Pubdate: Thu, 17 May 2001
Source: Washington Times (DC)
Copyright: 2001 News World Communications, Inc.
Author: Malcolm Menged


Opponents of medical marijuana often argue that "it would be sending the 
wrong message to the children." I believe, however, that by keeping 
marijuana a Schedule 1 controlled substance, the federal government is 
sending the wrong message to my 14-year-old daughter ("Medical pot use 
defense rejected," May 15).

Our daughter's Sunday school teacher, a close family friend, contracted HIV 
through a blood transfusion in 1982. It was diagnosed more than a decade 
later, and AIDS eventually caught up with her. The side effects of the 
medications she took forced her to stop teaching. She couldn't eat and was 
being fed through a tube. She wasted away and looked like a skeleton. After 
visiting her, my daughter had nightmares.

In January 1997, California's Compassionate Use Act, Proposition 215, went 
into effect, and we encouraged our friend to try cannabis, because she 
clearly qualified to use it. As a Sunday school teacher, she thought it 
would send the wrong message to her students. We finally persuaded her to 
try it and keep it private. Within weeks, she was eating voraciously. She 
was out and about, enjoying herself. She returned to the classroom.

Our young daughter saw the transformation. This unique medicine gave our 
friend two more years of life. In May 1999, our friend died from a ruptured 
pancreas, a result of the highly toxic AIDS medications she took.

My daughter fully understands that Congress has made possession of 
marijuana a federal crime. I recently asked her whether the mixed messages 
confused her and how she could reconcile the government's stance with her 
own experience. "No, I'm not confused," she said. "They're just stupid."

I want the next generation to be able to respect our government. 
Unfortunately, my daughter recognizes that it stubbornly refuses to 
acknowledge the medical benefits of marijuana, and she can see through the 
disinformation campaign used to support that position. That sends her the 
wrong message.

Malcolm Menged, Palo Alto, Calif.
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