------------------------------------------------------------------- Medical Views Mixed On Marijuana (The Herald, in Everett, Washington, finds more than a few doctors who recognize the medical utility of cannabis, as well as others who repeat discredited drug warrior propaganda, even to their patients. Focusing on Initiative 692, the Washington state medical marijuana ballot measure, the article includes interesting summaries of very recent reports about medical marijuana in scientific and medical journals.) Date: Mon, 26 Oct 1998 14:40:26 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US WA: MMJ: Medical Views Mixed On Marijuana Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: John Smith Pubdate: 24 Oct 1998 Source: Herald, The (WA) Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.heraldnet.com/ Copyright: 1998 The Daily Herald Co. Author: Sharon Salyer, Herald Writer MEDICAL VIEWS MIXED ON MARIJUANA Voters are faced with contradictory opinions on ballot initiative Will marijuana, the unofficial poster child of the war on drugs, get long-sought legal approval for some types of medical uses in Washington? This is the issue voters will decide with Initiative 692, which would allow doctors to recommend, not prescribe, marijuana to patients who may benefit. This includes patients with chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting, AIDS wasting syndrome due to lack of appetite, anyone with severe muscle spasms associated with multiple sclerosis and other spasticity disorders, epilepsy, acute or chronic glaucoma and some forms of intractable pain. Voters will have to sort through a tangle of emotional and often contradictory arguments, with opponents arguing that more effective medications are now available and proponents saying that although marijuana may help only a small number of patients, those who can benefit should have access. The Washington ballot initiative is one of just several similar moves across the nation this year to authorize use of marijuana in cigarette form to combat medical problems. Alaska, Oregon, Colorado, Nevada and voters in Washington, D.C., are being asked to approve similar measures, said Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Arizona voters are being asked to affirm more far-reaching applications of what are now illegal drugs for medical uses if prescribed by two physicians, he added. St. Pierre and other proponents, including some area physicians, said that smoked marijuana is a cheap alternative to a prescription drug, Marinol, with one of the active ingredients of marijuana. Each pill can cost about $8.50, he said, and patients typically take it three to four times a day. Smoking marijuana also delivers the marijuana's active ingredient to the bloodstream more quickly, he said. "For the person who is very sick, smoking is the premier way to get relief," St. Pierre added. Dr. Bill Robertson, a former president of the Washington State Medical Association and the head of the Seattle Poison Center, said that anti-nausea drugs have a success rate of 80 percent, meaning they don't work for everyone. Approval of the initiative would introduce more choice in the treatment of terminally ill or chronically debilitated patients, he said. "If somebody wants to do this, why should we stand in their way?" he asked. Dr. Jeffrey Ward, an Edmonds oncologist, said he objects to the initiative because it is not needed. Physicians now rarely use Marinol to treat nausea in chemotherapy patients because more effective medications are available, Ward said. "I don't have a vested interest in keeping marijuana illegal or legal," he added. "I don't think using the argument that you need to legalize it for medical purposes holds water." Dr. Jonathan Gavrin, an assistant professor of anesthesiology at the University of Washington who works at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, said that patients there are always cautioned against using marijuana because of the aspergillus fungus that grows in anything smokable. All Hutchinson patients receive bone marrow transplants, which requires patients' immune systems to be suppressed. Smoking marijuana could allow the dangerous fungus to get into their sinuses or lungs and spread to their blood and brain, he said. But Gavrin said he could support its use for hospice patients "truly at an end-of-life situation" to relieve symptoms. Recent medical studies are mixed as area doctors on the issue. Here's a few examples: A February 1997 article in the Southern Medical Journal included a national survey of oncologists, or cancer specialists, on patient use of marijuana. Thirty percent said they supported reclassification of marijuana for medical purposes. An article in the June 1998 edition of the Western Journal of Medicine said that while many medical studies suggest the "the medical utility" of marijuana for some conditions, "the scientific evidence is weak," urging more research on the medical effects of marijuana. A May 1997 article in the Annals of Internal Medicine said that the most promising uses of marijuana are for counteracting the nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy and stimulating appetite, but added, "The evidence does not support the reclassification of crude marijuana as a prescribable medicine." An article in the March-April 1998 issue of the American Pharmaceutical Association said that marijuana "shows clinical promise for glaucoma, nausea, and vomiting, analgesia, spasticity, multiple sclerosis and AIDS wasting syndrome" and should be available for patients "who do not adequately respond to currently available therapies." Lawrence Halpern, an associate professor of pharmacology at the University of Washington, reflected on the degree to which experts disagree on the issue. "There are (medical) papers considering the legitimate use of marijuana as an adjunct medicine going back 30-40 years," he said. "Others say it's a poison. Somewhere in the middle is the truth." You may Herald reporter Sharon Salyer at 425-339-3486 or you can send e-mail to her at firstname.lastname@example.org .
