------------------------------------------------------------------- Medical Pot Gets Support (The Orlando Sentinel version notes U.S. Representative Bill McCollum, the Republican control freak from Longwood, Florida, who led the fight to get the House to condemn medical marijuana last fall, said he is "deeply concerned" the Institute of Medicine report might encourage people to smoke marijuana, failing to note that the IOM explicitly said there was no evidence that medical use of the drug would increase nonmedical use. The newspaper apparently didn't think to ask if McCollum had actually read the report. McCollum said he would rather let AIDS and cancer patients suffer and die than allow them to use herbal cannabis "because there is no way to control that.") Date: Fri, 19 Mar 1999 13:29:36 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US: Medical Pot Gets Support Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: John Chase Pubdate: Thu, 18 Mar 1999 Source: Orlando Sentinel (FL) Page: A8 Copyright: 1999 Orlando Sentinel Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/ Forum: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/interact/messageboards/ MEDICAL POT GETS SUPPORT WASHINGTON - Marijuana has medical benefits for people suffering from cancer and AIDS and should undergo scientific trials to see how it works best, a panel of medical experts concluded Wednesday in a report to the federal government. But Rep. Bill McCollum, R-Longwood, who led the fight to get the House to condemn medical marijuana last fall, said he is ``deeply concerned'' the report might encourage people to smoke marijuana. The drug remains illegal under federal law, despite ballot measures approving its use in Alaska, Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. The new report is sharpening debate about its use. The Institute of Medicine, an affiliate of the National Academy of Sciences, said marijuana's active ingredients can ease pain, nausea and vomiting. It urged the development of a standard way to use the drug, such as an inhaler. The conclusion was greeted warmly by most marijuana advocates, but opponents said they worry the report will encourage marijuana use. ``Let us waste no more time in providing this medication through legal, medical channels to all the patients whose lives may be saved,'' said Daniel Zingale of AIDS Action. McCollum acknowledged that some of the chemicals in marijuana can be useful, but said their place is in inhalers or pill form. ``We should not sanction smoked marijuana because there is no way to control that,'' McCollum said. White House drug adviser Barry McCaffrey said the findings are unlikely to send pharmaceutical companies scrambling to do research on marijuana. ``Our experience is there is little market interest,'' McCaffrey said.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Legalize It, Group Says, For The Sick It Should Be Option, Local Patients Say (The Northwest Florida Daily News interviews local patients and advocates about the medical efficacy of marijuana.) Date: Thu, 18 Mar 1999 21:59:56 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US FL: MMJ: Legalize It, Group Says, For The Sick It Should Be Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Richard Lake (email@example.com) Pubdate: Thu, 18 Mar 1999 Source: Northwest Florida Daily News (FL) Copyright: 1999 Northwest Florida Daily News Page: Front Page Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.nwfdailynews.com/ Author: Anton Caputo, Daily News Staff Writer Note: Staff Writer Anton Caputo can be reached at email@example.com LEGALIZE IT, GROUP SAYS, FOR THE SICK IT SHOULD BE OPTION, LOCAL PATIENTS SAY Although Florida hasn't joined the bandwagon of states supporting the medical use of marijuana, local residents forced to endure the reality of painful diseases said every possible relief should be examined. Butch McKay, executive director of Okaloosa AIDS Support and Informational Services, said he's witnessed marijuana's medicinal effect firsthand. "I worked with another agency where I worked with only two AIDS patients that were legally allowed to have medical marijuana, and it did make a big difference in the quality of their life," McKay said. "It stimulated their appetite and I know for a fact that it greatly benefited them." Niceville resident Alice Combs recently started her second round of chemotherapy in her fight against cancer. Although she said the chemotherapy causes her only slight nausea, she said her daughter, who also undergoes chemotherapy to treat cancer, suffers severe nausea. She doesn't see why the medical community isn't allowed to investigate every possible treatment for the nausea, including marijuana. "I am for it if people feel that it is helpful for them," Combs said, "but I don't see why they don't put it into pill form so people wouldn't have to sit and smoke a grubby looking joint." McKay said medical science already has produced marijuana in pill form for medicinal use, but, for some reason, it's not as effective in quickly battling nausea and stimulating appetite as in its more common form.