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OCTOBER 8, 2003
10:33 AM
CONTACT:  Marijuana Policy Project
Bruce Mirken 415-668-6403
Patients, Doctors Protest Drug Czar's "Disinformation Summit"
BOSTON, MA - October 8 - A broad coalition of medical marijuana patients, caregivers, physicians, and activists protested misinformation dispensed at today's Summit of New England Governors staged by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Gathering for a press conference outside Boston's Faneuil Hall and bolstered by messages of support from around the country, the patients and activists called for an honest discussion of medical marijuana.

"We tried in good faith to get the real experts on marijuana's medical benefits included on today's medical marijuana panel, but we were rebuffed," said Neal Levine, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C. "Given Drug Czar John Walters' history of misrepresentation of the scientific facts, it quickly became apparent that they were staging a disinformation summit."

Patients Linda Macia and Ken Trainer, both of whom have obtained relief from painful, debilitating conditions by using medical marijuana, spoke about their experiences. "Marijuana gives me an appetite, controls my tremors, and lets me sleep at night," said Trainer, a 54-year-old resident of Kingston, Massachusetts, who is confined to a wheelchair by the effects of multiple sclerosis.

Although unable to attend the press conference, neurologist Joseph McSherry, M.D., of the Fletcher Allen Medical Center in Burlington, Vermont -- who served on the medical marijuana study committee created last year by the Vermont legislature -- sent the following statement:

As the state-authorized commission, which I served on, unanimously concluded: "There is medical value in using marijuana to ameliorate some symptoms associated with severe illnesses and the treatment thereof. ... Marijuana is misclassified by the federal government as a Schedule I drug and should be reclassified to permit physicians to prescribe and pharmacies to dispense medical marijuana." To continue to ban its use by seriously ill patients is cruel and pointless. And if the drug czar really believes in his views, he shouldn't be afraid to include those who disagree.


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