10/25/2004

White House officials are aggressively campaigning against legalization and medical-marijuana ballot initiatives in Alaska, Montana, and Oregon, the Hartford Courant reported Oct. 20.

In Montana, two polls indicate that residents will approve a Nov. 2 ballot initiative that would legalize the medical use of marijuana to relieve symptoms of certain diseases. The support for Initiative 148 is strong despite visits from top officials from the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) arguing against the initiative.

"If we make it acceptable in society to smoke dope, our children are more inclined to do that," said Scott Burns, deputy director of the ONDCP, during a recent visit to Montana.

In Oregon and Alaska, the fate of marijuana-related initiatives is less clear. The initiative in Oregon would create state-licensed marijuana dispensaries where patients on a state-operated registry can purchase marijuana. The measure would also increase the amount of marijuana approved patients can grow and possess.

A recent poll indicates 52 percent against the Oregon initiative, 34 percent in favor of it, and 14 percent undecided.

The Alaska initiative would remove all criminal and civil penalties for anyone age 21 or older who grows, uses, or sells marijuana for any reason.

Tom Riley, communications director for the ONDCP, said that the Food and Drug Administration has not approved marijuana for the relief of pain or other medical treatments