Portland NORML News - Monday, January 5, 1998
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Reed Grad Profits From Education (Biographical Article By Portland Paper
On John Sperling, A Major Contributor To The 1997 Initiative Campaign
To Stop The Legislature's Recriminalization Of Marijuana In Oregon)

Date: Wed, 7 Jan 1998 21:47:21 -0800
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
From: jwjohnson@netmagic.net (Joel W. Johnson)
Subject: MN: US OR: Reed Grad Profits From Education
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
NewsHawk: Mark Greer
Source: Oregonian, The
Contact: letters@news.oregonian.com
Email: Portland Oregonian Letters@news.oregonian.com
Pub date: January 5, 1998
URL: http://www.oregonlive.com/todaysnews/9801/st01055.html
Author: Romel Hernandez of the Oregonian Staff
Editor Note: A long article about Sperling's success with a short mention
of his contributions to marijuana campaigns.

REED GRAD PROFITS FROM EDUCATION

John Sperling, a sharecroppers' son who became a multimillionaire with his
own university, plants his 15th campus in the Portland area

PHOENIX - John Sperling winced as he reached far back into the shadows of a
past he'd sooner forget for a fond memory of his youth in Portland.

The sharecroppers' son who endured hardship and loneliness to barely
graduate from high school and somehow get into Reed College scratched
behind his ear.

The bifocaled professor who dumped an academic career to launch the
University of Phoenix, the country's biggest private university, stared
into his cappuccino.

The iconoclastic multimillionaire whose approach to educating working
adults is rattling and reshaping the landscape of higher education took a
long sip.

"I'm trying to think what in heaven's name about Portland I really liked,"
he said gruffly, still coming up empty. "I'm doing my best."

Sperling's University of Phoenix officially opens its 15th campus and first
in the Portland area this week, but he finds nothing satisfying in
branching out into his former hometown. To the 76-year-old, Portland is
just another stop on a lucrative march that's shaking up higher education
not only in Oregon but also across the country.

Sperling finds nothing poignant in his return to a place he moved to as a
teen-ager with his mother after his father died, a place where they were so
poor, said his son, Peter, he had to steal chickens to eat.

But in John Sperling's difficult childhood are the beginnings of a life
hardened by isolation, shaped by a willingness to take chances, skeptics be
damned.

"The influences of his childhood made him a loner and just incredibly
tenacious," said Peter Sperling, 38, vice president of the Apollo Group,
the University of Phoenix's parent company. "He'll go through walls to do
what needs to get done."

Talking in his spacious corner office on the University of Phoenix campus,
John Sperling plays his part as an irreverent and irascible entrepreneur
perfectly. Asked whether a sculpture of the Madonna's face hanging outside
his office door holds any religious significance, he bellowed, "God, no!"

He is an animated, articulate salesman for his business. Yet he is
reluctant to say much about his early years.

"Much of the drive he's had to build Apollo and Phoenix is somehow related
to all that, but I'm not exactly sure how," Peter Sperling said. "I can't
fathom what those forces were. . . . I can't feel what it's like not to be
loved."

Asked where he derived his ambition and drive, John Sperling barked, "Who
in the hell knows?" He said he didn't want to get into a nature vs. nurture
debate.

Sperling was born in Freedom Schoolhouse, a hamlet in rural Missouri, the
youngest of six children. His parents were itinerant farmers,
sharecroppers, who shuttled between the fields and Kansas City, depending
on where the work was. His father was abusive, Sperling's son said, and the
boy hated him.

When Sperling was 16, his father died, and he and his mother, to whom he
was not close, moved to Oregon.

The destitute pair stopped in Lakeview in Southeast Oregon for a while. It
was there that the boy befriended a magpie that flew into a barn and
asphyxiated on exhaust fumes from the school bus sitting inside. The story,
one of the few that he has related to his son about his youth, has no moral
or lesson. It is just desolately sad.

Moving on to Portland, Sperling attended the now-defunct Washington High
School. His mother found work as a cleaning lady, and he took odd jobs
running errands or busing tables.

Hungry and unhappy at home, he was just as miserable at school. He cut
class and got in trouble for shooting craps.

"I managed to graduate, miracle of miracles," he said. "I was just a
wretched student. . . . I didn't like the teachers; they didn't like me. I
wasn't a very likable person, that's for sure. I was always getting hassled
by the assistant principal - he's the only one whose name I remember."

Sperling said he graduated barely literate but halfway decent in math.
Looking to escape his situation, he joined the merchant marine, where
seamen taught him to appreciate books as he sailed the Pacific. He spent
three years at sea before stopping in San Francisco, where he went to a
junior college.

He returned to Portland and attended Reed College, where he thrived on the
radically charged, just-about-anything-goes campus environment.

"Once you go through the experience (of Reed), you never get over it," he
said. "The intellectual intensity makes it a world unto itself."

After a semester at college, however, he joined the U.S. Navy and Army Air
Forces; he did not see combat duty during World War II. When the war was
over, he rushed back to Reed with the financial aid of the G.I. Bill.

He kept a foot in the off-campus world, working as a junior engineer in
area shipyards. Sperling also recalled the brothels and gambling dens of
the city's seedy side. "It was a wide-open town in that time. It was
great," he said.

Sperling noted that Reed graduates almost felt obligated to seek
doctorates, which is exactly what he did.

He attended two prestigious institutions of higher learning: the University
of California at Berkeley and Cambridge University in England. He married
and then divorced when his only child was 5. He became a professor of
economic history, and eventually wound up at San Jose State University.

But he found academic life stultifying. He began an effort to unionize San
Jose State's faculty, leading an unsuccessful strike that earned the enmity
of administrators and colleagues.

He learned to be a pariah, which, he wrote in his autobiography/manifesto,
called "Against All Odds," was one of the most liberating experiences of
his life.

"Without that lesson, I could never have become a successful entrepreneur,"
he wrote. "The lesson was simple - ignore your detractors and those who say
that what you are doing is wrong, against regulations or illegal."

Sperling found his calling in 1970 when he received a grant to teach
teachers and police officers how to deal with juvenile delinquency.

"Instead of snotty college kids, you had motivated adults," he said.

He saw the potential of making money by targeting a market - older, working
adults - that most higher education institutions were overlooking. But when
Sperling tried to expand the program and offer degrees to adults,
university administrators shot down his experiment.

He took a leave in 1972 and founded a small company dedicated to teaching
working adults, the seed of what was to become the University of Phoenix in
1977. A year later, the school gained accreditation from the North Central
Association of Colleges and Schools, a necessary ingredient for success
because it meant students could get government financial aid.

And so, in his mid-50s, Sperling left academia to try his hand at being a
businessman.

From the start, the University of Phoenix was tagged as a diploma mill. It
has never shaken the rap.

Indeed, the school is in many ways the antithesis of the three
tradition-bound schools Sperling attended: Reed, Berkeley and Cambridge.
The main campus off Interstate 10 near Phoenix's airport resembles a
corporate headquarters more than it does a college campus.

It has seen its enrollment boom to 42,000 students during the 1990s as it
opened enrollment policies and moved aggressively into new markets.

But it is still regarded as "McEducation" by its critics, who point out the
school doesn't have tenured professors or an actual library. Its faculty
are paid by the class and are required to work in the area they teach. The
library is located online and contains no books, only magazine and journal
articles.

Perhaps the biggest difference is that students must be employed and at
least 23 years old. The school offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in
a range of disciplines, most of them business-related.

Sperling thinks his school's success has influenced more traditional
universities that are adopting practical, hands-on approaches to teaching
and tapping the market of adult learners.

But he said in a speech last fall at Reed that he doesn't envision the
death of the traditional liberal arts education.

"I believe that Reed and other elite liberal arts colleges will function
pretty much as they do now," he said. "And, as for the University of
Phoenix, it will continue to grow in size and influence and will become
increasingly powerful as a transformative institution."

The University of Phoenix is utterly different in most ways from Reed, with
its classical core curriculum, heavy on Homer and Virgil. Officials take
pride in the pervasive practicality of what they do.

"It doesn't make sense for us to teach chemistry or biology because it
doesn't feed into what we do," said William Pepicello, the university's
associate vice president and dean of general studies.

On the other hand, the school is akin to schools such as Reed in its
direct, no-nonsense approach to learning, without the usual extracurricular
distractions. Both also take particular pride in being unconventional.

In Oregon, the university comes up frequently in conversations in higher
education circles. Gov. John Kitzhaber made a passing reference to it
recently in a higher education policy speech. Many area educators tend to
be dismissive of the school but also see it as something of a challenge.

"If we can't turn out a higher-quality product than the University of
Phoenix, we don't belong in the marketplace," said Roger Ahlbrandt,
business dean at Portland State University. "I don't view them as
competition."

The University of Phoenix is criticized for turning a profit. But
underestimated for most of its history, it has a bottom line showing it
can't be ignored.

"When you do (make a profit) at IBM, we think it's the greatest thing since
round rocks, but when you do it in higher education, we think we've
betrayed Socrates," said Bob Salmon, director of academic affairs at the
main campus.

With campuses opening and enrollment booming, the Apollo Group's profits
have grown steadily. Apollo stock has increased from $2.25 when it went
public in December 1994 to nearly $50, on a split-adjusted basis. The
company's market value is estimated at more than $2 billion.

Sperling remains the heart of the enterprise, described by employees as
brilliant but brusque. Among the words they use to describe him are
"eccentric," "revolutionary," "demanding," "blustery" and "a heck of a nice
guy." Few say they really know him, but they appreciate how deeply he's
devoted himself to the company.

"I, for one, can't imagine UOP without him," said Beth Aguiar, the dean of
undergraduate business. "He's the heart and soul and mind."

Sperling's desire to forge ahead in expansion still consumes him.

"This guy is the hottest thing in higher education right now," said Reed
President Steve Koblik, who has encouraged Sperling to be a more active
alumnus. Sperling recently donated about $600,000 to finance the studies of
Reedies pursuing doctoral degrees at Cambridge, where Sperling earned his
doctorate.

"What is fascinating about John is he didn't start his entrepreneurial
activity until his 50s, and it didn't really catch until his 60s," Koblik
said. "He's doing all this at an age when a lot of us are retiring to the
beach."

The University of Phoenix is continuing to open campuses: Vancouver,
British Columbia, and Oklahoma City are next on the list. Sperling recently
returned from China, where he is hoping to realize his longheld dream of
taking his school global.

"I'd like to sell education to the Chinese," he said. "There are a lot of
Chinese."

Sperling also is gaining a higher profile in his pet political cause, drug
law reform. He has poured money into statewide initiatives to effectively
legalize marijuana, spending $50,000 recently on Oregon's effort to put
such an initiative on the election ballot.

He has no firsthand experience of problems with current drug law, he said.
He objects to it because he thinks current policies are "stupid . . . a
colossal failure."

But with all the success, Sperling remains a solitary figure.

He doesn't socialize much. He collects art and listens to opera. He lives
on his own with his dog, Missy, and lives to work, his son said.

"He's entirely engaged and excited by what he does," Peter Sperling said.
"But I wouldn't necessarily say he's the happiest guy. He'd love to have
closer personal relationships, but because of his childhood, I think he's
afraid to get close."

Still, Sperling understands that a willingness to go it alone has been both
a cause and a product of his success. He believes in his creation, and
nothing shakes that belief. The critics, he said, mean nothing to him.

"It goes back to being the most disliked person on campus," he said. "It
never bothered me. They never attacked my sense of self-esteem."

To his naysayers, he said only: "I laugh all the way to the bank."

Romel Hernandez, of The Oregonian's Family & Education Team, writes about
higher education. Contact him by phone at 294-7669 or by fax at 294-4039.
Send e-mail to romelhernandez@news.oregonian.com or postal mail to 1320
S.W. Broadway, Portland, Ore. 97201.
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Ed Rosenthal Discusses Legalization (Cultivation Author And 'High Times'
Columnist On AudioNet Thursday)

Date: Mon, 5 Jan 1998 20:35:17 EST
Sender: drctalk@drcnet.org
From: "Charles P. Conrad" 
To: Multiple recipients of list 
Subject: Ed Rosenthal discusses legalization

Take a listen...

+Thurs. Jan. 8 - 6:00 pm CST - Ed Rosenthal discusses the legalization
of marijuana.

http://www.audionet.com/shows/stein/
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Update On Alan Carter-McLemore (US Bureau Of Prisons Withholds Marinol
From Starving Texas Medical-Marijuana Prisoner)

Date: Tue, 6 Jan 1998 00:27:07 EST
Sender: medmj@drcnet.org
From: Freemac 
To: Multiple recipients of list 
Subject: Update on Alan Carter-McLemore - 1/5/98

Update on Alan Carter-McLemore - 1/5/98

Alan is still being denied his legal prescription of Marinol.

