Barry McCaffrey Says He Is '100 Percent' for Medical Marijuana


"If we were talking about medical use of marijuana, THC, or cannabinoids," Clinton administration drug czar Barry McCaffrey said on CNN last night, "I'd be 100 percent for it." For anyone familiar with McCaffrey's history, this opening whopper made it hard to pay attention to anything else he had to say. Here is McCaffrey in August 1996 on the subject of medical marijuana:

There is not a shred of scientific evidence that shows that smoked marijuana is useful or needed. This is not medicine. This is a cruel hoax that sounds more like something out of a Cheech and Chong show.

At a December 1996 press conference, McCaffrey was asked whether there was "any evidence…that marijuana is useful in a medical situation." His reply was unequivocal: "No, none at all."

While research since then has added to our knowledge of marijuana's medicinal properties, there was plenty of evidence at the time McCaffrey made these dismissive remarks that the plant is medically useful, especially in fighting nausea and restoring appetite but also in treating various kinds of pain. You might conclude that McCaffrey just didn't know what he was talking about then and has since read up on the subject, except that he is still playing the same games.

Although he's "100 percent for" the medical use of marijuana, McCaffrey told Lou Dobbs it isn't necessary to let patients use the plant because they already have access to the prescription drug Marinol, an FDA-approved capsule containing a synthetic version of THC, marijuana's main active ingredient. (Marinol also was around back in 1996, and the double-blind clinical trials necessary to get it approved conclusively showed that McCaffrey was wrong when he insisted there was no evidence that marijuana is medically effective.) But right after presenting Marinol as a perfect substitute for marijuana, McCaffrey cut it down, saying "it's available for patients" but "not much used" because "it's not a very good drug." In fact, that is an assessment you will often hear from medical marijuana users who have tried Marinol. But if McCaffrey delved into the reasons many patients prefer marijuana to Marinol—e.g., it's easier for people suffering from severe nausea, it takes effect much faster, the dosage is easier to control, and the psychoactive effects are less disturbing—he would be making the case for medical marijuana. Which he would be totally for if he weren't completely against it.

McCaffrey's stance against medical marijuana went beyond denying the evidence in its favor. As the Cato Institute's Tim Lynch pointed out in the same segment of Dobbs' show, McCaffrey helped spearhead the Clinton administration policy of threatening to prosecute doctors or take away their prescribing privileges simply for discussing marijuana's benefits with their patients. That policy, which in some respects was more extreme than anything the Bush administration later did in this area, was slapped down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit on First Amendment grounds.

[Thanks to LEAP's Tom Angell for the tip.]

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  1. Great. Now they are hitting the bong and playing the song name game. Nothing is going to get done today.

  2. Fucking dissembling douchecolostomy bag drug warrior.

  3. What McCaffrey said, I think, given his reference to “THC, cannabinoids” is that he would be 100% in favor of a Big Pharma produced pill.

    Not that he would necessarily be in favor of people smoking the herb itself.

    C’mon, guys. Parse, parse!

    1. So let’s say he puts whatever weight he carries behind GW Pharmaceuticals’ whole cannabis extract products, such as the mouth spray or a patch. How is that inferior to a smoked product? Same effects minus the smoke, same doctor’s-orders access.

    2. I already commented below, but McCaffrey doesn’t care if you grow a bunch of plants and smoke your pot and don’t bother anybody else. Fuck Barry McCaffrey for a host of other reasons, but I appreciate a former drug czar saying we should end marijuana prohibition.

  4. Never trust a Barry. Especially if he pretends he’s not one.

    1. How unfair. After all, that “got tam b#@$h” set him up.

      Sorry, wrong Barry.

  5. So, does this mean he’ll be the LP’s presidential candidate in 2012?

    1. Let’s see… The LP nominated a right wing douche has-been drug warrior retread, think they’ll go for a left-wing has-been drug warrior douche retread instead?


  6. This article is causing a “” ad to appear in the ads. “They said marijuana wouldn’t lead to harder drugs. THEY LIED.”

    “Sully, remember when I said I was going to kill you last? I LIED.”

