Friday, May 30, 2008


Massachusetts voters can Just Say No to bad drug policy.

I call Dick Evans to interview him. But he has his own question-or, more specifically, an assignment-for me: "I challenge you to find anyone who believes adults who choose to use marijuana responsibly deserve to be arrested, prosecuted and locked up."

Evans is pretty sure I'll come up empty; he's even willing to bet a lunch on it. A Northampton attorney and former member of the Board of Directors of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML, Evans spent decades advocating for the reform of drug laws, and while officially "retired" from the cause, he still tracks it closely.

These days, there's a lot to track. In November, Massachusetts voters could have the chance to decriminalize the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana, making it a civil, not criminal, infraction. On the federal level, U.S. Reps. Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat, and Ron Paul, a Texas Republican ( and renegade presidential candidate ), are co-sponsoring legislation that would remove federal penalties for the possession of small amounts of marijuana. ( "The notion that you lock people up for smoking marijuana is pretty silly," Frank said as he announced the bill on Bill Maher's HBO show "Real Time." That's one for Dick Evans. )

Add to that the increasing public debate about who ends up behind bars for drug crimes, and how much we as a society pay to prosecute and imprison them, and it's tempting to say there's a groundswell of interest, from across the political spectrum, in re-examining our drug laws. But as Evans and other long-time activists will tell you, when it comes to drug policy, change is slow in coming. Progress is made in small, incremental steps, which sometimes fall far short of what reformers would like to see.

"I think we can get lost in the increments," says Evans. While small changes can be important, he urges that focus be kept on what, in an email to the Advocate, he called "the 900-pound gorilla that terrifies so many people, and that is the broad question of whether, in 2008, the responsible use of marijuana by adults with no visible harm to themselves or anyone else ought to remain a crime, wrecking people's lives and diverting public revenues from urgent needs."

Plenty of Massachusetts voters share Evans' view, at least according to a series of questions that have appeared on local ballots in recent years.

Since 2000, activists-most notably, the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition, or MASS CANN ( the state affiliate of NORML )-have worked to get non-binding public policy questions on marijuana reform on the ballots in four state Senate districts and 33 Representative districts. All were approved by a majority of voters.

A handful of the ballot questions addressed the legalization of medical marijuana; there was also one that would allow the growing of industrial hemp, and another to allow the state-regulated-and state-taxed-sale of marijuana to adults.

But the vast majority of the questions-28 of the total 37-went directly to the issue of decriminalization, asking voters whether possession of a small amount of pot should be a civil violation. Voters in every district approved the question, by majorities ranging from 59 to 76 percent.

While public policy questions are non-binding, they do serve as an important way of demonstrating to legislators the priorities of their constituents. Whether or not legislators heed those messages is, of course, another matter.

At the very least, the message was heard by activists, who saw Massachusetts presenting a prime opportunity for reforming marijuana laws. That led to the creation of the Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy, or CSMP, the group behind the proposed November ballot question.

Under current Massachusetts law, marijuana possession can lead to jail, probation or a fine; a conviction can also result in the suspension of your driver's license, the loss of your right to possess firearms and the denial of student loans. While first offenses without mitigating circumstances are typically continued without a finding and dropped after one year if the defendant has no further legal problems, critics of the system say there are a number of ways prosecutors can pursue a tougher penalty-if, for instance, the arrest happened near a school zone. They also contend that the defendant's race and class can affect how aggressively a drug charge is pursued, a contention borne out by several recent studies.

Even if a defendant's charges are continued and then dropped, she still has to go through the costly and onerous legal system; as MASS CANN puts it, "Prosecution itself is used as a form of punishment."

If approved, the November ballot question would amend state law so that adults found guilty of possessing one ounce or less would face a $100 fine; those under 18 would also have to complete a "drug awareness program" and perform community service. The initiative has been endorsed by the American Civil Liberties Union as well as NORML and MASS CANN.

Last fall, CSMP cleared the first hurdle for getting the question on the ballot, collecting about 81,000 valid petition signatures ( 15,000 more than needed ) in support. Now the group is conducting a second required signature drive, and needs to collect another 11,000 valid signatures by June 18.

At the same time, the Legislature is considering similar legislation that would create civil penalties for personal possession by adults. Given the historically slow progress of such bills, though, reformers see the ballot question as a way to put the issue directly in the hands of voters. "On this issue, the public is ahead of the politicians," says Whitney Taylor, manager of the ballot question committee.

To Taylor, existing laws regarding marijuana are too harsh. A person convicted of possessing a relatively small amount of pot could end up with a criminal record that would haunt him for years, standing as a barrier every time he applies for a job, a loan, an apartment. According to CSMP, 7,500 new criminal records are created each year in Massachusetts for people found guilty of possessing one ounce or less of pot.

The criminal record issue has a lot of traction on college campuses. "Historically, the war on drugs has been waged to protect young people. After decades of failed punitive prohibitionist policies, we as young people are here to say this war is actually hurting us," says Tom Angell, government relations director for Students for Sensible Drug Policy, a national group with chapters at about 125 high schools and colleges.

SSDP focuses on drug policies that affect young people, such as student drug testing. One particularly hot issue has been the 2000 Higher Education Act, which denied federal financial aid to students convicted of any drug offense, even if it happened before they were in college. While the law was amended in 2006 to apply only to students convicted at the time they are receiving aid, blocking anyone's access to education is wrong-headed, Angell says. Students forced to drop out of college for financial reasons will feel the repercussions for a lifetime; some may even be more likely to turn to drugs when other opportunities are denied. "We think that's an incredibly counter-productive policy," Angell says.

And in these days of municipal shortfalls, reformers have in their arsenal an especially persuasive argument: cost savings. Whitney points to a 2007 study by Jeffrey Miron, a Harvard economist, that found that Massachusetts police departments spend a total of $29.5 million a year to arrest and process suspects for possession of an ounce or less of pot.

"Let's let that $29.5 million stay in police coffers," Taylor says. "Let's let it stay in local communities and fight violent crimes."

Several studies have found that in the 11 states that already have similar laws in place-some going back as far as the 1970s-marijuana use and crime rates have not increased. "'Use is going to go through the roof; addiction is going to go through the roof'-all the Chicken-Little arguments the opponents will make did not come to fruition," Taylor says.

In making the case for the ballot question, advocates tread carefully. They emphasize the cost-saving aspect of decriminalization, and point to the backing of sober-minded economists, including the 500 who endorsed a 2005 study by Miron that estimated that federal, state and local governments could save $7.7 billion a year if pot were legalized.

And, no doubt aware of the risk of being dismissed as leftover hippies or punky college kids, reformers enjoy pointing to the surprising array of people who have supported decriminalization: George Shultz, secretary of state during the Reagan administration; Nobel laureate economist Milton Friedman; conservative columnist William F. Buckley, whose recent death was mourned by anti-prohibitionists around the country. Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, or LEAP, a Medford-based nonprofit, counts current and former cops, judges and legislators among its members.

"This is a reform that liberals and conservatives support, that people from all walks of life can support," Taylor says.

Not everyone, of course, supports the reform. LEAP notwithstanding, strong opposition is expected from within the ranks of law enforcement. The Massachusetts District Attorneys Association has condemned the CSMP ballot question, contending it will increase marijuana use and reverse recent trends of declining pot use among teens. "The District Attorneys ask Massachusetts parents, 'Do you really want to encourage your kids to smoke dope?'" the association asks in its official statement on the question.

The DAs also argue that there's a "direct link between marijuana use and public safety and public health." The group points, by way of example, to a study showing that 41 percent of men arrested in Chicago tested positive for marijuana; what it fails to report is what charges these men faced, and if, in fact, they were arrested solely for pot possession.

Similarly sketchy is the assertion that "the criminal justice system is the largest single source of referral to drug [not just marijuana] treatment programs"; left out is the question of whether these referrals were made, as a condition of law, to people arrested solely for possession of a small amount of pot.

More persuasive are statistics linking marijuana use to impaired driving, although, as the report notes, more impaired drivers have alcohol-a legalized drug-in their systems than pot. Likewise, the DAs point out the health risks of inhaling tar and carbon monoxide from pot, but sidestep the question of why cigarettes, which contain the same substances, are legal.

That line of reasoning also raises a sticky question: most reasonable people can agree that alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana all pose personal and public health risks; why, then, are two of them legal, and one illegal?

It's not surprising the DAs oppose decriminalization, Taylor says: "They want all the tools to convict people. That's their job."

Indeed, lots of jobs are directly tied to drugs remaining illegal, from those of prosecutors, police and jailers to business that goes to ad agencies contracted by the government to produce anti-drug campaigns, and to community groups that receive government funding for anti-drug work, notes Bill Downing, president of MASS CANN. "Their income depends in part on this 'war [on drugs],'" he says.

Backers of the ballot question are mindful of the public safety arguments that will be used against their cause. They point out that the question is narrowly defined, applying only to people carrying what's considered a "personal" amount of pot; it would have no effect on laws applying to the sale, trafficking or cultivation of marijuana, or to crimes like driving under the influence.

More to the point, the question would not legalize pot, but rather decriminalize it-an important distinction. If it passes, Taylor points out, "marijuana remains illegal. We're just creating a different type of penalty system. It deals with the fact that the law is broken, but it allows people to move on with their lives."

As November gets nearer, opposition to the ballot question will likely intensify. The district attorneys have already signaled one likely line of attack: questioning the political and financial support behind CSMP.