In late 1997, doctors at Rochester, Minnesota, federal prison medical facility
noted in Alan's medical file that all medications tried have failed and that
he needs to take Marinol for his brain chemistry disorder. However, the
doctors are prevented from prescribing it for him.

The order to withhold his medication continues to come from Bureau of Prisons
(BOP) headquarters in Washington D.C.

Because the doctors were unable to treat Alan any further, they recommended
that he be transferred to the newly-opened federal prison in Beaumont, Texas,
15 minutes from where I live and 1 hour from his Mother and immediate family.
Despite the doctors' recommendations, the Bureau of Prisons designated him
back to the facility in Fort Worth. It took intervention from the prison
medical staff in Rochester to convince the BOP to respect their medical
judgment and designate him to Beaumont.

Alan was taken to the Oklahoma Transfer Center in Oklahoma City in mid-
December. Although his file indicates an extreme appetite disorder, there
were no provisions made for him. He was placed in Administrative Detention
(A.D.) and has been unable to eat since his transfer to Oklahoma.

After several days in A.D. he was pulled from his cell at 3:00 am and told he
would be going to Beaumont later that day. After waiting several hours, Alan
was informed that he was one of the few inmates bumped from the flight because
of an aircraft problem. He was then taken back to A.D., where he remains.

Alan has been unable to eat for 3 weeks now and continues to lose the precious
weight he was able to gain while in Rochester. He was told that he would be
moved after the first of the year. We are waiting.

Thank you for your concern. I will post another update when Alan has been
moved, hopefully to Beaumont. I will include an address for him at that time.
Feel free to contact me for further information.

Maggi Carter-McLemore
Freemac@aol.com
Box 5073
Beaumont TX 77726
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FDA To Monitor Drug Promotions (US Proposes Regulating 'Pharmacy Benefits
Managers' Owned By Drug Manufacturers)

Date: Tue, 6 Jan 1998 21:16:15 -0800
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
From: jwjohnson@netmagic.net (Joel W. Johnson)
Subject: MN: US: WIRE: FDA To Monitor Drug Promotions
Source: Associated Press
Pubdate: Mon, 5 Jan 1998

FDA TO MONITOR DRUG PROMOTIONS

By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Concerned about possible misleading drug promotion, the
government moved on Monday to ensure that drug companies don't unfairly
promote their products through managed care.

At issue is how companies -- called pharmacy benefits managers -- influence
doctors, pharmacists and patients in choosing particular medicines. Often,
they persuade doctors to switch their patients from one drug to another by
arguing the cheaper drug is just as effective.

But the Food and Drug Administration says pharmacy benefits managers, known
as PBMs, sometimes give doctors and pharmacists false or biased
information. On Monday, the FDA proposed regulating PBMs that are owned by
drug manufacturers to ensure they provide accurate information.

Manufacturer-owned PBMs would have to submit promotional material to the
FDA for an accuracy review, just as drug manufacturers already submit their
own advertising. The new proposal means manufacturers can't illegally
promote their products under the guise of a managed-care company, explained
FDA's Laurie Burke, who helped write the proposal.

Drug manufacturers that don't own PBMs but have financial agreements with
them also could be responsible for illegal drug promotion, the proposal
says.

``We are particularly concerned about the health risks,'' said Burke,
saying the most common problem is PBMs declaring one drug as effective as
another without scientific evidence.

False information ``may result in inappropriate medical decisions,'' Burke said.

An estimated 115 million Americans are enrolled in prescription drug plans
administered by pharmacy benefit managers, companies hired to decide what
medicines insurance plans will pay for -- on a list called a formulary --
and encourage doctors to prescribe only those drugs.

Burke said the FDA is not ``against switching in general. Formularies are a
very important thing for controlling costs.''

Drug giants Merck, Eli Lilly and SmithKline Beecham own three of the
nation's largest PBMs, and numerous other drug manufacturers have signed
financial agreements with PBMs.

The FDA regulates drug companies, so it began investigating as
manufacturers entered the managed-care business. In March, the agency asked
doctors to report side effects from drug switching, and it now is looking
into whether illegal drug promotion caused some of the problem switches,
Burke said.

Because the FDA has never regulated managed-care companies, it did not
immediately crack down on drug-owned PBMs that it already has caught giving
false information, Burke said. Instead, the agency announced the change
Monday, giving companies until April 6 to comment on the proposal. A final
policy is expected later this year.

Merck-Medco Managed Care said in a statement Monday that its PBM program is
run independent of Merck's manufacturing divisions, ``and is based on the
recommendations of independent medical advisory boards.''

Lilly and the industry's Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers
Association declined comment.

There is no good evidence yet whether PBMs are controlling health care
costs or affecting disease outcomes, cautioned Thomas Moore of George
Washington University's Center for Health Policy Research.

But drug switching is getting attention:

--New York City Public Advocate Mark Green recently reported that one woman
whose blood pressure medicine was switched came down with a respiratory
infection ``severe enough to almost cause death.'' He also cited an
aggressive Lilly plan to get its PBM patients switched from competing
antidepressants to Lilly's Prozac.

--A 1996 Georgetown University study said Merck's product sales increased
10 percent after it bought Medco.

--The General Accounting Office, Congress' investigative and auditing arm,
said in 1995 that drug makers were buying PBMs to ``help maintain the
manufacturers' profits at a time when their drugs face increasing
competition.''

But Dr. Sidney Wolfe of the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen said the
FDA's new proposal has a problem: Congress last fall passed a law allowing
drug makers to tell managed-care companies certain cost-effectiveness
information about drugs even if the data is not FDA-approved.

``It is a huge loophole, and it will be very difficult for FDA to enforce
this,'' Wolfe said.
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FAA Reduces Alcohol Testing (25 Percent Of US Airline Personnel Tested
Annually, Only .08 Percent 'Positive')

Date: Tue, 6 Jan 1998 21:07:23 -0800
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
From: jwjohnson@netmagic.net (Joel W. Johnson)
Subject: MN: US: WIRE: FAA Reduces Alcohol Testing
Pubdate: Mon, 5 Jan 1998

FAA REDUCES ALCOHOL TESTING

By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The government has decided to cut back on alcohol checks
in the aviation industry because so few people tested positive.

The Federal Aviation Administration announced Monday that it will require a
minimum of 10 percent of industry workers in safety- and security-related
jobs to undergo random alcohol tests this year. That is down from a 25
percent requirement in the past.

The alcohol violation rate was approximately 0.06 percent for 1995 and
approximately 0.08 percent for 1996. Under the law, the share checked can
be cut to 10 percent if fewer than one-half of 1 percent test positive two
years in a row.

The random minimum drug testing rate remains the same, at 25 percent. The
share testing positive for drugs last year was 0.71 percent, which is more
than one-half of 1 percent.
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45 Percent Of Americans Know Someone With A Substance Abuse Problem -
New Online Treatment Guide Offers Hope ('Addiction Resource Guide' Web Site
Aims To Offer Immediate, Practical Help To Addicts' Families, Friends)

Date: Wed, 7 Jan 1998 22:26:25 -0800
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
From: jwjohnson@netmagic.net (Joel W. Johnson)
Subject: MN: WIRE: 45% of Americans Know Someone With a Substance Abuse Problem: New Online
Treatment Guide Offers Hope
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Newshawk: creator@mapinc.org
Source: PR Newswire
Pubdate: January 5, 1998

45% OF AMERICANS KNOW SOMEONE WITH A SUBSTANCE ABUSE PROBLEM

NEW ONLINE TREATMENT GUIDE OFFERS HOPE

http://www.hubplace.com/addictions Website Launched

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., -- It's one of a parent's darkest, most nightmarish
fears: you discover your child is an alcoholic or drug addict. Can't happen
to you? Each year in America, that horrible moment comes for millions of
mothers and fathers. If that moment comes, what do you do?

A new online service, Addiction Resource Guide, located at
http://www.hubplace.com/addictions offers the kind of immediate, practical
knowledge a parent, relative or friend needs to get help for a child or
loved one addicted to alcohol or other drugs.

Two experts on the subject created Addiction Resource Guide. One is a
psychiatrist who specializes in treating substance abusers and the other an
educator and suburban mother of a young heroin addict.

The Guide provides easy-to-use, detailed profiles of international,
national, state and local treatment facilities, in addition to other useful
information. Hospitals and treatment organizations describe their services
making informed decisions easier, even in the midst of a family crisis.

"Getting the right help fast can make all the difference in the world for a
substance abuser," said Dr. Jeffery Smith, a psychiatrist and Co-Founder of
Addiction Resource Guide. "At no cost, our service gives people instant
access to vital information. It provides hard facts so people can
understand their options and make the right decision given their set of
circumstances."

"I hope our site never gets used," says Polly Waldman, Co-Founder of
Addiction Resource Guide, "but I know from personal experience it meets an
urgent need when you face the grim reality of an addict in the family." In
1995, Waldman got a phone call to say her son, then 21, was killing himself
with drugs. Her family's struggle to help him fight heroin led to the
development of Addiction Resource Guide.

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, 50.8% of high school
seniors had used illicit drugs. For friends and families of those who
become addicted, learning about treatment is a complex job that must be
done under trying personal circumstances. Addiction Resource Guide's
website provides answers and direction conveniently -- on the home or
office computer.

For more information about Addiction Resource Guide, or how to list your
facility, go to http://www.hubplace.com/addictions or call Leticia
Jackson-Ellis at 914-345-9892.

SOURCE Addiction Resource Guide CONTACT: Leticia Jackson-Ellis of
Addiction Resource Guide, 914-345-9892 Web Site:
http://www.hubplace.com/addictions

(c) 1997 PR Newswire. All rights reserved.
-------------------------------------------------------------------

A Criminal School Drug Policy ('Washington Post' Reports Zero-Tolerance
School Drug Policy In Fairfax County, Virginia, Harms Student
It Was Supposed To Protect)

Date: Tue, 6 Jan 1998 21:05:02 -0800
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
From: jwjohnson@netmagic.net (Joel W. Johnson)
Subject: MN: US: A Criminal School Drug Policy
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Newshawk: "Colo. Hemp Init. Project" 
Source: Washington Post
Contact: http://washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/edit/letters/letterform.htm
Pubdate: Mon, 5 Jan 1998
Author: Steve Twomey, twomeys@washpost.com

A CRIMINAL SCHOOL DRUG POLICY

All four of the Greenbergs came to the front door. There was Bruce, 45, an
executive recruiter who works out of the family's lovely, large Colonial
home in Fairfax Station. There was Angela, 44, who runs a couple of antique
shops. There was Kevin, 10, who wanted to head outdoors and make a snowman.
Last to appear was Nikki, 12, who's shy and sweet and facing a drug rap, if
you want to call Advil possession a drug rap.

Her school does.

On Wednesday, in fact, Nikki almost certainly will lose her final appeal
and be suspended for five days for having been nabbed on the bus home with
a couple of Advil that the seventh-grader had taken to her school in a
plastic bag to -- surprise, surprise -- dampen some pain.

Not only would Nikki be tossed out of class, she and her parents would have
to participate in a "drug use prevention follow-up activity" to ensure
they're no longer oblivious to the threat posed by Advil, because, as you
know, heroin and cocaine junkies start small, usually with coffee or
aspirin.

In the real world, which is to say anywhere that's not a school system,
Nikki can march into a pharmacy, buy Advil, walk the streets flaunting it,
swallow it in front of a cop and run no risk of acquiring a case number or
needing a defense attorney. But in the zero-tolerance, apply-no-judgment
milieu of public education, no lines are drawn between illegal and legal
drugs, prescription and nonprescription, LSD or Bayer.

"This will be on her record," Bruce Greenberg said of his daughter, adding
that she had no record before, either in or out of school. "This won't be
purged when she goes to college. She'll be on record for violating the drug
policy, for two damn Advil. That's the thing I find totally astounding."

You'd think such stories of vanished common sense would dry up as the
embarrassment spread, but the nation apparently has a limitless supply of
officials willing to bring up kids or adults on knee-slapping charges of
sexual harassment (a 6-year-old kissing a 4-year-old!) or drug abuse
(teenager has Advil!).

The cases arise out of anti-this or -that policies drafted for reasons well
and good, but life always presents situations unenvisioned. No matter. No
exceptions made. Absurd punishments are meted out anyway, because we can't
have anyone using their craniums. That would make us seem better than
animals and fish.

