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June 20, 1996

University Of Mississippi Denies Assertion Of California Narcotics Officers -
Researcher Calls Claim Of Over 10,000 Studies Documenting The Harmful Effects Of Marijuana Groundless

June 12, 1996, University of Mississippi: A recent claim made by The California Narcotics Officers Association (CNOA) that there are over 10,000 studies documenting the harmfulness of marijuana has been flatly denied by University of Mississippi Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences. For the past 25 years, the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences has been collecting national and international technical research papers on marijuana. The organization is regarded as the most comprehensive federal source of such information available.

The CNOA allegation recently appeared in a position paper denouncing the use of marijuana as a medicine and has been espoused by various other prohibitionist organizations. However, in response to an inquiry by Harvard Professor and NORML board member Lester Grinspoon, M.D., Research Associate Beverly Urbanek said that the University of Mississippi "is totally in the dark as to where the statement that there are 10,000 studies showing the negative impact of marijuana could have originated." Urbanek attests that the Research Institute does possess a bibliography which includes over 12,000 citations to marijuana, but notes that the total number also includes "papers on the chemistry and botany of the Cannabis plant, cultivation, epidemiological surveys, legal aspects, eradication studies, detection, storage, economic aspects and a whole spectrum of others that do not mention positive or negative effects."

In conclusion, Urbanek states the following: "We are frequently contacted by various individuals and groups requesting the current number of publications that we have listed in the marijuana bibliography, and we readily give out that information. ... However, we have never broken down that figure into positive/negative papers, and I would not even venture a guess as to what that number would be."

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre of NORML at (202) 483-5500.

DEA Agent Specializes In Stopping Medical Marijuana Efforts

June 1996, Reading, MA: DEA agent Steve Morealle says his current duty is " travel the country to stop proposed state-level medical marijuana legislation...," according to statements made in the March edition of Libertarian Party News. Morealle is the same agent who fell under fire last winter from civil rights proponents for his participation in a rally held outside the offices of Boston radio station WBCN to protest the airplay of the NORML benefit CD, Hempilation.

In response to Morealle's self-proclaimed job description, Mass/Cann President Bill Downing sent letters to Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger, the Massachusetts ACLU, and Congressman Barney Frank addressing the potential improper use of federal money and authority. Frank has previously engaged in correspondence with United States Attorney General Janet Reno and DEA Administrator Thomas Constantine over Morealle's actions during the Hempilation protest.

"The fact that the DEA is using America's tax dollars to fund efforts to effectively suppress any public discourse regarding medical marijuana that differs from their belief that marijuana has no acceptable medical use is highly offensive, if not illegal," stated NORML Deputy Director Allen St. Pierre.

Morealle also stated that he is employed to appear at public forums to counter individuals and organizations that the DEA considers to be leading advocates of marijuana decriminalization. Morealle said that NORML is the main force his organization must counter.

"I'm touched that the DEA feels they must employ special agents to counter NORML's position," said St. Pierre. "However, it's unfortunate that American taxpayers must pay the cost of such nonsense."

For more information, please contact Bill Downing of Mass/Cann NORML at (617) 944-CANN or Allen St. Pierre of NORML at (202) 483-5500.

Conference Gathers Experts To Explore Marijuana's Medicinal Value

June 16, 1996, Dennis, Massachusetts: Scientists and medical experts from around the world recently gathered at a conference to learn more about marijuana's various medicinal properties. It is the belief of the attendees that chemical compounds found in marijuana promise to ease the symptoms of glaucoma, the wasting syndrome associated with AIDS, spastic disorders, the nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy, arthritis - and most dramatically - severe brain injury. While both NORML and a variety of scientific researchers have endorsed cannabis' therapeutic properties for several years, the possibility that marijuana may have medical utility in the treatment of head trauma is a relatively new concept.

Esther Shohami, a senior lecturer in the department of pharmacology at Hebrew University in Israel, stated that animal and other tests of a synthetic compound called Dexanabinol seem to reduce the impact of brain trauma, such as that suffered in car accidents. Shohami said that less paralysis and memory damage occurs if patients are administered the cannabinoid compound. The patient's improvement is "not marginal. It's significant," she asserted.

