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February 20, 1997


Doctors, Researchers Call For Clinical Trials On Medical Marijuana
At National Conference; NORML Voices Concern Over Methodology Of Future Studies

February 20, 1997, Bethesda, MD:  Several prominent physicians called for clinical trials to examine marijuana's therapeutic potential in the treatment of serious illnesses such as spasticity disorders, AIDS wasting syndrome, and nausea, during a two-day conference organized by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  A panel of doctors assembled by the agency will now debate the issue and recommend a course of action within four weeks.
Although many speakers acknowledged prior scientific evidence demonstrating marijuana's medical utility, most saw a need for additional controlled studies.  Panelists disagreed over the specific nature of future trials, and remained divided over what medical and safety standards should be applied to marijuana.
"Marijuana must be shown to not just be effective [as a medicine], but advantageous" over oral THC and conventional medications, explained Dr. Robert Temple of the Food and Drug Administration.  Temple admitted that FDA Cosmetic Act does not require a drug to demonstrate "superiority" over all existing conventional medications before receiving federal approval, but assumed that the political climate surrounding marijuana mandates the drug to meet this higher standard.  "I don't think the FDA will be the sole determinant" of marijuana's medical efficacy, he explained.
"Why do we need to [establish] superiority?" asked one panelist. "I thought we just needed to show it worked?"
NORML's Executive Director R. Keith Stroup, Esq. agreed.  "While we are encouraged that researchers appear anxious to partake in specific, controlled studies to further examine marijuana's medical potential, we are concerned that marijuana will be held to a higher scientific standard than that applied to other medications or required by law," he said.  "Political concerns, not questions regarding medical utility or safety, are preventing marijuana's approval as a legal medicine."
Panelists were also divided on whether peer-reviewed double blind, controlled studies could realistically be conducted on inhaled marijuana.  For example, some researchers doubted that patients could be administered a placebo marijuana cigarette.  Others questioned whether placebos were even necessary in Phase III human trials for marijuana.
"The NIDA conference raised more questions than answers," remarked NORML's Deputy Director Allen St. Pierre.  "Let's hope that these latest calls for research are not used as stalling tactics by the federal government to keep patients suffering needlessly."
NORML, in conjunction with other national drug-reform groups, held a press conference during the event featuring presentations by both doctors and patients who advocate the use of medical marijuana.  Advocates stated that enough evidence already exists to: 1) reclassify marijuana as a "Schedule II" prescription drug for specific illnesses, and 2) begin wide-scale, Phase III human trials on marijuana to answer remaining questions about its medical value for certain illnesses.
"It is clear that NIDA has blocked FDA-approved medical marijuana research in the past," said St. Pierre.  "With increased national interest on this issue and public scrutiny, we hope that NIDA will finally be compelled to supply the marijuana necessary to complete the clinical trials demanded by the public, seriously ill patients, and the medical community."
For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre or Paul Armentano of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.

Charges Dismissed Against Key West Cannabis Buyers' Club

February 19, 1997, Key West, FL:  Charges were dismissed against the proprietor and one member of a Key West club that distributed medical marijuana to seriously ill patients who possessed a physician's recommendation.  The motions were held at the Monroe County Courthouse and the entire process took only half an hour.
The Key West club, known locally as the Medical Cannabis Advocates of Key West (MCA), served approximately 90 patients and operated openly in an office directly across from the county courthouse and sheriff's station for 14 months before being raided by Special Operations detectives this past August.  Club owner Zvi Baranoff and member Jamie Levario, who is HIV positive, were charged with second-degree felony possession and distribution of marijuana.
NORML Legal Committee member Norman Kent, Esq. of Fort Lauderdale, represented the defendants and applauded the decision.  "It's hard to ask for much more," he said.  "From a personal standpoint, it's a complete triumph."
"The state is recognizing that marijuana is medicine," explained Baranoff, who was given a six-month pre-trial intervention.  "I'm really proud to help people get their medicine."
Kent said Levario will now sue the federal government. "The next step is to make Jaime a plaintiff in a civil suit ... to allow [him] the use of medicinal pot," Kent explained.  Kent was victorious in a similar suit in 1988 that affirmed glaucoma patient Elvy Musikka's right to use marijuana as a medicine.  Musikka was later accepted into a federal program that currently provides marijuana as a medicine to eight patients.
Joe Hart, current director of the MCA, told the Key West Citizen that the court ruling means the club is back in business.  However, he said that the club intends to keep a lower profile than in the past.
For more information, please contact Attorney Norm Kent @ (954) 763-1900
or Zvi Baranoff of the MCA @ (305) 293-7067.

Virginia Votes To Maintain Marijuana Prescription Law

February 17, 1997, Richmond, VA:  Legislation to repeal an 18 year-old state law permitting physicians to prescribe marijuana for patients suffering from cancer or glaucoma, was voted down by a Virginia Senate committee by a 9-6 vote.
The vote signaled a major victory for medical marijuana proponents and was a significant blow to the Clinton administration, who were reportedly backing the bill.  "All of the professionals and people in the know told me that this bill was going to pass no matter what," said Virginia activist Lennice Werth, who lobbied against the bill.  "What really stopped this bill was the power of the people."
Testimony in favor of keeping Virginia's progressive medical marijuana law was provided by physicians William Regelson of the Medical College of Virginia and NORML Board Member John Morgan of City University of New York (CUNY) Medical School, as well as patients.  Regelson, who conducted government-approved research in the 1970s on the benefit of THC in cancer patients, told the Senate Education and Health Committee that his studies demonstrated that marijuana is "superior as a medicine" and better than synthetic THC.
Dr. Billy Martin, a Virginia Commonwealth University pharmacology professor who testified both against and in favor of the bill, advised delaying action on the measure until future scientific studies are conducted.
"The purpose of putting this on the books was to be ready if federal policy changed," agreed Sen. Richard Saslaw (D-Fairfax County), who noted that pending federal studies may encourage the federal government to reschedule marijuana.
Although Virginia's law does not provide for legal access to the drug because it is in "positive conflict" with federal marijuana prohibition, the state's recognition of marijuana's therapeutic value does help patients suffering from serious illnesses a stronger legal defense against marijuana possession charges.
For more information, please call Lennice Werth @ (804) 645-8816 or Allen St. Pierre of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.




