------------------------------------------------------------------- Yes on Initiative 692, medical marijuana (A staff editorial in The Seattle Times says the ballot measure puts an intensely private medical decision in the hands of those who know what's best for their health - doctors and patients.) From: "Bob Owen@W.H.E.N." (firstname.lastname@example.org) To: "-News" (email@example.com) Subject: Yes on Initiative 692 (medical marijuana) Date: Sun, 18 Oct 1998 10:10:04 -0700 Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright (c) 1998 The Seattle Times Company Posted at 06:48 p.m. PDT; Sunday, October 18, 1998 Seattle Times Editorial Yes on Initiative 692 (medical marijuana) SHOULD patients with terminal illnesses or debilitating pain be allowed to smoke marijuana prescribed by their doctors without fear of criminal prosecution? That is the question posed by Initiative 692. Voters should say yes to this responsible and compassionate measure that puts an intensely private medical decision in the hands of those who know what's best for their health: doctors and patients. Last fall, voters wisely rejected Initiative 685, a sweeping drug-policy reform measure that would have revised penalties for drug possession and allowed medical use of marijuana - as well as many other controlled substances such as LSD and heroin. The message sent by I-685's overwhelming defeat: Keep it simple, keep it narrow, and ensure the safe prescription of pot strictly for pain relief. The new and improved measure before voters this year is a model for other states. First, I-692 deals with medical marijuana only - not an entire class of drugs. It clearly prohibits the use of marijuana for non-medical purposes. Licensed, certified physicians must authorize and provide valid documentation that the potential benefits of medical marijuana outweigh the risks for a qualifying patient. Tightly drawn criteria for qualifying patients must be met. The patient must have a terminal or debilitating medical condition defined as cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, glaucoma, or intractable pain unrelievable by any other standard medical treatment. New medical conditions can be added only with approval of the Washington state Medical Quality Assurance Board. To address legitimate concerns about "sending the wrong message to kids," there are strong safeguards in place against the open, circus-like atmosphere of cannabis clubs in California. The measure explicitly forbids public use or display of medical marijuana, makes it a class C felony to fake medical documentation, and does not allow medical-marijuana use to be a defense against reckless driving. The initiative is silent on how doctors and patients will obtain the prescribed drug. Many will simply continue to subscribe to an existing nonprofit medical marijuana network, the acclaimed Green Cross Patient Co-op on Bainbridge Island, which provides controlled, doctor-supervised supplies to patients with spinal cord injuries, AIDS, multiple sclerosis and cancer. I-692 would remove the wink-and-nod law-enforcement climate under which the network currently operates. The state Legislature should persist in bipartisan efforts to work with Green Cross and secure research funding for a state-sponsored distribution system. Illicit drug use is a serious problem. But a narrow class of sick people should not be held hostage by inflexible, tough-on-crime policy. I-692 would free suffering patients from the threat of jail, giving them compassionate respite to worry about their finances, their families, and their futures. *** When away, you can STOP and RESTART W.H.E.N.'s news clippings by sending an e-mail to email@example.com. Ignore the Subject: line. In the body put "unsubscribe when" to STOP. To RESTART, put "subscribe when" in the e-mail instead (No quotation marks.)
------------------------------------------------------------------- Medical marijuana editorial response (The mother of a man incapacitated by multiple sclerosis sends a letter to the editor of The News Tribune, in Tacoma, Washington, disagreeing with the newspaper's editorial opposing Initiative 692, the medical marijuana ballot measure. She has found that cannabis improves her son's condition remarkably, but says the newspaper's assumption that people who need marijuana will find ways to obtain it is erroneous. "I'm 65 and out of the loop in the drug world and we have simply not found a way to get it.") From: "Catherine Ridley" (firstname.lastname@example.org) To: (email@example.com) Subject: HT: Fw: Medical marijuana editorial response Date: Sun, 18 Oct 1998 09:47:02 -0700 Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org The following letter was sent by me and printed in Sunday-Oct. 18 Tacoma News Tribune. Peace, Catherine *** From: Catherine Ridley (email@example.com) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: Medical marijuana editorial Date: October 12, 1998 4:15 PM TO: The Editor FROM: Catherine M. Ridley 4409 Harbor Country Dr. Gig Harbor, WA 98335 (253-858-7991 I am writing to strongly disagree with your editorial advising voters to vote No on the Medical Marijuana Initiative 692. I feel that your opinion is uniformed and hope that voters will not take your advice. My 37 year old son has multiple sclerosis, a devastating disease which has caused him to be in a wheelchair, blind, incontinent and with such severe tremors he is unable to feed himself or do such simple things as put toothpaste on a brush. To treat these various symtoms his doctors have ordered the use of many of the "legally prescribed medicines" you refer to in your editorial. Most of these medicines work sporadically or not at all and come with a wide range of side-effects from the uncomfortable to the downright dangerous. Some known side-effects of the meds he is presently taking are: liver irritation, loss of kidney function, reduced platelet counts, heart failure, etc.. In June 1997 one of those legal medicines left him paralyzed and unable to speak for 5 hours, when a neighbor discovered him and called 911. Recently a friend in California sent some marijuana home with a family member as a possible safer remedy for tremors. The change was quite dramatic! The shaking lessened profoundly, his eyesight improved greatly and for a brief time he had a sense of well-being that is totally missing from his life. Unfortunately, your assumption that people who need marijuana will find ways to get it is erroneous also. I'm 65 and out of the loop in the drug world and we have simply not found a way to get it. Now, this is just one story in the many of people suffering with horrible diseases who could be helped with marijuana. How dare we, as a civilized society, keep a plant found in nature from providing them with even some small respite from a life that is already very challenging. How could anyone possibly care if an ill person smoked marijuana and felt better. I pray that all of the people who have campaigned against this initiative will rethink their position and do the kind thing. Sincerely, Catherine Ridley *** hemp-talk - email@example.com is a discussion/information list about hemp politics in Washington State. To unsubscribe, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with the text "unsubscribe hemp-talk". For more details see http://www.hemp.net/lists.html
------------------------------------------------------------------- Oakland Rally - Monday 3-6 PM (A bulletin from California NORML invites supporters of medical-marijuana patients' rights to protest against the US government for shutting down the Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative.) Date: Sun, 18 Oct 1998 23:40:16 -0800 To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Dale Gieringer) Subject: DPFCA: Oakland Rally - Mon. 3-6 PM Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: DrugSense http://www.drugsense.org/dpfca/ There will be a rally in support of the Oakland Cannabis Buyers Cooperative today, Monday Oct. 19th, 3pm-5pm. Barring a stay from the 9th District Court of Appeals, the club will be turning its keys over to the US Marshalls, while members and supporters re-organize to continue providing access to medical marijuana to needy pateitns in Oakland and elsewhere. The rally will take place at 1755 Broadway, between 19th and 18th, near the 19th St. BART station. Please show your support - be peaceful, non-violent, and insistent! *** Dale Gieringer (415) 563-5858 // email@example.com 2215-R Market St. #278, San Francisco CA 94114
