Pubdate: Wed, 29 Aug 2001
Source: Boston Herald (MA)
Copyright: 2001 The Boston Herald, Inc
Author: Phin MacDonald, Jon Holmes


Asa Hutchinson will have some difficulty enforcing federal drug laws 
pertaining to medical marijuana. Juries in states that have approved 
medical marijuana are not overly enthusiastic about convicting patients or 
providers. Even juries in federal cases must be convened from local 
communities that may have voted for medical marijuana by a wide margin 
("New DEA head stands firm," Aug. 24).

Your editorial states that "while marijuana is no better than codeine as a 
pain reliever, it has serious side effects." Codeine is a very effective 
pain reliever. If marijuana is no better than codeine it still must be 
rather effective. Most of marijuana's "serious side effects" are a result 
of smoking. These side effects can be avoided if the marijuana is baked 
into food or made into an herbal tea.

Why should the government punish people for using a drug that may or may 
not be appropriate for a particular medical condition?

Phin MacDonald, Medford, MA

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The polemic editorial ("New DEA head stands firm," Aug. 24) places the 
Herald firmly beyond the bounds of science, reasoning and public opinion -- 
even apparently sympathy for those suffering from debilitating and 
life-threatening disease.

The Institute of Medicine, the Lancet, the New England Journal of Medicine 
and the Merck Manual all agree that marijuana has medical application with 
lower side effects. Even the DEA's own chief administrative law judge ruled 
that "Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically 
active substances known to man and the overwhelming preponderance of the 
evidence shows it has currently accepted medical use in treatment in the U.S."

The real issue is whether patients should be arrested and imprisoned for 
choosing a helpful therapy. This year, in all 19 cities and towns where 
Massachusetts citizens were allowed to vote on the topic, two-thirds said 
we should change these brutal laws.

Jon Holmes, Cambridge, MA
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MAP posted-by: Larry Stevens