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February 6, 1997

Record Number Of State Legislatures To Decide On Industrial Hemp In 1997

Hemp field February 6, 1997, Washington, D.C.:  At least ten state legislatures will decide on measures pertaining to the cultivation of industrial hemp in 1997, the largest number since hemp was made illegal by the federal government in 1937 under the Marihuana Tax Act.

"Domestic sales of imported hemp products raked in approximately $25 million dollars in sales in 1994 alone and the American Farm Bureau now calls hemp 'one of the most promising crops in half a century,'" said NORML's Deputy Director Allen St. Pierre. "The explosion of industrial hemp legislation at the state level is a direct result of growing awareness among legislators and the public that this is a viable crop for American farmers."
Presently, legislators have introduced industrial hemp legislation in at least six states: Colorado, Hawaii, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, and Virginia. While some of these measures simply mandate state-run committees to study the economic benefits of, and barriers to, production of industrial hemp, other more progressive bills allow for test plots of hemp to be cultivated for research purposes.
"The state of Hawaii needs to act now and plant test plots of industrial cannabis hemp so that it -- and not its competitors -- will be in the position to establish important business ties with the manufacturers of hemp-based fiber, pulp, paper, oil, paints, sealants, fuel and food," states legislation introduced in Hawaii by Rep. Cynthia Thielen (R-Kailau Kameohe), one of three state bills introduced to allow for domestic cultivation.
According to former Colorado Senator and hemp advocate Lloyd Casey, representatives and senators in at least six additional states "range from 75 percent to 95 percent" sure that they will also introduce industrial hemp legislation in 1997. These states are: Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Oregon, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
"Industrial hemp provides a window of opportunity for U.S. agriculture producers to take advantage of a highly profitable fiber crop [with] many uses ...," wrote Bob Winter in the June 17, 1996 edition of Farm Bureau News -- the weekly newspaper of the American Farm Bureau Federation. "International trade agreements (e.g., GATT and NAFTA) recognize the designation of 0.3 percent ... THC as the distinction between industrial hemp and marijuana. [Yet,] current U.S. law[s] do not differentiate between hemp and marijuana. Thanks to these laws, ... U.S. farmers are prohibited from growing a highly profitable crop without government subsidy."
Often described as marijuana's misunderstood cousin, industrial hemp is from the same plant species (Cannabis sativa) that produces marijuana. Unlike marijuana, however, industrial hemp has only minute amounts of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient that gives marijuana its euphoric and medicinal properties. Currently most of Europe and Asia grow hemp for industrial purposes. Both Australia and Canada engage in hemp cultivation for research purposes.
For more information, please contact Laura Kriho of the
Colorado Hemp Initiative Project (CO-HIP) @ (303) 784-5632 or Paul Armentano of NORML @ (202) 483-5500. Lloyd Casey may be contacted via e-mail at: For updates on state hemp legislation, please check out NORML's Web site @: or e-mail CO-HIP at: Copies of NORML's position paper: Can America Afford Not To Grow This Plant? are available upon request.

State Senator Proposes Cultivating Marijuana For Medical Research

February 5, 1997, Sacramento, CA: Senator John Vasconcellos (D-Santa Clara) recently released language seeking to codify Proposition 215, the medical marijuana initiative passed by California voters in November. The measure, known as the "Proposition 215 Implementation Act of 1997," will authorize major clinical research regarding medical marijuana as well as address distribution options and make minor clarifying amendments to Proposition 215. The language will be introduced to the state legislature later this month.

"On November 6, ... 56% of [the California electorate] voted to protect the most basic right of Americans: to be free from inappropriate control by government." said Vasconcellos. "Now the work begins to ensure the people of California's policy is translated into the most effective practical terms for the Californians it's intended to benefit."
The bill requires the University of California to establish a Medical Marijuana Research Center and appropriates $2 million per year for three years to fund its operations. The bill also creates a task force to study options for distribution of medical marijuana and report back to the Legislature with recommendations.
"If the federal government is unwillingly to conduct real research to benefit sick and dying people, then California will," Vasconcellos said.
    Finally, the measure makes three simple clarifications of Proposition 215:

  • Specifies that the physician who recommends the use of medical marijuana be licensed by the state of California;
  • Provides standard protective procedures for the application of Proposition 215 to unemancipated minors;
  • Ensures defendants are allowed to claim the medical marijuana defense in a pre-trial hearing as well as in any subsequent hearing.
The language released yesterday will be introduced as a Senate bill by February 28.
"This [language] carries forward the will of the voters and deserves bi-partisan support," said Dave Fratello of Americans for Medical Rights. "California can take the lead in beginning new Phase III human studies of marijuana to speed the drug approval process."
For more information, please contact either Sen. John Vasconcellos' office @ (916) 445-9740 or Bill Zimmerman of Americans for Medical Rights @ (310) 394-2952. For more information on medical marijuana or for a copy of NORML's position paper: Making The Case For Medical Marijuana, please contact either Allen St. Pierre or Paul Armentano of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.

NORML Testifies In Support Of
Marijuana Decriminalization Bill
In New Hampshire

February 6, 1997, Concord, New Hampshire:  NORML Legal Committee Co-chair, Michael Cutler, Esq. of Boston, Massachusetts, testified before the New Hampshire subcommittee on Justice and Public Safety on January 29 in favor of legislation reducing the penalty for possession of less than one and one-half ounces of marijuana from a class A misdemeanor to a "violation." He was joined by the bill's chief sponsor, Rep. Tim Robertson (D/R-Cheshire), and a representative from the local American Civil Liberties Organization (ACLU).
Cutler discussed the failure of prohibition to deter adult and adolescent marijuana use and access. He submitted numerous state research studies demonstrating that decriminalization has had virtually no effect on either marijuana use or on related attitudes about marijuana use among American young people in states that enacted such measures over 20 years ago. Cutler noted that at least two of the representatives attending expressed support for the measure and speculated that New Hampshire's governor may be sympathetic toward the bill.
Under current state law, possession of marijuana is punishable by a one-year sentence and/or $1,000 fine. Under Rep. Robertson's proposal (H.B. 118-FN), individuals possessing small amounts of marijuana would receive a ticket and a small fine.
For more information, please contact Rep. Robertson @ (603) 271-3529 or Attorney Michael Cutler @ (617) 439-4990.



© copyright 1996, 1997 NORML NORML Home Page comments:

It's just psychological warfare, son

Regional and other news

Body Count

Three of the five felons sentenced by Multnomah County courts in the most recent week received jail or prison terms for controlled-substance offenses, according to the "Portland" zoned section of The Oregonian ("Felonies," Feb. 6, 1997, p. 9, 3M-MP-SE). That makes the body count so far this year 14 out of 32, or 43.75 percent. (The final tally for 1996 was 370 out of 675, or 54.81 percent.)

Portland NORML Activists Continue Lobbying At Public Meetings

As noted last week, Portland NORML Director T.D. Miller and a few other local chapter members have been attending a series of public forums where city and county residents can lobby each other and local officials about where to make budget cuts necessitated by the passage of Measure 47, the property-tax-limitation initiative. (The meeting times and places were listed in the Jan. 16 Portland NORML Weekly News Release item, "Portland Public Hearings Let You Speak Against Busting Pot Offenders.")

Of the latest week's meetings, Miller wrote on Feb. 1:

[Multnomah County Sheriff Dan Noelle] really does look like he's going through a lot of pain watching the committee reports because there is overwhelming support NOT to build the jails.

Since I have all of you here-this is how it shapes up so far. Out of seven meetings, lowering marijuana's priority for arrest or disbanding the Marijuana Task Force has been mentioned as one of the three priorities for cuts in six of the meetings. All of the meetings have included cuts for "victimless crimes" or cuts in "basic prosecution" which I understand to include low-priority crimes. Mike Lindquist (ex-commissioner) was at my table and voted with me to disband the MTF at the City budget and lower priorities for pot at the county level. Lolenzo Poe (works with Neighborhoods for city) told me that since I have been coming there is "considerable, substantial support" for the ideas we have expressed at these meetings. Erik Sten was facilitator this morning and supported the three items for cuts at our table which included disbanding the MTF. He also said privately that those cuts were exactly what he was recommending to the council at this point. Vera Katz came over to ask how our table came out on smoking (she was in jest). Without a doubt, we have their attention for once.

All I have been asking is simply to lower the priorities for marijuana offenses in the county budget (approx. 16 million annually), and don't build the jails (48 million savings by not jailing pot offenders). In the city budget, disband the MTF. It's $300,000 we can save (plus some change in other departments). I have received support at every table I have been to from a range of a single supporter to one vote shy of unanimous.

I feel like we are making some hay here but the process is 5 more months and I would never claim success too soon. Certainly this is true-

The days of the other side continuing to oppress at all levels and in all ways is over. We are at trials, in front of jurors (thanks Floyd), budget hearings, council meetings et al.

And we've just gotten started......


Help To Fully Inform Jurors

In 1986 in Oregon, the last time there was an election on the subject, 26.3 percent of the voters said it should not be a crime for people age 18 or older to possess or cultivate "personal use" amounts of marijuana. Twenty-six and three-tenths of one percent is not enough to change the law, but it would be enough to nullify it if jurors weren't unconstitutionally forced to violate their own consciences. Those who would like to tell jurors about their right to judge the law as well as the facts in a case can distribute information 9 am to noon every Monday (Tuesdays if Monday is a holiday) at the Multnomah County Courthouse, 1021 SW Fourth Ave. For more details contact Floyd Ferris Landrath at (503) 235-4524 or

San Marcos, Texas, Faces Medical Marijuana Vote In May

SAN MARCOS, Texas (UPI, Feb. 6, 1997) -- The architect of a petition drive to allow medical use of marijuana in a central Texas town says today he's sure the city's voters would approve it if allowed to vote on it.

Southwest Texas State University Prof. Harvey Ginsburg says he has enough signatures for a May referendum. The San Marcos city council decides Monday whether to allow the vote.

Ginsburg stresses that if the ordinance passes, it would not become legal merely to possess the drug within San Marcos city limits.

He says the measure encourages police to show tolerance in enforcing marijuana laws when people suffer from half a dozen designated diseases, such as certain cancers, glaucoma and AIDS. Police would strictly enforce anti-drug laws in all other cases.

Ginsburg says the council has three options on the measure: pass the referendum without a vote, put it on ballot in the May vote, or decline to put the measure on the ballot and reject it.

Mayor Billy Moore says, "If it's the will of the people, then I have no problem putting it to a vote."

Ginsburg says he's pushed for years to allow medicinal use for marijuana.

He says it's clear that marijuana effectively relieves the symptoms of certain diseases, and he cites a New England Journal of Medicine editorial last week that urged lawmakers to allow doctors to prescribe the drug, as proof of the merits of medical tolerance.

Son Of US Representative From California Charged With Smuggling

"Rep.'s Son Charged With Trafficking"
Los Angeles Times, Jan. 26, 1997

Drugs: Todd Cunningham, whose father is a San Diego congressman, is accused of flying marijuana into an airport near Boston.

By Marc Lacey, Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- The Drug Enforcement Administration arrested the son of Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-San Diego) earlier this month for allegedly flying an airplane loaded with more than 400 pounds of marijuana into a small airport near Boston.

Todd R. Cunningham, 27, a San Diego bartender, pleaded not guilty to marijuana trafficking and conspiracy to violate drug laws. Authorities said that on Jan. 17, they saw kilogram-size bricks of marijuana unloaded from a twin-engine plane at Lawrence Municipal Airport in North Andover, Mass.

Cunningham was released Wednesday after posting $25,000 cash bail.

His father, a four-term congressman, said he learned of the arrest Friday night, a week after it occurred, when informed by a reporter.

"As a parent, this is the most anguishing thing that can happen to you," Cunningham said in a statement. "We love him. If the charges are true, we are disappointed, and he must face his responsibilities."

Cunningham, a decorated combat pilot and flight instructor, is known in the House for his fiery rhetoric and strong stands on illegal immigration and drug trafficking. He has knocked President Clinton for a "cavalier attitude" toward the problem.

"What we need from our policy leaders and law enforcement is a real war on drugs," Cunningham said in a newspaper commentary last year. "We must get tough on drug dealers, fully fund the war on drugs, and stop drugs at the border."

He noted that Congress passed a law restricting federal judges from ordering the early release of drug traffickers. "Those who would peddle destruction on our children must pay dearly," he said.

Times staff writer Tony Perry in San Diego contributed to this report.

French, Dutch Reach Drugs Policy Accord

NOORDWIJK, Netherlands (Reuter, Feb. 6, 1997) - France and the Netherlands kissed and made up, literally, on Thursday to celebrate their new-found accord on drugs policy.

To celebrate an accord struck on Monday to set aside differences over drugs policy and instead to work together to fight drugs smuggling, French Justice Minister Jacques Toubon gave his Dutch counterpart Winnie Sorgdrager a kiss on the cheek.

"I think the conclusion which can be drawn is that we enjoy excellent relations," Toubon told a news conference on the sidelines of a meeting of EU justice ministers.

The two sides had been at loggerheads over drugs policy, with France accusing the Netherlands, through its liberal drugs policy, of making it possible for young people to buy drugs to circulate elsewhere.

Although drugs are illegal in the Netherlands, small amounts of soft drugs can be bought in so-called coffee shops and the police turn a blind eye to the possession of small amounts of hard drugs.

Under the accord the two sides will increase cooperation at customs.

Sorgdrager said the two sides, along with their EU partners would also investigate the availability of drugs in prison and cooperate with eastern European governments to try to stem the flow of designer drugs like ecstasy and crack.

Arizona Pollsters, Legislators Take Aim At Proposition 200

"Medicinal pot debate flares with new fire
Opinion polls conflict; bills seek to dilute Prop. 200"
The Arizona Daily Star, Feb. 6, 1997
By Shaun McKinnon

PHOENIX - Arizonans either knew what they were doing when they voted last November to allow doctors to prescribe marijuana or they were duped and wish they had it to do all over again.

Either way, the Legislature plans to have the final say.

The debate over Proposition 200 reignited yesterday, three months after voters overwhelmingly approved the so-called medical marijuana initiative. The new law also requires treatment instead of jail time for first-time drug offenders and orders the release of some non-violent offenders already in prison.

Opponents and supporters released conflicting polls yesterday about whether Arizonans still supported the measure: The opponents' poll said voters would like to repeal Proposition 200; the supporters' survey found that voters were satisfied with what they did.

Each side challenged the other's results.

At the Capitol, a group of Republican and Democratic legislators begged off the question of public opinion and instead proposed a series of bills that would water down Proposition 200.

The proposals would narrow the list of drugs that could be prescribed to one - marijuana - and then only if the federal government agreed.

A second bill would place tighter controls on releasing drug offenders from prison.

A third measure would send drug offenders to prison if they don't agree to treatment.

"Our approach is not to thwart the will of the people on Prop. 200, but to implement it in a rational, reasonable way," said Senate Judiciary Chairman John Kaites, R-Glendale.

Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley fired the first shot yesterday, releasing the results of an opinion poll showing what appeared to be a 180-degree turnaround among the state's registered voters.

It found that 85 percent of those surveyed believe Proposition 200 should be changed and that 60 percent believe it should be repealed. Even with that kind of opposition, though, 64 percent felt doctors should be able to prescribe marijuana to patients under certain circumstances.

Not surprisingly, the poll also found a huge majority opposed total legalization of drugs and the early release of violent offenders or offenders with long histories of drug arrests.

Those issues were not addressed in Proposition 200.

The survey was conducted by Bruce Merrill, director of the Arizona State University Media Research Center, and paid for by the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America.

Several hours after Romley's news conference, one of the groups responsible for Proposition 200 released its own poll, which showed Arizonans still behind the ballot measure and are in no mood to have the Legislature tinker with it.

The survey, conducted by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin & Associates for the group Arizonans for Drug Policy Reform, found 56 percent of those asked would still vote in favor of Proposition 200.

More than half - 53 percent - want Romley and others to stop efforts to repeal the measure, and 59 percent felt that voters had made their decision and should be allowed to stand by it.

Paul Maslin, one of the pollsters, said the results should not have been unexpected because, "These are the same people who made their decision in November."

He said Merrill's poll was biased and structured in a way to guarantee the outcome, using scare tactics and loaded questions.

The question about whether voters still supported Proposition 200, he said, was preceded by 17 other questions, many focusing on drug use by children, the release of violent criminals and legalizing drugs.

Merrill dismissed Maslin's charges and said the conflicting results don't necessarily mean either poll is flawed.

"It's one of those gray areas of polling where you've got two advocacy groups," he said. "The groups have a difference in what the bill represents. Our group tried to test what they thought were the unintended consequences."

He said the other polling group could be accused of bias as well because it prefaced its question with the reminder that Proposition 200 passed with 65 percent of the vote.

"By putting that in, you're saying, `Are you going to let the politicians reverse the will of the people?' " he said.

The furor over Proposition 200 is unlikely to fade away with the Legislature planning to consider bills that would blunt many of its effects.

Sam Vagenas, one of the measure's chief proponents, called the bills an attempt to gut Proposition 200.

"Proposition 200 is law," he said. "There's no such thing as implementing it. It's their burden to repeal it, not our burden to get them to enact it."

But Kaites and others said the Legislature needed to fine-tune the measure to prevent any unintended consequences. The package he and others are proposing will include measures to:

  • Set criteria for the executive clemency board as it considers the early release of non-violent drug offenders. The board would have to consider past criminal history and any potential danger to the public.

  • Place in treatment programs only those first-time offenders who want treatment. If the offenders respond positively, the judge could move them through the system quickly. If not, they could be sent to prison.