------------------------------------------------------------------- Only California Uses Deadly Force in Inmate Fights (A lengthy examination in The Los Angeles Times of a unique phenomenon in California - prisoners being killed in order to break up inmate fights. Since 1994, state prison guards breaking up brawls have killed 12 inmates and seriously injured 32. In the rest of the nation, only six inmates were fatally shot, all while trying to escape.) Date: Sun, 18 Oct 1998 16:58:56 -0700 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US CA: LAT: Only California Uses Deadly Force in Inmate Fights Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Jim Rosenfield Pubdate: Sun, 18 Oct 1998 Source: Los Angeles Times (CA) Copyright: 1998 Los Angeles Times Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Fax: 213-237-4712 Website: http://www.latimes.com/ Author: Mark Arax, Mark Gladstone, Times Staff Writers ONLY CALIFORNIA USES DEADLY FORCE IN INMATE FIGHTS Since 1994, state prison guards breaking up brawls have killed 12 and seriously injured 32. In rest of nation, only six inmates were fatally shot, all while trying to escape. Despite efforts to cut down on prison shootings, guards in California continue to kill and wound inmates engaged in fistfights and melees, a practice unheard of in every other state. Since late 1994, when the Department of Corrections shooting policy came under criticism for its role in widespread inmate deaths, 12 prisoners have been shot dead and 32 wounded by guards firing assault rifles to stop fights. In all other states combined, statistics and interviews show, only six inmates were fatally shot by guards in the same period--all of them while trying to escape. In no other state do guards shoot at inmate fighters, choosing instead to break up brawls and melees with pepper spray, tactical teams or warning shots. Even in Texas, a state whose sprawling prison system is often compared to California's for its hard-nosed tactics and violent gangs, correctional officers shot and killed only one inmate--an escapee--during the past four years. None of California's 12 recent fatal shootings took place at Corcoran State Prison, where seven inmates were shot dead from 1989 to 1994, making it at the time the deadliest prison in America. The 44 fatal and serious shootings since late 1994 have occurred at maximum security prisons up and down the state. Only one of the inmates was armed with a weapon or was inflicting serious injury at the time the fatal shot was fired, a Times review of the cases has found. No corrections officer was facing peril, and not a single inmate was attempting to escape. More than three-quarters of the shootings were deemed proper by Department of Corrections review boards. Only three gunners received any form of discipline--two were given reprimands and one served a 180-day suspension. "Shooting to break up a fight is something you never see outside of California. It just doesn't occur," said Lanson Newsome, a former deputy commissioner of Georgia state corrections and now a consultant who has reviewed dozens of California prison shootings. "Fistfights can be stopped very easily and are stopped all over the country without deadly force. "In the vast majority of cases in California, there's really no excuse for shooting. It's just the way they've been trained." State corrections director Cal Terhune said the 12 fatal shootings and 32 injuries, although disturbing, represent a sharp drop from a few years earlier when Corcoran, Pelican Bay, Old Folsom and Tehachapi prisons were convulsed with fights and gunshots. >From 1989 to late 1994, according to official figures, correctional officers in California killed 24 inmates and wounded 175 statewide, many of these shootings during fistfights and other altercations in which no inmates wielded weapons. Terhune, who took over the top job in 1997, cites revisions in the official shooting policy and better training for the declining numbers over the last four years. "I am very pleased in the direction that it's gone. We're going to continue to push, through alternatives and training, to really make the use of lethal force the absolute minimum, as a last resort," he said. "Unfortunately, we are doing it at absolutely the worst time. We've had an upturn in gang activities, skirmishes. So far we've been lucky. . . . If we can keep the killings down--both inmate-on-inmate and our own shootings during this particular time--it's going to be a pretty good test." California is one of a handful of states in which guards carry high-powered rifles inside maximum security units. Most states limit firearms to a few guard towers that ring a prison. Corrections officials cite the singular nature of California's vast and complex system--33 prisons with 159,000 inmates, many of them rival gang members--as rationale for gunner posts inside the units. They contend that the uniquely violent nature of California prison gangs compels them to use deadly force on occasion. Moreover, the state's prison guard union contends that guns are a necessary equalizer in a prison system that has one of the lowest officer-to-inmate ratios in the nation. But critics say that prison guards have used their guns far too often. They maintain that changes in shooting practices--changes that the state undertook in 1994 amid newspaper reports and an FBI investigation of one shooting--have not gone nearly far enough. They say the continued practice of shooting and killing inmates to prevent fights from turning deadly is illogical and runs counter to the methods of every other state. The practice has resulted in numerous lawsuits costing California taxpayers at least $6 million in legal fees and damage awards since 1994. "The other states have found a way to protect officer safety and yet at the same time prevent the taking of life," said James Chanin, a Berkeley attorney who won a $300,000 settlement from the state on behalf of the victim's family in a 1993 prison shooting death. "It's too high a price, both in dollars and in lives." In the wake of recent state legislative hearings that focused on allegations of brutality and official cover-up at Corcoran, The Times examined dozens of inmate shootings beyond the walls of the San Joaquin Valley prison and interviewed lawyers, shooting experts and corrections officials in every region of the country. The review of California shootings over the past decade shows that guards may not be setting up rival inmates to fight as they did in Corcoran, but the end result is often the same. Deadly force is used to break up fights and melees that haven't turned deadly. A Death in Salinas Like so many of the recent incidents, the events leading to the death of inmate Mark Anthony Perez in February seemed routine. Perez, a 25-year-old San Jose man convicted of assault with a deadly weapon, was fighting in a tiny recreation yard at Salinas Valley State Prison. His opponent, Darren Halliwell, was bigger and stronger. Halliwell had already shaken off the blows of another inmate wielding a sharp object. That inmate had left the scene and it was just Halliwell and Perez, neither landing anything close to a knockout, according to the Monterey County district attorney's office and inmate witnesses. Then came a shout to stop fighting and a warning shot of nonlethal wood blocks fired by an officer in the control booth above. Before the officer could discharge a second warning round, a gunner in a nearby tower fired the fatal bullet. The district attorney cleared that gunner of any wrongdoing even though he had fired while the other officer had control of the scene. "My test is a simple one," said Assistant Dist. Atty. Terry Spitz. "Could I convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt [that the gunner] had no basis for believing he had to act to defend Halliwell? Under that standard, a jury would never return a verdict of guilty. That's not to say if you look at it from a civil standard, a jury would not find differently." Perez's family is pursuing a civil lawsuit. "Why did he shoot? They were just fighting. They were just punching each other," Emma Perez, the victim's widow, said. "These guns are shoot-to-kill guns, not guns to stop someone from fighting. The bullet just shattered my husband's leg bone. The coroner said it was like a snowstorm inside." Many of the 44 fatal and serious shootings since 1994, like the Perez incident, took place in recreation yards or housing units built with special features that allow guards almost complete control. Inside these high-security units, every movement to and from a cell is monitored, and guards perform complete body checks for homemade weapons. Such control, experts say, should reduce the need for deadly force. In other states, these units are the settings in which guards utilize nonlethal measures such as batons, pepper spray and tear gas. "Shooting