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Reno: Go Slow On Marijuana (A UPI account of the Institute of Medicine report on medical marijuana notes U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno admitted today that she hadn't read it yet, and said only that "testing can give information that gives a medically sound approach.") Date: Sat, 20 Mar 1999 11:42:34 -0800 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: "D. Paul Stanford" (email@example.com) From: "CRRH mailing list" (firstname.lastname@example.org) Subject: US: Reno: Go Slow On Marijuana Newshawk: General Pulaski Pubdate: Thur, 18 Mar 1999 Source: United Press International Copyright: 1999 United Press International RENO: GO SLOW ON MARIJUANA WASHINGTON, March 18 (UPI) - Attorney General Janet Reno is taking a cautious approach to a new report that says smoked marijuana is potentially effective for a short list of symptoms and recommends rigorous clinical trials of a non-inhaling form. At her weekly news conference today, Reno said further ``testing can give information that gives a medically sound approach.'' The attorney general also refused to speculate on whether federal law should be amended to decriminalize the use of marijuana for the terminally ill. Voters in several states have authorized the use of marijuana for medical purposes, but in the past Reno has said the federal law against its use would be enforced. Any other comment on the report will have to wait until she reads it, Reno said. California, Arizona, Alaska, Washington state and Oregon have passed laws allowing at least some medical use of marijuana, and other states are readying ballot measures. Congress has so far refused to let city officials count the votes in a similar ballot initiative last year in the nation's capital. The conclusions in the new report were announced Wednesday in Washington after an 18-month study requested by White House anti-drug czar Barry McCaffrey. The Institute of Medicine said marijuana possibly can be beneficial in treating chronic pain, nausea from cancer chemotherapy, lack of appetite and wasting in AIDS patients. The report rejected long-held beliefs among some physicians that marijuana is effective for treating glaucoma, saying relief of pressure on the eye is only temporary. It did not recommend using the drug to treat Parkinson's or Huntington's diseases, seizures, migraines and a host of other ailments doctors believe are relieved by it. The report also said there is no evidence that marijuana serves as a ``gateway'' for the use of harder drugs such as heroin or cocaine.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Politics & Policy (The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, in Washington, D.C., summarizes the Institute of Medicine report on medical marijuana.) From: Mireille Jacobson (MJacobson@sorosny.org) To: TLC_CANNABIS (TLCCANNABIS@sorosny.org) Subject: FW: Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report - more on the recent medical marijuana story in the US Date: Thu, 18 Mar 1999 10:29:55 -0500 Sender: email@example.com In case you haven't gotten enough of this story, here is a pretty good overreview. POLITICS & POLICY #1 MEDICAL MARIJUANA: IOM STUDY INDICATES 'MODERATE' BENEFITS "[M]edical marijuana is getting strong, new support from a most unlikely corner, a government commission study. Marijuana, illegal under federal law, is now viewed as good treatment for the terminally ill, adding new fire to the debate over legalization and fear that it opens the door to more widespread use," NBC's Kelly O'Donnell reports ("Nightly News," NBC, 3/17). The active ingredients in marijuana appear to have medical benefits for patients suffering from advanced stages of AIDS and cancer, according to a long-awaited study released yesterday by the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine. The report marks the "most comprehensive analysis to date of the medical literature about marijuana," and comes at the request of White House Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey. In their "delicately worded" report, the 11 scientists concluded that medical marijuana would not increase illicit use in the general population, nor would it serve as a "gateway" to harder drugs. However, they warned that smoking marijuana carried its own health hazards, including lung disease, and recommended the drug be given "on a short-term basis under close supervision, to patients who did not respond to other therapies." In the meantime, the authors said smokeless methods -- capsules, inhalers and patches -- should be developed to deliver the active compounds without toxic side-effects of the smoke (Stolberg, New York Times, 3/18). The IOM review recommended that researchers: * Investigate the effects of cannabinoids on the body to determine how the compound relieves pain, suppresses nausea and stimulates the appetite; * Conduct clinical trials to develop new delivery methods; * Evaluate the drug's psychological effects, "such as euphoria, anxiety reduction and sedation, to see whether they affect the perception of medical benefits in patients"; * Study the individual health risks of marijuana smoke; * Require that marijuana receive medical review board approval, so