  • Make marijuana the only Schedule I drug that could be prescribed for medical use. Seriously ill or dying patients could use marijuana if they obtained prescriptions from two doctors. Schedule I drugs also include heroin and LSD.

    The third bill would hinge on the federal government's approval. Federal officials so far have threatened to prosecute doctors who prescribe illegal drugs, but Kaites said the Legislature can ask Congress and President Clinton to review the medical use of marijuana.

    Cannabis Offenders Otherwise Law-Abiding

    The most recent issue of Drug and Alcohol Review (1996; 15: 335-341) includes an article titled "Dope Busts In The West: Minor Cannabis Offences In The Western Australian Criminal Justice System." The study was carried out by Simon Lenton, Anna Ferrante, and Nini Loh of the National Centre for Research into the Prevention of Drug Abuse, at the University of Western Australia, Perth.

    Here is the abstract:

    Proponents of cannabis law reform argue that many people who are convicted for minor cannabis offences have no prior criminal conviction and are otherwise law-abiding citizens. This study of criminal justice system data in a strict prohibition jurisdiction (Western Australia) found that over 10% of all charges and 85% of all drug charges were for cannabis. Approximately 90% of these were for minor offences. Over 40% of those charged with cannabis possession/use as their most serious offence had never been arrested for any prior offence. Almost half of those first arrested for cannabis possession/use had not been arrested up to 10 years later. Younger first-time arrested cannabis users were more likely to be re-arrested than older offenders. Almost all adult cannabis offenders who went to court were convicted and fined. Nearly 95% of those imprisoned for possession/use of cannabis were gaoled [jailed] for fine default. The findings accord with earlier research showing that the vast majority of these offenders are, in all respects apart from their cannabis use, a non-criminal section of the community.

    Prison And Jail Inmates At Midyear 1996

    Here are some useful (and disturbing) inmate statistics for 1996.

    "Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 1996"
    Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), February 1, 1997 Volume 3, Number 3

    Did You Know...

    ..between year-end 1985 and midyear 1996 the incarcerated population grew from 744,208 to 1,630,940, an average growth rate of 7.8 percent a year.

    Were You Aware... the previous 12 months the number of inmates in the Nation's prisons and jails rose an estimated 69,104 inmates or 1,329 inmates per week. Since 1990 the total population in custody has risen to more than 482,200 inmates, the equivalent of 1,686 inmates per week.

    Statistics Show... midyear 1996 Federal and State prison authorities and local jail authorities held in their custody 615 persons per 100,000 U.S. residents.

    Findings Indicate...

    ..four States had 12-month growth rates of more than 14.0 percent: Nebraska, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon. The District of Columbia (down 6.9 percent), New Hampshire (-0.7 percent), and Connecticut (-0.2 percent) recorded declines.

    The Facts Are... estimated 8,100 people less than 18 years old were held in adult jails at the end of last June. Over two-thirds of these young inmates had been convicted or were being held for trial as adults in criminal court.

    To obtain a copy of BJS' new release, "Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 1996" (NCJ 162843), please see "Ordering Directions" at the end of JUSTINFO or point your Web browser to

    JUSTINFO, an electronic newsletter service sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, is published the first and fifteenth of each month. It provides the latest criminal justice news, information, services, and publications.

    Former Kentucky Governor Endorses Industrial Hemp

    "Breathitt says hemp should be legal crop"
    The Lexington Herald-Leader, Jan. 26, 1997
    By Jamie Lucke, H-L Business Writer

    Former Gov. Edward "Ned" Breathitt told a group of farmers yesterday that they should be allowed to grow industrial hemp.

    "I strongly support it - anything we can do" to diversify Kentucky farms, Breathitt told about 100 people gathered in Lexington for the Community Farm Alliance's annual meeting. Breathitt acknowledged there are many obstacles to restoring hemp as a legal crop in Kentucky, not the least of which would be marketing. "It's not going to be easy; you're just going to have to build a momentum for it."

    Both the Community Farm Alliance, which has about 900 members statewide, and the larger Kentucky Farm Bureau have endorsed hem as a legitimate crop. Last week, hemp advocates won a round when a district judge in Lee County ruled that state law unconstitutionally treats hemp, which is grown for fiber and is not intoxicating, the same as the mood-altering drug marijuana.

    The ruling came in a test case by actor Woody Harrelson. Randy Barker, a Fleming County farmer and president of the Community Farm Alliance, called the ruling "a start."

    "A judge has realized and admitted in public there's a difference. Marijuana and hemp are not the same." Barker said hemp won't replace tobacco in Kentucky's farm economy but could be part of the mix. "It's not God's answer for farmers. But it is an alternative."

    University Of Arizona Dean Recommended Marijuana As Medicine In 1970s

    "UA dean prescribed marijuana to California patients in '70s
    Dr. David S. Alberts supports medical use of marijuana"
    The Arizona Daily Star, Feb. 2, 1997
    By Jim Erickson

    When Dr. David S. Alberts was treating cancer patients in the early 1970s, he sometimes suggested a cheap but illegal remedy for the nausea associated with chemotherapy.

    "I would basically give them a prescription. I recommended that this patient take marijuana for medicinal purposes," said Alberts, who was working in San Francisco at the time.

    Today he is associate dean for research at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, director of cancer prevention and control at the Arizona Cancer Center, and a vocal supporter of the medicinal use of marijuana.

    "It was a preferred drug for nausea back then," Alberts said. "And there's no question that it has major medicinal qualities for cancer patients.

    "And when you have a law on the books that condones this, I don't know why you wouldn't use it," he said. "I don't see why there is a controversy in Arizona anymore."

    Last year voters in Arizona and California passed propositions permitting doctors to prescribe marijuana for medical uses.

    In response, Attorney General Janet Reno said doctors who do so could lose their prescription-writing privileges, be excluded from Medicare and Medicaid, and even be prosecuted.

    Some doctors say marijuana relieves internal eye pressure in glaucoma patients, controls nausea in cancer patients on chemotherapy, and combats the severe weight loss seen in AIDS patients.

    But Clinton administration officials say the efficacy of such treatments is unproven.

    The prestigious New England Journal of Medicine last week came out in favor of medicinal uses of marijuana.

    Journal editors called the threat of government sanctions misguided, heavy-handed and inhumane.

    "I agree with the editor of the New England Journal wholeheartedly. I agree with everything he said," said UA pharmacologist Paul Consroe, who has studied the effects of marijuana for 24 years.

    "There's no question that we can show that marijuana does certain things of a therapeutic nature," Consroe said.

    "I'm not saying that it is better than what we already have on the market. But it does lower the pressure in the eye (of glaucoma patients), and that's something that can be measured."

    The federal government lists marijuana as a schedule 1 drug along with heroin and LSD.

    Schedule 1 drugs are defined as having high abuse potential and no recognized medical use, Consroe said.

    If federal officials admit marijuana has valid medicinal uses, they'd be forced to reclassify it, he said.

    "You see where the government is coming from? They're scared," he said.

    Tucson glaucoma expert Dr. Jeffrey S. Kay said marijuana lowers eye pressure but is not as effective as eyedrops designed for glaucoma patients.

    "My feeling is that if they're unable to take conventional eyedrops it may be an alternative, but it certainly would not be my first choice," said Kay, of Tucson Glaucoma Specialists.

    "If my patients want to use it, I'll leave it up to their discretion, but there are other medications that are equally effective or more effective without the side effects you would get from smoking marijuana," Kay said.

    The same goes for the treatment of nausea and vomiting in chemotherapy patients, said Dr. Sydney Salmon, director of the Arizona Cancer Center.

    In the early 1970s, when Alberts was suggesting marijuana to some of his cancer patients, such anti-nausea drugs as Zofran and Kytril weren't available.

    Today those drugs are "extraordinarily effective" in combating the problem, and there's even a synthetic version of THC, marijuana's active ingredient, available in pill form.

    "We've had new drugs that are more potent and effective than marijuana or its derivatives, and with far fewer unpleasant side effects," Salmon said.

    But Alberts said Zofran and Kytril are "incredibly expensive, so expensive that few people can afford them."

    And while the pills can take several hours to deliver their peak effect, the anti-nausea effects of smoking marijuana are almost immediate, he said.

    "There are some cases where marijuana will work when nothing else does," Alberts said.

    "My attitude is that we should do everything we possibly can to support the cancer patient," he said. "If smoking marijuana is useful to (patients), it should be available to them."

    AIDS patients use Marinol, a synthetic version of THC, as an appetite stimulant and to control the nausea sometimes associated with the drug AZT. Tucson AIDS patient Jason Vogler said Marinol helps him but doesn't work for everybody.

    Marijuana should be available to AIDS patients who aren't helped by Marinol and other medications, he said.

    "This is not about getting high," Vogler said. "I'm just hoping this will help a notch group that might not find relief elsewhere.

    "We place a great deal of trust in the judgment of physicians, and we have to operate under the assumption that physicians are going to use this as a valid pharmacological item."

    'Justice Waits - Judge In Kriho Case Takes His Time'

    Boulder Weekly, Jan. 30 - Feb. 5, 1997
    by Jay Hauser

    When Gilpin County juror Laura Kriho decided to follow her heart instead of the letter of the law when deciding a drug possession case last year, she found herself at the center of a maelstrom of controversy over jury nullification. With her one vote, Kriho hung the jury and brought contempt of court charges upon herself. Now, nine months later and almost four months after her trial, Kriho is still unsure of her fate.


    Well, according to the clerk for First Judicial Court Judge Henry Nieto, who heard the evidence during Kriho's Oct. 1-2 bench trial for contempt of court, a verdict in the case has not been reached because "the judge is real busy. He'll get to it when he gets to it. He has to take care of a lot of things, like other trials."

    Too busy. Strange, considering Nieto denied a continuance motion by Kriho's attorney Paul Grant in September, saying the issues in the case would be easy to decide.

    Or it might be because Judge Kenneth Barnhill who originally heard Colorado v. Michelle Brannon (the case which Kriho heard) retired Friday, Jan. 17, and with his retirement avoids any possible official sanctions that could result from his move to put a juror on trail for her beliefs.

    Regardless of his reasons, Nieto's failure to render a verdict in the case probably won't cost him, even though a specific state statute says it should.

    Kriho was brought up on contempt charges by prosecuting attorney Jim Stanley because she allegedly failed to point out that she did not believe in drug laws during jury selection for the trial of a 19-year-old charged with possession of methamphetamine. But, her attorney Paul Grant says, to charge and try Kriho is wrongheaded because his client was never specifically asked questions about her feelings in regard to drug possession laws.

    More importantly, he says, jurors haven't been held accountable for their decisions since before the Revolutionary War.

    "This case is bizarre. Jurors haven't been prosecuted for their deliberations in the jury room for hundreds of years. These guys want to reverse that. These guys want to go back to the 17th century. They put her on trial for her political associations for her beliefs ... for her philosophy. None of that is the court's business," Grant says.

    Now almost four months since the conclusion of the contempt trial, Grant and Kriho are both wondering whether or not she is facing punishment for standing up for what she believes in. The U.S. Constitution states every citizen has the right to a fair and speedy trial (including a verdict), yet Nieto has yet to come to a decision on his client's fate, Grant says.

    "It's not supposed to take this long. Appeals can take months or years to come to a verdict, but not trials. The statute says a judge must render a verdict in 90 days. But if he doesn't render the verdict within that time frame, it doesn't mean the verdict won't count when it is issued."

    And in an interesting twist, Nieto may be putting his salary on the line by missing the 90-day deadline. According to a little-known state statute, if any judge of a Colorado district court fails to render a judgment in a case he has taken under advisement within 90 days, as Nieto has, he or she must forfeit their quarterly salary. In Nieto's case, that equals a cool $20,000 or more.

    Whether or not anyone will actually enforce the statute, which has been on the books since before 1912, is up to ... well, that's an interesting question, too.

    In the opinion of Richard Collins, associate dean of the law school at the University of Colorado, the statute is akin to an unloaded gun: it can keep judges in line through menace, but cannot do any real damage.

    "The mystery of this statute is, who is meant to enforce it? By its terms, the interested people - that is Kriho and her opponents, the people all excited about this - have no right to enforce (the statute) because their interests are unaffected by it. So the question is then, who does have a right to enforce it?" Collins says. "If someone decides to suddenly say that because this Kriho case is really a political football and there are all kinds of people yelling and screaming about it and the Internet is just smoking with it, therefore we'll penalize this judge even though we don't penalize any other judges - that just isn't going to fly."

    If the past is any indication, Nieto will be able sit on Kriho's case as long as he wants to without fear of financial sanction, according to a staffer in the state government.

    "Generally what has happened when people have attempted to enforce the statute in the past, they've contacted the Treasurer's Office and they have received back... the statement that the (statute) has never been enforced because of concerns over the constitutionality of it," says Kim Coles of the state Judicial Department.

    What will the verdict be when it is finally handed down by Judge Nieto? Grant says he doesn't want to speculate because, as he puts it, he doesn't have a crystal ball, but, "If she is convicted, we'll appeal, if she's acquitted, we'll celebrate."

    Neither Kriho or Stanley will comment on the specifics of the case. Grant says his client does not want to say anything to the media while the case is still undecided. Stanley, like Nieto, seems to be too busy. "All the information - files, transcripts, legal documents - is available at the Gilpin County Courthouse," he says brusquely before hanging up.

    Perhaps, Grant suggests, the Kriho trial is a sign of things to come in Gilpin County. Judge Barnhill recently brought up a lawyer on contempt of court charges, Grant says. Judge Nieto will hear the case, he adds.

    "They are going to hold that trial without a jury too. Now we're putting attorneys on trial in Gilpin County. It's very interesting."

    Photo caption:

    According to a state statute, Judge Henry Nieto should pay for his tardiness in returning a verdict in the Laura Kriho case, but whether he will remains to be seen.

    Re-distributed by the:
    Jury Rights Project (
    To be added to or removed from the JRP mailing list, send e-mail.
    Background info.:
    Donations to support Laura's defense can be made to:
    -- Laura Kriho Legal Defense Fund --
    c/o Paul Grant (defense attorney)
    Box 1272, Parker, CO 80134
    Phone: (303) 841-9649

    Medical Marijuana In 'Newsweek'

    The Newsweek magazine of Feb. 3, 1997, features a cover story and several related stories on medical marijuana. The lead article, "The War Over Weed," by Tom Morganthau, reflects the usual establishment bias and 5th-grade logic, but the two ensuing related pieces in the same issue provide some balance.

    "This Is Smart Medicine"

    A doctor argues that marijuana can ease patients' suffering in ways nothing else can.

    By Marcus Conant

    Anyone who has ever smoked marijuana will tell you he gets hungry afterward. That kind of anecdotal evidence led doctors and patients to experiment with marijuana as a treatment for extreme nausea, or wasting syndrome. I have seen hundreds of AIDS and cancer patients who are losing weight derive almost immediate relief from smoking marijuana, even after other weight-gain treatments-such as hormone treatments or feeding tubes-have failed. But it's not just individuals who have recognized the medicinal benefits of marijuana. No less an authority than the FDA has approved the use of Marinol, a drug that contains the active ingredient in marijuana.

    The problem with Marinol is that it doesn't always work as well as smoking marijuana. Either you take too little, or 45 minutes later you fall asleep. Even though insurance will pay for Marinol-which costs about $200 a month-some patients spend their own money, and risk breaking the law, for the more effective marijuana. That's fairly good evidence that smoking the drug is superior to taking it orally. How would we keep patients from giving their prescribed marijuana to friends? The same way we keep people from abusing other prescription drugs: by making patients understand the dangers of giving medication to other people. A physician who prescribes marijuana without the proper diagnoses should be held up to peer review and punished. There are drugs available at the local pharmacy-Valium, Xanax, Percodan-that are far more mood-altering than marijuana. They aren't widely abused. It's not important that a few zealots advocate the wholesale legalization of marijuana. The federal government can't craft policy based on what a few irrational people say. This is a democracy, and what the people of California voted for was to make marijuana available for medical use for seriously ill people.

    For skeptics, a study devised at San Francisco General Hospital would test the benefits of smoking marijuana once and for all. It, too, was endorsed by the FDA-but the federal government won't provide the marijuana for the study. Washington recently offered to fund a $1 million review of literature on medical marijuana, but it refuses to allow a clinical trial, which is what's really needed.

    When citizens even speak up in favor of legalizing marijuana for medicinal use, as happened this fall in California and Arizona, the government tries to stop them. Gen. Barry McCaffrey and the Justice Department have threatened to revoke the prescription-drug licenses of doctors who prescribe marijuana. This is a truly dangerous step. The government has no place in the examination room. Our society has long felt that certain relationships require privileged communication, such as those between a priest and a parishioner or a lawyer and a client. If a patient wants to discuss marijuana, I don't want to have the responsibility of reporting him, and I have to feel comfortable that the patient will not report me. This is a First Amendment issue of freedom of speech between doctor and patient.

    Perhaps the most persuasive argument for medicinal marijuana I've encountered came two years ago, when the California Assembly was debating a medical-marijuana bill. One GOP assemblyman said he had had a great deal of trouble with the issue. But when a relative was dying a few years before, the family had used marijuana to help her nausea. That story helped the bill pass. Wouldn't it be awful if people changed their minds only after someone close to them had died?

    Conant, a doctor at the University of California, San Francisco, has treated more than 5,000 HIV-positive patients in his private practice.

    Can Marijuana Be Medicine?

    The claims are unproven, but many patients say the drug helps them.

