There is, in fact, nothing as ugly as a politician trying to remake his image. Viewed as a moderate in 1996, Forbes was shunned by Christian conservatives. So instead of promoting the flat tax, the undeclared candidate is now campaigning against, of all things, medicinal marijuana.
Patients and doctors alike attest to the therapeutic value of marijuana, but good people can still disagree about the wisdom of allowing its use. Not in Forbes’ view, however. Proponents of relaxing this small facet of the drug war are, well, evil.
In taking out ads to criticize a prospective Washington, D.C., initiative to allow the medical use of marijuana, Forbes contends that “radical drug‐legalization forces…want to increase drug use.” He has also written an open letter to the president and congressional leaders urging them to oppose the measure. In his words, “well‐financed legalization forces” want to “make America safe for Colombian‐style drug cartels.”
Such demagoguery is particularly disappointing coming from someone who seemed to be a sober idea man. Obviously, Forbes has never met a patient who smoked marijuana for health reasons like Rick Brookhiser. An editor of the conservative magazine National Review, Brookhiser used pot to cope with chemotherapy during a bout with testicular cancer in 1992.
Washington state lawyer Ralph Seeley has fought cancer for a decade, losing a lung, part of his spine, and several nerves in his back in the process. He also turned to marijuana to relieve the nausea from succeeding rounds of chemotherapy.
These cases are not unique. Explained Barbara Jencks, who, before her death from AIDS, was arrested for using marijuana to combat AZT‐induced nausea, “I’ve got to smoke marijuana. I’ve got to, or I’ll die.” Many other sick and dying people say essentially the same thing.