According to its most recent finance report, filed with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance, CSMP's money comes largely from one source: George Soros, who donated $400,000 of the almost $430,000 raised in 2007. ( Most of the money-$316,000-was used to hire a Worcester-based firm that runs petition signature campaigns. )

On the finance reports, Soros is listed as a self-employed "entrepreneur" and Manhattan resident. To the DAs and others in favor of prohibition, Soros is the bane of their existence. A 77-year-old native of Hungary, Soros is a self-made billionaire investor who's used his fortune to fund numerous philanthropic and political causes, including Democratic campaigns. Soros also sits on the board of the Drug Policy Alliance, an anti-prohibition group that calls for, among other things, the decriminalization of marijuana, the legalization of medical marijuana and an end to discriminatory drug laws.

The Drug Policy Alliance is hardly a crackpot group; its board includes business executives, mental health experts and religious leaders, with "honorary" members including George Shultz, past Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker and former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders. Still, as Allen St. Pierre, NORML's executive director, notes, when it comes to the heated debate over drug policy, "there's probably not a more polarizing figure" than Soros. He predicts the proponents of the ballot question will be painted by opponents as out-of-state "fringe drug legalizers."

Ironically, while drug law reform might still be cast as a "fringe" movement, drug use-specifically, pot smoking-has become increasingly mainstream. According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the government's chief anti-drug agency, a 2006 federal study found 40 percent of Americans over the age of 12 have smoked pot, 10 percent in the last year ( and some suspect those figures are low, given respondents' reluctance to admit to committing a crime ). A 2000 survey by the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services found that 20 million Americans smoke pot every year, 2 million on a daily basis.

Perhaps those figures explain the easy acceptance of pot smoking in popular movies and TV shows ( like Showtime's Weeds, about a suburban widow who makes ends meet by selling marijuana, and CBS' How I Met Your Mother, with its unapologetic references to its characters getting high ). We've got a sitting president who has indicated, although never directly admitted, that he has smoked pot, and is rumored to have dabbled in considerably harder stuff, and one contender for that job, Barack Obama, who is more forthcoming about his history of pot and cocaine use.

Of course, Bush and Obama speak of their past use with an air of repentance, and neither favors ending the prohibition on drugs ( although Obama does criticize the Justice Department for raiding and prosecuting medical marijuana users ). The other two major presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and John McCain, also oppose decriminalizing marijuana. Other presidential candidates have supported decriminalization, including Ron Paul; Dennis Kucinich, the Ohio congressman who dropped out of the race months ago; and Mike Gravel, a Springfield native and former senator from Alaska, who promised at one debate that, if elected, he would "do away with the 'war on drugs,' which does nothing but savage our inner cities and put our children at risk."

Gravel, however, will never be president; neither will Paul or Kucinich. They have devoted supporters and well-honed positions, but they garner minimal coverage from the media. Much of that coverage is dismissive, in large part due to their outside-the-mainstream positions on issues like drug policy. Polls and public policy questions might signal that the public's view of drug use-particularly marijuana-is softening, but most establishment politicians are too wary to follow their lead.

That's why reformers are excited to put the decriminalization question before Massachusetts voters. "Any issue that comes with any amount of controversy at all, politicians are not ready to take a stand on if they don't have to," notes MASS CANN's Downing. "The Legislature wants to avoid the issue completely because they can only lose by addressing this."

Reformers could find some support from Gov. Deval Patrick, who's spoken out about inequities in the justice system, including the undue hurdles created for many under the existing criminal records system. "He's made the kinds of noises of someone who'd be amenable [to drug reform]," St. Pierre says. "At his core, he's got to be keen on some reform. It's a waste of money."

Still, Patrick is a politician, and with that comes a degree of caution. "Clearly, from a political, pragmatic view, he'd be very happy to never have to say the word 'marijuana,'" St. Pierre says.

It's getting harder for politicians to avoid drug policy issues, though, in light of a mounting pile of evidence about inequities in how those policies are executed. In May, the Sentencing Project, a justice reform group based in Washington, D.C., and Human Rights Watch, which tracks global human rights issues, released reports showing deep racial disparities in how drug laws are enforced. In large part, the problem stems from the intense focus on poor urban minority communities.

In 2006, 1.89 million people were arrested for drug violations in the U.S. More than 80 percent of the arrests were for possession; about 40 percent were for marijuana possession.

While the rate of drug use among whites and blacks is roughly equal, and blacks make up about 13 percent of the total population, they accounted for two-thirds of the drug arrests. And black men are nearly 12 times as likely to be sent to prison for drug convictions as white men, according to the HRW report. ( The reports do not indicate rates for Hispanics, since they used FBI data that collects stats by race but not ethnicity. )

"The race question is so entangled in the way the drug war was conceived," Jamie Fellner, author of the HRW report, told the New York Times. "If the drug issue is still seen as primarily a problem of the black inner city, then we'll continue to see this enormously disparate impact."

Indeed, race has shaped U.S. drug policy from the start. In his 2003 book, Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market, journalist Eric Schlosser traces drug prohibition back to the influx of Mexican immigrants in the early 20th century. The new arrivals were not, generally, warmly greeted, and that anti-immigrant sentiment extended to what Schlosser calls "their traditional means of intoxication: smoking marijuana."

Meanwhile, the association of marijuana with African-Americans, and particularly with the jazz scene in cities like New Orleans, added more racial fuel to the fire. Before long, government officials were warning of the alleged dangers of pot smoking. Users were described as extremely violent, possessing superhuman strength when under the influence, and prone to insanity-all depicted, to unintentionally comic effect, in the now-cult classic 1936 film Reefer Madness. By 1931, 29 states had banned pot; in 1937, Congress passed a federal ban.

Attitudes toward pot smoking softened somewhat in the 1960s, when it became the drug of choice of white, middle-class kids. In 1970, federal law was amended to differentiate marijuana from other narcotics and lessen penalties for possession of small amounts. At the time, NORML's St. Pierre recalls, marijuana reform "appeared to be on greased tracks."

Then came the conservative '80s, and Ronald Reagan's "Just Say No" anti-drug agenda. Marijuana was again vilified as a highly dangerous "gateway" drug that would lead to use of harder substances. Drug laws were toughened; the laws regarding pot now vary widely from state to state, and, critics say, are open to varying interpretation that can lead to harsher results for, say, a black kid from a distressed urban area than a white kid with a suburban address and parents who can afford a lawyer.

"It's because black folks used it-that's why marijuana and cocaine and heroin are illegal, and that's why tobacco and alcohol are legal and receive government subsidies. They're white folks' drugs," Evans says. The recent reports about racial disparities in the enforcement of drug laws, he adds, demonstrate "that marijuana prohibition laws have been very effective in achieving their original purpose, which was to repress minority communities."

It's not drugs that have devastated America's inner cities, critics say-it's the government-sponsored, publicly funded "war on drugs." In the same way that alcohol prohibition created a thriving black market for bootleggers and speakeasies-planting the seeds for modern-day organized crime in the process-the prohibition on drugs has created a black market that is thriving despite the billions spent in the quest to end it.

"Certainly, there is a dangerous level of violence and crime associated with the drug trade, but that's only because drugs are illegal," argues Tom Angell of SSDP. "Drug abuse is a serious issue. & But there's no drug known to man that gets safer when its production is handed over to violent drug cartels."

Which is why, reformers say, it's time to consider withdrawing the troops and declaring an end to the drug war. That doesn't mean that crimes associated with drug selling or use-violence, theft-wouldn't continue to be prosecuted; rather, anti-prohibitionists say, eliminating the black market for drugs would significantly reduce those related crimes. "In terms of the big picture, we can keep chasing our tail and busting a drug gang here or there, or we can put it all out of business by making it legal," Angell says.

And this is where drug law reformers will lose some of their base of support; plenty of mainstream Americans might see smoking the occasional joint as no big deal, but are they ready for a wholesale lifting of the ban on harder drugs?

They might, Evans says, if they consider just how little the prohibitionist agenda has accomplished. "What is your definition of victory in the war on drugs?" he wonders. "And when we achieve that victory, how many people will be in prison, and how much will it cost?"

Decriminalizing marijuana could be an important, and generally palatable, first step toward rethinking how we as a society view drugs. "It's 2008-it's two generations, almost, since the cultural revolution-and we still lock people up for pot," Evans notes. "What have we accomplished by wrecking millions of lives and spending jillions of dollars? What have we accomplished?"

Newshawk: Jane Marcus and Herb.
Votes: 0
Pubdate: Wed, 28 May 2008
Source: Valley Advocate (Easthampton, MA)
Copyright: 2008 New Mass Media
Author: Maureen Turner
Cited: National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws
Cited: Jeffrey Miron's Report
Bookmark: (Students for Sensible Drug Policy)
Bookmark: (Soros, George)
Bookmark: (Law Enforcement Against
Bookmark: (Racial Issues)


HELENA - The state Department of Corrections has backed off from a proposed rule that would bar anyone on parole or probation from obtaining medical marijuana without a judge's approval.

Proponents of the medical marijuana law, passed by voters in 2004, argued during a March hearing that the law does not allow any penalty for using medical marijuana, regardless of a person's criminal history.

"Our hands are tied by the way the initiative-passed law was written," Diana Koch, chief legal counsel for the department, said in a statement Thursday. "As a result, those who have broken the law cannot be subject to this reasonable restriction."