Conference speakers also addressed the effectiveness of Marinol - a THC-based synthetic drug occasionally prescribed for easing nausea in cancer patients. Many researchers noted that whole cannabis could be more effective than Marinol because there exists many medicinal properties in cannabis other than THC.

Two members of NORML's Board of Directors, Dr. John P. Morgan of CUNY Medical School and Dr. Lynn Zimmer of Queens College in New York attended the symposium.

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre of NORML at (202) 483-5500.

Legal Medical Marijuana Patients, Proponents Speak Before American Nurses Association

June 17, 1996, Washington, D.C.: Activists for medical marijuana, including Barbara Douglas and Irv Rosenfeld - two of the eight remaining legal marijuana patients - and Mary Lynn Mathre, RN of the cannabis reform organization Patients Out of Time, recently spoke at the Centennial Conference of the American Nurses Association (ANA) in Washington, D.C.. Their presentation, entitled "Therapeutic Cannabis and the Law: Ethical Dilemma for Nurses," was received "incredibly well" by the numerous health-care professionals in attendance. Activists note that no members of the ANA mounted any vocal opposition to the theme of the presentation.

"Our goal is to reach people on a national level and we did," said Al Byrne of Patients Out of Time. Byrne told NORML that he was encouraged by the positive response and hopes that the ANA will someday answer the requests of the Virginia, Mississippi, Colorado, and New York State Nurses Associations by calling for the immediate end to the prohibition of therapeutic cannabis.

Patients Out of Time is a grassroots organization comprised of patients, those who love them, and health care professionals who believe that the time has come for widescale medical access to cannabis.

For more information, please contact Al Byrne of Patients Out Of Time at (804) 263-4484 or write to: 1472 Fish Pond Rd., Howardsville, VA 24562.



Regional and other news

Body Count

Nine of the 16 felons sentenced by Multnomah County courts in the most recent week received jail or prison terms for controlled-substance violations, according to the "Portland" zoned section of
The Oregonian, delivered to subscribers in the central metropolitan area. (June 20, 1996, p. 9, 3M-MP-SE). That brings the total so far this year to 175 out of 319, or 54.85 percent.

Drug Czar Visits Portland

With little or no advance publicity, ex-General Barry R. McCaffrey, the new "Drug Czar," slipped into Portland to rally his drug-warrior troops Wednesday during the National Sheriffs' Association convention at the Oregon Convention Center. As in other wars, the first casualty was the truth, one infers from two news reports. Since McCaffrey's comments were his usual glib, disconnected, visionless evasions, and since no one present apparently had the temerity to respond to McCaffrey critically, a few of the Czar's reported remarks will be interspersed here with follow-up questions [in brackets] a drug-policy reformer might have asked, if one had been invited to partake in the discussion.

According to an "Oregon Considered" report during the 4:30 pm Wednesday, June 19, newscast on Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB Radio), McCaffrey gave what he called a "'pulse check' on trends in illegal narcotics use in America. ... McCaffrey's report finds a 50 percent increase in injected heroin use over the past year..."

[Interdiction, arrests and incarcerations for narcotics have been increasing for decades and reached record levels in the most recent year. The only result has been falling retail prices and increasing purity. Why didn't McCaffrey explain what evidence he has that spending more money on a failed policy of prohibition will magically do the opposite of what it has done to date?]

McCaffrey "said illegal drugs have already killed 100,000 Americans since 1990, or about 20,000 people per year.

[On the Internet, McCaffrey would be flamed if he tried to pass off such a statistic without reference. According to the federal government's own Bureau of Mortality Statistics and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the total number of fatal overdoses in 1994, both deliberate and accidental, from all illegal drugs, was 3,800 to 5,200. Marijuana killed zero. The same sources show that tobacco killed 340,000 to 450,000 Americans, alcohol killed 150,000, aspirin killed 180 to more than 1,000 people, caffeine killed 1,000 to 10,000 (from stress, ulcers and triggering irregular heartbeats, etc.), and 14,000 to 27,000 people died from deliberate or accidental overdoses from prescription or over-the-counter drugs. So why are adult prohibition and prisons preferable to education and regulation with regard to less-dangerous drugs but not the most dangerous?]

