Marijuana is said to relieve the suffering of people with cancer, 
AIDS and other diseases.  But are our drug laws Nipping 
Compassion in the Bud? 
Cover story: Reefer madness 
By Tracie Cone 
They are law-abiding citizens, but they or someone they love are 
suffering from grave illnesses, and pharmaceuticals don't ease 
the pain.  So they come to places like the Cannabis Buyers Club.  
Above, Hazel Rodgers signs up a new patient, Danny O'Dell, who 
came from Texas. 
Story by Tracie Cone 
Law-abiding regular folks descend into a netherworld to get 
relief for themselves or others with grave diseases.  Why 
morphine and not marijuana? 
IT'S DUSK ON THE HIGHWAY, the time when the sun disappears and 
the dwindling light makes objects hard to discern.  I see a car 
growing larger in my rearview mirror, but what's that on the 
roof?  It registers: a police car-with lights and siren off for a 
sneak attack.  My heart pounds so hard my throat hurts.  I clutch 
my steering wheel with 
sweaty palms. 
   I decide I've been under surveillance since I broke state and 
federal law 15 minutes earlier in Santa Cruz.  My trunk holds 
marijuana amid golf clubs and dry cleaning.  Who would buy the 
story that I'm taking it to a sick friend? 
   Yet I am.  She is waiting at home, her gut churning from her 
latest round of cancer treatment, and this is the substance she 
prays will finally bring relief.  We had read of people who smoke 
marijuana to ease the nausea of chemotherapy.  She decided to try 
it after her prescription medication caused near-deadly 
   The prospect of jail is viewed as just another indignity to 
people who are dying and will try anything to feel good again.  
When a life is at stake, the rule books often get chucked, no 
matter how law-abiding the person may be. 
   "What have I got to lose?" she had asked. 
   Near the Pajaro River, I poise my hand on my blink- 
er.  Maybe a final act of traffic-law compliance will make the 
police go easy on me. 
   The car rides my bumper for a second, then pulls to the left 
and darts past.  It's only a Honda Accord with a ski rack on the 
top.  I sigh at the trick played by my paranoid brain and drive 
home under the comforting cover of darkness. 
POSSESSING MARIJUANA makes criminals out people who use it to 
reverse the "wasting syndrome" of AIDS, relax spastic muscles, 
stifle epileptic seizures or ease the symptoms of a dozen other 
ailments.  It is a misdemeanor in California to possess less than 
an ounce.  People who deliver it to ailing friends are committing 
a felony. 
   These users rarely fit the law-enforcement profile.  They're 
not social misfits looking for a legal way to get high.  It is 
not a "gateway" to the land of LSD and crack cocaine.  They are 
simply doing what many sick people have done since ancient 
Egyptians smoked the leaves to cure headaches. 
   Studies have shown that the THC in marijuana, along with some 
combination of its 460 known compounds, eases nausea in 
chemotherapy patients and reduces eye pressure in people 
suffering from blinding glaucoma. 
   Yet the federal Government, spending billions in a popular war 
on drugs, halted all research that might prove whether the plant 
is more effective with some people than synthetic drugs on the 
   It's absurd that medical decisions are being made by 
politicians," says Dr. Arnold Jeffe, a Santa Cruz physician.  
"It's so crazy that this has become such a big deal when, really, 
it's not a big deal at all." 
   Politics made marijuana illegal in 1937 and politics might 
soon put it legally back in doctors' hands.  San Jose Assemblyman 
John Vasconcellos has introduced a compassionate-use bill that 
would allow sick people to use marijuana. 
   "If people are in pain they ought to be able to use marijuana 
to relieve their pain," Vasconcellos said.  "It's none of the 
government's business in the first place." 
   Should the bill fail, the San Francisco-based group 
Californians for Compassionate Use has hired a political 
consultant to get the issue on the November 1996 ballot. 
   The proposition would make Californians the first in the 
country to decide a medical marijuana law, and the group -- AIDS 
activists skilled in the art of lobbying and sick people who 
depend on the drug -- believes the referendum has a chance. 
   They are encouraged by a recent statewide survey they 
commissioned showing that while few Californians want to make 
marijuana legal, 66 percent of the 750 randomly questioned 
respondents would support a law allowing sick people to use it 
with a doctor's prescription. 
   The law would turn Salinas retirees Dorothy 
14 / MAY 14, 1995 / W E S T 
and Richard Haskell into law-abiding citizens again.  They 
provide marijuana to their 44-year-old daughter, Vicki, who has 
liver cancer. 
