------------------------------------------------------------------- Cannabis Proves Itself Medically (A letter to the editor of the Columbian, in Vancouver, Washington, responds to a letter from drug warrior Sandra Bennett, citing a few credible scientific studies in which researchers found non-THC cannabinoids had beneficial affects, such as a reduction in painful muscle spasticity.)Newshawk: General Pulaski Pubdate: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 Source: Columbian, The (WA) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.columbian.com/ Forum: http://www.webforums.com/forums/trace/host/msa70.html Copyright: 1998 The Columbian Publishing Co. Author: Gae Stanley CANNABIS PROVES ITSELF MEDICALLY Scientific research of the chemicals in cannabis reveal how it can be used medicinally. Marijuana contains more than 60 cannabinoids, the pharmacologically active substances in the plant. Many of these aren't psychoactive and produce no "high." One in particular, cannabidiol or CBD, has been intensively studied for its anti-spasmodic properties. The human body has two known cannabinoid receptor sites. With grants from the U.S. government and the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the University of Arizona Medical Center conducted an FDA-approved study of CBD in 1986. The cannabinoid was given to patients diagnosed with dystonia movement disorders (similar to Parkinson's disease). The International Journal of Neuroscience published the results. The Annals of Neurology and the Journal of Neurology published similar studies done on multiple sclerosis patients who had cannabinoids given to them. In all cases, the researchers concluded that cannabis has powerful beneficial affects, reducing painful muscle spasticity. Based on hundreds of clinical studies proving marijuana relieves suffering in certain medical conditions, the Journal of the American Medical Association publicly called for the federal government to allow marijuana to be used medicinally. It is now known that tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, is not always solely responsible for medicinal action. The nonpsychoactive cannabinoids working synergistically with THC are equally valuable. This is part of the reason that the drug Marinol, a synthetic form of pure THC, is not as effective as whole marijuana. It is mean-spirited to deny patients treatment to relieve their suffering based on groundless fears. Unchecked hysteria was responsible for outlawing medical marijuana in 1937; common-sense voters have reversed that mistake. The Washington initiative clearly spells out that marijuana would be used for the most serious diseases, not for a nosebleed or a fallen arch, as inaccurately stated in Sandra Bennett's Dec. 9 opinion piece, "Medical pot is not about compassion, but getting stoned." Gae Stanley Vancouver
------------------------------------------------------------------- Lockyer to back medical marijuana (The San Francisco Examiner says California Attorney General-elect Bill Lockyer has unrolled a list of 12 priorities that bear little resemblance to those of his Republican predecessor, Dan Lungren. As his 10th priority, Lockyer promises to try to implement Prop. 215, the 1996 initiative that was intended to allow seriously ill patients to grow and use marijuana with a doctor's recommendation.) Date: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 18:51:33 -0600 From: "Frank S. World" (email@example.com) Organization: Rx Cannabis Now! http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Lobby/7417/ To: DPFCA (firstname.lastname@example.org) Subject: DPFCA: US CA: Lockyer to back medical marijuana Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: DrugSense http://www.drugsense.org/dpfca/ Source: San Francisco Examiner Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.examiner.com Pubdate: Tuesday, December 29, 1998 (c)1998 San Francisco Examiner LOCKYER TO BACK MEDICAL MARIJUANA By Robert Salladay EXAMINER CAPITOL BUREAU SACRAMENTO - With Gov.-elect Gray Davis promising, almost wryly, a soaring era of government moderation and political fine-tuning, the most radical change in Sacramento may occur just three blocks away in the attorney general's office. At the fortress-like red marble Department of Justice building on I Street, Democratic Attorney General-elect Bill Lockyer has already unrolled a list of priorities - priorities that bear little resemblance to those set by his Republican predecessor, Dan Lungren, during his two terms. While Lungren focused almost exclusively on crime and punishment, Lockyer's list of 12 key issues takes on a far different tone. His list includes passing an enforceable ban on assault weapons and beefing up civil rights and environmental and consumer protections. He wants to reform the death penalty appeals process, curb school violence and regulate the state's gambling industry. As his 10th priority, Lockyer promises to focus on legalizing the use of medical marijuana in the wake of Proposition 215, the 1996 initiative that was intended to allow seriously ill patients grow and use marijuana for pain relief with a doctor's recommendation. The initiative has largely failed because of efforts made through the courts by Lungren and the federal government. But Lockyer says he wants to make Prop. 215 work. "That means cooperating with local communities if they have different approaches. So San Francisco would be different than Kern County," Lockyer said. The issue highlights one of the bigger differences between Lockyer and Lungren. Many marijuana clubs around the state, including the 9,000-member Cannabis Healing Center in The City, have been shut down since the passage of Prop. 215 through Lungren's efforts and those of the Clinton administration's Justice Department, seeking to enforce federal laws against marijuana distribution. "I think (Lungren) was overly zealous in continuing to oppose (Prop. 215), even after the people had adopted it," Lockyer said. "I joke that there are days when I thought Dan had a copy of "Reefer Madness' at home." Issues aside, perhaps the most noticeable change between his hand ling of the job and Lungren's will be Lockyer's desire to demythologize the role of attorney general. Lockyer acknowledged he can be a powerful force in supporting crime legislation, and that his office has a huge role in handling criminal appeals. In the end, however, the job has limited influence over actual street crime and the criminal courtrooms. "My view is perhaps Dan Lungren felt like he was the pinnacle of the law-enforcement community, and I see my role as more of a support service for local DAs and local law enforcement," said Lockyer, who takes office Monday. "Of course, in four years I hope to run ads taking credit for all the fine work they do, which is what attorneys general tend to do." During the campaign leading up to his election in November, Lockyer, a