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Two years ago Colorado voters tried to place on the ballot a measure that would allow sick people to legally use marijuana. But the initiative was tossed out because of confusion over whether or not proponents had legally secured enough signatures.

This year the medical marijuana question is back and has successfully been petitioned onto the November ballot.

That's the background. This is where it gets interesting.

Occasionally, state Rep. Lynn Hefley sends out a little communiqu from the capitol, which she calls "A Woman in the House." And in a recent one, Hefley attacks medical marijuana with a vengeance.

Hefley, who is not a doctor, cited the Institute of Medicine, and several other respected physicians' agencies, claiming they were "reeling against any type of presumed 'medicine' which has to be smoked."

Actually, in its landmark 1999 study on the medical values of marijuana, the Institute of Medicine reached far different conclusions than Hefley claims. The federally commissioned report, which was conducted at the request of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, found marijuana has many medicinal benefits.

The institute generally recommends against long-term marijuana smoking. "Nonetheless," the report states, "for certain patients, such as the terminally ill or those with debilitating symptoms, the long-term risks are not of great concern." Until a non-smokable delivery system is developed, the report advised that short-term smoking (six months or less) is acceptable.

"The accumulated data indicate a potential therapeutic value for cannabinoid drugs, particularly for symptoms such as pain relief, control of nausea and vomiting, and appetite stimulation," the report states. "The combination of cannabinoid drug effects (anxiety reduction, appetite stimulation, nausea reduction, and pain relief) suggests that cannabinoids would be moderately well suited for particular conditions, such as chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and AIDS wasting."

The report was ordered after voters in California, Arizona, Alaska, Nevada, Oregon and Washington passed ballot initiatives in recent years in support of medical marijuana. Yet in her missive, Hefley inexplicably states: "Never in American history has any medicine been approved by a public vote." And, Hefley wrongly stated that "not one of the 13,700 completed research projects approved the use of marijuana as crude medicine."

The only thing that is clear is that Hefley believes medicinal marijuana is a menace.

"By welcoming 'medicinal' marijuana into our society, we would be opening a pandora's box of problems that could never be undone," she concluded. "This issue of medical marijuana is a scam in which greedy proponents are using desperately ill patients as pawns in their deadly endgame, marijuana legalization."

Whew!

Former Green Party presidential candidate and punk hero Jello Biafra may believe that the only reason Al Gore wrote his enviro book Earth in the Balance was to convince progressives that he wasn't some "berdweeb sent down from company headquarters." But serious environmentalists are starting to get real nervous about the Bush/Cheney double whammy.

First there's Dick Cheney and his 13 percent career approval rating from the League of Conservation voters, and the $20 million in cash and stocks he accepted as part of a going away package when he retired as the CEO of Halliburton oil company five days before he signed on with Bush.

And then there's Bush.

Last October, Houston surpassed Los Angeles as the smoggiest city in the United States, in part because of Gov. Bush's relaxed policy that allows polluting companies to regulate themselves. In late July, Corporate Watch noted that one of the biggest contributors to Houston's pollution is a plant owned by Enron, the city's wealthiest company, and the country's 18th largest company best known for buying and selling natural gas.

Enron is also the largest single contributor ($555,000 so far) to Bush's presidential campaign and its CEO Kenneth Lay has personally given over $100,000, more than any other individual.

Lay is also one of Bush's "Pioneers" -- a supporter who has collected at least $100,000 more in individual contributions for the Republican hopeful.

Kinda brings new meaning to the term dirty politics.

This week's George W. Bush pearls of wisdom installment comes from the LA Weekly, which retells the story of Bush talking to Chris Matthews, host of the TV show Hardball. On the topic of abortion, Shrub offered up this little gem:

"I'm gonna talk about the real world, Chris. I've read -- I understand reality. If you're asking me as the president, would I understand reality, I do."

-- degette@csindy.com

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