    By Geoffrey Cowley

    Susan Nelson Spent most of 1978 watching her husband, Don, retch almost constantly. His body fought so hard to expel the chemicals used to treat his testicular cancer that, after 18 months, his battered esophagus ripped, causing tissue damage that has plagued him ever since. A decade later, it was Susan's turn. She developed lymphoma in 1989, and she, too, underwent chemotherapy. But in four months of treatment, she vomited only once. Instead of heading for the bathroom when she felt a surge of nausea, she took matters into her own hands: she fired up a joint.

    Susan Nelson is no dopehead. She grew up in a military family, and never even experimented with pot as a '60s teenager. But she wasn't about to relive her husband's experience. The anti-nausea drug her doctor prescribed did wonders for her digestion, but it also lowered her inhibitions, causing inexplicable urges to throw plates and roll burning logs on the living-room floor. Smoking marijuana may have broken the law (she bought it from fellow patients), but it didn't break her dishes. "When I smoked it," she recalls, "you could still trust me."

    Americans may frown on recreational pot smoking, but as recent votes in California and Arizona make clear, a lot of people favor leaving folks like the Nelsons alone. The states' initiatives won't have much practical effect (they free doctors to recommend marijuana without creating legal supplies of the drug). Still, the measures have revived an important and long-neglected question: does pot ever make good medicine? Federal drug-enforcement officials say the drug is both useless and dangerous. They're challenging the new initiatives in court and vow to punish doctors who prescribe pot to their patients. But proponents claim marijuana can help control glaucoma, forestall AIDS-related wasting, ease the nausea brought on by cancer chemotherapy and counter the symptoms of epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. The claims are largely unproven, but they warrant some serious attention.

    Marijuana's basic mode of action is well known. Several years ago, researchers discovered that the body makes a chemical closely resembling THC, the main active ingredient in cannabis, and that the brain has receptors designed specifically to receive it. The receptors are concentrated in the brain regions responsible for motor activity, concentration and short-term memory. As anyone who ever inhaled will attest, marijuana can disrupt all those functions.

    The question is whether it can do anything else. For nearly three decades the government has listed marijuana as a "schedule I" drug, a designation reserved for substances with no apparent medical value and a high potential for abuse. Barry McCaffrey, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, stoutly defends that ruling, saying there is "no convincing scientific evidence" that marijuana offers benefits that a person can't get from approved prescription drugs.

    Where glaucoma is concerned, McCaffrey has a point. It's well known that smoking marijuana can reduce pressure within the eye, a hallmark of the disease. But the drug may also reduce the blood supply to the optic nerve-the last thing a glaucoma sufferer needs-and it doesn't seem to prevent blindness. Even if marijuana could save eyes, smoking it enough would take extraordinary effort. "In order to substantially reduce eye pressure," says Dr. Harry Quigley of Johns Hopkins University's Wilmer Eye Institute, "you'd have to be stoned all the time." When researchers tried dissolving THC in eye drops, they succeeded only in irritating people's eyes, but other compounds proved more useful. As a result, glaucoma patients can now choose from a number of potent topical treatments. The latest, a once-a-day eye drop called Xalatan, is virtually free of major side effects.

    Marijuana may not cure glaucoma, but it has other claims to respectability. People have used it for centuries to stimulate appetite, and an unknown number now use it to combat the wasting associated with AIDS. No one knows how much good it's doing-the drug-control agencies have recently thwarted studies intended to answer that question-but some experts suspect the benefits are modest. The wasting syndrome doesn't stem solely from a lack of appetite, says Dr. Donald Kotler, an immunologist at New York's St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital. The patient may have an intestinal infection that blocks the absorption of nutrients, or a neck tumor that interferes with swallowing.

    Skeptics also note that the FDA has already approved several effective remedies for wasting. To stimulate appetite, patients can take Marinol, a synthetic version of THC that comes in pill form, or Megace, a derivative of the hormone progesterone. In premarketing studies, AIDS patients who took Megace for 12 weeks gained an average of 11 pounds, while those getting a placebo lost 21. Since AIDS takes a particular toll on muscle tissue, the FDA has also approved several muscle-building steroids (testosterone and its kin) as AIDS treatments. Patients with good insurance can also get synthetic human growth hormone, a bone and muscle builder that costs $1,000 a month.

    Yet as many patients have discovered, plain old pot may stil1 have a valuable role. Keith Vines, a 46-year-old San Francisco prosecutor, considers himself a stalwart in the war on drugs. As an assistant district attorney, he has spent years putting street dealers in jail. As an AIDS patient, he has seen his body threaten to disintegrate. "Three years ago my ribs were protruding," he says. "I was terrified to get on the scale." He wanted to enroll in a study of human-growth hormone, but participants had to eat three meals a day, and he could hardly force down one. He tried several drugs-including Marinol, which often left him too blasted to function-but nothing worked until he joined a local buyers' club and started smoking pot. Once he took that leap, he qualified for the humangrowth-hormone study, put on 45 pounds and managed to salvage his job. "Without marijuana," he says earnestly, "I would be dead."

    Like AIDS-related wasting, the nausea from cancer chemotherapy is readily treated by prescription drugs. But those drugs are expensive, they don't always work and they're not always harmless. Their warning labels are littered with phrases like "hives," "impotence," "difficulty breathing," "tremors and rigidity" and "leukopenia" (a drop in white blood cells). Marijuana isn't riskfree-its smoke contains a number of carcinogens-but it's less toxic than many prescription drugs. There is no recorded instance of a death from overdose. And because people consume it one puff at a time, feeling the effects as they go, they can easily tailor their intake to their needs.

    That's a big advantage for people with chronic pain or with spastic disorders such as multiple sclerosis. Whereas prescription drugs may zonk them out for the whole day, marijuana lets them respond directly to their symptoms. No one has conducted trials to gauge marijuana's genuine therapeutic effect on pain and spasms. But that doesn't much concern 39 year-old Andrew Hasenfeld, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1980. He tried the prescription drug bactofen, but it never relieved the spasms, the stiffness, the sensation of "being all locked up." He resorted to marijuana six months ago, at the urging of fellow sufferers in Amherst, Mass., and the result was dramatic. "There's no comparison with any drug I could buy in a pharmacy," he says. Few people would argue that Andrew Hasenfeld, Keith Vines or Susan Nelson belongs behind bars. ("I'm already in a wheelchair," says Hasenfeld. "Isn't that enough?") And though recreational pot smokers can get involved with harder drugs, it's hard to see how easing one's nausea, wasting or muscle spasms could cause what the drug office describes as "a downward spiral of self-destruction." Still, federal regulatory policy can't rest entirely on individual testimonials. As McCaffrey argues in a forthcoming "myths and truth" position paper, "drug policy must be based on science, not ideology." Approving marijuana as a prescription drug would require organizing clinical trials, identifying appropriate uses and finding ways to regulate its cultivation and sale. Those aren't insurmountable obstacles; morphine has been used medically for years. But federal policy has long discouraged clinical research with marijuana. The drug-control office is now pledging that "any serious marijuana research request will be considered." Perhaps that will begin to clear the smoke.

    With Mary Hager in Washington, Adam Rogers in New York, Claudia Kalb in Boston and Patricia King in San Francisco.

    The Return Of Pot ('The New Republic')

    In addition to the cover of Newsweek, the debate over medical marijuana has generated a lengthy cover article in the Feb. 17, 1997 New Republic.

    Reformers will not love the story. But it's a must-read nonetheless. Rosin uses a visit to Dennis Peron's re-opened Cannabis Cultivators Club to skewer the cause of medical marijuana, and sniffs at the new commercialization of marijuana.

    Beavis The table of contents says: "A referendum legalizing marijuana as medicine is the forward edge of a movement to make the favorite drug of Beavis, Butthead and Phishheads everywhere as wholesome as aspirin and as chic as latte. A journey through California on the dawn of the new age of Aquarius."

    (It should be noted that the creator of "Beavis and Butthead" was quoted some years ago (by Rolling Stone or perhaps Spin?) saying that his characters were too dumb to know anyone who would sell them pot. - ed.)

    "The Return Of Pot"

    by Hanna Rosin

    Opening day at San Francisco's Cannabis Cultivators Club, and the line at the door eats up the whole block. It is a well-mannered line, considering who is standing in it: a bunch of homeless men streaked with grime, a very large and fierce-looking woman in a wheelchair, a gaggle of mulatto transvestites. Near the front of the line, a woman with pronounced buck teeth is straining, with slow and deliberate jabs, to place a feather earring in the ear of the man standing in front of her, a difficult task given that the man has no ear, merely a gnarled nub of cartilage. She giggles; Van Gogh smiles. A tall, gaunt man guards the door. He checks to see that each person has a letter of diagnosis from a doctor, legally qualifying him or her to buy marijuana. The gatekeeper is calm, composed, and so are the men and women that file silently past him. There is a sense about the scene of something captured in negative. It is as if the rotting of late '60s San Francisco described by Joan Didion in Slouching Towards Bethlehem has been preserved in reverse; the characters are the same, but the center was holding.

    Inside the club, order seems to reign, as well. The computers are up, the phones are ringing. Reporters chase down sick people in wheelchairs. The reporters are here because today is a news event: the relaunching of the mothership, as the club is known to its grateful patients, marks the coming out of California's medical marijuana movement after years in hiding. Founded in 1992, the club existed in an uneasy truce with the city of San Francisco, selling pot to some 12,000 customers designated as medical patients. It grew to become by far the largest medical marijuana club in the state, serving as many patients in a day as the other seven or so clubs together might serve in a week. Then, in August, 1996, state narcotics agents raided the club and shut it down on a host of marijuana possession and distribution charges. Three months later, California voters, by a margin of 56 to 44 percent, passed Proposition 215: The Medical Marijuana Initiative, making it legal to smoke marijuana in California with the approval or recommendation of a doctor. A local judge promptly gave the club permission to reopen and designated the club's owner, a former (and often-convicted) marijuana dealer named Dennis Peron, as a caregiver (which is to say, pot provider) for up to 12,000 patients.

    Today is the first day of the new era, and Peron is eager to make a good, caregiving sort of impression. Dressed in an argyle sweater and blue oxford with a pinstriped tie, he glides to the middle of the room, climbs up on a coffee table ringed with doting patients and speaks: "If we can't get in touch with your doctor we can't sell you marijuana. We are law makers, not law breakers." He then adds, with a mixture of melodrama and mock asides, "We will never abandon you. We will save the people in pain. Once you get your card, you will see the marijuana smoke. Just like the old days. Oh, that smell...."

    A cynical listener might discern here an attitude that seems less like that of the nurturing caregiver, and more like that of, how to put it, an old pothead eager for the good times to roll again. The cynical listener would be on to something. Late in the afternoon, when all the reporters have cleared out to meet their daily deadline, Peron hushes the crowd again. "I know a lot of you have waited a long time and you are sick and you have to go through this bullshit. And it is bullshit. Today we have to go through this bullshit for a thousand years of love. I've missed you so much. One week of bullshit, a thousand years of love." One of Peron's deputies rushes outside to carry the message to those who did not make it in that day. "Don't worry," he eases them. "It will be just like before. Just come back tomorrow. Today is the first day so things are a little, you know. Just come back tomorrow."

    The passage of Proposition 215 surprised even its most zealous supporters. In the months before the November election, they fought what they thought was an uphill battle against an enemy that tried to portray them as a front for the seedy drug dealers on Market Street. Tough-talking law enforcement officers like Orange County Sheriff Brad Gates warned that the initiative "would legalize marijuana, period!" But the pro-215 activists knew better than to engage in that argument. They stuck to their line: the referendum was simply about limited, medical use of the drug, and then only in extreme cases. They made the debate one of compassion versus suffering, plastering billboards across the state with images of the hollow-faced sick and dying, the bloated and bald Helen Reading, 43, breast cancer; the furrowed and frowning Thomas Carter, 47, epilepsy. "You have just been told you have terminal cancer," reads one poster. "Now for the bad news: Your medicine is illegal."

    Of equal importance in their electoral victory, the pro-215 activists tailored their image midstream; they hired a pinstriped professional, Bill Zimmerman, to run the campaign, and to run it at a conspicuous distance from people like Dennis Peron: "He was pictured on election night smoking a joint and saying, `Let's all get stoned and watch election night returns,'" Zimmerman recalls. "That kind of behavior supports the opponents' view that we are a stalking horse for legalization.... He could ruin it for the truly sick." Zimmerman's images stuck. The New York Times ran a sympathetic portrait of "an arthritic, HIV-positive cabaret performer," under the headline "marijuana club helps those in pain." Sympathetic, and gullible. With its breathy, tenderhearted reporting, the intrepid Times reporters implicitly tried to correct Sheriff Gates. See, the article said, these people smoking these joints are cripples, real ones, and cancer patients, real ones. They are merely looking for a little easing of their pain, not fronting for the de facto legalization of pot.

    The truth about the medical marijuana movement is much simpler, and blindingly obvious after a day in Peron's club. The movement is about the compassionate extension of relief to sick people--THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, offers some sick people a cheap, effective surcease from pain--but it is also very much, and primarily, about legalization. The movement may feature billboards of the infirm, but in the offices of its activists you are more likely to find a different poster, a stoner classic: the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were written on hemp paper.

    Both the hemp poster and the sad faces of Helen Reading and Thomas Carter are, in different ways, part of an overall campaign to make pot wholesome--to turn it into something as legitimate as, say, over-the-counter cough syrup. The medical marijuana movement and the legalization movement share a common language and common idea. Most of the medical marijuana clubs that have sprung up in California in the past seven years are much stricter than Peron's, which represents the outside edge of respectability and adherence to the law. These more proper establishments run would-be clientele through the checklist of rigid protocols a patient must submit to--a signed doctor's recommendation, a detailed health questionnaire, follow-up visits to the doctor. But, if you talk to the people who run the clubs for any time at all, you will notice that mostly what they talk about is not medicine but legalization--the same standard jargon of hemp and drug wars and government oppression and narcs. One of the strictest clubs in the state is in Oakland, a small place run by a righteous young man named Jeff Jones, who is rigorous in following the letter of the law. The law says, basically, that marijuana may only be sold to people who have a legitimate medical need for it--people, in other words, who could be made to feel better by a toke or two. "But wouldn't marijuana make anyone feel better?" I asked Jones. "Now you're getting the point," he answered, approvingly.

    Legitimation through medicalization is not a novel tactic in drug history. In their times and places, opium, laudanum, cocaine, nicotine, alcohol and LSD have been packaged as cures. At the turn of the century, middle-class medicine cabinets were stocked with doses of morphine, codeine and laudanum. The tincture of opium in spirits was known as "God's own medicine." Fussy baby? Try Children's Comfort, or Mrs. Godfrey's soothing syrup, a healthy shot of opium in wine. Public health officials estimated at the time that one in every 200 Americans was a drug addict, most of them happy (giddy, even) housewives. And now, we have pot, the medicine.

    The medicalization of marijuana is an attempt to recapture something lost, the brief moment of status pot enjoyed in the 1970s. It is hard to recall now how very near it seemed marijuana was to national legalization then. That year, a government lawyer named Keith Stroup launched the first serious effort to mainstream pot, a group called, aptly, NORML -- the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. With his charming lisp and velvet bow tie, Stroup succeeded in making marijuana normal, even banal, a trajectory wonderfully documented in Dan Baum's Smoke and Mirrors. Within two years, Stroup had convinced eleven states to make marijuana possession the legal equivalent of a parking violation. School drug abuse books "dismissed marijuana as less harmful than tobacco," writes Baum; "one advised kids to use a water pipe to cool the smoke and avoid burning holes in their clothing."

    Then Jimmy Carter picked a drug czar, Peter Bourne, who was the Beltway version of Timothy Leary. Bourne convinced Carter to take the first crucial step toward legalization--replacing criminal penalties with civil ones. The president announced his decision in a speech; every sentence on drugs was written by Keith Stroup. "I support legislation ... to eliminate all federal criminal penalties for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana," Carter announced.

    The end came suddenly, crashingly, with Ronald Reagan. The new president picked up Nixon's War on Drugs and added the force of the U.S. Army, the FBI and the CIA. His wife warned parents to "Get Involved," their kids to "Just Say No." The new official drug abuse pamphlet called Parents, Peers & Pot asked, "Is your child keeping late hours? Has his schoolwork suddenly gone bad? [D]oes she look sloppy or dirty?" and blamed this teenage epidemic of sloth and bad hygiene on marijuana. "The mood toward drugs is changing in this country, and the momentum is with us," Reagan thundered in a radio address. "Drugs are bad, and we're going after them." The culture retreated, with a large dose of self-flagellation. For years, the prophets of marijuana lay holed up in dim, seedy head shops, muttering about the narcs. But now, once again, California is sending them a signal.

    The excitement of a new dawn is felt on this opening day of the club, and it is hardly dampened by the dim, fusty interior. The place is divided into three spacious, though windowless, rooms and looks like the messy common room of a college dorm, with bits of origami and amateur "art" hanging from the ceiling, mismatched couches placed askew, ranging in color from bruised to rust to dung. The first person I run into is Andrew, a middle-aged black man with clipped dreads. "You're a journalist," he observes, when he sees me taking notes. "I keep a journal." Having established this common bond, he feels comfortable showing me some of his work. "Before I started writing, life wasn't worth two puffs of coke," he explains as a prologue. I expect to see some more revelations in the journal, maybe some bad poetry. But all I can make out on the first page is "shorts suck" with a crude drawing of Andrew in boxer shorts.