------------------------------------------------------------------- Measure 8 - Vote Yes For Medical Reform (A staff editorial in The Anchorage Daily News endorses the Alaska medical marijuana initiative, noting that sick people in 24 states can already smoke marijuana under medical-necessity laws that allow such use for people with desperate needs.) Date: Sun, 25 Oct 1998 07:59:17 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: AK: MMJ: Editorial: Measure 8: Vote Yes For Medical Reform Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Dave Fratello (email@example.com) Pubdate: Sat, 24 Oct 1998 Source: Anchorage Daily News (AK) Copyright: 1998 The Anchorage Daily News Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.adn.com/ MEASURE 8: VOTE YES FOR MEDICAL REFORM If Ballot Measure 8 passes, as expected, then very sick or dying patients and conscientious physicians will be well-served by voters. Measure 8 allows for marijuana to be used as medicine in controlled circumstances and with a doctor's approval. Medical marijuana initiatives are on the November ballot in five states, including Alaska, and in the nation's capital. In 24 states, sick people already can smoke marijuana under medical-necessity laws that allow such use for people with desperate needs. If adopted, Alaska's law would make possession legal for people with specific conditions like cancer or AIDS, and whose debilitating symptoms include chemotherapy-related nausea or muscle spasms. As Ileen Self, who is a member of the Alaska Nurses Association, says of Measure 8, "The bottom line is, it doesn't make the buying or selling of marijuana legal. But what it means is that people who have terminal (or chronic) illnesses will not be arrested and prosecuted for possession of marijuana." Smoking marijuana for non-medical uses will remain illegal. While federal law says that possession of any amount of marijuana is illegal, 8 supporters say they're forging ahead with this ballot effort to legalize medical marijuana at the state level for two reasons. First, it's the humane and practical solution for patients with no other recourse, and second, they hope that overwhelming state support will lead Congress to adopt a federal solution. Right now, marijuana is federally classified with drugs like heroin or LSD that, unlike marijuana, have no redeeming medical value. Thus, doctors can't legally prescribe it, nor can more research on the benefits and drawbacks of medical-marijuana usage go forward as it should. If Measure 8 passes, says initiative co-sponsor Jim Kentch, sick people with a doctor's authorization will be permitted to grow their own marijuana. While it makes better sense for the federal government to work out uniform standards for how people can legally acquire the drug, this intermediate step will have to do for now. The concern here with the grow-your-own approach is that quality control is lacking. When people don't know about a drug's potency, for example, they are unsure about dosages. Given potential problems like this, the Legislature ought not be reluctant to revisit Measure 8 if it passes. (State law also allows the Legislature to amend voter-sponsored laws at any time and repeal them after two years.) Legalization will help people like Kevin Sampson, an Anchorage resident who has AIDS. About 18 months ago, he became very sick and began wasting away. Mr. Sampson was prescribed Marinol, pills with the active ingredients found in marijuana, but he usually couldn't keep even one down. When he did, he recounted recently, it took two hours to kick in and the effects lasted for hours longer than needed. Mr. Sampson now smokes daily a small amount of marijuana that he obtains on his own. "I attribute smoking marijuana to the fact that I'm even alive today. ... Nothing else seemed to work. Just the sight of food, or the smell of food, makes me extremely nauseous," he said. The added benefit of the plant form, for Mr. Sampson at least, is financial. Marinol pills cost about $7 each, or 200 pills for $1,500. "For the cost of three pills, I can get enough (plant) marijuana to get me through a month or two," he says. Some critics of Measure 8 say that sick people have other, legal drug alternatives and don't need to resort to marijuana. Nurse Self of the Alaska Nurses Association, which has endorsed Ballot Measure 8, disagrees. "Our position as nurses is that we listen to what the patients tell us," she says. "And patients tell us this works, at least for some people. And to me, it's not a question of, 'Well, there's other drugs available that work for 60 percent (of the people who try them).' If there's something else available that works for the other 40 percent, why not use it?" If Measure 8 passes, then voters will have moved the state in the right direction by allowing people to use marijuana for medical reasons without being treated as criminals. On Nov. 3, vote yes on 8.