Thursday, December 29, 2005

Open Letter to Denver Post

Regarding the editorial, "Marijuana Push is for All the Wrong Reasons"...

Denver Post editors refer derisively to the majority of voters in the city as "the group that passed Denver's pot initiative last month". The editors dismiss the "phony" public safety arguments of Initiative 100 backers. Are they unaware that our nation has tens of thousands of convicted child molesters and rapists who received either no jail time for their violent crimes, or lighter sentences than marijuana "offenders"?

Denver Post editors claim they would place credence in studies conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. However, since 1978, NIDA has cultivated and distributed marijuana to several patients with conditions including Multiple Sclerosis, Nail Patella Syndrome, bone tumors, and glaucoma (http://www.drugabuse.gov/about/organization/nacda/marijuanastatement.html). Yet in 28 years of the program's existence, NIDA has not performed a single clinical or empirical research study on the patients receiving the federal marijuana. This is in spite of the fact that all of the federal patients' doctors have repeatedly noted a significant relief of symptoms with few side effects when compared with pharmaceutical alternatives. NIDA refuses to approve any study designed to determine benefits from marijuana, only funding studies intended to find harm (see my book written with one of the federal patients, Prescription Pot). Since NIDA has repeatedly politicized science, why would Denver Post editors expect accurate information from them?

Perhaps the editors should rely less on the government prohibitionists for their "facts". Maybe they would be interested to know that in 2004, in Lisbon, Portugal, home of the Euro Soccer Tournament between the UK and France, the city police allowed marijuana to be possessed and used in the arena, while posting alcohol breathalyzers at the front gates, to turn away drunks (http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v04/n880/a08.html?262823). For the first time ever, there was not a single fight or arrest at this event. The city of Lisbon, however, made hundreds of arrests during the tournament, all down in the bar districts where the rejected drunks went to watch the game. Additionally, most police officers on the street will attest that the majority of assaults, sexual, domestic and otherwise, involve alcohol, not marijuana.

Of course this is anecdotal evidence of marijuana's calming effects as opposed to alcohol's tendency to make people violent. But this anecdote is backed up with science. Studies have repeatedly shown that marijuana does not stimulate the aggression centers of the brain (alcohol does).

The majority of Denver voters who supported Initiative 100 deserve respect and fair coverage, not insults and condescension.


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