Regional and other news

Body Count

Seven of the 15 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, ("Courts," Feb. 20, 1997, p. 6, 3M-MP-SE). That makes the body count so far this year 28 out of 64, or 43.75 percent. The count would be eight out of 15 except one person who "attempted possession of a controlled substance" was sentenced to just a $120 fine (and probably permanent unemployability).

'Drug Free Zone' Medicinal Marijuana Exemption May Backfire

As noted in last week's item, "Meanwhile, Back At Ground Zero, Portland Expands Drug-Free Zones," the city council recently voted to expand the downtown "drug-free zone" by about 30 percent. Only Commissioner Erik Sten voted no, citing the loss of civil liberties when police exclude defendants without a criminal record from their own neighborhoods without due process. Needless to say, no exemption was necessary for the drug tobacco, which kills about 400,000 Americans a year, or the drug alcohol, which kills about 100,000 Americans a year.

However, the Portland city council did vote to exempt people caught with an ounce or less of marijuana from facing exclusion. As a report in The Oregonian noted, "Alternative health care providers and advocates of marijuana legalization told the council that the zones could jeopardize delivery of the drug for medicinal purposes. The zone proposal exempts cases involving possession of less than an ounce of marijuana." ("Objection slows down drug-free zone growth," Feb. 6, 1997, p. C4).

On the one hand, the exemption for smalltime marijuana possession is interesting, since the zone's "southern expansion to Southwest Clay Street" (ibid.) was apparently meant to target pot merchants in the South Park Blocks. In the past decade, other open-air pot markets in Portland have been similarly targeted without real effect. Invariably, the merchants simply relocate. Originally they moved from the park in front of Civic Auditorium to Washington Park, then to O'Bryant Park, then to the North Park Blocks, then Waterfront Park, then to the South Park Blocks. Sooner or later the whole city of Portland will be one big Drug-Free Zone - only there will be more drugs and more police in more places than ever before. As Bill Clinton observed during a campaign debate on October 11, 1992: "Insanity is doing the same old thing over and over again and expecting a different result."

On the other hand, the city council's special dispensation to medical-marijuana patients is likely to backfire. With the help of well-placed informants, the police and district attorney's office have been targeting and busting everyone in Portland they can find involved with medical marijuana, particularly growers and suppliers. The one-ounce exclusion rule gives police and prosecutors every reason to re-focus their efforts on suppliers. The result is exactly the same - more dead and suffering sick people. If it is compassionate to allow sick and dying people to alleviate their suffering with marijuana, why is it not compassionate to allow them to be supplied with marijuana? Perhaps the city council will address that question in a future session.

NIH Panel Calls For Medical Marijuana Research -
CBS Poll Finds Americans Favor Medical Marijuana By 62 Percent To 33 Percent

BETHESDA, Md. (AP, Feb. 20, 1997) - Sparse but promising evidence indicates smoking marijuana may ease the suffering of some seriously ill patients, but more study is needed before the drug's medical value is understood, a panel of experts said Thursday.

At a news conference interrupted repeatedly by pro-marijuana demonstrators, the experts assembled by the National Institutes of Health spoke of intriguing hints that marijuana smoking helps some patients with cancer, AIDS or glaucoma. But they cautioned there is little hard scientific evidence.

"For at least some indications (medical uses), it looks promising enough that there should be some new controlled studies," said Dr. William T. Beaver, a professor of pharmacology at Georgetown University School of Medicine and the panel's chairman.

Although a final committee report is not complete, "the general mood was that for some indications, there is a rationale for looking further into the therapeutic effects of marijuana," Beaver said.

The eight-member committee appeared at a news conference after two days of hearings during which members reviewed the scientific literature on medical use of smoked marijuana and heard from other experts.

Dr. Alan Leshner, head of the National Institute of Drug Abuse, organized the meeting after California and Arizona enacted state laws that allow medical uses of marijuana.

Those state laws also prompted White House drug czar Barry McCaffrey to issue a warning that doctors who prescribe marijuana could lose their federal authority to prescribe medicine. One California doctor already has been warned by the Department of Justice that he is under investigation.

Despite McCaffrey's tough stand, however, Leshner said the NIH would finance medical marijuana studies, if proposed research is approved by the agency's peer-review process. He said his institute is empowered to issue legal marijuana to researchers.

"Our policy is that if other institutes (at NIH) support a study, then we will provide the marijuana," he said.

Allowing doctors to prescribe marijuana is popular with Americans, favored by 62% to 33% in a CBS News poll released Thursday. But legalizing marijuana for personal use is opposed by 70% to 26% in the poll of 1,276 adults taken Jan. 30-Feb. 1. Results have a 3-percentage-point margin of sampling error, CBS said.

Thursday's news conference was interrupted four times by ACT UP, the AIDS activist group, and members of the Marijuana Policy Project. In shouted accusations, the demonstrators accused Leshner of using a "stall tactic" to block marijuana research and of ignoring existing research.

"We don't trust you," screamed one demonstrator. "People with AIDS need marijuana to survive."

Security officers removed each demonstrator in turn, and the news conference continued.

Beaver said the scientists did not consider the politics or legal problems of doing marijuana research.

"You can argue the politics all you want, but if you don't have the data proving that marijuana is effective, then the political problem is irrelevant," he said.

Most of the scientifically valid research associated with marijuana, said Beaver, has been with the most active ingredient of the drug, a compound called delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. A synthetic THC is now sold as the drug Marinol and is approved for the treatment of cancer-related nausea and vomiting and for wasting, the extreme weight loss associated with AIDS and some cancers.

But smoking marijuana presents serious technical problems in medical research, said Beaver. Most drug trials are blinded, with one group of patients taking the real drug and another taking a placebo.

