• U.S.

The Nation: Acupuncture in Nevada

2 minute read

The Nevada state legislature last week became the first in the nation to declare traditional Chinese medicine “a learned profession.” By nearly unanimous vote, the lawmakers legalized acupuncture, herbal medicine and other Chinese practices. What sold them was neither Nixonian detente nor the thoughts of Mao, but a free Chinese clinic that, by special permission, was opened for three weeks across from the statehouse in Carson City.

Half of Nevada’s 60 lawmakers have put themselves under the needles of one Lok Yee-kung. There have been several claimed cures and even more conversions. Assemblyman Robert Hal Smith reported that his 20-year sinus condition disappeared after needles were stuck in his forehead and alongside his nose. Equally as gratifying to his wife, the treatment silenced his snoring. Another legislator said that he had been cured of the pain of a childhood knee injury, and a third claimed to have been relieved−though only temporarily−of a number of leg ailments. Scores of constituents begged their representatives to get appointments for them at the clinic. Said one legislator’s secretary: “It looked like a little Lourdes around here.”

Skeptics questioned the propriety of legislators accepting free treatment and noted that the clinic−and a hard lobbying effort for the legalization bill−had been organized by the so-called American Society of Acupuncture, a corporation that stands to earn pin money if Governor Mike O’Callaghan signs the bill. Justifying the freebie treatments, Senator William Raggio explained: “None of us knew much about this thing, and we supposed this was the best way to find out.” It is refreshing to know that even legislators in Nevada check the deck before dealing.

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