Tom Daubert of Patients and Families United, a medical marijuana advocacy group, said the decision "recognizes that medical marijuana is entirely legal for any Montanan suffering from a qualifying medical condition whose doctor recommends it."

"I think this decision only affects a tiny number of Montanans, but it's hugely important to their quality of life and their ability to alleviate their pain and suffering," Daubert said.

Koch said she isn't sure Montana voters "understood that the medical marijuana act was going to go this far. There is the very real possibility that a person convicted of drug distribution can get a medical marijuana card and there is nothing probation and parole officers can do about it."

Daubert said it was the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes that got some of them in trouble with the law in the first place.

"All the people on probation whom I know who were convicted of a drug offense are actually legitimately suffering patients whose use of marijuana either predated our state law or who didn't understand the law as an affirmative defense and pled guilty to a crime they didn't actually commit," he said.

Koch stressed that the decision to exclude the marijuana provision from probation and parole rules does not mean the department endorses the use of marijuana.

"The use of marijuana is not in the best interest of the public or of offenders, who are responsible for rehabilitating themselves while under supervision in the community," Koch said.

The issue came up as the Department of Corrections was developing standard conditions for offenders on parole or probation.

The agency had proposed prohibiting the use of medical marijuana unless the offenders obtained a judge's exemption.

The probation and parole rules, scheduled to take effect June 13, include a prohibition on gambling, firearms and alcohol use; allowing searches of an offender's home and random testing for alcohol or illegal drug use; and offenders' payment of court-ordered fines and restitution.

Newshawk: Richard Lake
Votes: 0
Pubdate: Fri, 30 May 2008
Source: Missoulian (MT)
Copyright: 2008 Missoulian
Note: Only prints letters from within its print circulation area
Author: Amy Beth Hanson, Associated Press
Cited: Patients and Families United
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)


MONTPELIER - Gov. James Douglas will allow a bill legalizing hemp to become law despite concerns from the law enforcement community about its impact on marijuana eradication efforts in the state.

The legislation, which legalizes the cultivation of industrial hemp in Vermont, won nearly unanimous support in the both the House and Senate this session. Though Douglas doesn't support the bill, and has refused to attach his signature to it, he will nonetheless forward the legislation to the Secretary of State, which will effectively enact the law.

"It's a do-nothing bill," Douglas spokesman Jason Gibbs said Thursday. "The federal law still prohibits the cultivation of industrial hemp, and so the practical impact of this legislation is virtually nothing."

Douglas could have vetoed the legislation, an option he considered after law enforcement officials raised concerns. But Gibbs said Douglas does not "exercise his veto authority lightly," and that the bill is too insignificant to warrant such an extreme action.

"The consequence of this bill is so low, so insignificant, that it doesn't rise to the level of a gubernatorial veto," Gibbs said.

Farmers won't be able to grow hemp crops just yet. Federal statute, which supercedes state law, draws no distinction between hemp and marijuana, and anyone growing either is subject to prosecution.

But Tom Tremblay, commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, said he worries about what the legislation means for law enforcement officers in Vermont if the federal law does change.

"The plants are really difficult to differentiate," Tremblay said. "The legalization of industrial hemp could increase production of marijuana."

Hemp and marijuana are in the same species of flora. THC, the intoxicating compound in marijuana, exists in hemp but at much lower levels. Vermont's law classifies hemp as a cannabis sativa plant with less than .2 percent THC. Marijuana generally has a THC content of at least 5 percent.

Tremblay, though, said that proving in a criminal court that the marijuana they seized isn't actually hemp means an expensive and laborious testing protocol that the state's crime labs are ill-equipped to take on.

"It would require the crime lab to basically develop some kind of chemical analysis, so we'd have to purchase special equipment and conduct special training, which would be expensive and time consuming," Tremblay said. "I, for one, would rather have the crime lab focusing on the very serious cases we're dealing with now."

Lawmakers this session heard testimony from authorities in Canada - where hemp cultivation is legal - who said they have no trouble distinguishing the plants. That testimony was compelling enough for Rep. Jim McNeil, a Rutland Town Republican on the House Agriculture Committee that drafted the original bill.

"You can smoke as much hemp as you want and you just get a massive headache," McNeil said. "And you can tell the difference between the crops from a distance you don't have to be right up on top of it."

McNeil said he supports the legislation because of the potential impact it could have on agriculture in the state.

"It could be a viable rotation crop for farmers, and I think it could spur a lot of small businesses," he said.

Hemp, grown legally in every industrialized country except the United States, reaps attractive profit margins for some farmers. Hemp oil, derived from seeds, is used in food and beauty products. Hemp's long stalks contain fiber and cellulose that can be made into textiles, building materials and fuel.

Amy Shollenberger, director of Rural Vermont, said the law positions Vermont farmers to capitalize on the hemp boon when the federal statute finally does change.

"I think Vermont's best hope is to do as much as it can to build local economies, and I think hemp can be a big factor in building that economy," Shollenberger said.

Vermont businesses already selling hemp products, she said, are clamoring for locally sourced hemp.

Anna Barrett, marketing director for Way Out Wax in Morrisville, said her company, which sells candles and other natural products, would prefer to purchase its hemp ingredients from local farmers.

"It's an amazing crop that has so many applications," Barrett said. "We could make hemp wax candles. People are always looking for hemp oils because they're so healthy and good for you. I really think there's a market here."

Andrew Meyer, co-owner of Vermont Soy in Hardwick, said the hemp industry might also spur in-state processing facilities that could strengthen the manufacturing sector in Vermont.

"If you have a source of hemp, and a demand for its products, you could potentially see processing facilities around the state," he said.

Gibbs said Vermonters would have been better served had their Legislature focused on issues other than hemp.

"The time the Legislature spent on this issue would have been better spent addressing property taxes or health care costs or reducing regulatory barriers to job creation," Gibbs said.

Newshawk: Richard Lake
Votes: 0
Pubdate: Fri, 30 May 2008
Source: Times Argus (Barre, VT)
Copyright: 2008 Times Argus
Author: Peter Hirschfeld, Vermont Press Bureau


Adults cited for possessing less than an ounce of marijuana in Denver will no longer have to appear in court under a rule adopted by the city attorney.

Now citations may be paid through the mail, Denver Assistant City Attorney Vincent DiCroce announced during the Denver Marijuana Policy Review Panel meeting Wednesday.

Also, the panel voted 5-4 to recommend in its first report to the City Council that the city attorney stop prosecuting the simple adult marijuana-possession cases altogether.

The panel was created when Denver voters approved a measure to make adult marijuana possession the city's "lowest law-enforcement priority." It is made of up representatives from law enforcement, city officials, marijuana proponents and members of the legal community.

Denver panelist Mason Tvert said the move to allow mailing the fines was a step in the right direction but does not go far enough.

"Denver voters have made it clear on multiple occasions that they do not want adults to be cited, fined or punished in any way for using a less harmful drug than alcohol," Tvert said.
Newshawk: Richard Lake
Votes: 0
Pubdate: Fri, 30 May 2008
Source: Denver Post (CO)
Copyright: 2008 The Denver Post Corp
Author: Felisa Cardona, The Denver Post
Bookmark: (Marijuana)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

AB 2279 Passed!

The CA Assembly just voted on AB 2279, and it passed. Introduced by
Assemblymember Mark Leno, 2279 is the ASA-sponsored legislation to
protect medical marijuana patients' rights to work. You can find out
more about the bill at

Thanks to everyone who contacted their assembly members to encourage
them to vote for the bill! The next stop is the State Senate.

- Rebecca

Rebecca Saltzman
Chief of Staff
Americans for Safe Access

AB 2279 Passed!

The CA Assembly just voted on AB 2279, and it passed. Introduced by
Assemblymember Mark Leno, 2279 is the ASA-sponsored legislation to
protect medical marijuana patients' rights to work. You can find out
more about the bill at

Thanks to everyone who contacted their assembly members to encourage
them to vote for the bill! The next stop is the State Senate.

- Rebecca

Rebecca Saltzman
Chief of Staff
Americans for Safe Access

DEA RAID! again

May 28th - The DEA raided three dispensaries operated by Ken Estes
this morning. Known as Holistic Solutions, they were located in San
Mateo, Richmond, and Clearlake. The DEA also raided Ken's home and
the homes of three of his managers, plus three affiliated grow sites
in Oakland, San Leandro, and Humboldt. The raids appear to have
been a "smash and grab" operation; agents took cash and product, but
didn't arrest anyone. Ken believes that the raids were initiated on
the tip of a former associate who was facing a lengthy federal
sentence on cultivation charges. KTVU News is investigating.
- D. Gieringer, Cal NORML

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Medical Cannabis Patient Advocates -

There are raids in LA right now. Virgil Grant, who had his dispensaries
raided in March, was arrested today along with his wife. His attorneys
are learning more as we speak. Their children are fine and with family!!

441 1/2 E. 16th St. at San Pedro is being raided. It is expected that his
other locations will also be hit. All locations are closed for the day
and staff is gone.



Big Island Police Say Council Vote May Limit Other Law Enforcement

HILO, Hawai'i -- For the second time in eight years, the Big Island County Council has refused to accept grant money to finance county marijuana eradication programs, and Big Island police say that move may hamper other law enforcement work, including efforts to crack down on harder drugs.

The council last week deadlocked in a 4-4 vote over whether to accept $282,000 in federal money and $159,000 in state funds to target marijuana-growing operations. The tie means the council will not accept the money, and East Hawai'i Vice Commander Lt. Samuel Jelsma said he is not aware of any plan by police to resubmit the measures to the council for reconsideration.

