McCain Condescends to Patient, Ignores Data

Claims Patients Haven't Been Arrested, Denies Scientific Evidence of Marijuana's Medical Value; Patients Respond with Evidence

CONTACT: Stuart Cooper, GSMM Campaign Manager, (202)360-2744

MANCHESTER, NEW HAMPSHIRE -- Medical marijuana patients and supporters are publicly taking Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) up on his challenge to provide evidence that medical marijuana patients are being arrested and that marijuana has been shown to have medical value -- despite having given him the information privately already -- while expressing shock at both the tone and substance of his Sunday remarks.

    Linda Macia of Manchester, a member of Granite Staters for Medical Marijuana who uses a wheelchair and suffers constant pain from nerve damage, fibromyalgia, reflex sympathetic dystrophy and degenerative arthritis, asked McCain during a Sept. 30 campaign event in Exeter whether he would commit to ending federal arrests of patients and caregivers in states that permit medical use of marijuana.

    "Well first of all you'll have to show me a case where people are going in and arresting people who are dead and dying," McCain responded. "I haven't heard of such a case, nor has anyone that I know of heard of such case, so it must be a very well-kept secret." While saying that he "would strongly disapprove of" arresting suffering patients, he continued, "You may be one of the unique cases in America that only medical marijuana can relieve pain from. Every medical expert that I know of, including the AMA, says there are much more effective and much more, uh, better treatments for pain." Complete video of the encounter is posted on YouTube at .

    "I was shocked and hurt by McCain's condescending tone," Macia said. "And while I spoke, I could feel his negativity toward me and the subject I was talking about. I was astonished that he claimed not to know that patients are being arrested. How could he not know this? How can the Senator not be aware of scientific studies that have shown that marijuana helps many people like me for whom conventional medications have failed? How dare he make light of my question and the information I shared with him?"

    "I've personally handed Senator McCain the evidence he claimed didn't exist," said GSMM campaign manager Stuart Cooper. "But apparently the senator only listens when he's challenged publicly, so here's the evidence he's ignoring: First, just a month ago, DEA agents in a regional drug task force arrested Leonard French, a paraplegic who was one of the first patients to enroll in New Mexico's medical marijuana program. That case was widely covered by the Santa Fe New Mexican, the Associated Press and other media outlets. If the senator's staff knows how to use Google, they should have no trouble learning about this 'well-kept secret.'

    "Regarding medical experts, I guess McCain is saying he's never heard of the American Public Health Association, the American Nurses Association, or the state medical societies of New York, California, and Rhode Island. He might also want to read the University of California study published in February in the journalNeurology, in which medical marijuana was shown to relieve a type of debilitating nerve pain for which there are no FDA-approved treatments."

    In a separate weekend appearance, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee made statements that, while gentler in tone than McCain's, were similar in substance.

    Based in Manchester, New Hampshire, Granite Staters for Medical Marijuana is a grassroots coalition of patients and activists. GSMM is organizing during the New Hampshire presidential primary campaign to raise awareness of the need for federal action to protect medical marijuana patients. For further information,
please see

    Associated Press, "Police Raid Home of Patient Who Is Certified for Marijuana Use," Albuquerque Tribune, Aug. 29, 2007.
    Steve Terrell, "Medical Marijuana: Battle Brewing Over State Pot Law." Santa Fe New Mexican, Aug. 31, 2007.
    D.I. Abrams, C.A. Jay, S.B. Shade, H. Vizoso, H. Reda, S. Press, M.E. Kelly, M.C. Rowbotham, and K.L. Petersen. Cannabis in painful HIV-associated sensory neuropathy: A randomized placebo-controlled trial. Neurology; 68: 515.

Stuart Cooper
Campaign Manager
Granite Staters for Medical Marijuana
P.O. Box 357 | Manchester, NH  03105-0357