AL GORE: Backs Off Earlier Support of Medical Marijuana
Five months after suggesting that doctors should have the flexibility to prescribe marijuana for medicinal purposes, Vice President Al Gore has retreated from that position, voicing firmer opposition to use of the drug. In December, Gore deviated from White House policy against medical marijuana to relay the story of his sister's marijuana use during her lung cancer treatment, noting, "[I]f it had worked for her, I think she should have had the option." But he almost immediately backpedalled on that statement, telling reporters he was "opposed to anything that opens the door to legalization of marijuana," although "under certain limited circumstances and if the research validated that choice, it should be allowed." However, last Thursday, on the stump in California, Gore said, "Right now the science does not show me, or the experts whose judgement I trust, that it is the proper medication for pain and that there are not better alternatives available in every situation." But the New York Times reports that "there has been no new research in the intervening months to indicate that marijuana works better or worse than anyone thought in December"; in fact, the latest medical opinion issued by the Institute of Medicine panel in March 1999 concluded that "[m]arijuana's active components are potentially effective in treating pain, nausea, the anorexia of AIDS wasting and other symptoms, and should be tested rigorously." Cato Institute senior fellow Doug Bandow, who earlier praised Gore's position as "compassionate and sensible," said, "I think quite clearly he's retreated. It was an opportunity to move out there and take some new ground and indicate some greater sophistication, and voters appreciate that" (Seelye, New York Times, 5/17).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.