------------------------------------------------------------------- Cannabis Club Figure Gets 6 Years (The Los Angeles Times version of yesterday's news about Marvin Chavez, founder of the Orange County Cannabis Co-op, being sentenced to six years in a California prison for selling marijuana to undercover prohibition agents and mailing pot to a cancer patient.) Date: Sun, 31 Jan 1999 18:15:07 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US CA: MMJ: Cannabis Club Figure Gets 6 Years Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: FilmMakerZ Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)-Orange County Edition Copyright: 1999 Los Angeles Times. Website: http://www.latimes.com/ Forum: http://www.latimes.com/HOME/DISCUSS/ Contact: email@example.com Pubdate: Sat, 30 Jan 1999 Author: Daniel Yi, Times Staff Writer CANNABIS CLUB FIGURE GETS 6 YEARS Courts: Advocates of medicinal use urged leniency for Marvin Chavez, but his past crimes are cited in ruling out probation. Despite impassioned pleas for leniency from advocates of medicinal marijuana use, a judge on Friday sentenced the founder of an Orange County cannabis club to six years in prison for selling and transporting the drug. The stiff sentence caps a closely watched case that focused attention on the issue of who is entitled to legal protection under Proposition 215, the state's medicinal marijuana initiative passed two years ago. Marvin Chavez Sr., who was convicted last November of selling marijuana to undercover officers and mailing the drug to a cancer patient, was immediately taken into custody after the judge made his decision. The 45-year-old Garden Grove man, who said he takes marijuana to ease the pain of severe spinal arthritis, grimaced as he raised his arms to be shackled by deputy marshals. "Hang in there, Marvin!" one supporter cried out. Orange County Superior Court Judge Thomas J. Borris cited a Probation Department report that found Chavez was not a good candidate for probation because of past brushes with the law. Chavez was twice convicted of carrying a loaded firearm in 1976, according to the report, and was convicted in 1990 of cocaine trafficking. Chavez and his supporters argued that he had paid his debt to society for those crimes, and that it was unfair to penalize him again. "I've made mistakes in my life, and I paid for them," an emotional Chavez told Borris, his trembling arm held by his attorney James Silva. "I am here to obey the law as a citizen. I don't endorse illegal activities or drug abuse." Chavez said he was acting in the spirit of Proposition 215 when he distributed the drug to those he believed had serious medical conditions. "Marvin Chavez felt that he was operating under the law," said his lead attorney, J. David Nick. For political reasons, he added, "the powers that be were convinced that he was not." Prosecutor Carl Armbrust, however, called Chavez a "sophisticated drug dealer" operating under the guise of the law. "Marijuana is still an illicit drug in the United States," Armbrust said. "And California is still part of the United States." Under Proposition 215, "it is legal to grow and possess [for medicinal purposes], but the law does not imply you can sell marijuana," he said. Medicinal marijuana advocates called the sentencing a major setback for their efforts in Southern California. "People in Orange County have no clearer idea of the law," said Steve McWilliams, a proponent from San Diego. McWilliams and others pointed out that since Proposition 215 passed, different jurisdictions have been selective in the way they enforce the law. Prosecutors in Alameda County and San Francisco, for example, have publicly stated they will not pursue such cases. "In Orange County, the message sent out today is 'hide,' " said attorney Silva. Chavez founded the cannabis club in 1996. A member of the group was arrested in late 1997 on suspicion of possessing marijuana, and Chavez was charged as a co-conspirator. Chavez was freed on his own recognizance on condition that he stop distributing the drug. But undercover investigators posing as seriously ill patients later bought marijuana from Chavez, and he was arrested. A jury convicted Chavez on two felony counts of selling marijuana and one count of transporting it by mail. But it acquitted him on two other charges and downgraded five felonies to misdemeanors. On Thursday, Borris suspended the sentences on the lesser charges, but handed down a total of six years on the other counts. Chavez's supporters, numbering about 20 in the small courtroom, deplored the tactics of the district attorney's office. "With serious crimes rampant, the narcotic officers found it necessary to set up a sting, entrapment," said Julie O'Donovan Ireland of Laguna Beach. Ireland, whose husband and son have terminal cancer and lost six family members to the disease, said "cannabis is a blessing in alleviating the devastating effects of treatment. It is people like Marvin Chavez who are there for us." Chavez's case illustrates the ambiguities of Proposition 215, which allows doctors to prescribe marijuana, and for patients and their "primary caregivers" to possess the drug legally. Borris ruled Chavez could not use Proposition 215 as a defense in the trial because he did not meet the criteria of "primary caregiver."
------------------------------------------------------------------- Medicinal-Pot Advocate Gets Prison Term (The Associated Press version in the San Jose Mercury News) Date: Sun, 31 Jan 1999 11:06:41 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US CA: Medicinal-Pot Advocate Gets Prison Term Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Marcus/Mermelstein Family (firstname.lastname@example.org) Pubdate: Sat, 30 Jan 1999 Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA) Copyright: 1999 Mercury Center Website: http://www.sjmercury.com/ Contact: email@example.com MEDICINAL-POT ADVOCATE GETS PRISON TERM Co-op founder convicted of selling, mailing marijuana WESTMINSTER (AP) -- The founder of an Orange County medicinal marijuana co-op was sentenced Friday to six years in state prison for selling marijuana to undercover police and mailing pot to a cancer patient. Asking for lenience, Marvin Chavez, 42, described himself as a casualty of the war on drugs, using marijuana to ease the pain of an old back injury and supplying it without profit to people for therapeutic use. ``His motivation is to help others in pain,'' said defense attorney J. David Nick, who added he would appeal. Citing two previous firearms violations and a conviction for selling cocaine in the late 1980s, prosecutor Carl Armbrust called Chavez ``a dope dealer, pure and simple.'' Chavez faced a maximum sentence of eight years for three felony marijuana convictions: two of sale and one of transport. Nick said Chavez gave marijuana to cancer sufferers, AIDS patients and others in need, accepting only voluntary donations in return. Immediately remanded into custody by Superior Court Judge Thomas J. Borris, Chavez winced as a bailiff cuffed his hands behind the back brace that protruded under his sport coat. Proposition 215, passed in 1996, legalized the possession, cultivation and use of cannabis for medicinal purposes, but not its sale. Prosecutions have been handled in various ways. Several issues are pending on appeal. Chavez mentioned friends who have been arrested and patients who have died in pain, calling them casualties in the war on drugs. David Herrick, a retired San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy who volunteered at the co-op, was sentenced in July to four years in prison. Armbrust acknowledged that Chavez gave away marijuana, but said he did it only as a come-on for customers. Chavez said he was trying to create a legal ``white market'' because the clandestine leaf was so expensive. About 20 Chavez supporters were in court, many sporting marijuana-leaf pins and shirts. Their grumbles rose as Armbrust, who retired after the trial and returned to work only for sentencing, excoriated Chavez. Nick compared Armbrust to Javert, the obsessed policeman who hounds the protagonist through life in Victor Hugo's ``Les Miserables.''