longtime Democratic lawmaker from Hayward, got slapped around by Republican opponent Dave Stirling, a conservative former judge and chief deputy attorney general. Stirling portrayed Lockyer as a dangerously squishy liberal who may or may not have smoked pot. He accused Lockyer of trying to trash the state's "three strikes" law. And he said Lockyer would likely cause the crime rate to soar. It didn't sell. Although voters generally view the attorney general as the state's "top cop," they picked Lockyer over Stirling by 10 percentage points. While Lockyer will have many unresolved issues to face, including 50,000 ongoing lawsuits and criminal appeals, among the biggest will likely be dealing with Prop. 215. The 7,000-member California Narcotics Officers Association endorsed Stirling and differs with Lockyer on medical marijuana, calling Prop. 215 a sham. Christy McCampbell, president of the association, said she has met with Lockyer, found him to be interested in her work and thinks the Stirling endorsement can be put behind them as "politics is politics." "I think it's going to be kind of a learning experience, all the way around. He's learning a new position and we really don't want to be involved in the politics. Our membership is trying to do a job and trying to uphold the laws on the street." Although medical marijuana distribution centers have now gone underground, supporters were buoyed last month when five states - Arizona, Nevada, Alaska, Washington and Oregon - approved statutes similar to California's. Lockyer, whose mother and a sister died of leukemia, supported Prop. 215. During his campaign he said he wants "clinics, not cults." He has appointed a task force that includes state Sen. John Vasconcellos, D-San Jose, and Santa Clara County District Attorney George Kennedy, to find ways to make Prop. 215 work. "The change from Lungren is potentially very significant," said Dave Fratello, spokesman for Americans for Medical Rights. "Lockyer has said he understands the conflict we have with federal law and would like to see this initiative work. And he has even said he would support regulated distribution of marijuana, as long as there were safeguards." Fratello said 1999 could bring efforts to set up an official registry, perhaps in the state Department of Health, so that medical marijuana users could show police an identification card if they are stopped. There may be a move to determine exactly how much marijuana is appropriate per patient. Meanwhile, Lockyer isn't pretending he knows everything about the agency he's about to head. He still hasn't announced his picks for many top-level positions, from the criminal law division to civil rights and, perhaps, a new position in charge of environmental enforcement. "The good news is that there are a lot of really fine law-enforcement professionals who are willing to take on the task of managing the cop shop," Lockyer said. "Once that person is in place, I would want to get his recommendations about the best way to use the department's budget." Lockyer has asked Gov.-elect Davis for $25¸million in extra funding over last year's budget to hire more attorneys in some departments and to strengthen the state's crime labs. He describes taking over the sprawling agency as similar to being lowered from a helicopter onto a massive aircraft carrier at sea. Lockyer has spent the past two months exploring his new digs. He marvels that the attorney general's supercomputer processes about 1.5 million local law enforcement inquiries a day. He'll go from 50 employees in the Senate to 5,000 as attorney general. He was astonished to find the division of civil rights enforcement somewhere below the Registry of Charitable Trusts on an internal organizational chart. As a lawmaker, Lockyer was certainly influential as Senate president pro tem, but ultimately he was just one chattering voice among 120 senators and Assembly members. Not anymore. "(It's) the difference between having an opinion and having a legal opinion," Lockyer said. "We all have opinions, and policy makers are full of them. But having a legal opinion requires a certain kind of discipline. And trying to motivate and manage and be a good team leader for 5,000 is a very challenging task as well." (c)1998 San Francisco Examiner
------------------------------------------------------------------- Environment And Crime - Major Issues (The San Diego Union Tribune says outgoing Governor Pete Wilson is crediting his support for California's uniquely harsh "three strikes" mandatory minimum law for the state's lowest crime rate in 30 years. Wilson also credits the three strikes law for a drop in gun sales, and for more parolees leaving the state for other regions. But critics note the three strikes law is enforced differently in every county, while crime dropped everywhere, including the 49 other states that generally don't sentence pot smokers and pizza thieves to 25 years to life.) Date: Thu, 31 Dec 1998 11:26:51 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US CA: Environment And Crime -- Major Issues Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: General Pulaski Pubdate: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 Source: San Diego Union Tribune (CA) Copyright: 1998 Union-Tribune Publishing Co. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.uniontrib.com/ Forum: http://www.uniontrib.com/cgi-bin/WebX ENVIRONMENT AND CRIME -- MAJOR ISSUES Tougher On Criminals Than Prosecutors Were; 3-Strikes Law Proved It SACRAMENTO -- In the middle of a nearly hysterical anti-crime atmosphere brought about by the slaying of 12-year-old Polly Klaas, Gov. Pete Wilson was asked to back a tough new sentencing law supported by prosecutors. Wilson rejected the bill. Instead, he came out in favor of an even more rigid and harsh measure, the "three strikes and you're out" proposal backed by victims' advocate Mike Reynolds that eventually became law. Wilson's choice four years ago symbolizes the crime policy he followed throughout his eight years as governor: support for the most severe punishment possible, even measures considered too extreme by law enforcement officials. Prosecutors worried in 1994 that the Reynolds version of three strikes would be unfair and expensive. In many cases, the three-strikes law that Wilson signed doesn't distinguish between violent and nonviolent felons, requiring the same long sentences for both types of repeat criminal. But Wilson said the law has been a huge success. "The most significant thing has been that we've been successful in isolating the recidivists and keeping them away from the public through three strikes," he said in a recent interview. Together, Wilson said, his policies add up to a safer California: Crime is down to a 30-year low, guns sales have dropped and more parolees are leaving the state for other regions. Between 1994 and 1997, homicides in California dropped