that patients can receive it for six months or less; * Require that patients use the drug as a last resort and under "careful medical supervision" (Larson, Washington Times, 3/18). FUEL FOR THE FIRE McCaffrey commended the thoroughness of the report, but said, "I would note, however, that the report says 'smoked marijuana has little future as an approved medication.'" He said, "You should not expect to go into an ICU ... in 15 years and find someone with prostate cancer with a 'blunt' stuck in his face as a pain management tool" (Brown, Washington Post, 3/18). But proponents of states' efforts to legalize the drug nonetheless called on McCaffrey and the Clinton administration to ease opposition to the initiatives. Robert Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, said that in the past, medical marijuana advocates encountered resistance in Congress and state Legislatures because "of the myth that there was no medical value." But now, he said, "we can say, 'Here is the science, it was commissioned by the bad guys, and it shows that marijuana is good medicine'" (Curtius/Boxall, Los Angeles Times, 3/18). Bill Zimmerman, executive director of Americans for Medical Rights, predicted the report will spur legal and political efforts to legalize the drug, saying, "Government agencies, medical schools and Congress will debate this. There will be mounting pressure on the Clinton administration" to reschedule the drug (Haynes, Chicago Tribune, 3/18). EVERYONE'S A CRITIC Some advocates, including the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and Harvard Medical School professor Lester Grinspoon, called the report "tepid" and "political" because it dismissed the fact that many long-term marijuana users have not suffered harmful consequences. And while battles over medical marijuana have taken center stage since California legalized it for medicinal purposes in 1996 -- followed by Arizona, Alaska, Oregon, Nevada and Washington -- some anti-drug groups "seemed to signal a softening in their strong public stance against medical marijuana." Steve Dnistrian, executive vice president of the Partnership for a Drug Free America, said, "We support all the recommendations. Who are we to contradict what doctors and scientists say?" (McFarling, Philadelphia Inquirer, 3/18). But "[D]on't look for the White House anytime soon to embrace the medical use of marijuana," said CNN's John King (IP, CNN News, 3/17). The study is unlikely to change federal law, the New York Times reports, and HHS issued a written statement yesterday indicating "simply that it would continue to finance the work" of rescheduling medical marijuana (New York Times, 3/18). *** The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation by National Journal Group Inc. Copyright 1999 by National Journal Group Inc., 1501 M St., N.W., Washington, DC 20005. All rights reserved. Phone: 202-672-5990, Fax: 202-672-5767 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Patricia Miller EDITOR: Amy Paulson ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Rosalee Sanchez STAFF WRITERS: Kathleen Donohue, Jeff Dufour, Rachel Kennedy, Allison Morgan, Adam Pasick *** If at anytime you wish to discontinue e-mail delivery of the Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, simply reply to this message with "unsubscribe" (without quotes) in the subject line. Mail sent to this address cannot be answered. To subscribe or un-subscribe from this list or change your e-mail address, please visit the Kaiser Family Foundation registration page at www.kff.org/register. Please note: The "Click here" function included at the end of stories is only accessible from the Web-based version of the document located on the Kaiser Family Foundation's home page. You are invited to read the publication on the Web and utilize the searchable database at: http://www.kff.org
------------------------------------------------------------------- Medical Marijuana Supporters Elated (The Associated Press says the Institute of Medicine report hands advocates for medical marijuana patients an important weapon - science - in their battle with the federal government to legalize the herb for medical use. Apparently reason won't be enough, however. Rep. Bill McCollum, R-Fla., who led the fight to get the U.S. House of Representatives to condemn medical marijuana last fall, condemned the IOM study, saying he is "deeply concerned" the report by itself might encourage people to smoke marijuana.) Date: Thu, 18 Mar 1999 09:19:45 EST Sender: email@example.com From: Fraglthndr@aol.com To: Multiple recipients of list (firstname.lastname@example.org) Subject: Fwd: Medical Marijuana Supporters Elated From: AOLNews@aol.com Subject: Medical Marijuana Supporters Elated Date: Thu, 18 Mar 1999 03:49:59 EST Medical Marijuana Supporters Elated c The Associated Press By MICHELLE DeARMOND LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Supporters of using marijuana to ease patients' pain say they have been handed an important weapon in their battle with the federal government to legalize the drug: science. ``Vindication! We were right all the while,'' said Dennis Peron, a pro- legalization advocate in