at inmates involved in a fistfight sounds a little farfetched," said Chas Simmons, a research analyst for the Alabama Department of Corrections. "You wouldn't do it if you were working for the police department or the sheriff's office. And if you're shooting real bullets, make no mistake, you're trying to kill them." Many states, including Alabama, Texas, Mississippi, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Ohio, respond to prison violence by employing emergency response teams specially trained to break up inmate fights. A few states, such as New York, have shot at inmate fighters in years past but only in the most dire situations, such as during a deadly stabbing. "We have found a way to be effective without shooting at inmates," said Pam Pattison of the Indiana corrections system. "We always fire a warning shot first. Then we send in emergency response teams with radios and pepper spray." "We tell inmates to stop, and if they don't, we send in a team and pull them off each other," said Joe Andrews of the Ohio corrections department, which houses 50,000 inmates, the fifth-largest number in the country. "We've never had an officer killed, and I can't recall any [officers] who were severely injured while breaking up a fight." Although California guards are also equipped with radios, batons and pepper spray, they often shoot before summoning emergency response teams and exhausting less-lethal options, corrections officials concede. Part of the problem is rooted in a shooting practice that varies from prison to prison. All of California's 26 maximum security lockups are supposed to adhere to a single state policy that allows deadly force only as a "last resort," after guards have considered or tried other "reasonable and available" means to stop a fight. But The Times found that several prisons cling to their own conflicting practices. At Salinas Valley and Pleasant Valley, officers have failed to employ or consider less lethal options before firing deadly shots at fighting inmates, according to official incident reports. At other prisons, such as Corcoran and Pelican Bay, firing a deadly shot is now all but forbidden unless an inmate is escaping or endangering staff. It is state policy for guards to issue a verbal command to stop fighting and then to fire a wood or rubber block warning shot. If the fight continues and one inmate poses "imminent great bodily harm" to another, gunners are trained to chamber a real bullet and fire at the aggressor's torso. But a breakdown of shootings over the past decade reveals that imminent great bodily harm means different things to different guards. Many officers have responded with deadly force even in the absence of inmate weapons or injury. Some gunners didn't fire a warning shot before the fatal shot. And despite a state policy that every shot must be a "clear shot," gunners routinely fired into a tangle of combatants. In at least 10 cases over the past decade, The Times found, the bullet missed the intended target and killed or injured the wrong inmate. "One of the things we needed to stress more in training was you have to have a clear shot," said Steve Cambra, a deputy director for state corrections. "Obviously, we didn't stress that enough because we've had too many situations where the officer has hit a victim." Until recently, there has been little incentive to change. None of the 24 fatal shootings from 1989 to late 1994 was found to be improper by department review boards, The Times found. Over the past four years, in the face of media scrutiny and an ongoing federal investigation, four of the 12 fatal shootings and six of the injuries have been ruled "not in compliance." Despite this new willingness to judge the shootings critically, the department's discipline has amounted to the two reprimands and suspension since late 1994. And not a single gunner has been prosecuted by a local district attorney's office. The Past Becomes the Future Guards in California prisons added firepower after the rise of militant black inmates and prison gangs in the 1960s and '70s. At Soledad and San Quentin, guards and inmates alike were thrown off tiers, stabbed and killed during major riots. Like war, the battles spawned myth and shaped the thinking of many officers who would later assume command of the Corrections Department. And it colored the rhetoric of a clique of guards who would go on to build a union, the California Correctional Peace Officers Assn., into one of the most powerful political forces in the state. The violence reinforced the view that prison gangs in California were a more virulent strain, that guards needed to be armed and that prisons needed to be designed with a new architecture--one that promised absolute control. "One of the founding tenets in this [new] design was that the firepower was part of the design," said Terhune. "And because of the design and the firepower, it enables [the department] to reduce the staffing." Before Corcoran and Pelican Bay opened in 1989 and 1990, California concentrated its most violent and problem inmates inside high-security units at the California Correctional Institute at Tehachapi. As part of state policy designed to make rival prisoners get along, guards began mixing enemy gang members into the same small exercise yards. Into this mix were thrown ex-gang members and small-time criminals sent to Tehachapi's administrative discipline units for minor transgressions, including filing complaints about poor prison conditions, according to accounts from inside the prison. The integrated yard policy at Tehachapi backfired. It baited sworn enemies into repeated fights and endangered former gang members who were promised protection for telling their secrets. The fights brought a kind of siege mentality to the prison. Guards soon began shooting at rival inmates engaged in fistfights. Four inmates were shot and killed at Tehachapi from 1989 to 1993, according to official reports. One was involved in a small melee, and three others were engaged in stand-up fistfights in which no warning shots were fired, no weapons were found and no inmates had inflicted any serious injuries. The bullets that killed them were designed not to exit the body but to explode on impact. Vincent Eugene Durham, a 23-year-old Los Angeles native, had been imprisoned for grand theft and was six months shy of his April 1992 release date when he was gunned down in a fistfight. "You mean to tell me all the guards in that prison can't break up two guys fighting?" asked his uncle, Willie Fields. "If you have to use pepper spray or batons, fine. Anything short of shooting and killing. "It was like that guard took aim on an animal. Just like he was hunting. Aimed at his head, his temple, and fired." Like Tehachapi's other shootings, the department's review board found that the gunner had justifiable cause to kill Durham. Shootings Draw Controversy After the security housing unit with its problem inmates shifted from Tehachapi to Corcoran, so did the violence. From 1989 to 1994, seven inmates were fatally shot and 43 wounded by guards firing rifles into exercise yards at Corcoran. A few disgruntled Corcoran staffers decided in 1992 they would try something new to break up the fights: "We sent a team to respond to a fight and no one got hurt and we resolved the conflict without discharging a firearm," recalled Steve Rigg, a former lieutenant who revealed abuses at Corcoran to the FBI. "The higher-ups in Sacramento heard about it and said, 'You will not do that again. You will not put staff in jeopardy.' "That became a turning point. The Corcoran way of quelling violence--shooting first and then asking questions--became the state's way." Throughout the early to mid-1990s, Calipatria State Prison, amid the farm fields of Imperial Valley, nearly matched Corcoran with 22 fatal and serious shootings. In September 1993, a 29-year-old drug violator named Robert Moore became embroiled in a fistfight with his cellmate, according to the state's account. The two men initially heeded an officer's warning to stop fighting; then Moore resumed his attack. The gunner fired a warning shot followed by a fatal shot that struck Moore in the neck, fragments of bone and bullet slicing through the main artery in his heart. The state shooting review board cleared the gunner and determined that he killed Moore by mistake, intending only to disable him. Moore's mother sued, arguing that the 9-millimeter bullet was deadly by design. The officer had fired even though Moore wasn't wielding a weapon or inflicting great bodily harm. She won an out-of-court settlement for $300,000. In late 1994, with the deaths and lawsuits mounting, the state's shooting practices came