Danielle Ciccone, who submitted testimony to the council opposed to eradication, said she hopes the vote will increase public awareness of the problems with the overflights. She sees the eradication efforts as violations of residents' constitutional right to be free of illegal searches and seizures of their property.

"I think they should respect the people and respect the council and cease these overflights immediately for good of the land and the good of the people," she said.

Ciccone is a supporter of Project Peaceful Sky, an initiative organizers say has collected 3,000 signatures on a petition urging the county to make marijuana eradication "the lowest police priority."

Previously, grant funds have covered the costs tied to renting private helicopters for flights to spot marijuana patches and transport officers to remote locations to yank out plants. Jelsma said that work will continue, although "we will have to adapt our operations around this decision."

"It is our sworn duty to enforce all state laws, and the illegal cultivation of marijuana will continue to be one of our department's priorities," Jelsma said. "We will not turn a blind eye to its proliferation simply because a vocal minority may feel that it is acceptable."

Jelsma said eradication grant money was also tapped to train officers locally or on the Mainland for drug enforcement operations of all types, including efforts to curb distribution of methamphetamine and cocaine.

"We don't have that option now," he said. Training for ice and cocaine enforcement will have to come from more limited grant money the department has received to target hard drugs, he said.

In addition, the marijuana grant money was to pay overtime for officers involved in eradication programs, and that overtime pay will now have to come from the overall police budget, Jelsma said.

Big Island police now plan to rely more heavily on the Hawai'i Army National Guard and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration for helicopters for observation flights. He said the department is also in discussions with "other agencies" to obtain additional helicopter access.

If that access isn't available, police plan to fly helicopters to spot marijuana plants, and then dispatch officers on the ground to serve search warrants and remove plants.

"Our goal is to prevent the opening of the Pandora's box on illegal growing of marijuana to the point where it reverts back to the 1970s when it was out of control and the public was demanding the police take action against it."

The council refused to accept grant money in late 2000, but later voted to accept eradication grant money in 2001 with a condition that police would follow new administrative rules.

Those rules required that spotting helicopters stay at least 1,000 feet away from homes in rural subdivisions, and that officers recognize licensed users of marijuana under the state medical marijuana law.

Newshawk: An Injury to One is an Injury to All
Votes: 0
Pubdate: Mon, 26 May 2008
Source: Honolulu Advertiser (HI)
Copyright: 2008 The Honolulu Advertiser
Author: Kevin Dayton, Advertiser Big Island Bureau
Bookmark: (Marijuana)

Monday, May 26, 2008


Robert and Carmen Pack play with their daughter, Noelle. Their daughter Alana, 7, and son Troy, 10, were killed in 2003 by a driver who had taken at least eight Vicodins and muscle relaxants. ( Los Angeles Times photo )

A Riverside County, Calif., psychiatrist who drove a Corvette and lived in a gated community allegedly wrote prescriptions in the lobby of his fitness club and outside restaurants for $100 each.

More than $1 million was stashed in luggage at the house of an Orange County, Calif., physician who sold black plastic bags of narcotic painkillers.

And at one Los Angeles pharmacy, people peddled medications out front while others squeezed inside to buy more drugs.

Health professionals and dishonest patients are diverting powerful and potentially addictive prescription drugs from legitimate medical channels, helping to fuel a shift toward pharmaceuticals as drugs of choice, authorities say.

Pharmacy thefts, robberies and burglaries are also contributing to the problem, investigators say, along with prescription forgeries and Internet pharmacies that require little information before shipping drugs. Nationwide, 25 million doses of commonly abused drugs were reported stolen last year.

In California, where almost 34 million prescriptions for narcotics and other controlled substances were issued last year, the drug diversion problem has caught the attention of state Attorney General Jerry Brown. He says he plans to upgrade the state's monitoring system to allow health practitioners to check patients' histories before prescribing potentially dangerous medications.

"Doctors and pharmacies can instantly check out if the patient before them is legitimate or an abuser," Brown said. "We will be in a better position to control illegal diversion."

Law enforcement officials say high-profile accidental overdoses, such as that of former Playboy Playmate Anna Nicole Smith, are symptomatic of entrenched abuse and misuse of prescription drugs. The federal government's most recent survey reported that 7 million Americans engaged in non-medical use of pharmaceuticals in 2006 a=80" up from 6 million two years earlier. And that usage was higher than for any illicit drug except marijuana.

"Unlike illicit drug use, which shows a continuing downward trend, prescription drug abuse ... has seen a continual rise through the 1990s and has remained stubbornly steady ... during recent years," Dr. Nora D. Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, told a congressional hearing in March.

And local law enforcement officials cite a surge in the use of prescription drugs as street narcotics.

"What we are seeing is that prescription drugs ... are quickly becoming the drug of choice and abuse," said Murrieta, Calif., Police Lt. Dennis Vrooman.

In late 2006 and early 2007, Murrieta police were hearing complaints that psychiatrist Joel Stanley Dreyer a=80" a cowboy boot-wearing, extreme-fighting aficionado whose personalized license plates read FREUDMD a=80" was prescribing highly addictive drugs to apparently healthy young people.

Then an Orange County businessman showed up with a sad story that dovetailed with that information. On Christmas Day of 2005, he and his mother had found the body of his 35-year-old sister, Jessica Silva, in her condo.

Silva seemed an unlikely overdose victim. The divorced saleswoman had about $900,000 in assets. But she had been arrested for drug possession years earlier and gone through rehab a=80" and the coroner found many drugs in her system. Her last prescription was for OxyContin, a painkiller Dreyer had prescribed a few weeks earlier.

Her brother conducted his own investigation. Posing as a new patient at Dreyer's office, he complained of pain and difficulty sleeping, the brother later told police. Without conducting an examination, Dreyer prescribed three drugs and charged $100, according to an FBI court affidavit.

In 2007, three undercover officers also obtained prescriptions for $100 each during tape-recorded visits, the affidavit says. "And that, my love," Dreyer quipped to a female Drug Enforcement Administration agent, "is the game."

Now Dreyer, whose medical license was suspended last summer, faces a 19-count federal indictment alleging illegal drug dispensing. His attorney, Wayne Gross, declined to comment. Dreyer has pleaded not guilty.

Records show the California state medical board disciplines several dozen doctors a year for inappropriate prescribing and for abusing drugs and alcohol themselves, but drug diversion cases are not tallied separately.

Drug diversion investigations can be complex and take many months.

Several years ago, a multi-agency task force in Los Angeles began looking at SNG Pharmacy after complaints of open drug dealing outside.

"We ... have video of people crushing pills and mixing them with cough syrup on the sidewalk," said Sheriff's Sgt. Steve Opferman. "It was a mill for street addicts."

In 2005, an undercover deputy encountered about 30 people inside, calling out drug orders. After writing his name, address, birth date and phone number on a piece of paper, the deputy said, he bought an unlabeled bottle of Soma, a painkilling muscle relaxant.

The owner, Siamak Davoodi, pleaded no contest to misdemeanor dispensing of medication without the proper labeling or container. His pharmacy board licenses were revoked in 2006, and he was ordered to pay nearly $100,000 in investigative costs. Davoodi's attorney, Herb Weinberg, declined to comment on the case.

Other avenues for prescription diversion are forgery and fraud. In San Diego, for example, a nurse admitted in 2006 that she obtained narcotics using forms stolen from a doctor, according to the attorney general's office.

Last year, another woman was caught four times phoning bogus prescriptions to pharmacies.

At White Memorial Medical Center in East L.A., Dr. Brian Johnston said prescription fraud is increasingly common. The emergency room chief said people used his prescriber identification to try to get at least six Vicodin prescriptions last year and one recently.

They call a pharmacy "and say, 'I am Suzie and I work for Dr. Johnston, and he wants a refill on this prescription,' " Johnston said.

To detect fraud and abuse, pharmacists and doctors can fax or mail requests for a patient's prescription history from the database maintained by the attorney general's office, but the process can take weeks.

Robert Pack, who owns an East Bay computer company, wants to speed up the system a=80" for personal reasons.

In 2003, his 10-year-old son Troy and 7-year-old daughter Alana were heading out for ice cream when a car jumped the curb, killing them. The driver, a nanny who recently had received multiple prescriptions from doctors, told police she had taken at least eight Vicodins and muscle relaxants. She is now serving a second-degree murder sentence of 30 years to life in state prison.

After helping to fund a feasibility study, Pack is offering to raise $3 million to build and support a computer system for three years that would allow almost instantaneous checks of patient prescription records.

"It might have saved my children's lives and might save lives in the future," he said, adding that he would donate the system to the state.

Not everyone applauds such efforts. Tracking systems and prosecutions of doctors can have a chilling effect that deprives legitimate patients of medicines they need because they are hurting, said Siobhan Reynolds, founder of the nonprofit Pain Relief Network.

"People who, through no fault of their own, need medications are being spied on by the government," Reynolds said. As for doctors, she said: "If you treat those illnesses, you are more likely to be targeted."

