To the Editor:
I read of a 79-year-old woman named Mildred Katz who was arrested for cultivating marijuana in the backyard of her home in upstate New York (news article, Oct. 11). She was doing so, she told police, because her 49-year-old son, Barton, is suffering from multiple sclerosis and she has observed that the most effective way to ameliorate the loss of appetite which that disease brings ?nn is through marijuana intoxication.
The article went on to state that "In 1991, Harvard University researchers found that almost half of the 1,035 cancer specialists who returned a questionnaire said they would prescribe marijuana if it were legal and a slightly smaller percentage said they had already recommended marijuana to patients.
The results of this survey are consistent with the assertions put forth by Prof. Lester Grinspoon of Harvard University in his 1971 work "Marijuana Reconsidered" and again in 1993 in a book ?CD written with his Harvard colleague James Bakalar "Marijuana: The Forbidden Medicine."
In that book the authors relay a plethora of anecdotes that illustrate how marijuana intoxication can be used for constructive and therapeutic purposes. in the end, they conclude that these applications cannot be fully explored until the prohibition of marijuana, which was enacted in 1937, is repealed.
In spite of this, as your article on Mildred Kaltz points out, last year "a review by the Drug Enforcement Administration concluded that marijuana has no medicinal potency." How was this ascertained Numerous citizens from various walks of life attest to the therapeutic efficacy of the drug, yet a bureaucratic wing of government steps in to claim that marijuana has "no medicinal potency'' and seeks to arrest and detain anyone who actively disagrees.
Here we arrive at the fundamental rationale of drug prohibition, that competent adults like Mrs. Katz and her son are incapable of realizing their own best interest with regard to drug use, and thus the state must monitor their drug use in great detail and even forcibly intervene if the state deems intervention appropriate. Never mind that marijuana is a common plant that grows wild in nature. Never mind that in grnw a cammon plant one's own property and to ingest its fruit just might be an inalienable right." The Framers of the Constitution sought to prevent the advent of a monstrously sprawling government that intrudes upon private lives. The story of Mrs. Katz and her son demnnstrates poignantly the unabated and unwarranted prollferatinn of the state and its dendrites in the name of protection and guidance. Our appoint ed servant aspires to become our master.
LAWRENCE HAYES Ann Arbor, Mich., Oct. 14,1993