GOP Senate Candidate Ridicules Marijuana Pain Study
Just one day after sending out a news release making pot jokes about a Washington State University study on marijuana’s effect on pain, Republican Dino Rossi’s U.S. Senate campaign is claiming he “intended no disrespect to medical marijuana research.”
On Thursday, Rossi released a statement ridiculing the two-year, $148,000 project by psychology professor Michael Morgan, whose study involves injecting synthetic cannabinoids (the active chemicals found in marijuana) along with opiates in rats to study how to improve treatments for people with chronic pain.
Rossi said taxpayers “are tired of their money going up in smoke,” and that instead of creating jobs, the money isn’t “going to stimulate anything other than the sale of Cheetos.”
Rossi thought it would make an easy target, after all: Talk about “wasteful” federal stimulus spending to rile up the Tea Party faithful, and then drag in a tired old stoner stereotype for good measure.
“This is one of those boondoggle projects that forces you to set aside the serious economic consequences of this so-called stimulus for a moment and just laugh at how out of touch Washington, D.C., really is,” Rossi said.
The GOP senatorial hopeful really couldn’t be blamed for seeking a diversion to distract voters from the fact that he was recently named to a list of the 11 Most Crooked Candidates running for national office by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).
But even this cheap shot at medical marijuana patients didn’t work for Rossi’s campaign, as the medical marijuana researcher in question quickly hit back, calling the gubernatorial candidate’s hyperbole “the most misleading press release possible.”
Morgan said his grant was reviewed by three top scientists and got one of the top scores. He said nobody from Rossi’s campaign contacted him to discuss the research.
“It is odd that Rossi thinks he knows more about good research than these neuroscientists,” Morgan said.
According to Morgan, he is “dumbfounded” that he is being attacked for a $150,000 study aimed at making progress in the management of pain, which one study estimates costs U.S. employers $80 billion a year in sick days and lost productivity.
Researchers say the findings could ultimately help reduce business costs for worker health problems tied to chronic pain.
“This suggests, in effect, that Rossi must be against productivity gains for businesses, which even a very stoned Dino Rossi is unlikely ever to claim,” pointed out The Bellingham Herald.
“What we proposed has nothing to do with smoking marijuana or what Rossi implies,” Morgan said. “It would have been nice if Rossi had checked his facts before trashing research that could be very beneficial.”
“There are millions of Americans suffering from chronic pain,” Morgan said. “Is Rossi arguing that we should not to research to find better ways to reduce this suffering?”
One of the favorite campaign themes of conservative darling Rossi, a hard-right candidate who is challenging Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, is to rail against federal spending.
Rossi has come forward in the past few weeks with increasingly conservative positions and endorsements in an apparent shift even farther to the right, reports Curt Woodward of The Associated Press.
Democrats are pouncing on those positions, saying Rossi is clearly too conservative for a state that leans Democratic.
Rossi has met privately with Tea Party groups around the state, and has signed the Tea Party’s “Contract From America,” reports Jonathan Martin at the Seattle Times.
Since Rossi has given up trying to pretend he isn’t a radical right winger, it’s at least obvious now exactly where he stands on the “marijuana question.”
Steve Elliott, a working journalist since 1982, is editor of Toke of the Town, Village Voice Media’s site of cannabis news, views, rumor and humor.