under harsh attack in a series of articles in the Orange County Register. The FBI had already launched a probe into one fatal shooting at Corcoran. This was followed by a far-reaching federal court opinion in 1995 that found that state prison policies "promoted the use of lethalforce" in 20 fatal and serious shootings at Pelican Bay State Prison. Under pressure, corrections officials conceded that the state policy on deadly force was vague and poorly written and that officers were unclear on what constituted great bodily harm. Some guards were told by supervisors that a wound that required seven stitches qualified; others were told that if one fighter carried a weapon as small as an ordinary staple, that would dictate the use of a firearm. As part of the conflicting standards, some prisons had issued gas guns that fired wood blocks as a way to stop fistfights without deadly force. Other wardens sneered at the new weapon. "We went through the shooting policy and tweaked it," Cambra said. "We changed our training, used more situational-based scenarios . . . changed the lesson plan. And [we] stressed putting the [gas gun] in the control booth to give the officer a less than lethal alternative." Signs of Change Cambra and director Terhune said the downturn in fatal and serious shootings during the past four years is proof of the department's more restrained approach. Of the 12 fatal shootings since late 1994, four involved inmates engaged in fistfights, seven happened during melees and one during a riot. Although the numbers have come down, California still stands alone in its readiness to use deadly force. Other states rarely consider the use of deadly force even in larger melees and riots with weapons. "We run a different kind of system than California," said Jim Flateau of the New York Department of Corrections. "We have many officers down in the yard, and they will break up a fight. If an inmate has a weapon, our officers can and do fire warning shots, and inmates almost always comply." Martin Horn, head of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, said he hesitated to second-guess California because each prison population presents its own challenges. "If an inmate has a [knife], we will isolate and contain it without the use of a firearm," Horn said. "Breaking up fights, that's part of what an officer gets paid to do here. Some of our officers do get hurt, but we have a relatively small number of inmate-on-inmate assaults." In Texas, second only to California with 144,000 inmates, deadly force is almost always reserved for inmates attempting to escape. "We use gas and human teams to quell [riots]," said Larry Todd of the Texas Department of Corrections. "Routine fights, of which we have plenty, are broken up with the use-of-force teams or an abundance of pepper spray." A Riot at New Folsom No one disputes that what took place at New Folsom prison on Sept. 27, 1996, was a riot between Latino and black inmates armed with knives and other homemade weapons. Scores of fighters in the main exercise yard refused to heed verbal and gunshot warnings. When it was over, one Latino inmate lay dead and four black inmates were wounded. At a glance, it would seem the riot was just the sort of spasm that would warrant the use of deadly force. But lawyers representing the injured prisoners and the family of the dead inmate, Victor Flores, say an examination of the shooting reveals numerous missteps by officers. According to deposition testimony in an ongoing civil case, prison supervisors were warned about the likelihood of racial violence that morning but failed to intervene. One reason is they were busy planning a retirement dinner for an associate warden. Any warning of impending violence, the attorneys contend, should have shut down the recreation yard that day. If the 22-year-old Flores was wielding a weapon during the fighting, it was nowhere to be found when the gunner took aim. Flores had not only ceased trading blows with any black inmates, but he was in a prostrate position when the fatal shot rang out, according to his attorneys. They point to an autopsy report, which shows the bullet entering Flores' buttock and lodging in his midsection, as proof that he was lying on the ground. The officer who fired said Flores was crouched slightly but still moving quickly toward the backs of other guards. Fearing harm, he decided to fire a shot to disable Flores. Prison officials waited several months before notifying the Sacramento County district attorney's office of the fatal shooting. Prosecutors investigated the incident and concluded that the gunner had reason to assume that Flores carried a weapon and was rushing toward officers, even though no weapon was found. A corrections review board, 17 months after the incident, determined that the shooting failed to comply with department policy. Director Terhune, however, decided against any discipline. In a letter to the gunner, then-acting Warden Suzan Hubbard said she empathized with his difficult job: "I am pleased to advise you that after much scrutiny . . . no adverse personnel action will be taken." Questions and Deaths Continue No prison over the past two years has used more deadly force than High Desert in Susanville. The $273-million state-of-the-art facility below the juniper- and sage-covered mountains in Lassen County is one of the most beleaguered in the state. Three wardens have come and gone since the prison opened two years ago. The new warden still lacks the resources for job training and vocational programs that help hold down violence at other prisons. Nearly half the 4,100 inmates are given nothing to do and lack even pencils to write family. The prison spends weeks at a time in 24-hour lock-down. Critics say the prison's insistence on mixing sworn enemy gangs into a single exercise yard--the same integration policy that tore apart Tehachapi and Corcoran--has led to racial warfare. Guards have shot and killed three inmates and wounded 11 in six shootings since 1996. Inmates and lawyers representing the victims allege that the prison officers set up Corcoran-style fights and larger melees, and then use the violence as an excuse to gun down inmates. The state denies it, and the FBI has been investigating. The state's most recent fatal prison shooting took place in May when a guard at Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga gunned down a convicted drug dealer during the welter of a dining hall melee. Octavio Orozco, 23, was not among the initial fighters but was helping other Latino inmates kick a downed black inmate before he was struck in the head by a .223-caliber bullet, according to an official incident report. No warning shot was fired, and no weapon was found on Orozco or any of the other half-dozen fighters. The black inmate whose life was said to be in danger--the gunner's reason for firing the deadly shot--had no serious injuries. "Octavio died for nothing," said his sister Maria Orozco, one of eight siblings who grew up in Pomona and Baldwin Park. "I asked one of the officers, 'Is it your procedure to shoot prisoners in the head when they're fighting?' He said, 'No, we were trying to disable him. It was meant to hit him in the shoulder.' " Some top corrections officials acknowledge that certain prisons, including High Desert and Salinas Valley, remain hot spots for questionable shootings and that some wardens still hesitate to utilize emergency response teams. Over the past year, Terhune has dispatched deputy director Cambra to prisons throughout the state to underscore that bullets are a last resort. "I'm trying to go around to all of them," Cambra said. He said in his visits he underscores the importance of supervisors sitting down with officers and reviewing, point by point, past shootings. That is "probably better training than two hours of classroom instruction." Don Novey, president of the prison guards union, says the state should double its academy training for new correctional officers from six weeks to 12 weeks. "I don't think we have near enough firepower training in life-and-death situations. It's way behind the curve." Although Novey acknowledges that side-handle batons and pepper spray can be effective weapons in breaking up inmate fights, he says the size and violent makeup of California prisons dictate the use of guns. He points out that in an effort to save money, California operates its prisons with fewer guards than other states--but arms them. "How else are you going to control 4,000 to 5,000 inmates with the leanest staffing ratio in the nation?" he said. "Most inmates know that a weapon is up there for their protection too. If that officer doesn't quell the disturbance, there are going