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White House To Study Pot’s Medical Value

Wed., Jan. 8, 1997

One week after denouncing the medical use of marijuana, the White House said Tuesday the government will spend up to $1 million gathering scientific evidence on its effectiveness as a medical treatment.

Retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey said the White House drug policy office committed the funds last month for a review by the Institute of Medicine.

The administration was criticized by AIDS activists last week when officials threatened to sanction physicians in California and Arizona who take advantage of those states’ newly relaxed restrictions on the medical use of some illegal drugs, including marijuana.

Those activists Tuesday questioned the credibility of any study sponsored by the White House. “Putting McCaffrey in charge of this research is like putting Nixon in charge of the Watergate files,” said Steve Michael of Act Up, an AIDS activist group.

Bob Weiner, a spokesman for the drug policy office, said the Institute of Medicine was above politics. “It’s a totally objective, scientific study. We’re not going to get into the emotional arguments,” he said.


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