San Francisco. ``The science is there. Is the political will there?'' The Institute of Medicine, an affiliate of the National Academy of Sciences, said Wednesday that marijuana's active ingredients can ease the pain, nausea and vomiting caused by cancer and AIDS. The new analysis, which bolsters similar conclusions by the National Institutes of Health, urged scientific trials and the development of a standard way to safely use the drug, such as an inhaler. Ballot measures approving marijuana for medicinal use have passed in Alaska, Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. Still, the drug remains banned by federal law and doctors are wary of prescribing it, even in those states. White House drug policy adviser Barry McCaffrey said federal law would be unaffected by the study, although he acknowledged that authorities still need to unravel conflicting state and federal laws. The report said that because the chemicals in marijuana ease anxiety, stimulate the appetite, ease pain and reduce nausea and vomiting, they can be helpful for people undergoing chemotherapy and people with AIDS. It also said there is no evidence that use of marijuana leads to other drug use. The panel did warn that smoking marijuana can cause respiratory disease. Proponents of medical marijuana cheered the study's results and said opponents will need to change. ``If they continue to cling to their arguments, then they begin to lose their credibility,'' said Rand Martin, chief of staff for California state Sen. John Vasconcellos, D-Santa Clara. Advocates say the Food and Drug Administration must reclassify marijuana from Schedule I -- illegal drugs -- to Schedule II, drugs that doctors can prescribe. ``Let us waste no more time in providing this medication through legal, medical channels to all the patients whose lives may be saved,'' said Daniel Zingale of AIDS Action. Breaking ranks with the pro-medical marijuana groups was the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws, which condemned the report as ``tepid.'' At the White House, spokesman Joe Lockhart said: ``What we found out is that there may be some chemical compounds in marijuana that are useful in pain relief or anti-nausea, but that smoking marijuana is a crude delivery system. So I think what this calls for ... is further research.'' Rep. Bill McCollum, R-Fla., who led the fight to get the U.S. House of Representatives to condemn medical marijuana last fall, said he is ``deeply concerned'' the report might encourage people to smoke marijuana. Robert Maginnis, of the conservative Family Research Council, said doctors have other medicines to treat any ailment that marijuana can help. ``Providing good medicine -- not marijuana -- is the compassionate response to patients' pain and illnesses,'' he said. AP-NY-03-18-99 0349EST 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.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Drug Czar: More Money Needed (The Orange County Register says the White House drug czar, General Barry McCaffrey, wants Congress to pass legislation that would require insurance companies to include drug and alcohol treatment in health plans.) Date: Thu, 18 Mar 1999 23:30:00 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US CA: Drug Czar: More Money Needed Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: John W. Black Pubdate: Thu, 18 Mar 1999 Source: Orange County Register (CA) Section: News Page: 19 Copyright: 1999 The Orange County Register Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.ocregister.com/ DRUG CZAR: MORE MONEY NEEDED Los Angeles - Congress needs to allocate more money for treatment and prevention if it expects further headway in anti-drug efforts, the nation's drug policy czar said Wednesday. Congress has given a 32 percent annual increase in anti-drug efforts from fiscal year 1999 to 2000. Drug abuse among teens has fallen, but the problem is far from licked, said retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey. "We are very grateful for the support we are getting, but we are not there yet," McCaffrey said of Congress' efforts. McCaffrey, who heads the Office of National Drug Control Policy, was in Los Angeles for a town-hall meeting with California teens. One of his toughest fights against drugs, McCaffrey said, is funds for adequate treatment programs. "People who are addicted to drugs are not undisciplined or immoral," he said. His agency wants Congress to pass legislation that would require insurance companies to include drug and alcohol treatment in health plans. He also called for more after-school activities such as sports programs. "We're not worried about 45-year-olds," he told the group. "We're worried about teens."
