" that THC provides, but rather relief 
from pain, nausea and spasticity, as described in a 1999 Institute of 
Medicine report commissioned by the national drug czar. Most patients 
prefer the smoked version to the pill because relief occurs immediately, 
and they can stop when symptoms abate. Many researchers believe the whole 
form of cannabis may be more effective than an extract because of the 
interactions of its components.

* The physician liability issue is moot for two reasons: Courts have deemed 
it a free-speech right to recommend pot, and it has been declared one of 
the "safest therapeutically active substances known to man" (in a 1988 Drug 
Enforcement Agency ruling). Six thousand people die from aspirin each year. 
No death from marijuana ever has been reported.

* As for social effects: Driving under the influence of drugs remains 
illegal. In California, since the 1996 referendum legalizing medical 
marijuana, federal surveys find that kids' use of pot is lower than the 
national average. Secondhand smoke is easy to deal with: Go to another room 
or outside.

Medical marijuana is a safe and effective medicine in use for 10,000 years. 
To see this one must look beyond decades of propaganda as the Canadians 
have done.

Pamela Lichty
Vice President, Drug Policy Forum of Hawai'i
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