In Fairfax County, where Nikki lives, the school system wants to keep kids
from doing illegal drugs -- which sort of goes without saying -- and legal
ones, too, theorizing that kids will find a way to use the over-the-counter
stuff badly. Nikki's parents knew the rules, up to a point. So did Nikki.
The schools had sent home a booklet saying kids can't have "a controlled
substance . . and any prescription or nonprescription drug not authorized
as medication under Regulation 2102.3," although it didn't send home
Regulation 2102.3.

Your average sentient being probably wouldn't conclude that the ban is
aimed at Ben-Gay. Or Clearasil. Or a Band-Aid with antibiotic in the pad.
Or Ricola. Or eye wash. But, spreading those products and others on the
Greenbergs' living room coffee table, Laurie Frost said every one will get
you suspended in the schools of Fairfax County.

Frost, a lawyer retained by the Greenbergs to keep their daughter from
being branded a druggie, went to a Giant, bought a bunch of ointments, lip
balms and cold remedies, took them to a hearing about Nikki's alleged crime
and was told that a hefty majority of the stuff was illegal in school,
although not on the street, which rather renders the war on drugs a farce,
since crack now equals Clearasil.

If the Greenbergs had taken time out from life to go to the library, where
Regulation 2102.3 is on file, they would have learned that a
"nonprescription drug not authorized as medication" includes really
innocuous stuff, because that reg cites "aspirin, Tylenol, gargles, ear
drops, eye washes, ointments, Pepto-Bismol, cough suppressants and the
like." It leaves to parents to figure out "the like."

Vitamins?

Violation, Frost said.

Nasal spray?

Violation.

Well, ignorance of the law's fine print is no excuse, they say. Nikki broke
the rule, however absurd it is. She was caught when a student who wasn't
feeling well asked if Nikki could spare an Advil as they rode the bus home
from Hayfield Secondary School, Frost said.

Nikki didn't give him one, by the way.

The best part is that her punishment is the same as it would be for awful
stuff: automatic suspension. Students caught with cigarettes or caught buck
naked don't even face that, said Carter S. Thomas (Springfield), a member
of the Fairfax County Board of Education, who calls the case "a terminal
case of stupidity."

He offers a simple solution. Kids ought to be allowed to have in school any
product they can have outside school. If they use such a product in a dumb
way -- if someone passes around gobs of Clearasil and kids ingest it, which
might be some sort of cheap high, although I doubt it -- then step in and
crack down.

In other words, exhume discretion, the commodity buried by the nation after
we decided that robotically treating every situation the same way was
easier than actually thinking about it.

Ah, but it's too late for that for Nikki. They're taking her down for Advil
possession. You know, when she called home from school to tell her dad, she
was crying.
-------------------------------------------------------------------

It's Curtains For Crack (Former Addicts In Houston, Texas,
Share 'Tough Love' Message In 'Change Is Gonna Come,'
Performed At Homeless Shelters And Rehab Centers)

Date: Wed, 07 Jan 1998 21:38:16 -0500
To: DrugSense News Service 
From: Richard Lake 
Subject: MN: US TX: It's Curtains For Crack
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Newshawk: Art Smart 
Source: Houston Chronicle
Author: Eric Berger
Contact: viewpoints@chron.com
Pubdate: Mon, 05 Jan 1998
Website: http://www.chron.com/

IT'S CURTAINS FOR CRACK

Former Addicts Play Old Roles, Find New Life On Stage

Gabriel, a 42-year-old Houstonian, has been there before.

Though a novice actor, Gabriel has the part of Gene, a crack addict, down
cold. He ought to. Gabriel has more than a decade of real-life drug
experience.

In a local play, Gene introduces a young woman, Nikki, to drugs. She is
soon immersed in the miasmatic world of drug addiction as the tale weaves
through her seduction, prostitution, desperation and, ultimately, redemption.

If it sounds real, it should. Every plot twist, turn and line of dialogue
is drawn from the actors' lives.

The actors, of whom all but one lack theater experience, are some of
Houston's drug addicts well down the road to recovery. The play, Change is
Gonna Come, has been performed more than 30 times at homeless shelters,
churches, prisons and addiction recovery centers throughout the Houston area.

Gabriel and his co-stars want to share their message of hope with others
struggling within the clutches of addiction.

And, despite initial cynicism from some audiences, the gritty message often
works.

"Some audiences are like iron, but in the end they always melt," Gabriel said.

The fledgling Houston program, called the Therapeutic Drama Troupe, began
performing in May.

As a longtime crack addict, Gabriel tried recovery before, only to relapse
three times. But it's working this time, he said. Clean for 15 months and
proud of it.

The play's seven other cast members have similarly checkered pasts: heavy
drug consumption, broken families, lost jobs and tenures on skid row.

The members assemble on evenings and weekends when their jobs permit for
rehearsals and performances. They act as much for themselves as their
troubled audiences.

The concept for the therapeutic troupe originated with Victor Ndando-Ngoo
(pronounced "Dan-doe"), a Riverside Hospital chemical dependency counselor
who was born in Cameroon.

The first thing Ndando-Ngoo saw when he arrived in the United States 15
years ago was a television news program that showed a drug raid.

"The movies I saw about America said nothing about this," he recalls. "It
was very frightening to me."

That stuck the issue of drugs in the forefront of his mind, eventually
leading him to choose the counseling profession.

In 1994 Ndando-Ngoo and other Cameroonian-Americans in the Houston area
founded The Motherland, a counseling and therapeutic center for high-risk
youth and adults with addiction problems.

Last year, the drama troupe idea grew from an observation that many of the
people he treated for drug abuse seemed to act their way through life,
often fooling themselves and everyone around them.

"Then, once in recovery, it became obvious: Who better to tell their
stories but them?" he said.

Cast member Halene, 55, and her two children know drug addiction. After she
kicked the habit a decade ago, her addicted children would still come home
for support.

"I learned tough love in the recovery programs," Halene said. "You hurt
them more by always catering to their needs."

It's a lesson she repeats over and over when she plays Nikki's mom who
confronts her daughter in the play.

"Each time I do that scene it touches me very much because I had to do the
same thing with my daughter and son," Halene said.

After each performance, the cast interacts with the audience, sharing their
stories, offering advice and even passing out phone numbers.

"The people can relate to us because this comes from the heart," said
Gabriel, who eventually leads Nikki to recovery in the play. "And sometimes
you see a familiar gleam in their eye afterwards, and that really gives us
hope."

During the wrap-up sessions, just like recovery groups such as Alcoholics
Anonymous and Cocaine Anonymous, the actors use only their first names.

The notion of having former and recovering addicts performing together is
not unique to the Houston troupe.

Across town, at the Salvation Army's Harbor Light Center, former drug
addicts and ex-alcoholics have sung in the center's heralded men's choir
for nine years.

The Harbor Light Choir sings nearly 300 engagements around Houston a year,
from corporate parties to homeless shelters, said Fred Smith, Harbor Light
Center's director. They have produced several compact discs.

Not all choir members stay clean afterward, but most make it, Smith noted.

The choir helps the men, he added, because it acts like a support group for
men trying to put the pieces of their shattered lives back together.

Nationally there are similar programs as well. A series of acting troupes
in Massachusetts, Michigan and Maryland helps older, recovering alcoholics.
And there's an off-Broadway acting group for heroin addicts in New York
called Day Top Village.

All are geared toward accomplishing the same goal: beating addiction.

"Any time you can take folks in recovery and get them together in a joint
project, it can be very therapeutic," said Dr. David Mactas, director of
the Center for Substance Abuse, the U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services agency that distributes federal drug abuse treatment funds to states.

Texas received $89 million in fiscal year 1997 for substance abuse
treatment programs from the center.

Participation in troupes and choirs can be part of an addict's road to
recovery, Mactas said. And if the audience shares similar experiences or
faces similar problems, a performance can benefit them as well.

"To the extent that it taps something in an audience member, it's
wonderful," he said.

In Houston, Rutherford Cravens bore much of the responsibility for taking
the raw experiences of the drama troupe's recovering addicts and
translating them into the hourlong performance.

The play, Cravens said, was written through improvisation.

"They are the most courageous improvisational actors I have ever seen,"
said Cravens, executive director of Shakespeare Outreach, a drama program
affiliated with the University of Houston. "As performers they are
absolutely truthful. They put many other actors to shame."

Cravens had to make do with a shoestring budget. The actors provide their
own costumes and have only a few spare microphones to work with. Most
funding has come from the Cultural Arts Council of Houston / Harris County
and the Texas Commission on the Arts.

Ndando-Ngoo said he hopes to receive additional funding from the Texas
Commission of Alcohol and Drug Abuse, an agency that receives money from
the U.S. Center for Substance Abuse.

Despite their current financial impediments, Cravens and Ndando- Ngoo have
plans for expansion.

After taking a brief hiatus during Christmas, the troupe scheduled a slate
of shows beginning this month. Cravens and the actors are also developing a
play that will include several adolescents.

With rehearsals and performances at least three nights a week performing in
the troupe is a drain on time, certainly, but it's well worth the effort,
said cast member Cathy, 42.

"I've had to switch schedules, stay up nights and days, but I had to do
this," the former crack addict said. "It gives people an understanding of
what it's really like."

As a "functioning addict," Cathy paid her bills on time, but then "smoked
up every penny" that was left over. She says she knew she had a problem
when she was stealing money from her children's piggy banks.

Now, having beaten her addiction, she wants to help others find new lives.

"The old me is back now," Cathy said. "And I sure feel great being part of
the answer."
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Americans Have Lost Faith In Their Instincts ('Detroit News' Columnist
Ponders FDA And This 'Age Of Weird Studies And Odd Innovations')

Date: Mon, 05 Jan 1998 09:07:34 -0800
To: maptalk@mapinc.org
From: Pat Dolan 
Subject: Americans have lost faith in their instincts
Source: Detroit News
Contact: letters@detnews.com
PubDate: Monday, January 5

(Note: This is not strictly on topic, but there are connections,
and I found it a fascinating read. pd)

Monday, January 5, 1998 By Tony Snow / The Detroit News

Americans have lost faith in their instincts

[W]ASHINGTON - We live in the age of weird studies and odd innovations.

The Food and Drug Administration announced last month that it approved for
sale a Merck & Co. product known as Propecia. It's a pill that helps men
regrow hair. In laboratory trials, 83 percent of the men who took the pills
for two years stopped losing hair - as opposed to 28 percent of guys who
took a placebo. Two-thirds of the men who tried the drug for two years
regrew some of their lost locks.

There is a catch, of course. In exchange for getting your hair back, you
could suffer impotence or bankruptcy. The stuff will cost close to $50 a
month, and it could cause some men to lose sexual function - a fact that
may have something to do with Propecia's being a low-dose version of a
compound used to shrink enlarged prostate glands.

At about the same time this announcement hit the front pages, Ben Pappas of
Forbes reported the results of a 76-year-long study concerning high-IQ
people. The investigation tracked children born in 1910, and the doctors in
charge of the project interviewed their guinea pigs - dubbed "termites,"
for some reason - every five or 10 years. When subjects began departing for
the great beyond, demographers tried to find traits that separated those
who died young and those who survived to ripe old ages.

They discovered, much to their horror, that an idyllic childhood was a
ticket to oblivion and that kids with miserable youths had a 22-percent
lower mortality risk.

"Contrary to our expectations, we have found that childhood cheerfulness is
inversely related to longevity," said Dr. Howard Friedman of the University
of California at Riverside.

Friedman told Forbes that glum kids lived longer. He also made a case for
becoming workaholics. "We're always telling people they are working too
hard and to take vacations in Hawaii, but a lot of times, you are telling
people to slow down, and that's bad for them."

Like Bear Bryant, when they quit, they croak.

And then there was the study revealing that people who drink a glass or so
of red wine a day live longer. This one was hailed in Washington, where red
wine remains chic so long as you don't dump it on Sally Quinn's carpet.

Every day, stuff like this spills through the pages of our newspapers, but
never in a consistent pattern. Coffee is good/bad/good for you. Alcohol
lengthens/shortens/ lengthens your life span. Broccoli fights cancer but
causes gas; antacids fight gas but cause cancer.

Still, each survey spawns a consumer stampede: Anxious parents go out and
stock up on the latest purported breakthrough - as if one can, with a swift
change of a small habit, leave the ranks of the doomed and stride upon a
stage with Methuselah.

The assault on the checkout line merely affirms that we live in an age
awash in information but bereft of moral certitude.