------------------------------------------------------------------- Marijuana Co-Op Founder Sentenced (A different Associated Press version from America Online) Date: Sun, 31 Jan 1999 23:31:26 EST Originator: firstname.lastname@example.org Sender: email@example.com From: Fraglthndr@aol.com To: Multiple recipients of list (firstname.lastname@example.org) Subject: Fwd: Marijuana Co-Op Founder Sentenced From: AOLNews@aol.com Subject: Marijuana Co-Op Founder Sentenced Date: Sat, 30 Jan 1999 05:34:34 EST Marijuana Co-Op Founder Sentenced c The Associated Press WESTMINSTER, Calif. (AP) -- Marvin Chavez says he founded an Orange County medical marijuana co-op to help sick people. But prosecutors called him ``a dope dealer, pure and simple,'' and Chavez was sentenced Friday to six years in prison for selling marijuana to undercover police and mailing pot to a cancer patient. Supporters of Chavez say he is a casualty of the war on drugs. ``His motivation is to help others in pain,'' said his defense attorney, J. David Nick, adding that Chavez gave marijuana to cancer sufferers, AIDS patients and others in need, accepting only voluntary donations in return. The state's Proposition 215, passed in 1996, legalized possession, cultivation and use of cannabis for medical purposes, but not its sale. Nick said Chavez, 42, would appeal the conviction and sentence. AP-NY-01-30-99 0533EST Copyright 1998 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without prior written authority of The Associated Press.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Marijuana Co-Op Founder Gets Prison (The Orange County Register version) Date: Sat, 30 Jan 1999 11:04:04 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US CA: Marijuana Co-Op Founder Gets Prison Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: John W. Black Pubdate: Sat, 30 Jan 1999 Source: Orange County Register (CA) Copyright: 1999 The Orange County Register Website: http://www.ocregister.com/ Contact: email@example.com Section: News, page 1 Author: John McDonald & Teri Sforza-OCR MARIJUANA CO-OP FOUNDER GETS PRISON Courts: Marvin Chavez, who said he served a medical need, is sentenced to 6 years. The founder of Orange County,s first medical-marijuana co-op was sentenced to six years in prison Friday for selling and transporting pot,despite pleas from more than two dozen supporters saying his crimes were acts of mercy. Lawyers for Marvin Chavez,45,of Santa Ana will appeal. "I truly believe he was acting as a good Samaritan," said a trembling John Kauffman ,a juror who voted to convict Chavez in November."There has not been a night I have gone to bed without wondering where Marvin is and what course his life is taking because of my decision in this courtroom." Orange County Judge Thomas Borris noted the receipt of 26 letters supporting Chavez, but gave more weight to a harsh probation report. The report-which was promptly sealed,along with the letters-said Chavez knowingly violated the law and induced others to commit crimes,and concluded that Chavez was a poor candidate for probation because of his past arrest record. "Mr. Chavez still feels he is not guilty of the offenses," probation officer Arlene C. Beacom wrote. "He has expressed a determination to travel around the state to 'educate' the population as to the positive aspects of medical marijuana use." Retired Deputy District Attorney Carl Armbrust painted Chavez,45, as an opportunistic cocaine trafficker turned marijuana dealer who tried to hide behind California's medical marijuana law. Some supporters cried as Chavez was led away in handcuffs. "I made my mistakes,and I paid for them,"he said."I try to reach out to work with officials.I try to create a white market as opposed to a black market."
------------------------------------------------------------------- Supporters Are Grim As Chavez Led Away To Jail (A different Orange County Register account) Date: Mon, 1 Feb 1999 19:07:52 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US CA: Supporters Are Grim As Chavez Led Away To Jail Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: John W. Black Pubdate: Sat, 30 Jan 1999 Source: Orange County Register (CA) Section: News Page: 24 Copyright: 1999 The Orange County Register Website: http://www.ocregister.com/ Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Author: Teri Sporza and John McDonald SUPPORTERS ARE GRIM AS CHAVEZ LED AWAY TO JAIL Marvin Chavez grimaced as his arms were pulled behind him. Handcuffs clicked closed around his wrists. And as bailiffs led him away to jail Friday, the last thing his army of ardent supporters saw were Chavez's hands, hanging beneath the awkward outline of his back brace. Sobbing, Andrea Nagy crumpled into the arms of a friend. "There is no justice! No good deed goes unpunished!" yelled David Zink. "Totally wrong," said Jack Shachter, grimly shaking his head. "Totally wrong." Chavez, founder of Orange County's medical marijuana co-op, was sentenced to six years in state prison for selling pot to undercover officers posing as medical patients, and for mailing pot to a cancer patient. Chavez's past had come back to haunt him, and numerous tearful appeals did not convince Judge Thomas Borris to grant Chavez probation, or to allow Chavez the shield he insists he has under Proposition 215, a ballot initiative that legalized marijuana for medical use. "It's harshly unjust," said J. David Nick, one of Chavez's attorneys, likening Chavez to Jean Valjean, the hero of Victor Hugo's "Les Miserables." "It's persecution after persecution. We will appeal." The grounds: Judge Borris did not allow Chavez to mount a defense under Prop. 215, the medical marijuana initiative approved in 1996. Chavez, who suffers from severe back pain, began crusading for Prop. 215 months before it passed. After its victory, he founded the co-op, got a business license and worked to familiarize people with the new law. But Chavez's understanding was apparently wrong. When officers posing as patients came to him for pot, complaining of pain, Chavez gave them "medicine" in exchange for "donations." That, prosecutor Carl Armbrust successfully argued to the jury, is a marijuana sale. "While a law has been passed that people in need of marijuana can possess, and use, and cultivate marijuana, there is no law that says people can sell marijuana," he said. In arguing for prison rather than probation, Armbrust brought up Chavez's arrest record, which dates back more than 20 years. In the 1970s, Chavez twice was arrested on suspicion of carrying a loaded firearm in public. In the 1980s, he was convicted of cocaine possession and sent to a drug diversion program, which he didn't complete. In the 1990s he was arrested for cocaine trafficking. Though not convicted, the arrest landed him to prison for two years based on conditions of the earlier conviction. After his arrest for selling marijuana last year, Chavez promised a judge he would stop distributing is, and was released. Shortly afterward, Chavez mailed pot to a patient in Chino. That broken promise weighed on the judge's decision. "The defendant's record does indicate a pattern of increasingly serious conduct," Borris said. "Probation is not appropriate in this case." While Armbrust said Chavez is nothing more than a sophisticated street dealer using Prop. 215 as a front, Chavez's friends say nothing could be further from the truth. "Marvin's intention was always to help people who were in pain," said his mother, Ruby Harbaugh. Confusion about how to implement Prop. 215 is still rampant in California. Many cannabis clubs have been shut down in Northern California, and many local authorities do not agree on interpretation. A local police officer who stole drugs recently received just a one-year sentence, said Julie Ireland, a former Los Angeles police officer. Chavez helped Ireland's husband and son, both terminal cancer patients. "This case should have never gone to trial," she said.