Votes: 0
Pubdate: Sat, 24 May 2008
Source: Wenatchee World, The (WA)
Copyright: 2008 World Publishing Company
Author: Tim Reiterman, Los Angeles Times

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Can Pot Extend Ted Kennedy's Life? Too Bad It's Illegal

Just to clarify: The U.S. does allow cannabioid and glioma research. Our lab just submitted our research on combinations of cannabinoids for the treatment of gliomas invitro... I presented the data at the P.O.T. conference last month but I guess it went unnoticed...
Also our lab FIRST showed that THC selectivley kills gliomas., not the Italian research group.
Heres the video on youtube

Michelle Aldrich wrote:
Can Pot Extend Ted Kennedy's Life? Too Bad It's
By Paul Armentano, NORML
Posted on May 23, 2008, Printed on May 23, 2008

In the 14 years I've worked in marijuana law reform,
few events have struck me as so needlessly tragic as
the federal government's consistent and deliberate
stifling of medical cannabis research. Nowhere is the
Fed's refusal to allow this science more overt and
inhumane than as it pertains to the investigation of
cannabinoids as anti-cancer agents, particularly in
the treatment of gliomas.

As noted in today's wire stories regarding Sen. Edward
Kennedy's diagnosis, glioma is an aggressive form of
cancer that affects an estimated 10,000 Americans
annually. Standard treatments for the cancer include
radiation and chemotherapy, though neither procedure
has proven particularly effective -- the disease kills
approximately half its victims within one year and all
within three years.

But what if there was an alternative treatment for
gliomas that could selectively target the cancer while
leaving healthy cells intact? And what if federal
bureaucrats were aware of this treatment, but
deliberately withheld this information from the

Sadly, the above questions are not hypothetical. As I
originally wrote in a 2004 essay for,
titled Pot Shows Promise as a Cancer Cure":

In fact, the first experiment documenting pot's
anti-tumor effects took place in 1974 at the Medical
College of Virginia at the behest of the U.S.
government. The results of that study, reported in an
Aug. 18, 1974, Washington Post newspaper feature, were
that marijuana's psychoactive component, THC, "slowed
the growth of lung cancers, breast cancers and a
virus-induced leukemia in laboratory mice, and
prolonged their lives by as much as 36 percent."

Despite these favorable preliminary findings, U.S.
government officials banished the study and refused to
fund any follow-up research until conducting a similar
-- though secret -- clinical trial in the mid-1990s.
That study, conducted by the U.S. National Toxicology
Program to the tune of $2 million, concluded that mice
and rats administered high doses of THC over long
periods had greater protection against malignant
tumors than untreated controls.

However, rather than publicize their findings,
government researchers shelved the results, which only
became public after a draft copy of its findings were
leaked in 1997 to a medical journal which in turn
forwarded the story to the national media.

In the years since the completion of the National
Toxicology trial, the U.S. government has yet to fund
a single additional study examining the drug's
potential anti-cancer properties. Is this a case of
federal bureaucrats putting politics over the health
and safety of patients? You be the judge.

Fortunately, in the past 10 years scientists overseas
have generously picked up where U.S. researchers so
abruptly left off, reporting that cannabinoids can
halt the spread of numerous cancer cells -- including
prostate cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer,
pancreatic cancer, and in one human clinical trial,
brain cancer.

Writing earlier this year in the journal Expert Review
of Neurotherapeutics, Italian researchers reiterated,
"(C)annabinoids have displayed a great potency in
reducing glioma tumor growth either in vitro or in
animal experimental models. (They) appear to be
selective antitumoral agents as they kill glioma cells
without affecting the viability of nontransformed
counterparts." Not one mainstream media outlet
reported their findings. Perhaps now they'll pay
better attention.

What possible advancements in the treatment of cancer
may have been achieved over the past 34 years had U.S.
government officials chosen to advance -- rather than
suppress -- clinical research into the anti-cancer
effects of cannabis? It's a shame we have to
speculate; it's even more tragic that the families of
Senator Kennedy and thousands of others must suffer
while we do.

Watch a video of Paul Armentano explaining the
relationship between cannabinoids and giloma.

Paul Armentano is the deputy director for the NORML
Foundation in Washington, D.C.

© 2008 NORML All rights reserved.
View this story online at:

Friday, May 23, 2008

The California Court of Appeals

Los Angeles, May 22: The California Court of Appeals ruled that
the state limits on medical marijuana possession and cultivation
established under state law SB 420 are unconstitutional.
In the case People v. Patrick Kelly, the court overturned
defendant's conviction for possessing 12 ounces of dried marijuana
plants on the grounds that the prosecutor had improperly argued that
the defendant was guilty because he possessed more than the 8-ounce
limit established in Health & Safety Code Sec. 11362.77 and did not
have a doctor's recommendation authorizing more.
In a 3-0 decision, the court ruled: "The prosecutor's argument
was improper. It was improper because the CUA can only be amended
with voters' approval. Voters, however, did not approve the
eight-ounce limit and other caps in section 11362.77; hence, section
11362.77 unconstitutionally amends the CUA." The decision is
certified for partial publication, pending possible appeal to the
Supreme Court.
The Court validated the long-standing view of California NORML
and other Prop 215 advocates that the SB 420 limits are
unconstitutional. Cal NORML attorneys have successfully argued the
point in several lower court cases, but this is the first time it has
been addressed by an appellate court.
Text of the Kelly decision is available at

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

This is Preventable....... Not to mention a waste of money......


Rachel Hoffman's death this month in Tallahassee came during one of police work's most dangerous operations: a drug buy involving an untrained civilian informer.

Law enforcement officials say such work is necessary to get drugs and bad guys off the streets.

"The drug world is subversive, and there is no way to penetrate it without confidential informants," Tallahassee police Officer David McCranie said.

Statistics are hard to come by, but officials in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties say the use of informers is common, and sometimes they get hurt.

It can be further complicated because a potential informer might face a harsh dilemma: Cooperate, and get less jail time or none at all. Refuse, and face the consequences.

In Hoffman's case, it was the work of another informer that led to her own work for the police.

On April 15, an informer told Tallahassee police that Hoffman had sold marijuana in the past but hadn't done so recently, according to police records.

At the time, Hoffman, 23, was in a pretrial drug diversion program because of charges of possession of marijuana and resisting arrest in February 2007. To stay in the program, she had to stay out of trouble.

Two days after police got the informer's tip, a Tallahassee police officer stopped Hoffman as she was getting into her car.

The officer asked Hoffman whether she had any drugs in her apartment. A quarter-pound of marijuana, she said, plus two ecstasy pills and four Valiums, according police records.

While she waited, police obtained a search warrant and found the marijuana and ecstasy in the apartment. She wasn't arrested.

Instead, with the prospect of serving time for more serious charges, the graduate of Countryside High and Florida State University agreed to work with police.

So on May 7, Hoffman was scheduled to meet Andrea J. Green, 25, and Deneilo R. Bradshaw, 23.

Her mission: purchase 1,500 ecstasy pills and 2 ounces of cocaine or crack.

And buy a gun - something experts say is risky because it ensures the bad guys will come to the deal armed.

"Most drug deals are just robberies waiting to happen," said retired Drug Enforcement Administration agent Dennis Fitzgerald, who said he was robbed several times while working undercover.

"A buy-bust is one of the most dangerous operations to run," he said. "You are breaking into the drug deal as it occurs and when the drug meets the money, it's the most dangerous time because neither side knows if it's a ripoff or not."

Carrying between $12,000 and $15,000 in cash, Hoffman met Green and Bradshaw in a city park, according to her boyfriend. Just before leaving, she text-messaged the boyfriend and said she had been wired for the operation.

Police Blame Victim

Police defended their use of Hoffman, but said she didn't follow protocol. Instead of staying where investigators told her to go, they said, she accompanied Green and Bradshaw to another location.

She disappeared, and her body was found in rural Taylor County two days later. She had been shot, according to her lawyer. Green and Bradshaw have been charged with kidnapping and robbery, but not murder.

Since Hoffman's death, Tallahassee's police chief has asked the Florida Attorney General's Office to review his agency's procedures for dealing with informers.

Tallahassee police have said Hoffman brought Green and Bradshaw to their attention. She appeared to be a good informer because of "her maturity, her intelligence and her ability to follow directions, combined with her knowledge of the drug trade," Officer McCranie said.

"We were not asking her to do anything that required specialized training," he said. "We were asking her to do what she was already doing, and that was to purchase narcotics."

But Fitzgerald, the author of Informants and Undercover Investigations: A Practical Guide to Law, Policy, and Procedure, said he thinks police bullied Hoffman into acting as an informer.

Hoffman's father said his daughter was too young for the operation. He said he plans to push for legislation to put an age limit on informers.

"It's a sin to use kids to do that," said Irv Hoffman of Palm Harbor. "Some of these kids have a brush or two with the law, then they are thrown into these dangerous situations without fully understanding the ultimate outcome."

Not The First Time

Rachel Morningstar Hoffman isn't the only informer who has been killed.

Robin Lee Welshons, 35, was killed while cooperating with the DEA in Aberdeen, Md. She was making recorded calls and drug buys to reduce an 18-month prison sentence. She was shot to death at a motel in February 2006, just two days before she was scheduled to start her sentence.

This month, Gary B. Williams Jr., 28, was linked to her death during a sentencing hearing after his conviction on crack and cocaine distribution charges in Baltimore.

According to the Baltimore Sun, Williams asked Welshons, "You ain't working with no feds, are you?" He warned he didn't "play games" while negotiating for crack, a transcript of their telephone conversation said.

In addition to getting killed, informers also can hurt a case.

"The majority of informants are trying to work off a sentence or a charge and it is someone who is jammed up," said Ron Kurpiers, a Tampa lawyer and a former federal prosecutor. "That mind-set is dangerous because they will do anything to keep from going to prison."