   "Umm, we just want it for, well, medicinal purposes," Dorothy 
Haskell said.  "It breaks our hearts to see our daughter suffer." 
FOR 25 YEARS the medical marijuana battle has been waged politely 
by people with glaucoma and cancer.  Now it is becoming the 
vocal, in-your-face fight of AIDS patients who say marijuana's 
appetite-inducing side effect keeps them from wasting away.  AIDS 
activists just might succeed where others have not: They already 
have forced the Food and Drug Administration to make experimental 
drugs available years ahead of schedule. 
   "I've been very conscious of the difference between AIDS 
patients and cancer and glaucoma patients," says Robert Randall 
of the non-profit Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics, based in 
Washington, D.C.  "AIDS patients tend to be a part of a powerful, 
organized community of people who are suffering.  They look out 
for each other." 
   AIDS activists were a big part of successful marijuana 
referendums in San Francisco and Santa Cruz counties.  Eighty 
percent of voters in San Francisco, and 77 percent in Santa Cruz, 
approved resolutions supporting the use of pot for medical 
   Medical marijuana advocates want to modify a law that has been 
in place since 1970.  That's when the FDA and Drug Enforcement 
Agency ruled that the peace movement's drug of choice is as 
useless to medical science as LSD and heroin.  All three became 
classified as Schedule 1 narcotics -- drugs with no known medical 
   Morphine, cocaine and even Marinol -- a synthetic derivative 
of marijuana's Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) -- are Schedule 
2, which means doctors can prescribe them.  Medical marijuana 
advocates argue that Marinol often doesn't work as well as the 
real thing -- especially in a vomiting patient -- and want the 
plant moved to Schedule 2. 
   In April 300 people -- many sick or dying, on crutches and in 
wheelchairs, in suits and leather, Gray Panthers and gay 
activists -- gathered on the steps of the U.S. Federal Building 
in San Francisco to draw attention to the fight. 
   "This is our Stonewall!" shouted referendum leader Dennis 
Peron, comparing the marijuana battle to New York's historic gay 
freedom struggle.  "They are not going to drive us back into our 
closets.  I think back to '65 when cops were dragging our friends 
to jail -- and now cops want to take AIDS patients to jail." 
   With TV cameras rolling and tour buses creeping by, they dared 
the DEA to arrest them all. 
   Martin Simmons, 32, scooted his wheelchair to the front of the 
crowd and screamed the chant: 
   Racist, sexist, anti-gay 
   DEA, go away. 
   "I'm dying," Simmons, an AIDS patient, said afterward.  "F--- 
the law." 
RICHARD AND DOROTHY HASKELL are proof that need is the thing most 
likely to convince someone with anti-drug views to accept medical 
marijuana.  My friend had never even seen marijuana. 
   I often drove her to the hospital and witnessed the horrendous 
nausea she suffered after treatment.  Prescription drugs were 
supposed to settle her stomach, but every day we stopped two or 
three times on the way home for her dry heaves to pass.  At home, 
she vomited more.  She lost the desire to eat and quickly dropped 
15 pounds, which in turn made her too weak to withstand strong 
   This is what cancer sufferers say about anti-nausea drugs such 
as Zofran (which costs $600 a dose) and Torecan: The side effects 
can be worse than the problems they're designed to prevent.  
Sometimes, it's a headache, stupor or insomnia.  My friend's 
pharmaceutical, besides not curing her nausea, constipated her. 
   In most people, that would be uncomfortable but not deadly.  
But doctors continued giving her the toxic chemical they hoped 
would kill her cancer cells, and it wasn't leaving her body.  In 
the car beside me one evening, after a violent burst of dry 
heaves, she stopped breathing.  I beat on her chest, screamed 
frantically and started CPR: 
   "Please breathe.  Come back.  Please don't die." 
   She didn't die, and later I told her about my aunt who had 
smoked pot while undergoing chemotherapy for liver cancer.  My 
friend has a medicine cabinet full of painkillers, but had never 
tried an illegal drug.  Now she was desperate. 
   I asked friends about buying marijuana on the black market 
which, law enforcement should be happy to hear, doesn't seem as 
active as it was a decade ago.  Instead I found the medical 

na underground. 
MY FIRST VISIT was with Scott Imler, who runs Citizens for 
Medical Marijuana in Santa Cruz. 
   On the cramped top floor of an old downtown Victorian, Imler 
dispenses advice and marijuana to people he believes are sincere.  