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Chavez Sentence Is Criminal (Orange County Register senior editorial writer Alan W. Bock says Marvin Chavez's severe six-year prison sentence shows the importance of developing guidelines and protocols for the implementation of Prop. 215. Others need to step up on this issue. California Attorney General Bill Lockyer's office says he is assembling a task force to develop a statewide plan to implement Prop. 215. Perhaps he should enter the appellate process on Mr. Chavez's behalf as well. Newly elected Gov. Gray Davis has the authority to pardon Mr. Chavez or to commute his sentence.) Date: Sun, 31 Jan 1999 07:03:57 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US CA: EDITORIAL: MMJ: Chavez Sentence Is Criminal Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: FilmMakerZ Copyright: 1999 The Orange County Register Source: The Orange County Register (CA) Copyright: 1999 The Orange County Register Pubdate: Sat, 30 Jan 1999 Website: http://www.ocregister.com/ Contact: email@example.com Author: Alan W. Bock Note: Mr. Bock is the Register's senior editorial writer CHAVEZ SENTENCE IS CRIMINAL Marvin Chavez's severe sentence, handed down Friday, points up the importance of developing guidelines and protocols for the orderly and legal implementation of Prop. 215. Mr. Chavez was sentenced by Judge Thomas J. Borris in Orange County's West Court to 6 years in state prison for selling marijuana, slightly less than a potential penalty of 8 years. Mr. Chavez contended he was attempting to deliver marijuana to patients who needed it, under protection of Proposition 215, passed by voters in 1996, which allows marijuana use with a doctor's recommendation. Prosecutors claimed the transaction was a simple sale, which is still illegal under state law. Mr. Chavez plans to appeal. In the wake of Mr. Chavez's sentence, sick and disabled people with a legitimate need for marijuana have no clearer idea of how to obtain their medicine legitimately than they did before. If anything, James Silva, one of Mr. Chavez's attorneys, had it right when he told us after the sentencing, "The message this sends to patients is simple: hide." It shouldn't be that way. And it could and should have been less painful for all concerned. The first mistake was made by law enforcement officials who refused to speak or meet with Mr. Chavez after Prop. 215 was approved. A patient himself, Mr. Chavez early on announced his intention to develop a cooperative to permit patients access to medical marijuana and tried to elicit advice and cooperation from law enforcement officials. Instead of sitting down with him and saying, "Listen, these are the rules. If you follow them you'll be OK, if you don't you're going to jail," the DA's office commenced undercover investigations against him. In other localities in California local officials have closed medical marijuana distribution operations through civil injunctions rather than criminal charges. Mr. Chavez, as it turned out, could not look to Prop. 215 to help him in court. Judge Borris prohibited the jury to consider Prop. 215 during their deliberations. Consequently, the jury considered a narrow transaction and, on a larger scale, the final outcome does little to help develop legal guidelines for giving patients access to medical marijuana through legitimate channels. Judge Borris, to be fair, was looking at an imperfect person in this defendant. Mr. Chavez had had previous brushes with the law -- in fact, he received the injuries that led to his disabilities while in prison on a cocaine possession charge (he says he stopped doing it). One of those violations took place when he was released on his own recognizance. So it might be understandable that Judge Borris would refuse to release Mr. Chavez on probation without prison time. But the magnitude of the sentence still seems on the high end of the range in sentencing guidelines. Mr. Chavez may have tried to implement Prop. 215 imperfectly, even illegally, but he was trying to follow the proposition the best way he knew how. We talked to many patients who attended the trial who have been helped by Mr. Chavez. The authorities should have worked with him rather than pose as patients to meet him, ask for marijuana, then "sting" him when a voluntary donation to the group changed hands. James Silva and J. David Nick, Mr. Chavez's attorneys, say they will try to ensure that Mr. Chavez has access to the medicine to which he himself is legally entitled -- as all parties in this case have explicitly acknowledged -- while he is in custody. Others need to step up on this issue. California Attorney General Bill Lockyer's office says he is assembling a task force to develop a statewide plan to implement Prop. 215. Perhaps he should enter the appellate process on Mr. Chavez's behalf as well. Newly elected Gov. Gray Davis has the authority to pardon Mr. Chavez or to commute his sentence. Local officials can help also. Sheriff Mike Carona and District Attorney Anthony Rackauckas could meet with people on all sides of the issue who have a stake in the development of consistent policies toward medical marijuana patients and establish guidelines that will tell people how to avoid running afoul of the law. The county supervisors could study the matter and develop an implementing ordinance. Council members in local cities could develop guidelines and ordinances -- as is happening in fits and starts in other California cities. Mr. Chavez will lose more of his life to incarceration in large part because state and local officials failed to implement the voters' mandate. That shouldn't happen again.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Pot Club Lawyers Try For A Merger (The Long Beach Press-Telegram, in California, says Venice attorney James Silva and San Francisco attorney J. David Nick are scrambling to file an appeal for Marvin Chavez of the Orange County Patient-Doctor-Nurse Support Group. The attorneys plan to link the Chavez appeal to another for cannabis co-op volunteer David Lee Herrick, previously sentenced to four years. Meanwhile, the attorneys are now scheduled to defend yet a third member of the cannabis co-op, Jack Shachter, a Garden Grove resident whose case has been on hold pending the completion of Chavez's trial.) Date: Mon, 1 Feb 1999 18:31:33 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US CA: MMJ: Pot Club Lawyers Try For A Merger Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: FilmMakerZ Pubdate: Sat, 30 Jan 1999 Source: Long Beach Press-Telegram (CA) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.ptconnect.com/ Copyright: 1999 Press-Telegram. Author: Joe Segura, Staff writer POT CLUB LAWYERS TRY FOR A MERGER Law & Order: Cannabis club attorneys scramble to avoid more setbacks. Defense attorneys for Orange County Patient-Doctor-Nurse Support Group will have their hands full in the upcoming weeks. Currently, Venice attorney James Silva and San