by 40 percent and during that same period, gun sales declined by 50 percent. "And what I think that says is that people have begun feeling safer," he said. Critics, however, say Wilson's policies have been shortsighted because he has ignored far less expensive ways of preventing and punishing crime. The governor, they charge, has left the state with a bulging prisons budget and a potential prison construction crisis. A nationwide trend California's declining crime rate is part of a national trend. "Crime is down and down by a substantial proportion in California, that's the good news," said Frank Zimring, a law professor at the University of California Berkeley. "But the bad news for Wilson is that crime is down in a lot of places." The decline in California's crime rate has been matched and even exceeded in places like New York, which didn't pass lengthy sentencing laws like three strikes. Criminal justice experts say Wilson's lock-'em-up policies deserve only partial credit for making the state safer. The improved economy, the addition of police officers brought about by President Clinton's initiative, better policing methods and the reduction of the percentage of men in the crime-prone years have all contributed. On top of that, friendlier relations among drug dealers have helped, said Peter Greenwood, director of the Criminal Justice Program at RAND Corp., a nonprofit policy development and research institution. Much of the increase in crime in the 1980s in California stemmed from violent clashes over control of drug sales by rival gangs, he said. Greenwood is currently conducting a study on the effect of three strikes, which doubled the sentences of those convicted of a serious and violent felony and imposed a 25-year to life sentence on offenders with two prior serious convictions. "Three strikes gets some of the credit," he said. "How much I'm not prepared to say." Zimring argues that until three strikes has been in effect for a few more years it will be impossible to tell its effect on crime because many criminals being sentenced under the law would have gone to prison anyway. Under three strikes, those prisoners will stay in custody longer. In addition, Zimring points out that the three-strikes law has been implemented differently in each county. San Diego, for example, prosecutes the three-strikes law frequently, while San Francisco rarely uses the law. Yet, crime is down in both counties. Supporters of the three-strikes law say it has deterred criminals from plying their trade in California by giving parolees an incentive to leave. Now more parolees leave the state than enter, a reversal of past trends. Three strikes is just one of dozens of tough-on-crime policies turned into law by Wilson. When he took office in 1991, Wilson said that he found California's laws to be "absurdly lenient." During the past eight years, Wilson has changed that by signing laws that impose far longer sentences on burglars, murderers, rapists and even petty thieves. He has taken away prisoner privileges like weight rooms and conjugal visits, signed a law that chemically castrates repeat molesters and even silenced prisoners by banning inmate interviews with the press. Wilson was so committed to speeding up executions that he set aside his antipathy toward criminal defense attorneys and granted those who would represent Death Row inmates a 67 percent pay increase. Wilson said his aim was to "make sure that before long, old age will no longer be the leading cause of death among Death Row inmates." Even Wilson acknowledges that his criminal justice policies have been costly. When he took office in 1991, the Department of Corrections budget was $2.3 billion. This year the department will spend $4 billion. During Wilson's tenure, the state prison population grew by more than 59,000 -- the equivalent of locking up all the residents of Encinitas. In 1991, the state housed 101,000 convicts. Now it provides shelter to 160,000 inmates. Over the next 10 years, the Legislative Analyst's Office predicts that the state will face a prison construction crisis. California, the office calculates, will need to build 14 new prisons to take care of the additional 70,000 inmates that will be locked up as a result of Wilson's law-and-order policies. Prison system scandal The prison system has been rocked by scandals. Last month, a state panel concluded that two dozen fatal shootings of prisoners were not justified. In many instances, guards shot and killed inmates engaged in fistfights. Some guards have been accused of arranging "gladiator" style fights among prisoners at Corcoran prison in the San Joaquin Valley. "The price has been far too high," said state Sen. John Vasconcellos, D-San Jose. "The system is a disgrace. It's a moral nightmare." Vasconcellos and other critics say Wilson's tough-on-crime policies have been unnecessarily expensive because they sent many nonviolent criminals to expensive terms in state prisons. Many groups, even some conservatives, argued that nonviolent offenders should be sent to community correctional centers that are less harsh and less costly than state prison. Residential burglary, for example, is among the crimes that trigger the long state prison sentences imposed by three strikes. Under three strikes, someone with two felony burglary convictions and one felony forgery conviction can be sentenced to life in prison, the same sentence that a first-degree murderer gets. Critics also accuse Wilson of ignoring prevention. Vasconcellos said that Wilson repeatedly resisted efforts to expand pilot programs that had proved effective at reducing the recidivism rate among prisoners by preparing them for life on the outside. And that he didn't provide enough money for drug rehabilitation. "People come out of the system less equipped and more enraged than they went in," Vasconcellos said. Wilson, however, said he focused on prevention by trying to improve health care and the education system for young children and by stiffening domestic violence laws and encouraging mentoring. The governor hopes that a research program funded mostly by the state at UC San Francisco will one day result in a chemical that blocks alcohol addiction. "If they can do that, they can change the world," he said. In the meantime, Wilson said, failing to spend money on prisons is more expensive than putting tax dollars into the system. "Nobody likes to spend money on prisons ... ," he said. "But it is an essential." Despite their disagreement with the governor four years ago on which version of the three-strikes law to enact, many district attorneys remain strong supporters of the governor. San Diego County District Attorney Paul Pfingst said Wilson's contribution to public safety was substantial. "If results mean anything," he said, "then Pete Wilson should have the thanks of the people of the state of California for the reduction of crime on his watch."