Smoked marijuana, he said, is impossible to disguise.

Another problem is that smoking marijuana includes the same risk to the lungs as cigarette smoking, Beaver said. Both tobacco and marijuana smoke contain chemicals that can cause cancer and other diseases.

Despite these problems, he said, "there are promising areas" that should be researched.

THC has been found to help relieve nausea and vomiting of cancer patients on chemotherapy. The drug also has been effective in restoring the appetites of some AIDS patients and reversing wasting.

Dr. Paul Palmberg, an ophthalmologist at the University of Miami School of Medicine and a panel member, said one of his glaucoma patients has been smoking marijuana legally, under a federal compassionate use program, and "it has been very effective."

Legal marijuana also has helped at least two other patients and "merits looking at in glaucoma," said Palmberg.

Another panel member, Dr. Kenneth Johnson of the University of Maryland Hospital, said there is a suggestion that smoked marijuana helps to control some multiple sclerosis symptoms. But there have been no comprehensive studies, he said.

Studies, however, have indicated that marijuana was not effective in controlling Parkinson's disease, a chronic brain disease, Johnson said.

Lake Research Poll Finds Overwhelming Support For Medical Marijuana

Drug Reform Coordination Network (DRCNet)
News Advisory

Lake Research conducted a nationwide poll of 1,002 Americans between February 5-9, 1997 for The Lindesmith Center, a Project of the Open Society Institute. The survey was fielded by International Communications Research as part of the Excel Poll. The following memorandum comes from Lake Research:

To: Interested Parties

From: Celinda Lake and Dana Stanley
Lake Research, Inc.

Date: February 14, 1997

Re: Americans Overwhelmingly Favor Allowing Doctors
To Prescribe Marijuana For Medicinal Purposes,
Oppose Federal Intervention

By a 2 to 1 margin, American voters favor allowing doctors to prescribe marijuana for medicinal purposes for seriously or terminally ill patients (60 percent favor, 30 percent oppose, nine percent don't know, and one percent refused to answer).

Furthermore, Americans believe that doctors in states like Arizona and California, which have passed medical marijuana initiatives, should be able to prescribe marijuana for medical purposes, and they don't believe the federal government should penalize those doctors for prescribing marijuana (68 percent say doctors should be able to prescribe, 24 percent say federal government should penalize those doctors, two percent don't agree with either notion, four percent are unsure, and one percent refused to answer).

The questions were worded as follows and were asked in the following order:

a. Should doctors be able to prescribe marijuana for medical purposes to seriously or terminally ill patients?

b. As you may know, voters in two states recently passed laws allowing doctors to prescribe marijuana to seriously ill patients for medical purposes. The federal government says that doctors who prescribe are violating federal law, and has threatened to prosecute them or suspend their license. Which comes closer to your views [rotate order of choices]: doctors should be able to prescribe marijuana for medical uses in states where it is allowed by law, or the federal government should penalize doctors who prescribe marijuana, regardless of whether state law allows them to?

Questions about this survey can be directed to: Ethan Nadelmann, Director, The Lindesmith Center, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10106, 212/887-0695, or Celinda Lake or Dana Stanley, Lake Research, 202/776-9066.

Join DRCNet! Visit our world-wide-web registration form at (complete with credit card billing and encryption for your protection), or send e-mail to for more information. To subscribe to the rapid response team, send e-mail to with the line "subscribe drc-natl (your name)" in the message. (Use < instead of (, etc.) We need your help to survive! (If you're not on our list already, please visit our quick-signup form at on the world-wide-web.)

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Small-Town Bringdown -
Federal Narcs Launch First Strike On Pollack Pines General Practitioner

"Feds probing M.D. for advising pot use"
The San Francisco Examiner, Feb. 16, 1997, p. A1
Lisa M. Krieger
Examiner Medical Writer

In what appears to be the first major strike in the federal government's war on California's new medicinal marijuana law, narcotics agents have riled a doctor for recommending the drug and launched an investigation into his practice.

Family doctor Robert Mastroianni, who has recommended marijuana to "three seriously ill patients" since the November passage of Proposition 215, was questioned by U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents at his office in Pollack Pines, near Placerville, and warned that he was under formal investigation, Mastroianni said in an affidavit in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.

The local pharmacist told the doctor that DEA agents had also contacted him and reviewed Mastroianni's prescription records, according to the affidavit, filed Friday.

"The pharmacist stated that in his many years of business he had never before been visited by a DEA agent," said Mastroianni, who has been a family physician for two decades. "The pharmacist made clear to me that he felt intimidated by the encounter."

Sacramento-based DEA agent Stephen Delgado confirmed that agents had visited Mastroianni but refused to comment further.

In response to the move against Mastroianni, Bay Area Physicians for Human Rights, a group of local doctors and AIDS patients, Friday asked San Francisco's U.S. District Court to enjoin federal drug czar Barry McCaffrey and other senior Clinton administration officials from punishing doctors who discussed or recommended the medical use of marijuana to their patients.

Mastroianni said in his affidavit he had arrived at his office early Jan. 27 to find "two men, casually dressed, waiting to speak to me." One identified himself as DEA senior investigator William Davis, according to Mastroianni.

The agents began questioning the doctor, a graduate of Tufts University Medical School, about his medical education and showed Mastroianni a copy of a "letter of recommendation" for marijuana that he had written for a patient. It's not known how the DEA had obtained the letter.

They also requested his DEA number, a personal number assigned each physician for the purposes of keeping track of prescriptions for narcotics and other controlled substances.

"Agent Davis quoted a passage from an article from 1980's government-sponsored research on the effects of marijuana," according to Mastroianni.

"He asked if I had ever read the article, whether I had studied literature on medical marijuana, whether I had attended any medical courses on medical marijuana (I knowof no such courses), whether I offered marijuana for sale, whether I referred patients to sources for marijuana, and whether I had prescribed, as opposed to recommended, it.

"Many of his questions were professionally insulting," he said in the affidavit. "They implied that I had acted unethically and in violation of the law."