It helps if they have a note from their doctor -- and almost all 
the patients Imler helps do.  He keeps records on a computer, and 
a stash in the closet.  He sent me home with a good supply of 
prime sinsemilla buds. 
   Imler, 37, used to be a special education teacher.  He grew 
pot in the late '80s to supply sick friends in San Francisco.  In 
1992, after sheriffs deputies seized his crop, he worked to pass 
the Santa Cruz County compassionate-use referendum. 
   Dennis Peron of San Francisco sold marijuana in the 1960s and 
'70s as the drug culture thrived.  In the late '80s he discovered 
a higher purpose for law-breaking when his lover, dying of AIDS, 
used marijuana to stimulate his appetite.  Looking respectable 
with Gap clothes and a gray banker-style haircut, Peron now sells 
marijuana to sick people who can afford it, and gives it to those 
who can't at his Cannabis Buyers Club, an illegal reefer pharmacy 
in the city's Castro district. 
   Peron founded the statewide referendum group earlier this year 
and counts on his buyers club members for support.  One Friday in 
April, however, Peron abruptly closed the doors after he received 
a tip: The Drug Enforcement Agency would bust him that afternoon.  
He quickly organized the protest outside the Federal Building 
because customers were returning to dark Tenderloin street 
corners or Dolores Park to find supplies. 
   "I haven't eaten in days, I can't sleep," Martin Simmons said.  
"I don't know what else to do." 
   Valerie and Mike Corral of Davenport began growing marijuana 
20 years ago, after reading that it could control Valerie's 
epileptic seizures.  Now they grow enough to share with about a 
dozen people, all of them dying, who find them by word-of-mouth.  
With her bobbed hair, slacks and pumps, Valerie, 42, looks more 
Junior Leaguer than pot grower. 
   Once a week at her mountaintop cabin, she hunches over a 
tattered "Joy of Cooking" and modifies the traditional Butter 
Thin cookie recipe.  Using marijuana instead of flour, she 
produces a green cookie that will  induce the same effect as 
smoked marijuana after it meanders through the digestive system. 
   Santa Cruz County Sheriffs deputies have arrested Corral twice 
and destroyed her plants.  Yet even the prospect of prison does 
not stop her. 
   "There's not a person who could violate me more than a 
seizure, so I have no fear of cops," she says. 
   May is planting time, and Valerie and Mike are preparing the 
greenhouse.  They plant "Luther Burbank style," growing 100 
seedlings, but keeping only the five or six female plants that 
develop the bushy foliage they're looking for.  They might net 15 
pounds in a season. 
   "We've learned how to grow healthy plants and get a high 
yield," says Mike, who has collected seeds for 20 years.  "It's 
   One recipient of their pot is Bill Shanteau, 44, a Cabrillo 
College instructor who is in the final stages of colon cancer.  
He waits in bed for the weekly delivery that brings physical, 
psychological and psychokinetic relief.  Yes, sometimes Shanteau 
just wants to get high. 
   "The point is," Shanteau says, "marijuana is a major agent in 
keeping me interested in life.  Besides restoring my appetite, 
it's like a hot tub for the brain.  It stimulates me 
intellectually.  It keeps me focused in the moment instead of me 
sitting here thinking I'm dying tomorrow.  I hate to think what 
my life would be like right now if I didn't have it." 
   Shanteau's desire to get high complicates the issue.  
Marijuana doesn't only ease nausea in sick people; it also makes 
them high.  This troubles pot foes, who see the potential for 
abuse and distrust the motives of the people who are pushing 
medical marijuana.  Last year in Sacramento, a woman publicly 
lashed out at Valerie Corral: 
   "She said, 'You People just want to feel good,'" Corral 
recalls.  "And I said, 'Yeah?  So?  What's the crime in a sick 
person wanting to feel good?'" 
TOM GORMAN OF SACRAMENTO cringes when people say anything good 
about marijuana.  A member of the California Narcotics Officers 
Association, Gorman says that stories of medical miracles are 
propaganda from people who want to decriminalize drugs. 
   "If you were dying of cancer," says the 27-year veteran of law 
enforcement, you'd probably grasp at anything.  But smoking 
anything is not good for you.  What we're doing in the '90s is 
the exact same thing we did in the '70s -- we're romanticizing 
drugs.  Once you get a soft attitude, kids get the impression 
it's not so bad." 
   Gov. Pete Wilson agrees.  In 1994 he vetoed a medical 
marijuana bill passed by the Legislature.  An aide says Wilson 
will veto the Vasconcellos bill if it lands on his desk. 