"McCaffrey estimates the cost to society in dollars at over $300 billion."

[This has been discredited before. What is McCaffrey's evidence? Has it been peer-reviewed or published in any reputable scientific journal? No. When President Bush accused illegal-drug users of weakening the economy in 1989, the March 1990 Scientific American examined Bush's evidence and found it showed just the opposite. In particular, the article, "Test Negative," found Bush's evidence suggested that workers whose urine tested positive for marijuana only 1) cost less in health insurance benefits; 2) had a higher than average rate of promotion; 3) exhibited less absenteeism; and 4) were fired for cause less often than workers who did not test positive. People who tested positive for other illegal drugs did not demonstrate lower productivity, either. The complete text of the Scientific American article is posted in Portland NORML's Web pages at]

McCaffrey said that "2.7-million Americans are addicted to two drugs, cocaine and heroin," and that these addicts commit "170 crimes a year."

[There are currently about 1.5 million jail and prison beds in America. If 2.7 million hard-drug addicts commit 170 crimes, why aren't falling heroin prices (not necessarily a causative factor in increased use, any more than falling alcohol prices lead to increased use) a good thing? If the price of heroin fell another 50 percent, how much less would addicts have to steal? And since legal heroin costs only a few dollars for all an addict can use in a week, why won't the government consider a cost-benefit analysis of heroin-maintenance programs?]

"McCaffrey said the American people have identified law enforcement as the 'number one institution' they want to do something about the drug problem."

[What choice have they been given? When did American society ever engage in an open and honest discussion of drug policy?]

"But he told sheriffs and sheriffs deputies from across the country that's the last possible place the illegal drug problem will be solved. 'We are not going to arrest our way out of the drug problem. We arrest a million people a year on drug offenses. We've got at least a quarter of a million people in prison primarily for drug-related offense.'"

[This is an amazing statement. When Joycelyn Elders suggested examining if it might be true that law enforcement wasn't the best strategy, it probably led to her forced resignation. But if McCaffrey really believes this, why does he not call for a re-examination of U.S. drug policy, which is predicated entirely on law enforcement? The contradiction makes McCaffrey sound as crazy as any Russian czar.]

"McCaffrey ... said drugs can't be kept out of U.S. prisons, let alone out of the country."

[This is another amazing statement that contradicts McCaffrey's prohibitionist raison d'etre, though it's good to hear him say it. Perhaps the Czar just read the article, "Junk in the Joint: The Inside Dope on the Prison Drug Scene," from the January-February 1996 Prison Life magazine, recently posted in Portland NORML's Web pages at One also wonders why McCaffrey didn't express such sentiments when he was calling for more money for interdiction recently. Now when will McCaffrey take the next logical step and ask for an end to putting smugglers and people with drug problems in prison?]

"McCaffrey said he's optimistic because over the last 15 years cocaine use has fallen by 75 percent, and he said 10 or 15 years from now the cocaine problem will be minimal."

[The number of hard-core cocaine addicts and related deaths has remained constant, although the number of casual users has decreased. The problem, which was predicted in the Consumers Union Report on Licit and Illicit Drugs ("The Swedish Experience," pp. 294 ff, 1972, by Edward M. Brecher and the editors of Consumer Reports, Little, Brown and Company, Boston, ISBN 0-316-10717-4, available for $14.95 plus $1.75 postage from New Morning Books in Mt. Morris, IL, 1-800-851-7039, stock no. HB/44), is that increased enforcement led people who would have used cocaine in the 1980s to use cheaper but more addictive and toxic street amphetamines in the mid-1990s. But if cocaine use rebounds in the next 10 or 15 years, will McCaffrey call for re-examining current policies? And since cocaine kills only about as many people as aspirin, exactly how much of a problem is it, really?

The rest of the report focused on McCaffrey's call for education and parental involvement. But again, McCaffrey failed to address why, if education is our only viable option, we should continue to pursue other failed and apparently counterproductive policies.

