Yesterday's article 'Hill protests target marijuana, oil policies' may have left readers unclear as to why 10 of my associates chose to be arrested protesting at the Justice Department. As the arrestee pictured alongside your article, allow me to explain. Since last October, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration repeatedly has raided medical marijuana distribution centers operating legally under California law.
Those centers worked in close cooperation with local public health and law enforcement officials, but the raids have continued despite vehement objections from those officials - odd for an administration that claims it wants a smaller federal government and respects states' rights. The real victims of these raids are patients with cancer, AIDS and other terminal illnesses. In a June 3 letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Dr. Mitchell Katz, San Francisco's director of public health, wrote, 'These [DEA] actions have resulted in 4,000 persons with chronic illness left without access to critical treatment upon which they rely.' At the protest, I carried a photo of my friend Mary Lucey, a woman with AIDS. To stay alive, Mary must take dozens of pills a day - a harsh, toxic regimen that she is able to tolerate only with the use of medical marijuana. Without it, she literally would be dead, but the DEA has cut off her safe, quality-controlled supply. As long as our government chooses to torture the sick, those of us who are healthy have an obligation to stand up for them. BRUCE MIRKEN Director of communications Marijuana Policy Project Washington (c) 2002 News World Communications, Inc.