   "The governor believes it would serve no useful purposes" says 
spokesman Jesus Arredondo, "when the FDA has already concluded 
that marijuana is not good." 
   The California Medical Association says marijuana, used under 
a doctor's order, is often beneficial.  The American Medical 
Association, the only group originally to speak against Congress' 
1937 ban, has not taken a stand, but supports more research. 
   The American Bar Association, the National Association of 
Attorneys General and the Conference of Episcopal Bishops are 
among the groups calling for the repeal of laws against medical 
marijuana.  Legislators in 35 states, including California, have 
passed non-binding resolutions supporting its use. 
   From the '40s through the '60s, as science refined 
pharmaceutical drugs, the medical community began thinking of 
herbs and botanical treatments as old-fashioned.  But in the 
'70s, recreational users inadvertently discovered marijuana's 
value to modern medicine; researchers reported that cancer 
patients they had treated felt better after using the drug. 
   Robert Randall of the Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics has 
glaucoma.  In 1976, after a lawsuit and weeks of tests at the 
Jules Stein Eye Institute at UCLA, he became the first person in 
the United States to receive marijuana from the federal 
government.  By then he was nearly blind and the tests showed 
that only marijuana -- not any prescription drug -- would lower 
his eye pressure and save his sight.  The government, he says, 
had had that information since 1971. 
   "The prospect that an easily grown plant can ease human 
suffering should be a cause for celebration," he says.  "The 
problem is, we don't live in a sane society." 
   Randall says he smokes pot every day.  He still has limited 
   From 1978 to 1986, New Mexico health officials tested 
marijuana on cancer patients who were not helped by other anti-
nausea treatment; 90 percent reported improvement.  A study in 
New York showed that 78 percent of 56 cancer patients who didn't 
respond to other drugs felt better after smoking marijuana.  The 
study, published in 1988, also tested the synthetic THC:  One-
third of the patients who did not feel better using it did show 
improvement after smoking marijuana. 
   By 1991, the federal government, still denying marijuana's 
benefits, was shipping it to 12 people suffering from cancer 
nausea, glaucoma, chronic pain and muscle spasms associated with 
multiple sclerosis.  Randall encouraged people with AIDS to 
apply, as he had, for an application to use an unproven drug.  It 
was a program established by Jimmy Carter after Randall's case 
became public. 
   Meanwhile, doctors began accepting the use of medical 
marijuana.  A 1991 study by Rick Doblin, a Ph.D. candidate at 
Harvard's Kennedy School, found that 44 percent of the 1,000 
cancer specialists who responded to a nationwide survey have told 
patients that marijuana could relieve nausea.  More than half of 
the oncologists surveyed said it should be available by 
   Some doctors believe that not telling their patients is cruel. 
   "I have patients who say that it helps them, and I recommend 
it to patients," says Dr. Leff, 53, of Santa Cruz, who was 
Cincinnati's Drug and Alcohol Abuse director in the early 1970s.  
"[Recommending marijuana] is not unusual.  It's only a big deal 
to people with religious or moralistic views about the drug." 
   The FDA, swamped with thousands of unproven drug applications, 
had approved about two dozen more patients by late 1991.  But the 
Public Health Service under George Bush quietly stopped approving 
new participants and ended all marijuana research programs.  The 
patients already approved but still waiting for marijuana were 
out of luck.  Today the government provides marijuana to only 
eight of the original 12 patients. (The other four have died.) 
   "There was a sense, with so many people applying, that we 
wouldn't have enough marijuana to provide," said Rayford Kytle of 
the PHS, which grows a small crop in Mississippi. 
   The PHS supported the Bush administration decision by saying 
that smoking marijuana, like cigarettes, can cause lung cancer.  
The PHS further warned that smoking it can compromise immune 
systems already made fragile by AIDS or other diseases.  And 
being under the influence can cause anxiety. 
   Bill Clinton, who says he tried marijuana but didn't inhale, 
has upheld the ban.  His administration added a provision, 
however, that allows research into medical benefits. 
   Dr. Donald Abrams, assistant director of the AIDS project at 
San Francisco General Hospital, sought approval to study 
marijuana's effects on the wasting syndrome associated with AIDS.  
"The study would not only see whether it's effective, but whether 
it's harmful," Abrams says. 