to be several people stabbed." He said that if the shootings do raise questions, such as the 1994 killing of a Corcoran inmate that prompted the FBI probe, guards are the victims of bad policy. "We match up well with the FBI, and they damn well know it. We've never had a Waco or a Ruby Ridge in our prison system." The Orozco shooting, as well as the fatal shooting of Perez this year at Salinas Valley, is still under review by the Department of Corrections. For years, officials concede, the internal review boards that judged fatal shootings were rubber stamps consisting of high-ranking officers who often worked at the same prison where the shootings took place. If a gunner said certain key words--that he saw the "glint" of a weapon or the "slashing" motion of an inmate--it was enough for the review board to clear the shooting, even if no weapon was found. Cambra said that is changing. Review boards, no longer stacked with insiders, are now finding more officers in violation of policy. But critics say the department continues to shy away from punishing gunners who have crossed the line. "The fact that the department has ruled a shooting outside of policy has no deterrent effect if you're not going to punish the officer," said John Scott, a San Francisco attorney who has sued the Department of Corrections in two wrongful death and injury cases. "If you want to know why an officer can shoot and kill someone and still be promoted, you need to look at the power of the prison guard union and its legions of lawyers. The department just doesn't want to take them on in disciplinary matters," Scott said. Director Terhune denies that the union has a say-so in discipline, but he agrees that his department needs to do more to cut down on fatal and serious shootings. Toward that goal, he continues to test less lethal options such as water cannons to break up fights. "It's possible you could get it down to zero," he said. "We may find something that is totally nonlethal but still manages to control . . . major disturbances. It's possible you could get it down to zero, but there would be a lot of [inmate-on-inmate] fatalities." * * * Danger Zone The following compares figures for the state's prison system with those for the rest of the country. 12 Fighting inmates shot to death by California prison guards since late 1994. 6 Inmates shot to death by prison guards in all other states since 1994. 0 Inmates shot to death in California while trying to escape. 6 Inmates shot to death in all other states while trying to escape. 32 Inmates wounded by California prison guards since late 1994. Sources: State Corrections Department, Corrections Compendium Shootings of Inmates Since late 1994, when the Department of Corrections' shooting policy first came under harsh criticism for its role in widespread inmate deaths, 12 more prisoners have been fatally shot by guards while fighting. Here is a breakdown of those 12 incidents by institution. (1) Pelican Bay State Prison Dead: 1 Sept. 21, 1994: Roger White, 27, shot in head during a fight between two inmates in which White was wielding a steak knife. Warning shot fired. (2) High Desert State Prison Dead: 3 Feb. 4, 1998: David Soloman Torres, 29, shot in lower back during a melee involving 18 inmates. Warning shot fired. Dec. 26, 1997: John Pruitt, 29, shot in buttock during melee involving 30 inmates. Warning shots fired. June 19, 1996: Refugio Ruano, 32, shot in head during melee involving 22 inmates. Warning shot fired. (3) California State Prison (New Folsom) Dead: 1 Sept. 27, 1996: Victor Flores, 22, shot at the end of a riot involving 200 inmates, after which 56 knives were found. Flores was not carrying a weapon. Warning shot fired. (4) San Quentin State Prison Dead: 1 Sept. 30, 1994: Timothy Price Pride, 40, fatally shot in chest during a death row fistfight. Warning shot fired. (5) Salinas Valley State Prison Dead: 1 Feb. 21, 1998: Mark Anthony Perez, 25, shot in leg during a fistfight with another inmate. Warning shot fired. (6) Pleasant Valley State Prison Dead: 1 May 7, 1998: Octavio Orozco, 23, shot in the head during a fight with four inmates. No warning shot fired. (7) Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility Dead: 1 Dec. 30, 1994: Michael C. Colvette, 23, fatally shot in head during a melee involving 12 inmates. Warning shot fired. (8) Calipatria State Prison Dead: 1 March 8, 1995: Tim Jones, 27, shot in the back during a fistfight with another inmate. Warning shot fired. (9) Centinela State Prison Dead: 2 Jan. 10, 1996: Raymond Nevarez, 30, shot during a fistfight with another inmate. No warning shot fired. Sept. 26, 1994: Juan Hernandez, 22, shot in chest during a fight involving six inmates. Warning shot fired. Source: California Department of Corrections.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Seeing Through The Haze Of Medical Marijuana (An op-ed in The Las Vegas Review-Journal by General Barry McCaffrey, the White House drug czar, opposes Question 9, the Nevada medical marijuana initiative, calling it a sham that provides cover for widespread trafficking in illegal drugs.) Date: Sun, 18 Oct 1998 08:53:55 -0700 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US NV: McCaffrey OPED: Seeing Through The Haze Of Medical Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: email@example.com (Frank S. World) Source: Las Vegas Review-Journal (NV) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.lvrj.com/lvrj_home/ Copyright: Las Vegas Review-Journal, 1998 Pubdate: 18 Oct 1998 Author: Barry R. McCaffrey Special to the Review-Journal Fax: 702-383-4676 SEEING THROUGH THE HAZE OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA Proven scientific processes, not the ballot box, should determine what drugs can be used to treat our ills On Election Day, residents of Nevada will be asked to vote on marijuana. The state ballot features a referendum that would legalize cultivation, distribution, possession and consumption of marijuana ostensibly for medical purposes. We should all seek safe and effective medicine to treat medical ills, but our collective interest is better served when proven scientific processes minister to disease - not the ballot box. The Nevada pro-pot amendment is a lead-in to drug legalization. This amendment does not represent the grass-roots sentiments of Nevadans. It is part of a stealthy national movement, bankrolled by well-known pro-drug groups that have provoked similar measures in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Oregon, Washington state, and the nation's capital. Advocates of drug legalization have admitted that they couched the marijuana question in medical terms to camouflage the issue. We can't afford to send the wrong message to our children about marijuana or other illegal drugs. Juvenile marijuana usage rates have skyrocketed in the past six years. Kids now begin smoking pot in the sixth and seventh grades. Half of today's teens do so before completing high school. Many will suffer from decisions made while their judgment is impaired by the psychoactive effects of this drug. Indeed, marijuana is now the second leading cause of car crashes among young people (after alcohol). If we lower the societal barriers further, then marijuana use among youth surely will escalate along with the negative consequences of drug abuse. This was Alaska's experience after a pro-pot ruling essentially decriminalized the drug in the 1970s. A leading medical journal recently warned readers about the risks posed by unscientific medicine. This journal outlined how American health has benefited from remedies whose safety and efficacy have been validated by statistically reliable evidence and randomized, controlled clinical studies. Arbitrary dosages, contaminated ingredients, and harmful or deadly components largely have been eliminated from American medicine. This marijuana referendum would turn its back on such progress and return us to the medical dark ages when leeches were used to suck blood from sick patients. There is no sense in subverting the scientific process for assessing, testing and approving medications by resorting to a non-medical, political process. If pot were such a wonderful medicine, why haven't more doctors prescribed Marinol -- the real "medical marijuana?" The active ingredient in the cannabis leaf, THC, is synthesized in measured dosages as Marinol, a prescription drug that has been available for 15 years. The FDA has encouraged the pharmaceutical industry to develop other methods for administering THC -- for example, by patch, suppository or inhaler. Such developments may make it easier for more individuals to realize the possible therapeutic benefits of THC under controlled, prescribed conditions. Any purported medicine smoked in unmeasured amounts and unknown purity is suspect. No one argues that people should eat moldy bread instead of taking a penicillin capsule. Pills are cleaner, safer and more efficacious than smoke. Crude marijuana, unlike Marinol, contains a host of tars and other dangerous substances that have no therapeutic value. If components of marijuana other than THC are found to be medically valuable, the current scientific process will approve those components for safe use. Nevada doesn't need wholesale experimenting with dangerous home remedies. We should avoid sham "medicine" that provides cover for widespread trafficking in illegal drugs. Now is the time for concerned citizens to say "yes" to their communities, their children and themselves by voting "no" on this pro-drug referendum. It's better to be safe than sorry.