------------------------------------------------------------------- Fire in Shed Doused, Pot in House Seized (A cautionary tale in the San Francisco Chronicle says a faulty natural gas generator ignited in a San Francisco backyard shed early yesterday, leading prohibition agents to seize 200 marijuana plants they valued at $20,000, or just $100 each.) Date: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 10:29:03 -0600 From: "Frank S. World" (email@example.com) Organization: Rx Cannabis Now! http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Lobby/7417/ To: DPFCA (firstname.lastname@example.org) Subject: DPFCA: US CA: Fire in Shed Doused, Pot in House Seized Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: DrugSense http://www.drugsense.org/dpfca/ Source: San Francisco Chronicle Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.sfgate.com/chronicle/ Pubdate: Tuesday, December 29, 1998 (c)1998 San Francisco Chronicle FIRE IN SHED DOUSED, POT IN HOUSE SEIZED Manny Fernandez, Chronicle Staff Writer San Francisco firefighters battling a blaze in the Parkside neighborhood yesterday morning stumbled upon a two-story home lavishly renovated to produce smoke of a different kind -- marijuana. Police say the two-bedroom, light-green stucco house at 2442 42nd Ave. was no ordinary home. Two men who rented the house allegedly converted the space into a high-tech marijuana greenhouse, complete with an elaborate air duct system, heating lamps and timers. ``The entire home was set up as a marijuana-producing location,'' said police narcotics Lieutenant Kitt Crenshaw. A generator hooked up to the natural gas line ignited in a backyard shed early yesterday. When firefighters entered the house to turn off the gas, they found themselves surrounded by a mini-forest of marijuana plants. ``The second you hit the door, you can smell it,'' Crenshaw said. ``You can stand outside the home and smell it, it was that strong.'' The garage and bedrooms were stocked with marijuana plants and thousands of dollars of growing equipment, including fans and lights. The only normal furnishings were two couches and a television set, Crenshaw said. Narcotics officers seized 200 marijuana plants worth an estimated $20,000 from the home, Crenshaw said. Police also found seven assault weapons and nearly 400 rounds of ammunition. The two men who had rented the house a month ago were not home at the time of the blaze, police said. No arrests had been made late yesterday. The residents powered the home-greenhouse with the generator to cut down on electricity bills, police said. The faulty generator, fueled by the natural gas line, was a potential danger to the entire neighborhood, Crenshaw said. No one was injured when either a leak or an electrical short-circuit caused the generator to ignite at 1:30 a.m., authorities said. Damage from the single-alarm blaze was confined to the shed. (c)1998 San Francisco Chronicle Page A16
------------------------------------------------------------------- VA Legislators Pass Resolution To Grow Hemp (The Associated Press says a Virginia House of Delegates committee voted 9-2 Monday to approve a measure calling for a study of industrial hemp. The resolution, sponsored by Del. Mitchell Van Yahres, D-Albemarle, asks federal officials to let the state's universities experiment with cultivating hemp for commercial use. The General Assembly will consider the measure during the session that begins Jan. 13.) Date: Wed, 30 Dec 1998 09:34:00 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US VA: Wire: VA Legislators Pass Resolution To Grow Hemp Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: firstname.lastname@example.org Pubdate: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 Source: Associated Press Copyright: 1998 Associated Press. VA LEGISLATORS PASS RESOLUTION TO GROW HEMP Richmond, Va, - The resolution approved Monday, sponsored by Del. Mitchell Van Yahres, D-Albemarle, asks federal officials to let the state's universities experiment with cultivation of industrial hemp for commercial use. Hemp was outlawed in the United States in 1937 because of its association with marijuana. A House of Delegates committee has endorsed a measure calling for the study of industrial hemp, a relative of marijuana that lacks the kick of the street drug. But it has a very low content of THC, the chemical that makes marijuana an intoxicant, and it was grown legally in the United States during World War II when the government used it to make rope. Some agriculture officials say hemp should be legalized again because it is a strong fiber useful in clothes, plastics and other commercial products. Van Yahres suggested Monday that hemp could come in handy for struggling tobacco farmers in need of a new cash crop. "The farmer, I think, is going to be the low man on the totem pole'' in the wake of the national tobacco settlement, Van Yahres told the House Rules Committee. "I think we need to talk about ways to help the farmer.'' Several other delegates questioned Van Yahres about hemp's commercial usefulness and whether the plant can be smoked. After a brief debate, the committee voted 9-2 to endorse the resolution. The General Assembly will consider the measure during the session that begins Jan. 13.