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March 2004
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Just a day after the Chicago Tribune made a strong volley for medical marijuana, they published this outstanding OpEd by Steve Chapman: MEDICAL MARIJUANA AND ITS WITLESS ENEMIES: Anti-Drug Advocates Continue to Ignore Credible Science.

Luckily, there is a well-established and safe remedy recommended by many cancer physicians that sometimes provides relief when nothing else can. Not so luckily, the remedy is marijuana. Under federal law, cannabis is forbidden–even for therapeutic use by seriously ill people who have no more interest in getting high than they do in bungee jumping. The Bush administration, in its generosity, is willing to let these patients have any medicine except the one they need.

In the campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, John Kerry and John Edwards often sound nearly indistinguishable on the issues. But when it comes to medical marijuana, there is plenty of space between them. Edwards sounds like President Bush, while Kerry has dared to suggest that the established federal policy has been a grave mistake.

Under the Carter administration, the federal government recognized the medical potential of cannabis and set up a “compassionate use program” that not only allowed some patients to use pot but gave them a supply. This humane concession, however, didn’t survive the first Bush administration, which slammed the door on new patients.

Anyone expecting better from Bill Clinton, that child of the ’60s, was doomed to disappointment. The president who didn’t inhale made sure no Republican could portray him as soft on drugs. His administration refused to change federal policy and vehemently crusaded against state measures legalizing medical marijuana.

The current Bush administration has been equally horrified by the idea that marijuana could be anything but evil. Not long after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, when you might have thought the Justice Department had more urgent priorities, federal agents continued raiding “cannabis clubs” that furnish pot to patients whose doctors have prescribed it, in accordance with state law.

As if it weren’t enough to dictate what goes into patients’ mouths, U.S. Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft also took it upon himself to dictate what could come out of doctors’ mouths: The administration made it illegal for physicians to prescribe or even discuss marijuana with their patients as a treatment. …

Bush and Edwards want to continue a vindictive policy that ignores the experience of medical professionals, shortchanges science and treats suffering people as criminals.

It’s enough to make you ill.

It is clear that between Kerry and Edwards, the Kerry is the choice when it comes to medical marijuana. However, even that position needs strengthening. After all, when Bush was running for President, his statement on medical marijuana was: “I believe each state can choose that decision as they so choose.” That notion disappeared fast in his administration.
The only candidate for the Democrats this year who is unambiguously in favor of full medical marijuana rights is Dennis Kucinich. Drug WarRant has endorsed Dennis and I continue to encourage you to vote for him in the primaries. Every bit that he gets in the primaries helps his issues to get a hearing at the convention.
And if you’re voting Republican in the primaries, write in the name Blake Ashby.

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