#244 National Columnist Rebuts Drug Czar Fantasies

Date: Tue, 28 May 2002
Subject: #244 National Columnist Rebuts Drug Czar Fantasies



DrugSense FOCUS Alert #244 May 28, 2002

Since his appointment to the unenviable job of being the nation’s
leading drug warrior this past December, John Walters has written
several opinion pieces which quite frankly have been a few cards short
of a full deck with regards to credibility and accuracy. From his
suggestion that American marijuana users support international
terrorism to the idea that they are major contributors to global
ecological destruction, Walters has not only come across as dishonest,
he has bordered on the hysterical.

Nowhere was this more obvious than his late April rant that was
published in the Washington Post and subsequently picked up on the
syndicate wire by a half dozen other newspapers. Here he gravely
intoned the dangers of ‘harmless marijuana’. He prefaced by noting
that for decades the American populace has snickered over
reefer-madness propaganda and then he proceeded to lay out a full
column’s worth of the same misleading information. This column was
nicely rebutted in each of the newspapers it ran in — both by letter
writers and also in a counterpoint column which ran in the St
Petersburg Times.

Now, three weeks after the fact, Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence
Page wrote his own rebuttal and utterly dismantled the key talking
points offered by Walters in his ill-advised piece. Page clearly shows
how Walters manufactures imaginary statistics regarding marijuana
potency levels. He also provides clear and honest examples of how the
voters in eight states and the District of Columbia have decisively
supported the legal access to medical marijuana within their own
borders. This was in direct contrast to the assertions by Walters that
such support constituted a ‘cynical campaign’ to covertly ‘legalize
drugs of all kinds’.

In short, Page’s column was as strong a refutation of a public policy
official’s dishonesty as we have seen at a national level in quite
some time. To date, we know of six newspapers that ran Page’s column.
Interestingly, the combined circulation of these six easily surpassed
the circulation of the six papers the Walters column was published in.
Thus far more Americans were exposed to the truthful rebuttal than to
the original misleading column by Walters.

Please consider writing letters to the papers which showed the courage
to run an opinion column that quite frankly states a federal official
of Walters’ stature is at best misleading the American public and at
worst is outright lying. Only in this way will these and other papers
have the future fortitude to run important and honest rebuttals of any
drug warring official’s opinions which may find their way into print
during the coming months.

Thanks for your effort and support.


It’s not what others do it’s what YOU do

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The Page column was originally printed in his hometown newspaper, The
Chicago Tribune. We also have five other newspapers that picked up the
column off the syndicate wire. Please consider sending a letter to
each one. If you do this via e-mail, please be sure to send individual
mailings, though your content may be the same for each letter. LTE
Editors do not like using letters which are CCd to more than one
outlet. If you reference the headline be sure to use the correct on
for each publication as they vary from one paper to another.

Drug Czar Pushes Marijuana Myths With Tax Money
URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v02/n988/a01.html
Pubdate: Wed, 22 May 2002
Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)
Contact: ctc-TribLetter@Tribune.com

Drug Czar Pushes Marijuana Myths With Tax Money
URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v02/n990/a02.html
Pubdate: Sun, 26 May 2002
Source: Dallas Morning News (TX)
Contact: letterstoeditor@dallasnews.com

Drug Czar Pushes Myths
URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v02/n987/a01.html
Pubdate: Sat, 25 May 2002
Source: Buffalo News (NY)
Contact: LetterToEditor@buffnews.com

‘Reefer Madness,’ The Sequel: The Drug Czar’s Odd Ideas
URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v02/n984/a07.html
Pubdate: Sat, 25 May 2002
Source: Sacramento Bee (CA)
Contact: opinion@sacbee.com

Drug Czar Perpetuates Pot Myths
URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v02/n981/a11.html
Pubdate: Sat, 25 May 2002
Source: Charlotte Observer (NC)
Contact: opinion@charlotteobserver.com

Pushing Drug Myths With Our Taxes
URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v02/n976/a07.html
Pubdate: Thu, 23 May 2002
Source: The Dominion Post (WV)
Contact: newsroom@dominionpost.com

What’s So Scary About Marijuana?
URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v02/n1002/a07.html
Pubdate: Tue, 28 May 2002
Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
Contact: letters@post-dispatch.com

Hysterical Pot Shots Discredit Drug Czar
URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v02/n1002/a08.html
Pubdate: Fri, 24 May 2002
Source: Baltimore Sun (MD)
Contact: letters@baltsun.com

by Clarence Page — Chicago Tribune

Our nation’s drug czar is annoyed.