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Narcolepsy Drug Offers Wide Appeal (The San Jose Mercury News says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved modafinil, a new drug manufactured by Cephalon that has few of the side effects associated with caffeine, amphetamines and other commonly used stimulants. Narcolepsy affects one of every 1,000 to 2,000 people - including untold numbers of people who contract it as a sometimes-permanent side effect from prescription antidepressants. The drug is expected to become available in February at a cost of "less than $10 a pill," compared to, for example, less than $1 for Ritalin.) Date: Thu, 31 Dec 1998 12:55:51 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US DC: Narcolepsy Drug Offers Wide Appeal Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Marcus/Mermelstein Family (email@example.com) Pubdate: Wed, 29 Dec 1998 Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.sjmercury.com/ Copyright: 1998 Mercury Center NARCOLEPSY DRUG OFFERS WIDE APPEAL WASHINGTON -- The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new drug that keeps people with debilitating sleepiness awake and attentive yet has few of the side effects associated with caffeine, amphetamines and other commonly used stimulants. The drug, modafinil, was approved for people with a serious sleep disorder called narcolepsy, which affects one out of 1,000 to 2,000 people, and is characterized by sudden, overwhelming waves of intense sleepiness. Modafinil will be available only by prescription, under the brand name Provigil, and will be listed by the Drug Enforcement Administration as a ``schedule IV'' substance, which means it will be regulated more tightly than most prescription drugs. Despite those restrictions, several experts said they would not be surprised if the pills quickly gained popularity among some of the millions of people who suffer from daytime sleepiness caused by problems more mundane than narcolepsy, such as overwork and stress-related insomnia. The drug may also find a ``gray market'' following among truck drivers, emergency room doctors and others whose jobs demand them to remain alert for days on end with little or no sleep. Preliminary studies on Canadian soldiers found that modafinil increased wakefulness and vigilance in soldiers who went without sleep for almost three days, without the agitation or the ``rebound'' fatigue that typically follows long stretches of amphetamine-induced wakefulness. No one knows yet whether modafinil is safe or effective for the vast majority of the world's fatigued. But clues may arise long before clinical trials are devised to study the question. Doctors who are licensed to prescribe scheduled drugs are allowed to prescribe those drugs for patients who do not have the disorder for which the FDA approved them. Experts said only time would tell whether doctors will feel comfortable prescribing modafinil to sleepy non-narcoleptics. If the DEA determines that the drug is being over-prescribed or abused, the agency can reschedule it to a more restrictive level. Cephalon, maker of the drug, announced modafinil's approval Monday, after getting word from the FDA on Thursday. Its stock jumped 12 percent, rising $1 to close at $9.19 on the Nasdaq. The drug is expected to become available in February. The company declined to reveal the price, but said it will be less than $10 a pill.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Review Board Sought For Drugs Gone Awry (A New York Times piece in the San Jose Mercury News says a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine contrasted the government's approach to airplane safety with its approach to drug safety. Noting adverse reactions to medicine kill 100,000 Americans a year - far more than die in plane crashes - the authors suggested that the United States needs an independent drug-safety agency, analogous to the transportation board, to investigate drug "crashes," and a mandatory reporting system to catch adverse drug effects as early as possible. Unfortunately, FDA officials seem to have taken personal offense and don't seem interested in improving the process.) Date: Thu, 31 Dec 1998 06:16:04 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US CA: Review Board Sought For Drugs Gone Awry Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Marcus/Mermelstein Family (email@example.com) Pubdate: 29 Dec 1998 Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.sjmercury.com/ Copyright: 1998 Mercury Center Author: DENISE GRADY New York Times REVIEW BOARD SOUGHT FOR DRUGS GONE AWRY When an airplane crashes, scores of investigators descend on the site, searching for the ``black box'' and piecing together the wreckage in a grim effort to find out what went wrong. The investigators work for an independent government agency, the National Transportation Safety Board -- not for the company that built the plane, not for the airline that flew it and not for the Federal Aviation Administration, which gave its stamp of approval to both the manufacturer and the airline. By contrast, when a drug harms patients, there is no independent agency to find out what went wrong. There is not even a formal program or system in place to require that early signs of trouble be reported. Instead, the government relies on doctors to report problems voluntarily, and the job of investigating then falls to the same people who put the drug on the market in the first place: the Food and Drug Administration, which