But law enforcement officials say informers are vital to fighting crime. For example, in 2006, federal prosecutors in Tampa relied heavily on informers to build a case against Cali drug cartel leader Mario Valencia-Trujillo, who was convicted and sentenced to 40 years in prison.

"Confidential informants are as critical to me as news is to reporters," said Capt. Michael Platt, the narcotics division commander for the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

Rate this article Votes: 0
Pubdate: Sun, 18 May 2008
Source: Ledger, The (Lakeland, FL)
Copyright: 2008 The Ledger
Author: Demorris A. Lee, St. Petersburg Times
Cited: Tallahassee police
Bookmark: (Rachel Hoffman)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Los Angeles Times: marijuana and organ transplants don't mix

Patients who have used doctor-prescribed pot are being turned away from
hospital transplant programs.

By Stuart Glascock
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

May 19, 2008

SEATTLE — Should using doctor-prescribed marijuana be a deal-breaker for
someone needing an organ transplant? It is not a theoretical question but a
pressing and emotional one confronting hospitals and patients in states
where medical use of marijuana is legal.

This month, Timothy Garon, 56, a Seattle musician, died after being turned
down for a liver transplant. He was rejected partly because he had used
medical marijuana.

Now, a second critically ill patient in Washington state says he has been
denied a spot in two organ transplant programs because he uses
doctor-prescribed marijuana.

Jonathon Simchen, 33, of Fife, a town south of Seattle, is a diabetic whose
kidneys and pancreas have failed.

He said he was removed from the transplant program at Virginia Mason
Hospital in Seattle because he admitted using medical marijuana. Later, he
said, University of Washington Medical Center transplant officials refused
to accept him because of the medical marijuana issue.

"I'm just so discouraged," said the community college student, who wants to
be a teacher. "I've lost all remnants of hope. I look at my life right now
as if it is a prison term. I just have to serve each day."

The lawyer who represented Garon has taken on Simchen's case.

Douglas Hiatt argues that his clients are the victims of a loosely defined
transplant policy, one not based on science.

"They are really killing people over this," he said.

Hospital transplant programs, wanting to ensure the best possible outcome
for each transplant and to make optimum use of the limited number of organs
available, have strict standards about drug use and smoking in determining
who is eligible for a transplant list.

Hiatt and advocates of medical marijuana are urging hospitals to adjust
their policies after Garon's death May 1. Garon used marijuana with a
doctor's approval to ease the symptoms of hepatitis C. He died without
gaining admission to the University of Washington Medical Center's
transplant program.

Hiatt wants to negotiate on behalf of Simchen to get him on a transplant
list, but he expects he may have to file a lawsuit to get that accomplished.
If nothing else, Hiatt intends to compel judicial review of the policy.

"No, it ain't over," Hiatt said. "Jonathon needs help. He's going to get on
that list one way or another.

"You cannot treat people like this. There's no rational basis for it."

Although marijuana remains an illegal substance under federal law, about a
dozen states, including Washington, Oregon, California and Nevada, allow
doctors to prescribe it for medical purposes. It is used for conditions such
as glaucoma, diabetes, high blood pressure and AIDS.

University of Washington officials, citing privacy laws, declined to discuss
specifics of individual cases, but issued a statement acknowledging that
they took marijuana use into consideration.

"Although medical marijuana may be an issue in rare cases, it is never the
sole determinant in arriving at medical decisions about candidates for organ
transplants," the statement said.

A spokeswoman for Virginia Mason Hospital said smoking of any kind could
"lead to patient-safety and transplant-effectiveness issues" and was
precluded. She said the hospital's transplant committee would also weigh a
patient's use of medical marijuana in pill form.

At the University of Washington, the transplant committee said it reviewed
"behavioral concerns such as a history of substance abuse or dependency. If
such a history exists, then the committee looks at the period of abstinence
the candidate has demonstrated to date," as well as the patient's efforts to
maintain abstinence and potential to abuse again.

Asked why the committee considered marijuana use under a doctor's
supervision "a history of substance abuse," a hospital spokesman cited the
federal law categorizing marijuana as an illegal drug.

The United Network for Organ Sharing, which oversees the organ transplant
system nationally, leaves it up to hospitals to determine how to allocate
organs. The network's members include 254 U.S. transplant centers.

There are nearly 100,000 people on waiting lists for transplants, the
network said. On average, there are about 6,000 donors a year.

Some medical ethicists say standardized written policies on marijuana use by
transplant patients are needed.

"Medical marijuana is opening a can of worms," said Peggy Stewart, a
clinical social worker with the liver transplant program at UCLA Medical

Her studies of transplant centers found discrepancies in eligibility

She said bias existed in the medical community against marijuana because of
the federal law.

Some transplant committee members see it as an illegal substance and as
grounds for automatic rejection.

"If we are going to discriminate in this way, then we need to inform doctors
that maybe they shouldn't be prescribing marijuana," Stewart said. "It's a
problem right now. There's no distinction between a recreational drug user
and somebody who used it only for medicinal purposes."

She said many other addictive prescriptions, particularly pain medications,
did not automatically disqualify patients from transplant lists because they
were not illegal substances under federal law.

She said UCLA excluded marijuana users until they could demonstrate that
they had abstained for six months. She said the policy was being reexamined.

The policy debate has done little to soften the grief for family and friends
of Garon, the late singer, songwriter and acoustic guitarist.

His death triggered a flood of reaction.

The website Stop the Drug War called it evil to deny transplants to medical
marijuana patients.

One Seattle-area alternative newspaper was so outraged that it listed the
telephone numbers of University of Washington transplant center staff

In an editorial, the Ventura County Star wrote: "So, be warned, medical
marijuana -- legal for the last 12 years in California with a doctor's
authorization -- could cost you your job. And if you need an organ
transplant, it could cost you your life."

Friday, May 16, 2008



PROVIDENCE -- The Senate approved legislation yesterday that would
create "compassion centers" where chronically ill patients enrolled
in the state's medical marijuana program could openly purchase the drug.

Despite the 29-to-6 vote, the bill faces opposition in the House of
Representatives and is not expected to become law this year.

"I would really have to have a sock over my head if I didn't know
that," said the bill's sponsor, Sen. Rhoda E. Perry, D-Providence.
The legislation is named in part for her nephew, Edward O. Hawkins,
who died of complications from AIDS and cancer.

"What I think is important is to show movement," Perry said of
yesterday's vote. "I think getting it out of a chamber is movement.
It's showing that there is a level of understanding and a level of acceptance."

The General Assembly last year made permanent a law that allowed the
state to offer a medical marijuana program to chronically ill
patients. But lawmakers did not offer a legal means for patients to
obtain the drug, which is considered illegal by the federal
government even when prescribed.

"It was sort of the unasked question," said House Majority Leader
Gordon D. Fox. "Do you send someone that may be suffering from cancer
or whatnot out into the streets to procure it? I don't know if that's
necessarily a good solution. I think the natural extension of that is
that we provide some sort of safe place to obtain it for those who
are legally authorized."

But Fox couldn't explain the widespread assumption that the House
would block it from becoming law.

"I'm not saying that the leadership's going to support it," he said.
"I'd like to read the bill. I haven't looked at what the bill does."

The legislation would create licensed marijuana dispensaries, or
"compassion centers," that would legally grow and sell the drug at
affordable prices to the 359 patients in the state's program. The
centers would be regulated by the state Health Department.

At least 12 states have laws allowing use of medical marijuana. But
policies governing dispensaries are more fractured and several states
have stumbled trying to pass legislation for distribution centers.

Part of the problem is that federal law still bans marijuana use,
even for medical purposes. Dozens of dispensaries in California (one
of two states that allows them) have been raided by the federal
government, something medical marijuana supporters say they don't
want to see happen in Rhode Island.

Newshawk: The Source for Medicinal Marijuana News
Pubdate: Fri, 16 May 2008
Source: Providence Journal, The (RI)
Copyright: 2008 The Providence Journal Company
Author: Steve Peoples, Journal State House Bureau
Referenced: The bill
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)

Thursday, May 15, 2008


The Fine Line Between Good Medicine and 'Dangerous Drugs'

A History of the Battle Between Politics and Science Over the Use of Marijuana As a Medicine.

The following is an excerpt from "Dying to Get High" by Wendy Chapkis and Richard J. Webb ( NYU Press, 2008 ). Reproduced by permission of the publisher.

For many modern critics, the concept of "medical marijuana" is a contradiction in terms. Medicine is standardized, synthetic, and pure; marijuana involves the unrefined and promiscuous coupling of more than four hundred components rooted in the dirt. Medicine -- in its most powerful and privileged forms -- rests in the hands of men, while the most potent form of marijuana is found in the female flowering plant. Medicine engages in heroic battles against death. Marijuana claims only to enhance the quality of life.

Medicine presents itself as an objective science safeguarded by the ritual of the double-blind, randomized clinical trial. The therapeutic value of marijuana relies largely on the "soft science" of subjective experience and anecdotal evidence. From the perspective of its critics, then, cannabis is an effeminate interloper in the masculine world of real medicine, a dangerous drug pushed on a credulous public by illegitimate quacks.

But this story is too simple. The line separating regular doctors from snake oil salesmen, good drugs from bad, is as much the product of politics as it is of science. The dominance of politics in determining the value of marijuana as a medicine was first demonstrated in the 1930s when the federal government began to restrict the medical use of marijuana, against the recommendations of the American Medical Association ( AMA ).