The men then told Mastroianni it was "illegal for me to recommend or prescribe marijuana" and that marijuana was a "deadly drug for which there was absolutely no medical use."

"This comment and the questions which preceded it were clearly meant to intimidate me and dissuade me from treating certain of my seriously ill patients in accordance with my medical experience and professional judgment," according to Mastroianni's statement. "I am now reticent and reluctant to recommend the use of medical marijuana even if it is my ethical duty to do so."

Doctors who recommend or prescribe marijuana risk the loss of their federal authority to write drug prescriptions, exclusion from Medicare and Medicaid programs, even criminal charges, under federal policy detailed by McCaffrey in December in response to Prop. 215.

Dr. Virginia Cafaro, an HIV specialist in San Francisco and member of Bay Area Physicians, said she found the agents' treatment of Mastroianni chilling and believed it would hurt sound medical practice and the relationship between doctor and patient.

"But this has far-reaching implication beyond just that of medicine," she said. "Big Brother in Washington is now in your office."

Mastroianni serves 6,000 patients in the Placerville region. During his 20 years of practice, he estimates, 50 patients have told him that they used marijuana to combat the nausea and vomiting caused by cancer treatment, to control muscle spasms or to ease chronic pain.

"Those patients consistently report that no other medications work as well," he said in his affidavit. "They also tell me that when they use medical marijuana, they are able to diminish, if not altogether stop their use of other medications, including prescription drugs."

He has recommended marijuana only three times, he said - and then, only after the passage of California's medical marijuana initiative.

Mastroianni did a stint at San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic as part of his continuing medical education studies. It was his experience at the clinic, under the direction of Dr. David Smith, that "heightened my awareness of substance abuse issues and protocols for prescribing powerful medications to seriously ill persons," he said.

Bay Area Physicians for Human Rights sued last month to block enforcement of federal law against marijuana, and have asked that marijuana be treated the same as morphine, Demerol and other carefully controlled drugs.

The suit "challenges a draconian White House policy of intimidating doctors who simply seek to practice medicine responsibly," said Dr. Graham A. Boyd of San Francisco, attorney for the group, which also filed Friday's action.

U.S. drug czar McCaffrey has so far shown little interest in backing down.

Justice Department attorney Kathleen Muller, speaking for McCaffrey, said: "Doctors cannot . . . claim that they are merely providing their patients with "recommendations' in accordance with their best medical judgment."

Hypocrisy Alert - Clinton Warns Against 'Gagging' Medicaid Doctors

WASHINGTON (CNN AllPolitics, Feb. 20, 1997) - Flanked by Vice President Al Gore, health secretary Donna Shalala and members of Congress, President Bill Clinton this morning issued a reminder to the nation's health care providers that doctors cannot be "gagged" when dealing with Medicaid patients.

"I'm directing Secretary Shalala to inform all state Medicaid directors that it's illegal for health care plans to prohibit doctors from discussing any treatment options with their patients," Clinton said.

Medicaid provides health care funding to the poor. So-called "gag rules" allegedly instituted by managed health care plans restrict doctors from recommending certain expensive or uncovered medical procedures. Health care executives deny the existence of such rules.

Clinton issued a similar order in December 1996, informing health care providers that "gag rules" would not be tolerated for Medicare, which provides medical care to the elderly.

The president also called on Congress to write and pass a bill that would prohibit "gag" rules for patients outside federal health programs. "We can act today to protect Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, because they are federal programs and because government is the largest purchaser of managed care in our nation," Clinton said. "But to protect the 130 million Americans enrolled in managed care throughout the private sector, the Congress must act."

"What we are trying to do... is to strike the right balance, to permit managed care to go forward and even to flourish, but to try to set the conditions in which it will operate so that we guarantee that quality of care is not sacrificed," Clinton said.

Shalala Endorses Needle Exchange

From: The Drug Policy Foundation

Clinton Administration Endorses Needle Exchange Programs:
Long-Term Advocate and Donor Applauds Vital Step in Slowing Spread of HIV

For Immediate Release: February 19, 1997

WASHINGTON, Feb. 19 - The Drug Policy Foundation today welcomed Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala's endorsement of needle exchange programs ("NEPs") as part of a strategy to combat the spread of HIV and blood-borne diseases, even though her endorsement fell short of recommending that Congress lift the ban on federal funding.

"It is long past time for the federal government to base its drug policy decisions on science, rather than politics," DPF President Arnold S. Trebach said. "Shalala's comments are welcome, but it is important to remember that the evidence on needle exchange has been in for some time. From 1991 to September 1995, six federally funded studies all made the case for needle exchange's effectiveness. However, in December 1995, Shalala maintained that there was a 'controversy over research' and refused to acknowledge the studies' findings."

Trebach added, "Similarly, the White House Office on National Drug Control Policy has ignored the evidence. In his report to Congress last year, drug czar Barry McCaffrey acknowledged that nearly 60 percent of child AIDS cases started because the mother used an infected needle or had sex with someone who did. Yet, the White House and the report ignore needle exchange and the research."

Since 1994, the Drug Policy Foundation has donated over $730,000 to NEPs, making DPF one of the nation's top private donors to such programs.

"It is embarrassing that we are a leading supporter of needle exchange because we have a relatively small grant program," Trebach said. "When a fire is raging in one part of a city, it is vital to throw emergency equipment at it before it spreads to other neighborhoods. Fighting injection-related AIDS is similar: Federal funding for needle exchange is the emergency equipment that could have changed the face of this epidemic years ago. It certainly would have protected the lives of many non-drug users, including children."

Trebach cited researchers Dr. Peter Lurie and Prof. Ernest Drucker who reported that needle exchange programs could have prevented as many as 9,666 HIV infections among injecting drug users, their sex partners, and their children if sufficient NEPs had been in place in 1987. The Lurie-Drucker research projected that more than 11,000 additional HIV infections could be prevented by the year 2000 if NEPs are federally funded this year.

