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The Nixon administration's proposed liberalization of U.S. marijuana laws drew criticisms of "not enough" from nine of nine Harvard Medical School Faculty members interviewed yesterday.
The present laws are "absurd, indecent, immoral, ghastly, and ineffective," said Dr. Leon Eisenberg, professor of Psychiatry. He added that although he views the proposed change as "a step in the right direction," it is "still unsatisfactory."
The nine professors, all of whom have done research in marijuana, concentrated their criticisms on inequities in the present laws, but said that even the Nixon revisions will not cope with the problem. They agreed that it is impossible to formulate a fair law until further marijuana research is conducted.
Nixon's proposed changes will make the first conviction for marijuana possession a misdemeanor rather than a felony, eliminate the two-year mandatory minimum sentence, and reduce the penalty to a one-year maximum jail sentence or $5000 fine. Subsequent convictions still will carry a mandatory minimum jail sentence of five years, and a maximum of 20.
Almost no grass is available at Harvard because of the crackdown against smuggling form Mexico, two government officials said Thursday. (For details, see page 8)
Dr. Lester Grinspoon, associate clinical professor of Psychiatry, said the new proposal represents "a more rational approach to the problem." But he criticized the administration for being "totally oriented toward making criminals of marijuana users."
Dr. Robert S. Blacklow, assistant to the dean of the Faculty of Medicine for curriculum, added that "just to make the first offense a misdemeanor doesn't solve the problem. There will be repeaters, so the penalties must continue to be light."
Suggesting interim laws while further research is conducted, Dr. Jack R. Ewalt, Bullard Professor of Psychiatry, said he would apply "the same laws used for production, distribution, sale, and consumption of alcohol to the problem of marijuana."
Dr. Richard I. Shader, assistant professor of Psychiatry, said he would prohibit the use of marijuana's more toxic strains, while he would subject the weaker strains to the same controls as alcohol.
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