Francisco attorney J. David Nick are scrambling to file an appeal for medicinal-marijuana advocate and activist Marvin Chavez, who was sentenced Friday to six years in state prison for convictions on drug-sale charges. They contend that the judge erred in not allowing the jury hear a defense based on Prop. 215, known as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. The attorneys noted that the appeal process is lengthy, with an average two-year wait, but they added that another appeal on behalf of cannabis co-op volunteer David Lee Herrick has been put on a fast-track schedule. And they said they plan on linking the Chavez case with Herrick's. Herrick, who is serving four years, also was not allowed to use Prop. 215 as part of his defense. Meanwhile, the attorneys are now scheduled to defend yet a third member of the cannabis co-op, Jack Shachter, a Garden Grove resident. Shachter's case has been on hold, awaiting the completion of Chavez's trial. A hearing is set for Wednesday. Prior to Friday's sentencing of Chavez, the two defense attorneys were somewhat hopeful of making inroads in their efforts to have Prop. 215 introduced as a defense.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Medical Marijuana Distribution Imperfect (The Associated Press examines the difficulties faced by patients in California in the wake of the federal closure of the Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative and other dispensaries. Many former co-op members are forced to seek out small, low-profile groups and buy from street dealers. Dozens have been arrested for having plants. Ryan Landers, who has AIDS, travels to Middletown, 90 miles north of San Francisco, where Proposition 215 author Dennis Peron and members of his two defunct San Francisco pot clubs grow marijuana. This summer, Peron plans to begin delivering plants to thousands of San Francisco patients who will pay for them at cost.) Date: Sun, 31 Jan 1999 08:51:26 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US CA: MMJ: Medical Marijuana Distribution Imperfect 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: Sat, 30 Jan 1999 Source: Associated Press Copyright: 1999 Associated Press MEDICAL MARIJUANA DISTRIBUTION IMPERFECT MIDDLETOWN, Calif. - Ryan Landers didn't plan on being a farmer. Then again, he never planned on getting AIDS and needing marijuana to stay hungry enough to keep him from wasting away. He used to buy pot at the Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative. But that club, like many that opened after a 1996 medical marijuana initiative passed, has been shut down by federal court order. Now many club members, including Landers, increasingly are forced to seek out small, low-profile groups and buy from street dealers. Dozens have been arrested for having plants. Short of a federal change of heart allowing doctors to prescribe marijuana, co-ops that grow pot to give or sell to patients may be their best hope. For Landers, that means traveling 100 miles to this tiny, rural town in the wine county about 90 miles north of San Francisco to buy the pot that will ease his nausea. Here, Proposition 215 author Dennis Peron and members of his two defunct San Francisco pot clubs grow marijuana. This summer, Peron plans to begin delivering plants to thousands of San Francisco patients who will pay for them at cost. ``This was really horrible when the clubs shut down,'' Landers said. ``(People) don't know where to get plants and seeds. ``It's been more than two years. People should be growing pot. They shouldn't be scared to.'' After the medical marijuana law passed, allowing the cultivation and use of marijuana for medical purposes, the number of clubs in California peaked at around 30, said Dave Fratello, one of the authors of the bill. Similar medical marijuana measures later passed in five other states and the District of Columbia. But in California, then-Attorney General Dan Lungren oversaw a series of state-initiated efforts that closed about two-thirds of the clubs, most in Northern California. Federal raids and court rulings also contributed to the shutdowns, although some advocates say that for every club that has closed, at least another has opened -- albeit quietly -- in its place. State officials and medical marijuana advocates say a national Institutes of Medicine review scheduled for release next month will be critical in getting federal officials to consider reclassifying marijuana as a less-dangerous drug or allowing doctors to prescribe pot. The 18-month review of the health effects and medical treatment benefits of marijuana was ordered by drug czar Barry McCaffrey. ``The cannabis clubs were a great stopgap measure ... but it wasn't a solution,'' said Scott Imler, director of the Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Center in West Hollywood. The center is one of two well-known pot clubs in Southern California and has 1,100 members from Bakersfield to Palm Springs. Imler and others are optimistic that things will change with a new governor and attorney general in office and new district attorneys and sheriffs in communities that have been hostile to distribution efforts. ``The main problem we've had is lack of guidance to law enforcement,'' said Jason Browne, a trustee of the Humboldt Cannabis Center in Arcata. ``Everyone is waiting for someone else to do something and meanwhile the patients are at risk.'' Brian Steel, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice, would not comment on why smaller co-ops have survived while the larger groups were shut down. ``The Department of Justice is committed to following the law that Congress has passed, and to that end, Congress has said the use or distribution of marijuana is illegal,'' he said. ``Consistent with that, that's what we're going to do.'' Advocates say the clubs were safe and convenient. ``I like the clubs better. There's no hassle, no pressure. You get what you need and leave,'' said Chris Ward, 39, who bought pot at the Oakland club to ease the effects of chemotherapy. Now he plans to go to a new Berkeley co-op, about 200 miles south of his home in Oak Run. Gov. Gray Davis, a Democrat, hasn't said whether he'll support proposed legislation to authorize $1 million annually to study medical marijuana or a plan to specify or standardize the enforcement of Proposition 215. ``I believe good science should resolve this issue,'' Davis has said. Attorney General Bill Lockyer, also a Democrat, said he voted for the medical marijuana law and agrees more guidance is needed. His mother and sister both died of leukemia. ``There are omissions and gaps and ambiguities in the initial statute that would benefit from clarification,'' Lockyer said. ``It's unclear exactly who can be a caretaker and exactly what the system is for setting up a dispensary and clinic.'' Patients can still get pot at operations in San Francisco, West Hollywood, San Diego, Fairfax, Sonoma County, Ukiah, Arcata, Berkeley and Hayward. Peron's farm was twice raided by Drug Enforcement Agency officials, who confiscated hundreds of plants but made no arrests. ``Unless the federal government changes its policy or adopts a noninvasive role, the California statute scheme can never be legally implemented,'' Lockyer said. ``If our law were tighter and there was more of a clinic -- not cult structure to the statute -- that might be partially persuasive to the federal government if they see there is a tight regulatory system.''
