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Drug Czar Contradicts Himself,
Stalls on Medical Marijuana

January 8, 1997

McCaffrey Orders Medical Marijuana Research Review, No New Studies -- Progress or Stalling Tactic?

SANTA MONICA, January 8 - Drug czar Barry McCaffrey has announced that the federal government will spend $1 million for the respected National Academy of Science's Institute of Medicine to conduct a review of existing research on the medical benefits of marijuana. The review will begin soon and conclude in about 18 months.

Advocates of California's medical marijuana law, Proposition 215, welcomed the move but said it is not likely to prove as valuable as the approval or funding of new research on the drug's therapeutic uses.

"We welcome General McCaffrey's new openness to the evidence that marijuana is medically beneficial for some patients," said spokesman Dave Fratello. "We note, however, that this represents a significant shift in the drug czar's posture. McCaffrey has repeatedly claimed that there is no evidence to support marijuana's medical use. Such talk was politically expedient, but willfully ignorant of the dozens of studies that have been done on medical marijuana."


Fratello said, "This new research initiative represents the first evidence that drug czar McCaffrey and the Clinton administration understand what the voters of California were supporting when they approved Prop. 215. In that sense, it is a victory by and for California voters."

"But the announcement falls far short of a real commitment to research on medical marijuana," Fratello added. "To date, not a single study of marijuana's value for AIDS patients has been permitted -- instead, such research has been blocked."

"The question this move poses is: Will the new review of existing evidence be used to justify blocking future moves forward in research on and access to medical marijuana? Only time will tell. What's certain is that the Clinton administration has yet to display good faith on the question of medical marijuana."

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