Dear Editors,

Your article quotes a Steve Forbes spokesman, who accuses the Americans for Medical Rights (AMR) of "using the ruse of medical marijuana to crack the door open to legalize all drugs." The AMR has but one purpose: to help place into law a widely held view, namely, "When people are sick, get them the medicine they need. We make exceptions--even during Drug Wars--for the sick."

As an AIDS-cancer patient, I have learned first-hand how compassionate people are. When I tell total strangers about my illness, they are spontaneously very kind. (It's my friends who have mixed feelings.) Compassion is an American virtue. (Funny how former Drug Czar William J. Bennett, a virulent opponent of medical marijuana, omitted compassion when he made millions teaching us all about virtues.)

In California, the legislature enacted medical marijuana legislation twice. Governor Wilson vetoed it twice. "Let the sick suffer. We have a Drug War to win!" was the gist of his reasoning. It took AMR to get Proposition 215 before the people, and the people spoke. Now, Wilson and Attorney General Lungren attack medical marijuana--and the will of the people--at every opportunity. They invite federal intervention when it is their sworn duty to protect the laws and citizens of California against all comers, even the federal government.

And Steve Forbes. What's his story? It is well known that he looks on William Bennett as the loving father he never had, but isn't it taking patricide just a little too far to use the money and the power he inherited from his father to attack cancer, AIDS, glaucoma, MS, epilepsy, quadriplegia, and chronic pain sufferers? (Honest, Mr. Forbes, we do suffer.)

At the federal level, California medical marijuana users are attacked by Janet Reno, Donna Schalala, Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey, DEA Administrator Thomas Constantine, DEA Special Agents, Los Angeles federal prosecutors, San Francisco federal prosecutors and, oh yes, President William Clinton.

You would think such important people would have more important things to do.


Peter McWilliams