------------------------------------------------------------------- Ground Troop Use On Border Curtailed, Officials Say (According to the Dallas Morning News, the U.S. military says the use of ground troops along the U.S.-Mexico border has "almost ended" now that the Pentagon has issued new rules that require special permission for armed anti-drug units there. The lack of policy change comes well over a year after Esequiel Hernandez Jr., a high school sophomore, was shot and killed by camouflaged U.S. Marines near the small border town of Redford, Texas, while tending his family's goats.) Date: Sat, 6 Feb 1999 16:25:24 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US TX: Ground Troop Use On Border Curtailed, Officials Say Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: isenberd@DynCorp.com (Isenberg, David) Pubdate: Sat, 30 Jan 1999 Source: Associated Press Source: Dallas Morning News (TX) Copyright: 1999 The Dallas Morning News Website: http://www.dallasnews.com/ Forum: http://forums.dallasnews.com:81/webx Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Author: Associated Press Note: The Drug Policy Forum of Texas has superb webpages on the Hernandez murder at: http://www.mapinc.org/DPFT/hernandez/hernandez_index.htm GROUND TROOP USE ON BORDER CURTAILED, OFFICIALS SAY HOUSTON - The use of ground troops along the U.S.-Mexico border has almost ended now that the Pentagon has issued new rules that require special permission for armed anti-drug units there, the military says. Defense Department spokesman Lt. Col. Mike Milord said permission must come from the secretary of defense or his deputy. The policy change comes well over a year after a high school sophomore was shot and killed by Marines in the small town of Redford, a village that straddles the Mexican border just west of Big Bend National Park. Esequiel Hernandez Jr., 18, was shot to death after U.S. Marines contended he opened fire on them. The youth was tending his family's goat herd at the time of the shooting. The shooting prompted Defense Secretary William Cohen to suspend similar missions. Troops continue to carry out other anti-narcotics duties along the border as part of a joint task force with federal authorities, including civil engineering projects, air reconnaissance and intelligence analysis. "The policy change really gives the secretary of defense oversight for these missions," Col. Milord said. The decision was made quietly in October, he said. Marine Cpl. Clemente Banuelos fired the fatal shot from about 200 yards away after, he said, Mr. Hernandez raised his rifle to fire a third time. Two Presidio County grand juries refused to indict Cpl. Banuelos and his fellow Marines. A civil rights probe by the Justice Department also did not bring charges against the troops, in part because they had received permission by radio to fire. A Marine Corps inquiry cited "systemic failures at every level" during the mission. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, issued a scathing report, saying the Justice and Defense departments undermined criminal investigations into the incident. In December, a Texas Ranger who investigated the killing contended that the military obstructed an inquiry into Mr. Hernandez's death and that he wants a grand jury to consider the case a third time.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Search Of Couple's House 'Within Law,' Judge Rules (The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette says Washington County Circuit Court Judge William Storey ruled Friday that the arrest in Texas of Stephen Miller, a former alderman in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and his wife, Janette, was valid, and that a subsequent search of their Fayetteville home was proper. Defense attorneys argued that prohibition agents went onto the Millers' property without a search warrant, and that the preceding search of their car was illegal. The ruling allows their criminal trial to proceed Feb. 11.) Date: Sun, 31 Jan 1999 09:19:13 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US AR: Search Of Couple's House 'Within Law,' Judge Rules Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: James Markes Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (AR) Copyright: 1999, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc. Website: http://www.ardemgaz.com/ Contact: email@example.com Pubdate: 30 Jan 1999 Author: Pamela Hill (Pam_Hill@adg.ardemgaz.com) SEARCH OF COUPLE'S HOUSE 'WITHIN LAW,' JUDGE RULES FAYETTEVILLE -- The Texas arrest of former Alderman Stephen Miller and his wife, Janette, was valid, and a search of their Fayetteville home was proper, a Washington County Circuit Court judge ruled Friday. The ruling allows the criminal drug case against the couple to proceed. They are set for trial Feb. 11. The pair's attorneys had asked Judge William Storey to suppress evidence that drug agents seized from the Millers' home -- namely 7.79 pounds of suspected marijuana, six plants, two sets of scales, bags, four rifles, a pistol and $5,680. Their home was searched and the items seized a day after a Texas Highway Patrol trooper arrested them on suspicion of having 3 pounds of suspected marijuana in the trunk of their rental car. At a hearing Friday afternoon, Fayetteville lawyers Woody Bassett, who represents Stephen Miller, and Charles Stutte, Janette Miller's counsel, argued that the Texas arrest and search of their car were illegal. Therefore, the search warrant obtained by drug agents to search the Millers' 228 Mill Ave. home should also be declared illegal because it stemmed from information from the Texas arrests. "It's all proper and within the law," Storey commented as he denied the motion to suppress. Texas Highway Patrol Trooper Sharalyn Fichtl pulled the Millers over late Oct. 22 after she clocked Stephen Miller driving 81 mph in a 70-mph zone. Fichtl testified Friday that she became suspicious of Stephen Miller because of his behavior. He paced, fidgeted and talked constantly, she testified. When he learned that a criminal-history check turned up late 1960s and early 1970s charges, including drug violations, he became defensive, the trooper said. The couple also had no luggage that the trooper could see, even though they said they were traveling to Dallas and would be there two days. The defense attorneys also argued that two officers with the 4th Judicial District Drug Task Force went onto the Millers' property before they obtained a search warrant. A task force sergeant testified that he did go to their house without a search warrant as soon as Fichtl notified Fayetteville police of her arrest the night before. The sergeant said he called for another officer to watch the house while he and others obtained a search warrant. The officer called to "watch" the house said he saw marijuana plants in the Millers' backyard garden as he looked into the yard from another person's property. He said he was not on the Millers' property. The smell the sergeant noticed at the back door and the plants spotted in the garden were both items used to obtain the search warrant, in addition to information about the Millers' arrest in Texas.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Mistrial Declared In Case Of Jury Foreman Accused Of Taking Bribe (The Chicago Tribune says a judge declared a mistrial Friday in the trial of Miguel "Mike" Moya, a jury foreman in Miami, Florida, charged with selling his vote for $500,000 in a major 1996 cocaine-smuggling case. Jurors said they were "at each other's throats." Defense attorneys said Moya's wealth came not from any bribe but from a cousin, Ramon "Ray" Perez, a convicted drug smuggler and former Miami police officer. Prosecutors said they would try the case again in April.)Date: Mon, 1 Feb 1999 17:52:05 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US FL: Mistrial Declared In Case Of Jury Foreman Accused Of Taking Bribe Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Steve Young Source: Chicago Tribune (IL) Copyright: 1999 Chicago Tribune Company Website: http://www.chicagotribune.com/ Forum: http://www.chicagotribune.com/interact/boards/ Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Pubdate: Sat, 30 Jan 1999 MISTRIAL DECLARED IN CASE OF JURY FOREMAN ACCUSED OF TAKING BRIBE MIAMI -- A judge declared a mistrial Friday in the case of a jury foreman charged with selling his vote in a major cocaine-smuggling case after jurors said they were "at each other's throats." U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King dismissed the jury in the trial of Miguel "Mike" Moya, who was accused of taking a nearly $500,000 bribe to sell his vote in a 1996 verdict. Jurors sent a note to King on Thursday, after four days of deliberations, saying they disagreed about whether Moya is innocent or guilty. "We are unable to come to a unanimous decision," jury foreman Carlo Hollis said in the note. "We are at each other's throats . . . HELP!!!" He wrote that the jury had been split evenly before shifting to a majority favoring one side. King asked jurors Friday if there was any chance of reaching a verdict. They said no. Prosecutors had no comment except to say they would try the case again in April. The voting breakdown of the jury was not disclosed. King told the jurors that if they receive any telephone calls or inquiries about their deliberations, they should say nothing. Moya was charged with money laundering, witness tampering, conspiracy and bribery and could face life in prison. His parents, Jose and Rafaela Moya, were on trial on money laundering, witness tampering and accessory charges and faced up to 62 1/2 years in prison. Prosecutors contended Moya took the money to vote innocent and persuade others to do the same in the trial of reputed drug kingpins Augusto "Willie" Falcon and Salvador "Sal" Magluta. The two were acquitted in February 1996 of charges they smuggled 75 tons of cocaine from Colombia into the U.S. About the time of the trial, Moya and his parents began living in luxury, buying a home in the Florida Keys, a two-week vacation in Hawaii, season tickets to the Florida Marlins, tickets for the World Series and other items. Attorneys for the Moya family said the family's wealth came not from any bribe but from a cousin, Ramon "Ray" Perez, a convicted drug smuggler and former Miami police officer. Perez, who served 4 years in prison for drug trafficking, testified that he paid $385,000 to Moya and family members to deliver cocaine and $100,000 to store 880 pounds of the drug. "The Moya family has a past that they are not proud of," defense attorney Curt Obront said in his opening argument. The Falcon-Magluta jurors had deliberated for three days when they sent a note to the judge saying they were locked in a "personal conflict" and "could not reach a verdict." Hours later, they returned the acquittals.