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Measure No. 8 - Voters Weigh In On Medicinal Marijuana (Five letters to the editor of The Anchorage Daily News all support the Alaskan ballot initiative.) Date: Thu, 29 Oct 1998 18:27:36 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US AK: 5 PUB LTE: MMJ: Measure No. 8: Voters Weigh In On Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: DrugSense Source: Anchorage Daily News (AK) Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.adn.com/ Copyright: 1998 The Anchorage Daily News Author: See below Pubdate: Sat, 24 Oct 1998 MEASURE NO. 8: VOTERS WEIGH IN ON MEDICINAL MARIJUANA Pot May Be Better Than Pills I believe in the legalization of marijuana for medical use. Patients are already given THC pills to help counter the side effects of chemotherapy. The pills can cause the patient to get sick and throw up. If THC helps chemo patients feel better, how many more people could it help? - Eric Quast Anchorage *** Please Vote For Healing I urge voters to support the medical marijuana initiative. Scientific research and experience clearly reveal medical marijuana to be the treatment of choice for many patients suffering from glaucoma, epileptic seizures and the adverse effects of chemotherapy. Let compassion be our guide. Medical marijuana is good medicine. Please vote for healing on Election Day. Thank you. - David Grimes Cordova *** Vote Yes For Wonder Medicine People who suffer pain that is untreatable by conventional methods get no publicity or recognition, and the pain stays with them. Treat this pain and suffering with marijuana, and the application destroys the pain with no addictive consequences. Heal the pain and do so by voting yes for the wonder medicine. Vote yes on Ballot Measure No. 8. - John M. (Jack) Anderson, past president Anchorage Chamber of Commerce Founder and first president Alaska State Chamber of Commerce *** Anything To Ease Cancer Pain I, like many Alaskans, have watched too many people suffer from cancer. There are no words to describe the suffering they go through. Anything to ease that pain is worth any struggle. I support Ballot Measure No. 8 to legalize marijuana for medicinal use. - Victoria Anderson Anchorage *** How Would You Feel? How would you feel if you had a painful, terminal or debilitating disease for which there was medication but you were not allowed to have any? Angry? Upset? Confused? Physicians should be allowed to prescribe medical marijuana for specific conditions for which it is effective, just as they prescribe other controlled medications. Vote yes on Ballot Measure No. 8 on Nov. 3. - George E. McLaughlin Fairbanks
------------------------------------------------------------------- Don't Be Fooled By Pot Measure (Another letter to the editor of the Anchorage Daily News opposes the Alaskan medical marijuana ballot initiative because minors would be allowed to use marijuana with the consent of a parent or legal guardian.) Date: Thu, 29 Oct 1998 18:39:37 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US AK: LTE: MMJ: Don't Be Fooled By Pot Measure Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: DrugSense Source: Anchorage Daily News (AK) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.adn.com/ Copyright: 1998 The Anchorage Daily News Pubdate: Sat, 24 Oct 1998 DON'T BE FOOLED BY POT MEASURE I share Michelle Wilson's concern for people suffering from cancer, glaucoma and other debilitating diseases (Letters, Oct. 15). I am pleased that in the past 10 years, a broad spectrum of drugs has been developed to successfully treat the nausea associated with chemotherapy. There is even a synthetic THC, Marinol, that was approved by the FDA in 1985 for use as an anti-nausea agent for cancer chemotherapy patients. In 1992, it was approved as an appetite stimulant for AIDS patients. Marinol can be prescribed by doctors and used by patients under close medical supervision. Don't be deceived. Ballot Measure No. 8 is not about compassion for the sick and dying. It is about legalizing marijuana. A simple recommendation from a doctor, not prescription, will allow your neighbors and mine to grow, possess and use marijuana to treat any disease that produces severe pain, severe nausea, seizures or muscle spasms (see Page 135 of the state of Alaska's Official Election Pamphlet). Minors will be allowed to use marijuana with the consent of a parent or legal guardian. Are you willing to tell our young people that marijuana is legal, it's safe and it's medicine? Are you willing to legalize marijuana? I'm not. That's why I am voting no on Ballot Measure No. 8. - Alyce Hanley Anchorage
------------------------------------------------------------------- Pot Backers Not Giving Up (The Denver Post says supporters of Amendment 19, the Colorado medical marijuana initiative, asked the state supreme court on Friday to order county clerks to tally the votes to be cast for and against the controversial initiative on Nov. 3. Coloradans for Medical Rights believes it will be able to show in court early next week that there are enough valid petition signatures that the votes should be counted.) Date: Mon, 26 Oct 1998 14:34:07 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US CO: MMJ: Pot Backers Not Giving Up Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Citizens for Compassionate Cannabis (email@example.com) Pubdate: Sat, 24 Oct 1998 Source: Denver Post (CO) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.denverpost.com/ Copyright: 1998 The Denver Post Author: Howard Pankratz POT BACKERS NOT GIVING UP Supporters of a measure that would legalize the medicinal use of marijuana asked the Colorado Supreme Court on Friday to order county clerks to tally the votes cast for and against the controversial initiative on Nov. 3. The action came after Coloradans for Medical Rights said they had heard that a number of county clerks around the state were "locking down'' voting devices in their counties so they wouldn't record the votes cast for the measure. The group believes it will be able to show in court early next week that there are enough valid petition signatures that the votes should be counted. Luther Symons, spokesman for Coloradans for Medical Rights, the measure's sponsor, said it would be tragic if the votes can't be tallied because the voting machines have been programmed not to count the votes. "The worst-case scenario is if it is finally determined that we deserve to be on the ballot but the voting machines have been locked down'' and the vote is not counted because of that, said Symons on Friday. Symons said that after hearing the machines were being "locked down,'' the group asked Secretary of State Vikki Buckley to order the county clerks to tally the votes. The group decided to ask the Supreme Court to intervene and force Buckley to issue such an order only after Buckley refused the group's request, said Symons. Assistant Attorney General Maurice Knaizer, who represents Buckley, said late Friday that Buckley is advising any of the 63 county clerks who ask that they should not count the votes. Knaizer said that his understanding is that the voting machines are being programmed by at least some of the clerks so they will count the votes but not download them. Knaizer said that he filed a response on behalf of Buckley with the Supreme Court late Friday. He said that the state's position is that the votes should not be tallied. However, if another round of court proceedings determines there were sufficient petition signatures, the matter should be placed on the ballot in two years, he said. Coloradans for Medical Rights has been in a running battle with Buckley over whether the measure should be on the ballot. On various occasions, Buckley has ruled that the sponsors didn't have enough valid petition signatures to place the initiative on the ballot. Denver District Judge Herbert Stern, however, eventually ordered the measure on the ballot. But later the Colorado Supreme Court told Buckley she should count the Nov. 3 votes only if a signature-by-signature recount of the 88,815 signatures showed there were enough for it to be on the ballot. A week ago, Buckley said she had completed the Supreme Court-ordered recount. The recount showed that the petitions submitted by supporters fell 2,338 signatures short of the 54,242 valid signatures needed for qualifying, said Buckley. But Coloradans for Medical Rights immediately began their own examination of the approximately 36,000 signatures Buckley claimed were invalid, said Symons. And Symons said Friday that so far the group has found numerous errors by the secretary of state's office. On the basis of the errors, Symons said that the group believes it can go into court next week and show it has found at least another 3,200 valid signatures. Armed with that, said Symons, the group will ask that the ballots be counted. The Supreme Court did not rule on the motion Friday, but could rule as early as Monday, a court spokesman said.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Mayor's Distance From Oregon Issue Raising Questions (The Houston Chronicle says Houston Mayor Lee Brown is receiving mixed reviews from other city officials for his response to a grand jury letting six prohibition agents off the hook after they broke into the home of an innocent man, Pedro Oregon Navarro, without a warrant and shot him to death. Critics of the one-time chief of police in Portland, Oregon, have questioned why Brown has appeared slow to respond or to take charge on an issue so potentially divisive.) Date: Sat, 24 Oct 1998 12:52:41 -0700 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US TX: Mayor's Distance From Oregon Issue Raising Questions Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: email@example.com Pubdate: Sat, 24 Oct 1998 Source: Houston Chronicle (TX) Copyright: 1998 Houston Chronicle Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.chron.com/ Author: Julie Mason MAYOR'S DISTANCE FROM OREGON ISSUE RAISING QUESTIONS Amid the fallout from a grand jury decision in the death of Pedro Oregon Navarro, Mayor Lee Brown is receiving mixed reviews from other city officials for his leadership during the past several days. While the rhetoric following the grand jury decision did not escalate to violence as some feared, critics questioned why Brown appeared slow to respond or take charge on an issue so potentially divisive for the city. "The mayor should be the father figure for this city," said Councilman John Castillo. "There could have been a potential for disruption, and I think he had an obligation to take a more aggressive and public role in providing comfort to the community