The Drug Policy Foundation helped introduce the topic of NEPs into the U.S. drug policy debate during the foundation's 1987 congressional forum series. In March 1995, DPF obtained and released to the public two internal reviews supporting NEPs conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The government has yet to release those reviews officially.

For more information contact Rob Stewart or Scott Ehlers in the Communications Office:

The Drug Policy Foundation
4455 Connecticut Ave., NW, Suite B-500
Washington, DC 20008-2302
tel: (202) 537-5005

[End of release]

Clifford Schaffer responded:

Did anyone notice that this puts her in conflict with McCaffrey?

Tobacco Is The Real Gateway?

On Feb. 18, 1997,
David F. Duncan wrote:
The studies by Kandel and others which are so often cited as "proof" that marijuana is a gateway drug have always shown that tobacco is an earlier and more discriminative gateway drug. Not smoking tobacco is a much stronger predictor of not later using heroin or cocaine than is not smoking marijuana. Keep in mind that all of this relates to any use and not necessarily to abuse or dependence. Several studies have added a further point which is that while the usual sequence is for kids to have their first experience drinking alcohol before their first experience smoking tobacco, those who reverse this sequence are on the "fast track" to later abuse of heroin or cocaine. Here we are talking about a clear gateway to abuse not just to use.

Health Of Australian Marijuana Consumers On Par With General Population

"ADCA News of the Day," compiled from:

Sydney Morning Herald, Feb. 18, p. 4
The Australian, Feb. 18, p. 3
The Daily Telegraph, Feb. 18, p. 4
The Advertiser, Feb. 18, p. 5

One of the first studies of long-term cannabis use in Australia has found the health of such users is on par with the general population. The National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre study involved interviews with 268 marijuana smokers and 31 non-using partners and family members living on the North Coast of NSW. The average profile was of regular marijuana use from the age of 17, lasting for 19 years. Some 94% smoked it at least twice a week, and 60% smoked it daily, with a typical quantity being two joints a day of the potent flowering heads of the female plants.

Chief investigator David Reilly said "We don't see any evidence of high psychological disturbance among the people, we see very little evidence of health problems except for respiratory problems". Chronically wheezy or whistly chest were reported by 52% compared with the North Coast average of 24% - although 86% were current or former tobacco smokers. The most common reason for using was relaxation and relief of stress (61%) and of the negative effects, 21% said they felt paranoid, anxiety or depression. While 23% believed their cannabis use was a problem, another 57% met defined dependence criteria.

"The results seem unremarkable - the exceptional thing is that the respondents are unexceptional" - David Reilly, Northern Rivers Health Service.

ADCA's Daily News selects one story only from the many that comprise the national news of the day. The ADCA Library maintains a full collection of national print media clips which can be used by members and others. Copies of articles can be faxed on request and at no cost. Requests can be made by phone (06 2811002), fax (06 2810995) or e-mail

Australians Report Cannabis Doesn't Cause Schizophrenia

The Sydney Morning Herald, Feb. 18, 1997
by Leonie Lamont

One of the first studies of long-term marijuana use in Australia has found the health of such users is on par with the general population.

The study - conducted in the "subculture of North Coast of NSW. in which cannabis use is an integral part of everyday life and social relationships" - involved interviews with 268 marijuana smokers and 31 non-using partners and family members. It was funded through the Commonwealth Department of Health's National Drug Strategy.

Mr. David Reilly, chief investigator for the study, said the average profile for the interviewees was of regular marijuana use from the age of 17, lasting for 19 years. Some 94 per cent smoked it at least twice a week, and 60 per cent smoked it daily, with a typical quantity being two joints a day of the potent flowering heads of female plants.

"We have nothing startling. We don't see any evidence of high psychological disturbance among the people, we see very little evidence of health problems except for respiratory problems," said Mr Reilly, who is manager of the drug and alcohol program with the Northern Rivers Health Service.

Schizophrenia has been linked with cannabis use but Mr. Reilly said there had been no evidence of the illness in the sample.

"Cannabis doesn't cause schizophrenia, in a nutshell. Most of those [generally younger people predisposed to schizophrenia] that would have had those feelings wouldn't have continued to use cannabis for 20 years.

However, the rate of respiratory problems among the marijuana users was higher than the general population.

Smoke Is Too A Medicine

As noted in "Marijuana Should Be Classified As A Dietary Supplement, Not A Drug?" in the Feb. 6, 1997 Portland NORML Weekly News Release, Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey is on record as saying "Smoke is not a medicine." However, the ensuing text from a 19th century advertisement illustrates that smoke, particularly cannabis smoke, was a member in good standing of the pharmacopeia until Congress outlawed it over the objection of the American Medical Association in 1937.

The brochure for 'Indian Cigarettes' Grimault & Co. Chemists (ca. 1860) reads:

The fact is undeniable that smoking cigarettes made of the leaves of this plant produces a rapid modification in the state of asthmatic patients. The difficulty of breathing, the stertorous respiration, the tightness of the chest, and the wheezing and promptly relieved.

An abundant expectoration most frequently follows immediately, the breathing becomes easier, the cough gets moist and a refreshing sleep soon removes all the alarming symptoms.

To facilitate the use of Indian cigarettes and enable the patient to benefit by them under all circumstances, whether traveling or walking, they are sold in elegant little cigar cases which can be carried in a breast-pocket with the least inconvenience. Each can contains a dozen cigarettes.

The smoke must be gently inhaled and allowed to flow through the respiratory passages, so as to be brought in contact with the larynx and the lungs, and then blown out through the nose. It is essential to do this slowly by short aspirations.

It has been observed that the cigarettes act most powerfully when smoked in a close room, the patient sitting quietly in a chair or reclining in a sofa.