Government has become wildly hostile to revealed religion and traditional
virtues. In California, for instance, doctors must inform parents that
their kids are getting nose rings or other flesh-piercings, but they aren't
permitted to let mom and dad know their daughter is getting an abortion.

It is everywhere thus, and we have become inured to jarring incongruities.
Somewhere along the line, we lost contact with our common sense - or,
worse, lost faith in our instincts. While our parents had no doubts about
the virtues of discipline, today's mommies and daddies purchase
child-rearing manuals by the cartload, trying to figure out whether they
will turn Junior into Charles Manson if they make him eat his peas.

We seem to have shed our sense of destiny for a hapless belief in
predestination. But we don't like it. With the world buzzing and careening
toward an untold new century, we, like the young Bill Buckley, stand
athwart history, screaming: Stop!

Naturally, it does no good. So there we stand, pelting ourselves with
doubts: Am I the only one who can't figure out how to navigate the
Internet? What about the tax code? The traffic laws? The gas pump?

Technology forces us to make unprecedented calculations: Do I grow hair so
I can look sexy but go to bed gelded? Should I force my young kids not to
watch Barney and behave more like Van Gogh, while urging my surly
teen-agers to stop mimicking Van Gogh and start emulating the magenta
allosaur? What about phonics? Or church? Or low-impact sprout-eating?

The fad has become the stone tablet of the modern era, and folks in lab
smocks have become our high priests and priestesses. The comical racing
from cure to cure, it turns out, may have some long-term virtues after all.

If Friedman is right, it could add years to our lives - since the quest
makes us miserable and keeps us busy.

***

Tony Snow is The News editorial page's Washington columnist. His column is
published on Monday and Thursday. You may write him at The News, Editorial
Page, 615 W. Lafayette, Detroit, Mich. 48226.

Copyright 1998, The Detroit News We welcome your comments. E-mail us at
letters@detnews.com
-------------------------------------------------------------------

The Narcissus Survey (In 'The New Yorker' Finds Two-Thirds Of NY Readers
Have Tried Cannabis And 76 Percent To 94 Percent Support Medical Marijuana)

From: MJDOCDLE@aol.com
Date: Thu, 8 Jan 1998 15:13:32 -0500 (EST)
Subject: HT: New Yorker Poll
Sender: owner-hemp-talk@hemp.net

From the New Yorker, 5 Jan 98, p. 27, The Narcissus Survey, by Hendrik
Hertzberg.

Most public-opinion polls are motivated by sensible, practical
goals--electing some rich fool to the Senate, marketing a useless or
hazardous product, gathering ammunition for a one-sided propaganda blitz. The
New Yorker, as far as I know, has no such goals. But we went out and
commissioned a poll anyway, simply to gratify a rather diffuse curiosity
about how various sorts of Americans look at their lives, at society, and at
God. We thought there might be some instructive contrasts between the
attitudes of regular people and those of what marketers and demagogues call
elites. Hold up a mirror--that was the idea. Hence the Narcissus Survey.

The Narcissus Survey was conducted by Penn, Schoen & Berland, a firm whose
client list includes the President of the U.S. The questions, written in
consultation w/editors at the New Yorker, were put the three groups of
Americans. One group was the broad masses: not the whole teeming two hundred
and 68 million, of course, but a reasonable facsimile--four hundred randomly
selected warm bodies 18 y o and older and roughly representative of the adult
population by income, region, race and age. The other groups were two samples
of the privileged: six hundred members of the economic elite, defined as
college graduates aged between 30 and 60 whose person (not family) income is
more that $100,000 a year; and four hundred members of the cultural elite,
defined (and what better way to define that much maligned cadre of charming,
attractive, and intelligent citizens?) as subscribers to the New Yorker. For
convenience, we'll call the three groups , respectively, Main Street, Easy
Street, and--in honor of their I.Q.s, their presumed Anglophilia, their
indulgent attitudes toward soft drugs, and, of course, their taste in reading
matter--High Street.

***

A somewhat similar pattern emerges from the Narcissus Survey's findings about
recreational drugs. Nearly half of the general public, 41 percent of the
economic elite, and just over two-thirds of N.Y. readers say they have tried
marijuana--bigger numbers, by the way, than other surveys have shown. (The
usual finding is that a third say they have smoked pot.) There is broad
support for permitting doctors to presc4ribe the drug for the relief of
suffering: 76% of Main Street, 86% of Easy Street, and a remarkable 94 % of
High Street support medical use. But there's a difference of opinion on
marijuana decrim: 59% of High Street is for it, a view shared by barely a
third in either of the other groups.
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Scientist Berates 'New York Times' For Inaccurate Report
On 'Monitoring The Future' Survey Results ('Drug Use Continues To Go Up
In All Grade Levels Except The Eighth' And An 'Overwhelming Amount
Of Scientific Data Indicates Drug War Is A Failure')

From: gene tinelli 
To: letters@nytimes.com
cc: MGreer@mapinc.org
Subject: Re: 21 Dec NY Times article by Christopher Wren
Date: Mon, 5 Jan 98 20:35:59 +0000

Your 21 Dec article by Christopher S. Wren, "Survey Suggests Leveling Off
In Use of Drugs by Students," is an amazing piece of journalism in showing
just how much inaccurate verbiage you can get out of the data.

To be more scientifically accurate about the University of Michigan study,
drug use continues to go up in all grade levels except the eighth. Minor
variations of the slope of the changes reflects more accurately the
continuously waxing and waning natural course of drug use. And, in the
original study, the change in eighth grade drug use frequency was
statistically insignificant. To put all this together as evidence of
effectiveness of our current drug prohibition policies is both
scientifically inaccurate and hyperbole and puts the NY Times in the same
political spin circles as President Clinton. The overwhelming amount of
scientific data indicates that our drug war continues to be a failure.

If you are going to publish "all the news that's fit to print," in the
future, please be more rigorous in exposing disinformation rather than
espousing it.

Gene Tinelli, M.D., Ph.D.
Addiction Psychiatrist
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science
SUNY Health Science Center
Syracuse, NY 13203
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Editorial - The Noble Experiment (Anthony Lewis In 'The New York Times'
Writes That Drug Prohibition Has Failed And It's Time For The US To Examine
Harm Reduction Strategies Gaining Currency In Europe)

Date: Tue, 6 Jan 1998 17:56:00 -0800
Subject: MN: US: Editorial: The Noble Experiment
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Newshawk: "Frank S. World" 
Source: New York Times
Contact: letters@nytimes.com
Pubdate: Mon, 5 Jan 1998
Author: Anthony Lewis

THE NOBLE EXPERIMENT

BOSTON -- Practicality has been a feature of American life from the start,
and a reason for the country's success. Americans on the whole eschewed
ideology. We judged ideas by whether they worked. When they didn't, we
tried something else.

A strange contemporary exception to that tradition is the war on drugs. By
any rational test it is an overwhelming failure. Yet our leading
politicians persist in calling for ever more stringent measures to enforce
the policy of total prohibition, doing their best to prevent even a
discussion of alternatives.

In 1980, the Federal Government and the states spent perhaps $4 billion on
drug control; today the figure is at least $32 billion. The number of
people in prison on drug charges has also multiplied by eight: from 50,000
to 400,000.

Yet the use of forbidden drugs remains a reality of American life. Supplies
are plentiful despite costly attempts to stop the production of drugs in
other countries.

The human cost of the drug war is worse than the financial cost. In 1996,
for example, 545,000 Americans were arrested for possession of marijuana,
giving these mostly young people a criminal record for use of a drug as
accepted in much of their culture as alcohol in ours. Thousands -- many
thousands -- of people are serving long terms in prison for a first,
nonviolent drug offense.

But is there an alternative way of dealing with the grave human and social
problem of drug abuse? Yes, there is. It is explored in the new issue of
Foreign Affairs, in an illuminating article by Ethan A. Nadelmann, director
of the Lindesmith Center in New York, a drug policy research institute.

The alternative is to acknowledge what Americans came to understand about
alcohol after 14 years of the noble experiment, Prohibition. That is, as
Mr. Nadelmann puts it, "that drugs are here to stay, and that we have no
choice but to learn how to live with them so that they cause the least
possible harm."

The harm-reduction approach to drugs is in growing use throughout Europe.
That includes a country as bourgeois and conservative as Switzerland.

In 1974 Switzerland began an experiment allowing doctors to prescribe
heroin, morphine or injectable methadone for 1,000 hardened heroin addicts.
The results, reported last July, showed that criminal offenses by the group
dropped 60 percent, illegal heroin and cocaine use fell dramatically,
health was greatly improved, and stable employment rose.

Swiss voters overwhelmingly support the policy. In a national referendum in
September, 71 percent of voters voted for it.

Another policy adopted in much of Western Europe, Australia and Canada is
to allow exchange of used needles for clean ones. This has had an important
effect in reducing H.I.V. infections. In the United States, despite
proposals for needle exchange by commissions starting under President Bush,
the White House and Congress have blocked the use of drug-abuse funds for
that purpose. The result, Mr. Nadelmann says, has been the infection of up
to 10,000 people with H.I.V.

Similarly with marijuana, the practice in much of Western Europe is not to
prosecute for mere possession. In the U.S., a commission appointed by
President Nixon proposed in 1972 that possession of up to one ounce of
marijuana be decriminalized. The proposal got nowhere, and White House
intransigence is unchanged. After Californians voted to allow medical use,
the White House drug czar, Gen. Barry McCaffrey, hurried to warn that
Federal law still made it a crime for doctors to prescribe it.

"Most proponents of harm reduction do not favor legalization," Mr.
Nadelmann writes. But "they recognize that prohibition has failed to
curtail drug abuse, that it is responsible for much of the crime,
corruption, disease and death associated with drugs and that its costs
mount every year."

A good many Americans, including police chiefs and doctors, believe that it
is time for a change in our failed drug policy. It is our political leaders
who are afraid to change. It will take someone with the courage to say that
the emperor has no clothes -- someone like Senator John McCain -- to end
our second, disastrous noble experiment.
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Medical Marijuana Scam (Writer Of Letter To 'San Francisco Examiner'
Wants To Imprison Patients With Back Pain Who Medicate With Cannabis)

Date: Tue, 6 Jan 1998 16:05:05 -0800
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
From: jwjohnson@netmagic.net (Joel W. Johnson)
Subject: MN: US CA: LTE: Medical Marijuana 'Scam'
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Newshawk: Jerry Sutliff 
Source: San Francisco Examiner (California)
Contact: letters@examiner.com
Pubdate: Mon, 05 Jan 1998

MEDICAL MARIJUANA 'SCAM'

The people of California were completely fooled when it came to
understanding Proposition 215.

If the public knew what a scam all these [marijuana] clubs had going, there
would be public outrage. People with so much as back pain are able to
become members of a club and purchase dope legally. That's just great.

I hope the great State of California is able to afford the next lawsuit
after some taxi driver, bus driver, Muni operator, police officer or
fireman makes a mistake on the job that results in someone getting injured,
and the victims discover that the trusted employee was taking said
medication for illness.

I hope all of the businesses out there with employees who enjoy a lunchtime
joint are ready to deal with loss of productivity. You think that time lost
to the Internet on company time is bad?

The City can make all the, phony justifications it wants in order to
legalize cannabis - all you are doing is setting yourself up for one big
mistake. When is the last time your newspaper objectively looked at the
rising use of cannabis by teenagers? What are the harmful effects to the
lungs and brain? What is the THC level of cannabis used today vs. 1970? Or
1975?

Our drug rehabilitation centers are full of individuals who got their start
smoking cannabis. No matter how you look at it, we should stop the scam of
medical marijuana as soon as possible.

PETE OTT
San Francisco
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Editorial - Amazing Story - How Bars Became Smokeless ('San Francisco
Examiner' Defends California's Unique New Prohibition On Basis Of
Threat To Barkeeps' Health From Secondhand Smoke)

Date: Tue, 6 Jan 1998 22:50:49 -0800
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
From: jwjohnson@netmagic.net (Joel W. Johnson)
Subject: MN: US CA: Editorial: Amazing Story: How Bars Became Smokeless
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Newshawk: "Frank S. World" 
Source: San Francisco Examiner
Contact: letters@examiner.com
Pubdate: Tue, 06 Jan 1998
Website: http://www.examiner.com

AMAZING STORY: HOW BARS BECAME SMOKELESS

By Stephanie Salter
EXAMINER COLUMNIST

AMID THE whining, griping and threatened lawbreaking that have accompanied
California's most recent smoking ban, a question keeps coming up:

How the hell did something like this ever get passed?

The answer: Slowly. Against all odds. And despite millions of dollars of
tobacco industry money being hurled at it.