which, by and large, seems to be hurt by what has happened." A Harris County grand jury on Monday cleared six police officers involved in the death of Oregon, 22, indicting only one on a misdemeanor charge of criminal trespass. The officers had burst into Oregon's apartment without a warrant and shot him July 12. Although several officials offered a similar description of what Brown's responsibilities are as city leader in such times, opinions were divided on whether Brown fulfilled his obligations. "I think his responsibilities were to be aware of the concerns in the community in such a high profile incident, to stay in contact with the affected community and do his best to see that tensions were defused," said Councilwoman Annise Parker. "I think he fulfilled them." However, Parker -- who previously served on the Police Advisory Committee and the Citizen Review Committee for the Houston Police Department -- said Brown may have been experiencing divided loyalties as former chief of police and a longtime law enforcement professional. "I am sure it had to be difficult, he is very identified with HPD," Parker said. "I think that when something like this happens, it's a reflection on all of us. I think we all had feelings of outrage and anger that it happened, but he must have had some divided loyalties." On Monday, the day the grand jury returned its findings, numerous civic leaders rushed to denounce the decision and to urge calm in the community. City Council members immediately drafted a letter to federal justice officials, calling for an investigation. Brown, meanwhile, had already gone home by the time his office released a brief written statement after 6:30 p.m., requesting an FBI inquiry into Oregon's killing. On Tuesday, Brown remained largely in the background, reiterating his statement from the day before and sticking to his schedule, including a lunch with the Houston Restaurant Association. Several members of City Council called a press conference to detail their call for a federal investigation. At that event, Councilman Orlando Sanchez noted Brown's reticence in showing leadership on the issue - leading to an angry phone call from the mayor for what Brown considered a cheap shot. For a mayor who recently convened a "Unity Breakfast" with Hispanic officials and has otherwise tried to build bridges with that community, the omission for some began to appear strange. "It's been apparent to me that he has been pretty reserved about it all," said Councilman Rob Todd. "I think he has a responsibility, and that is to urge calm and to urge people to trust their government." Brown was trumped on Tuesday when U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, met with the Oregon family and appeared on the evening news, surrounded by the family members and speaking with the U.S. Department of Justice on her cellular phone. Brown was to have met with the family that evening, but the event was canceled when one of the members fell ill. Brown instead commended community leaders in the Gulfton area, where many Hispanics live, and said his staff had been active there. By Wednesday the mayor's relative invisibility on the issue was becoming a topic of conversation at City Hall. After two days of obscurity, Brown's staff drafted an impassioned statement on the Oregon case that the mayor delivered during a council meeting. "This case has anguished many people in our city. Many people are dismayed, even angry over what, to them, is an apparent miscarriage of justice," Brown said. "I understand why they are angry. They want to know the truth." Later in the day, Brown attended a session in a nearby park with Hispanic and other community leaders, aimed at reassuring residents and continuing to call for peaceful discourse. His staff called the mayor's efforts a success. "The mayor showed tremendous leadership in dealing with a very difficult situation," said Jay Aiyer, Brown's chief of staff. "Through his own action, he set an example for the rest of us in terms of understanding and respecting the process." Aiyer contended that Brown's low-key approach to the situation showed restrained dignity. "The easy thing to do would be to grandstand or exploit the issue," Aiyer said. "He clearly did not do that." Controller Sylvia Garcia, who lent her support to the council members asking for a federal investigation, added her praise to Brown's handling of the city in the wake of the Oregon case. "I think the mayor acted very responsibly in asking for the Justice Department review," Garcia said. "I think with his background, he deserves a lot of credit for the level of professionalism we have at HPD." Garcia, who on Friday attended an event honoring Hispanic police officers, called the Oregon incident an "aberration." Harris County Constable Victor Trevino said the best thing city officials can do now is be truthful and honest in disclosing all of the facts in the case. "It's not just about loyalty, you have to stand on the side of truth," Trevino said. "The public wants to know what happened, and I think government is wrong when it starts being secretive. They keep telling us to wait on judgment until we know the truth. When are we going to know?"
