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The government's reefer madness

June 06, 2007

Re "Not enough marijuana," editorial, May 31

One only hopes that the Drug Enforcement Administration sees the irony in Judge Mary Ellen Bittner's decision to allow for the private production of cannabis for government-approved research. While unfettered access to marijuana is only a phone call away for millions of U.S. teens, it remains out of reach for qualified researchers who wish to study its therapeutic utility in clinical trials. Chalk up another victory for America's misguided pot policies. It is time for the DEA and the White House to stop obstructing research into the medicinal properties of cannabis. Let medical science, not political rhetoric, be the final arbiter in this issue.

PAUL ARMENTANO

Washington

The writer is senior policy analyst for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

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The editorial does not address the issue of hypocrisy in dealing with marijuana laws in general. How many times have we read a story about someone crashing a car and killing innocents because a driver was stoned? Or, how many domestic disputes have ended in bloodshed and death because someone smoked too much? Legalization of marijuana would wipe out a significant portion of the illicit black-market trade and, if legalized and taxed by the government, the federal deficit would be erased by next Thursday. By legalizing marijuana, we could reduce crime, increase border security and provide the medical benefits of this harmless weed.

SCOTT HUGHES

Simi Valley

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The editorial was right to call on the federal government to stop hindering researchers' access to research-grade marijuana to conduct FDA-approved studies. This research is vital, and the government's stonewalling unconscionable. But your contention that claims of medical marijuana's value are "factually unsupported" is untrue. Peer-reviewed research supports marijuana's safety and efficacy in treating symptoms related to such life-threatening diseases as HIV/AIDS, cancer and multiple sclerosis. In February, a study in the journal Neurology documented marijuana's effectiveness at alleviating an excruciating type of nerve pain common among patients with HIV/AIDS, for which there is no current FDA-approved treatment.

While the question of marijuana's medical value is effectively settled, the federal government's strangulation of the supply of marijuana for medical research has prevented the sorts of studies required for FDA approval of medical marijuana. This conveniently allows government officials to say marijuana can't be a medicine, the FDA hasn't approved it. It's time for this cynical game to end.

DAN BERNATH

Assistant Director

of Communications

Marijuana Policy Project

Washington

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