The War on Medical Marijuana
by Paul Krassner
Anthropologists of the future will look back upon these times as incredibly barbaric. One such example is medical marijuana, which is already legal in a dozen states, yet prohibited–and trumped–by federal law.
New York and Connectictut are next in line. The New York Times recently editorialized, “Although there are other prescriptions that are designed to relieve pain and nausea and there is concern about the health effects of smoking marijuana, there are some truly ill people who find peace only that way.”
Those “other prescriptions” are aided by the pharmaceutical industry, which spent a record-breaking $155-million to lobby the government from 2005 to mid-2006. As for “concern about the health effects of smoking marijuana,” it was reported at the 2005 meeting of the International Cannabinoid Research Society that smoking marijuana–“even heavy long-term use”–does not cause cancer of the lung, upper airwaves or esophagus.
Syndicated columnist Clarence Page–referring to WAMM, the Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana–has written about the DEA raiding “a legitimate health co-operative that was treating more than 200 patients, some of them terminally ill, in Santa Cruz [California]. Snatching medicine out of the hands of seriously ill patients sounds like terrorism to me. In this case it was federally sponsored and taxpayer-financed.”
Founded by Valerie and Mike Corral, WAMM has been helping people dying of cancer and AIDS for 14 years. Learning that such patients could not afford the high cost of marijuana, WAMM established a communal garden where medicine is grown for patients who have a doctor’s recommendation; they may take what they need and give what they can, even if that is nothing.
The late Robert Anton Wilson, prolific countercultural author, told me, “I never thought I would become another WAMM patient. My post-polio syndrome had been a minor nuisance until then. Suddenly, two years ago, it flared up into blazing pain. My doctor recommended marijuana and named WAMM as the safest and most legal source. By then I think I was on the edge of suicide–the pain had become like a permanent abcessed tooth in the leg. Nobody can or should endure that.”
After the DEA raided WAMM’s garden and arrested its founders, outraged Santa Cruz city and county officials actually sponsored WAMM’s medical marijuana give-away on the steps of City Hall, and joined WAMM’s lawsuit against the DEA, the U.S. Attorney General and the Office of National Drug Control Policy. WAMM is considered the most likely organization to ultimately sway the Supreme Court. According to Federal Judge Jeremy Fogel, “WAMM is the gold standard of the medical marijuana movement.”
Meanwhile, WAMM is in desperate financial straits. If you can contribute to their cause, check out their fundraising site http://www.wamm.org/helpwamm.htm. Although it would be a blessing to be funded by a MacArthur grant or philanthropist George Soros, Valerie points out that, “If those of us who believe in the alternative WAMM offers unite, we can keep the vision alive. If each of us contributes as little as $5 a month, we can move political history. That’s one trip to Starbucks, and less than a movie.”
States’ rights…it’s not just for racists any more.
Paul Krassner compiled and edited Pot Stories For the Soul, available at paulkrassner.com.