KATU Channel 2 News, Portland, Oregon, 6:30 pm Friday, May 17, 1996

Marijuana: New Study

Teaser: Coming up on Channel 2 News at 6:30 - Should Washington taxpayers foot the bill to study why some people want to get high on marijuana? A Washington woman says yes.

Announcer Steve Dunn: Is smoking marijuana good for you? A new study by Washington State will look into that question. One woman says marijuana saved her life. With Channel 2's Southwest Washington reporter Barbara Wood tells us [sic], some people say it's nothing more than wasting taxpayer dollars to find out why people want to get high.

Announcer Barbara Wood: (Seattle, Washington) Joanna McKee suffers from chronic pain and seizures, constant muscle spasms in her hips, legs and especially her back. She says she needs to smoke marijuana for the pain.

[As Wood talks, viewers see Joanna McKee, a late middle-aged white woman with a black eye patch, taking bong hits. The camera does a pretty good job of getting close enough that McKee's "Green Cross" placard is only briefly visible.]

Joanna McKee: (Marijuana User) I haven't had a seizure in years because of this.

Wood: Now Washington State's pharmacy board will conduct a $130,000 study on the medicinal effects of marijuana. But some taxpayers say they don't want to see one penny spent on any study that examines why some people want to get high.

Unnamed old retired-looking bespectacled white man at shopping mall in oversized red baseball cap: I don't approve it one bit. [sic] No I sure don't. That's right.

Wood: Why is that?

Same old man: Well, marijuana isn't good for you in the first place. It's a drug.

Unnamed overweight middle-aged white woman: I don't think we need to spend tax dollars to study the medicinal uses of marijuana.

Unnamed middle-aged black urban professional type man: I think tax dollars could be used for something else, personally.

Wood: Marijuana contains a chemical called THC. Researchers say that may provide medicinal effects for people with AIDS, cancer, glaucoma and chronic-pain sufferers.

McKee: Think of this as a heart medicine. If there was a new heart medicine available, why shouldn't the state pay $130,000 to study it because maybe it will save people's lives.

Don Williams, Washington State Board of Pharmacy: If it does have a legitimate medicinal use, we should be exploring that use.

Wood: Right now the board of pharmacy isn't sure where it'll get the weed. Officials are looking into the legality of growing it for research purposes. But for people like Joanna McKee, the pain is the most important issue. She says it shouldn't be legal for her to go through pain when there's something out there that can stop it.

McKee: There is nothing else that works better and is as safe.

Wood: Now the board anticipates that there will be a lot of people in pain who want to get on board for this study. So they'll be screening applicants heavily. That board also hopes to have their findings by next June. Steve?

Announcer Steve Dunn Those results should be interesting in that study, Barbara.

Wood: Oh yeah.


Portland NORML notes: This is among the most biased reports we've seen on the subject of medicinal marijuana. Just for starters, why didn't Wood ask her three uninformed people-on-the-street how much of their taxes they wanted to spend locking up sick people like Joanna McKee? Washington state is undoubtedly already paying more for that than the $130,000 legislators budgeted to study why sick people are risking jail to smoke cannabis. Wood also significantly misrepresents the purpose of the legislation, and fails to mention that a poll of Washington residents conducted by the Washington Senate itself found that 79 percent of the public would vote to allow doctors to prescribe marijuana to patients. For more complete and accurate information on the new Washington legislation, follow these links directly to relevant items in the Portland NORML weekly news releases for April 25, April 4, March 21 and March 28.

KATU is Portland's ABC affiliate, also reportedly the most widely viewed station in Oregon. They have only a minimal web page and no public e-mail address, but you can send your thoughts about their biased coverage to:

Norm Gunning
Assignment Editor

KATU Channel 2
2153 N.E. Sandy Blvd.
Portland OR 97232

Tel: (503) 231-4222
Fax: (503) 231-4263

KATU Online: (503) 231-4227 (BBS)

Telefax (for Viewers' Comments): (503) 231-4651

Viewers' comment line ("Talk Back"): (503) 231-3509


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