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Marijuana Seizures Multiply With Fall Harvest (The Arizona Daily Star says the fall marijuana harvest is under way, loads of weed are coming across Arizona's southern border with Mexico, and the Border Patrol has snagged more than a ton of it since Wednesday.) Date: Sun, 18 Oct 1998 16:59:05 -0700 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US AZ: Marijuana Seizures Multiply With Fall Harvest Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: email@example.com (Frank S. World) Pubdate: Sun, 18 Oct 1998 Source: Arizona Daily Star (AZ) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.azstarnet.com/ MARIJUANA SEIZURES MULTIPLY WITH FALL HARVEST With the fall marijuana harvest, loads of weed are coming across Arizona's southern border - and the Border Patrol has snagged more than a ton of it since Wednesday, spokesman Rob Daniels said. The latest seizure came about 7:30 a.m. Friday, when agents near Why pulled over a Dodge pickup on Arizona 85, according to a Border Patrol news release. Inside the truck's camper shell they found 1,094 pounds of marijuana, its odor masked by pine-scented air fresheners. The 19-year-old driver was arrested, and the marijuana turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration, the release said. Agents near Naco made two large seizures Wednesday and Thursday, Daniels said. About 2 p.m. Thursday, the Border Patrol received reports of people carrying backpacks across the border west of Naco. Two agents tracked the group to a tree under which they were resting, Daniels said. But when the agents approached, the group spotted them and fled. Under the tree, the agents found 650 pounds of marijuana in 22 bundles. About 10 p.m. Wednesday, agents spotted two trucks illegally crossing the border east of Naco's port of entry, Daniels said. When the agents began trailing them, the pickups made U-turns in front of the Naco Border Patrol station and headed back south. One of the trucks had mechanical trouble and pulled over before reaching the border, Daniels said. Inside, the agents found 799 pounds of marijuana. The occupants escaped, and the other truck made it back across the border. Visit the National Border Patrol Council's Tucson Sector site.
------------------------------------------------------------------- 61-year-old grandmother found guilty for role in drug conspiracy (An Associated Press article in The Orlando Sentinel says Daphne "Ma" Creary, a former security guard at Port Everglades, Florida, faces a minimum 10-year prison sentence after pleading guilty Friday to one count of conspiracy to import cocaine, allegedly in concert with more than a dozen other dockworkers. "My life and my grandkids' lives are at stake," said Creary, who is raising three grandchildren. "They need me.") From: "Bob Owen@W.H.E.N." (email@example.com) To: "-News" (firstname.lastname@example.org) Subject: 61-year-old grandmother found guilty for role in drug conspiracy Date: Sun, 18 Oct 1998 23:01:18 -0700 Sender: email@example.com Newshawk: firstname.lastname@example.org Source: The Orlando Sentinel Pubdate: 10/18/1998 Online: http://www.orlandosentinel.com 61-year-old grandmother found guilty for role in drug conspiracy Associated Press WEST PALM BEACH -- A 61-year-old woman grandmother pleaded guilty for her role in a massive dockworker drug conspiracy at Port Everglades. Former security guard Daphne "Ma" Creary faces a minimum of 10 years in federal prison after pleading guilty Friday to one count of conspiracy to import cocaine. "My life and my grandkids' lives are at stake," said Creary, who is raising three grandchildren. "They need me." As part of the plea bargain arrangement, Creary admitted to helping unionized dockworkers take duffel bags filled with 150 kilograms of drugs from containers at the busy South Florida port over a three-year period beginning January 1995 Creary initially told U.S. District Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley she was forced to participate in the deals, but later changed her story. "They didn't threaten me," Creary said. "I knew exactly what was going on." Creary was one of 14 current and former Port Everglades dockworkers and security guards indicted in early March. She is the second major figure in the case to plead guilty and cooperate with authorities. Mark Knight, a member of the International Longshoremen's Association, pleaded guilty in June. Knight, who worked at the Sea Land Service shipyard, was supposed to be sentenced on Friday, but sentencing was indefinitely postponed. Drug Enforcement Administration and customs agents last week arrested seven more people, including another key figure, accused drug dealer Willie Edward Jackson, a stevedore with the Teamsters union. Authorities have identified Jackson, fellow Teamster crane operator Cecil "Big Dirty" McCleod, and ILA stevedore Malcolm Edwards as the leaders of three competing smuggling cells at the port.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Judges Should Get Drug Tests For Presuming All Are Guilty (Baltimore Sun columnist Gregory Kane pans the US Supreme Court's decision two weeks ago not to review a case out of Indiana, where overzealous school officials imposed mandatory drug testing as a condition for participating in extracurricular activities. The four students and their parents who protested and filed suit must have had the curious idea that a thing called presumption of innocence still exists in America.) Date: Sun, 18 Oct 1998 12:25:28 -0700 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US MD: OPED: Judges Should Get Drug Tests For Presuming All Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Explorer Source: Baltimore Sun (MD) Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.sunspot.net/ Copyright: 1998 by The Baltimore Sun, a Times Mirror Newspaper. Pubdate: 18 Oct 1998 Author: Gregory Kane JUDGES SHOULD GET DRUG TESTS FOR PRESUMING ALL ARE GUILTY The nine nerveless Nellies currently ensconced on our Supreme Court have just committed the wimp-out act of the year. Two weeks ago, the pusillanimous justices refused to review a case out of Indiana, where overzealous school officials imposed mandatory drug testing as a condition for participating in extracurricular activities. Picture it now. Chess club members puffing on a joint while they decide to use a King's Gambit or a Sicilian Defense opening. Math club members smoking crack between discussions on the finer points of number theory. These things must have happened in Rushville, Ind. It was there that school officials instituted the mandatory drug testing ruling for extracurricular activities. Four of the students and their parents protested and filed suit. They must have had the curious idea that a thing called presumption of innocence still existed in America and that the drug-testing program flew in the face of it. Well, America is changing. That presumption-of-innocence thing is becoming old hat, especially in light of the increasingly laughable "drug war." In the drug war, everyone's presumed guilty. It started with random drug testing of servicemen, which was reasonable enough. Soon, welfare recipients were added in some states, and there's a certain logic to that. Taxpayers have a right to be assured their tax dollars are not being used to subsidize addiction. But isn't it going too far to demand that a high school student who wants to be in the chess or math club has to pass a drug test? Already, some private companies are requiring potential employees to take drug tests as a condition of being hired. Private employers probably figure they are saving themselves big headaches down the road, but it's another example of the notion of presumption of innocence being further eroded. In the drug war, everyone's presumed guilty. You have