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McCaffrey: No Compromise On Medicinal Marijuana


SAN FRANCISCO (AllPolitics, Feb. 10) -- Doctors seeking amnesty for recommending medicinal marijuana can expect no such consideration from the federal government, according to the Justice Department and the nation's drug czar.

Retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey, who heads the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, was sued last month by a group of San Francisco physicians after the federal government announced its policy for counteracting California and Arizona initiatives that allowed the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

The policy included having federal agencies punish doctors who prescribe or recommend the drug. The plaintiffs offered a compromise, saying they were willing to settle the suit if the government would agree not to prosecute doctors.


Through a statement written by Justice Department attorney Kathleen Muller and released on Friday, McCaffrey refused the deal.

Calling the suit "a straightforward First Amendment case," the doctors' lawyer, Graham Boyd, said he would seek an injunction today, barring the government from taking any punitive action against a physician who discusses or recommends marijuana to a patient.

"The First Amendment protects the right of doctors and patients to talk about the full range of medical treatment, and the feds have no basis for interfering with that statement," Boyd said.

Word of potential sanctions against doctors brought criticism from people who support the medical use of marijuana. Some glaucoma sufferers say it helps them and cancer patients say it can relieve the nausea that accompanies chemotherapy.

Federal researchers say the drug has no beneficial effect but government studies will continue.

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