[End quote]

Arthur Livermore writes:
I heard a story about a woman suffering from asthma who used cannabis to relieve her suffering before prohibition. She was said to have been very upset when she could no longer buy it at the pharmacy when prohibition began. The packaging included a small attachment that was used to burn the cannabis so that she could inhale the smoke!
Peter Watney responded:
I had a very proper aunt (wife of the local head of the reserve constabulary and much respected leader of the North Devon social scene) who smoked marijuana when she felt an attack of asthma coming on. She was very apologetic about the smell, and only smoked it out in the garden or in the conservatory where the smoke would not be detected in the rest of the house.

It was prescribed by her doctor, and was the only thing she had found that prevented the onset of a bad attack.

I don't remember the exact years but I was a regular visitor at their house between 1934 and 1941 when I went off to war.

Robert Maginnis Chickens Out

On Feb. 20, 1997,
Mark Greer of the Media Awareness Project wrote:
On the day of Steve's interview, Ed Buggs called me wanting the name of a drug warrior to debate Steve. I told him Steve could do very well on his own but Ed wanted both sides represented. I told him there were very few willing to debate us anymore. I suggested Bobby boy Maginnis and Ed said he would call him. Apparently the thrashing that Kevin Zeese gave Maginnis recently on the Janet Parshals show broadcast over 66 radio stations nationwide was still fresh in his mind. He chickened out Another one bites the dust! :-)

We're running out of competition. They are becoming relegated to sniveling in oped pieces and if you want to see what we're doing about that check out the Califano thrashing at Created by Dave West and Tom O'Connell. This is what we are currently calling the MAP REBUTTAL page. It should be a factor in wiping up the last few drug warrior spokespersons.

We be winning folks.

Drug Warrior Victory - Another Teen Saved From Pot

"Teen found dead in Yakima jail cell"
Skagit Valley Herald [Mount Vernon, WA], Feb. 20, 1997

YAKIMA - A teen-ager being held for investigation of misdemeanor marijuana charges is dead in an apparent suicide, Yakima County Jail officials said.

Jeremiah Cochran, 18, of Yakima, was found hanging from a vent inside a cell Tuesday evening, and efforts to revive him were unsuccessful, a news release from the jail said.

Cochran was booked by the State Patrol two days earlier for investigation of possession of less than 40 grams of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

US Children Suffer Highest Murder Rate

On Feb. 7, 1997, Chris Donald wrote:

Here's a statistic directly attributable to the U.S. government's prohibition policies:

"Guns Kill More U.S. Kids"
Daily News, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Feb. 7, 1997:

ATLANTA (Reuter) - Children in the United States are five times as likely to be murdered and 12 times as likely to die because of a firearm than those in other industrialized countries, federal health officials said yesterday.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCD) said the United States had the highest rates of childhood homicide, suicide, and firearm-related deaths of 26 countries studied.

"Homicide rates are five times higher in the United States, suicide rates are double and firearm death rates are 12 times higher" than in the other countries, CDC medical epidemiologist Dr. Etienne Krug said.

Hawaii Hemp Bill Passes House

On Feb. 14, 1997, Cynthia Thielen wrote:

The Hawaii House of Representatives passed the Industrial Hemp bill today on second reading with ALL Representatives voting in favor of the bill and the Speaker of the House wearing a hemp "aloha patterned" shirt! The bill next goes to the Judiciary Committee. Rep. Cynthia Thielen, Republican Floor Leader. Please distribute notice to your e-mail addresses interested in this subject.

Representative Cynthia Thielen
State Capitol Bldg.
Honoluly, HI 96813
(808) 586-6480

Singer Hoyt Axton Faces Drug Charges

The Spokesman-Review [Spokane], Feb. 14, 1997, p. B3

HAMILTON, MONT. - Hoyt Axton, the singer and actor who wrote the lyrics "No, no, no, I don't smoke it no more," was charged Thursday with possessing dangerous drugs and drug paraphernalia.

Axton was an honorary sheriffs deputy who spoke against drug use to school children.

He lost his badge on Wednesday after authorities found more than a pound of marijuana worth about $3,000 in his house along with drug paraphernalia and drug residue, said Ravalli County Sheriff Jay Printz. Axton, 58, and longtime companion Deborah Hawkins, 43, were summoned to appear in court on Tuesday.

Among Axton's many songs are "Joy To The World," a No. I hit for the rock group Three Dog Night, and "The Pusher" by Steppenwolf. He also wrote the "No No Song," performed by Ringo Starr.

Axton suffered a debilitating stroke last year and spent considerable time at a rehabilitation center. He now uses a wheelchair much of the time, Printz said.

Paradise Lost - Patient Robbed by Oakland Police

Californians for Compassionate Use
National Media Release
Feb. 15, 1997

On Valentines Day, Feb. 14, medicinal cannabis activist Ted Tuk, founder and director of the Berkeley Rx. Cannabis Grower's Collective, was arrested for possession of cannabis (1 gr.) and cultivation. This happened outside of the BART entrance at 19th and Broadway where he stopped to talk with patients who were leaving the Oakland Buyers Club. Mr. Tuk had just picked up eight small marijuana clones (carried in a small box) for members of his club and for his own personal use. Mr. Tuk, and the club members he was obtaining the clones for, are legitimate severely disabled medical marijuana users under the guidelines of Proposition 215. Tuk's cannabis club emphasizes personal cultivation as the best form of compliance with Prop 215. These clones were on their way to the homes of these severely disabled medical marijuana users.

Tuk, who had just purchased a gram of marijuana for his own medicinal use because he was suffering at the moment, was detained in the back of a stifling police van and was unable to gain relief for several hours. The police confiscated Mr. Tuk's medicine and the clubs clones, although they did not confiscate any of the prescription drugs that he was also carrying with him. Tuk showed Oakland police his photo membership cards for both the Oakland and San Francisco Cannabis Clubs and offered to present his medical records which were upstairs at the Oakland Club, to no avail. He was still arrested with no consideration of his patient status and his right to protection under Prop. 215.

When asked about this violation of his rights by the Oakland Police Department, Mr. Tuk said: "Taking my medicinal marijuana and the free medicine of my fellow club members was inhumane. I want to educate the police about patients' rights under Prop. 215. It's not right to treat severely disabled like criminals." Tuk said it was a clear case of false arrests and confiscating the clones and medicine was also against the law. The San Francisco Cannabis Cultivators Club has donated replacement clones to Mr. Tuk so his clubs members can receive what they had requested in good faith and have a legal right to possess.