The struggle between politics and science over the use of cannabis as a medicine continues. In the final decade of the twentieth century, the federal government threatened physicians with the loss of their license for recommending marijuana to patients, made criminals of patients who followed their doctor's advice, and actively blocked scientific research into the therapeutic value of cannabis, while insisting that it was an established scientific fact that marijuana is not a medicine.

During the opening of a 2004 congressional hearing on medical marijuana, this ongoing battle over cannabis was described by committee chair Rep. Mark Souder ( R-IN ) as a critical front in the War on Drugs and consistent with the modernization of medicine:

This hearing will address a controversial topic, the use of marijuana for so-called medicinal purposes. In recent years, a large and well-funded pro-drug movement has succeeded in convincing many Americans that marijuana is a true medicine to be used in treating a wide variety of illnesses .... Marijuana was once used as a folk remedy in many primitive cultures, and even in the 19th century was frequently used by some American doctors, much as alcohol, cocaine, and heroin were once used by doctors. By the 20th century, however, its use by legitimate medical practitioners has dwindled, while its illegitimate use as a recreational drug has risen.

Souder thus sets the stage for a morality tale populated by primitive practitioners and legitimate doctors, dangerous drug fiends and decent drug warriors.

Fox News personality Bill O'Reilly invoked a similar cast of characters in his 2004 discussion of medical marijuana with U.S. Deputy "Drug Czar" Dr. Andrea Barthwell. That year, voters in Oregon were to be presented with a ballot measure to amend their state's already-existing medical marijuana law. The proposed amendment ( which ultimately failed ) was intended both to increase the amount of marijuana a patient could have over the course of a year and to redefine which health professionals could legally recommend marijuana for medical use.

O'Reilly scoffed at the idea that licensed health practitioners other than physicians might be authorized to recommend the use of cannabis to their patients: "Even a shaman could grant permission for you to toke in Oregon. I mean, this is, you know, any health practitioner. So you're a shaman from the Amazon and you set up shop. Come on, I mean, everybody knows this is a ruse. Am I wrong?" Andrea Barthwell confirmed for viewers that O'Reilly's concerns were quite legitimate: "No, you're absolutely right, Bill. This is what we've been trying to make clear to people when they have these proposals presented to them. This is not about getting medicine to people who are sick and dying. This is about making marijuana legal."

While both host and guest shared the belief that the Oregon proposal was no more than a thinly disguised attempt to legalize marijuana, O'Reilly asked whether cannabis itself might not be a legitimate medicine if prescribed by a legitimate physician to a patient with a legitimate need: "But there is a legitimate issue here, Doctor. We had Montel Williams [another popular TV talk show host] on a few weeks back. He has MS [multiple sclerosis]. And I believe Montel Williams when he says, 'Look, medical marijuana helps me, helps me cope with this disease, cope with my suffering. There's no reason why I should be denied it.' And I agree with Montel Williams that if this is the case, if a doctor -- a doctor -- says that he needs it for his MS, he should have it. You don't disagree with that, do you?" Barthwell's response was uncompromising: "Well, I do, actually. There is nothing that tells us from the science now that smoked, crude botanical should be a medication. We have a process that has been in place for 100 years in this country that protects the sick and dying from snake oil salesmen. And just because something makes you feel better doesn't make it medicine."

In this short exchange, the terms of the debate for dismissing cannabis therapeutics are neatly laid out: medical marijuana is a ruse; cannabis is the modern day equivalent of "snake oil"; "crude botanicals" are not real medicine; licensed alternative health practitioners are not legitimate healers; marijuana is reduced to and synonymous with smoking as a delivery system; and "feeling better" isn't always therapeutic. Taken together, these claims create a neat division between marijuana and "real medicine," with medicine narrowly defined as that which is practiced by physicians prescribing pharmaceuticals to patients who will not necessarily feel better as a result.

The Rise of "Regular" Medicine and the Battle Against Botanicals

According to Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, an Israeli research chemist who performed much of the original work in the early 1960s isolating the active ingredients in marijuana: From ancient times to the early 20th Century, cannabis was used for a wide variety of medical purposes including the treatment of pain and swelling, depression, arthritis, impotence, kidney stones, hemorrhaging in childbirth, irregular bowel movements, cold sores, distending stomach, dropsy, headaches, diseases of the respiratory organs, hysteria, neuralgia, sciatica, tetanus, dysentery, fatigue, disorders of the female reproductive system, convulsions, cholera, delirium tremens, vomiting, spasmodic asthma, and a host of other ailments. Most of these therapeutic claims were either based on folklore or were anecdotal, but the use of cannabis as a therapeutic agent in the past provides an insight for future drug development. More recently, some of the historical therapeutic properties of cannabis have been verified with pure natural or synthetic cannabinoids; however, in several fields no modern scientific work exists.

In order to understand why marijuana, a promising medicinal botanical, should now be excluded not only from the modern pharmacopeia but also from much formal scientific study, it is necessary to ask why some drugs, but not all, get labeled "medicine"; why some healers, and not others, are "regular doctors"; why some effects, but only some, are understood as "therapeutic"; and why some risks are acceptable while others are prohibited under penalty of law. The answers cannot be found in a simple appeal to scientific standards. Instead, in order to understand what counts as "legitimate" medicine, it is useful to ask who, beyond the patient, might benefit from such distinctions. In our exploration of the role of organized medicine, state regulatory agencies, the courts, and the pharmaceutical industry in the demonization of marijuana, the intent is not to perform the reverse process, demonizing modern medicine. Over the past century, during which organized medicine consolidated its authority and cannabis was first marginalized and then removed from the pharmacopeia, astonishing medical advances have been made. Unquestionably, the public would be ill served by a return to a time of unregulated medicine practiced by poorly trained doctors with recourse to few effective drugs.

Nonetheless, it is also the case that the healing arts remain an impure science. The most striking difference between marijuana and "real medicine" is not the physical but the social effects the plant has on users and healers alike. Association with marijuana marks those it touches as illegitimate -- a distinction with deep historical roots. Prior to the professionalization of medicine, lay healers -- often women -- made extensive use of medicinal plants. But as modern medicine moved into the ranks of the professions, and into hands of men, botanicals were discredited along with the women who had used them. In their pathbreaking study of the rise of the male medical expert, For Her Own Good, Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English note that, in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, anxiety over women's knowledge of medicinal botanicals contributed to the European witch hunts: charges against the accused often included the provision of herbs.

In Colonial America and the early republic, health and healing practices also rested largely in the hands of lay women practicing herbal medicine. Historian Carol Smith-Rosenberg observes that "women as midwives and as family nurses, women wise in the ancient herbal pharmacopoeia, had always cared for their own and neighboring families. A survey of cookbooks and women's diaries for the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries shows that women collected and exchanged recipes for medicines as routinely as they did for pies and cookies."

By the nineteenth century, however, as medicine entered the marketplace, male physicians with little formal training claimed for themselves the designation "Regular doctor" while moving all others to the margins of the healing arts. In North America, midwives, bonesetters, and "root and herb" doctors were thus gradually displaced by the self-proclaimed "Regulars," not through the violence of witch burnings, as happened in Europe, but rather through professionalization. This challenge was, according to Ehrenreich and English, "at bottom, economic. Medicine in the 19th century ... [became] a thing to be bought and sold."

Professionalization required that the Regulars distinguish themselves from midwives and herbalists; they did so through "heroic medicine," a practice involving dramatic ( though not necessarily beneficial ) techniques such as bloodletting, blistering, purging, and the use of toxic mercury-based medicines. These interventions were intended to produce "the strongest possible effect on the patient." Though such therapies were not only dangerous and often ineffective, Ehrenreich and English observe that they gave "regular doctors something activist, masculine, and imminently more salable than the herbal teas and sympathy served up by rural female healers." In fact, despite the very serious risks of heroic medicine, Smith-Rosenberg notes that the Regulars insisted that it was they who were protecting "the lives of innocent citizens from ill-trained, irresponsible 'irregulars,' and hysterical midwives."

The Regulars prospered during the first two decades of the nineteenth century and succeeded in securing licensing laws in many states restricting the practice of medicine to those in their ranks and limiting membership to men. But growing dissatisfaction with the results of "heroic medicine," and populist misgivings about monopolies and elites, led to the temporary repeal of such laws during the 1830s. The "Popular Health Movement" of the period challenged the position of Regulars by emphasizing "self-help" ( through better hygiene and healthy living ) and by embracing the therapeutic approaches of alternative medical sects, including those advocating botanical treatments.

As sociologist Carol Weisman notes, under the banner of science, Sectarians or Irregulars "were attacked by mainstream physicians as 'quacks,' although the therapeutics of the regular physicians were not generally more effective than those of the irregulars." The Regulars reinforced their claim that they, and they alone, were legitimate physicians by founding a national professional organization in 1847 -- the American Medical Association -- explicitly excluding both women and sectarian practitioners.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, economic competition intensified as both Regulars and their rivals -- now known as the "Eclectics" -- opened medical schools to train practitioners. The Eclectics, who advocated the use of botanical therapies, also represented a more populist and egalitarian politics -- for example, they admitted women to their medical schools. During this same period, in 1854, cannabis joined other herbal remedies in the national pharmacopeias and was freely prescribed for a large number of medical conditions ranging from insomnia to neuropathic pain. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, dozens of research papers were published on the various medicinal uses of marijuana.