The Oregonian quoted McCaffrey making some equally irrational statements in a June 20 article, "Clinton's drug policy chief draws battle line in homes and schools" (p. B4).]

"McCaffrey said that while the legalization-of-marijuana movement is well-funded and dominates drug discussion on the Internet, it is bound to fail."

[McCaffrey is untruthful again. There are probably at most a few dozen professional drug-policy reformers in the country - most of them living in poverty - compared to the hundreds of thousands of drug warriors (including McCaffrey and everyone in his Office of National Drug Control Policy) feeding at the public trough who spout this sort of biased and inaccurate misinformation while refusing to debate reformers. There is a total of six paid staff members at the National NORML office in Washington, D.C., for example. Almost everything that happens in the reform movement (including this weekly news release) is "funded" by volunteers out of their own pockets. With one percent of the drug warriors' propaganda budget, reformers could win over a majority of the public quickly. The Oregon Cannabis Tax Act, for example, is about the only ballot initiative out of dozens in the state that is being circulated entirely by volunteers rather than paid petitioners. However, McCaffrey is right that reformers rule the Internet. Anyone who says things as fallacious as McCaffrey can expect to be readily refuted, if not humiliated, when the audience can talk back and defend its statements with evidence.]

"Polls show that people don't want legal drugs sold in their neighborhood, and they don't want drugs advertised to their children, he said."

[That must be a typo. Obviously, legal drugs such as alcohol, tobacco and caffeine are available in every neighborhood grocery. However, assuming the reporter meant that "people don't want illegal drugs sold in their neighborhood," why should that be surprising, or an impediment to reform? As a rule, people don't want anything illegal happening in their neighborhood. So make it legal and move it out of their neighborhood.

People sell illegal drugs in every neighborhood now, sometimes on street corners, and obviously the law hasn't stopped them. Instead of tolerating laissez faire visibly at work in some neighborhoods, why not let drugs be sold through doctors or perhaps, in the case of marijuana, through state liquor stores? One would think people would go a long way to purchase legal marijuana or whatever. And who said reform required that drugs be advertised? McCaffrey is putting forth "straw man" arguments based on false suppositions.

In conclusion - McCaffrey is just another cynically glib and contradictory two-faced politician. He is also a confirmed chicken who refuses to debate or even talk to drug-policy reformers. McCaffrey is good at ordering his troops around but if he's really got any moral courage, let him come out of hiding and defend his positions in an open and honest forum like a man instead of a czar or a general. That's the American way.]

Freedom Of The (Government) Press

According to the conservative watchdog group Accuracy in Media, 87 percent of national network news comes from either government bureaucrats or government consultants. As recounted in Freematt's Alerts, which covers pro-individual rights issues, "Each year, government controls more of the news you hear, sometimes with deadly results. ... In Waco, Texas - where 86 innocent men, women and children were shot or burned alive by the FBI and BATF - all contact between the Branch Davidians and the press was cut off. ... As a result, to this day, not one American in 10,000 knows that close to half the Branch Davidians were black or that the CS-gas the FBI used is lethal in enclosed buildings."

To subscribe to Freemantt's Alerts, send a blank message to: with the words "subscribe FA" in the subject line.

Anti-Gang Task Force Commits Eugene's First Gang Murder

According to an Associated Press news report June 14, "Prosecutor says gang foe ordered murder" (p. C3), "A woman who served on an anti-gang task force actually organized a gang and sent two members to commit Eugene's first gang murder, a prosecutor said Thursday." That says it all, but look for the full text in Portland NORML's Web pages soon.

'Report Tallies State's Drug, Alcohol Toll' Follow-Up

The March 14 Portland NORML weekly news release criticized an Oregonian article from the same date about two state reports, "Oregon Household Telephone Survey and Treatment Needs of Oregon's Adult Population," released in March and "Societal Outcomes & Cost Savings of Drug & Alcohol Treatment in the State of Oregon," released in February. Portland NORML has obtained copies of these reports, which turn out to be transparently worthless pseudo-science. (To begin with, only a moron would suggest that alcohol is not a drug.) Of course, journalists as a rule have no training in how to read scientific reports, so The Oregonian was out of its league anyway, as usual.