W E S T / MAY 14, 1995 / 17 
   He hoped to study 40 people -- too few to settle the marijuana 
question but enough to determine whether more research is 
warranted.  He applied to the FDA, the DEA and a state agency 
that oversees California university research programs.  The state 
approved the study and the FDA signed off after insisting on 
numerous chances.  On April 15, 1994, Abrams crossed what he 
thought would be the final hurdle when he paid the DEA for a 
license to distribute a Schedule I drug.  The DEA cashed the 
check, but has yet to approve the research. 
   "Everything I hear is from unofficial channels," Abrams said.  
"They said they didn't trust my research, or they questioned my 
credibility.  Nobody can give me a direct answer on why this is 
taking so long." 
   A federal health official offered this reason: "It' s too 
volatile an issue with the anti-drug people.  It's a shame they 
can't distinguish between a small group of medically needy people 
and drug abusers." 
   Abrams' struggle has had an unfortunate side effect: It has 
discouraged others from applying. 
   "Political pressure has demoralized researchers," Doblin says.  
"It has made it hard to get money for research.  If Donald 
doesn't get permission, nobody is going to try." 
   Few issues besides abortion produce such distrust between 
camps.  Marijuana opponents say we can't say "no" to most drugs 
but "yes" to one.  They say there are enough medications on the 
market to provide relief.  Few politicians want to be viewed as 
being soft on drugs. 
   The marijuana proponents counter that the government policy is 
set by pharmaceutical manufacturers who stand to lose billions of 
dollars in anti-nausea drug sales to a plant they cannot patent.  
Proponents say medical professionals not bureaucrats, should 
decide health-care issues. 
   "They're probably right," says the federal health official, 
who asked for anonymity, "but until people convince their 
congressional representatives that the law needs to be changed, 
nothing will be done." 
   In 1988, after two years of public hearings, the DEA's own 
chief administrative law judge said the drug agency should 
rewrite its marijuana policy. 
   "It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for DEA to 
continue to stand between those sufferers and the benefit of this 
substance in light of the evidence of this record," Judge Francis 
L. Young said. 
MY FRIEND, who has never smoked a cigarette, didn't know how to 
inhale her marijuana.  We made a pipe by rolling aluminum foil 
into a tube, then bending one end up slightly.  We rolled some 
into joints. 
   After smoking a few puffs, or eating one of Corral's cookies, 
my friend had little nausea.  She could eat real food again. 
   In four weeks she regained her weight.  Her face was full, her 
cheeks pink.  Her eyes, which often seemed dull and half closed, 
were open and bright.  We drove home from the hospital without 
ever stopping again. 
   "If the government wants to find out whether marijuana can 
stop cancer patients and AIDS sufferers from throwing up and 
losing weight -- put them on a scale," Randall says. 
   Dorothy and Richard Haskell decided in March that breaking the 
law was preferable to watching Vicki suffer. 
   "We were always anti-drug," Dorothy says.  "It just wasn't the 
way we lived." 
   Vicki's pain medication had stopped working.  She couldn't 
sleep or keep food down.  The Haskells read about medical 
marijuana but didn't know where to find any until they read an 
article in which Imler was quoted. 
   When the Haskells stepped inside Imler's headquarters, they 
looked as if one more worry would break them.  From the parlor 
wafted the click of typewriter keys as Ed Frey, attorney and 
former D.A. candidate, worked in his office.  Imler gets free 
office space and a small salary to work as Frey's assistant.  The 
couple stammered nervously. 
   "Anyone who has ever had a child can tell you why we're here," 
Dorothy said.  "It breaks our hearts to see our daughter suffer." 
   "I just want her to be able to sleep, she's in so much pain," 
Richard said.  "It's our daughter, so as far as I'm concerned, 
I'm not doing anything illegal." 
   All day, Imler helps people like the Haskells, fields phone 
calls, teaches clients to grow pot for themselves, and solicits 
   "We have an uneasy accommodation with local law enforcement 
here," he says.  "They know we're here, but so far we've been 
   Politicians know the voters in Santa Cruz County believe sick 
people should be allowed marijuana if they want it.  And Santa 
Cruz police say they are aware that medical marijuana proponents 
are active in town, but they are too busy to investigate the 
   "We don't have enough personnel to enjoy the luxury of sitting 
around and wondering what they're doing," says deputy police 
chief Jeff Locke.  "But our feeling is still that it's against 
the law." 
   In March, Imler received a letter from Dr. Stephen Stein, 
medical director of the County of Santa Cruz Health Services 
Agency, asking him to provide marijuana to an AIDS patient. 