------------------------------------------------------------------- Initiative 59 - Snuffed Out (A staff editorial in The Washington Post responds to recent news that Congress used an omnibus spending bill to kill the District of Columbia medical marijuana voter initiative even before ballots were cast. "You don't have to be a supporter of Initiative 59 to regard this latest congressional intrusion as an affront to District voters.") Date: Sat, 24 Oct 1998 11:40:08 -0700 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US: MMJ: WP Editorial: Initiative 59: Snuffed Out Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: DrugSense Source: The Washington Post Pubdate: Saturday, 24 Oct 1998 Section: Lead Editorial, Page A24 Copyright: 1998 The Washington Post Company Contact: http://washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/edit/letters/letterform.htm Mail: Letters to the Editor, The Washington Post, 1150 15th Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20071 Website: http://www.washingtonpost.com/ Initiative 59: Snuffed Out "Initiative 59, the Nov. 3 D.C. ballot measure that would legalize the possession, use, cultivation and distribution of marijuana if "recommended" by a physician for serious illnesses, got snuffed out by Congress this week. Without giving District residents a chance to register their views, Congress used the omnibus spending bill [the bill Congress uses to 'run' the D.C. government] to kill the voter initiative even before ballots were cast. The congressional rider essentially bans funds in the FY 1999 D.C. budget from being spent on the medical marijuana initiative. Although ballots containing Initiative 59 have already been printed, Congress still gets to have its way. Initiatives ratified by the voters still must be certified by the Board of Elections and Ethics. According to election officials, the congressional action prevents the board from counting and certifying the results. Hence the ballot measure - regardless of how many votes it draws on Election Day - cannot become law. You don't have to be a supporter of Initiative 59 to regard this latest congressional intrusion as an affront to District voters. This page has been supportive over the years of more flexibility in the use of regulated narcotics -- heroin, in particular -- for the aleviation of pain in the terminally ill. But we believe that doctors and scientists are the best arbiters of how and under what conditions dangerous drugs can be used to help the sick. Voters, no matter how well intentioned, cannot do the FDA's job. We also note the availability of Marinol, a prescriptiuon drug containing the cannabis leaf's active ingredient, THC. In this instance, however, the immediate issue is not whether District residents favor or oppose Initiative 59 but rather their right - now denied by Congress - to express their views on the measure. Congress should have allowed that to happen.