------------------------------------------------------------------- Excite Poll on Medical Marijuana (A list subscriber forwards details about yet another online poll showing support for medical marijuana, 82 percent to 8 percent, with 10 percent unsure.) Date: Thu, 18 Mar 1999 17:55:12 -0600 From: "Frank S. World" (firstname.lastname@example.org) Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Rx Cannabis Now! http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Lobby/7417/ To: "DRCTalk Reformers' Forum" (firstname.lastname@example.org) Subject: Excite Poll on Medical Marijuana Sender: email@example.com Excite Poll on Medical Marijuana http://nt.excite.com/poll/ Should it be legal for doctors to prescribe marijuana to seriously ill patients? Yes - If doctors believe suffering patients would benefit from the use of marijuana, then they should be able to prescribe it. 82% -- 13235 votes No - Prescribing marijuana is unethical and ultimately harmful to the patient. 8% -- 1437 votes Unsure - Studies demonstrate its benefits, but doctors should be cautious about prescribing a drug that they don't know enough about. 10% -- 1392 votes Current Vote Tally: 16064
------------------------------------------------------------------- Drug Policy Foundation Network News (The original monthly online summary of drug policy news from DPF, in Washington, D.C., examines - Barney Frank's drug policy reform bills; Anti-Know Your Customer bills; Rangel addresses crack cocaine sentencing disparity; Hatch seeks expansion of maintenance therapies; McCain attacks methadone; White House releases strategy; Mexico certified as fully cooperating in drug war; Gov. Ventura slams drug war; Other legislation to watch.) Date: Thu, 18 Mar 1999 22:32:58 EST Originator: firstname.lastname@example.org Sender: email@example.com From: "Drug Policy News Service" (firstname.lastname@example.org) To: Multiple recipients of list (email@example.com) Subject: DPF's Network News (Feb/March 1999) X-ListProcessor-Instructions: Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject blank and the BODY containing nothing but the word HELP for instructions. X-Comment: The Drug Policy News Service is presented by the Drug Policy Foundation - www.dpf.org. *** DRUG POLICY FOUNDATION'S NETWORK NEWS A Monthly Publication for DPF's Advocacy Network *** February/March 1999 Please Redistribute Available online at: http://www.dpf.org/html/network_news-feb_mar.html Network News will keep you updated on the latest legislative and regulatory drug policy proposals in Congress and the Administration. To receive Network News and legislative Action Alerts, sign up with DPF's Advocacy Network at: http://www.dpf.org/html/listform.html. To support the Drug Policy Foundation's efforts to create reasoned and compassionate drug policies, become a member online at: http://www.dpf.org/html/join.html. *** TABLE OF CONTENTS 1) Barney Frank's Drug Policy Reform Bills http://www.dpf.org/html/network_news-feb_mar.html#Frank 2) Anti-Know Your Customer Bills http://www.dpf.org/html/network_news-feb_mar.html#KYC 3) Rangel Addresses Crack Cocaine Sentencing Disparity http://www.dpf.org/html/network_news-feb_mar.html#Rangel 4) Hatch Seeks Expansion of Maintenance Therapies http://www.dpf.org/html/network_news-feb_mar.html#Hatch 5) McCain Attacks Methadone http://www.dpf.org/html/network_news-feb_mar.html#McCain 6) White House Releases Strategy http://www.dpf.org/html/network_news-feb_mar.html#WhiteHouse 7) Mexico Certified as Fully Cooperating in Drug War http://www.dpf.org/html/network_news-feb_mar.html#Mexico 8) Gov. Ventura Slams Drug War http://www.dpf.org/html/network_news-feb_mar.html#Ventura 9) Other Legislation to Watch http://www.dpf.org/html/network_news-feb_mar.html#Other *** February brought us the release of the National Drug Control Strategy, the annual certification of our allies' efforts in the fight against the illicit drug trade, and the introduction of a wide variety of drug policy bills. March's highlight is the introduction of three drug policy reform bills by Rep. Barney Frank. Rep. Barney Frank Introduces Medical Marijuana, Other Drug Policy Reform Bills In a span of eight days in early March, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) introduced three important drug policy reform bills that could do much to bring some justice and compassion to our nation's drug policies. The first bill, introduced on March 2, was H.R. 912, the "Medical Use of Marijuana Act." The bill would reschedule marijuana as a Schedule II drug, which would allow doctors to prescribe, patients to possess, and growers to produce marijuana in states that have approved its use for medicinal purposes. H.R. 913, also introduced on March 2, would make retroactive the mandatory minimum exemption for certain non-violent drug offenders that was included in the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. Offenders with only one conviction, who did not use violence during the crime, were not involved in an organized crime group, and cooperated with the government could have their sentence reduced from the mandatory minimum level to that required by the federal Sentencing Guidelines. The third drug policy reform bill introduced by Frank is H.R. 1053, which would repeal a controversial drug provision included in last year's Higher Education Act (HEA). The provision, sponsored by Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.), denies federal student loans, grants, and work assistance to students convicted of any state or federal drug law. Students convicted of possession are ineligible for aid for one year after a first offense, two years after a