The House of Representatives has voted 268-148 to continue letting the federal government prosecute the use of marijuana as a supposed treatment or cure for various diseases. Marijuana, a substance linked in scientific studies to mental illness, has been touted by the pro-drug legalization lobby as having benefits for cancer, MS and AIDS patients. This vote demonstrated that most members of the House don’t believe in those stories about “medical marijuana.”
The case for so-called medical marijuana can be an emotional and persuasive one. Montel Williams appeared on the O’Reilly Factor to claim that marijuana helped his multiple sclerosis. When Bill O’Reilly asked whether he had ever used the synthetic version of the THC in marijuana, Marinol, Williams said he hadn’t. O’Reilly didn’t press the point and in a program a day later said he thought marijuana should be available for people like Williams, despite an official of the White House Office of Drug Control Policy telling O’Reilly that it was “snake oil.” She said no credible expert believes that medicine can be smoked in the form of a cigarette. Williams is said to have been a marijuana user long before he was diagnosed with MS.
The exchange demonstrates that the war on drugs continues to be an issue. Press acceptance of the misleading arguments in favor of “medical marijuana” may help explain why journalists have failed to press or expose John Kerry for his own pro-drug views. Kerry favors medical marijuana and says that, as a prosecutor, he didn’t go after marijuana offenders, in a policy amounting to decriminalization. He believes that people can be “responsible” marijuana users.
When Kerry was caught at a campaign event pretending to smoke a marijuana cigarette, reporters such as Ceci Connolly of the Washington Post downplayed the incident, saying Kerry was just having fun. The incident occurred when Kerry was campaigning with Peter Yarrow of the singing group Peter, Paul & Mary. Yarrow started singing, “Puff the Magic Dragon” and Kerry brought his fingers to his lips as if he were “toking” a marijuana “joint.”
Joyce Nalepka, president of the anti-drug group, Drug-Free Kids: America’s Challenge, says she is worried about Kerry’s position but is even more alarmed by the activities of his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, some of whose fortune has gone into the coffers of pro-drug groups. These include the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML. Nalepka says the Heinz money is funneled through the Tides Center. NORML received $68,000.
Responding to claims that the Heinz money is provided to Tides and that Tides then decides what to do with it, Nalepka said, “I wouldn’t buy that for a second.” She says millions of dollars in Heinz money have been provided to Tides, which turns around and funds the pro-drug lobby, and that Heinz officials know exactly where the money is going. ” Nalepka says, “Teresa Heinz Kerry cannot disconnect herself from it.” She fears that a Kerry administration would radically change America’s national anti-drug policy.