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... a weekly service for the media on news items related to Marijuana Prohibition.

June 22, 1995

JAMA, The Journal of the American Medical Association Prints Article By NORML Board Chairman Calling For Medical Access To Marijuana

        Medical doctors should be legally permitted to prescribe marijuana for their patients according to a commentary in the June 21 issue of the internationally respected Journal of the American Medical Association.  The article is written by NORML Board Chairman, Lester Grinspoon, MD of Harvard Medical School and James B. Bakalar, also of Harvard, and does not reflect the official position of the AMA.  However, it was printed after months of review by the JAMA editorial board.  The two page commentary gives a brief history of the thousands of years of medical use of cannabis, including the first part of this century in America.
        Grinspoon and Bakalar argue that cannabis is much safer than most of the drugs regularly prescribed by physicians (a lethal overdose is virtually impossible) and that it is currently being used, albeit illegally, by many thousands of people who have found that no legally available pharmaceuticals work as well.  (Eight Americans receive free marijuana from the federal government under a program closed to new patients in 1992.)
        The authors point out that in 1988 the Drug Enforcement Administration's own chief administrative law judge, the late Francis L. Young, called cannabis "one of the safest therapeutic agents known to man."  He added that it met the legal requirement of currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.  Young then ordered that cannabis be transferred from Schedule I to Schedule II, so that, as with morphine and cocaine, it could be prescribed by a doctor.  Regrettably, the politically appointed head of the DEA rejected this order and continued the DEA's policy of blocking medical research with cannabis while claiming that there is no medical research to support its use.
        The commentary goes on to remind physicians that the AMA originally opposed the federal Marihuana Tax Act in 1937 (passed after testimony falsely claiming that cannabis caused violent crimes), because it would interfere with cannabis' medical use.  Grinspoon and Bakalar conclude by saying that they are "not asking readers for immediate agreement" that cannabis is medically useful, but rather, they hope that physicians "will do more to encourage open and legal exploration of its potential.  The ostensible indifference of physicians should no longer be used as a justification for keeping this medicine in the shadows."
        It remains to be seen if the extensive media coverage of the JAMA commentary will lead to more attention to the book, Marihuana, the Forbidden Medicine, (Yale University Press) by Grinspoon and Bakalar.  This book, published in 1993 and now available in paperback, has been printed in Germany and France and will soon be published in Italy.  Nonetheless, it has not been reviewed by a single major newspaper or magazine in the United States.  This blackout persists even though it has been favorably reviewed by the JAMA, the New England Journal of Medicine, and even by the conservative National Review.
        In the meantime, the American mass media continue to give over $800,000 per day in free advertising to the so-called Partnership for a Drug-Free (sic) America, founded by the former CEO of a major pharmaceutical company.  The Partnership opposes medical access to cannabis as a part of its campaigning for the arrest of sick, dying and disabled Americans who use cannabis rather than the pharmaceuticals, and the alcohol and tobacco sold by its funders.  How much longer will American physicians be comfortable supporting the arrest of their patients in company with the pushers of drugs that kill 500,000 Americans annually?

        [For more information on the medical uses of marijuana contact NORML, Allen St. Pierre, (202) 483-5500.]

The Story Of Jimmy Montgomery And Other American Victims Of Cannabis Prohibition Told At London Human Rights Conference

        June 17, London, U.K.:  The violation of the basic human rights of American cannabis users was the subject of a panel discussion at the London Human Rights Conference organized by Liberty, a British rights advocacy group.  For the first time, cannabis users were recognized along with more familiar victims of government oppression.  Richard Cowan, NORML's National Director spoke on the human rights violations committed against marijuana users in America.  Cowan told the conference about the shooting of Scott Bryant and other suspected marijuana users.

        Conference attendees were especially shaken by the plight of Jimmy Montgomery, the paraplegic sentenced to 10 years in Oklahoma prison for less than two ounces of marijuana.  Montgomery remains in prison despite hundreds of calls from around the world to the Oklahoma governor's office by readers of NORML's weekly faxes.

        It is believed that Montgomery may be released soon -- not because his arrest was unjust or that his sentence was outrageous or because his life is in danger -- but simply because Oklahoma prisons are so overcrowded that they must release someone.  While Montgomery's release, for whatever reason, will be welcomed, the fact that the narcocracy can get away with such an outrageous injustice, unreported by the American media, clearly demonstrates that they can effectively get away with anything.

Walter Cronkite Calls For Bipartisan Commission To Study Alternatives To Drug War

        June 20:  On the Discovery Channel Special, "The Cronkite Report: The Drug Dilemma" Walter Cronkite [former CBS news anchorman and regarded internationally as one of the most trusted figures in America---ed.] called the drug war a failure.  Cronkite called for a bipartisan commission to study the alternatives to prohibition.  He concluded by saying "We cannot go into tomorrow with the same formulas that are failing today."  ["And that's the way it is."---ed.]

Counting Down: The Ten Millionth Marijuana Arrest Will Take Place On July 20, The Last Day Of A NIDA Anti-Marijuana Propaganda Fest

        Based on projections from the U.S. Justice Department arrest statistics, NORML has calculated that the ten millionth marijuana arrest will take place on July 20.  While there is obviously no way of knowing the precise date of such an event, the July date is a far more reasonable estimate than most made in Washington.  This particular date was chosen to emphasize the role that government sponsored hate propaganda, especially the politicized pseudo-science put out by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) plays in maintaining marijuana prohibition.

        On July 19 and 20, NIDA is holding a "National Conference on Marijuana Use: Prevention, Treatment, and Research."  The reference to research is particularly ironic given NIDA's role in blocking research on the medical uses of marijuana.  According to NIDA, the conference is a part of their "Marijuana Prevention Initiative."  This is aimed at getting the media to carry more propaganda to support the next ten million arrests.  NORML will be responding to what will undoubtedly be billed as "the latest research" on marijuana.  This will probably include statements on how pot is far more potent than it was in the past, even though NIDA's own numbers show no increase in over ten years.
        In the weeks ahead, NORML will be attempting to get the media to report the astronomical arrest statistics. These numbers and the politicization of science in service to prohibition will be the only real stories.  The ten millionth arrest will be a human tragedy.  If it is ignored, it will be a national disgrace.

        [For more information about the ten millionth arrest contact this office -- or your attorney, if you're the one!]