Ted Tuk
Director, B.Rx.C.G.C.
PO Box 136
Berkeley, CA. 94701

Supreme Court Refuses To Hear Iowa Man's Lawsuit Against DEA

"Class-Action Lawsuit Next for D.M. Man's Lawyer
Medicinal-marijuana case rejected"

The Des Moines Register, Feb. 19, 1997, p. 2M
By Jim Pollok
Register Staff Writer

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected a Des Moines man's effort to get the federal government to recognize what he says are marijuana's medicinal uses.

It wasn't good news for Carl Olsen, but it wasn't surprising. "I'm not real disappointed - not any more than when I filed the lawsuit to begin with," he said. "I'm disappointed with the whole government and the way they're treating this thing."

The court, without comment, turned away arguments that the federal Drug Enforcement Administration improperly has refused to remove some of the severe restrictions against the illegal drug.

That's the end of this case, but not the end of the argument, said Olsen, 45. "I've had something pending in court for the last 15 years, so I may look around for something," he said.

His lawyer plans to file a class-action lawsuit later this month.

"It will he filed on behalf of approximately 100 plaintiffs from all over the United States who share the common issue of a need for therapeutic cannabis," said Philadelphia attorney Lawrence Elliott Hirsch.

For Eight Users Only

"It's based on the principle that eight people receive therapeutic cannabis but all other candidates no longer can obtain it from the government because of arbitrary policies."

Two of the eight legal users live in Iowa.

Several experts have said there is no proven medical use for smoked marijuana. However, some research has suggested that the drug is useful in relieving internal eye pressure in glaucoma; for controlling nausea in cancer patients on chemotherapy; and for combating wasting, a severe weight loss associated with AIDS and the HIV virus.

Doctors who treat AIDS and cancer sued the Clinton administration last month for threatening to punish doctors who recommend marijuana for their patients.

New laws in California and Arizona allowing medical uses of the drug sparked a harsh response from the federal government.

"I thought the case had a better chance to be heard because of the controversy, " Hirsch said. "I thought the issues were appropriately raised and it would have been helpful for the court to decide. I was disappointed they didn't hear the case."

Olsen petitioned the Supreme Court after the U.S. Court of Appeals dismissed his case without issuing a written opinion.

His petition to the Supreme Court questioned whether the Drug Enforcement Agency rejected his petition arbitrarily; violated his First Amendment rights; violated his Fifth Amendment rights; violated his right to privacy; and violated his right to equal protection of the laws.

Effort Revived

Olsen did not plan to carry his battle to the nation's highest court, but then Hirsch entered the picture.

Hirsch, 58, has practiced law for 33 years. On Feb. 26, he launches a new law firm, Hirsth & Caplan, dedicated to the issue of medical marijuana and other public interest issues.

He explained the turn in his career by saying: "That's the way God planned it."

Olsen, who works for the Iowa Department of Transportation in Des Moines, was arrested for possession of marijuana several times in the 1980s and spent two years in prison on drug charges in the mid-1980s.

This story includes information from The Associated Press.

Putting Cannabis In Cars

From Popular Mechanics, March 1997, p. 22

ULM, GERMANY - Seeking to put more environment-friendly materials in its cars, Daimler-Benz may replace fiberglass matte with marijuana.

"The relaxation of legislation [forbidding] the cultivation of hemp in Germany has awakened the interest of the scientists," said a company spokesman. Engineers like using hemp fibers because they are more rigid and pest-resistant than flax, another natural reinforcing material.

Don't expect to see fields of Cannabis Sativa here in the United States. Instead, the Department of Agriculture is trying to convince farmers to plant a new, non-narcotic variety called Tropic Sun as an erosion-limiting cover crop.

[Accompanied by a picture showing a harvesting machine harvesting hemp plants about ten feet tall.]

[Picture caption:] Hemp absorbs less resin than flax, which says the automaker, in turn reduces air pollution.

Passengers Can Be Told To Exit Cars

"The high court increased police authority. Safety concerns were cited."

The Philadelphia Inquirer, Feb. 20, 1997
By Aaron Epstein
Inquirer Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - For safety reasons, police officers may order passengers as well as drivers to get out of vehicles during traffic stops, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 yesterday.

The court, continuing its tough-on-crime trend, concluded that the public interest in protecting the lives of police outweighed the "minimal" intrusion on the privacy of passengers.

But the dissenters, Justices John Paul Stevens and Anthony M. Kennedy, warned that tens of millions of "wholly innocent passengers" now may be ordered out "simply because they have the misfortune to be seated in a car whose driver has committed a minor traffic offense."

Twenty years ago, in a Pennsylvania case, the court gave the police authority to order drivers out of cars that are lawfully stopped on highways. Yesterday, the court used the identical rationale to extend that authority to passengers.

"The same weighty interest in officer safety is present regardless of whether the occupant of the stopped car is a driver or passenger," Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist declared in a Maryland case.

He conceded there was more reason to detain drivers than passengers, because drivers whose cars are stopped are at least suspected of having committed a traffic offense.

But the motivation of some passengers to conceal evidence of a serious crime and resort to violence "is every bit as great as that of the driver," Rehnquist said.

Still, there is disagreement within police ranks over whether ordering people out of a car is the safest thing to do.

"Many police instructors teach that it is safer for a lone officer to require all persons to remain in the vehicle, so that he is not outflanked," several police organizations told the court in a legal brief.

Stevens accused the majority of taking "the unprecedented step" of permitting "routine and arbitrary seizures of obviously innocent citizens" in violation of the Fourth Amendment's bar on unreasonable seizures.

Writing separately, Kennedy said the ruling, when coupled with a decision last year that allowed police to make traffic stops as a pretext to look for drugs, "puts tens of millions of passengers at the risk of arbitrary control by the police."