Californians who dislike the ban on smoking in bars describe it as
"stupid," a violation of their "civil rights" or the work of busybody
"health Nazis" who want to impose their prissy order on "everybody else."

In truth, the prohibition, which went into effect Jan. 1, is the last stage
in the implementation of a miraculous legislative endeavor intended as a
health safety measure for people who, because of their jobs, can't escape
the lethal hazards of secondhand smoke. So many political and economic
torpedoes were fired at the legislation that the law should be lying at the
bottom of the ocean, next to the Titanic.

The California assemblyman who originally launched AB13 -- a sweeping
prohibition of smoking in indoor workplaces -- has been out of the
lawmaking business since 1994. Terry Friedman, then a Democratic legislator
from Sherman Oaks, is now a Juvenile Court judge in Los Angeles.

Yet it was Friedman who introduced AB13 back in December 1992 and managed
to ferry the bill to passage on July 14, 1994. Gov. Wilson signed it into
law a week later, and most of the ban went into effect on New Year's Day
1995. The prohibition on smoking in bars and card rooms was delayed twice,
each time for a year.

He said: "The tobacco industry always kills these bills. But we had a
strong coalition of labor, business and health groups that never let down
and kept on fighting. This is a case where David slayed the tobacco
Goliath."

His imagery was only slightly hyperbolic. Despite volumes of medical
research that prove secondhand smoke kills, the tobacco industry and plenty
of Friedman's fellow legislators managed to stall the law for years.

They did this by predicting economic annihilation for much of the service
industry -- remember how legions of restaurants were supposed to go out of
business? -- and by promoting the public misconception that the ban is
about violating personal freedom, not about protecting the health of people
required by their jobs to inhale secondhand smoke for eight hours a day or
longer.

Typical of the industry's tactics was a 1993 statement by Bill Wardham, an
assistant to the president of the national Tobacco Institute. A month after
Los Angeles imposed its own smoking ban on the city's 7,000 restaurants, he
said:

"The state has a recent history of being preoccupied with health issues.
It's a beautiful state, but as in all preoccupations and fixations, they
can lead to excesses."

Preoccupations? Fixations?

In January 1993, an Environmental Protection Agency report concluded that
cigarette smoke should be classified as a human carcinogen, along with
asbestos, benzene and radon. The report said secondhand smoke leads to lung
cancer and raises the risk of pneumonia, bronchitis and asthma in children.

Last autumn, the state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment and
the state Air Resources Board concluded a six-year joint study. It found:

* Secondhand tobacco smoke is responsible each year for the deaths of an
estimated 4,700 to 7,900 nonsmoking Californians, including 136 infants.

* Such "passive smoking" also causes in children about 188,000 ear
infections, 36,000 cases of bronchitis or pneumonia and 3,100 cases of
asthma.

In related studies, UC-Berkeley researchers and the federal Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention looked at the health expenses of 35,000
Americans and concluded that smoking costs U.S. taxpayers about $22 billion
a year in medical expenses. An earlier CDC report by Dr. Michael Siegel
found that employees of bars breathed in smoke at a rate four to six times
higher did than other workers.

A few months after Friedman introduced AB13, researchers at UC-San
Francisco found that the tobacco industry had bestowed $7.6 million upon
state and local politicians and campaigns in 1991-92. This was 10 times the
industry's rate of spending before 1988.

In 1992, California legislators per capita received more than double the
tobacco money ($10,402) than did members of Congress ($4,225).

Up to and after its passage, AB13 stayed in its opponents' sights. It was
KO'd in various legislative committees and crippled more than once by
proposed amendments and counter bills that looked like anti-smoking laws
but were really designed to gut the power of local municipalities to impose
their own, stricter smoking prohibitions.

Perhaps the apex (or nadir) of this exercise was Proposition 188, an
alleged smoking regulation measure. It would have nullified AB13, repealed
the California Indoor Clean Air Act of 1976 and repealed and preempted all
local smoking ordinances.

The Philip Morris company alone spent $1.98 million merely to place Prop.
188 on the November 1994 ballot. According to the California secretary of
state's office, it was the most money ever spent by a single company or
person to qualify an initiative.

Prop. 188 went down to defeat, but not before Philip Morris kicked in
another $16 million.

Given the fact that smokers account for only about 18 percent of this
state's 23 million-or-so adults, one might wonder at all of the front-page,
prime-time talk about health Nazis and personal freedom that has
accompanied the ban on smoking in bars.

That is, until one looks at the history of AB13.

How the hell did it ever become law?

Stephanie Salter is an Examiner columnist.
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Putting The Boots To Youth Boot Camp Notion (Vancouver Columnist
Reminds Canadian Readers, 'There Are No Easy Answers')

From: creator@islandnet.com (Matt Elrod)
To: mattalk@listserv.islandnet.com
Subject: Putting the boots to youth boot camp notion
Date: Thu, 08 Jan 1998 10:35:10 -0800
Lines: 90
Source: North Shore News (Vancouver, BC)
Contact: editor@nsnews.com

Jan. 5, 1998

Putting the boots to youth boot camp notion

Timothy Renshaw is on holiday.

This weeks Guest appearance is by Michael McCarthy
Contributing Columnist

Let's kick off the new year on the right foot by putting the boot to
the idea of boot camps and harsh punishment for young offenders.

With violent youth crime prominent in the news, there has been a lot
of smoke and thunder from people in positions of authority about
locking up kids -- as young as 12 in some circumstances -- and
throwing away the key.

If it wasn't such a dangerous proposal you could call it ludicrous,
but this is clearly no laughing matter.

As research for a project on street life I once spent several months
working in a safe house with young offenders.

Some of these young men were in serious trouble with the law for going
"fag bashing" in the West End when intoxicated.

In no uncertain terms it was explained to them that any such behavior
would likely result in revocation of their parole and instant
incarceration. Yet they didn't learn.

What I learned, as a journalist and a youth worker, was that there are
no easy answers.

Many of these kids had been born with FAS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome)
which severely impaired their memories and ability to learn.

They would forget in five minutes what staff had spent a week
teaching. Many had acquired addictions as early as age four -- glue
and gasoline sniffing, drinking, pills, smoking dope.

Many had been beaten from pillar to post by drunken parents from an
early age. Few had any homes or friends to which they could return.

The possibility of imprisonment was not a deterrent. Jail meant a warm
bed, three squares a day, fraternization with friends, not having to
take responsibility for day to day life -- a more attractive option
than life on the streets.

In jail they can associate with their role models, the older criminals
who teach them the tools of the trade (and introduce them to more
serious drugs like heroin and cocaine).

Forgetfulness can often lead to unfortunate results.

Quite often when we listen to police, politicians -- even publishers
-- who thunder on about punishment and discipline, we forget that they
have a vested interest in so doing.

It's their job.

Keeping kids out of jail is up to someone else -- the social workers,
teachers and parents. Unless we are prepared as a society to lock
these kids up and throw away the key -- life sentences for stealing,
drug dealing, assault or murder -- why do we still suggest
incarceration as a cure?

Does anyone really think cold showers, drill sergeants, boot camps and
military discipline mean anything to these kids?

Then we release them back into society to continue their violent
lives.

MAD DADS are the fathers of sons who have been murdered in gang and
drug wars. Instead of pressing for longer jail terms and more prisons,
they go out as a team to hang with, mentor and act as father figures
to kids on the streets. In the process they have reduced the teen
murder rate by as much as 100% in some American cities.

Starting out in trigger-happy Texas, and now with 40 chapters in 12
cities, MAD DADS is a grassroots initiative that would make a great
addition to our community, where parents who should know better still
want to put the boots to our kids.

-- Michael McCarthy writes about youth and positive community
initiatives at change@skybus.com.
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Should Pot Be Legalized? (Pro-Con Debate Over Canada's Fate In 'Toronto Star'
Between Chris Clay and Neil & Philip Seeman)

From: muggles@hempbc.com (Cannabis Canada)
To: cclist@hempbc.com
Subject: CC: Should pot be legalized?
Date: Wed, 07 Jan 1998 13:34:20 -0800
Lines: 180
Sender: cclist@netnation.com
Reply-To: creator@hempbc.com
Organization: Cannabis Canada http://www.hempbc.com/
Source: Toronto Star
Contact: LetterToEd@thestar.com
Published: January 5, 1998
Author: Dana Larsen (muggles@hempbc.com)

SHOULD POT BE LEGALIZED? YES

DUSAN PETRICIC/TORONTO STAR

One side says prohibition is more harmful than marijuana itself. The other
side sees no reason to legalize and lots of reasons not to.

The time has come to end the war on marijuana.

There are about 2 million marijuana users in Canada, and well over 200
million of us worldwide. We are ordinary people from all walks of life. We
are your friends and family, your teachers, your students, your leaders and
your citizens.

Medical experts and scientific studies agree that marijuana users are
decent people who are no different from other members of society. Despite
this, billions of dollars are spent every year in a worldwide attempt to
eradicate marijuana and viciously persecute its users.

YES Each year about 100,000 Canadians are arrested for a marijuana offence.
More than 30,000 of them are found guilty, and about 6,000 of them are
sentenced to jail. This pointless and wasteful system has branded more than
600,000 Canadians with the life-long stigma of a criminal record, simply
for possessing marijuana.

Right now hundreds of thousands of people are in prison for marijuana
offences around the world. In many cases violent criminals were released to
make room for these peaceful gardeners and pot smokers.

This government prohibition is a scourge that creates violence, tears apart
families, ruins lives, corrupts law enforcement, overflows the justice
system, destabilizes governments and brutalizes society.

Despite decades of propaganda, most Canadians accept marijuana users as
decent, law-abiding citizens. Polls consistently show that Canadians want
marijuana removed from criminal law. A recent Angus Reid poll revealed that
an astounding 83 per cent want marijuana available for medical use.

Numerous scientific studies have verified the efficacy of marijuana in the
treatment of glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, muscle spasticity and nausea.
Their results have been confirmed and have appeared in prestigious,
peer-reviewed publications like the Journal of the American Medical
Association, the Annals of Internal Medicine, and many others.

Many Canadian physicians and their patients report that marijuana provides
relief from ailments including chronic pain, insomnia, seizures and
depression. Some medical marijuana users like epileptic Terry Parker and
London MS sufferer Lynn Williams [sic] have gone public with their use and
faced arrest to fight for their right to use this medicinal herb.

Marijuana is also good medicine even for those who do not suffer from a
serious medical condition. Choosing to relax with marijuana instead of
alcohol is a responsible decision, since, unlike alcohol, marijuana is
non-toxic and relatively harmless.

Canadian marijuana prohibition originated in anti-Chinese racism. In the
early 1920s Maclean's ran a series of articles by Emily Murphy, which were
compiled into a book called The Black Candle.

The book was very popular and almost solely responsible for marijuana
prohibition in Canada. At one point Emily Murphy explains whom she blames
for the marijuana peril:

``An addict who died this year in British Columbia told how he was
frequently jeered at as a `white man accounted for.' The Chinese peddlers
taunted him with their superiority at being able to sell the dope without
using it, and by telling him how the yellow race would rule the world.

``Some of the Negroes coming into Canada - and they are no fiddle-faddle
fellows either, have similar ideas, and one of their greatest writers has
boasted how ultimately they will control the white man.''

The criminal prohibition is an anachronism from the 1920s that is no longer
appropriate for our society. The continued persecution of marijuana smokers
is harmful and destructive to Canadian society.

Most Canadians agree that marijuana is a valuable herbal medicine which
should not be exterminated. It's time to end Canada's war on marijuana and
cannabis culture.

Dana Larsen is editor of Cannabis Canada, Canada's National Magazine of
Marijuana & Hemp.

***

Newshawk: creator@mapinc.org
Source: Toronto Star
Contact: LetterToEd@thestar.com
Website: http://www.thestar.com/
Pubdate: January 5, 1998
Authors: Neil Seeman and Philip Seeman

SHOULD POT BE LEGALIZED? NO

DUSAN PETRICIC/TORONTO STAR One side says prohibition is more harmful than
marijuana itself. The other side sees no reason to legalize and lots of
reasons not to

Trends in California usually knock on Canada's door a few years later. In
1996, California voters approved the use of marijuana for seriously ill
patients upon written recommendation by a physician. Should marijuana be
approved in Canada for medical use? We say no.

The inhalation of marijuana smoke has been proposed for several illnesses,
but most often for nausea and vomiting during cancer chemotherapy, or in
AIDS. The nausea associated with these conditions is now treated with low
doses of Haldol, Stemetil or Gravol. Even more effective are the newer
(albeit expensive) medications, Kytril and Zofran.