If proponents have their way, the District of Columbia will vote later
this year to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes for the second
time. John P. Walters, director of the Office of National Drug Control
Policy, took some pot shots at the issue in a recent Washington Post
piece that has been reprinted across the country.

Unfortunately, he brings more smoke than light.

“After years of giggling at quaintly outdated marijuana scare stories
like the 1936 movie ‘Reefer Madness,”‘ he writes, “we’ve become almost
conditioned to think that any warning about the true dangers of
marijuana are overblown.”

He then proceeds with unintended irony to give an “overblown” warning
of his own about “The Myth of ‘Harmless’ Marijuana.”

He warns baby boomer parents that “today’s marijuana is different from
that of a generation ago, with potency levels 10 to 20 times stronger
than the marijuana with which they were familiar.”

He doesn’t say where he gets that whopper of a statistic and that’s
too bad, since it conflicts with a federally funded investigation of
marijuana samples confiscated by law enforcement over the past two

Published in the January, 2000, Journal of Forensic Science, that
study found the THC content (that’s the active ingredient that gets
you high) had only doubled to 4.2 percent from about 2 percent from
1980 to 1997.

Those are not undesirable potency levels when you are using it to
relieve illness.

Yes, marijuana is dangerous. So are cigarettes, liquor and
prescription drugs. The question that Walters fails to address is why
marijuana should be treated differently from those other drugs?

We allow adults to buy cigarettes and alcohol, even though both are
highly addictive and kill thousands every year.

Doctors treat the ill with numerous prescription drugs that are more
dangerous and addictive than marijuana. But they are not allowed to
treat the ill with marijuana, even though many wish they could.

Instead, thousands of Americans have become criminals by purchasing
marijuana rather than seeing their loved ones suffer.

Yet, Walters lambastes what he calls the “cynical campaign underway”
in the District of Columbia and elsewhere “to proclaim the virtues of
‘medical’ marijuana.”

In fact, those “cynical” campaigners include the American Public
Health Association, the New England Journal of Medicine and almost 80
other state and national health-care organizations that support legal
patient access to marijuana for medicinal treatment.

So far, eight states have legalized medical use of marijuana by ballot
initiative or legislation. District of Columbia voters also passed a
referendum in 1998, but it has been blocked by Congress. Where
referendums have been held, they have passed. But, alas, Walters is
following in the path of past drug czars who feel they know what’s
better for voters than the voters themselves do.

Walters dismisses those initiatives as “based on pseudo-science.”
Maybe he did not read the 1999 report by the Institute of Medicine, a
branch of the National Academy of Sciences. It confirmed the
effectiveness of marijuana’s active components in treating pain,
nausea and the anorexic-wasting syndrome associated with AIDS.

Walters says we should wait for more information. He praises a study
now under way at the University of California’s Center for Medicinal
Cannabis Research. But, if that study doesn’t come out the way Walters
would like, you have to wonder, will he ignore that one, too?

“By now most Americans realize that the push to ‘normalize’ marijuana
for medical use is part of the drug legalization agenda,” he says,
mentioning financier George Soros and others who have contributed to
the legalization cause. Walters does not mention the billions of tax
dollars that he, as drug czar, has at his disposal to push marijuana
myths – with our tax money!

Instead, Walters arouses our passions by recounting the lawlessness of
violent marijuana-dealing street gangs in the District. If anything, pot
gangs offer us another good reason to legalize marijuana. After all, when a
drug is outlawed, only outlaws will have the drug.


To the Editors:

Thank you for publishing Clarence Page’s outstanding OPED: “DRUG CZAR
PUSHES MYTHS” (Sat, 25 May 2002).

I agree with Drug Czar John P. Walters’ assertion that many of those
that support the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes have
an agenda beyond just the legalization of marijuana for medicine.

I proudly count myself as having such an agenda.

Those who opposed slavery had an agenda, as did those who opposed the
mass murder of Jews and other minorities in Germany. And those who
opposed racial segregation, obviously had an agenda.

Those who opposed alcohol prohibition because it was counter-
productive and caused much more harm than it prevented obviously had
an agenda.

And yes, we who oppose recreational drug prohibition because it is
counterproductive and is causing much more harm than it prevents,
proudly have an agenda.

Best regards,

Kirk Muse

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Prepared by Stephen Heath http://www.flcan.org Focus Alert Specialist