approved the drug, and the pharmaceutical company that manufactured it. Writing in a recent issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, three doctors -- Raymond Woosley of Georgetown University, and Alastair J.J. Wood and C. Michael Stein of Vanderbilt University in Nashville -- compared airplane safety and drug safety, noting that adverse reactions to medications kill 100,000 Americans a year -- far more than die in plane crashes. The doctors suggested that the United States needs an independent drug-safety agency, analogous to the transportation board, to investigate drug ``crashes,'' and a mandatory reporting system to catch adverse drug effects as early as possible. The diet drug Redux is a case in point. It was taken off the market in 1997, because as part of the weight-loss combination fen-phen, it was found to cause heart-valve damage. Millions of people had taken fen-phen, but because of the lack of rigorous post-marketing surveillance, the authors said, there was little information about how many people were harmed, how the damage occurred and whether other drugs might cause similar problems. A safety board might have been able to make better sense of what happened, Woosley said, ``so that when we approve the next obesity drug, we might not be creating the same problem again.'' Another drug, Posicor, prescribed for high blood pressure, was taken off the market earlier this year after only 10 months, because of dangerous interactions with more than 25 other drugs. The FDA had received reports of 400 health problems and 24 deaths among the 200,000 Americans who had taken it, though it was not known whether these problems had actually been caused by the drug. The allergy drug Seldane was also taken off the market because its interactions with other drugs caused serious heart problems. It had been on the market for five years and had been used by tens of millions of people. (Late last year, it was reformulated and released as Allegra-D.) The proposal to turn over investigations of drug mishaps to a new safety board has not been well received at the FDA. Officials there issued a statement saying that the agency was best equipped to handle the job. ``FDA scientists who review marketing applications,'' it said in part, ``have extensive knowledge of the products and families of related products, which significantly benefits the agency's ability to monitor the products once they are on the market.'' But Woosley said that the article was not meant to criticize the agency or the drug industry. ``Our intention was not so much to find fault as to improve the process,'' he said.
------------------------------------------------------------------- DrugSense Focus Alert - Hypocrisy in Action (DrugSense asks you to write a quick letter to the editor of the Louisville Courier-Journal, to comment on a recent letter by Ken Singer, a liquor distributor who runs Champions For a Drug Free Kentucky, a state-funded organization. In case you need help, DrugSense includes some interesting quotes on alcohol, incarceration, violence, and marijuana.) Date: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 15:30:46 -0800 To: email@example.com From: Mark Greer (MGreer@mapinc.org) Subject: Focus Alert *** PLEASE COPY AND DISTRIBUTE DrugSense FOCUS Alert #91 12/29/98 Louisville Courier-Journal (KY) LIQUOR/BEER REGULATIONS Pubdate: 12/16/1998 Author: Ken Singer Circulation: 692,000 *** Hypocrisy In Action! Dear MAPers, Mr. Ken Singer authored this rather long op-ed about unfair and illogical alcohol regulations, prompted by the alcohol-related "recent deaths of the University of Kentucky students." Mr. Singer is President of *both* Expressway Liquors *and* the local "Champions For a Drug Free Kentucky." We all know plenty of good reasons why a liquor distributor should be the last person to babble about a "Drug Free America." Children will think he's either the biggest idiot or the biggest hypocrite in Kentucky - for if there is logic to selling adults alcohol, why does it not apply to cannabis? It is because of Drug War hypocrisy like this that adolescents now invite friends to drink or smoke by saying, 'Let's go fry some eggs.' Below are the inspiring article, background info on the "Champions For a Drug Free Kentucky", and quotes concerning alcohol, drugs & violence. Happy New Year, people! Let's make '99 a year that the prohibitionists will never forget :-) 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 Louisville Courier-Journal Louisville, KY circulation 692,000 http://www.courier-journal.com/ letters: firstname.lastname@example.org *** Original article: This article is permanently archived at http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v98.n1178.a02.html Newshawk: General Pulaski Pubdate: Wed, 16 Dec 1998 Source: Louisville Courier-Journal (KY) Author: Ken Singer Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.courier-journal.com/ Copyright: 1998 The Courier-Journal LIQUOR/BEER REGULATIONS [snipped to avoid duplication. Follow the link. - ed.] *** Background Information *** "Champions For a Drug Free Kentucky" is a state-funded organization with minimal websites & activity. They do not list Mr. Singer anywhere on their website. The mission of Champions for a Drug Free Kentucky is "to promote the prevention of alcohol, tobacco and other drug abuse, and violence, in Kentucky Communities." The