------------------------------------------------------------------- DrugSense Focus Alert No. 85 - Initiative 59 - Snuffed Out (DrugSense asks you to write a letter protesting Congress's decision to prohibit the District of Columbia from tallying votes on a medical marijuana measure.) Date: Sat, 24 Oct 1998 20:41:26 -0400 To: DRCNet Medical Marijuana Forum (email@example.com) From: Richard Lake (firstname.lastname@example.org) Subject: DrugSense FOCUS Alert #85 - INITIATIVE 59: SNUFFED OUT Reply-To: email@example.com Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org PLEASE COPY AND DISTRIBUTE DrugSense FOCUS Alert #85 10/24/98 INITIATIVE 59: SNUFFED OUT *** "INITIATIVE 59, the Nov. 3 D.C. ballot measure that would legalize the possession, use, cultivation and distribution of marijuana if "recommended" by a physician for serious illnesses, got snuffed out by Congress this week. Without giving District residents a chance to register their views, Congress used the omnibus spending bill to kill the voter initiative even before ballots were cast." wrote The Washington Post in Saturday's lead editorial. Please write a letter on the subject to the The Washinton Post. The Post only accepts letters thru their webform at: http://washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/edit/letters/letterform.htm You can draft your letter with a word processing program and then copy and paste it into the webform on the above web page. Or you may mail your letter to: Letters to the Editor, The Washington Post, 1150 15th Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20071 This action by Congress to block a vote of the people of the District of Columbia has not received wide coverage in the media. If Congress can so block even a vote in DC, what is next? You may like to send a letter to your local newspapers about this. The email letter addresses for many newspapers may be found at: http://www.mapinc.org/resource/email.htm Just put the name of a newspaper in the Keyword(s) box, and do the search. Thanks for your effort and support. You CAN make a big difference WRITE A LETTER TODAY It's not what others do it's what YOU do *** PLEASE SEND US A COPY OF YOUR LETTER OR TELL US WHAT YOU DID ( Letter, Phone, fax etc.) Please post your letters or report your action to the MAPTalk list if you are subscribed, or return a copy to this address by simply hitting REPLY to this FOCUS Alert and pasting your letter in or by E-mailing a copy directly to MGreer@mapinc.org *** CONTACT INFO http://washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/edit/letters/letterform.htm *** Original Editorial: [snip - deleted to avoid duplication. See previous item. - ed.] *** ADDITIONAL INFO to help you in your letter writing efforts 3 Tips for Letter Writers http://www.mapinc.org/3tips.htm Letter Writers Style Guide http://www.mapinc.org/style.htm SAMPLE LETTER The election board is mistaken that the congressional rider in the FY 1999 D.C. budget banning funding for the medical marijuana initiative prevents counting ballot results. The appearance of Initiative 59 on the ballot is purely an election matter having nothing to do with implementing the law. It is strictly a matter of voter rights at this point. If applied this way, the rider is unConstitutional on the face of it because it denies voter rights. If Congress can legally thwart Iniative 59 at the ballot box, they can effectively deny all democratic processes to the District of Columbia by forbidding funds to be used for any elections at all. The votes for Iniative 59 must be counted. Redford Givens WRITE AWAY! Mark Greer DrugSense MGreer@mapinc.org http://www.DrugSense.org/ http://www.mapinc.org/
------------------------------------------------------------------- US Drug Interdiction Effort Receives $690 Million Boost (The Washington Post says Congress has passed a last-minute bill boosting the United States' budget for interdicting cocaine and heroin entering the country from Colombia. An additional $2 billion for interdiction efforts has been authorized, but not appropriated, in the omnibus spending bill, but the $690 million extra is included in an emergency supplemental appropriations bill signed by President Clinton this week, and will greatly increase the aircraft and ships used by Colombian prohibition agents.) Date: Mon, 26 Oct 1998 22:10:54 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US WP: US Drug Interdiction Effort Receives $690 Million Boost Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Paul Wolf (email@example.com) Pubdate: Sat, 24 Oct 1998 Source: Washington Post (DC) Contact: http://washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/edit/letters/letterform.htm Website: http://www.washingtonpost.com/ Copyright: 1998 The Washington Post Company Author: Douglas Farah US DRUG INTERDICTION EFFORT RECEIVES $690 MILLION BOOST Through a last-minute infusion of aid by Congress, the United States is boosting its anti-drug budget by $ 690 million to interdict cocaine and heroin entering the country from Latin America. The money, included in the emergency supplemental appropriations bill signed by President Clinton this week, will greatly increase the types and quantity of aircraft and ships used in the drug war in Latin America. The new equipment will include six UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters for the Colombian police, purchased for $ 96 million; six sophisticated surveillance airplanes for the Customs Service at a cost of $ 153 million; and $ 53 million worth