    I try to change the subject, and ask him why he's here. He suffers from a disease not mentioned in the posters, but which turns out to be a relatively common ailment among the club's patients. "I have insomnia," he explains. "Also, I get migraine headaches." Before I can ask Andrew's last name, my arm is grabbed from behind by a woman I soon find out is Pebbles Trippet, a Berkeley activist who wants me to listen to an on-camera interview she's doing with the TV equivalent of High Times.

    Pebbles is a woman who once was conventionally lovely, with clear blue eyes, a straight nose and long blond hair. She has preserved these features of young beauty--the eyes, the long hair--but added a layer of must and cobwebs and wrinkles. She is draped in what looks like an old rug with pockets, a tattered rainbow lei, cracked leather sandals and mismatched socks. The effect is jarring, like a skeleton with pretty hair. "I am a medical marijuana user," she declares to the camera. "I have self-medicated for decades. They have tried to jail me in three cities--Contra Costa County, Sonoma County, Marin County."

    I ask her what's wrong, trying to sound sympathetic.

    "I get migraine headaches."

    How does smoking marijuana help?

    "I use it as prevention. I have not had my weekly headache since childhood. It has to be really good bud, and it relaxes me. It takes me to a higher spiritual place. It's part of my religious belief; it's a sacrament. Herbs and humans need each other. I'm a nature worshiper, and I can sanction anyone who uses Mother Nature's herb."

    Pebbles introduces me to her friend Buzzy Linhart, a roly-poly, balding man with stiff whiskers the color of straw. Buzzy is wearing an eye patch. "If not for marijuana, Buzzy might well be blind," says Pebbles.

    I ask Buzzy if I can see his doctor's note.

    "I have to update my doctor's letter. I gotta go back to Berkeley and see if he's, uhhh, in the country."

    Pebbles presses him, "Tell them about your disease."

    At this point Buzzy launches into a dialogue I have great difficulty following: "I found my old pal marijuana saved my life ... the love herb ... gather the earth back together ... Reagan ... prostitution laws." Suddenly, he says, "This is important. Write this down," giving me hope I will get something useful. "Do you know who was the co-author of Bette Midler's `Got to Have Friends'?"

    Uh, no.

    "Buzzy was the co-author. Tonight, she's opening in Las Vegas. People like her should not forget the people who launched their career."

    I make a mental note. Buzzy and Pebbles have taught me an important lesson. People who get high are very difficult to interview, for several reasons: (1) They can't complete a thought. They speak in strings of non-sequiturs; they dig for socially heavy meaning but can only come up with verbal scraps-- snatches of movement jargon from the summer of love, stoner observations overheard in the parking lots at Dead shows, stray dialogue from "Gilligan's Island." (2) They are paranoid. During our interview, Pebbles often strays out of the camera's range to stand very close to me and look at my notes. This is distracting because I do not want her to see, say, my description of her outfit. I resolve to write in very small letters. It is also distracting because it affords me an uncomfortably close view of her teeth, the kind of teeth I will see many more of in the days to come--brown and rotted with smoke, the color of dead flowers, and covered by a slimy film.

    I decide to move on, determined to find out how the process works, how one gets a doctor to write a note and then procures a coveted membership card from the club. I move to the back room. Everyone here is smoking, although smoking is forbidden on the first floor, and none of them has a membership card yet. I sit down next to Lily White and Billy Swain, two friends who met at the club three years ago. Lily says she has eye problems and sciatica, a pain in her leg and thigh. I ask how she got her doctor's note: "I asked my doctor to prescribe marijuana. He didn't want to do it. But all he needs to know is that I need it. I'm the patient. The doctors should know it's our life, it's in our hands, not the doctor's hands. Why, are you thinking about becoming a patient?"

    I tell her I have no serious problems.

    "The majority of people are facing something, anxiety or depression," she comforts. "You know what problems you got. Even if you just want to hang out. You got to approach it as honest as you can. Do you like what you see, or don't you?" Billy Swain agrees: "It's not so much that you have to get your doctor's permission. They have to say yes to you. The doctors should cater to you. You have to figure out if you're bored, if you need a social outlet. This is a happy place; there's a lot of hugging." A burly ponytailed man named Fred Martin joins the group. "Can I have a toke?" he asks Lily, and a toke is offered. A former Hell's Angel, Martin lost the bottom half of his right leg in a motorcycle accident. Now he works as a professional activist, usually across the street from the White House, where he yells at President Clinton as he jogs by, "Hey, I'll inhale for you." Fred offers his opinion on how I can join the club. "You women have a way of persuasion," he says, grinning, so I can admire his fine, mossy brown teeth. He picks up a pamphlet called Medical Marijuana: Know Your Rights put out by Peron, and reads it aloud: "`Talk with your doctor. Marijuana has been shown to: aid in stress management.' Don't you ever get stressed out?" he asks me. I look at him blankly, and he takes advantage of the silence to launch into the pot speech, something about Thomas Jefferson getting high, the Constitution on hemp paper, the War of 1812, Nancy Drew ....

    At this point I had to stop. Total objectivity is a futile goal for all reporters, I realize. But there are times when personal circumstances so intrude on a reporter's judgment that they must be revealed. In this case, it could be that I have a boyfriend who drives me mad with his marijuana ravings, or that my uncle eased his cancer pains with marijuana, or that Dennis Peron is my best friend. As it happens, none of those things is true. What this reporter must admit is that at this point, I was very, very high. I had been sitting in this back room for quite some time and a cloud of smoke had risen level with my nose, giving me an acute case of contact high. I was not exactly hallucinating, but it seemed to me that everyone had stopped what they were doing and were staring at me. That Billy, Lily, Fred, even Van Gogh, were watching to see what I would do next. I decided it was time to go.

    The next morning I returned to meet Dennis Peron. His office is behind a bolted door with no door knob, in a corner of the building. Inside is the combination of seedy and healthy living peculiar to California hippies--bits of weed and papers strewn about the stained carpet, alongside organic kemp meal and bottles of Arrowhead spring water. Dennis is like that, too, tanned but wrinkled, a wiry face and neatly combed white hair. I ask him why he started the club, and he begins, instantly, as if a switch had been thrown, to spin a heart-wrenching tale: "The club is a eulogy to my young lover Jonathan, who died of AIDS. We were lovers for seven years, and I miss him every day of my life. He died a very painful death. He had KS lesions all over his face, and we would go to a restaurant and people would move away from him. I always dreamed of a place Jonathan could go and smoke pot and meet people with AIDS and not feel such stigma. It started out as a eulogy and has turned into a mission of mercy for the most powerless and gentle members of society."

    The story is completely rehearsed, emotionless. As he tells it, Peron flips through Post-it notes on his calendar, stops to shout to his coworkers to find out when his next radio interview is. It is only when I ask him who is responsible for Proposition 215 that I get his attention. "Me. You're looking at the guy. I am not an egomaniac, but it was my pain that changed the nation. My loss inspired me to do something for this country."

    Like most tearjerker myths, Peron's leaves a few things out. Such as the fact that he was a notorious San Francisco drug dealer for decades before he started the club; he ran the Big Top supermarket, a one-stop drug emporium, and the Island Restaurant, which served pot upstairs and food downstairs, and was in and out of jail several times.

    Later, when I tell Zimmerman about Peron's version of the story, he laughs for a good ten seconds before he explains Peron's role. "After two months it became clear that Dennis was going to fail miserably, that he wasn't keeping up with projections." They needed 800,000 signatures in five months to qualify the proposition, and Peron only had a few thousand. "By the time we were finished he had provided less than 10 percent of the signatures. There is no limit to that man's ego."

    Peron does seem to be driven by an egotist's perverse, almost pathological need to shock. He believes he is infallible. He believes, actually, that he is literally a saint. He says things with no regard to the consequences, or perhaps too much regard. The most famous example is a quote he gave to The New York Times last year, a quote that was folded into the opponents' commercials, and cost Zimmerman countless hours of damage control: "I believe all marijuana use is medical--except for kids," he said. I ask Peron now if he regrets that quote. He stands up and glares at me. "no way do I regret it," he shouts. "I believe 90 percent to 100 percent of marijuana use is medical."

    Needless to say, this attitude makes Peron's medical judgments less than scientific. He seems to judge medical need haphazardly; his only guiding principle is deference to the patient. For example, drug czar Barry McCaffrey, in his hostile December press conference, held up a chart he attributed to an ally of Peron's listing the medical uses of marijuana, including such dubious ailments as writer's cramp, aphrodisiac and recovering lost memories. "Aphrodisiac, that's ridiculous," Peron says, recalling the list. "They are just so uptight they had to throw in some sexual thing." What about the lost memories? "That's all right with me. Some people have demons, and they have to chase them away."

    Narcotics agents busted him in August precisely for this laxness; among other things, they sent in an undercover female agent with a diagnosis of a yeast infection, and Peron sold her marijuana. He still does not understand why that's a problem. "I said to her, `I'm kind of embarrassed, this is a woman's thing, but maybe it helps the itching.' I'm not going to second guess a woman. I'd be putting down every woman in the world if I denied her medicine."

    By the end of our talk, I have a better understanding of the process, although I'm not sure I have more faith in it. Peron is more careful than he used to be, more out of concern for narcs than for his patients. At his press conference, McCaffrey threatened to prosecute doctors who recommend the drug. This threat has ironically provided Peron with an easy excuse. "Everybody's being tricky," Peron says. "It's a semantic game forced on us by the federal government." The club operators ask only the minimum level of cooperation from the doctors: they check that the doctor is registered with the state licensing board, call the doctor, identify the club and check that the letter of diagnosis is real. Only if the doctor voices an objection will they deny the patient a membership card. It's an excuse, but not a great one. The other clubs still require a signed recommendation from the doctor. They also check with the doctor every six months or so to see that the diagnosis is still valid. Once a patient has a membership card from Peron's club, he has it forever.

    The doctors who cooperate fall into three main categories. (1) Serious illness doctors. In cases of AIDS, cancer, glaucoma and epilepsy, there is substantial anecdotal evidence, although no thorough scientific research, that marijuana helps. For AIDS patients, it stimulates appetite; for cancer, it eases nausea associated with chemotherapy; for glaucoma, it relieves eye pressure; and, for epilepsy, it helps prevent seizures. (2) True believers. There are a handful of doctors who believe in marijuana's capacity to ease a myriad of symptoms. Most do independent research and monitor their patients carefully. (3) The skeptical but convinceable. Here is where the practice gets fishy.

    Some doctors are wary of marijuana's effects, but willing to defer to their patient's wishes. Ironically, Proposition 215 permits them to cede control over marijuana much more than they could over, say, allergy medicine. An allergy medicine prescription has to be signed and numbered and tracked, with the number of refills designated. Marijuana merely has to be approved, and an oral approval will do. Dr. Barry Zevin runs the Tom Waddell Clinic in San Francisco, serving the poor and underserved. He says hundreds of his patients have asked him for letters of diagnosis to use at Peron's club. In 10 percent of the cases, mostly AIDS and cancer, he hands them over confidently. In 10 percent he advises against it, such as when the patient is severely psychotic. And for the rest he is not sure. But he will never deny a patient, even a psychotic one, a letter of diagnosis, and he is not sure he would ever make clear his objections. Because of his uncertainty, Peron's laxness suits him: "I try to educate my patients. I say, `The last thing in the world you need is marijuana. The last time you smoked it you became psychotic.' But if they still want a letter, it's a dilemma.... I prefer it to remain a gray area, where I don't need to make a decision." Even if Zevin persists in objecting, he may be won over. "Knowing them, they would have some advocacy," he says of the club operators. "They would call and say, `Would you reconsider? We have some research that shows marijuana helps hangnails, and I think this person ought to get it.' It's a process of negotiation."

    But the real future of the wholesome marijuana movement is not in the hands of the sick; quite the opposite. People like Pebbles and Buzzy and, for that matter, Dennis Peron, are what they seem to be, relics of the past. I also met the future, and it was Starbucks. All over California, a new breed of young entrepreneur is busy these days opening up a new kind of head shop--excuse me, water pipe gallery--clean, safe, family-friendly places, with track lighting, juice bars and cafe lattes. In these places, what used to be known as a bong is now called art. And it costs as much.

    In West Hollywood there is a street called Melrose that is determined not to ever, ever, not even on its worst hair day, look anything like the stretch of lower Market where Pebbles and Buzzy and Dennis get high. If Melrose met lower Market in an alley, it would call for a cop. On Melrose, trendy couture shops and MAC lipstick counters and retro diners ache for the B-list kitsch stores in their midst to disappear. So the merchants of Melrose must be thrilled by a store called Galaxy. With Galaxy, owner Russ Ceres has managed to turn something cheesy into class. Galaxy is the new wave of head shop, a place where smokers (ostensibly of tobacco) buy the finest of paraphernalia in the most dignified of settings. Gone are the Harley T-shirts, scorpion rings, fake silver chains; gone is the dimly lit bong room in back. In their place is a fluorescent-lit studio space, juice and coffee in front, water pipes displayed lovingly in glass cases, piece by precious piece, each accompanied by an embossed placard bearing the proud artist's name. Finally, bong pipes have reached equality with art, something deserving a room of its own (and a little wall space, and good lighting and maybe one day soon a show at the Whitney). "We are striving for a new level of intelligence," explains Ceres. "We want to take the Beavis and Butthead out of the image."

    Ceres has a vision, and the core of his vision is bye-bye to Buzzy and Pebbles. With his sandy hair and J. Crew good looks, Ceres is a 27-year-old picture of healthy living, a younger, fitter version of Dennis Peron. "My worst nightmare is a seedy hippie place with tie-dyes that attracts the kind of crowd that crawls out of the woodwork," he explains. He pauses to frown, briefly but sharply, at his Thai iced coffee. Too much milk. "We are trying to upscale the atmosphere, to create more social acceptance for smoking. This is a positive place, where lawyers and doctors can go and wear nice clothes, like a cocktail lounge." He leads me over to the water pipe display, to show off some of his finest pieces--a rose and teal swirled eighteen-inch glass pipe, a twenty-one inch fashioned to look like the human anatomy. "People who know nothing about smoking are amazed at the artwork," he confides. "Sometimes they'll buy a piece just to display it on their coffee table."

    The amazing thing about Ceres's vision is the total absence of rebellion. For those of you who suspected that the counterculture was really just a mass, commercialized culture masked, Ceres is the culmination of your theory. He does not reject middle-class norms, or even pretend to. In fact, he embraces all the modes of mainstream life--money, status, power. In his ideal America, marijuana would be anodyne, better than medicine. More like one of those cheerful balms that help take a rough corner or two off life--like a latte grande with skim, or a Disney theme park. It's not about revolution and sensual experiment. It's about family values. Drug laws bother him not because Big Brother is tying us down, but because "they break up families. They prevent children from communicating with their parents." In fact, his most cherished customer is "a 60-year-old man who came in and looked at me sternly and said, `Son, it's about time a place like this opened up. I'm tired of the tension this creates between families.'" Perhaps it's because the man reminds him of his own father, a white-collar vice president who, Ceres is pleased to report, "is very proud of me. He thinks it's great."

    Part of Ceres's plan is to promote young entrepreneurs like him, people with a "sense of vision." One such person is the L.A. craftsman John Brown, the hands behind the Homemade brand of handcrafted water pipes. Brown works out of his parents' house in Brentwood, in a spotless room with hardwood floors, rattan furniture and a fish pond out front. On the day we meet the place hums with domestic tranquility, a lawn mower, a caged bird chirping somewhere. Brown is of the surfer school, buzzed yellow hair, slouchy jeans, says he's 21 but looks 16. He, too, began his business after a personal encounter with hippie sloth. "My old partner was a great kid but a real hippie. He followed the Dead shows and became real lazy and irresponsible, living on the road, spending all our capital. I have nothing against hippies, but I wouldn't want to work with one."

    The experience seems to have left him with a bad taste for all things natural. Despite the company's crafty name, Brown prefers only synthetics. And he approaches his work with the enthusiasm Alexander Parkes must have felt when he discovered the myriad uses of plastic. "I consider myself a master of acrylics," he says, with deadpan pride. "I believe in the durability of acrylics. I use only the highest-quality acrylics, and I've experimented with the acrylics until it worked at perfection. I have made the perfect pipe." He demonstrates, by dropping the pipe on the floor, banging it on the table, showing how the stripes on the base look different if you view them at different angles.

    Like Ceres, Brown believes he is onto something much larger than water pipes. "I got into it because of the age," he says, launching into MTV-speak. "I can feel the energy around me, how important it is. It's not a '60s thing anymore, it's not weed, it's not grass, it's the chronic. It's got a new name, a new lifestyle. It didn't go away. It just became modern."

    Modern lifestyles require modern comforts and modern designs, and lucky for Brown and Ceres, they can find all they need, conveniently, in the new line of hemp products. While Brown was perfecting his acrylics, a parallel industry was sprouting nationwide to fill all his other worldly needs. Displayed in full glory in Hemp Times, the upscale improvement on High Times, the industry is dedicated to proving "an eco-friendly philosophy can equal big money." This month's issue, for example, features an inside look at the fashion show at Planet Hemp, New York's hemp megastore, where looks range from "Evening Elegance" to "Campus Classics." There is some attempt at a rebel yell--in one ad, a barefoot Keanu Reeves look-alike in an open hemp shirt squints dangerously from a busy street, as an army of blue suits passes him by. But mostly, the magazine is dedicated to proving you can tune in, turn on and cash in. "America's hemp products industry doubles its multimillion dollar grosses every year," the magazine's editors chirp.