------------------------------------------------------------------- 'Willie And Sal' Case Creates Lots Of Headaches (The Miami Herald recounts the background to the Moya jury-tampering case. Willie Falcon and Sal Magluta were indicted on racketeering charges in 1991 and acquitted in 1996 of bringing 75 tons of cocaine into the United States over 13 years, amassing $2.1 billion in assets. Eventually the government imprisoned them both on other charges.) Date: Mon, 1 Feb 1999 18:31:35 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US FL: Willie And Sal' Case Creates Lots Of Headaches Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: General Pulaski Pubdate: Sat, 30 Jan 1999 Source: Miami Herald (FL) Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.herald.com/ Forum: http://krwebx.infi.net/webxmulti/cgi-bin/WebX?mherald Copyright: 1999 The Miami Herald `WILLIE AND SAL' CASE CREATES LOTS OF HEADACHES The mistrial in the Miguel Moya jury-fixing case was just the latest of a series of events that have frustrated federal prosecutors since reputed drug kingpins Willie Falcon and Sal Magluta were indicted on racketeering charges in 1991. Magluta and Falcon were charged with bringing 75 tons of cocaine into the United States over 13 years, amassing $2.1 billion in assets. Some potential government witnesses were killed before their trial began in late 1995, but the two men were never charged in the deaths. They were acquitted in 1996. The loss by federal prosecutors ultimately led to the resignation of U.S. Attorney Kendall Coffey, who sought solace at a strip club. The acquittals didn't end the matter. Falcon is now serving 10 years for firearms violations. Magluta walked away from a later trial on a passport fraud charge, and was a fugitive for two months. Eventually captured, he's now in prison on a variety of charges. Magluta was linked to a new case this week, when a federal prison guard was charged with accepting a $3,000 bribe for testifying on behalf of an inmate. Authorities say the inmate got the money from Magluta. Moya, the jury foreman in the 1996 racketeering trial, was charged on Aug. 18, 1998, with bribery, obstruction of justice, and witness tampering. Friday's mistrial means his case is still open.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Mexican Rights Activist Killed (The San Jose Mercury News says Jorge Aguirre Meza was a lawyer and president of the Sinaloa state bar who had been demanding that the government clean up organized crime. He is the third of four activists to be killed who had waged a campaign in 1990 against police torture and abuse that led to the creation of the National Human Rights Commission.) Date: Sun, 31 Jan 1999 07:03:54 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US CA: Mexican Rights Activist Killed Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Marcus/Mermelstein Family
Pubdate: Sat, 30 Jan 1999 Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA) Copyright: 1999 Mercury Center Website: http://www.sjmercury.com/ Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org MEXICAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST KILLED A leading human rights activist who had been demanding that the government clean up organized crime in Mexico's drug-ridden Sinaloa state has been shot to death, authorities announced Friday. Jorge Aguirre Meza, a lawyer and president of the state bar, was among four activists who campaigned against police torture and abuse in 1990, leading to the creation of the National Human Rights Commission. He is the third of the four activists to be killed. Four masked men dressed in black ambushed Aguirre Meza and shot him outside his home in Navolato late Wednesday. No arrests have been made. Aguirre, 39, was an ex-police officer, town council member and a member of the leftist Democratic Revolution Party. [N601]
------------------------------------------------------------------- Prozac's Irish Life (The Irish Times says Prozac has become the most prescribed antidepressant in the Republic since its introduction in June 1989. It has "revolutionised" the management of depression because the same one-capsule-per-day dosage is prescribed for every sufferer, and because it acts on numerous mental illnesses. More than 200,000 people in the State suffer major depression, while one in three will have an episode of major depression, which has been linked to the majority of the 380 suicides in the Republic each year.) Date: Sun, 31 Jan 1999 09:00:19 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: Ireland: Prozac'S Irish Life Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Martin Cooke (email@example.com) Pubdate: Sat, Jan 30, 1999 Source: Irish Times (Ireland) Copyright: 1999 The Irish Times Website: http://www.irish-times.ie/ Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Section: Features Author: Kitty Holland PROZAC'S IRISH LIFE Prozac has become the most prescribed branded antidepressant in the Republic since its launch here in June 1989. It has "revolutionised" the management of depression because the same one-capsule-per-day dosage is prescribed for every sufferer, and because it acts on numerous mental illnesses. In the majority of cases it is the sole antidepressant taken by the patient. "Before Prozac," says Dr Patrick McKeown, chairman of Aware, the charity for sufferers from depression, "there were numerous anti-depressants, such as lithium, which were just as good but had to be measured very specifically for each individual and often had to be taken several times a day. With Prozac there are fewer side-effects; there's almost no danger of a fatality with overdose, and it can be used in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorders, eating disorders and panic attacks, as well as depression." Prozac is an SSRI, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. As Dr McKeown explains, it increases the levels of the brain chemical serotonin, which regulates mood. Over time, as the levels increase, the transmission of electrochemical signals in the brain improves (in a depressed person the transmission of electrochemical signals occurs less efficiently), and the depression lifts. Dr McKeown stresses that antidepressants should not be used to treat all mental illnesses on a permanent basis. He points out that there are different types of depression, some induced by circumstances such as a bereavement or relationship problems, and others due to chemical problems in the brain, which may have genetic or biological causes. While Prozac may be useful in some cases as a once-off to lift the depression - which should then be treated with psychotherapy - biological or chemical depression may need longterm medication. More than 200,000 people in the State suffer major depression, while one in three will have an episode of major depression in their life. It has been linked to the majority of the 380 suicides in the Republic each year (on average). Dr McKeown says Prozac is not the "miracle" answer to end all research into the medical treatment of depression. "We are still looking forward to an antidepressant which has no side-effects such as tummy upset or reduced libido - both of which can be brought on by Prozac."
