Many PWAs struggle with the nausea, vomiting and suppressed appetite—sometimes leading to dangerous wasting—sparked by certain AIDS drugs or HIV progression itself. To the thousands not helped by approved drugs, including Marinol (which contains THC, marijuana’s active ingredient), the time-honored herbal remedy of “wacky tobacky”—smoked or baked à la Alice B. Toklas—has tossed a lifeline. Yet federal policies negate the will of voters in (as of the November elections) seven states and DC who approved medical-marijuana initiatives. Now a class-action suit, filed by 162 people with various diseases who need access to pot, is challenging this “drug war” mentality. The plaintiffs note that the Health and Human Services (HHS) Department used to offer marijuana access to seriously ill people via a “compassionate use” program—until 1992, when a crush of PWAs applied, leading then President Bush to stop new admissions. Tell HHS honcho Donna Shalala (202.690.7000) it’s past time she opened the doors to this potential lifesaver for people with legitimate medical needs.
One Toke Over the Line
February 1, 1999 • By Bob Lederer