  7. I’m also getting a Google ad for a “marijuana rehab facility.” Who the fuck goes to rehab for weed?

    1. Lots of people do. Especially when it’s that or jail.

  8. Good Goddam Jesus friggin Christ – it’s a fucking weed for God’s sake. All this asinine hysteria over a fucking weed. Human being are stupid creatures and about the only one that butchers it’s own kind en masse on a regular basis. I’m starting to agree with those people who think we are a plague on the earth.

    1. I’m starting to agree with those people who think we are a plague on the earth.

      Collectivism does a genocide good!

  9. So he’s entirely for it, except for the fact that he’s against it, because they have a substitute drug that’s just as good, except for the fact that it doesn’t work?

    How is it he doesn’t have a job with the Obama administration?


    I don’t know. I saw this movie about the weed, seems pretty scary to me.

  11. people who say the availability of marinol makes cannabis legalization unnecessary have no understanding of basic pharmacology. there are other cannabinoids in cannabis that potentiate and modulate THC’s effects and contribute to or are responsible for other therapeutic benefits derived from the whole plant as opposed to just THC. even just getting a sublingual form of marinol (which is approved in other countries) would help a lot but until something like sativex or cannabis tincture gets approved patients will have to suffer marinol or the totally synthetic cannabinoid nabilone (cesamet) or be lucky enough to live in a state with medical marijuana laws. unfortunately most people in the US with medical conditions that benefit from cannabis have to turn to the black market for their medicine.
    interestingly there is another cannabinoid being used medically, rimonabant, a cannabinoid antagonist. it has the opposite effect of THC on cannabinoid receptors which causes a LOSS of appetite.

  12. Had cancer twenty years ago and was presribed Marinol over the objections of my doctor who said it wasn’t very effective and told me that the “real thing” was much better. He wasn’t talking about Coca-Cola (or Coke for that matter). Make a long story short, hew was right. It provided all of the bad effects of weed and none of the good. Just made me feel tired and disorientated. Make matters worse, it was a lot more expensive/dose than the “real thing”

    1. Being around 20 years after a cancer diagnosis is friggin’ awesome. Congratultions and glad you’re still alive and bitching.

  13. one thing I have found as a person who suffers from back pain and depression and anxiety was that marinol was more effective if you poke a hole in it and let the sesame seed oil containing the THC under your tongue till it dissolves. this method of taking it is called sublingual and it delivers the drug to your system much faster. it bypasses metabolism and enters your bloodstream within 5-10 minutes. I also found that marinol with just plain cannabis leaves was almost like real cannabis. even smoking the oil on top of regular bud or hash is pretty damn good, but tastes kind of bad to some people.

  14. My 80 year old grandmother was prescribed Marinol (or similar THC drug) after a stroke. She won’t eat (weighs 80 lbs) and is constantly in a high state of anxiety. It costs something like $300/pill under her Medicare plan, so they quit using it.

    I keep trying to convince my grandfather to let her just have the real thing, but he won’t do it.

    1. That is a heartbreaking story. Propaganda kills.


  15. I don’t really care who uses drugs or why, and I don’t have a lot of experience with weed. However, I do know that I was married to a decent, intelligent guy for six years and he smoked 2x/day. No big deal, except that by the end of our marriage he was a complete moron who couldn’t remember anything.
    As I said, I don’t have a problem with it. However, I don’t want the US to end up funding MORE programs in a few years…rehab and whatnot.

    If you wanna smoke it, go ahead. But don’t force me to pay for the consequences of your actions.

    1. He was a moron at the beginning. You chose to ignore the fact.

  16. I’ve used Marinol recreationally and must say its pretty enjoyable. Slightly different than the real thing and not quite as good, but definitely gets you stoned.

    1. Was the force strong with you?

  17. “If we were talking about medical use of marijuana, THC, or cannabinoids,” Clinton administration drug czar Barry McCaffrey

    Ahh, Jacob, you were careful to not say “former” yuckity-yuck. Because as you know, there’s a standing H&R rule when a “former official” who was generally in charge of all things drugs comes out in favor of legalization… we have to drink!


  18. Barry McCaffrey, now that he’s not in a position to do anything about it, is perfectly happy to legalize marijuana for everybody but kids between 6th grade and 12th grade.

  19. McCaffrey is a typical General/CEO type. He “knows” everything and when facts get in the way, well, he still “knows” everything.

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