    There is hemp oil ("a `taste delicacy,' says Daniel Claret, one of North America's premier gourmet chefs"), hemp plaid ("and stripes too!"), hemp housewares and a hemp portfolio ("organize your life with hemp"). In the Hemper's Bazaar, you can find all the latest hemp fashions; women in bias-cut skirts cock their hips with Kate Moss haughtiness and tease each other's hair to prepare for a night out in their spaghetti-strap Corona hemp dresses. There are profiles of winning entrepreneurs, like Mitch and Jill Cahn. "Fed up with the whole Wall Street thing," Mitch explains, they turned to making hemp hats, and found they could "gross over two and a half million."

    When all the buzz has faded, there is something a little bleak about the new pot atmosphere. Not that it might lead to legalization; that doesn't much bother me. But the air of sanctimony; the puffing up of marijuana into something more than it is. Jill and Mitch Cahn are annoying not because they are hucksters, but because they insist on believing that they are something more, that they're saving the earth by doling out hemp hats at Phish concerts. In the end, a head shop is just a head shop. The woman behind the counter at Galaxy looked as zoned out and faded as any bong salesgirl I've seen; and as Ceres was showing off his display of art pipes, one of his new intelligent clients was stealing my wallet.

    For the sick, this blithe reverence for the herb seems especially grim. I suppose if you are a terminal AIDS or cancer patient, smoking pot every once in a while, even every day, can't hurt much. But knowing, even with medical certainty, that THC stimulates the anandamide neurotransmitter says nothing about what it does to your general well being. Pot may be medicine, but getting high every day is still getting high every day. And it can't be good for Dennis Peron's depressed stragglers and veterans on SSI to sit around getting high every day.

    Spend a few days hanging around Peron's club, and you can get awfully sad at the pretense that all the wretched souls--the sick and the sick at heart--can be fixed by a hug and a toke. "There, there," said one of the nurses, stroking the arm of a woman who seemed hysterical and confused, maybe even mildly retarded. "I have a great idea. Let's go upstairs and have a smoke." It was a blind idolization I came to associate with something I saw in Peron's office: a framed photo of a robust, blooming pot plant propped up against an actual plant, withered and dying. My favorite patient at Cannabis Cultivators was Miguel Ciena, a 42-year-old with bone cancer, liver disease and AIDS. I liked Ciena because he was straight with me about what he was doing. He searched for no rationalizations, either for himself or the movement. He said he needed the medicine, but that he could do without it. He offered that he'd been smoking pot for twenty-eight years, long before he'd gotten sick. He didn't think it was too much to ask for patients to get a real recommendation from a willing doctor. And he thought the state was crazy to give Peron back his license after he'd failed them so badly the first time. I liked him most because he articulated what I had begun to feel: that human compassion was a complicated thing, different from giving a hungry kitten some milk. "They smile at you, but I wouldn't say they were caring," said Ciena. "Compassion is telling it like it is."

    Comments By Oasis Guitarist Spark Outrage

    Drugs a tempest in a teapot, U.K. pop star says
    Comments by
    Oasis guitarist spark outrage
    Toronto Star, Jan. 31, 1997

    Gallagher LONDON (Reuter) - Oasis star Noel Gallagher, idolized by millions of pop fans worldwide, sparked outrage yesterday by saying drug-taking was as normal as having a cup of tea.

    Anti-drug campaigners battling an epidemic of Ecstasy pill-taking among teenagers said he was being grossly irresponsible.

    And at least one member of parliament called for the prosecution of Gallagher, whose recent hit single "Champagne Supernova" asks the musical question: "Where were you while we were getting high?"

    But Gallagher, a guitarist in Britain's most successful pop group since the Beatles, was unrepentant. He said the outcry had prompted an honest debate about drugs.

    Gallagher, whose brother Liam has been cautioned by police for possession of cocaine, said in a radio interview: "Drugs are like getting up and having a cup of tea in the morning.

    "As soon as people realize that the majority of people in this country take drugs, then we'll be better off," he added.

    Officials say 1 in 10 British teenagers may have experimented with Ecstasy, the synthetic drug of the rave culture. It first crossed the Atlantic from New York in the late 1980s.

    Amphetamine-based and known as the "love drug," Ecstasy induces euphoria but can also cause hallucinations and a sense of panic.

    Some British estimates put the number of weekly users as high as 500,000.

    Gallagher, 29, also sprang to the defence of Brian Harvey, who was fired as lead singer of the group East 17 after saying taking Ecstasy was safe. The Oasis guitarist even claimed there were cocaine and heroin addicts in Britain's parliament.

    The government swiftly condemned Gallagher. Home Office Minister Tom Sackville said: "For someone in his position to condone drug abuse is really stupid."

    Fellow Conservative MP Tim Rathbone said authorities should "now investigate the bringing of criminal charges."

    Former British Judge Backs 'Legalisation'

    By Jo Butler, PA News, circa Feb. 2, 1997

    Controversial former judge James Pickles today backed Oasis star Noel Gallagher's call for the legalisation of drugs - saying the odds of being killed by Ecstasy were "one in a million."

    The flamboyant Mr. Pickles said nicotine was a far bigger killer than other drugs in Britain and legalisation was "as inevitable as the end of Prohibition" in America.

    Mr. Pickles, 71, was speaking in support of pop star Gallagher, who sparked a furious row earlier this week by saying that taking drugs was like having a cup of tea in the morning.

    The former judge - who has long voiced his support for a more liberal approach to drugs - said Gallagher had ignited a "useful" debate.

    Nicotine and alcohol caused hundreds of thousands of deaths each year, he said in an interview with Sky News.

    He said: "Very few people die from these drugs.

    "I know it hits the headlines, but it's one in a million - you've got as much chance of dying from Ecstasy as you have from being run over by a bus."

    He said criminalisation was not working, was futile -- and wrong.

    "You can get any drugs you want easily in this country today as long as you've got the money. We're fighting a hopeless war.

    "It's time to stop prosecuting people and sending them to prison for abusing their own bodies. That's a matter for them. If they want to abuse their bodies, let them."

    Mr. Pickles said the country should follow Holland's example, legalising soft drugs before slowly moving on to hard drugs, including heroin.

    Insisting he had never taken drugs and did not condone their use, he said the law as it stood pushed the industry underground, raising prices and driving people into crime to pay for their habits.

    He accused politicians - including Labour leader Tony Blair - of stifling debate on the issue.

    His views were in sharp contrast with those of a fellow judge.

    Recorder Mukhtar Hussain QC on Friday jailed an addict who committed 103 break-ins with the words: "Those who equate drugs with cups of tea, should see cases like this."

    Mr. Pickles's comments also had little impact on official Government policy. A Home Office spokeswoman said it had no intention of reviewing its strongly anti-drug stance in the light of the week's events.

    "Our position has always been that we would not like to see decriminalisation and that position has not changed," she said.

    Home Secretary Michael Howard has also attacked Gallagher's comments, which included an accusation of "hypocritical" attitudes towards drugs among politicians.

    Oasis Star 'Pleased' At Uproar

    PA News, Jan. 30, 1997
    By Jackie Burdon,
    Showbusiness Correspondent

    Outspoken Oasis star Noel Gallagher today said he was "pleased" to have created a storm with his claim about drug-taking being just like having a cup of tea.

    In a statement to PA News, the songwriter said criminalisation of drug users "just wasn't working" and called for "an open and honest debate."

    The star insisted he did not condone drug-taking, but this is unlikely to dispel the fury of ministers, MPs and bereaved parents about his views.

    It comes less than a month after his brother Liam, Oasis's singer, was given a caution by police for possession of cocaine.

    However, it seems equally unlikely that Noel's belligerent stance will damage his standing among millions of young fans.

    Noel, 30, responding to the storm over his earlier comments, said in a statement: "If saying a few seemingly outrageous things has helped to instigate an open and honest debate about drug abuse in this country, then I am pleased," he said.

    "I've never condoned the use of drugs. I just slam as hypocrites those politicians who simply condemn drug abuse as a criminal activity and think they are doing something positive."

    Listeners to Radio Five Live Entertainment News had heard him say that some MPs were worse heroin and cocaine addicts than most pop stars, and that if East 17's Brian Harvey couldn't be honest about enjoying 12 Ecstasy tablets a night, "we might as well go and live in China."

    Home Office minister Tom Sackville led the attack on the songwriter's "really stupid" comments.

    "Spoilt brats like him can take drugs and get away with it," he said on GMTV.

    "If you are a Gallagher, you have got lawyers, you have got doctors. If you are an ordinary person on drugs, then you are in deep difficulties."

    Ecstasy victim Leah Betts's father, Paul, an anti-drugs campaigner, said: "People in his position can't go around making these sort of remarks."

    Tory backbencher Tim Rathbone, MP for Lewes, called for Gallagher to be prosecuted for inciting drug abuse with his "deplorable" remarks. But Scotland Yard would not comment on whether an investigation had been launched and the Crown Prosecution Service said it could not act without one.

    Nor is Gallagher remotely likely to face the same fate as Harvey, sacked from pop band East 17 after his remarks, as he is the creative force behind the country's biggest band and one which trades on its bad boy image.

    In his statement, Noel warned fans against drugs.

    "It is important to realise that taking drugs can be damaging to lifestyle and dangerous to health.

    "I urge all youngsters to educate themselves about the harmful side of drug taking."

    The best advice, he said, was: "Don't start in the first place." Noel has strong views on many subjects from Manchester City to the Labour party, and spoke with characteristic bluntness when asked about drugs.

    "He wasn't surprised at the furore. He was surprised at the way his words were misinterpreted," a spokesman said today.

    He could not be found at his north London home.

    East 17, who were temporarily banned from the playlists of several radio stations, may have suffered a setback because of the Harvey affair.

    A spokesman for top retailer HMV said East 17's single Hey Child had fallen from 15 to 28 this week, faster than might be expected for such a successful band in the third week of release.

    "It isn't even in our mid-week top 50, although it may be doing better in other kinds of outlets," he said.

    "So it does seem that the fuss is having a negative effect."

    East 17's album Around The World has also dropped this week, from 17 to 25.

    However, Noel Gallagher's stand might be expected to do the reverse for Oasis' two albums, still charting despite the lack of new releases, the HMV spokesman said.

    "I think this will have absolutely no effect whatsoever if anything, the publicity might assist Oasis sales," he said.

    "All it can do is add to the Oasis legend."

    Oasis themselves were thought to be trying to keep a low profile.

    They have called off live performances indefinitely and have moved work on their next album from London to an inaccessible Surrey studio.

    Colombian Police Bust Biggest-Ever Cocaine Lab

    BOGOTA (Reuter, Jan. 31, 1997) The biggest clandestine drug laboratory ever discovered in Colombia, the world's largest producer of cocaine and a top supplier of heroin, was dismantled on Thursday, authorities said.

    National Police chief Gen. Rosso Jose Serrano said 8.5 tons of cocaine and vast quantities of chemicals were seized in a raid on the facility, in a remote settlement in southeastern Guaviare province.

    "This has been a huge blow to the narco-traffickers. The losses for them are incalculable. This is the biggest (drug) laboratory I have seen in my life," said Serrano.

    The 1.5 square mile (4 sq km) complex in a jungle zone known as Puerto Cordoba was capable of producing up to 50 tons of cocaine a month and was operated by what Serrano described as the fledgling "Eastern Plains" drug cartel.

    Little is known about the cartel, said to be led by a woman. But Serrano said leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels provided protection for the sprawling laboratory, which was equipped with its own airstrip and housing for scores of workers.

    "It's bigger even than Tranquilandia," Serrano told Reuters, referring to a huge lab operated by the now defunct Medellin cartel that grabbed world headlines in 1984.

    "Oceans of cocaine were coming out of this place to supply international markets," Serrano said.

    He said about 100 crack anti-narcotics police participated in the raid on the drug lab, dubbed "Operation Jungle," early on Wednesday. They finished dismantling it on Thursday.

    No arrests were made and police denied initial reports to the effect that helicopters, speedboats and one airplane had been seized.

    The latest strike against Colombia's criminal drug syndicates comes amid growing speculation that the Andean nation will be "decertified" by Washington in March for its alleged failure to participate actively enough in the global fight against drugs.

    Decertification, for a second consecutive year, could trigger punitive U.S. economic sanctions against the country that U.S. President Bill Clinton fell short of imposing last year.

    Serrano was among the most vocal critics of the U.S. decision to decertify Colombia last year, saying no other country has made more sacrifices to stem the flow of illegal drugs onto U.S. streets.

    In a separate incident near the town of Usme, at the southern edge of the capital Bogota, FARC rebels ambushed a group of crack-anti kidnap troops, killing one and injuring three, police said.

    Soros Promises More Reform Funding ('The Washington Post')

    The Drug War Debate
    The Drug War 'Cannot Be Won'; It's Time to Just Say No To Self-Destructive Prohibition
    The Washington Post, Feb. 2, 1997, Outlook, p. C1

    by George Soros

    Like many people, I was delighted this past November when voters in California and Arizona approved, by substantial margins, two ballot initiatives that represent a change in direction in our drug policies. The California initiative legalized the cultivation and use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. The Arizona initiative went further, allowing doctors to prescribe any drug for legitimate medical purposes and mandating treatment, not incarceration, for those arrested for illegal drug possession. It also stiffened penalties for violent crimes committed under the influence of drugs.

    These results are significant both in terms of their immediate impact and because they suggest that Americans are beginning to recognize both the futility of the drug war and the need to think realistically and openly about alternatives.

    Our drug warriors responded by pushing the panic button. The drug czar, Gen. Barry McCaffrey, claimed that "these propositions are not about compassion, they are about legalizing dangerous drugs." I was severely attacked for having supported the initiatives financially. Joseph Califano described me in The Post as the "Daddy Warbucks of drug legalization" and accused me of "bamboozling" the voters with misleading advertisements. I was denigrated in congressional hearings chaired by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), and in the New York Times, A.M. Rosenthal went so far as to imply that I represent a new kind of "drug money."

    I must reject these accusations. I am not for legalizing hard drugs. I am for a saner drug policy. I am just as concerned about keeping drugs away from my children as any responsible parent. But I firmly believe that the war on drugs is doing more harm to our society than drug abuse itself. Let me explain my perspective.

    I became involved in the drug issue because of my commitment to the concept of open society. The open society is based on the recognition that we act on the basis of imperfect understanding and our actions have unin tended consequences. Our mental constructs, as well as our institutions, are all flawed in one way or another. Perfection is unattainable but that is no reason to despair. On the contrary, our fallibility leaves infinite scope for innovation, invention and improvement. An open society that recognizes fallibility is a superior form of social organization to a closed society that claims to have found all the answers.

    I have devoted much of my energies and resources over the past two decades to promoting the concept of open society in formerly communist countries. I have started to pay more attention to my adopted country, the United States, because I feel that the relatively open society we enjoy here is in danger. (There is nothing new about this peril; it is a characteristic of open societies that they are always endangered.)

    Our drug policies offer a prime example of adverse, unintended consequences. There is perhaps no other field where our public policies have produced an outcome so profoundly at odds with what was intended. But those who are waging a "war on drugs" refuse to recognize this fact. They consider all criticism subversive. To suggest the possibility that the war on drugs may be self-defeating is tantamount to treason in their eyes. This was confirmed by their reaction to the approval of the drug policy ballot initiatives in California and Arizona.

    I should like to set the record straight regarding my role in the ballot initiatives. I personally contributed approximately $ 1 million, which represents 25 to 30 percent of overall contributions. I was not involved in the planning and execution of either campaign or in the drafting of the initiatives. Those who are upset about the role money played in these campaigns might better focus their attentions on the substantial sums of taxpayer dollars spent by government officials who actively opposed the initiatives.

    I can well understand, however, why the drug warriors would be upset by my involvement. I have no use for drugs. I tried marijuana and enjoyed it but it did not become a habit and I have not tasted it in many years. I have had my share of anxieties concerning my children using drugs, but fortunately it was not a serious problem. My sole concern is that the war on drugs is doing untold damage to the fabric of our society.

    I believe that a drug-free America is a utopian dream. Some form of drug addiction or substance abuse is endemic in most societies. Insisting on the total eradication of drug use can only lead to failure and disappointment. The war on drugs cannot be won; but, like the Vietnam War, it has polarized our society.

    And its adverse effects over time may be even more devastating. Criminalizing drug abuse does more harm than good, blocking effective treatment and incarcerating far too many people. Our prison and jail population -- now more than a million and a half -- has doubled over the past decade and more than tripled since 1980. The number of drug law violators behind bars has increased eightfold since 1980, to about 400,000 people.

    Our drug policies are especially harsh on African Americans. Among young African American men, the war on drugs has contributed strongly to a rate of incarceration so high that it disrupts family structures in our cities and increases the number of single-parent families. One out of every seven black men has been disenfranchised, permanently or temporarily, by felony convictions. Among black adults between the ages of 25 and 44, AIDS is now the leading cause of death, with half of those cases resulting from drug injections.

    At the same time, proper treatment of drug addicts is inhibited by the fact that they are regarded as criminals. Tens of thousands sit behind bars -- at substantial cost to themselves, their families and taxpayers -- rather than in less costly, more effective drug treatment programs. Even methadone treatment and needle exchange programs are discouraged.

    There are indications that our prohibitionist policies have increased drug-related disease and death, and had a much-documented impact on the crime rate. Restrictions on access to sterile syringes facilitate the spread of HIV and other diseases. Drug addicts overdose from street drugs of unknown purity and potency, injuring or killing themselves and placing strains on the health care system.

