MEDICAL MARIJUANA: DRUG CZAR SAYS DOCS WOULD BE PROSECUTED
White House Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey said Monday that theThis is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
federal government would prosecute doctors in California and
Arizona "who recommend the use of marijuana," if those states
legalize the practice through ballot initiatives. When asked
during a taping of Court TV's "Washington Watch" if he would
enforce federal laws regarding marijuana possession and
distribution, McCaffrey said, "Without question. A physician who
tries to prescribe a Schedule 1 drug, with or without these
referendums in California and Arizona, is subject to prosecution
under federal law -- and we will uphold the law." The show will
ari Friday (Bailey, LOS ANGELES TIMES, 10/30). Arizona's
Proposition 200 "would allow doctors to prescribe marijuana,
heroin and some other illegal drugs to seriously ill patients."
California's Proposition 215 would legalize "the cultivation,
possession and use of marijuana for medical purposes and provide
that doctors who recommend marijuana to patients are not subject
to punishment" (AP/MIAMI HERALD, 10/30).
SUPPORT FOR BOTH SIDES: In a statement released today,
McCaffrey criticized the initiatives for sending children the
message that "marijuana is medicine." McCaffrey added that the
California "initiative is actually a 'stalking horse for
legislation' because it does not specify that a doctor's
prescription be written." He continued, "We should ask ourselves
whether we really want Cheech and Chong logic to guide our
thinking about medicine" (Goldberg, NEW YORK TIMES, 10/30). In a
letter released yesterday by McCaffrey, former Presidents George
Bush (R), Jimmy Carter (D) and Gerald Ford (R) "urg[ed] a vote
against" the two measures. The former chief executives said the
measures send the "erroneous message that dangerous and addictive
drugs such as heroin, LSD, marijuana and methamphetamine are
safe." Dave Fratello, a spokesperson for "the pro-215 campaign,"
said of McCaffrey's comments, "We think that statement was just
vicious. That the feds are talking about going after doctors who
are simply trying to take care of patients with an alternative
they think works, that's exactly the climate of illegality that
made 215 necessary" (LOS ANGELES TIMES, 10/30).
PAIN RELIEF: In the battle over California's Proposition
215, "polls show voters leaning away from politicians' dire
warnings and toward" supporting the initiative. NEW YORK TIMES
reports that three recent polls in California "show a majority"
siding with supporters of Proposition 215, where support ranged
from 56% to 58% and opposition "never topped 36%." NEW YORK
TIMES notes that "public support for Proposition 215 highlights a
shift in public opinion: even the initiative's foes acknowledge
that people side ever more decisively with the idea that
seriously ill patients should have access to anything that will
ease their suffering" (10/30).