   "[The patient] reports using marijuana to treat symptoms of 
nausea and anorexia," Stein wrote.  "I have no objection to him 
using it for this purpose." 
   The local attitude makes District Attorney Art Danner wonder 
whether prosecuting a medical marijuana case would waste 
taxpayers money.  That's part of the reason he has declined to 
prosecute Valerie Corral both times sheriffs deputies arrested 
   A trial would cost thousands, and a loss would demoralize law 
   "Hers was a difficult case," he says.  "I don't think I could 
get a jury to convict her.  It's a difficult situation here.  On 
the one hand, we have a lot of terminally ill people using it.  
On the other hand, we don't want everyone with a headache to use 
   Danner, a member of the National Association of District 
Attorneys' Executive Committee, has asked the group to take up 
the issue at its annual convention in July. 
   "I suggested we take a good look at the research and see 
whether it should be moved from the legal to medical 
jurisdiction," Danner says.  "I got a lot of interest from other 
D.A.s whose constituents are talking to them about this issue.  
They were more interested than I thought they'd be." 
   About the time the district attorneys meet, members of 
Californians for Compassionate Use will begin collecting the 
signatures of 433,000 registered voters.  The drive is being 
conducted by Ken Masterton, a political consultant who qualified 
recent successful propositions protecting mountain lions and 
increasing the tobacco tax. 
THE HASKELLS were unaware of the various political movements when 
they visited Imler in March. 
   To them, marijuana was a last resort; a trip to the downtown 
head shop for a pipe too strange to consider. 
   "Uh, no, please, we can't go in there," Dorothy begged. 
continued on page 22 
continued from page 19 
   Imler gave them joints instead of a pipe.  Richard held the 
sealed envelope and folded it in half.  He searched his pockets 
for a paper clip and nervously affixed the halves together.  He 
put the package in his pocket and realized the group had been 
watching him fumble. 
   "Oh, I don't know what I'm doing," he said. 
   Before leaving for their own nerve-racked drive home, the 
Haskells gave Imler a $50 bill.  It is a huge donation for a 
shoestring operation dependent upon the kindness of strangers.  
Timing was good.  Donations of pot and money are off.  Imler's 
stash has been of such bad quality lately that even home health-
care nurses have called to complain. 
   Back in Salinas, Vicki, who has two high school-age sons, 
attempted to try the marijuana.  Stigma proved a powerful 
   "She didn't want to do it in front of her kids," Dorothy 
Haskell said.  "She's back in the hospital now, trying to get her 
pain medication  regulated.  I don't think she gave it a chance 
because she thought it was really wrong.  I even took a couple of 
puffs myself so she would think it was OK.  If your child is 
involved, you'll do anything." 
IN MID-APRIL Vicki Haskell turned worse.  After trying every pain 
medication prescribed by her doctor, she smoked the marijuana.  
After weeks of insomnia, she was able to sleep through the night.  
On April 12, Richard and Dorothy drove back to Santa Cruz to get 
   "Every time someone like that leaves, I say, Now I know why 
we're here," Imler says. 
   Dennis Peron reopened the buyers club a week after he closed 
it.  Martin Simmons was among the 1,500 first-day customers.  
Peron hopes drug agents won't show, and the DEA's Mike Herald 
declined to confirm whether Peron is being investigated.  If the 
DEA comes knocking, Peron threatens, agents will have to arrest 
all 4,000 members. 
   "Tell the jail to stock up on catheters and medical 
equipment," he says.  "The jail is going to be full of sick 
   Randall says the marijuana fight reminds him of the struggles 
of Galileo, the 16th-century astronomer.  Galileo saw craters on 
the moon, but the church replied the moon is perfect.  Look 
through the telescope, Galileo implored.  But the church said: 
No, it's an instrument of the devil. 
   "On the one hand, I'm more optimistic now than I've ever 
been," Randall says.  "AIDS patients have revitalized this 
movement around the world.  Still, bureaucrats resist, even under 
overwhelming evidence they are destroying people's lives." 
   And that, says Randall, is true reefer madness. 
   My friend recently learned that she is cancer-free for the 
first time in a decade.  Her doctor said part of the reason is 
that she kept on weight. 
   "You kept your strength up," he told her, "which allowed you 
to withstand the high doses.  I'm trying to determine what 
combination of chemicals may have caused that." 
   She hopes that someday she will find the courage to tell him. 
TRACIE CONE is a staff writer for West. 
Scott Imler has a toll-free number: (800) 355-0289.