Pubdate: Wed, 07 Mar 2001
Source: SF Weekly (CA)
Copyright: 2001 New Times Inc
Contact:  185 Berry, Lobby 4, Suite 3800, San Francisco, CA 94107
Authors: Dale H. Gieringer, Animal J. Smith, Jay R. Cavanaugh, Ph.D.
Referenced: Columns
6 PUB LTEs from last week by Van E. Estes III, Michael Krawitz, J.M. 
Kowalski, Ph.D., Chuck Dalehouse, Scott McCrea and Tom O'Connell, M.D.
Cited: American Medical Marijuana Association
California NORML


A Black And White Issue:

I'm impressed with your column (Matt Smith, "Burning Questions," Feb. 28, 
on abuses at medical marijuana clinics). Actually, you are getting very 
funny. Aside from all the serious issues, it's nice to laugh once in a 
while, and your style is rather hilarious.

I share your concerns regarding prescription mills. You are absolutely 
correct that wherever there is a black market there will be folks out to 
make money by prostituting their profession. In those areas of the state 
where a secure "white" market for medical marijuana exists, we see a drop 
in prices and certainly a decline in the fear medical cannabis patients 
have. Prosecution of medical cannabis patients and caregivers only forces 
patients to the black market. Patients should not have to secure their 
medicine from people who carry guns and also deal heroin and crack.

You are also absolutely correct that it is indeed a burn to have 
recreational marijuana users try to co-opt the medical cannabis movement. 
They are entitled to lobby for marijuana decriminalization, which many 
conservatives now support, but that movement should have nothing to do with 
the medical needs of truly ill patients.

Perhaps one of these days we will all get a huge dose of common sense and 
follow your suggestion to tax and regulate drugs while providing quality 
drug treatment on demand. All the billions of dollars and government 
intrusions on liberties associated with the war on drugs hasn't ensured one 
bit of public safety. Until then, can we drug test my pilot before my next 
flight to Sacramento?

Jay R. Cavanaugh, Ph.D., Medical Advisory Board, American Medical Marijuana 
Association, West Hills

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A Marijuana Success Story:

I was gratified to read the sentiments expressed in your column this week 
regarding the increasing abuse of Prop. 215. In 1996, after having been HIV 
positive for several years, I became ill and wasted down to 160 pounds by 
September. Although I had been a recreational cannabis user for a long 
time, I took full advantage of the offerings from the old Cannabis Buyers' 
Club and Flower Therapy club, and had regained 20 pounds by the end of that 
year. (Now I'm over 200, even using New York weed.) Even then, there were 
concerns about fraudulent prescriptions and hyper-inflated prices. But I 
was more concerned with not dying.

Here in Giuliani land, the local medical marijuana cooperative has been 
busted and hassled in a million ways, and the directors of the co-op have 
spent time in jail due to their dedication to the needs of folks like me. 
Medical pot helped save my life, and I bristle at the thought of abuses of 
statutes in California and other states. If that abuse continues, our cause 
will be lost for good. Thanks for having the guts to bring this stuff to 

Animal J. Smith, New York, NY

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The Rights Of The "Doobied Class":

Talk about smears! Matt Smith wouldn't dare denigrate gays, blacks, or 
other minorities the way he vilifies marijuana users, dismissing them as 
"lame losers" and openly proclaiming his prejudice against the "doobied 
classes" ("Smoke and Smearers," Feb 14).

Smith blatantly slanders the medical marijuana movement as a front for 
"drug profiteers," ignoring the countless patients who find medical value 
in marijuana but continue to be persecuted by small-minded cops and DAs in 
spite of Prop. 215. Had Smith done his homework, he would have known better 
than to rank [Marin District Attorney Paula] Kamena among the "most 
reasonable" officials on medical marijuana. While one may legitimately 
question whether her derelictions merit a recall, Kamena has a reputation 
for petty-minded inflexibility, partiality, wrongheaded views, and 
intemperate remarks, and her policy has been a bust.

Smith is hallucinating if he thinks Lynette Shaw is campaigning for 
"armed-and-dangerous marijuana entrepreneurs." Shaw's club provides a safe 
and secure haven for patients while keeping pot out of the hands of kids 
and street dealers -- more than can be said for the efforts of our "law and 
order" enthusiasts.

The very nastiness of Smith's attack is ample reason why marijuana reform 
should be on the progressive agenda. Pot smokers are sick and tired of 
being vilified, marginalized, and denied basic rights.

Dale H. Gieringer, Coordinator, California NORML, Castro
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