Republican Senate candidate Dino Rossi on Thursday continued his crusade against federal stimulus funding by questioning a nearly $150,000 marijuana/pain research project at WSU Vancouver.
"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 in a statement. "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."
Psychology Professor Mike Morgan took exception to Rossi's characterization, calling it "the most misleading press release possible."
Morgan got a two-year, $148,438 federal stimulus grant from the National Institutes of Health to analyze the use of marijuana in conjunction with medications like morphine to control pain. According to WSU, the research examines whether using marijuana, in conjunction with antipain medications such as morphine, relieves pain better than either drug alone. The study aims to help patients suffering severe or chronic pain.
In an e-mail, Morgan said the grant was reviewed by three top scientists and got one of the top scores.
"...It is odd that Rossi thinks he knows more about good research than these neuroscientists. The goal of stimulus funds going to research was to create jobs and advance research to improve health care. 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. It also provided a month of summer salary for me given that the State does not pay professors in the summer. The undergraduate I am currently funding actually graduated in May and would be unemployed if I did not offer her a job," Morgan wrote.
He said pain treatments cost billions of dollars each year.
"...what we proposed has nothing to do with smoking marijuana or what Rossi implies. 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. Is Rossi arguing that we should not do research to find better ways to reduce this suffering?"
Rossi, who is challenging Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, has railed against federal spending during the campaign, arguing that stimulus funding isn't helping the economy and is contributing to huge federal deficits.