This corresponds to a period in which Regulars began to consolidate the power of the newly organized medical profession, in part by absorbing Eclectics into their ranks. As Paul Starr observes in his landmark study, The Social Transformation of American Medicine, Eclectics "succumbed to quiet cooptation; they were only too glad to be welcomed into the fold." By co-opting much of the opposition, physicians were able to secure new licensing laws restricting the practice of medicine. But Eclectics paid a significant price; with the consolidation of control by conventional medicine, botanical therapies were increasingly marginalized by mainstream medicine.

The allopathic approach of the Regulars was not only dominant but also institutionalized in the early twentieth century when organized medicine completed its process of professionalization by gaining control over medical education, access to hospitals, and the right to prescribe drugs. The dominance of this paradigm was reflected in the growing strength of the American Medical Association. In 1900 the AMA had no more than eight thousand members, but by 1910 membership reached seventy thousand, and by 1920 the majority of physicians in the United States had become members. In fact, by 1931 only about 5 percent of all cases of illness were handled by non-MD practitioners.

This exponential increase in the power and professional authority of regular doctors surprisingly did not rest primarily on the provision of more effective medicines; these were slow to be developed. Instead, doctors were forced to find other ways to assert their newly established social and cultural legitimacy. One strategy was to position themselves as experts in not only the physical but also the moral health of the nation. In the nineteenth century, condemnation of birth control and abortion, for instance, provided physicians with a clear moral platform that allowed them to denounce practices still largely in the hands of "irregulars." According to Carol Smith-Rosenberg, these efforts to limit women's reproductive choices became a key arena "in the war between the allopaths and the 'irregulars' for patients and for power .... The 'irregular' physician and the 'irregular' wife, the 'regulars' insisted, conspired together against public order and national well-being." As Carol Weisman observes, this claim of medical and moral expertise "provided regular physicians with an element of social respectability and moral authority, which was enhanced by publicly criticizing the abortion practices of other practitioners and the crass commercialism of purveyors of contraceptives and abortifacients."

At the end of the nineteenth century, flush with its legislative success against abortion, the AMA turned its attention to another arena that neatly linked morality and public health: the provision of drugs. Physicians enhanced their professional authority by speaking out against the dangers of addictive drugs frequently found in "patent medicines" and available directly to the public. Because the formulae of proprietary medicines were secret, it was impossible for patients to judge the safety of those drugs. The practitioners of organized medicine thus joined forces with muckraking journalists to bring to the public's attention the possible risks of patent medicines. This important public service had a significant payoff for the profession as well, reinforcing a growing distinction in the public mind between good drugs ( dispensed by doctors ) and bad drugs ( available directly to the public by unlicensed practitioners ).

MAP posted-by: Richard Lake
Newshawk: Kirk
Votes: 0
Pubdate: Tue, 13 May 2008
Source: AlterNet (US Web)
Copyright: 2008 NYU Press
Authors: Wendy Chapkis and Richard J. Webb
Note: Wendy Chapkis and Richard J. Webb are the authors of "Dying to
Get High" by NYU Press, 2008.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


TALLAHASSEE -- The mayor of Tallahassee and the Florida head of the American Civil Liberties Union called for independent investigations Monday after accusations that a 23-year-old woman should not have been used as a police informant on a dangerous drug bust.

Rachel Hoffman's body was found Friday in rural Taylor County, two days after she went missing. Hoffman, who was facing several felony charges, was working with narcotics officers and posing as a buyer.

Police said Hoffman didn't follow protocol when she left with the two men who are now suspects in her disappearance and death. Hoffman's family and lawyer says the recent Florida State University graduate should never have been placed in such a dangerous position to begin with.

Dennis Fitzgerald, a retired Drug Enforcement Agency officer, said police badly botched the case and should have sent an undercover officer to accompany Hoffman.

"If they could do it wrong, they did it in this case," said Fitzgerald, author of "Informants and Undercover Investigations: A Practical Guide to Law, Policy, and Procedure."

He also said police should have been able to keep track of Hoffman even if the planned meeting moved.

Tallahassee Police Chief Dennis Jones said he's confident officers followed department procedures, and that normally those protocols protect informants.

It was Hoffman who didn't do what she was supposed to, police say.

Police said they found Ecstasy pills and "high-grade" marijuana when they raided her apartment last week. Police haven't said what she was promised in return, but that Hoffman agreed to become an informant and help them reel in a bigger fish.

"All indications were she would be a very good choice as a confidential informant, she would follow directions and there would be no issues," Tallahassee police spokesman David McCranie said Monday.

But police say at the last minute, she changed the location of the meeting with the two men, Andrea J. Green and Deneilo Bradshaw, in a Tallahassee-area park to buy drugs and a gun from them as part of a sting. McCranie said Hoffman led police to the two men, not the other way around.

The police officer handling the case pleaded with her to call off the meeting, McCranie said.

"For whatever reason she did not call it off," McCranie said. "And that ultimately led to her murder."

Green and Bradshaw are in custody, and charged with kidnapping Hoffman. McCranie said Monday that murder charges were pending. It wasn't clear Monday whether either Green or Bradshaw had hired a lawyer.

Meanwhile, Hoffman's family was preparing for a funeral today in the Tampa Bay suburb of Palm Harbor.

They're furious that police allowed their daughter to get into such a dangerous situation.

Hoffman's stepfather, Mike Weiss, told The Tampa Tribune Monday that police should stop falling back on what Hoffman did because she shouldn't have been put in the position in the first place.

"They took a 23-year-old relatively naive person and put her in a life-threatening situation," Weiss told the newspaper.

Michael Grimes, a federal drug enforcement agent for nearly 30 years and author of "A Guide for Developing and Controlling Informants," said that undercover drug operations are never completely safe.

But generally, he said, if something goes wrong, it's because an informant messes up, or police don't clearly explain beforehand exactly what they're supposed to do.

ACLU of Florida executive director Howard Simon said her death "raises all sorts of serious questions about the use of undercover informants," Simon said. "This just screams for an investigation."

Rate this article Votes: 0
Pubdate: Tue, 13 May 2008
Source: Ledger, The (Lakeland, FL)
Copyright: 2008 The Ledger
Author: David Royse, The Associated Press

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Governments Sorta Kinda Maybe Logic

It could be argued that the most useless job in Washington, D.C., is
held by John Walters, director of the Office of National Drug Control
Policy. He's otherwise known as the country's Drug Czar.

And when you consider the spectacular number of useless jobs in
Washington, that's quite an accomplishment.

No one is saying, of course, that it's easy being a figurehead of a
cost-inefficient organization charged with implementing the biggest
domestic policy disaster since Prohibition. After all, it means
advocating that thousands of non-violent offenders be sent to prison
-- quite often after paramilitary raids have reeled them in.

It means denying citizens dying of cancer, AIDS and other painful
diseases the medical marijuana they claim alleviates their pain. It
means ignoring the will of citizens in states like California and
Colorado, where medical marijuana was legalized.

Being the Drug Czar means overstating and misleading Americans with
so-called studies. He's not alone. From the Centers for Disease
Control to the Surgeon General, government agencies are under the
impression that when their view of some "greater good" is at stake,
concocting studies to propagate flawed policy is acceptable.

Take, if you will, the new report titled "Teen Marijuana Use Worsens
Depression: An Analysis of Recent Data Shows 'Self-Medicating' Could
Actually Make Things Worse." Scary stuff.

"Adolescent marijuana use may be a factor that triggers psychosis,
depression, and other mental illness," explains Walters, who admits
"research about causality is still ongoing."

Ongoing, doubtlessly, until Walters unearths the answer he's looking for.

It's not often you see half-baked phrases like "Could Actually" in
the title of a study. You'll also notice Walters also says it "may be
a factor." Because, in other words, "it may not" be a factor at all.

The study of causality -- proof that one thing causes the other -- is
imperative. (A recent British government study was "unconvinced" that
any such relationship exists). Surely, one "could actually" find a
link between depressed teens and alcohol consumption, or overeating,
of any number of self-destructive habits.

As Michael Fendrich, a psychologist and director of the Center for
Addiction and Behavioral Health Research at the University of
Wisconsin, told WebMd, the study "overreaches" and is "kind of sensationalist."

And in the end, it is also irrelevant. Children shouldn't use drugs,
and even if drugs were legalized, no one is advocating children
should be able to use them.

This does not excuse the fact that government agencies have become
public relations firms that attempt to manipulate public opinion
rather than simply implement policy. Should government be
self-servingly selective in the studies they rely on?

For instance, a study by the University of California at San
Francisco found that marijuana was effective to relieve pain. "If
marijuana were a new discovery rather than a well-known substance
carrying cultural and political baggage, it would be hailed as a
wonder drug," wrote Dr. Lester Grinspoon, a Harvard psychiatrist.

Yet drug warriors have decided that adults cannot make decisions
regarding marijuana for themselves because somewhere, somehow, it
might get into the hands of children -- and that, of course, never
happens today.

As you read this, the Office of National Drug Control Policy is
conducting a series of regional "summits" hoping to convince
educators that random drug testing of your children is a great idea.

No doubt, they will brandish their most recent study as evidence that
action must be taken. And no doubt many children will have their
first taste of unnecessary government intrusion.

Then again, it could actually, sorta, maybe work. Right?

Newshawk: Walters Exaggerating Again
Pubdate: Tue, 13 May 2008
Source: Denver Post (CO)
Copyright: 2008 The Denver Post Corp
Author: David Harsanyi
Referenced: The new 'report'
Bookmark: (Marijuana)
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)
Bookmark: (Walters, John)