    Focusing resources in a lopsided manner on the interdiction of supplies ignores basic economic principles. As long as demand and profits are high, there is no way to cut off supply. There will always be large numbers of people willing to risk incarceration for the chance of making so much money.

    It is, of course, easier to identify what is wrong with present policies than to design better ones. I do not pretend to know what the right drug policy is; but I do know that the present policy is wrong. A more reasonable approach would try to reduce both supply and demand and aim at minimizing the harmful effects of drug abuse and drug control. I am aware of at least some of the steps we should be taking now: making methadone and sterile syringes readily available to addicts; removing criminal prohibitions and other sanctions on the ability of doctors and patients to treat pain and nausea with whatever medications work; saving our jail and prison cells for violent criminals and predatory drug dealers, not nonviolent drug addicts who are willing to undergo treatment; and exploring new means of reducing the harms done by drug use and our prohibitionist policies.

    If public opinion were ready for it, I would advocate "hollowing out" the black market for drugs by making heroin and certain other illicit drugs available on prescription to registered drug addicts while discouraging non-addicts with social opprobrium, the dissemination of reasonable and persuasive information on the harms caused by drugs, and, to the extent necessary, by legal sanctions. If the Swiss and the Dutch and the British and increasingly other countries as well can experiment with new approaches, so can the United States.

    Not all the experiments have been successful. Zurich's unsuccessful attempt to regulate an open-air drug market in the early 1990s became known as "Needle Park" and gave the city a bad name. But recent initiatives in Switzerland have been more successful and generated widespread public support. The national heroin prescription experiment has proven remarkably effective in reducing illicit drug use, disease and crime, and helped many addicts to improve their lives. Swiss voters approved this initiative in local referendums.

    Our first priority should be to discourage children from using drugs. Even marijuana can be harmful to the mental and emotional development of youngsters. But demonizing drugs can increase their appeal to adolescents, for whom rebellion is often an important rite of passage to adulthood. And we must be particularly careful not to exaggerate the harmful effects of marijuana because it may undermine the credibility of our warnings about harder drugs.

    Generally speaking, de-emphasizing the criminal aspect of drug use should be accompanied by more, rather than less, social opprobrium for the drug culture. Education and social disapproval of cigarette smoking have been much more successful than the war on drugs. America is a world leader in cutting down on cigarette smoking, and, simultaneously, one of the world's losers in dealing with drug abuse.

    Unfortunately the present climate is inimical to a well-balanced drug policy. Crusading advocates of prohibition and deterrence -- Rosenthal, Califano, McCaffrey and others -- stand in the way of reasoned discussion. They insist that there is only one solution to the drug problem, namely, the "war on drugs" and that those who are critical of present policies are enemies of society. Few elected officials dare to incur their wrath. Hysteria has replaced debate in the public discourse.

    It was left to the voters of California and Arizona to introduce a note of sanity into our drug policy. Califano asserts that they were bamboozled but, in doing so, he reveals a totalitarian mind-set. When he claims that the voters of Arizona and California did not know what they were voting for when they supported the two initiatives, he reminds me of the way Serbia's President Slobodan Milosevic reacted to recent election results in that country. Defenders of failed policies often claim that they know better than the voters themselves what is best for the voters.

    The voters in Arizona and California have demonstrated that it is possible to support more sensible and compassionate drug policies while still being tough on drugs. I hope that other states will follow suit. I shall be happy to support (with after-tax dollars) some of these efforts, and I look forward to the day when the nation's drug control policies better reflect the ideals of an open society.

    George Soros is a financier and philanthropist. He supports the Lindesmith Center, a drug policy research organization in New York City.

    Elderly Getting Hooked On Drugs

    Elderly getting hooked on drugs:
    Alarming number take wrong drugs, or too many
    The Gazette [Montreal], Feb. 1, 1997, p. A1
    By Sarah Scott

    At 69, Ruth Birnbaum admits that she, like most of her friends, is addicted to a popular sedative called Ativan.

    She liked it at first. It relaxed her, eased her into that "comfort zone." But now she doesn't like it one bit. "I think it's a very dangerous drug," said the widowed grandmother, who lives in a small Cote St. Luc apartment with a red upright piano decorated with toy cars and pictures of her family.

    "It gives me that ropy feeling.... My eyes feel sandy." Her memory, especially her short-term memory, has declined, daughter Miriam says. She falls more easily than she once did.

    But she can't stop taking those little pills. If she stopped abruptly, she'd face nightmares, sleepless nights, anxiety attacks. She doesn't have the willpower to do it more slowly and safely.

    It's a problem faced by an alarming number of seniors in Quebec, the province with the dubious reputation as the Canadian champion of benzodiazapines - the group of drugs that includes sleeping pills and sedatives like Valium, Dalmane and Ativan.

    About half of the over-65 women in Quebec have been prescribed such medicines, even though long-term use can cause confusion, memory loss and loss of co-ordination, increasing the risk of falls or even car accidents.

    And that's just part of the prescription drug problem that afflicts many of Quebec's nearly 800,000 seniors. McGill University's Dr. Robyn Tamblyn says nearly half the seniors get a wrong prescription from a doctor in the course of a year.

    And, she says, one-third of seniors who visit the doctor for relief of arthritic pain are wrongly prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs that can burn holes in the stomach, causing ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding which can require hospitalization and can even jeopardize life.

    Improper use of drugs - either because of a doctor's error or because the patient didn't follow the doctor's orders - sends more than 11,000 elderly Quebecers to hospital each year. Beyond the human cost, tens of millions of health-care dollars are wasted, too.

    It is a widespread problem, but it hasn't had nearly as much attention as Quebec's new drug insurance plan. Seniors have been complaining loudly that they now must pay part of the cost of their prescriptions, but the public debate over the new plan has rarely touched what many health professions feel is a serious and highly underrated problem - the over-use of medical drugs, especially by the elderly.

    Montreal psychiatrist Mona Soubac calls the excessive prescription of benzodiazapines to the elderly a disgrace. People who take them, she said, are "mentally . . . out of circulation."

    Marketed as sleep-inducing and anti-anxiety drugs, benzodiazapines are hugely popular in Quebec. About half of the benzodiazapines sold in Canada are sold in Quebec, a fact that astonishes experts such as Tamblyn, associate professor of medicine, epidemiology and biostatistics at McGill.

    Researcher `Flabbergasted'

    Tamblyn was the lead researcher of a 1994 study that analyzed the medicare prescription records of 65,349 elderly Quebecers. Their findings were startling: more than one-third of the men and half of the women had been prescribed benzodiazapines during 1990, the year under review. Most had been prescribed the sleeping pills and sedatives for more than 30 days, which is longer than recommended. (After 30 days, such drugs can stop working as tranquilizers but can continue to cause side-effects.)

    Tamblyn said she was flabbergasted and asked herself "what on earth is going on here?" She said sedatives and sleeping pills seemed to have become a "basic life necessity" for the elderly.

    What many patients - and their relatives - don't realize is that the side-effects of these little pills can be devastating. Countless studies have documented the loss of memory, heightened confusion and loss of co-ordination.

    Tamblyn, after studying the extensive medical literature on the problem, said there's evidence that elderly Quebecers on sedatives and sleeping pills suffer more than 2,900 fractures each year, including about 950 hip fractures requiring surgery. More than 3,500 old people needed stitches after falls.

    Old people on these drugs run a higher risk of car accidents. A study of 3,000 elderly drivers who crashed their cars and landed in hospital showed that 66 of them were impaired by long-acting sedatives like Valium.

    Drugs Blamed for Falls

    "When we see someone who falls and is confused, the first thing we do is look at their drugs," said Dr. Rejean Hebert, a University of Sherbrooke geriatrician. "The most important reason is usually drugs."

    Often, Hebert said, old people who stop taking the drugs regain memory and mental clarity.

    Tamblyn said "there would be a significant reduction of fractures if we reduced the number of people taking these drugs."

    Yet it's exceptionally hard to get people to stop. "Benzodiazapines are well known to be addictive," said Dr. David Gayton, a geriatrician. "Boy, if they try to stop, they get into big trouble."

    Stopping all at once can make old people anxious, even delirious, and they can't sleep. "As we say in the trade, they go quite off the wall," Gayton said.

    A second category of drugs commonly misused are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including voltarin and naproxin.

    These NSAIDs are widely prescribed for arthritis, but not always correctly. They're good drugs for conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, which involves painful inflammation and swelling.

    But they have nasty side-effects: They inhibit the stomach from producing the coating that protects it from acid, with the result that users frequently get ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeds that can be very dangerous. It's estimated that at least one per cent of users - at least 3,800 elderly Quebecers - have gastrointestinal bleeding, often requiring hospital care. Estimates range up to three times that figure.

    And one-quarter of NSAID users need expensive anti-ulcer therapy.

    The problem is that a lot of old people are being prescribed NSAIDs needlessly. Several studies, including one by the New England Journal of Medicine, have found that ordinary Tylenol is just as effective in cutting the pain of conditions such as osteoarthritis, the run-of-the-mill degeneration of the joints which usually does not involve inflammation.

    And Tylenol does not cause ulcers or gastrointestinal bleeding.

    Yet a significant number of doctors prescribed NSAIDS for arthritis anyway, even when there's no evidence of inflammation. In a 1990-92 study, researchers sent "patients" to test 112 Montreal doctors on their prescribing habits. The "patients" all complained of hip pain and told the doctors they had a history of peptic ulcers. Yet in about one-third of visits, doctors wrongly prescribed NSAIDs.

    Mrs. Birnbaum, the Cote St. Luc grandmother who's hooked on Ativan, said her doctor prescribed an NSAID for her osteoarthritis. She suffers a lot of pain at the top of her spine, but she discarded the drugs for fear of ulcers and internal bleeding. She had had stomach problems before. She substituted Tylenol for the pain, after reading about the impact of NSAIDs.

    "I'm skeptical of doctors," she said, and feels that elderly people are "far too accepting of what doctors say."

    Indeed, doctors' prescribing habits are a big part of the over-all problem of drugging the elderly. Nearly half of the 14,121 doctors in Tamblyn's 1994 study were responsible for writing one or more of the potentially inappropriate prescriptions, such as two kinds of benzodiazapines or two kinds of NSAIDs - which could mean the patient is getting too high a dose.

    That study did not even deal with the issue of improper prescription of NSAIDs to people with ordinary osteoarthritis.

    Other studies have shown that general practitioners, particularly older ones, are more likely than specialists to listen to the drug salesmen and order drugs that are wrong for patients.

    Too Many Drugs

    Part of the problem is the vast number of drugs. With more than 24,000 drugs on the market, and 33,000 potentially dangerous combinations, it's impossible for doctors to keep up with the latest information.

    Pharmaceutical education is improving in Quebec medical schools, and many doctors follow courses to improve their knowledge of drugs. But Dr. Hebert of the University of Sherbrooke is among experts who say plenty of doctors don't know enough about drugs, and don't realize that elderly patients require much smaller doses, partly because their aging bodies process drugs more slowly than middle-aged adults do.

    Overprescription of drugs could also involve the type of medical practice. Several studies have shown that doctors who see a lot of patients tend to prescribe too many drugs.

    "It's easy to write a prescription for benzodiazapines," said Montreal pharmacist Louise Mallet. "You get people out of the office fast.

    "It goes back to the education of the health professional," said Mallet, who specializes in geriatrics. What's more, no single professional is in charge of a patient's drug scheme. With many patients visiting several doctors and pharmacists, no one has the full picture of a patient's drug consumption.

    Another problem is that many elderly patients insist on getting drugs and will go to another doctor if necessary to get them, doctors say. A lot of them see pills as some kind of "magic potion," Hebert said. "They think psychological problems can be dealt with in this way."

    The Quebec government had big plans in 1994 to reduce seniors' drug consumption. Lucienne Robillard, the Liberal health minister at the time, issued a long list of recommendations. But little has been done.

    "They were just words," said Dr. Jacques Lelorier, former head of the government's advisory council on pharmacology. His committee recommended that high-dosage benzodiazapines be removed from the list of government-subsidized medication. He also called for an education campaign urging doctors to recommend non-drug ways to deal with stress.

    But the committee's recommendation was swept aside as ministers and governments changed.

    Under the Parti Quebecois government, Health Minister Jean Rochon hopes that forcing the elderly to pay part of the cost of their drugs (taxpayers foot the rest of the bill, more than $500 million for the elderly alone), will make them think twice about buying drugs they don't really need.

    But critics say the elderly aren't well enough informed to decide which medications to drop or change.

    Sylvie Dillard, assistant deputy health minister, said the government is fully aware of drug problems affecting the elderly and is banking on a new provincial committee to come up with ways to deal with the issue.

    Community groups throughout the province are trying to help the elderly reduce consumption of drugs, especially sleeping pills and sedatives, by encouraging them to seek other ways of dealing with stress, sleeplessness and loneliness.

    As well, the Quebec College of Physicians has taken action to cut down on heavy prescriptions of benzodiazapines in the Quebec City area.

    The college identified 161 doctors in the provincial capital who had inappropriately prescribed sedatives to 12 or more patients.

    As part of the study, inspectors visited 46 doctors, and only one of them could justify the prescription of benzodiazapines. The study turned out to be the talk of the town, at least among the doctors, who finally started reading about the drugs they had long prescribed, the college reported.

    One-Third Have Problems

    In Sherbrooke, teams of health professionals are checking the drug consumption of elderly people who have indicated problems on questionnaires they're sent in the mail.

    About one-third have problems with drugs, either from taking too many or too few medications, Hebert said.

    Mallet and other experts said that despite efforts at the local level, the overuse of drugs remains a serious problem.

    A Montreal lawyer offered the example of her 87-year-old father. Before Christmas he went to a Montreal hospital for surgery, and when he came out his prescription for an anti-depressant called amitryptolyn had been increased tenfold.

    When he got home he "was not himself," his daughter said. "He was confused. He didn't make sense." He hadn't been like that before; he had been a vigorous man who drove his own car before going to the hospital.

    Then one night he fell and broke a bone in his back. He was admitted to hospital and put in a brace. He stopped taking the drugs, after his daughter noticed his prescription had been dramatically increased.

    "He's come back to himself," she said, although he's still in a lot of pain.

    For psychiatrist Soubac, the fall was caused by excessive anti-depressants. "There's no doubt about it." Other experts said that drug should never have been given to an elderly person in the first place.

    Yet the man, an immigrant from Poland, is not the type to complain. "They don't like to make waves," said his daughter. "They trust the doctors."

    Some Drugs Commonly Prescribed

    Commonly prescribed nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Avoid these drugs if you're looking for relief from arthritis with no inflammation (such as osteoarthritis):

  • Aspirin
  • Naprosyn
  • Apo-naproxen
  • Voltaren
  • Apo-diclo
  • Novo-difenac
  • Advil

    Here is a list of commonly prescribed benzodiazapines, which are drugs to calm or induce sleep. They shouldn't be used for more than 30 days, except in rare cases, because their sedative effect wears off while the side-effects remain:

  • Ativan
  • Dalmane
  • Serax
  • Restoril
  • Xanax
  • Valium

    Need Help?

    Many of Montreal's local community health centres are working on this issue. Home-care nurses can even help you to review your drugs to make sure you're on the right ones. Some community groups are also working to help elderly people learn more about their drug intake and cut out the harmful ones. Here are a few groups that can help:

    Groupe Harmonie: 932-2616 (extension 286)

    N.D.G. Senior Citizens' Council: 487-1311

    Direction de la Sante Publique, Outaouais: (819) 777-3871

    The Quebec government has a document listing what various community groups are doing to help the elderly deal with prescription drugs. You can get the list of groups from Lisette Vallieres: (418) 643-5573.


    Photo: Dave Sidaway, Gazette/ Widowed grandmother Ruth Birnbaum, 69, says she's hooked on a popular sedative, Ativan, and most of her friends are, too.; Photo: Dave Sidaway, Gazette / Dr. Robyn Tamblyn says nearly half of Quebec's 800,000-odd pensioners get a wrong prescription in the course of a year.

    Marijuana Should Be Classified As A Dietary Supplement, Not A Drug?

    On Jan. 31 Matt Elrod wrote:
    Kelly wrote:

    >"But up to this point, smoke is not a medicine," McCaffrey
    >said. "Other treatments have been deemed safer and more effective
    >than a psychoactive burning carcinogen self-induced through one's

    }If there is any doubt that the FDA exists today for the sole reason of
    }maximizing the profits of multinational drug companies at the expense of
    }good medical practice, please refer to the above quote from McCaffrey.

    Smoke is not a medicine. Marijuana is not a medicine. Marijuana is a medicinal herb, or, as it should be classed, a dietary supplement. Ginseng tea and garlic toast aren't medicine either.

    Under FDA rules, the FDA must prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that a dietary supplement is exceptionally dangerous before it can prohibit it. Otherwise, herbs fall under the Nutrition Education and Labeling Act which restricts health benefit claims on labels and literature until or unless peer reviewed studies prove these claims.

    It is extremely hypocritical of the McCaffrey to on the one hand say smoke/cannabis is not a medicine and then complain that marijuana can not meet medicinal standards. It doesn't need to. Further, and this is what the NEJM editorial was saying, McCaffrey is insisting cannabis meet standards that accepted class 2 and 3 medicines do not.