executive director is Larry Carrico, LCARRICO@mail.state.ky.us, Office of the Champions for a Drug Free Kentucky. The website is at http://pages.prodigy.net/xway0610/champions/champion.htm Their weekly info page (last updated 10 months ago) gives dozens of anti-alcohol statistics at http://pages.prodigy.net/xway0610/champions/wklyinfo.htm *** Some quotes on alcohol & violence *** The Panel on the Understanding and Control of Violent Behavior was set up to meet the need for a more comprehensive assessment of what is known about violent behavior. It was established  in response to a request made by three Federal agencies: the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 1994 it concluded: "Alcohol is the only psychoactive drug that in many individuals tends to increase aggressive behavior temporarily while it is taking effect. Marijuana and opiates [heroin] temporarily inhibit violent behavior. There is no evidence to support the claim that snorting or injecting cocaine stimulates violent behavior. In the case of alcohol, hazards tend to be related to use, while for illegal psychoactive drugs they tend to be related to distribution and purchase." *** In 1998, General McCaffrey announced that a study of criminals under the influence of drugs at the time of the commission of their crime showed that 25% were under the influence of only one drug. When only one drug was involved, it was: alcohol, 84% -- cocaine, 12% -- heroin, 4% -- sole use of marijuana was too infrequent for inclusion. *** 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 Just DO It! Mark Greer Executive Director DrugSense MGreer@mapinc.org http://www.drugsense.org http://www.mapinc.org
------------------------------------------------------------------- Crusader vows to start pot 'club' for patients (According to The Calgary Herald, Calgary multiple sclerosis patient Grant Krieger said Monday he plans to have his non-profit medical marijuana dispensary - the Compassion club - up and running in two months. Paul Laventure, head of the Calgary police drug unit, said Krieger would be "liable to imprisonment for life.") From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Matt Elrod) To: email@example.com Subject: Crusader vows to start pot for patients Date: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 18:42:04 -0800 Lines: 71 Newshawk: firstname.lastname@example.org Source: Calgary Herald Pubdate: Dec.29, 1998 Contact:email@example.com Author:Brock Ketcham Medicinal Marijuana Crusader vows to start pot 'club' for patients A Calgary crusader for the medicinal use of marijuana is organizing a "club" that will give patients access to pot produced by local growers who cultivate the illegal drug hydroponically in their homes. Grant Krieger, 44, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, said Monday he plans to have his non-profit club - the Compassion club - up and running in two months. "The plant medicinally has been fantastic," said Krieger. he said the drug has helped him reclaim his life from an existence of crutches, canes and fouled underwear. "I'm going to circumvent the legal system." Paul Laventure, head of the Calgary police drug unit, said Krieger will be taking a serious legal risk if he goes ahead with his scheme. "He's trafficking," said Laventure, who added he would be "liable to imprisonment for life." Laventure said investigators will treat Krieger like any other suspected narcotics trafficker. "We will deal with it on a complaint basis," he said. Grant Vogeli, chairman of the Calgary chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, said his society does not condone selling dope. "Firstly, it's illegal," Vogeli said. "And secondly, there's no proven medical support that what he's saying is correct." Last week, British authorities announced that more than 1,000 patients will participate in scientific research over an 18-month period - beginning in the summer of 1999 - into the therapeutic uses of pot. Krieger, who claimed to have sold pot to "dozens" of people with diseases such as cancer, epilepsy and MS, said he will offer two types of memberships; one for people who want their identities kept secret and the other for people who wish to enroll openly. Confidentiality will be maintained by storing membership information on computer disks and hiding them among a network of supporters, he said. Krieger, who recently moved with his family to Calgary from Preeceville, Sask., said the Calgary Compassion Club will be one of several that have sprouted up across Canada in recent years. He said he will open a mailbox and publish a telephone number and eventually create an Internet Web site to attract members. "I'm not interested in recreational users," he added. Krieger, diagnosed with MS 20 years ago, has openly defied the law to draw attention to his cause since he began using marijuana four years ago to control symptoms like muscle spasms. A Calgary judge fined Krieger $550 in October after he intentionally lit a marijuana cigarette in front of the Court of Queen's bench and told onlookers he planned to give some to another man with MS. He is to be sentenced in January 1999 in Regina after he pleaded guilty to possession with the intention of trafficking. "Like, I'm out of the closet," he said. "I'm always going to be in conflict with the law. It's not stressful to me because I know I'm doing the right thing."
