Medical marijuana support is not just liberals’ province

I was surprised to read in the profile of Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif. (“The aging surfer,” Oct. 25), that his support for allowing medical use of marijuana is a sign that he “isn’t conservative on all issues.” The notion that medical marijuana is some sort of liberal/left-wing issue is a commonly held misconception, but a misconception nonetheless.

Over the years, conservatives and Republicans have been some of the strongest supporters of efforts to change the unscientific laws that threaten medical marijuana patients with arrest — including, to name a few, William F. Buckley Jr., Milton Friedman and Lyn Nofziger (who, like Rohrabacher, worked for Ronald Reagan). In California, both Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and state Sen. Tom McClintock, the Republican who ran to Schwarzenegger’s right in the 2003 recall election, expressed strong support for the state’s medical marijuana law.

Scientific facts are nonpartisan. Marijuana’s medical uses have been recorded in the medical literature for 5,000 years and recognized in hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific publications and independent analyses by scientific and governmental bodies all over the world. Republican voters understand this, even if some Republican politicians and political journalists do not.

Case in point: In 2004, President Bush carried Montana — a red state if there ever was one — with 59 percent of the vote, while the medical marijuana initiative on the same ballot got 62 percent of the vote. There is no constituency in this country for arresting sick and dying patients for using a medicine whose safety and efficacy long ago stopped being in doubt.


You can’t make this up
From Benjamin Zycher, senior fellow, Manhattan Institute for Policy Research

(Regarding article, “House schedules new SCHIP vote; Hoyer open to changes,” Oct. 24.) Forget the sound-bite blarney about “the children” in the debate over expansion of SCHIP health insurance to families with incomes up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level, from 200 percent at present. Focus instead on the utter shamelessness with which the Beltway is pursuing salami-slice socialism in healthcare.

Exhibit 1 is a letter from Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) to Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, disputing the claim that the cigarette tax proposed to finance SCHIP expansion would be borne by lower-income individuals. According to The Hill article, Dingell cites government data showing that 60 percent of adult smokers have incomes above 200 percent of the poverty level.

So there we have it. Two hundred percent of poverty is far too poor to be a cutoff for SCHIP eligibility, but at the same time is wealthy enough for a new tax. You just can’t make this kind of stuff up.

Agoura Hills, Calif.

Spin won’t save Dems
From S. Benning

(Regarding article, “Internal Dem memo faults party message,” Oct. 26.) The entire thrust of Dave Helfert’s efforts to improve the message of the Democrats is beside the point. If the Dems think they can somehow put a better spin on their message to improve their ratings with the public, that just shows how little they know. The only things we care about right now are getting out of Iraq and beginning the impeachment of Bush and Cheney before they drag us into another conflagration with Iran (and they will, if Congress doesn’t wake up!).

Getting their priorities straight is what Congress needs to do now.

Manhattan Beach, Calif.