NO What is the best treatment for the nausea which is so often an extra
cross to bear for patients receiving chemotherapy or dying of AIDS? It is
essential to stop the nausea and vomiting so that patients may gain
strength to withstand illness and take medications with meals.

Compared to these currently used medications, smokeable marijuana is highly
overrated; it is not consistently effective because the inhaled dose is
difficult to control, and, therefore, not medically useful. In fact, the
active ingredient in marijuana (THC or tetrahydrocannabinol) is already
available by prescription in Canada and the U.S. as Cesamet and Marinol.
Excess doses of oral or suppository forms of these drugs do make patients
drowsy and dizzy with blurred vision. Yet despite the occasional dramatic
example of how smokeable marijuana stops nausea, there is simply no
evidence among any analyzed cohort of patients that marijuana bestows an
advantage over the current medications.

Now that hospitals have finally been made smoke-free, the idea of inviting
marijuana smoke on to cancer or AIDS wards should make hospital workers
gasp. Marijuana cigarettes - which contain some 400 known chemicals and
possibly many more unknown chemicals whose effects are potentially
dangerous - have at least 50 per cent more tar than tobacco cigarettes.
Moreover, marijuana smoke usually irritates the bronchi, causing bronchitis
and pre-cancerous lung pathology, all not helpful to patients who are
getting along reasonably well.

From a medical viewpoint, there is no over-all benefit to be gained by
legalizing marijuana and having it readily available. To be approved by the
Health Protection Branch in Ottawa, marijuana must be safe and effective.
Smokeable marijuana is not pure, and the inhaled doses are impossible to
regulate, so that any results are unpredictable - both the sought-after
results (relief of nausea or pain) and unwanted effects (mental confusion
and lung irritation).

Marijuana is not particularly safe. Its public health hazards far outweigh
any potential salutary benefits. In addition to pre-cancerous bronchitis,
the long-term hazards of marijuana include confusion, brain damage, highway
deaths, work accidents, spousal abuse and neglect, increased risk of
genetic abnormalities, and a high potential for addiction.

Would legalization of medicinal marijuana result in increased usage?
Probably. One piece of evidence is a Council on Drug Abuse survey, which
asked Canadian teenagers if they would use more if marijuana were accorded
legal or quasi-legal status; 30 per cent of respondents said they would. If
this were the case, increased use of marijuana would lead to more
use-related accidents and medical complications.

There is no evidence that marijuana offers benefits over current
medications. Even if such evidence did exist, it should be evaluated not by
speculation, hearsay or by arguments purporting to champion civil
``liberties,'' but by the same rigourous scientific standards to which we
subject all new drugs and medications.

***

Neil Seeman is a lawyer currently studying health policy at the Harvard
School of Public Health. Philip Seeman is professor of pharmacology and
psychiatry and the Max and Anne Tanenbaum Chair of Neuroscience at the
University of Toronto.

***

What do you think? We'll publish a selection of views in a column on the
Letters page next Monday. Please limit responses to about 50 words.

Write:

Readers Face-Off,
1 Yonge St.,
Toronto, M5E 1E6
(fax: 416-869-4322
(e-mail: lettertoed@thestar.ca).
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Straw Warns Of Perils Of Legalising Cannabis (Disgraced British
Home Secretary Too Thick To Realize It)

Date: Mon, 5 Jan 1998 14:07:18 -0800
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
From: jwjohnson@netmagic.net (Joel W. Johnson)
Subject: MN: UK: Straw Warns of Perils of Legalising Cannabis
Source: The Times (UK)
Contact: letters@the-times.co.uk
Pubdate: Mon, 05 Jan 1998
Authors: Ian Brodie in Washington and Roger Boyes in Bonn

STRAW WARNS OF PERILS OF LEGALISING CANNABIS

JACK STRAW spoke yesterday of the dangers of decriminalising cannabis and
said the move would lead to a big increase in consumption in England and
Wales.

The Home Secretary, whose son William is expected to be told this week
whether he is to be prosecuted for allegedly selling the drug, reiterated
his strong belief that it should remain illegal.

He said: "We have to get across to young people that it's not because
ageing wrinklies have tried to stop people having fun. It's because
scientific evidence is that these [so-called soft drugs] are potentially
very dangerous."

He said that one consequence of decriminalisation would be that the price
would fall. "Many people would feel that they would use it anyway,
regardless of the consequences, so consumption would very significantly
increase."

In Alaska, a period in which marijuana was legalised led to a doubling in
the rate of use among teenagers until voters passed a measure to
recriminalise the drug. In 1975, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled that
possession of up to 4oz of marijuana at home for personal use was protected
by the privacy rights in the state's constitution. Fifteen years later,
citizens sponsored an anti-drug referendum to reverse the ruling. It passed
by a margin of 55 per cent to 45 per cent, making possession of small
amounts of marijuana punishable by up to three months in prison and a fine
of $1,000 (#600).

At least two American studies have found that marijuana use increases among
youths if drugs are easier to obtain. Jill Jones, who began her research
favouring legalisation, concluded in her history of drug abuse in America
that making illegal drugs more available and acceptable tended only to
exacerbate the problem.

A University of Michigan study, Monitoring the Future, found that marijuana
use rose among 18-years-olds within a year of them perceiving that the risk
of being caught had decreased. Greater ease of obtaining marijuana at
ever-younger ages contributed to an increase of 150 per cent among
13-year-olds.

In Europe, drug experts are divided as to how decriminalising cannabis
would influence consumption. Some believe there would be no impact, others
calculate that there would be only a short-term increase and sociologists
say that here would be a significant and lasting rise in soft-drug smokers.

The Munich Institute for Therapy Research claims that an increase in
soft-drug use would be inevitable. It says decriminalisation allows soft
drugs to assume a "normal" image and creates the likelihood that growth
patterns will follow the example of legal drugs such as alcohol and
tobacco. "In particular, young people can be expected to have a
disproportionately high increase in cannabis consumption, since it would be
even more difficult to control their access to soft drugs," it says.

The institute adds that decriminalisation leads to greater personal usage
by those who already smoke cannabis, wider availability for those who have
never tried the drug and the lowering of the threshold to hard-drug abuse.

Opinion surveys in Hamburg showed that about 14 per cent of heavy consumers
of soft drugs showed an interest in using heroin "once or twice". Only 2
per cent of non-drug users were curious about experimenting with it.

Social policy experts in The Netherlands, the main country to practise
decriminalisation, have found that cannabis use has become relatively
widespread among sixth-formers, who can often be seen in coffee shops at
around 5pm having a smoke before doing their homework. There is also a
crossover between the tolerated sale of cannabis in coffee shops and the
availability of Ecstasy, which is illegal, but is regarded by much of
European youth as an acceptably "social" drug.

Cannabis rules in Europe:

Germany: tolerated in small quantities (about 10g) in some states.

Belgium: no decriminalisation but reform planned.

France: no decriminalisation but soft drug possession usually results only
in a warning.

Holland: 30g cannabis and 1g heroin or cocaine tolerated.
Italy and Sweden: no decriminalisation.
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Cannabis - Teenagers' Drug Of Choice (British Prohibition Increases Usage -
Recent Study Says 13 Percent Of People Under 40 In Britain Used Pot
In Past Year, Highest Rate In EU)

Date: Tue, 6 Jan 1998 00:15:11 -0800
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
From: jwjohnson@netmagic.net (Joel W. Johnson)
Subject: MN: Cannabis: Teenagers' Drug of Choice
Source: Sunday Times UK
Contact: editor@sunday-times.co.uk
Pubdate: Mon, 5 Jan 1998

CANNABIS: TEENAGER'S DRUG OF CHOICE

The British like their cannabis more than most. About 13% of people under
40 used the drug in the past year, according to a recent study, a higher
level than any other country in the EU. The levels of experimentation are
also high: among British people under 40 nearly 30% have tried cannabis at
one time or another, and the level is even higher among teenagers. 37% of
them have tried the drug at least once.

It is regarded as the drug of choice by many school-age youngsters, easily
surpassing the use of amphetamines, ecstasy and other drugs. But Britain
also has considerably higher levels of experimentation with 'dance-drugs',
such as amphetamines, than all other European countries. Figures from a
European Union study published two months ago also show that 12% of British
15 and 16-year-olds have tried the hallucinogenic LSD compared with 4.5% in
Spain, the country with the next highest level.

The mind altering ingredient in cannabis acts as a depressant
and hallucinogenic, which takes effect within seven seconds and promotes a
feeling of relaxation and wellbeing. However, long-term cannabis smoking
can increase the risk of bronchitis and lung cancer.
There is also some evidence that cannabis causes certain
specific cancers in its own right, particularly in the head and neck region.

The efficacy of the drug for pain relief is disputed but campaigners have
sought for it to be prescribed for sufferers of multiple sclerosis. Jack
Straw emphasised yesterday that he saw cannabis as a 'narcotic and
dangerous'. But he said: "There is no reason at all why cannabis should not
be available for medicinal purposes if people can prove it has a
therapeutic effect. Heroin is available and it is more dangerous."

Doctors cannot prescribe cannabis but Straw suggested that they and
pharmaceutical companies could apply to the health department and Home
Office for licences to research medicinal uses of cannabis.

Jonathon Carr-Brown
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Drugs Tsar Begins Work In Earnest (Keith Hellawell Assumes Office As UK
Anti-Drugs Co-Ordinator While Continuing As West Yorkshire's Chief Constable)

Date: Wed, 07 Jan 1998 22:29:15 -0500
To: DrugSense News Service 
From: Richard Lake 
Subject: MN: UK: Drugs Tsar Begins Work In Earnest
Newshawk: Zosimos 
Source: The Independent (UK)
Contact: letters@independent.co.uk
Pubdate: 5 Jan 1998

DRUGS TSAR BEGINS WORK IN EARNEST

Britain's new "drugs tsar" formally took up his post yesterday. Keith
Hellawell has been working two days a week since October at his new role of
UK Anti-drugs Co-ordinator while continuing as Chief Constable of West
Yorkshire.

He is due to report his recommendations for action to the drugs minister
George Howarth and to the Cabinet committee in April.

Labour MP Paul Flynn, chairman of the Commons drug misuse group, said that
Mr Hellawell's job came with a "derisory budget and his task is to
repackage failed policies".

He will be helped in his 102,000-a-year post by a deputy, Michael Trace,
36, currently director of the Rehabilitation for Addicted Prisoners' Trust,
and a staff of six.

Mr Hellawell arrived at his new Whitehall offices overlooking St James's
Park for his first day in the post yesterday morning making no comments on
the task ahead of him as he posed for photographs.

Mr Hellawell has warned against seeking "simplistic" answers to the problem
of drugs.

Paul Cavadino, principal officer of the National Association for the Care
and Resettlement of Offenders, urged him to use his role to shift resources
away from law enforcement and towards treatment of addicts.

He said: "Of the resources currently allocated to dealing with drugs,
two-thirds are spent on enforcing the law and just one-third on education,
prevention and treatment."
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Cannabis Hypocrisy (Six Letters To The Editor Of 'The Independent'
On The Arrest Of The Son Of Jack Straw, Britain's Top Drug-Law Enforcer)

Date: Thu, 8 Jan 1998 06:25:51 -0800 (PST)
To: editor@mapinc.org
From: arandell@islandnet.com (Alan Randell)
Subject: Letters: Cannabis hypocrisy
Resent-From: mattalk@listserv.islandnet.com
Pubdate: January 5, 1998
Source: The Independent (UK)
Contact: Letters@independent.co.uk
URL: http://www.independent.co.uk/stories/C0501802.html

Cannabis hypocrisy

Sir: I am once again appalled at the amount of time and
public money being spent prosecuting a person for an
offence involving a virtually harmless plant - cannabis.
By now it should be clear that cannabis is remarkably
safe. This has been confirmed by every major government
and scientific investigation including our own 1968 Royal
Commission report.

Laws are meant to protect people and society, not simply
impose the will of the Government on its citizens.
Recently beef on the bone, like cannabis, has been
declared dangerous. Yet known poisons and dangers, not
only the likes of alcohol and tobacco but also clingfilm,
pesticides, pollutants and food additives, are
allowed.

The act of Jack Straw's son in supplying cannabis had no
victim; nobody was hurt (except possibly the pride of his
father). Millions of people have supplied each other with
cannabis since this case has been in the press, with no
harm done. The only victims will be the lad himself - a
victim of a nonsense law - and the public, who will foot
the bill.

What we need is truth, not a nanny state run by
hypocritical individuals who seem hardly capable of living
within their own rules.

