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Waiting To Inhale

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California -- Yvonne Westbrook of Oakland uses medical marijuana to control the spasms of multiple sclerosis. Valium left her with a heavy, drugged feeling. "A few tokes and the spasticity calms right down," she noted in the documentary "Waiting to Inhale," which will be shown at the Oakland International Film Festival on Thursday.
Irvin Rosenfeld sees marijuana as "a muscle relaxing anti-inflammatory" that helps him with multiple congenital cartilaginous exostosis. Without it, he explains, he would be dead or on disability, not a stockbroker who pays taxes.

Berkeley's Jed Riffe, who made the documentary, also taped a debate in Washington, D.C., last week on medical marijuana. David Murray from the White House drug czar's office spoke against legalization of marijuana, while two drug-war opponents, Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, and Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, spoke in its favor.

Murray was not exactly in an enviable position. A former colleague had canceled last minute. So there he was, taking an unpopular position alone, debating two opponents and a moderator sympathetic to legalization, columnist Clarence Page, as well as an audience filled with people who -- I'm guessing here -- either just want to smoke pot to get high or (worse for Murray) have a sick loved one such as Westbrook or Rosenfeld.

(Riffe tells me he issued tickets to both sides so the audience would be balanced, but apparently the pro-medical marijuana crowd was more motivated.)

Murray argued that doctors are not "the principal proponent" of pushing "smoked marijuana as medicine." True, the American Medical Association isn't pushing for medical marijuana. But the California Medical Association has supported medical marijuana. More important, doctors across the country have recommended marijuana to patients -- at the risk of their own careers.



Newshawk: Mayan
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Author: Debra J. Saunders, Chronicle Staff Writer
Published: Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - Page B - 7
Copyright: 2006 Hearst Communications Inc.
 

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