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Rossi backs off pot study jokes

Sat., Aug. 14, 2010

Release chided use of stimulus money

OLYMPIA – A day after sending out a press release making pot jokes when referring to a Washington State University study on marijuana’s effect on pain medication, Republican Dino Rossi’s U.S. Senate campaign insists he intended no disrespect to medical marijuana research.

On Thursday, Rossi released a statement focusing on the two-year project by psychology professor Michael Morgan, whose study involves injecting synthetic cannabinoids along with opiates into rats to see how to improve treatment for people with chronic pain. Cannabinoids are the active ingredients in marijuana.

Rossi criticized the $148,000 in federal stimulus dollars granted to Morgan last year, saying taxpayers “are tired of their money going up in smoke” and that instead of creating jobs, the money isn’t “going to stimulate anything other than sales of Cheetos.”

Rossi is seeking to oust incumbent Democratic Sen. Patty Murray.

Spokeswoman Jennifer Morris said Friday that “no judgment was made on the validity of the research,” though she refused to comment on the marijuana stereotypes used in the press release, including the headline “It’s 5:00 Somewhere, But It’s 4:20 At Washington State University.” The term “420” is used by some as a reference to marijuana.

Morris said Rossi’s criticism is of the $800 billion federal stimulus plan approved by national Democrats last year. Washington state was awarded about $8.6 billion for projects ranging from transportation to medical research and the Hanford Nuclear Reservation cleanup.

“There are a number of folks who are questioning what their tax dollars went to and where all those promised jobs are,” Morris said.

Morgan said the grant allows him to continue work through the summer and also led to the hiring of students to help with the research that could help address costs associated with pain management.

“Essentially, what he’s doing is trashing my career without any facts,” said Morgan, who is doing his research at the Vancouver branch of WSU. “To have Rossi come in and mock my work, that’s the part that riles me up.”


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