MANCHESTER, NEW HAMPSHIRE — At a press conference in front of Rudy Giuliani's Manchester headquarters this morning with a massive mobile truck billboard in tow, a representative of the Marijuana Policy Project joined two New Hampshire patients to challenge presidential candidates Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and Mitt Romney to back up their statements regarding medical marijuana with scientific evidence, offering the legal maximum $10,000 campaign contribution to any of the three who can prove that their statements are true.
"In response to questions from patients who have benefited from medical marijuana, these candidates have made claims that are flat-out false," said MPP executive director Rob Kampia. "Since appeals to science, compassion and common sense haven't worked, we're talking to them in a language we know they understand -- campaign contributions. If Giuliani, Romney or McCain can back up their claims that medical marijuana isn't needed or is too dangerous, we'll give their campaign $10,000, but if they can't, they need to stop lying."
Any responses from the campaigns will be evaluated by an independent panel of medical experts. An image of the billboard along with full details of the challenge and relevant scientific data are posted at www.medicalmarijuanaworks.org.
"I'm sick of the lies," said Clayton Holton, who is disabled by muscular dystrophy and who was snubbed by Romney in video footage widely seen on CNN and YouTube. " If our politicians are going to withhold my medical treatment from me, something that's considered torture to do to our enemies in battle, then for the sake of all sick Americans, they better be able to prove that it's necessary, with evidence and not just with words."
In responses to questions posed by New Hampshire voters at campaign events, all three leading Republicans have claimed that marijuana is either too dangerous for medical use or not needed because adequate substitutes exist -- claims that are contradicted by published scientific data. In letters being delivered today to each of the three candidates, Kampia cited their specific statements and challenged them to supply proof. In his letter to Giuliani, Kampia wrote:
" We find it notable that you dismiss marijuana as too dangerous for medical use, while your law firm represented Purdue Pharma -- the makers of the highly addictive and toxic opioid OxyContin -- given that the company paid $634.5 million in fines and penalties for misleading doctors and patients about the drug's abuse potential, and given that a growing body of evidence suggests that medical marijuana can reduce the use of such highly addictive opioid painkillers."
Complete copies of all three letters and a photo of the mobile billboard are available from MPP director of communications Bruce Mirken, at 202-215-4205.
The billboard will accompany MPP's Stuart Cooper this afternoon as he delivers letters from Kampia to the McCain and Romney headquarters in Manchester. A visit to Romney's national headquarters in Boston is planned for Friday. Further events with the Pinocchio billboard in New Hampshire and other primary or caucus states are expected.
With more than 23,000 members and 100,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. For more information, please visit http://MarijuanaPolicy.org.