    A. Office of Alternative Medicine

    The Office of Alternative Medicine (OAM) in the National Institutes of Health was established in 1991 pursuant to a congressional directive [1] In explaining the need for the Office, the Senate Appropriations Committee indicated that:

    The Committee is not satisfied that the conventional medical community as symbolized by NIH has fully explored the potential that exists in unconventional medical practices. Many routine and effective medical procedures now considered commonplace were once considered unconventional and counter indicated. Cancer radiation therapy is such a procedure that is now commonplace but once was considered to be quackery. In order to more adequately explore these unconventional medical practices the Committee requests that NIH establish within the Office of the Director an office to fully investigate and validate these practices. The Committee further directs that the NIH convene and establish an advisory panel to screen and select the procedures for investigation and to recommend a research program to fully test the most promising unconventional medical practices. [2]

    Under the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993, OAM was subsequently established in the Office of the Director of the NIH. [3] An important effect of this enactment was to predicate the existence of the Office on statutory authority rather than a directive from a congressional committee, thus according the Office more permanence as a governmental unit. The Act charges OAM with facilitating the evaluation of alternative medical treatments, including acupuncture and Oriental medicine, homeopathic medicine, and physical manipulation therapies and requires the Secretary of NIH to establish an advisory council to advise the Director of the Office. [4] The OAM must also establish an information clearinghouse to exchange information with the public about alternative medicine and support research training in this field. [5]

    B. Regulation of Dietary Supplements

    In January of 1994, the FDA promulgated regulations under the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act concerning dietary supplements such as vitamins, minerals, herbs, and other similar substances. [10] Among other matters, the new regulations prescribe standards to govern nutritional labeling and nutrient content and health claims made by manufacturers on the labels or in the labeling of dietary supplements. The provisions regarding health claims for dietary supplements remain controversial and are treated in the succeeding discussion.

    Under the new regulations, the FDA will hold health claims made by manufacturers of dietary supplements to the same statutory standard that applies to food in conventional form. The essence of that standard is the need for "significant scientific agreement" to support the claim:

    FDA will promulgate regulations authorizing a health claim only when it determines, based on the totality of publicly available scientific evidence (including evidence from well-designed studies conducted in a manner which is consistent with generally recognized scientific procedures and principles), that there is significant scientific agreement, among experts qualified by scientific training and experience to evaluate such claims, that the claim is supported by such evidence. [11]

    The FDA characterized its decision concerning the applicable scientific standard for regulating dietary supplements as "one of the most significant issues" involving the regulations. [12] In rejecting the application of a more lenient standard for assessing health claims, such as the "existence of substantial scientific evidence," the agency indicated that allowance of a health claim on the basis of substantial scientific evidence where significant scientific agreement about the validity of the claim does not exist, "would be inconsistent with Congress' desire to ensure that health claims that are made on food, including dietary supplements, are scientifically valid." [13]

    Underlying its choice of the "significant scientific agreement" standard for assessing health claims was the agency's concern that if it allowed claims in the market place whose validity had not been established, this would undercut the credibility of valid health claims and perpetuate the type of confusion among consumers that Congress intended to correct in enacting the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990. In the view of the FDA, adoption of the same standard to assess health claims for dietary supplements as that applied to food in conventional form would "strike the proper balance between the congressional concern for consumer fraud, public health, and sound science, on the one hand, and the desire to provide the consumer with information on the other." [14]

    In implementing this standard, the FDA maintains that significant scientific agreement does not require unanimous scientific consensus concerning the validity of a health claim. At the same time, the agency concedes the "somewhat subjective" nature of the standard and indicates that in practice it will be "necessary to consider both the extent of agreement and the nature of the disagreementon case-by-case basis." [15]

    Another important and controversial issue concerning health claims under the regulations is the extent to which the new rules apply to the use or display of literature (including advertising) that does not physically appear on the label of a dietary supplement, but which contains a health claim about the product. From the FDA's perspective, the key issue is whether the literature effectively can be deemed part of the labeling of the product:

    FDA advises that the provisions of this regulation pertain only to a product's label and labeling. This regulation does nothing to censor the content of books, magazines, or advertising. However, firms sometimes choose to use such material as labeling for their products, and if used as such, the material would be subject to this regulation. For example, sometimes firms copy an article from a magazine and display that article with a product that is offered for sale. Under such circumstances, the article would be part of the labeling of that product. What is significant to note is that these regulations in no way limit what articles may be published, or what books may be printed. They limit only the claims that may be made in the labeling of food products. [16]

    The FDA also sought to allay consumer apprehension that the agency was plotting to ban all dietary supplements or that the regulations would have the effect of limiting the availability of supplements by restricting the amount of health information on product labels and thereby diminish marketability. According to the agency:

    There is no basis for virtually all the concerns raised in the comments about the availability of dietary supplements. Nothing in these regulations will make them unavailable to consumers. These regulations focus only on ensuring that health claims, if made on the labels or in the labeling of dietary supplements, are scientifically valid and understandable. Thus, the availability of dietary supplements will not be affected by these regulations. While it is likely that some claims may have to be removed from product labeling as a result of this final rule, the products themselves can continue to be marketed.

    It is true that prohibiting the use of claims that have not been authorized by FDA may have an adverse impact on the marketability of some products. However, any such impact is outweighed by the need to assure consumers that the claims that are made in labeling are scientifically valid, and that they can rely on such claims. In fact, the only products whose marketability will ultimately suffer under these regulations will be those whose labeling has borne claims that cannot be supported by the available scientific evidence. [17]

    Continuing controversy concerning the FDA's dietary supplement regulations, however, prompted the enactment of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994. [18] In its favorable report on the Senate version of this legislation, the Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources criticized FDA's regulatory approach toward dietary supplements:

    Despite the fact that the scientific literature increasingly reveals the potential health benefits of dietary supplements, the Food and Drug Administration has pursued a regulatory agenda which discourages their use by citizens seeking to improve their health through dietary supplementation. In fact, the FDA has had a long history of bias against dietary supplements... [and] has pursued a heavy-handed enforcement agenda against dietary supplements for over 30 years. The agency's approach has forced the Congress to intervene on two previous occasions, and yet again with the adoption of [the Senate bill]. [19]

    In its final form, the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 ultimately reflected a legislative compromise that was necessary to ensure passage of the measure in the House of Representatives and to accommodate the interests, on the one hand, of supplement manufacturers and many consumers for greater autonomy for the dietary supplement industry and, on the other hand, of proponents of continuing regulatory control by the FDA to ensure the safety of supplements for consumers. Under the new law, a dietary supplement will be deemed adulterated if, among other reasons, it presents a "significant or unreasonable risk of illness or injury." The government would bear the burden of proving that the supplement is adulterated. Moreover, a person against whom the government is contemplating a civil enforcement proceeding on this ground must be given prior notice and an opportunity to present views concerning the intended proceeding.

    The law also accords a manufacturer of a dietary supplement some latitude in making a truthful, nonmisleading statement on the label of the product concerning the benefit and function of the ingredients contained in the supplement. For example, the manufacturer could claim a benefit relating to a classical nutrient deficiency disease and disclose the prevalence of the disease in the United States or describe the role of a nutrient or dietary ingredient intended to affect the structure or function in humans. A statement along these lines, however, would also have to contain a prominent disclaimer that the statement itself has not been evaluated by the FDA. Further, a manufacturer who wishes to make a statement on the label concerning the benefits of the supplement must notify the FDA no later than thirty days after first marketing the product that the statement is being made. [21]

    Concerning the use or display of literature containing health claims for dietary supplements, the law permits retailers and wholesalers of supplements to display an independent, third-party publication (e.g., an article, a chapter in a book, or abstract of a scientific study) concerning a supplement in connection with the sale of the product, if the publication:

    (1) is not false or misleading;

    (2) does not promote a particular manufacturer or brand of a dietary supplement;

    (3) is displayed so as to present a balanced view of the available scientific information on dietary supplements;

    (4) when displayed in an establishment, is physically separate from the dietary supplement; and

    (5) does not have appended to it any information by sticker or any other method.

    If the preceding requirements are met, the publication will not be deemed to be part of the "labeling" for the product. These requirements apply to the display of literature in connection with the sale of a dietary supplement and do not apply to or restrict the sale of books or other publications by a retailer or wholesaler as part of his or her business. Moreover, the burden of proof is on the government to establish that an article or other publication is "false or misleading." [22]

    New dietary supplements, which are those not marketed in the United States before October 15, 1994, may be marketed without prior approval by the FDA as long as there is a history of use or other evidence which establishes a reasonable expectation that the product is safe. At least 75 days before marketing, however, supplement manufacturers must submit information to the agency regarding the safety of the product. The FDA may take action in response to a public petition to establish conditions for the safe use of the supplement. [23]

    The law establishes an independent Commission on Dietary Supplement Labels appointed by the President. The members of the Commission must have expertise and experience regarding dietary supplements and be without bias on the issue of supplements. The Commission is charged with studying and making recommendations to the President and Congress within the next two years concerning the regulation of labeling claims for dietary supplements, including the use of literature in connection with the sale of these products and the procedure for evaluation of manufacturers' claims. Current FDA regulations regarding dietary supplements could remain in force no more than four years from the date of enactment of the 1994 law, pending submission of the Commission's report and promulgation of new regulations by the FDA within two years after the report. [24]

    The law also creates an Office of Dietary Supplements in the National Institutes of Health to explore the potential role of supplements in improving health care and to promote the scientific study of the benefits of supplements in maintaining health and preventing chronic disease and other health-related conditions. Among other specific functions, the Office must conduct and coordinate scientific research within NIH concerning the extent to which supplements can limit or reduce the risk of such diseases as heart disease, cancer, birth defects, osteoporosis, cataracts, or prostatism. Further, the Office must compile a data base of scientific research on dietary supplements and individual nutrients. The law appropriates $5 million for this new governmental unit. [25]

    Senator Pell....Madam Secretary, [of Health and Human Services] I am a strong believer in alternative medicine, new medical techniques. Thanks to the creativity of a member of this committee, Senator Harkin, we have an Office of Alternative Medicine. I was curious how its work is planned to be phased into the health plan.

    Secretary Shalala. One of the wonderful things about that Office of Alternative Medicine is it will over time change our attitudes and the kinds of medicines and approaches we use to medicine, that we use as part of health care. And as those things are folded in, the health professionals in the various plans, I am sure, will use them.

    What we are doing with that rigorous new office is to do both the thinking and the review and to make more visible the results of the office. But I have no reason to believe that the health professionals in this country, on being presented an alternative way of improving the health of an individual, would not incorporate many of those proposals. [33]

    Senator Harkin....I do not know what is going to be in the plan, but if it is just going to sort of obliquely refer to alternative methods and practitioners, I think it is going to be deficient. I think it has to incorporate them fully into the plan, and I hope it will do so. [34]

    D. Access to Medical Treatment Act On May 19, 1994, Senator Thomas Daschle, along with five cosponsors, introduced the "Access to Medical Treatment Act" in the United States Senate. [38] This bill, which was not enacted, sought to provide health care consumers with increased access to alternative treatments and to allow greater opportunity for the trial of alternative treatments that may prove to be effective. [39] In particular, the legislation was designed to facilitate conditional access by health care consumers to food, drugs, devices, and procedures that might otherwise be delayed from authorized use by the lengthy and expensive FDA approval process. According to Senator Daschle:

    The intent of my legislation is merely to extend freedom of choice to medical consumers under controlled situations. I believe that individuals, especially individuals who face life-threatening afflictions for which conventional treatments have proven ineffective, should have the option of trying an alternative treatment, so long as they have been informed of the nature of the treatment and are aware that it has not been approved by the FDA. This is a choice that is rightly left to the consumer, and not dictated by the Federal Government. [40]

    To implement this legislative intent, the bill generally authorized an individual to be treated by specified health care providers (i.e., a medical doctor, osteopath, chiropractor, or naturopath) with any method of medical treatment that the individual desires.41 "Treatment," in this context, was defined as the use of any food, drug, device, or procedure. [42] The right to treatment, however, was subject to the following conditions:

    (1) the health practitioner must agree to treat the individual;

    (2) the administration of the treatment must be within the scope of practice of the practitioner;

    (3) there must be no evidence that the treatment, when taken as prescribed, is a danger to the individual; [43]

    (4) if the treatment involves a food, drug, or device that has not been approved by the FDA, then the individual must be informed of this fact and the food, drug, or device (or accompanying information) must contain a warning concerning the absence of FDA approval and the assumption of risk by the individual;

    the individual must be informed regarding the nature of the treatment (i.e., its contents, reasonably foreseeable side effects, and results of past applications);

    no claim may be made regarding the efficacy of the treatment, except that the practitioner may report treatment results in recognized journals or at seminars, conventions, or similar meetings as long as the practitioner will not gain financially as a result of the claim apart from any reimbursement received from the patient; and the individual must sign an informed consent form indicating his or her permission to be treated. [44]

    The bill allowed the interstate delivery of medication or equipment for use in treatments authorized by the legislation and prohibited state licensing boards from denying, suspending, or revoking the license of a covered practitioner solely because the practitioner provides treatment permitted by the bill. [45] If a practitioner violated the requirements of the legislation, the practitioner would lose the benefits of the protection accorded by the bill and be subject to any other applicable law or regulation. [46]

    During Senate hearings concerning the Access to Medical Treatment Act, opponents of the legislation alleged, among other things, that the absence in the bill of any requirement for scientific testing of treatments for safety prior to actual use could expose patients to dangerous products and undermine the bill's requirement that a patient give "informed" consent before treatment. Opponents also expressed concern that the bill failed to preserve FDA's enforcement authority in this subject area, would undermine efforts by the Office of Alternative Medicine to assess the safety and effectiveness of alternative treatments, and potentially exposed patients to quackery. [47]

    Supporters of the bill argued, however, that there is already substantial risk present in many conventional treatments, a firm scientific basis for many approved medical procedures does not exist, treatments authorized by the bill would be administered by licensed providers who would remain subject to malpractice liability for faulty practice, and the health interests of consumers actually would be enhanced by accommodating a patient's desire to choose his or her form of health care treatment. [48] The legislation was further supported by testimony from a German physician who indicated that many of the same objections to the bill were also made when Germany passed legislation in 1978 establishing a regulatory framework for alternative medicine in that country:

    At the time the bill was being debated in our congress, critics made all kinds of insupportable claims that the public would suffer harm or fail to use effective conventional therapies. After more than 15 years of experience, these criticisms have proven to be wrong.

    The medication law of 1978 was also important in that the government decided to acknowledge the following. First, freedom in one's choice of therapy by the doctor and the right of self-determination by the patient should be guaranteed. Second, the existence and equal justification of various lines of therapeutics should be expressly recognized. And, third, health authorities are obliged to take into consideration the state of scientific knowledge of each line of therapy or different schools of medicine when advising the public or practitioners about their benefits.

    In addition, it was also agreed upon that in all matters of medical treatment it was ultimately the obligation of each physician to listen to his conscience when considering treatment for his patients. However, he must also be able to give plausible reasons for his choice of treatment to his patients by being informed of the merits and risks associated with any treatment he may elect to use. [49]

    A bill identical to that offered by Senator Daschle was introduced in the House of Representatives on May 25, 1994, by Delegate Eleanor Norton of the District of Columbia and referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.50 Similar legislation was also introduced by Congressman Peter DeFazio on June 30, 1994, and referred to the same committee. [51] No further legislative action was taken on either of these bills. Congressman's DeFazio's legislation was virtually identical to these other measures with the following exceptions:

    (1) The health care practitioner would be allowed to administer a method of treatment if there is no evidence that the treatment is a "serious harm" to the patient (the Daschle and Norton bills refer to "danger" to the patient); [52]

    (2) The bill explicitly contemplated the use of "controlled drugs" for which there is a currently accepted medical use (the Daschle and Norton bills are silent regarding the use of controlled drugs); [53]

    (3) State licensing boards are broadly prohibited from taking "any disciplinary sanctions" against a health care practitioner who provides treatment authorized by the bill (the Daschle and Norton bills would only prohibit a state board from denying, suspending, or revoking a license and do not address other possible forms of disciplinary action against a practitioner); [54] and

    (4) Imposition of sanctions for violating the bill was made more difficult by requiring that the penalty provision would apply only if the practitioner "knowingly, willingly, or with gross negligence" violates the provisions of the legislation (the Daschle and Norton bills are silent concerning the degree of the practitioner's personal knowledge or negligence). [55]

    1. The congressional directive was made by the Senate Appropriations Committee in connection with the legislative appropriation for the National Institutes of Health for fiscal year 1992. See S. Rep. No. 104, 102d Cong., 1st Sess. 147 (1991).

    2. Id.

    3. National Institutes of Health Revitalization Act of 1993, Pub. L. No. 103-43, 107 Stat. 122 (1993) (codified at scattered sections of 42 U.S.C. ) .

    4. 42 U.S.C.A. &sec; 283g(b) and (c) (Supp. 1994). The Secretary of NIH appointed the Alternative Medicine Program Advisory Council in 1994. See "Secretary Names 18 to OAM Advisory Council,. Alternative Medicine (Office of Alternative Medicine, NIH), Sept. 1994, at 1. The Council held its first meeting on August 31-September 1, 1994. 59 Fed. Reg. 42,838 (Aug. 19, 1994).

    5. 42 U.S.C.A. &sec; 283g(d) (Supp. 1994).

    6. H. Rep. No. 100, 103d Cong., 1st Sess. 117 (1993), reprinted in 1993 U.S. Code Cong. & Ad. News 299.

    7. See H. Conf. Rep. No. 733, 103d Cong., 2d Sess. 18 (1994).

    8. S. Rep. No. 318, 103d Cong., 2d Sess. 112 (1994).

    9. Id.

    10. Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990, Pub. L. 104 Stat. 2353 (codified as amended in scattered sections of 21 U.S.C.). 101-535,

    11. 21 C.F.R. &sec; 101.14(c) (1994). The same statutory standard may be found in 21 U.S.C.A. &sec; 343r(3)(B)(i) (Supp. 1994) concerning food in conventional form.