------------------------------------------------------------------- The Shrug Drug (A feature article in the Irish Times by Elizabeth Wurtzel, the author of "Prozac Nation" and one of the early beneficiaries of the anti-depressant, assesses the drug's legacy 10 years after it first became available to her. In 1997 patients in the United States filled 65 million prescriptions for anti-depressants. In the US, where there is no National Health Service and doctors' duties are dictated by insurance companies, Prozac has been a perfect solution to the financial unmanageability of mental health care. Indemnifiers would no longer cough up for therapy sessions, but they would gladly pay for a pill. The Food and Drug Administration eventually endorsed Prozac to cure obsessive-compulsive disorder, obesity, attention deficit disorder - a whole range of mental illnesses. Essentially, Prozac became the shrug drug, it was one big "why-not?" Prozac's permanent legacy may be that it medicalised mental health, even when the symptoms were fairly slight.) Date: Sun, 31 Jan 1999 09:47:47 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: Ireland: The Shrug Drug Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Martin Cooke (email@example.com) Source: Irish Times (Ireland) Copyright: 1999 The Irish Times Website: http://www.irish-times.ie/ Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Pubdate: 30 Jan 1999 Fax: ++ 353 1 671 9407 Mail: Letters to Editor, The Irish Times, 11-15 D'Olier St, Dublin 2, Ireland Section: Features Author: Elizabeth Wurtzel THE SHRUG DRUG Prozac has changed people's lives and transformed the medical profession's approach to mental health. Elizabeth Wurtzel, author of Prozac Nation and one of the early beneficiaries of the drug, assesses its legacy 10 years after it first became available to her When I woke up this morning - and let's be honest here, it was more like this afternoon - I began my day by swallowing two Prozac capsules. I also took some lithium, the salt substance that was long ago established as an antidote to manic depression and other mood disorders. On top of that I had a pink caplet called Depakote, the brand name for valproic acid, an anti-seizure remedy once prescribed for epilepsy, but now used to combat mood swings. And finally, I chased down the other pills with a blood-pressure medication called atenolol - my 92-year-old grandmother also takes this - to alleviate the Parkinson's-like handshake that I get from taking all these drugs. Later in the day, probably with dinner, I will take nortryptaline, a tricyclic anti-depressant, one of the pre-Prozac variety that acts on the dopamine and neuropene phrine systems of the brain. At the same time, I will down my evening doses of lithium and Depakote, along with some more atenolol for the kind of shakes that by dinnertime can make it awfully hard to get a fork and food to my mouth, and have been mistaken by many for delirium tremens. Strangely, although this crazy salad of pills makes me exhausted and lethargic all day, I often cannot get to sleep at night. My energy level is mysteriously invigorated at midnight. So, in an attempt to get my circadian rhythms attuned to the rest of the world's, sometimes I take Ambien, a non-narcotic, non-addictive sleep remedy that seems to have a blackout, knockout effect. Tomorrow morning, I will wake up and do the same thing again. I have been doing this - different pills, same routine - for the past 11 years. If you have any doubt that Prozac has changed the world, consider the drug regimen I am on. And consider the chemical cocktails so many people have been taking since Prozac was launched in 1988. In just one year - 1997 - 65 million anti-depressant prescriptions were filled in the US alone. More to the point, Prozac has swelled the market for psychotropic drugs. Its minimal side-effects allowed physicians to prescribe it, if not exactly on a whim, then at the first note of a patient's pained whimper. And then, if Prozac was not sufficiently effective, other medications could be prescribed. Suddenly there were all these doctors whose entire practice involved a prescription pad and the occasional use of a blood-pressure monitor. They called themselves psychopharmacologists, and all they did was try to get the right mix of medications to keep patients relatively sane. Although no one really knows how these psychopharmaceuticals work, the existence of experts resulted in a tendency to pretend there was real know-how in a process that is mostly trial and error marked occasionally by alchemy: one pill was said to be good for the rejection-sensitive, another for those with object-constancy problems, and blah blah blah. In spite of my tendency to mock psychopharmacologists, I saw one for a period when I was not in therapy with a medical doctor - I referred to him as the Pusherman. And it's difficult to say which is worse: a specialist in prescriptions, or a general practitioner who gives Prozac to a patient he barely knows because, well, it probably won't hurt and it may help. And this kind of thing happens a lot. In the US, where there is no National Health Service and the doctor's duties are dictated by insurance companies, Prozac has been a perfect solution to the financial unmanageability of mental health care - indemnifiers would no longer cough up for therapy sessions, but they would gladly pay for a pill. Essentially, Prozac became the shrug drug, it was one big "why-not?" The Food and Drug Administration, which controls the licensing of drugs in the US, eventually endorsed it to cure obsessive-compulsive disorder, obesity, attention deficit disorder - a whole range of emotional bogeymen. And this may well be Prozac's permanent legacy: it medicalised mental health, even when the damage was rather mild, the symptoms fairly slight. Suddenly, you did not have to jump out of a window or run through the streets wearing nothing but your knickers for your behaviour to be worth more than just the talking cure. Often the therapist would suggest a visit to a psychopharmacologist for a consultation, with the assumption that until you were lifted out of your misery by biology, all the Freudian work that could be accomplished five days a week would not help at all. The depression itself was pushed out of the way, and your real fears could be explored. The little green and white pills delivered emotional expediency. When I first went on Prozac, none of this was so. My trouble, the complaint I carried with me until my third year in college, was that I was crazy, that I felt waves crashing in my head for reasons I didn't know - but in spite of the persistence of emotional emergency, no one was going to listen to my plea as long as I was ambulatory. There was, I had no doubt, a fierce physicality to my depression - I knew it because I felt it - that no discussion of the slights I experienced in the playground at the age of three or the Picassovivid dreams I was awakened by each night could possibly penetrate. And I knew there was some medicine for these feelings. I knew there had to be because if not I was going to have to kill myself. I believed, as anyone who is depressed but resists suicide must, that there was something that could be done for me. I was a student then, with all the resources of a large university at my disposal, and I went from doctor to doctor, begging for a medicinal cure. No one would help me. Though a variety of classes of antidepressant was available and would certainly have helped me before Prozac, it wasn't until that drug arrived that a psychiatrist saw fit to offer me chemical aid. At the time I was sufficiently ill to be staying