of new and remodeled ships for the Coast Guard. The aid is expected to increase with an additional $ 2 billion for interdiction efforts authorized, but not appropriated, in the omnibus spending bill signed by Clinton. Sponsors of the bill argued that the new money was necessary because the Clinton administration had sharply reduced funds available to cut off the flow of drugs. Administration officials said the White House, which had been skeptical of the initiative, would not oppose it. Rep. Bill McCollum (R-Fla.), a chief sponsor of the legislation, said the spending is "a clear message to the drug traffickers who prey on our kids: The pipeline of drugs pouring into the U.S. is shutting down." The single biggest beneficiary of the aid is the Colombian National Police, who will receive the Black Hawk helicopters as well as upgrades for the aging fleet of Huey UH-1H helicopters. Supporters argued that the more sophisticated helicopters were necessary to eradicate poppy, used to make heroin and grown at high altitudes, and to counter the increased firepower of leftist guerrillas active throughout the countryside. The move had been opposed by the White House, which said the Black Hawks cost almost twice as much as the Vietnam-era Hueys to operate and need more maintenance. "The administration has fought the Congress tooth and nail over the last few years to prevent the provision of badly needed high-performance helicopters for the Colombian anti-drug police," said Rep. Benjamin A. Gilman (R-N.Y.). "Our Republican drug task force finally prevailed, and none too early, because the heroin crisis in America, most of which comes from Colombia, is growing out of control." Congressional sources said the increased aid to Colombia is both an effort to halt the growth of Marxist guerrilla movements, which have handed the military stinging defeats recently, and a vote of confidence in Gen. Jose Serrano, commander of the police. Congressional sources said that without the personal goodwill generated by Serrano, who won widespread acclaim as his troops dismantled both the Medellin and Cali cartels in Colombia, the push for aid would not have been successful. The sources said none of the aid is going to the Colombian military because of its poor human rights record. Colombia's recently elected president, Andres Pastrana, has agreed to open talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the oldest and largest Marxist group in the hemisphere. Counting the smaller National Liberation Army (ELN), insurgents now number about 20,000 and control about half of the national territory, although they have captured none of the major cities. "It gives the security forces a much needed boost in morale," Andy Messing, an expert on the Colombian conflict at the National Defense Council Foundation, said of the increase in aid. "It will start to level out the battle field so serious negotiations can begin to take place."
------------------------------------------------------------------- The Finnish Medical Association supports medical marijuana (A translation of an excerpt from Hufvudstadsbladet, in Finland, about a press conference called by the Finnish medical association) Date: Sun, 25 Oct 1998 18:10:29 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: Finland: The Finnish Medical Association supports Medical Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: John Yates Source: Hufvudstadsbladet (Finland) Pubdate: 24 Oct 1008 Copyright: Hufvudstadsbladet Ab 1998 Contact: http://www.hbl.fi/ Note: I wrote the headline. The newspaper is published in Finland in the Swedish language. Our translator and newshawk writes: "Actually, it is a section of a longer article about a press conference called by the Finnish Medical Association who have taken a liberal position on drug policy in the latest issue of their journal, Duodecim.... Here is the part about cannabis.... There we have it. The Finnish Medical Association can be added to the list of those who support medical cannabis and who say it is relatively safe." THE FINNISH MEDICAL ASSOCIATION SUPPORTS MEDICAL CANNABIS Duodecim's theme issue presents a purely medical view of the narcotics situation. This has never been done before, said Pekka Heinala, one of those responsible for the special issue. He is a psychiatrist and psychotherapist working for the Alchohol Research Authority. He asserts it is high time for self criticism in the area of abuse treatment. Matti O. Huttunen points out the double morality surrounding cannabis in his article. A critical examination of the available research shows that the negative effects of cannabis use have been greatly exaggerated. If policy was determined purely according to health risks, it would perhaps be tobacco and alcohol that were illegal, it was said at the press conference yesterday. The doctors are not encouraging cannabis use, but are presenting a more nuanced picture. It was also said yesterday that cannabis has possible therapeutic effects in the treatment of cancer and HIV - it can possibly reduce pain and feelings of nausea. Heinala said further that there is probably no connection between cannabis use and schizophrenia, which has been the subject of research by Sweden and other countries. On the other hand cannabis can lead to psychotic reactions in sensitive persons and seems to give symptoms earlier to those who would develop schizophrenia anyway. -------------------------------------------------------------------
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