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Medicinal Pot Alleviates Suffering

September 24, 2002

Re "In Santa Cruz, an Official Handout of Medicinal Pot," Sept. 18: After being diagnosed with a rare lymphoma last December, I began chemotherapy in January and experienced severe nausea. My doctor recommended that I use marijuana and promptly wrote me a recommendation. Smoking marijuana has allowed me to maintain my weight and appetite and has made the majority of the chemotherapy side effects tolerable. Unfortunately, it is much easier for me to pick up some quite addictive morphine or Marinol, which doesn't help me, at a pharmacy than it is for me to get some marijuana.

There are currently no cannabis buyers' clubs in Los Angeles to provide cancer patients like me with a necessary and useful medicine. I applaud Mayor Christopher Krohn and the Santa Cruz City Council members for taking a stand to alleviate suffering among the critically and terminally ill. Mayor James Hahn, would you please step up to the plate and go to bat for the sick people of Los Angeles?

David Aragon

Los Angeles

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Re "Parents Warned on Pot's Toll," Sept. 18: The core message of drug czar John Walters is certainly worth heeding, but he risks losing credibility by deliberately misrepresenting government data. According to the drug czar, more teens are in treatment for marijuana than alcohol and all illegal drugs combined. Record numbers of Americans arrested for marijuana possession have been forced into treatment by the criminal justice system. The resulting distortion of treatment statistics is then used by the drug czar to make the claim that marijuana is "addictive."

There is a big difference between voluntary treatment and government coercion. Zero-tolerance drug laws do not distinguish between occasional use and chronic abuse. The coercion of Americans who prefer marijuana to martinis into taxpayer-funded treatment centers says a lot about government priorities but absolutely nothing about the relative harms of marijuana.

Robert Sharpe

Program Officer

Drug Policy Alliance

Washington

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Note to feds, regarding pot: You've lost. Get used to it.

Gary G. Taylor

Rialto

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