Tony Newman at (212) 613-8026
An AARP The Magazine story on medical marijuana and the elderly, advertised to run in the March/April issue, but never published, finally saw the light of day on the front page of today’s Los Angeles Times. The editors of AARP The Magazine apparently pulled the story in response to malicious attacks by a “media watchdog” organization, Accuracy in Media, and a pressure campaign by fanatical anti-drug groups with a long history of engaging in malicious and dishonest attacks.
“We congratulate the L.A. Times for giving a voice to seniors who are forced to live in fear of arrest for alleviating their pain,” said Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “It’s a shame that the AARP didn’t stand up for freedom of the press and kept its readership from learning about the life-saving role medical marijuana plays in the lives of many of its sick and dying members.”
According the L.A. Times article, Hal Margolin, a 73-year-old Santa Cruz resident, considered suicide due to the pain caused by the calcification of a cervical vertebrae at the top of his back – He credits medical marijuana with saving his life. An 81-year-old woman suffering from cancer, Crohn’s disease and Parkinson’s disease said, “I don’t know that I’d be alive without [medical marijuana].”
Drug Czar John Walters explained the ban on medical marijuana by comparing the substance, whose medicinal value has been endorsed by the federally-funded Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American Public Health Association, to crack cocaine. “People who abuse illegal drugs such as crack cocaine feel a similar burst of euphoria, but that doesn’t make crack medicine.”
In a December Associated Press article, the results of an AARP poll regarding medical marijuana found that 72% of Americans ages 45 and older support an adult’s right to use the medicine with a physician’s recommendation. It also mentioned the planned AARP The Magazine piece.
When it was clear that the AARP was considering dropping the story, Drug Policy Alliance urged its members to send letters to the AARP urging its leadership to stand firm against the pro-censorship forces. In the end, the thousands of letters did not move the AARP to run the story.