Drug Policy Forum of Iowa
Post Office Box 4368 • Des Moines, Iowa 50333

May 11 1997

John L. Gray
Chief of Police
City Hall
407 8th Street, SE
Altoona, IA 50009

Dear Chief Gray,

     I saw your article in the May 1997 edition of "Inside Altoona" and had to respond to some inaccuracies.  Your statement that, "not one national health organization accepts marijuana as medicine," is not true.

     In November of 1995, the American Public Health Association officially recognized marijuana's medical utility.  American Journal of Public Health, March 1996, Vol. 86, No. 3, pp. 441-442.  Marijuana's medical value was also recognized by the American Nurses Association in October of 1996.

     Marijuana's medical value has also been recognized by at least two pretigious medical journals, the New England Journal of Medicine, January 30, 1997 -- Volume 336, Number 5 (editorial - Federal Foolishness and Marijuana), and the British medical journal the Lancet, Volume 346, Number 8985, November 11, 1995, p. 1241.

     As for adverse reactions to marijuana, in 1988 the chief administrative law judge for the Drug Enforcement Administration had this to say, "Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutic substances known to man."  DEA Docket No. 86-22, Sept. 6, 1988, pp. 58-59.

     Also, studies (the most extensive ever performed) by the National Center for Toxicological Research (a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services), found no evidence of permanent damage of any kind from the smoking of marijuana (the only negative effect they found was a short-term lack of motivation which disappeared within a few hours).  For more information, contact Merle G. Paule, Ph.D., HFT-132, Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Food and Drug Administration, National Center for Toxicological Research, 3900 NCTR Drive, Jefferson, Arkansas 72079-9502, (501) 543-7000.

     In a major toxicological study of THC, the main psychoactive ingredient of marijuana, completed three years ago, THC-treated rats lived longer and had less cancer.  NTP Technical Report on the Toxicology and Carcinogenesis Studies of 1-Trans-Delta(9)-Tetrahydrocannabinol (CAS No. 1972-08-3) in F344/N Rats and B6C3F(1) Mice (Gavage Studies).  Over 35 researchers contributed to this study, and 12 others reviewed their work; several institutions, including the National Toxicology Program and SRI International, were involved.  The document is report NTP TR 446, NIH Publication No. 94-3362, of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ("NTP" stands for National Toxicology Program, which is made up of four Federal agencies within Health and Human Services).

     Habitual marijuana smokers do not experience a greater annual rate of decline in lung function than nonsmokers, according to the latest findings by researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Medicine.  The results of the eight-year study appear in Volume 155 of the American Journal of Respiratory & Critical Care Medicine.  Dr. Donald P. Tashkin, who headed the study, is one of America's foremost experts on marijuana smoking and lung function.  A summary of the UCLA study appears in the March 1997 edition of Forensic Drug Abuse Advisor.

     Regarding your example of speed limits and stop signs, I don't think there's any comparison.  Speed limits and stop signs allow traffic to move in an orderly fasion.  That's not what's happening with marijuana.  Marijuana is not regulated, it is prohibited.  Try to tell the public that you're going to prohibit them from driving, and see how far it gets you.

     Your example of national smoking rates going down is more to the point.  Education is obviously working better than coercion.  Why can't you see that this approach would work better with marijuana?  Obviously, the voters in Arizona and California are tired of paying for "Reefer Madness" drug policies that are filling their prisons with non-violent drug offenders.  With Iowa's rapidly expanding prison population, it's only a matter of time before Iowa voters wake up and put a stop to this insanity.

     Enclosed is a brief history of the drug laws in the United States.  I hope you take the time to read it.  Besides being extremely informative, it's extremely entertaining.  You will enjoy it, if you take the time to read it.

     Thank you.



     Carl E. Olsen