Days before the first presidential caucuses in a medical marijuana state, the Marijuana Policy Project today doubled its offer to presidential candidates Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and Mitt Romney to back up their statements opposing medical marijuana with scientific evidence.
If any of the candidates can prove his statements are true, MPP will donate the legal maximum of $10,000 to his campaign ($5,000 for the primaries, $5,000 for the general election), plus an additional $10,000 donation to the candidate's favorite charity.
MPP's original offer of $10,000 for the campaigns was made Dec. 6 in Manchester, New Hampshire.
"In responding to questions from patients who have benefited from medical marijuana, Giuliani, McCain and Romney have all made claims that are patently false," said Rob Kampia, executive director of the arijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C.
"When appeals to science, compassion and common sense didn't work, we offered $10,000 to the campaign that could back up the claim that medical marijuana isn't needed or is too dangerous.
The fact that not one of these candidates has yet to offer any proof indicates they know they're lying. Patients in Nevada and the 11 other medical marijuana states deserve a real 'straight talk express,' not political flimflam."
"I'm living proof that marijuana works when conventional medicines fail," said David McDonough of Henderson, a registered medical arijuana patient who suffers from chronic pain that limits his ability to walk.
"Any candidate who's willing to use the guns and power of the federal government to raid and arrest me for using marijuana legally under state law and with my doctor's approval had better be able to explain why."
Any responses from the campaigns will be evaluated by an independent panel of medical experts.
Full details of the challenge and relevant scientific data are posted at www.MedicalMarijuanaWorks.org
In response to voters' questions at campaign events in New Hampshire and elsewhere, Giuliani, McCain and Romney have claimed that marijuana is either too dangerous for medical use or not needed because adequate substitutes exist -- claims that are contradicted by published scientific data.
In letters sent this week to each of the three candidates, Kampia cited their specific statements and challenged them to supply proof.
In his letter to McCain, Kampia wrote:
"We are struck by the fact that you consider marijuana to be too 'damaging to one's health' for use even under medical supervision, considering that the Arizona Republic has reported that at least half of your family's wealth comes from an Anheuser-Busch beer distributorship".
"The CDC reports that excessive drinking was responsible for 75,000 U.S. deaths in 2001. Marijuana has never been proven to increase death rates or to have caused even one fatal overdose."
Medical marijuana states loom large in upcoming presidential primaries and caucuses.
Maine holds Republican caucuses on Feb. 1 and 2, and four more medical marijuana states hold primaries or caucuses on "Tsunami Tuesday," Feb. 5 -- Alaska, California, Colorado and Montana.
Copies of the letters to the three Republican candidates are available from MPP director of communications Bruce Mirken at 415-668-6403 or 202-215-4205.
With more than 23,000 members and 180,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States.
MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol.
For more information, please visit http://MarijuanaPolicy.org.