Censoring Med Marijuana Information Helps No One

Censoring Med Marijuana Information Helps No One
Posted by CN Staff on March 13, 2006 at 12:23:28 PT
By Bruce Mirken
Source: Casper Star-Tribune 
Wyoming -- Recently, local news outlets have reported that Rawlins-area radio stations KIQZ-FM and KRAL-AM banned public service announcements dealing with medical marijuana from their airwaves after complaints from, among others, Rawlins Chief of Police Mike Reed. Censorship of information about medical marijuana helps no one.The three PSAs were produced by my organization, the Marijuana Policy Project. They do not advocate use of marijuana or any drug. 
They simply offer information, and present three individuals talking about personal experiences with medical marijuana: Talk show host Montel Williams, who suffers from multiple sclerosis; recent U.S. Supreme Court plaintiff Angel Raich, who suffers from a brain tumor and several other painful conditions; and novelist Tom Robbins, whose mother went blind from glaucoma.In one of the spots, Montel Williams tells listeners, "Like many of the 1 million people living with multiple sclerosis, I'm in pain every day. Sometimes my nerves are so raw that if you brush up against me in an elevator, I want to scream...."I've tried the strongest prescription painkillers available and they didn't help. In fact, they left me in a stupor. It was difficult to work and play with my kids."Desperate, I tried medical marijuana. It helped me when other drugs failed."This is reality. It's what we hear every day from patients all across America -- patients far less famous than Montel Williams. So just what was it that the police chief and two radio stations found so threatening?Chief Reed told one newspaper reporter, "this [marijuana] is a gateway drug into harder drugs." This is precisely the sort of misinformation that our PSAs were designed to clear up. As Williams so eloquently explains, medical marijuana often allows patients to reduce or eliminate their use of narcotics that are far more toxic and addictive than marijuana. And numerous independent scientists -- including the prestigious Institute of Medicine, in a White House-commissioned report -- have verified that there is no evidence that marijuana causes users to turn to hard drugs.The Associated Press story quotes Scott Freeman, an ad salesman for the stations, as saying, "it was not the practice of this station to promote that type of thing because it was illegal." Putting aside the oddness of an ad salesman speaking for the station about broadcast policies, Freeman's statement is puzzling.Does he really mean that his stations refuse to broadcast any discussion of whether a current law is right or wrong? That it's somehow wrong to ask whether our present laws make sense or need to be changed? How on earth would our democracy function if such questions can't be aired and discussed openly?In any case, he is clearly in a minority in the world of radio. Our PSAs have aired over 11,000 times on radio stations all over the country, from Washington, D.C. and Honolulu to Lubbock, Texas and Durango, Colorado.Freeman and Reed seem to regard medical marijuana as a fringe issue, but it's not. In November 2004, 62% of Montana voters endorsed that state's medical marijuana initiative, which is now law. A total of 11 states now protect medical marijuana patients from arrest and jail, and a November 2005 Gallup poll put national support for such measures at an astounding 78 percent.That support comes from the medical community as well as the general public. A long list of medical and public health organizations, including the American Public Health Association, the American Nurses Association, the American Academy of HIV Medicine and many others, have endorsed laws to permit medical use of marijuana under physician supervision.This is an important discussion. KIQZ-FM and KRAL-AM have done their listeners a disservice by banning it from their airwaves.Bruce Mirken is director of communications for the Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project: http://www.mpp.orgComplete Title: Censoring Medical Marijuana Information Helps No OneSource: Casper Star-Tribune (WY)Author: Bruce MirkenPublished: Monday, March 13, 2006Copyright: 2006 Casper Star-TribuneContact: letters casperstartribune.netWebsite: Medical Marijuana Archives
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Comment #3 posted by mayan on March 14, 2006 at 05:33:59 PT
What an ugly word. What an ignorant practice.