Ann Clarke, Norwich

***

Sir: We are fascinated by the irony of a strict Home
Office minister with a son in trouble with the law. But
shouldn't we be disgusted by the journalist who makes a
name for herself out of reporting the alleged petty
misdemeanours of a schoolboy in which she colluded. Has
journalism learnt nothing from the events of 1997?

The Rev Stephen Leeke, Warboys,
Cambridgeshire

***

Sir: The small quantity of cannabis in the Straw affair
was allegedly sold in a pub.

It seems odd that our society is one where huge
quantities of alcohol are regularly sold with impunity to
people with many disastrous results, whilst a substance
widely regarded by physicians and criminologists as
responsible for virtually no harm is treated as a terrible
social menace.

Alcohol Concern reports that about 4,000 people die each
year from conditions directly attributable to alcohol, but
cites evidence that puts the real figure much higher, at
about 30,000 deaths. Police reports have suggested that as
much as 70 per cent of offending, including almost all
youth violence, is related to alcohol.

Many of the issues in this area deserve much more open
and sober debate than they have hitherto received.

Dr Gary Slapper, Director, The Law
Programme, The Open University,
Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire

***

Sir: Jack Straw has done a lot of preaching whenever he's
had the chance. Not just his personal credibility as
Labour's leading control-freak but the credibility of
authoritarian socialism has sustained a heavy and well-
deserved blow.

I wait with interest to see which hapless minority is
going to be deluged with Home Office and Labour Party
claptrap to divert public attention from his predicament.

N R Bassett, London N19

***

Sir: Jack Straw should not be hounded because of the
exploits of his son. Mr Straw has done nothing improper
and those who might think it could never happen to them
should think again. Any unsuspecting parent may suddenly
get the same surprise, even the most law-abiding.

John Walton, Walsall, West Midlands

***

Sir: Given the fiasco over the identity of the Cabinet
minister's son, perhaps The Independent might kindly set
up an offshore Internet site so that it could offer its
readership prompt news about things which dare not speak
their names in Britain.

Martin Hoskins, London N4
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Slaughter Of Innocents In Colombia (US-Funded War On Some Drugs
Lets Military Quietly Help Paramilitary Groups Grab Control Of Land,
Resources And Political Power, Killing And Displacing Thousands)

Date: Tue, 6 Jan 1998 20:59:20 -0800
Subject: MN: Slaughter Of Innocents In Colombia
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Newshawk: "Tom O'Connell" 
Source: San Francisco Chronicle
Contact: chronletters@sfgate.com
Pubdate: Mon, 5 Jan 1998
Author: Leslie Wirpsa

SLAUGHTER OF INNOCENTS IN COLUMBIA
Paramilitary killers prey on peasants

Bogota

Father Leonidas Moreno, a Catholic priest working in the embattled region
of Uraba in northwestern Colombia had hoped to give 520 peasants displaced
by death squad violence an unusual year-end present-after nine months as
internal refugees, he was going to help them go home for Christmas.

The peasants were among 10,000 inhabitants who fled paramilitary violence
and army aerial bombardments in the municipality of Riosucio, farther
south, in April, finding refuge in shelters of plastic and bamboo in the
sweaty hamlet of Pavarando.

But instead of a homeward journey, the refugees ended up making room in
their makeshift sanctuary on December 22 for a group of 500 more peasants
wrenched from their riverside farms after a new wave of paramilitary
attacks in the Riosuclo area.

"We were all set to go," Moreno said in a telephone interview from his
office in the town of Apartado. "Now, we cannot move freely in the area."

According to the Center for Research and Popular Education (CINEP), a
respected human rights think tank in Bogota, at least 26 peasants were
killed and their bodies thrown into a river after paramilitary groups began
a campaign in mid-December to "cleanse" leftist guerrillas and their
alleged supporters from a string of five hamlets in the Riosucio region.

Fighting between the paramilitaries and rebel forces set off the new
exodus. Peasants told stories of burying more bodies in common graves
before leaving.

During recent years, a network of paramilitary groups, calling themselves
self-defense squads, have spread throughout Colombia, grabbing control of
land, resources and political power.

At times working with army patrols, other times independently, they conduct
what the leaders call counterinsurgency "cleansings" of entire regions. The
campaigns resemble the "scorched earth" brutality of the death squads and
armies fighting Central American rebels in the l980s.

"These confrontations . . . are becoming institutionalized," Moreno said.
"The international community should demand that the government protect the
peasants and their land because when they abandon it, they lose
everything."

Those who wanted to return to Riosucio from exile had declared themselves a
neutral "peace community" and were trying to negotiate being left alone by
all the armed parties.

The strategy has been touted by the Catholic Church as a possible way to
shield innocent civilians, but successes so far have been few and far
between-a reflection of the staggering extent to which violence has become
commonplace in Colombia.

Military officials have admitted only superficial connections between
members of the armed forces and the paramilitaries. Army commanders and
government officials claim that the military fights guerrillas and
paramilitaries with equal vigor.

But a decade of judicial probes, classified documents, human rights
investigations and even reports from the U.S. State Department have
revealed direct links between the Colombian military and paramilitary
groups.

"We all know the military supports the paramilitaries. There are enough
testimonies, cases where there is clear support," said the Rev. Alonzo
Ferro, director of the Jesuit-run Program for Peace in Bogota. "The
paramilitaries do the dirty work."

Francisco Leal, a political scientist and dean of social sciences at
Bogota's prestigious Los Andes University, says Colombia's military is
"articulated with the paramilitaries, with powerful economic interests
(and) with the forces most resistant to reform-the landowners."

He added that the bewildering overlap of "interests" includes the country's
cash-laden drug lords, whom he said it was impossible to "separate from the
landowners and the military."

works to counterinsurgency models passed on to the Colombian armed forces
through U.S. training courses and directives from military and intelligence
advisers.

The Human Rights Watch report states that the United States bolstered the
paramilitary trend in 1990 by sending a team of CIA and U.S. military
strategists to Colombia to help enhance the "efficiency and effectiveness"
of Colombia's military intelligence.

The result of those consultations, the report asserts, was a Colombian
military document that "provided a blueprint for . . . a secret network
that relied on paramilitaries not only for intelligence but to carry out
murder."

The savagery of Colombia's paramilitaries is stunning; it is not uncommon
for peasants to be dismembered while they still are alive.

In some areas of Uraba, death squad members are called "mochacabezas," or
head-hackers, because they decapitate victims with machetes. In one case in
1996 in Apartado, the killers chopped off a primary school student's head
in front of his classmates.

The powerful landowners who sponsor many of the paramilitaries include drug
lords. According to Colombian academics and U.S. Senate sources, the
traffickers have snapped up an estimated 30 percent of the country's most
fertile land after hordes of peasants fled paramilitary attacks.

Colombian and international human right monitors cite paramilitary
violence, followed by guerrilla and army attacks, as the primary cause of
displacement of more than one million people from rural areas during the
past decade.

Statistics from a data bank run by CINEP and the Intercongregational
Commission for Justice and Peace show that paramilitary squads do indeed
perform "the dirty work"-74 percent of the noncombat killings of civilians.

Overall, 11 people a day die from political violence in Colombia, and
general homicide tallies are expected to top the 30,000 mark for 1997,
giving Colombia one of the highest rates per capita in the world.

In recent years, the paramilitaries have grown in firepower and audacity,
holding national meetings and intensifying attacks on intellectuals, human
rights investigators, unionists and individuals employed by both government
and nongovernmental organizations working with the displaced.

For example, in July, paramilitaries were suspected of threatening a
delegation of U.N. and Colombian judicial officials who had traveled to the
Riosucio region to investigate the causes for the exodus of the first group
of 10,000 peasants.

"Leave or we'll blow you up," read a penciled threat slipped under a motel
room door.

As the right-wing mini-armies have gained control of key, resource-rich
areas, leftist guerrillas have intensified violent campaigns to maintain
their own territorial and political dominance.

So widespread is the conflict that a group of 30 Colombian intellectuals
issued a collective plea in August for U.N. mediation of the violence in
the countryside before Colombia turns into "another Bosnia-Herzegovina."

WHAT'S AT STAKE IN RIOSUCIO

* For the interests bankrolling Colombia's paramilitary gunmen, there is
much at stake in the Riosucio region. Hugging the Panamanian border, it is
a fertile swath of Choco, the only Colombian province with both Pacific and
Caribbean coasts.

* Local residents, municipal authorities and church sources say the area is
expected to become part of a strategic corridor of international trade as
plans advance for the construction of two seaports and a "dry canal"- a
belt of highway for the transport of goods between the waterways. This
development project could serve as a complement to the Panama Canal. The
area also would benefit from plans to extend the Pan American Highway
through the Darien jungle, a project that would link Panama to Colombia.
Presently, no major road connects Central America and South America. Land
values in the region are expected to climb with the onslaught of
development.

"What is worth 200,000 pesos a hectare today will be worth 5 million pesos
before long, with the canal," said Marco Aurelio Renteria, the local
council ombudsman for human rights in the municipality of Riosucio.

* Riosucio and the neighboring banana lands in Uraba also harbor mineral
resources, tropical hardwoods, top quality coal mines, excellent farm and
grazing land and, reportedly, oil. The zone also is a key launching pad for
the weapons and narcotics trade.
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Venezuelan Drug Allegations Probed (Major Caracas Newspapers Report
Colombian Drug Traffickers May Be Financing Election Campaigns
For Two Leftist Parties In Zulia, In Northwestern Venezuela)

Date: Tue, 6 Jan 1998 21:12:21 -0800
Subject: MN: WIRE: Venezuelan Drug Allegations Probed
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Newshawk: Marcus-Mermelstein Family 
Source: Wire
Pubdate: Mon, 5 Jan 1998

VENEZUELAN DRUG ALLEGATIONS PROBED

By The Associated Press

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- Officials ordered an investigation Monday into
reports that Colombian drug traffickers seeking cheaper routes for
U.S.-bound cocaine and marijuana may be financing local election campaigns
in neighboring Venezuela.

Major Caracas newspapers reported Monday that federal investigators
recently arrived in northwestern Venezuela, where a vast jungle border with
Colombia has long served as a jumping off point for drug smuggling, to
investigate the alleged payments to two leftist parties.

The newspaper reports could not be independently confirmed.

If true, the reports would be yet another sign that Colombian kingpins,
frustrated with Mexican smugglers who charge exorbitant prices for running
drugs, are looking to shift more of their business to Venezuela.

The papers, citing local officials in the state of Zulia, said the U.S.
Drug Enforcement Administration was aiding the investigation. But the U.S.
Embassy in Caracas issued a statement Monday saying it ``can affirm that no
DEA agents have been in Zulia state during the month of December.''

Venezuela's top drug official, Carlos Tablante, told The Associated Press
he had no information about any illicit payments in Zulia.

But the attorney general's office issued its own communique saying it was
ordering an investigation into the newspaper reports.

Front-page stories in most of Venezuela's major newspapers Monday reported
that traffickers from Colombia's Guajira Peninsula, a center of drug
cultivation and smuggling, were pouring money into the campaigns of
Venezuelan politicians in the runup to December 1998 elections.

Among the sources cited by newspapers was Zulia state Governor Francisco
Arias Cardenas, who told the AP on Monday that he did not mean to ``make
accusations against anyone.'' And he characterized the probe as a general
investigation into drug trafficking and money laundering in Zulia.

Venezuela is a traditional transshipment point for U.S.- and Europe-bound
Colombian drugs. But in recent years, up to 80 percent of the cocaine
consumed in the United States passed through Mexico, where traffickers
often demand payment in kind from their Colombian suppliers: a kilo of
cocaine for every kilo smuggled.

Tired of paying such high prices, the Colombians are increasingly returning
to the Caribbean routes used during the heyday of the Medellin cartel in
the 1980's, U.S. officials say.

Venezuela, with 1,300 miles of largely unpatrolled border with Colombia and
a corrupt, inefficient judiciary, offers a logical path to the Caribbean
Sea.
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Trafficking Of Heroin From Burma Diverted Elsewhere (Thailand Loses Its
Through-route Status As Traffickers Move To Burma's Shan State And The
Southern Chinese Town Of Kunming; However, Amphetamines, Marijuana
And Ecstasy Now Flood Thailand From Neighbouring Countries)

Date: Mon, 5 Jan 1998 14:45:34 -0800
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
From: jwjohnson@netmagic.net (Joel W. Johnson)
Subject: MN: Trafficking of Heroin from Burma Diverted Elsewhere
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Source: Bangkok Post
Contact: postbag@bangkokpost.net
Pubdate: Mon, 5 Jan 1998
Author: Anucha Charoenpa

TRAFFICKING OF HEROIN FROM BURMA DIVERTED ELSEWHERE

Kingdom has lost its through-route status

Thailand is no longer a popular through-route for the trafficking of heroin
from Burma to other nations.