------------------------------------------------------------------- Body's 'cannabis' could hold blood pressure key (The British Broadcasting Corporation says medical researchers in Nottingham have received a £120,000 grant from the British Heart Foundation to study endocannabinoids, natural substances produced by the body that are chemically similar to cannabis. Endocannabinoids are known to make blood vessels relax, which can reduce blood pressure.) From: "Todd McCormick" (firstname.lastname@example.org) To: "DRCTalk Reformers' Forum" (email@example.com) Subject: Body's 'cannabis' could hold blood pressure key Date: Sat, 2 Jan 1999 21:04:36 -0800 Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/health/newsid_244000/244086.stm Tuesday, December 29, 1998 Published at 11:26 GMT Health Body's 'cannabis' could hold blood pressure key The body produces a substance similar to one found in cannabis plants Doctors are studying the body's own version of cannabis in the hope that it will help them find new ways to tackle high blood pressure. The research centres on endocannabinoids - natural substances produced by the body - which are chemically similar to the active ingredients in the drug. These substances are known to make blood vessels relax, which can reduce blood pressure by allowing blood to flow more freely. The effect has been observed, but little is known about how endocannabinoids are produced and how they cause changes in the body. The study is being carried out by researchers in Nottingham, and is being funded with a £120,000 grant from the British Heart Foundation. Effects Dr David Kendall, from the Queen's Medical Centre in the city, said: "This research should tell us a great deal more about how these substances affect our circulation. "This is a new and exciting area of research which could ultimately lead to better treatments for a range of cardiovascular diseases." Professor Brian Pentecost, medical director of the British Heart Foundation, said the foundation was not encouraging drug abuse. "These are natural substances, present in all our bodies, that seem to have important effects on our circulation," he said. "Hopefully this project will shed new light on how we could use these effects to help heart patients." Prevalence High blood pressure, or hypertension, affects between 10% and 20% of adults in the UK. It is linked to obesity, smoking, and in some cases, a high salt intake. Hypertension puts a strain on the heart and blood vessels and greatly increases the risk of stroke and heart disease. For a man in his 40s, each rise of 10mm of mercury in systolic blood pressure - the peak level surge that coincides with each heart beat - increases his risk of developing heart disease risk by about 20%.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Drug-Related Crimes On The Rise In Russia (According to Itar-Tass, Colonel-General Sergei Stepashin, the Russian interior minister, said Tuesday that a sweep by police that ended this week has resulted in the dentention of 62 thousand criminals and 13 thousand other fugitives from police investigations, including many sought for drug-related crimes.) Newshawk: General Pulaski Pubdate: 29 Dec 1998 Source: ITAR-TASS (Russia) Copyright: 1998 ITAR-TASS DRUG-RELATED CRIMES ON THE RISE IN RUSSIA, STEPASHIN. MOSCOW, December 29 (Itar-Tass) - The situation with narcotics trafficking and drug-related crimes continues aggravating in Russia, holds Colonel-General Sergei Stepashin, the Russian Interior Minister. He stated this on Tuesday, summing up the results of Vikhr-3 (whirlwind) large-scale operation to combat crime that was concluded this week. He said the total number of crimes involved in illegal drug-traficking reached 170 thousand. The number of crimes by minors in this area rose two percent. Virtually all the indexes of operational and service activity of the Russian Interior Ministry personnel were doubled or trebled during Vikhr-3 operation. Eighty-eight thousand crimes have been disclosed over a brief period and 62 thousand criminals and 13 thousand persons wanted for hiding from investigation and trial, including for drug-related crimes, have been detained, Stepashin said.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Pakistan Busts Heroin Smuggling Ring (Reuters says seven mail office employees in Karachi have been arrested this month in connection with a group that sent as much as $1.5 billion worth of heroin out of the country over the last 13 years. The alleged smugglers took wrongly addressed parcels and letters sent to Pakistan, put heroin inside them, changed the return addresses and mailed them back out of the country. Mukhtar Ahmed, regional director of Pakistan's Anti-Narcotics Force, said he wanted drug cases to be tried in special military courts.) Date: Fri, 1 Jan 1999 20:34:26 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: Pakistan: Wire: Pakistan Busts Heroin Smuggling Ring Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: General Pulaski Pubdate: 29 Dec 1998 Source: Reuters Copyright: 1998 Reuters Limited. Author: Saeed Azhar PAKISTAN BUSTS HEROIN SMUGGLING RING KARACHI, Pakistan, Dec 29 (Reuters) - Pakistani anti-drug authorities said on Tuesday they had busted a smuggling ring that had mailed up to $1.5 billion worth of heroin out of the country over the last 13 years. "The gang unearthed at the international mail office in Pakistan had smuggled around 2,000 to 3,000 kg (4,400 to 6,600 lb) of heroin...," Mukhtar Ahmed, regional director of Pakistan's Anti-Narcotics Force, told reporters in Karachi. He valued the consignments at $1.0 billion to $1.5 billion. Ahmed said seven mail office employees in Karachi had been arrested this month. He said the alleged smugglers took wrongly addressed parcels and letters sent to Pakistan, put heroin inside them, changed the return addresses and mailed them back out of the country. Ahmed said the countries involved were in Europe and Africa. He said his agency began monitoring the international mail office this year, since two such parcels were discovered. "The persons were pinpointed and all of them kept under surveillance. Eventually in December they were apprehended red handed," he said. Pakistan is the main smuggling route for the heroin produced in war- ravaged Afghanistan where poppy cultivation has thrived during the last few years. Anti-drug authorities say they seized 1.4 tonnes of opium, 1.1 tonnes of heroin, 27 tonnes of hash and 1.5 tonnes of other drugs in first six months of 1998. Because of the huge amounts of smuggling, Ahmed also said he wanted drug cases to be tried in special military courts set up recently in Karachi. "It is something we have been talking between ourselves but is not at the government level... Certainly there is a consensus within the department that these cases should go (to the military courts)", he said. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif set up the military courts last month to speedily try serious crimes, such as murder and kidnapping, in an attempt to end waves of ethnic, political and sectarian violence in Karachi which have killed more than 800 this year. Ahmed said his agency has made a string of drug seizures in the last two years and arrested 169 people. It was also given the power to freeze the assets of drug smugglers two years ago. "We have also frozen assets of drug smugglers worth 1.9 billion rupees ($41.2 million) during the last two years," he said. ($1=46.11) -------------------------------------------------------------------
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