GOP Senate Hopeful Attacks Marijuana Pain Research


GOP Senate candidate Dino Rossi captured in a rare moment without his head up his ass

​You’d expect a politician to promote medical research being done at local universities. But Republican Senatorial candidate Dino Rossi of Washington on Thursday tried to gain some traction in his political campaign by attacking a local research project which studies the use of marijuana cannabinoids to control pain.
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. “Washington state taxpayers are tired of their money going up in smoke. This bill isn’t going to stimulate anything other than sales of Cheetos.”
It’s time for a diversion, Rossi seems to believe, to distract voters from inconvenient little things like, well, the fact that he was recently named to a list of the 11 Most Crooked Candidates in the United States(!) by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).

Photo: Seattle Weekly

​But even a cheap shot at medical marijuana patients didn’t work for Rossi’s flailing campaign, as the medical researcher in question quickly hit back, calling the gubernatorial candidate’s hyperbole “the most misleading press release possible,” reports Chris Grygiel at the Seattle PI.
Washington State University psychology professor Mike Morgan, working from WSU’s Vancouver, Wash., campus, got a two-year, $148,438 federal stimulus grant from the National Institutes of Health to analyze the use of marijuana cannabinoids in conjunction with medications like morphine to control pain.
According to WSU, the research looks at whether using marijuana in conjunction with opiates relieves pain better than either drug alone. The study aims to help patients suffering severe or chronic pain.

Photo: WSU Vancouver
Cannabinoid researcher Michael Morgan in his lab at Washington State University’s Vancouver campus

​Morgan said the grant was reviewed by three top scientists and got one of the top scores. Seems that should carry a little more weight than the ignorant blustering of a clueless blowhard like Rossi, don’t you think?
Morgan 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.
“The goal of stimulus funds going to research was to create jobs and advance research to improve health care,” Morgan said. “Contrary to what Rossi’s press release says, I have created jobs.”
“I funded both a graduate and undergraduate student with the $50,000 that I receive each year,” Morgan said. “It also provided a month of summer salary for me given that the State does not pay professors in the summer. The undergraduate that I am currently funding actually graduated in May and would be unemployed if I did not offer her a job.”
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, reports Jeff Mapes at The Oregonian.
Researchers say their 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,” points 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 do 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 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, Woodward reports, saying Rossi is clearly far too conservative for a state that leans Democratic.
Dino Definitely Doesn’t Dig Dope

Photo: Reality Catcher

​This isn’t the first time the clueless Rossi has interacted with Washington’s medical marijuana community, and last time didn’t turn out very well, either.
Rossi’s hard tack to the right finally and definitively puts the lie to a brief, doomed attempt at hipness made two years ago during his gubernatorial campaign against Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire, who handily defeated the Republican in their second match-up (Rossi also ran a failed campaign against Gregoire in 2004).
In the 2008 campaign, Washington medical marijuana activist Steve Sarich was connected to an attempt to re-brand Rossi as a cannabis-friendly candidate, going so far as to issue a misleading press release implying endorsement of Rossi by local leaders of the cannabis movement.
The flimflam was quickly nipped in the bud when Washington political/marijuana blog Reality Catcher exposed the weak attempt to siphon votes away from Gregoire, who is certainly no angel but at least has enough respect for the cannabis community not to lie to it.
The press release was headlined “Medical Marijuana Leaders Support Rossi,” and gave two of those names as marijuana attorney/activist Douglas Hiatt and Green Cross founder Joanna McKee, two well-known figures in Washington’s thriving medical marijuana scene. One might have reasonably assumed that they both endorsed Rossi.
That impression would have been reinforced upon reading the lead paragraph, which came right out and said:
“The leadership of the medical marijuana patient community, which has historically supported Democratic candidates in Washington State, has broken with tradition and today are endorsing Dino Rossi for Governor and Marcia McCraw for Lt. Governor.”
While that didn’t sound very ambiguous, it was actually misleading in the extreme. Doug Hiatt immediately made it clear that he did NOT endorse or in any way support Rossi; McKee said she wasn’t endorsing anyone for governor.
Rossi has met privately with Tea Party groups around the state, and has signed the Tea Party’s “Contract From America,” reports Jonathan Martin of the Seattle Times.
Since Dino 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.”