Pubdate: 14-20 May 1999
Source: Isthmus (WI)
Author: (s) (1) Diane Nicks (2) Gary Storck (3) Tom Bouri1 (4) Jim Allard
(5) Brian E. Lochen, M.D.


The Isthmus story on Abe McCants ("When Is There Mercy?" 4/9/99)
serves as a reminder to everyone that while the law demands justice,
justice must also at times be tempered with mercy. I personally am
relieved that Mr. McCants was not returned to jail. In the future, we
in this office should al-ways strive to act with compassion in similar

Diane Nicks
Dane County District Attorney

I was shocked and saddened to read of the treatment Abe McCants
received as he was dying. [The DA's office petitioned the court to
jail him after he tested positive for marijuana while under
supervision: McCants died the next day of terminal stomach cancer].
Kudos to Bill Lueders uncovering this story.

McCants situation illustrates how marijuana prohibition has twisted
justice in this country, creating a world where even sick people are
fair game. Yet there is nothing to justify this prohibition - the most
harmful effect is it's illegality.

Judge Angela Bartell should be highly commended for her compassion for
doing the right thing rather than following the inhumane course
recommended by the DA's office.

Gary Storck

Most people still don't understand why the government is so opposed to
legalizing med-ical marijuana. But the government has a very good
reason to fear medical marijuana.

Only after California and Arizona voted to legalize medical marijuana
in 1996 did the fed-eral government finally commission a scientific
study of medical marijuana. The results of this study, released by the
Institute of Medicine on March 17, shoot down seven of the
government's biggest lies about marijuana:

. Marijuana has numerous medicinal uses. Marijuana is not a gateway
drug. It does not lead to harder drugs. There is no evidence that
legalizing medical marijuana will increase recreational use. Despite
the health concerns of smoking, the IOM reported that there is still
no evi-dence that marijuana smoking causes lung cancer.

. Occasional marijuana use poses minimal risk to the user. There is no
evidence that marijuana harms the immune system

. Marijuana has minimal addictive potential.

If patients allowed to legally use it, hundreds of doctors and
researchers will be able to extensively study the health effects of
marijuana. Once that happens, the government's lies about marijuana
will be destroyed.

Tom Bouri1

I find it odd that some will find it malevolent and merciless to lock
up a terminally ill man for smoking pot, yet are perfectly content to
lock up healthy, productive men for doing the same. Both seem like
malevolent and unjust acts to me.

Rather the quibble about who to have mercy on, why don't we ask a much
more important question: Why is smoking pot illegal in the first
place? I have yet to hear a rational explanation. I'd also like to
remind those of you who are disturbed by the DA's actions: Did you
vote for Peter Steinberg for DA?

Jim Allard

As a physician certified in addiction medicine and with 18 years'
experience caring for people with alcoholism and other addictions, I
find the tragedy of Abe MeCants' final days to be no surprise. While
medical science has known for years that addiction is a disease, the
legal system continues to criminalize this illne8s. The "War on
Drugs," which is, of course, really a war on our civil rights, has
resulted in our prisons being populated by nonviolent individuals,
punished for having an illness that we have declared to be felonious.

This "war" has also created a climate of hysteria in which
small-minded bureaucrats and mean-spirited prosecutors can advocate
incarcerating a dying man in the name of "following the rules."

While Abe McCants' struggle against stomach cancer is over, how sad it
is that in his last days he was also forced to struggle against the
petty hypocrisy of the drug "warriors" as well.

Brian E. Lochen, M.D.
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