at the college infirmary, and still Prozac was the first antidepressant I was given. When I think now of how much sooner I could have been paroled from this prisonhouse of the mind, I am often angry, deeply angered for all the missing years. Of course, the world is now completely turned on its head in its relationship to medication. In 1995 I participated in a college panel that essentially asked, "Prozac - pro or con?" For me, this was a ridiculous question: Prozac made people - sick, miserable people - feel better. It treated a mental state that I knew to be nothing less than a deleterious disease. It was astonishing for me to hear student opposition to the drug's use. It was difficult for me to understand its controversy in general, because to me it has always been simple: I felt a deep debt to the inventor of this lifesaving pill. But these students were upset by its depersonalising effects, by the way that when they went to their health services seeking therapy or emotional support of any kind, all they got was a Prozac prescription. They felt like toddlers being stuck in front of the television by a nanny who didn't care for them, rather than being hugged by a parent who did. And when I went on a tour to support my book Prozac Nation, I'd frequently sign copies for teenagers - 14- or 15-year-olds - who would tell me that they were on Zoloft, but they were switching to Paxil, or they were on lithium but the new doctor thought they should try Depakote. And it was through meeting these young people that I started to understand the frightening, Huxleyan nightmare Prozac could create. You see, I, in a sense, had to work to earn my Prozac. I had spent years trying every other form of help that was available and I had lived for so long in complete darkness. I did not have to wonder if Prozac was necessary - I knew. But drugs were now being handed out so liberally that each wretched little pill represented a resentment, a neglect, a shrug. Dr Sterling, the psychiatrist who first put me on Prozac, and who was a wonderful therapist in every way, now runs a mental health clinic in California. No long-term therapy goes on there - in fact not much counselling of any kind goes on there. What does happen is a lot of prescription writing. When Sterling sees people to refill their drug orders she gets a chance to talk to them and find out what they need to cope by way of medication. And she builds up some sort of bond with patients over time. In her limited capacity, Sterling feels that she is doing some real good. "Now, instead of some people getting a lot of help, a lot of people are getting some help," she says. But it isn't like it was with me, and she says this is her choice: seeing suicidal patients with extreme needs exhausted her and deprived her of any emotional wherewithal for her husband or her children. It's not just patients who are desperate for whatever relief Prozac can provide - doctors, too, are overwhelmed. The needs that their deracinated, unstable and alienated clients bring to therapy in an age of divorce are almost too much to be handled without non-human intervention. Recently there was a newspaper article about "uplift anxiety", examining how recovery from depression with Prozac and other drugs "can bring a new array of personal problems, from social uneasiness and crises of identity to professional and marital strains". I understand this - one of the reasons I believe that medication must be taken in conjunction with some sort of therapy is that Prozac is helpful, but the miracle of overcoming a depression requires a more strenuous overhaul than any pill can contain. But the article still seemed absurd - after living under the weight of depression for many years, the lightness of life seems a very luxurious problem. I don't believe there is such a thing as too much joy. Besides, these popular notions about Prozac tend to overstate its transformative power. No antidepressant is a happy pill, and if you emptied out a Prozac capsule, cut its contents into lines and snorted them up, you would not get high. Dream on! All this family of drugs has ever offered is access to the part of a person that wants to be happy, but has been cordoned off. Once you get through those velvet ropes, it is up to you to learn to enjoy the party.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Israeli Government to Give Marijuana Guidelines (The Lancet, in Britain, says the Israeli Health Ministry established a committee Jan. 20 to provide the country's doctors with guidelines for prescribing marijuana. The six-member group of physicians, jurists, and public officials was asked to define the medical conditions under which physicians will be permitted to prescribe marijuana. Until now medical marijuana has been available only on an ad hoc basis by special permit, provided by police from confiscated supplies. Boaz Lev, an internist and the ministry's deputy director-general for medical affairs, said "we don't want people to have to break the law to get treatment when no other drug is effective.") Date: Sun, 31 Jan 1999 11:04:38 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: Israeli Government to Give Marijuana Guidelines Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Martin Cooke (email@example.com) Source: Lancet, The (UK) Website: http://www.thelancet.com/ Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright: The Lancet Ltd Pubdate: Fri, 30 Jan 1999 Author: Rachelle H B Fishman Volume 353, Number 9150 ISRAELI GOVERNMENT TO GIVE MARIJUANA GUIDELINES On Jan 20, the Israeli Health Ministry established a committee to provide doctors with guidelines for prescribing marijuana. Until now marijuana may only be given by special permit with the drug being provided by the police from confiscated supplies. Boaz Lev, an internist and the ministry's deputy director-general for medical affairs, has asked the six-member committee of physicians, jurists, and public officials to define the medical conditions under which physicians will be permitted to prescribe marijuana, rather than continue on an ad hoc basis. "We want to establish the general guidelines and the optimum mechanism to provide marijuana to those who need it, but also to supervise distribution so the drug is not abused for non-medicinal use." Marijuana can provide relief from severe chronic pain, muscular spasms, nausea, and loss of appetite caused, for example, by chemotherapy or AIDS. But Lev says "we don't want people to have to break the law to get treatment when no other drug is effective". Possession or trade in even the smallest quantities of the drug in Israel is punishable by a jail sentence. Calls for a committee to examine the medicinal use of marijuana have been made in the last few years. In 1995, at a meeting held at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rafi Mechoulam, a pharmacologist and a pioneer in marijuana research, suggested that an expert committee should look at the medicinal properties of the drug. Earlier this year, a Knesset subcommittee, chaired by MK Naomi Chazan (Meretz) strongly recommended the Health Ministry establish an expert group. The committee also suggested that the safety and efficacy of the drug be tested in clinical trials. Chazan made it clear that "we do not expect the drug to be widely prescribed, and want to make it clear that it is being considered as a totally different issue from whether it should be legalized or decriminalized" the committee said. No change in the general policy about marijuana use is planned or expected. -------------------------------------------------------------------
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