However, it is now a market for amphetamines, marijuana and ecstasy pills
coming in from neighbouring countries.

Four to five years ago Thailand was the favoured country for moving drugs
out of Burma but tough action, particularly by the Border Patrol Police
during the last government of Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, has clamped down on
the smuggling.

Several drug suppression agencies have set up local units along the
850-km border which runs along the northern provinces of Mae Hong Son,
Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. These are opposite the heroin-production bases
in Burma.

The action means that drug producers are now transporting heroin via
Burma's Shan state to the southern Chinese town of Kunming. From there it
goes to Europe, America and other Southeast Asian nations. The new route is
protected by thick jungle.

Transportation involves either a caravan of animals or boats along the
Salween river. The drugs are then loaded onto vehicles to take them to
Kunming. They then go either direct to overseas markets or via Laos and
Vietnam.

Despite former drug lord Khun Sa's surrender to the Burmese junta two years
ago, opium plantations and heroin production remain under the control of
ethnic groups and former followers of Khun Sa.

Border police said the activities help raise money for their movements.

However, cheaper-to-use amphetamines are flooding into Thailand to meet
demand from labourers and students.

Burma is also the source and there are plenty of production bases near
Thailand's northern provinces.

Cambodia is another source, with the drug produced in areas opposite the
Thai border from Rayong up to Si Sa Ket province.

Laos supplies marijuana with plantations common in Savannakhet opposite
Nakhon Phanom.

Border police said the Laotian authorities supported marijuana growing as a
way of generating foreign exchange for national development projects.

And the South is the gateway for ecstasy tablets, which are smuggled in
from Singapore.
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Loei Now Major Drug Gateway (Most Drugs Entering Thailand
Now Said To Come From Laos; Amphetamine Is Most Popular)

Date: Mon, 5 Jan 1998 14:49:51 -0800
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
From: jwjohnson@netmagic.net (Joel W. Johnson)
Subject: MN: Thailand: Loei Now Major Drug Gateway
Source: Bangkok Post
Contact: postbag@bangkokpost.net
Pubdate: Mon, 5 Jan 1998
http://www.bangkokpost.com
Author: Thongchai Chaisa

LOEI NOW MAJOR DRUG GATEWAY

Amphetamine is the most popular choice

The northeastern province of Loei is now a major gateway for narcotics
smuggled into Thailand from Laos.

The number of drug cases and suspects arrested more than doubled last year,
putting the authorities under severe pressure.

The border province has proved a popular gateway because it is separated
from Laos only by the narrow Huang river, which dries up in some parts
during the summer, and the Mekong.

Narcotic sources say the trade is so rampant that one can ask for
amphetamines from a villager, who will then hop into a boat, cross the
river to Laos and return with the drug just a few hours later. Amphetamine
is proving the most popular choice.

Production bases exist in the Laotian town of Kaen Thao, in Saibouri
province, opposite Loei's Thali district. They are run by Laotians but
funded by Thais.

Anti-narcotics officials give most of their attention to smuggled
amphetamines because they are cheap to produce but returns are high.

An amphetamine pill costs 30 baht in Laos but 100-130 baht in Thailand.

"A lot of people have become drug traffickers. Despite arrests they usually
return to the same business after being freed. Some people are frequent
residents of the local prison here," said an official who did not want to
be named.

Traffickers use a range of smuggling tactics, including removing the copper
from plastic-covered wire and then filling it with amphetamine pills.

They are then fitted to motorcycles to look like part of the bike. The drug
has also been found hidden in side mirrors, shock absorbers, and brakes.

Sometimes the motorcycles are seized by the drug suppliers if the Thais
fail to clear their debts.

A Laotian policeman revealed that drug gangs in Kaen Thao were more heavily
armed than the local authorities and therefore difficult to suppress.

Several Laotian officials had been killed in raids so suppression work had
been suspended.

In Thailand the number of drug cases between January and November last year
increased by 124 percent to 597, and the number of arrests was up by 113
percent to 649, compared with the same period in 1996.

Local police seized 2.1 tons of opium, 1.7 tons of dried marijuana, 107
tons of fresh marijuana, and 134 kilogrammes of amphetamines (about 130,000
pills) during the period.

As of the middle of last month Loei provincial prison was overcrowded with
856 prisoners. It is supposed to accommodate 454, said prison commander
Vijit Somrak. The prison was now running out of money.

Mr Vijit expects the number to rise to 1,000 by March. The jail has only 51
staff.
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Sex Toy Claim Leads To US Airport Drug Bust (Man Claiming To Have 'Dildo'
Arouses Suspicion In San Francisco)

Date: Tue, 6 Jan 1998 22:27:04 -0800
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
From: jwjohnson@netmagic.net (Joel W. Johnson)
Subject: MN: US: WIRE: Sex Toy Claim Leads to U.S. Airport Drug Bust
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Source: Reuters
Pubdate: Mon, 5 Jan 1998

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan 5 (Reuters) - A man who refused to have his luggage
inspected at an airport on grounds it contained a sex toy was arrested when
authorities found $50,000 worth of marijuana inside his bags, police said
on Monday.

Sgt. Joe Reilly of the San Francisco Police Department's airport bureau
said Kenneth Castor, 39, was arrested on Saturday morning after trying to
carry two duffel bags with him on board a flight to Honolulu.

Guards at the airport's security checkpoint spotted something unusual in
the X-ray scan of his bags and asked to search them, but Castor refused.
The guards called police after Castor grabbed his bags and marched back
through the metal detector toward the ticketing area.

Reilly said police found Castor trying to check his bags at the airline
ticket counter, where he declined to have them X-rayed because he said they
included a ``dildo.'' A search of the bags turned up 10 pounds (4.5 kg) of
marijuana, which has a street value of about $10,000, Reilly said.

Castor, a Hawaii resident, was booked into San Mateo County Jail on charges
of possession, sale and transportation of marijuana.

Police were unable to find a sex toy in Castor's bags.
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Book Review - 'Better Living Through Chemistry - The Chemistry
Of Mind-Altering Drugs - History, Pharmacology And Cultural'
('Caffeine Is The Only Known Drug That Causes Laboratory Rats
To Attack Each Other Or Mutilate Themselves')

Date: Thu, 8 Jan 1998 20:09:23 EST
From: adbryan@onramp.net
To: Multiple recipients of list 
Subject: BOOK REVIEW: Better living through chemistry
Drug related articles can be found in the strangest of places.
>From Chemistry and Industry Magazine (UK) Issue 1 Jan. 5 98
http://ci.mond.org
editor@chemind.demon.co.uk (Maria Burke)

Better living through chemistry

The chemistry of mind-altering drugs: history, pharmacology and cultural

Daniel M Perrine
Washington: American Chemical Society 1996
Ppx+480, $39.95, ISBN 0 8412 3253 9

One of the many badges popular in the late 1960s reproduced a well-known
motto of E I DuPont: 'Better things for better living through
chemistry'. Although the actual chemicals the hippies referred to were
quite different from those intended by the old industrialist, their
basic philosophy was the same. All human problems, whether material or
internal, could be solved by the appliance of science.

Mind-altering, or psychoactive, drugs are many and varied in both effect
and social standing. But whether legal and freely available, legal but
at least nominally controlled by prescription, or damned as having
little or no medicinal use and subject to tight legal control, they are
generally used for the same fundamental purpose - to provide a quick-fix
solution to problems physical, spiritual or emotional. In a
technological society, what is there to object to in that?

The defining factor in judging which psychoactive drugs are made illegal
is their tendency or potential for abuse. It would perhaps be cynical to
say that the drugs which are prohibited are the ones that people
actually want to take, but the scheduling or classification of
psychoactive substances can barely withstand rational scrutiny. It is a
well-worn argument that the three most commonly used drugs, alcohol,
caffeine and nicotine, are only legal by historical precedent and
current economics. Nicotine is the most addictive drug known, more so
than smoked methamphetamine or crack cocaine, while caffeine is the only
known drug that causes laboratory rats to attack each other or mutilate
themselves.

Marijuana, the most commonly used illegal drug, compares favourably with
alcohol in terms of health, and would certainly have fewer disruptive
social effects. However, its association with perceived 'undesirables'
means that it is generally forbidden even for medical use, despite
proven results against nausea, glaucoma and spasticity. In the US,
marijuana is a Schedule I drug with no accepted medical use, although
its active ingredient, Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol, is available as the
Schedule II Marinol. Meanwhile, the use of marijuana in the UK at least
is so common, indeed almost ubiquitous, that its decriminalisation seems
only a matter of time.

Aldous Huxley's Brave new world postulated the ultimate technological
society, where all personal problems could be solved by a dose of
'Soma', a visionary chemical to produce 'sane men, obedient men, stable
in their contentment'. Legal, socially-accepted marijuana could be one
step towards that world, for better or for worse, but any further steps
would have to be led by the pharmaceutical industry.

The industry has certainly been responsible for the synthesis and
initial promotion of many of the 'recreational' psychoactives. Heroin
was marketed by Bayer in the 1890s as a 'heroic' non-addictive
alternative to morphine; amphetamine was popularised by Smith Kline and
Frencinitial promotion of many of the 'recreational' psychoactives.
Heroin was marketed by Bayer in the 1890s as a 'heroic' non-addictive
alternative to morphine; amphetamine was popularised by Smith Kline and
French in the 1920s; LSD was famously isolated by Albert Hofmann of
Sandoz; MDMA, or ecstasy, was patented by Merck in 1912; PCP and
ketamine, both of which can have deeply grim consequences when used
recklessly, were developed by Parke-Davis as anaesthetics. Of course,
these companies are

But if a perfect Soma-like drug, delivering instant harmless bliss in
tablet form, were developed, would and should the pharmaceutical
industry get involved? If the drug was medically harmless, it would be
hard to justify banning it on grounds of potential for abuse. And, in a
free market, the profits could be staggering.

Dave Nicholls, professor of medicinal chemistry at Purdue University,
has said that most pharmaceutical companies would be quite willing to
market LSD-like psychedelic drugs, if only they were sure of a market of
at least USD300M/a. Professor Marshall Marinker, a leading healthcare
consultant, recently looked forward to pharmaceutical companies
developing 'safe and highly targeted psychotropics', noting that 'these
may be not only therapeutic, but recreational.'

But what of the human effect of the widespread use of mind-altering
substances, approved and controlled by the highest social powers? As the
logical extension of the quest for a technological solution to every
human problem, it would certainly not be the end of society as we now
it. Whether or not a total dependence on quick-fix technological
solutions to deeper human problems would be a good thing or not is a
matter for politics or philosophy rather than science.

Anyone involved in the continuing debate about the use and effects of
mind-altering drugs, whatever position they may take, would do well to
read Perrine's excellent book. It belongs to the currently unfashionable
genre of descriptive chemistry, grouping its subjects into six loose
categories: opium and the opiates; depressants; stimulants;
antipsychotics and antidepressants; psychedelics; and dissociatives and
cannabinoids. The molecular structure and pharmacolmind-altering drugs,
whatever position they may take, would do well to read Perrine's
excellent book. It belongs to the currently unfashionable genre of
descriptive chemistry, grouping its subjects into six loose categories:
opium and the opiates; depressants; stimulants; antipsychotics and
antidepressants; psychedelics; and dissociative

This cornucopia of often arcane information, combined with a lucid
writing style, makes the book a delight to read. This would be the
perfect book to interest the intelligent but reluctant student in many
areas of organic chemistry. The first chapter introduces concepts of
neurology and pharmacology, and there is a lengthy appendix detailing
the basics of organic structure. Synthesis methods are given for many of
the drugs, but not in enough detail to allow the average student to
start his own production line.

My only criticism would be of the small bias towards patterns of drug
abuse in the US. While there are full details of the
dextromethorphan-slurping 'Robo weekends' popular in US college circles,
for example, there is nothing on the abuse of the short-acting
benzodiazepine temazepam in mainly Scottish heroin users - a phenomenon
that has led some observers to dub temazepam 'the cure for being
Glaswegian'. Such quibbles aside, I would unreservedly recommend this
book to anyone interested in psychoactive substances, whether
researcher, legislator, student or user. And please note that none of
those categories are necessarily exclusive.

Tim Chapman is a journalist and writer with a purely intellectual
interest in the sociology and psychology of drug use.

-------------------------------------------------------------------

[End]

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