to prove your innocence. If that's the way this thing is going to go, fine. But let's expand the pool of those presumed guilty. Let's expand the list of those who should have mandatory drug tests. Let's not just pick on high school students, welfare recipients and lowly enlisted men in our armed services. Let's demand drug testing for society's honchos. We can start with the Nine Ninnies on the high court -- and don't even bother to pardon the pun. After all, we don't want these veritable juggernauts of jurisprudence to make a decision while under the influence of the Good Lord only knows what. Why should we presume their innocence? The very nature of their job means they are in a position to adversely affect society much more than a high school student or welfare recipient. We should be assured they're drug-free. Why not the president? President Clinton would be the perfect chief executive to initiate such a program. His judgment in the Monica Lewinsky affair was so stupid that we could reasonably assume he did it under the influence of something. So, let's give him one of those urine flasks and see what's up. Ditto for all those elected officials in the line of succession. Vice President Al Gore, House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Senate President Pro Tem Strom Thurmond and others in line for succession can queue up right behind Clinton and do their duty. Next in line would be every member of Congress. Enlisted men in our armed services, who've probably long wondered if members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are subjected to the random drug tests they are, would probably be delighted to know the same rules applied to the top brass. Federal and state judges should be added to the list, as well as lawyers. Doctors should face mandatory drug testing or lose their licenses to practice. Under the presumption-of-guilt mania now sweeping the country, states could require all licensed drivers to take mandatory drug tests. All too many motorists are ripping and racing along our highways and streets as if they're under the influence of something anyway. Add school board members, superintendents, principals and teachers to the list. This is the logical extension of the Rushville mandatory drug-testing edict. Officials there couldn't have overlooked it. If you don't trust students, why trust those entrusted to educate them? There's one final group that should be subjected to mandatory drug testing: newspaper columnists. That should allay the fears of those readers who may be wondering if this one was written under the influence of something.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Rebagliati's payoff eludes gold medallist (The Calgary Herald suggests admitted pot smoker Ross Rebagliati is cashing in on endorsements after winning the Olympic gold medal in snowboarding, while another gold medal winner, Catriona LeMay Doan, seems to be losing out due to the speed skater's abstemious image.) From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Matt Elrod) To: email@example.com Subject: Rebagliati's payoff eludes gold medallist Date: Mon, 19 Oct 1998 08:32:51 -0700 Lines: 74 Newshawk: firstname.lastname@example.org Source: Calgary Herald (Canada) Contact: email@example.com Pubdate: Sun 18 Oct 1998 Author: Lori Ewing, Calgary Herald Rebagliati's payoff eludes gold medallist One's hip, the other's wholesome. Ross Rebagliati and Catriona LeMay Doan share gold medals from their athletic exploits in Nagano seven months ago. But that's where the similarities end. Rebagliati has cashed in big on last February's infamous marijuana-fuelled doping scandal that saw him win-lose-regain his Olympic gold medal. On the other hand, LeMay Doan's endorsement record since the Games suggests it ain't hip to be square. LeMay Doan's agent promises you'll see much more of the Calgary-based speedskater in the coming months. But, thus far, several major promotional deals have failed to materialize. ``It kind of makes a farce of our society,'' says LeMay Doan. ``But I wouldn't give anything to have his (Rebagliati's) situation. I'm against the whole thing. I get very vocal on any kind of drug issue. I think it's sad more than anything.'' Rebagliati has cashed in as the official spokesman for Roots, has a CD of his favourite songs being produced, has even turned down movie parts. It's been a seven-month high no amount of dope could ever provide -- the pot of gold that keeps on giving. LeMay Doan says she's had one major speaking engagement (three weeks ago in Ottawa) and admits her ``fee was big.'' She re-signed with sponsor AMJ Campbell Van Lines. Her agent Elliot Kerr of the Landmark Group in Toronto says she has a multi-year deal with Oakley, and she's signed with the Ford modelling agency. ``We're also in very serious negotiations with a food company, a cereal company, an automobile company, a clothing company,'' says Kerr. ``So we have a ton going on right now, and hope to have it wrapped up before the skating season begins.'' LeMay Doan has her doubts. But she's not going to worry about it. ``I don't have the energy . . ,'' she says. ``(Husband) Bart and I don't talk about it too much. We don't say, `Why don't we make $50,000 a year?' We make enough to get by. But sometimes, if I think about it, yeah, it frustrates me. I'll see things and think: I could do a good job for that.'' Rebagliati's allure, says his Toronto agent, Nathale Cook of International Marketing Group, is his unique situation. ``This young man, for better or for worse, was on the front page of almost every newspaper in the world,'' says Cook. ``Ross, through this ordeal in Nagano, tapped into something in Canadians. Typical Canadian kid, stuck up for his friends, was honest. The Canadian public was very supportive of him. He presented himself well in the face of adversity,'' says Cook. ``If you ask him if he'd do it again, he says no, not in that way,'' she adds. ``You wouldn't wish this on anybody.'' Figures bandied about the athletic grapevine suggest Rebagliati has earned close to $1 million from his Olympic adventure. Cook says he has realized nowhere near that amount. Experts in sports marketing estimate his Nagano windfall was probably closer to $100,000 to $200,000 -- still ample for a Canadian Olympic athlete. ``Most national team athletes live on less than $10,000 a year,'' says Cook.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Reefer Gladness (According to The Edmonton Sun, one of the top pain doctors in Edmonton, Alberta, says she has new evidence marijuana use may boost physical strength in people with a rare muscle disease. Dr. Helen Hays and a rehab medicine specialist, Dr. Rubin Feldman, started running tests last January on a 31-year-old Edmonton-area man suffering from a rare neurological disease that causes severe stiffness and cramping in the muscles. "The results were remarkable," said Dr. Hays. "We recorded a dramatic improvement in his physical strength when he was using" marijuana. Dr. Hays said she and Dr. Feldman are preparing a paper for publication.) From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Matt Elrod) To: email@example.com Subject: Canada: Reefer Gladness Date: Sun, 18 Oct 1998 09:12:53 -0700 Lines: 76 Newshawk: firstname.lastname@example.org Source: Edmonton Sun (Canada) Contact: email@example.com Pubdate: October 18, 1998 Author: Doug Beazley Note: An abbreviated version of this article appeared in the Calgary Sun under the headline: Doc Finds Pot Helps Patient's Pain REEFER GLADNESS An Edmonton study suggests marijuana can help patients with chronic pain One of the city's top pain doctors says she has evidence marijuana use may boost physical strength in people with a rare muscle disease. "That's what was so intriguing ... we've never heard of anyone getting a result like that," said Dr. Helen Hays. Hays, a palliative care specialist, runs a referral practice in the city for people who suffer chronic pain. She sees several people who use pot to control their discomfort. "I know many of them are using (marijuana) and don't want to mention it," she said. "I don't always ask." About a year ago, Hays had a visit from a 31-year-old Edmonton-area man suffering from a rare neurological disease that causes severe stiffness and cramping in the muscles. "It's very painful and it makes my limbs weak ... I have to be fighting against my own muscles all the time," said Hays's patient, who wants to be referred to only as Kevin in print. "The pain started when I was 25. I've tried probably 15 different drugs. The only one that worked at all gave me extreme muscle tremors. That's why I started using marijuana." Kevin said smoking grass helps control his pain and