Medical Marijuana: Invited By "Pro-Family Group," Drug Czar's Chief Scientist Testifies at Tennessee House Hearing

A Tennessee House committee considering a medical marijuana bill heard from a number of witnesses, many of them hostile, including Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) chief scientist Dr. David Murray, at a hearing this week. Much of the opposition was organized by a "pro-family" Christian organization normally worried about issues such as gay adoption and subtle anti-Christian messages in movies. Reformers were present too, among them Marijuana Policy Project legislative analyst Nathan Miller and Maury County epidemiologist and substance abuse researcher Bernie Ellis, himself a medical marijuana patient.

The hearing came Tuesday before the House Health and Human Services Committee on House Bill 486, sponsored by Rep. Sherry Jones (D-Nashville). The bill would create a state identity card and registry system for terminally ill patients only. But even that was too much for drug war bureaucrats and moral crusaders.

According to a report in The Chattanoogan, Murray, New York anti-drug crusader Steven Steiner, and Nashville oncologist Dr. Kent Shih, who all testified against the bill, all appeared thanks to the efforts of the Family Action Council of Tennessee. Headed by former state Sen. David Fowler, the council says it promotes "the culture that values the traditional family, for the sake of the common good" and is generally concerned with opposing reproductive rights, restricting adult-oriented businesses, and fighting homosexuality.

"We appreciate the willingness of these individuals to come, at their own expense, to educate the committee members about what is really at stake in the debate over 'medical marijuana,'" said Fowler. "Having seen my own mother suffer and die from cancer, I know how much we all desire to see relief for those we love. But we cannot allow the compassion of the average American to overcome good science and good medicine. Nor can we allow that compassion to be manipulated by those who have, as their ultimate agenda, the legalization of marijuana and even other drugs."

Worse yet, Fowler said, the bill "would inevitably lead to increased public consumption of marijuana and make a mockery of our criminal drug laws. What has been observed in other states is that marijuana distribution becomes uncontrollable in society at large even when it is restricted to 'medicinal uses.' With an individual able to produce up to 13,000 joints per year under this bill, it is naïve to think that those joints won't wind up in the wrong hands."

Fowler also cited California's wide-open medical marijuana scene to suggest the Tennessee bill would make enforcement of the criminal law regarding marijuana impracticable. "In North Hollywood, there are now more medical pot clubs than there are Starbucks. In fact, the co-founder of the California medical pot referendum has now said that most of the medical pot dispensaries in California are 'little more than dope dealers with storefronts,'" he added, citing the infamous words of Scott Imler.

Miller told committee members 12 states have medical marijuana laws and there was no evidence they "send the wrong message" to young people. In 11 of those states, Miller pointed out, teen marijuana use had declined.

Ellis, who suffers from degenerative joint disease and fibromyalgia, and who was convicted on federal drug charges for growing medical marijuana for himself and providing it for free to four terminal patients, said that marijuana was once a significant medicine before it was banned 70 years ago. He read testimonials from cancer and AIDS patients who said marijuana helped eased their suffering. "We would not be here urging you to make medical marijuana legal again in the state if it were not safe and effective," Ellis said.

ONDCP's Murray told lawmakers they should not do an end run around the Food & Drug Administration. "My concern is we're doing more harm than good with these measures," he said.

Dr. Shih, who practices in Nashville, told the committee that marijuana is "impractical" and that other legal medications are as effective. "I believe there are safer drugs," he said.

William Benson, assistant director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, also testified. He said the bill could present complications for law enforcement because Tennessee is a leading producer of marijuana.

Rep. Jones, for her part, went after Fowler's characterization of her bill as a stalking horse for legalization. "This is not about making marijuana legal across the state. This is strictly for medical reasons, only to help people feel better," Jones said. "Any suggestion that there might be something hidden in the legislation is absurd."

Former Sen. Steve Cohen (D-Memphis), now a member of the US House of Representatives, tried with no luck to get a medical marijuana bill through in years past. Jones' bill is unlikely to go anywhere this year, although she said she was open to changes that could make it more politically palatable next year. Given the mobilization of the "pro-family" groups and the participation of the drug czar's office, it will be an uphill battle in the Volunteer State. The drug czar has lost before, though, so stay tuned.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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What's that, again?

"We appreciate the willingness of these individuals to come, at their own expense, to educate the committee members about what is really at stake in the debate over 'medical marijuana,'" said Fowler. (Emphasis mine.)

So, did Mr. Murray use his own money to go there, or was he, as usual, on the taxpayer's dime and time, jetting hither and yon as the ONDCP has been doing for years, interfering in State politics and violating the Hatch Act in the process? Why haven't we heard anything about Rep. Henry Waxman's charges of exactly that taking place? Allowing this practice to continue is to ram a poison pill down democracy's throat, and it needs to be stopped immediately.

What the...?

Why on earth is DRCNet largely repeating an unbelievably biased report from a tiny Tennessee news outlet that completely ignores the extensive and articulate testimony of several witnesses in support of medical marijuana, including researchers, patients and others? AP managed to report a bit of what the supports said, but DRCNet couldn't? Hello????

Having griped before...

... Let me commend DRCNet for amending this article to include appropriate mention of the pro-medical marijuana speakers. Many thanks, really. The mainstream media coverage of the hearing, though considerable, ranged from barely adequate to truly wretched.

DB1and DB2 Receptor Sites found in Murray & Walters

Even more spectacular than the CB1 and CB2 marijuana receptor sites found in the human body, are the DB1 and DB2 (Dollar-bill 1 and Dollar-bill 2 receptor sites) found in medical marijuana prohibitionists like Murray, Walters, Bush, etc.....

Evidently, these DB1 and DB2 sites are helping real scientists to understand why fake scientists, like Murray and Walters, pathologically turn their back on science to embrace the all-mighty dollar bill.

Scientists are now working on ways to block the money-magnets DB1 and DB2, in an effort to help those "victimized" by DB1 and DB2 (an usual percentage of politicians, especially Republicans, seem to present this pathology).

Hopefully -- for the sick and the dying throughout our country who are not responding to the normal medication regimen -- scientists will soon help these men afflicted by insanity from their over-working DB1 and DB2 sites.

Emotion vs. Fact

Murray and Walters will go anywhere and everywhere people use their emotions vs. Science to decide science and medicine (medical marijuana).

Murray depends and preys on his audiences' ignorance about marijuana's science and history to further his warped political agenda.

But people EVERYWHERE (even in small towns in the South) are catching on to the fact that Murray's political agenda is a threat to real medicine/science and a deadly threat to our sick and dying.

A Stern

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