The case decided yesterday, Maryland v. Wilson, originated on a June evening in 1994 when Maryland State Trooper David Hughes said he pursued and finally stopped a speeding car on Interstate 95 north of Baltimore.

He said he noticed two passengers looking back and ducking out of sight several times during the pursuit. He said the driver and the front-seat passenger, Jerry Lee Wilson, were extremely nervous after he stopped the car.

When he ordered Wilson outside, a substance that appeared to be crack cocaine dropped to the ground. Wilson and the driver were charged with drug offenses.

But a Maryland appeals court suppressed the evidence, ruling that Hughes had no valid reason to order Wilson out of the car. That decision was overturned yesterday.

Also yesterday, the court:

  • Heard 70 minutes of arguments in a religious-freedom dispute from Texas over the constitutionality of a 1993 federal law, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The law was aimed at enhancing Americans' religious freedom, but critics say Congress exceeded its powers by giving religious institutions broader rights than the Supreme Court has authorized. The court's ruling is expected by July.

  • Unanimously ruled that Florida could not cancel - retroactively - some of the early-release credits previously granted to inmates as a result of prison overcrowding.

    Drug-Smuggling Ring Used Suburban Housewives As Couriers

    NEW YORK (AP, Feb. 20, 1997) - An international drug-smuggling ring used a "band of housewives" as couriers, figuring they would slide through customs because of their mainstream looks, federal drug agents said.

    The ring sought out women in their 20s with middle-class appearances, Drug Enforcement Administration officials said Wednesday in disclosing the investigation. More arrests were expected in connection with the probe, which began in March 1995.

    Some of the women were single, but most had children; some had jobs, and some were on welfare. They apparently knew each other, authorities said. The suburban Long Island women allegedly got up to $10,000 each to carry marijuana, cocaine or heroin.

    "The uniqueness of it is here you have a band of housewives, regardless of their social stature, involved in sophisticated drug-smuggling," DEA agent Arthur Scalzo said.

    The five women were arrested in recent months and faced various drug charges. Two of them have already pleaded guilty to charges. A man was arrested Wednesday and charged with helping to recruit couriers.

    Personnel at a Navy station at Naples, Italy, were actively involved in the heroin trade, according to court papers. As a result of the Long Island courier cases and others that originated in Italy, 14 Navy personnel at the base have been arrested on drug charges.

    Scalzo said the investigation began when a Long Island woman was approached about joining the group. Instead, she reported the offer to authorities.

    Scalzo said couriers made pickups of cocaine in Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, and Quito, Ecuador, delivered it to Rome, Istanbul and Bucharest, Romania, and returned to the United States with heroin.

    Vancouver Expo Builds Lobby For Hemp In Canada

    Aaron D. Wilson writes:
    The following article supports a contention I have been making about the hemp issue for many years, namely that as soon as monied interests got involved that it would be divorced from its roots in drug policy reform and become a moot issue for us (thus, the organizations I have led have never focused on hemp as a political issue). Oh well, maybe this issue will be resolved soon and will stop presenting a distraction for otherwise productive grassroots activists.

    Aaron Wilson

    "Industrial hemp advocates push for legalization"

    VANCOUVER (Reuter, Feb. 19, 1997) - An unlikely alliance of environmentalists, bankers, hippies and farmers is lobbying to legalize hemp growing in Canada and the United States, where it was banned 60 years ago due to fears about marijuana.

    Pro-hemp activists gathered this week in Vancouver for a conference billed as the first international symposium on the growing of hemp as an agricultural crop.

    More than 400 delegates from as far afield as China, Poland and Norway came to extol hemp as a versatile and environmentally friendly crop. They displayed some of the 25,000 products that can be made from the plant and drafted strategies for legalizing its production in North America.

    The Vancouver meeting was filled to capacity as bankers in suits sat among farmers in feed-store caps, bespectacled researchers, bureaucrats and dreadlocked counter-culture types toting bongo drums.

    At a parallel trade show, manufacturers showed everything from hemp clothes to hemp-seed candy, hemp bicycle grease, hemp soap and hemp sneakers.

    Scientists and hemp supporters argue the tough fiber has a bad rap because it is a cousin to the cannabis plant that yields marijuana. Although they are related, industrial hemp contains almost none of the psychotropic chemical THC that gives marijuana its euphoric effect.

    "This plant has been demonized for half a century...the government is treating cellulose fiber as a mind-altering substance," Canadian researcher Geof Kime said.

    Hemp fiber and seeds can be used to make fabric, paper, lubricants, plastic and even coffee. The plants are easy to grow and need few pesticides, proponents said.

    Hemp cultivation was essentially outlawed in the late 1930s by laws in Canada and the United States aimed at halting the production of marijuana.

    But the crop is grown today in about 25 other countries, notably China and France, and its advocates argue it is time for restrictions to be eased in North America.

    "This is an excellent crop. If we can get a regulatory framework to allow it...a lot of people are keen to get into this," said Robert Guildford, a Manitoba farmer who is president of the Canadian Industrial Hemp Council.

    Canada since 1994 has let a small number of producers cultivate about 50 acres of hemp as a research project and Canadian officials plan to hold talks this spring on revising the regulations.

    Kime hopes Canada will lift the ban in time to begin commercial production in 1998. He was the first to gain an experimental license in 1994 and says his small plot of hemp in Ontario was the first legal production of the plant in North America in decades.

    Hemp's potential has drawn interest from widely different quarters. Environmentalists like hemp because it is a sustainable source of paper and other products. Bankers and entrepreneurs are attracted to its potential as a profitable new cash crop, while farmers see it is a way to diversity production.

    These attractions helped many overcome hemp's "image" problem. Canada's Bank of Montreal sponsored the meeting despite some concerns that it might wrongly be seen as supporting marijuana.

    "You can't just walk away from the potential opportunity a new crop might offer," said Bob Mitchell, manager of agricultural lending for the bank. "You have to keep an open mind. We're here to learn what the economic viability might be."



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