NewsBriefs BUTTONS

Clinton Administration Sticks With Bush Policy; Won't Return to Ford-Carter-Reagan Policy


August 1994

In a letter to Members of Congress, the Clinton administration has rejected pleas to re-open a limited experimental program that permits marijuana to be used as a medical treatment (Dennis Cauchon, "No Support For Medical Marijuana," USA Today, July 19, 1994, 3A). In the letter, Public Health Service Chief Philip Lee said that the scientific evidence does not indicate that marijuana is beneficial as a treatment for glaucoma, or for nausea caused by AIDS or cancer treatment.

In response to this refusal, Harvard Medical School professor Lester Grinspoon said that the reason that there is only anecdotal evidence of marijuana's usefulness is that "the government has prevented the scientific studies for years." He believes that the government should fund a serious investigation into the use of marijuana as a medical treatment. Dr. Grinspoon is the co-author with James Bakalar of Marihuana, The Forbidden Medicine (Yale University Press, 1993).

"The AIDS epidemic is too serious to keep playing politics with people's lives," said Dennis Peron, whose partner died of AIDS. "If the drug had any other name than marijuana it would be widely available." Peron is president of Americans for Compassionate Use (3745 17th Street, San Francisco, CA, 94114).

"Common sense tells me that smoking marijuana will never be shown to be a safe and effective drug," Janet Lapey, a physician and head of Concerned Citizens for Drug Prevention, Inc. (P.O. Box 2078, Hanover, MA, 02339, 617-826-5598), said.

According to the article, the government allowed about 40 people to use marijuana for medical reasons from 1978 to 1992. The Bush administration stopped admitting new patients to this program after a dramatic increase in requests from AIDS patients. [Note: The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) says that no more than 17 people participated in the compassionate use program at its height, with only about 8 people now covered under the program. -- Editor.]