made him feel physically stronger. Hays and rehab medicine specialist Dr. Rubin Feldman started running tests on Kevin last January, trying to work out what the pot was doing to him. "Dr. Feldman used a test over (three months) that determines how much weight a certain set of muscles can lift," said Hays. Testing started during a stretch when Kevin wasn't smoking pot, and continued after he started using again. "The results were remarkable," said Hays. "We recorded a dramatic improvement in his physical strength when he was using (marijuana). "We have no idea why this should happen, or whether it might apply to another disease. It's an open door ... a whole new line of questioning." Hays said she and Feldman are preparing a paper for publication. Dr. Feldman could not be reached for comment. Hays said she hopes the study won't be a magnet for flak in the controversy over whether to legalize marijuana. "I've never tried the stuff myself ... I don't want anyone to get the idea I've got a supply or something," she said, chuckling. "I think the time has come to have a national debate about what we're going to do with the marijuana law. We have to be cautious ... but the time has come to talk about it." Kevin said he'd be grateful for the right to use marijuana for his condition without worrying about getting busted. "I live with fear every day," he said. "I don't know when the SWAT team's going to bash in my door and handcuff me in front of my wife and children. "There's no logical reason for this to be illegal. But every medical user I ever heard of who went public got busted for his trouble."
------------------------------------------------------------------- Weeding Out Pain (The Edmonton Sun recounts several cases of local patients receiving miraculous benefits from cannabis, including a breast cancer victim so impoverished by years of supporting the black market that she can no longer afford it and is dying in a community shelter. "Marijuana is just a weed," she says. "People don't kill people on it, they don't rob banks. I met a lot of people on marijuana who wouldn't have been worth two cents without it. But the government's got to blackmail you. You use their drugs or you don't use any drugs at all.") From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Matt Elrod) To: email@example.com Subject: Canada: Weeding Out Pain Date: Sun, 18 Oct 1998 09:17:03 -0700 Lines: 142 Newshawk: firstname.lastname@example.org Source: Edmonton Sun (Canada) Contact: email@example.com Pubdate: Sunday, October 18, 1998 Author: Doug Beazley Weeding out pain It's a grey autumn day, and a damp wind's chasing dead leaves across the lawn. Mary sits and watches the leaves through the window, browses through a week-old Chatelaine, takes shallow breaths from the oxygen tube strapped beneath her nose. Mary's dying of breast cancer - she's had it for 15 years. Twin mastectomies only slowed it down. She's living in the company of a lot of other critically ill people in a community shelter she doesn't want to see named - any more than she wants her own true name in print. At 53, her wishes are as simple as they are beyond reach: money enough to live on her own again, money enough for marijuana to kill her pain. "This is where marijuana has brought me ... because of how I had to live to get it," she says, sparking up a filter-tip in the shelter's tiny smoking room. "What I had to spend on it, because it's against the law. Marijuana was the only thing that made life bearable, and now I can't get it. I don't have any money. I don't have anyplace else to go." Cancer made a victim of Mary twice: first by slowly eating away at her life, and second by giving her the kind of pain only pot could cure - at least temporarily. "It helps the pain, the sleeplessness, elevates my mood, my energy, my appetite," she says. "Doing without never used to be an option." The law doesn't discriminate between people who smoke grass for sport and those who use it to cope with the symptoms of killing or chronic illnesses. But pot-smoking's hardly rare among the seriously ill in Edmonton - particularly with people with chronic pain. People like Patrick Gignac, a 29-year-old unemployed glazier busted by RCMP last month for growing marijuana in his Leduc home. He's waiting on a court date. "Look, I'm not even a drinker," he says. "I smoked pot when I was a teen, or at parties, but that was seldom. "When I got hurt, the doctor told me there was a 30% chance I'd never be able to use my arms for work again. My life was basically screwed. Marijuana helps me feel and live like a normal person." Gignac says he managed to destroy his shoulder joints over the years with a series of bad falls. Bursitis, tendinitis and rotator cuff damage made his limbs too weak for him to handle a desk job, let alone construction work. "I've had the shoulders operated on twice," he says. "They had my arm completely off at the shoulder once, trying to rebuild the joint. "I was 130 pounds ... I'm six feet tall. I couldn't lift five pounds. At times my whole neck and back would just seize up in one big muscle cramp. I was on six types of medication - three drugs for the pain, and three to deal with the side effects of the first three. I was sick all the time, every day." In 1992, Gignac started smoking grass regularly for his pain. The effects were immediate, he says. For one thing, he needed fewer pills. "I was at a point where a doctor told me the next step was morphine. Well, what the hell do you do when the morphine stops working?" he says. "No thanks. The marijuana killed the nausea I was getting from the drugs ... I was never supposed to be able to do any physical work ever again. I got my glazing ticket back and I went back to work. Marijuana was the difference between being basically useless and living a normal life." Gignac plans to fight his drug charge by arguing that he has a medical right to marijuana use protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It's a legal defence that's already set a precedent in the case of pot user Terry Parker, who beat charges of cultivation and possession in Toronto last year by arguing he needed the marijuana to control his epilepsy. And the scientific evidence supporting the medical use of marijuana to treat the symptoms of cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis and other diseases is growing. A top pain specialist in Edmonton's medical community says she has evidence, soon to be published, that points to a whole new therapeutic application for cannabis in people with certain types of muscle disorder. Dr. Helen Hays partnered with a local physiotherapist in a three-month study of a patient with a rare muscular condition that causes cramping, tremors and extreme weakness. The patient frequently smoked pot to take the edge off his symptoms. Hays' study suggests the weed was actually increasing his physical strength as it reduced his crippling pain. "That's what was so intriguing - we've never heard of anybody getting a result like that," she says. "But it's a scientific fact ... our tests showed his strength increased when he was using cannabis." There's little mystery about pot's effect on pain. A set of receptors in the brain - the same nerves that cannabis use engages, says Hays - also play a significant role in how people sense pain. And doctors have long been able to prescribe marijuana derivatives for pain and nausea. Synthetic versions of pot's hallucinogenic component THC are extremely costly, though, and rarely covered by private medical plans. But the effect of marijuana on physical strength is a mystery - one that strengthens the case for at least a medical dispensation for marijuana use among the chronically ill, says Hays. "Look, a lot of the people I see in my practice have run the gamut from acupuncture to physiotherapists to naturopaths, with no success," she says. "They've spent vast sums on their pain. I know many of them are using (marijuana) and don't want to mention it ... I don't always ask. I think the time has come to have a national debate about what we're going to do with the marijuana law. We have to be cautious ... but the time has come to talk about it." For Mary, it's a simple enough matter of the federal government learning to mind its own business. "Marijuana is just a weed. People don't kill people on it, they don't rob banks. I met a lot of people on marijuana who wouldn't have been worth two cents without it. But the government's got to blackmail you. You use their drugs or you don't use any drugs at all." Copyright (c) 1998, Canoe Limited Partnership. -------------------------------------------------------------------
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