Groups take marijuana arguments to press

WASHINGTON: As the Supreme Court debates the issue of medical marijuana, advocacy groups on both sides are using the opportunity to present their arguments in front of the media.

WASHINGTON: As the Supreme Court debates the issue of medical marijuana, advocacy groups on both sides are using the opportunity to present their arguments in front of the media.

A team at Fenton Communications is trying to present plaintiff Angel Raich, a cancer patient, as a typical American mother with traditional family values who turned to marijuana as a last resort.

"She's an incredible woman with an incredible story," said Parker Blackman, MD in Fenton's San Francisco office. "It's important to show, through her, what's possible" by letting cancer patients use marijuana.

Blackman said the firm is managing Raich's media schedule. "She has to medicate regularly," he said. "After the hearing, she needed her downtime."

Fenton is not working with Raich's legal team.

Bruce Mirken, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project, said the group had been working "very closely" with the plaintiff on the issue.

Mirken noted that he also had been watching media reports, and added that he had pushed for corrections on stories that incorrectly stated that the case could overturn state medical-marijuana laws.

The Drug Free America Foundation, which opposes the medicinal use of marijuana, has also been distributing press kits and making pitch calls to reporters, said communication director Lana Beck.

The group is coordinating interviews with policy experts from drug-prevention groups, such as MOMSTELL and the Drug Free Schools Coalition.

"If the media portrays the science and fact information that medical marijuana is dangerous, it's clearly beneficial," Beck said.

A court ruling for medical marijuana "sends the message to kids that drug use is normal [and] beneficial," she added.

The Court will decide whether federal antidrug laws apply in cases where states permit medicinal marijuana use.

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