The first report, the "Oregon Household Telephone Survey," "was designed to provide the first available statistical projection of the number of adults in the State who would be in need of treatment for alcohol or other substance abuse dependency" (Overview, p. 1). Unfortunately, its methodology is laughable and its results incapable of providing guidance. Even the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse ( no longer collects information by telephone, since such results are inherently unscientific. ["Hello. I'm from the state government. Yeah, the one building all the new prisons. Have you engaged in any felonious behavior recently for which we could confiscate your household, throw you in jail and put your kids in foster care?"] However, the state report says that "The study results in Oregon demonstrate that at least 6.3% of the Adult population [they seem to have a dependency problem with capitalization] may be classified as dependent on either alcohol or other drugs, and an additional 5.7% of the Adult population may be classified as abusing these substances" (ibid). Now, according to the NHSDA, "In 1994, approximately 113 million persons age 12 and over had used alcohol in the past month, which was about 54 percent of the total population age 12 and older. About 13 million Americans (6.2 percent of the population) were heavy drinkers." (preliminary 1994 NHSDA, ibid.) In view of the NHSDA results, one might reasonably infer that alcohol causes 100 percent of all drug-abuse problems in Oregon, since "heavy drinking" doesn't necessarily include all "abuse." There is simply no breakdown in the state report of which drugs cause how much of a problem. However, to answer one question posed in Portland NORML's March 14 news release, "simple use [of illegal drugs] does not define dependency or abuse, but rather the inability to control the use and some set of adverse consequences" (p. 2). Given the Oregon report's objective of identifying "the number of adults in the State who would be in need of treatment," it should have identified what percentages used which licit and illicit drugs and what percentage of each subgroup of users wanted treatment. Inasmuch as the law obliges mandatory treatment (i.e. prison) for all users of illegal drugs (including second-time marijuana offenders), the report's explicit admission that not all use of illegal drugs constitutes abuse begs the question, why does the government oblige "treatment" when no drug-abuse problem is evident? If the Oregon Office of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs recognizes that most of the state's money is perhaps being wasted "treating" people with no symptoms of abuse, why does it not call for reform?

The second state report, "Societal Outcomes & Cost Savings of Drug & Alcohol Treatment in the State of Oregon," attempts to demonstrate that for each dollar of treatment provided to people with real abuse problems, the taxpayers save $5.60 in welfare costs, food stamps, Medicaid, crime, courts and imprisonment. But since the study followed subjects for only "three years subsequent to treatment completion" (p. i), the results are hardly indicative of long-term results. Indeed, since the vast majority of people with alcohol or other drug problems "mature out of" their abuse as they get older, the failure of either report to control for the rate of unassisted remissions produces misleading conclusions. Also, since the report's sponsors have failed to follow through with a proposal to de-emphasize prisons or to fully fund treatment programs, what's their point? As the report focused on a subgroup of subjects who were already involved in the criminal-justice system, its relevance to the much larger population of alcohol and illegal-drug users who do not experience drug abuse or get involved in the criminal justice system is dubious. Indeed, since the report does not address the problem of people with no abuse problems being forced into mandatory treatment, including the group of subjects studied, its results are worthless anyway because it assumes abuse where none has been proven. Finally, the report is fiscally dishonest because it does not compute the cost of providing treatment for the "253,118 Oregon adults - more than one in nine" - who abuse or are allegedly dependent on alcohol or other drugs.

One could go on at much more length, but the upshot is that both of these reports are unscientific, misleading and implicitly supportive of current punitive policies. If the state wants to rationally re-evaluate the utility of its treatment programs, it should 1) tally what it currently spends on "treatment" - 99 percent of which now goes to prisons, courts and law enforcement; 2) figure out who really has problems that require treatment; and 3) figure out how to take money out of prisons and put it where it will help those people who wanted it. The state seems to have taken the first step in recognizing the need to reduce the harm associated with alcohol and other drugs. If it would just focus on that problem of reducing harm instead of telling moralistic ideologues what they want to hear, the drug war would soon be over, the taxpayers would save a bundle and the harm associated with all drugs would rapidly diminish.



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