Harvard Medical School
Department of Psychiatry
Massachusetts Mental Health Center
74 Fenwood Road, Boston 02115
November 3, 1995
Rep. Bill McCullum
Chair, Crime Subcommittee
2266 Rayburn H.O.B.
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Representative McCullum:
I am writing to request that you cosponsor a bill which will be introduced by my representative, The Honorable Barney Frank of Massachusetts. This bill would allow physicians to prescribe cannabis to patients with certain medical symptoms and syndromes. It is modeled after a similar bill which you co-sponsored in 198I and again in 1983.
The urgent need for such iegislation is indicated by the fact that thousands of patients in 26 cities have formed Cannabis Buyers Clubs throuqh which, with a note from their doctors, they can obtain at cost a small amount ot marihuana (cannabis) for medical use. They are risking arrest because they have found that marihuana relieves their symptoms better than the available legal medicines. For example, it appears to be the best available treatment for nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy. Many people with AIDS also suffer from nausea caused by the disease itself or the drugs needed to treat it. In most of these people marihuana eliminates the nausea more effectively than conventional antinauseants. Marihuana is also used in the treatment of glaucoma, migraine, and muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis, parapleqia, and quadriplegia. Again, it is often safer and more effective than any of the legal medicines available for these purposes.
This medical marihuaha bill would allow people who need medical cannabis to obtain it legally with a doctor's prescription, and to use it without having to suffer the anxiety created by its iilegal status. A growing number of citizens and physicians have come to understand that outlawing the medical use of cannabis is both unscientific and immoral. A recent national poll indicates that 85% of Americans are in favor of allowing medical marihuana, and 36 states now have passed laws designed to facilitate its availability. These hopes cannot be realized until the federal qovernment passes similar legislation.
I am enclosinq a copy of a Commentary published in the June, 1995, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association which may help you to understand why your support for Representative Frank's bill is important. If you would like to learn more about this issue, I would be glad to send you a copy of a book written by James B. Bakalar and me (Marihuana, the Forbidden Medicine, Yale University Press, 1993). If I can help in any other way, please get in touch with me. My telephone and fax numbers are listed below.
Thank you for considering cosponsorship of this most important and humane legislation.
Lester Grinspoon, M.D.