Pubdate: Fri, 18 May 2001
Source: Seattle Times (WA)
Copyright: 2001 The Seattle Times Company
Authors: Andy Ko, Diana LaRose, Chis Holland, Dominic Holden


Editor, The Times:

The U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding distributors of medical
marijuana in California, regrettable though it is, should not affect
enforcement of our state's law that protects qualified patients who
use marijuana for medicinal purposes ("Medical marijuana illegal,
Supreme Court declares," Times, May 15).

The court's ruling does not change the fact that Washington's voters
enacted Initiative 692 - the Medical Use of Marijuana Act. This law
says that patients with a physician's recommendation to use marijuana
to relieve pain have a legal defense against prosecution under state

The case does illustrate the need for public officials to show more
humanity and common sense in setting drug policies. The justices'
ruling hinged on a three-decades-old "finding" by Congress that
marijuana has no medical use. However, Congress has ignored abundant
evidence that marijuana can help some people to relieve unbearable
pain and other physical harms.

It is doubtful the court would have deferred to a congressional
finding that the world is flat. Given what is already known of the
relatively low risk and clear medical benefits, that is essentially
what Congress has done in barring use of marijuana to relieve people's

- - Andy Ko, director, Drug Policy Project, American Civil Liberties
Union of Washington, Seattle


How absurd that the Supreme Court says marijuana has "no medical use"
when physicians have been legally prescribing Marinol - which contains
the major active ingredient in marijuana - for over 15 years.
Furthermore, numerous studies and testimonials from persons with AIDS
and other illnesses have shown that natural marijuana is even more
effective than the pill version.

Smoking is a quicker and more efficient delivery mechanism than
ingestion. Research has shown that cannabinoids in natural marijuana
other than the one that composes Marinol provide additional symptom
relief. And pills are hardly practical for patients with severe nausea.

- - Diana LaRose, Issaquah


Our country has tripled its prison population in less than 20 years
largely as a result of our "war on drugs." We have a higher percentage
of our citizens in prison than any other nation in the world.

What will we do with cancer patients who buy marijuana? Imprison them
too? Admittedly, the solutions aren't simple. But I suppose that is
the point. Throwing people in prison is simple; and it is clearly not
a solution.

The solution to our drug problem is going to come piece by piece. This
is quilt work. There are no blanket solutions here. And writing your
representative about the poorly addressed medical marijuana issue is a
piece of the solution/quilt.

- - Chris Holland, Seattle


It is sad when an attack on sick and dying people is condoned by the
highest court in the land. The enemy? People so ill they cannot even
defend themselves and those compassionate enough to help them.

This unexpected stop on a modern-day "underground railroad" will not
stop sick individuals from obtaining the medicine they need. But it
does mean that the road to freedom may take a little longer, and that
more people will be captured along the way.

A national policy for medical marijuana will undoubtedly prevail in
time, and today's harsh drug laws will be universally

Now, we should turn our compassion to the judges of our Supreme Court
and their heartless decision. History shall not remember them well.

- - Dominic Holden, president, National Organization for the Reform of
Marijuana Laws (NORML) of Washington State, Seattle
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