    12. 59 Fed. Reg. 402 (Jan. 4, 1994).

    13. Id. at 401.

    14. Id.

    15. Id. at 416.

    16. Id. at 409.

    17. Id. at 396.

    18. Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, Pub.L. 103-417, 108 Stat. 4325 (1994) [hereinafter cited as DSHEA]. .. No.

    19. U.S. Senate, Committee on Labor and Human Resources, S. Rep. No. 410, 103d Cong., 2d Sess. 14-15 (1994).

    20. DSHEA supra n. 18, &sec; 4.

    21. Id. &sec; 6.

    22. Id. &sec; S.

    23. Id. &sec; 8.

    24. Id. &sec; 12.

    25. Id. &sec; 13.

    26. For an overview concerning Congress' failure to enact comprehensive health care legislation, see Congressional Quarterly 2797-2801 (Oct. 1, 1994).

    27. H.R. 3600 and S. 1757, 103d Cong., 1st Sess. (1993) [hereinafter cited as HSA].

    28. Id. &sec;&sec; 2(2)(D) and 3(4).

    29. Id. &sec;&sec; 1101(a)(2) and 1112(c)(2).

    30. Concerning the broad statutory definitions for the practice of medicine under state law, see Andrews, supra n. 261 (Part I).

    31.. See HSA supra n. 27, &sec;&sec; 1141(a) and 1154.

    32. See supra text accompanying notes 33-37 (Part I).

    33. Health Security Act of 1993: Hearings on Examining the Administration's Proposed Health Security Act to Establish Comprehensive Health Care for Every American, Before the Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources, 103d Cong., 1st Sess. 202-03 (1993) (Part I).

    34. Id. at 223.

    35. Letter from Senator Barbara Mikulski to Donna E. Shalala, Secretary of Health and Human Services (April 25, 1994) (copy on file with author).

    36. Letter from Donna E. Shalala, Secretary of Health and Human Services, to Senator Barbara Mikulski (April 28, 1994) (copy on file with author).

    37. See Summary of Health Security Act (HR 3600) As Approved June 30, 1994, by House Ways and Means Committee, in Health Care Poll Rept. (BNA) No. 28, at 1263-77 (July 11, 1994) and Washington Post (Health News), July 12, 1984, at 10.

    38. S. 2140, 103d Cong., 2d Sess. (1994).

    39. 140 Cong. Rec. S6130 (daily ed. May 19, 1994) (statement of Sen. Daschle)

    40. Id.

    41. S.2140, &sec;&sec; 2(6) and 3(a).

    42. Id. &sec; 2(9).

    43. "Danger" was defined to mean a serious negative reaction that occurred as a result of the method of treatment, would not otherwise have occurred, and is more serious than reactions frequently experienced with accepted treatments for the same or similar health problems. Moreover, if the practitioner discovered that a treatment was a danger to the individual, the practitioner had to report this fact to the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Id. &sec;&sec;2(2) and (4).

    44. Id. &sec; 3.

    45. Id. &sec;&sec; 5 and 6.

    46. Id. &sec; 7.

    47. See Access to Medical Treatment Act: Hearing on S. 2140 Before the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee, 103d Cong., 2d Sess. 68-93 (1994) (Statement of Mary K. Pendergast, Deputy Commissioner, Food and Drug Administration) and id. at 103-08 (Statement of Robert J. Corolla, Legislative Counsel, Consumers Union).

    48. See id. at 3-4 (Statement of Michael Janson, M.D. Vice President, American Preventive Medical Association), 43-44 and 112 (Statement of Joan D. Priestly, M.D. Executive Vice President for Government Affairs, Citizens for Health) and 53 and 109-111 (Statement of Alexander G. Schauss, Executive Director, Citizens for Health).

    49. Id. at 56-57 and 115 (Statement of Jurgen Schurholz, M.D., Chairman of the German Commission on Anthroposophical Medicine).

    50. H.R. 4499, 103d Cong., 2d Sess. (1994).

    51. H.R. 4696, 103d Cong., 2d Sess. (1994)

    52. Id. &sec;&sec; 2(8) and 3(b)(1). The definition of "serious harm" in Congressman DeFazio's bill was identical to the definition of "danger" in the bills introduced by Senator Daschle and Delegate Norton. Compare &sec; 2(8) of H.R. 4969 with &sec; 2(2) of S. 2140 and &sec; 2(2) of H.R. 4499.

    53. Id. &sec; 2(3).

    54. Id. &sec; 6.

    55. Id. &sec; 7.

    Richard Brookhiser In 'The Washington Post' - Reefer Madness Redefined

    The Washington Post, Feb. 5, 1997, p. A27

    Doctors never say that anyone is cured of cancer, but in a few months I well win the next-best accolade: I will be five years away from a case of metastasized testicular cancer that has not recurred. Though I did not particularly enjoy my treatment, it was better than the alternative. One aspect of the experience, however, was needless and unnecessary: in order to deal with nausea of chemotherapy, I smoked pot, and that, under federal law (reaffirmed in the wake of California's Proposition 215), made me a criminal.

    None of my doctors or nurses discouraged me from trying pot, because they all had experience with cancer patients who had used it to good effect. The same chemical property that makes stoned college students clean out a refrigerator helps a nausea-wracked sick person keep food down. Marijuana has helped AIDS patients with the wasting syndrome recover their appetite, and it seems to be useful in treating a variety of other ailments as well. Yet the law makes it a Schedule I drug, illegal under all circumstances, along with heroin.

    Supporters of the ban dismiss the evidence of marijuana's medical efficacy as anecdotal. This is not entirely true -- a study commissioned by the Los Angeles Police Department in 1970 to see whether the reefer-maddened had dilated pupils, found instead that marijuana lowers the pressure on the eyeball, which is why the drug arrests the progress of glaucoma. But it is true that studies are scant, largely because the government makes them impossible. Dr. Donald Abrams, an AIDS researcher at San Francisco General Hospital, has tried for years to get marijuana from the federal government to study its effects on the wasting syndrome -- to no avail. Gen. Barry McCaffrey dismissed pot's medical claims as Cheech and Chong medicine. What about "Naked Gun" law enforcement?

    The enemies of medical marijuana also say that using it sends the wrong signal to children who we are trying to teach the evils of drugs. What sort of signal -- that you too can be as cool as a cancer patient? When I was lounging around my hospital ward with a roomful of bald people, I didn't think I was making a lifestyle statement. Medicine is not recreation. If the uses of morphine were discovered now, would we keep it out of the pharmacopoeia for fear of sending the wrong signal about opium?

    The final charge of the generals who want to carry the drug war all the way to the sick beds is that many of the supporters of medical marijuana, such as billionaire George Soros and National Review, also support sweeping changes in all the drug laws. That is true. But the two positions are not necessarily linked. If you oppose the drug war, then the ban on medical marijuana is indeed one symptom among many of its excess\es. But if you support the war, the ban is an irrelevancy, like fighting the Hun in World War I by changing the name of sauerkraut to "liberty cabbage."

    I made many of these points in testimony before the crime subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee last spring. The chairman, Bill McCollum, was attentive and serious. He knows the issue because he supported a medical marijuana bill in the early '80s. So, for that matter, did Rep. Newt Gingrich. President Clinton has sponsored no legislation, though he performed private tests in his college days.

    If these men, or any Beltway law-makers, found themselves or their families in a position where they needed some joints to keep from puking, they could easily find them. People in the heartland, or people alarmed by continuing anti-pot rhetoric, would find it more difficult. This is the great evil of current laws -- the iniquities they impose on the average and the law-abiding, as opposed to the hip or the powerful. The voters of California saw things clearly when they backed Proposition 215. Washington should follow their lead.

    The writer is senior contributing editor at National Review.

    Drug Education Experiment To Stress Responsibility, Not Prohibition

    Halifax Daily News, International News, Feb. 2, 1997

    BOGOTA (AP) - Bogota's mayor has an idea for teens who don't know how to drink responsibly - teach them how to, in class field trips to bars.

    Mayor Antanus Mockus's hands-on alcohol-education proposal has met a surprisingly positive reception from parents and alcohol rehabilitation groups in Bogota, a city plagued by drunk driving and alcoholism.

    Taking Grade 11 and 12 students to pubs as part of health class would let them learn how to drink with restraint, and see what happens when people don't, he says.

    "It can be a lot more seductive to only hear alcohol talked about," Mockus said. "We want to take students to learn from their own experience, to talk about it and learn its positive and negative sides."

    Under teachers' supervision, students who want to would be permitted to have a drink during a field trip. The legal drinking age is 18, but the law is not strictly enforced.

    A former philosophy professor, Mockus has made a practice of amusing, alarming and provoking residents of the capital since his 1994 election.

    He has paraded around as "Super Citizen" in red tights and blue cape and sent mimes into the streets to chide the city's notoriously discourteous drivers.

    His latest proposal may be a true inspiration, said Miguel Bettin, director of Pide Ayuda, a foundation that helps alcoholics.

    "But it must be studied carefully," he said. "Its main risk is that it could become a double-edged sword."

    Health officials say about 630,000 of Bogota's seven million residents are alcoholics and they find alcohol in the blood of more than 60 per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds who die in the city.

    Mockus said he'll present his idea to school boards, who would decide independently whether to add it to their curriculums.


    Dutch Priest Seeks Fair Price For Recreational Drug Producers

    Conscience with your coffee:
    Dutch priest tries to get fair price for growers
    The Gazette [Montreal], Feb. 2, 1997, p. A1
    By April Lindgren

    There's more to that skinny au lait sold at the trendy coffee shop down the street than caffeine and skim milk.

    The 15 billion cups of coffee that Canadians blithely consume every year fuel an industry that rivals oil when it comes to cynical politics, profits, environmental controversies and questions of economic and social justice.

    "The politics of coffee are brutal because there's so much money involved," says Father Frank Vanderhoff, 57, a Dutch priest who works with small Mexican growers in the southern state of Oaxaca.

    In 1995, the international trade in green coffee beans was worth at least $16 billion U.S. Coffee is the economic lifeline for millions of workers and small producers from Ethiopia to Guatemala. And entire countries - Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda among them - are almost totally dependent on coffee exports for foreign-exchange earnings.

    "My experience is that consumers in rich countries just don't have a clue about the difficult situation of the small farmer even though they drink coffee every day," Vanderhoff said by telephone from Ixtepec near the Chiapas border.

    A Catholic priest who taught political anthropology at the University of Ottawa in the early 1970s, Vanderhoff today rhymes off coffee prices with the ease of a New York commodity trader. For 15 years, he's worked with the Indian Communities of the Isthmus, a 3,400-member coffee co-operative that is part of a growing international fair-trade network.

    Specialty coffee companies, roasters and other purchasers of so-called ethical beans commit to paying a minimum price for coffee they know is produced under relatively good working conditions. In return, they are licensed to use the TransFair International seal on their coffees.

    The coffee-with-a-conscience movement is a 1990s response to the notoriously volatile price of green coffee beans, which can change drastically even though the cost of a coffee-to-go from the local emporium doesn't vary much.

    In 1930, the Brazilian government responded to a massive coffee glut and collapsing prices by ordering mountains of green coffee beans to be burned.

    In 1962, coffee-producing and coffee-consuming nations got together under the auspices of the United Nations to establish the International Coffee Agreement, which set production quotas and stabilized prices somewhat.

    But by 1989, overproduction was destroying the quota system. The free marketeers governing in Washington had little enthusiasm for cartels, and the end of the Cold War further undermined U.S. support for the system.

    The cartel collapsed. So did coffee prices.

    From $1.07 U.S. per pound in 1989, the average price of green beans dropped to a low of $0.60 in 1993. Drought and frosts that produced poor crops in Brazil, the world's largest coffee-producing nation, pushed prices to the $1.45 range in 1994 and 1995.

    But last year, when good-quality coffee sold for as much as $11 a pound in high-end Canadian specialty stores, the average market price for green beans dropped to $1.18 U.S. And the contrast between imaginary Juan Valdez - that happy, coffee-growing peasant so brilliantly marketed by the Colombian industry - and the harsh reality of small-time coffee growers became even more pronounced.

    The price collapse was a big factor in the economic crisis that fuelled the genocide in Rwanda, a country almost entirely dependent on coffee for export earnings. In Colombia, guerrillas are now active in formerly prosperous coffee growing areas.

    "And the upheaval we've had in Chiapas since the Zapatistas rebelled in 1994 and in Oaxaca since a new guerrilla group appeared in August are both in coffee-producing regions," points out Vanderhoff.

    Last year, the Isthmus co-operative sold about 20,000 60-kilogram bags of organically grown green coffee beans to buyers with a social conscience. Buyers, including Oxfam Canada's Bridgehead store in Ottawa, pay a minimum price of $1.21 U.S. per pound for the beans. (If the market price is higher, as it has been lately, the buyers pay the higher price.)

    Growers, most of whom work only a few acres of land each, get advance payments so they can live during the year. And after paying growers, co-op income is used to improve health, education and transportation services for 55,000 men, women and children.

    Producers selling to the co-op also elude the "coyotes" or intermediaries who buy directly from growers but pay up to 20 per cent less than market price to cover transportation and other costs.

    Last year, co-op members earned $792 U.S. each on average: "That's just enough for survival," says Vanderhoff, noting that $2 U.S. per pound of green coffee beans is what producers really need to live in a place where a pound of meat costs the same amount.

    "We're realistic; we know we can't demand it," he adds.

    Campaigns to persuade bean buyers to adhere to some basic principles began in Europe about five years ago. The TransFair International seal is now on one per cent of all coffee sold in Germany and on as much as 5 per cent of the Swiss market, says Bob Thomson of Fair TradeMark Canada, the Ottawa-based organization that issues the TransFair International seal in this country.

    The result is a coffee war of sorts.

    Last year, for instance, a German court ordered giant Kraft Jacobs Suchard, Germany's largest coffee company, to stop badmouthing coffee carrying the TransFair label. In another incident, on television, a senior Jacobs Suchard executive proclaimed his coffee the best in the country. Then he chose a TransFair brand in a surprise taste test.

    In Mexico, Vanderhoff says big players in the coffee business, like Nestle and Sara Lee, refuse to accept Isthmus' minimum price and prepayment conditions: "They live by the rules of the commodity market and will only pay the market price.

    "But then you can't expect them to have a social conscience. They sit behind a desk watching a computer and trading coffee and they never go out into the field to see what people's lives are really like."

    During a 1988 visit to Holland, Vanderhoff says, he introduced a senior coffee company director to his travelling companion and "it was the first time he'd ever met a farmer after 20 years in the business."

    Seattle-based Starbucks Coffee Co., with more than 1,000 stores in North America, is considered a leader in the ethical bean business. After activists demanding a better deal for coffee workers and small producers picketed Starbucks outlets, the company in late 1995 adopted a code of conduct for its relations with coffee-producing countries. The code commits the company to improving the quality of worklife for coffee workers. It says they have the right to freedom of association, that children's work should not interfere with their schooling and that pesticides should be used safely.

    (Coffee-industry critics say there is often economic and government pressure on growers to boost production by shifting from natural, shade-grown coffee to sun-grown crops more dependent on hazardous pesticides and fertilizers.)

    But Starbucks' Jeanne McKay acknowledges that the company still doesn't know who produces the beans it buys and therefore can't monitor working conditions. "It's difficult to trace where it comes from because we buy our coffee from exporters and importers within the trade. In Guatemala, for instance, there are more than 33,000 farmers and 27,000 are small family operations that grow their coffee and pool it with others' coffee."

    Alton McEwen, president of Second Cup Ltd.'s U.S. operation, says the high-quality beans the company purchases for roasting in Canada or the United States tend to come from well-managed plantations that treat workers well.

    Nestle, the world's largest coffee company, purchases about 12 per cent of the world's green coffee crops and then processes it into instant and ground coffee in Nestle factories located mostly in industrialized countries. In 1994, the company made a 20-per-cent profit - or $1.3 billion U.S. - on total coffee sales of $6.4 billion U.S., according to the most recent statistics available.

    A glossy publication about the company's buying policies says Nestle establishes relationships with communities by buying directly from some coffee producers, has some small-scale prepayment programs and invests in agricultural research and training in coffee-producing countries.

    But Marilyn Knox of Nestle Canada said the only conditions the company imposes on bean suppliers "are to do with quality of the product and prices as opposed to the conditions under which the coffee is produced."

    Rather than guarantee a price as suggested by TransFair, "the belief we have is that the system we had in place with the International Coffee Agreement would be a good way to go" because it would ensure all companies operated according to the same rules and prices, Knox said.

    One Canadian company that does operate according to fair-trade principles is Just Us! Coffee Roasters Co-op, a five-member co-operative based in Newminas, Nova Scotia, northwest of Halifax.

    In August, the co-op took delivery of 10.5 tons of organically grown green coffee beans from Union de la Selva, a co-operative in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas.

    "Our coffee is grown in a beautiful little village under shady banana trees that protect the plant," said Jeff Moore, a co-op member who visited Chiapas. He said once Just Us! is better established, it will apply to carry the TransFair label.

    Coffee drinkers in the Grabbajabba in Ottawa were divided over the issue. But 20-year-old Amy England, however, said she would pay up to $1 more per pound for coffee if it meant coffee workers and small producers would be treated better.

    "To tell you the truth, I never really thought much about it. I just think of Juan Valdez whenever I think about where coffee comes from."



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