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Page 2: What Are They Smoking?

Critics say the U.S. government’s officially sanctioned marijuana stinks. But when a legitimate researcher proposed to grow better crops, he was shot down.
/ Source: Newsweek

(Full disclosure: If it sounds as if I am some hemp-wearing marijuana crusader, you should know that I never smoked the stuff. True, I once got so wasted on a clove cigarette that I tried to make love to an angora sweater that I mistook for someone I'd met earlier in the evening. Clove cigarettes are not a federally controlled substance, so I am happily free to pursue further research. Fathers, lock up your daughters' angora sweaters.)

(Fuller disclosure: OK, the above is a lie. I was so high when I wrote it that I got paranoid that you'd find out that I had smoked pot. OK, I smoked it once. Nothing happened, so I never did it again. From this single experience I learned a valuable lesson: Marijuana does indeed destroy a person's ability to focus on long-term goals—in this case, smoking more pot.)

Worse than the hypocrisy, Craker said, is the government ganja itself. It's so bad you wouldn't even buy it even if you were stuck at 4 a.m. in Salt Lake City. Of course, don't believe me or Craker—we don't smoke the stuff. Take it from an AIDS patient who thinks the government weed is reefer madness.

"It was the worst stuff I ever smoked in my life," said Phillip Alden, who prefers the stronger, purer stuff that comes out of the cannabis buyers' clubs in California. "It was rolled with cigarette company paper and it was filled with seeds and stems. And let me tell you, smoking a seed is nasty."

Alden said the government pot actually gave him bronchitis because it was so harsh. He said it reduced his nausea a bit, but did nothing for his neuropathy, an intense nerve pain. "And marijuana is absolutely great for that," he said. "I've been smoking high-grade indiga [a variety of marijuana] from a club in San Francisco and my pain hasn't gotten worse in nine years."

Of course, a straight arrow like Craker is not very well served by the strange bedfellows who are financing his fight. Let me put it this way: when your principal funding is coming from the "Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies," it's hard to dispel the notion that "marijuana research" is just a euphemism for, "Hey man, pass the doobie."

Craker, for example, doesn't believe in recreational drug use. For MAPS President Rick Doblin, it's practically an 11th Commandment. I suggested to Doblin that when the government gets a letter from a group called Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies, it tends to treat the letter differently than one from, say, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. But Doblin was undeterred.

"Where is it written that medical research on marijuana can only be done by people who are against recreational use?" Doblin asked me. (I suggested that it's probably in some DEA handbook, actually.) "The criteria should be rigorous research. I mean, should I get out of the business of promoting medical marijuana simply because I believe in recreational use of it, too?"

I put that question to the DEA, but the agency could not comment because of Craker's pending appeal, according to the spokesman, Rusty Payne (hmm, I bet that a little marijuana would be good for that).

Gersh Kuntzman is also a reporter for the New York Post. Check out his rudimentary Web site at .