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Comment #2 posted by Sam Adams on March 13, 2006 at 13:40:38 PT
Glad to see that this newspaper ran the op-ed, thanks Bruce, it looks great. Hopefully Wyoming will soon join its northern neighbor on the med. MJ front.You know what my next thought was? Medical Marijuana needs its own "Brokeback Mountain". I wonder if any writer/directors can come up with a compelling story around medical cannabis use?The list of pro-MJ movies in general, like Leaving Providence, American Beauty, Slam, etc. is a mile long, but I can't think of any that have focussed on medical use. Or maybe a movie as good as Traffic, but focused solely on cannabis.
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Comment #1 posted by observer on March 13, 2006 at 13:19:05 PT
Dissent Silenced
Wyoming -- Recently, local news outlets have reported that Rawlins-area radio stations KIQZ-FM and KRAL-AM banned public service announcements dealing with medical marijuana...This is from my book, Drug War Propaganda
Dissenters Should be Silenced"When you consider drug use a victimless crime, you are part of the
-- Sgt. Scott Ryon, Washington County Sheriff's Office Hillsboro68The hated dissenters, those who would question the harshness and
severity of drug laws, are lying, say prohibitionists. Drug warriors tell
us such people should therefore be silenced. Their questions, their
words of dissent must not be allowed to contaminate others. Those who
question prohibitionists are "part of the problem."
When the subject is "drugs," increased police power must never be
questioned. Those who question laws must be stifled: "Posturing,
barrow-pushing civil libertarians with no solutions are part of the
problem and should get out of the way."69296Drug War PropagandaIt is not surprising that prohibitionists should seek to squelch dissent.
US government publications forthrightly state such is a standard
propaganda technique: "Another technique," states one manual, "is
excluding competition. In propagandizing their own people the Soviets
are careful to prevent their people from learning the other side of the
story."70 Prohibitionists are of similar mind.Those who disagree with government drug policy must be silenced.
Those who may question the jailing of users of this or that drug can
only have done so for "shameful reasons," thus a real "government antidrug
drive" must direct "the disgust of society against" those who
disagree with government.71A UN drug control board slammed the opinions of Australians: "In its
report, the INCB also said it was concerned [about] the large number of
people in favour of the legalisation of drugs in Australia."72 In other
words: instead of respecting the wishes of people to govern
accordingly, the UN instead prefers to thwart the wishes of the people,
should they conflict with government. The report did not address how
this situation squared with traditional ideas of democracy.A US Senator excoriated a state party chairman for questioning drug
laws as going over the line. "I don't think he should be chairman
anymore," snapped the senator. "He should step down."73 In other
words: drug reformers should be silent, or be silenced.One writer, angry that an editorial had questioned the appropriateness
of certain punishments for drug users, accused the editorialists of being
on drugs, and suggested they be silenced:
"I do not want to see any more editorials slanted toward going easy on
drug users. . . . There are laws against drugs, and your paper should not
be against those who are obeying the law in fighting drugs of any kind.
Is your work place 'drug free'?"74This is perhaps not too surprising. A common sentiment shared by
many Good Americans is that those who question government drug
policy should not be permitted to speak: "It is incomprehensible to me
that this individual has the audacity to write about any drug not being
potentially dangerous to our schools, let alone our society."75297Drug War Propaganda. . .In Oregon, radio stations that played hours of government messages
demonising drug users refused to run a short ad paid for by a couple
questioning government drug laws. "Portland's KUFO-FM . . . turned
them down. KUFO wasn't alone in such thinking. Jeff and Tracy, both
39, have also been turned down by Portland's KNRK-FM, KGON-FM,
KKRZ-FM, KKCW-FM and KEX-AM, and by stations in Seattle and
Bend."91 Attempts by the couple to advertise on buses and in local
papers were also turned down as 'unsuitable for publication.'Noted one attorney of the police harassment of one questioning
marijuana laws: "There's little question in my mind that Ms. Wolfe's
activism and outspoken approach to this issue focused attention on her .
. . I believe that these charges would not be pending but for her vocal
support for the reform of marijuana laws."92300
Drug War Propaganda
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