Pubdate: Thu, 24 May 2001
Source: Dallas Morning News (TX)
Location: Cyberletters
Copyright: 2001 The Dallas Morning News
Author: Jane Marcus


"It would be sending the wrong message to the children" is one of the 
standard responses to arguments in support of medical marijuana. I'm 
convinced that by keeping marijuana a Schedule One Controlled Substance, 
the federal government is sending the wrong message to my 14-year-old daughter.

(See article: "Supreme Court rejects medical marijuana use," May 15.)

Our daughter's Sunday school teacher, a close family friend, contracted HIV 
through a blood transfusion in 1982. Diagnosed more than a decade later, 
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, since she clearly 
qualified for its use. As a Sunday school teacher, she thought it would 
send the wrong message to her students. We finally convinced her to try it 
in 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 direct experience. "No, I'm not confused," she said. "They're just stupid."

I want the next generation to be able to look up to our government and 
elected leaders. My daughter sees through the government's stubborn refusal 
to admit to marijuana's obvious medical benefit and the disinformation 
campaign used to support that position. And that sends the wrong message to 
my kid.

Palo Alto, Calif.
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