second offense, and indefinitely after a third offense. Persons convicted of drug sales are ineligible for two years after a first offense and indefinitely after a second offense. (See "1998 Higher Education Act Targeted by College Students and Faculty Across the Country," Network News, January 1999.) To learn more about efforts across the country to overturn the HEA provisions, check out DRCNet's student activism website at: http://www.u-net.org. *** 'Know Your Customer' Banking Rules Almost Dead, Opposition Bills Introduced What began as a lonely crusade by Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) has become a nationwide movement against "big brother banking." The target of all this opposition is the "Know Your Customer" (KYC) rules that were proposed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and other financial regulators. The rules were touted as a means of fighting drug-related money laundering, but opponents contend that the rules go too far by making everyone a suspect.The FDIC received over 250,000 comments on the proposed regulation before the comment period ended on March 8. (See also "Rep. Ron Paul to Introduce Financial Privacy Legislation to Block Intrusive 'Know Your Customer' Banking Rules," Network News, January 1999.) Not only has the public taken issue with the proposed regulation, but members of Congress are upset as well. At least four bills (H.R. 516, 530, 575, and 621) have been introduced in the House and one in the Senate that would scuttle implementation of KYC. The first bill to be introduced was Rep. Ron Paul's H.R. 516, "Know Your Customer Sunset Act," which would repeal the KYC regulations and prohibit the implementation of such rules in the future. It has 45 co-sponsors. S. 403, sponsored by Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Colo.) and co-sponsored by five other senators, is the Senate version of Paul's bill. On March 4, Reps. Tom Campbell (R-Calif.) and Paul introduced Amendment No. 8 to a financial modernization bill (H.R. 10) in the House Committee on Banking and Financial Services, which would have stopped the KYC rules and prevented their implementation in the future. The exact wording was rejected, but an amendment by Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.) that would only apply to the current regulations passed by voice vote. That same day, John D. Hawke Jr., comptroller of the currency, told the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law that "the [KYC] proposal should be promptly withdrawn" and Christie Sciacca, associate director of FDIC, said "it is obvious to us that the proposal cannot become final." Richard Small, author of the proposed rule and an assistant director at the Federal Reserve, was the only regulatory representative who was reluctant to admit that the rule was a mistake. A special website devoted to opposing the KYC regulations has been set up at: www.Defend YourPrivacy.com. *** Rep. Rangel Seeks End to Cocaine Sentencing Disparities Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) introduced H.R. 939, the "Crack Cocaine Equitable Sentencing Act of 1999" on March 2, along with 25 Democratic co-sponsors. Rangel introduced a similar bill in 1997, but unfortunately did not get a hearing in the Republican-controlled Congress. The bill would eliminate the distinction between powder cocaine and crack cocaine, treating both substances equally under federal law. Right now possession of five grams of crack cocaine carries a five-year mandatory minimum sentence, while 500 grams of powder cocaine receives the same sentence. Possession of 50 grams of crack cocaine results in a 10-year mandatory minimum, but it takes five kilograms of powder cocaine to receive a comparable sentence. This difference in penalties is commonly referred to as the "100-to-1 sentencing disparity," and it has disproportionately impacted African-American defendants who are often targeted by drug law enforcement. Rep. Rangel's bill is not the first attempt to equalize crack and powder cocaine sentences. In April 1995, the U.S. Sentencing Commission recommended that the 100-to-1 ratio be abandoned in favor of equal penalties for both forms of cocaine. On October 30, 1995, Congress passed, and the President signed, a law (PL 104-38) overturning that decision, which resulted in the largest prison riots in the history of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. *** Sen. Hatch Advocates for Expansion of Maintenance Therapies for Opiate Dependency In a surprise display of bipartisan unity in dealing with addiction as a health rather than a criminal justice matter, Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Carl Levin (D-Mich.), and Daniel Moynihan (D-N.Y.) have joined forces to expand the provision of maintenance therapy for opiate dependency. The three senators are co-sponsoring S. 324, the "Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 1999," which was introduced on January 28 and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill would allow a general practitioner to maintain an opiate-dependent patient on a narcotic, in this case a Schedule IV or V drug. The sponsors of the bill are particularly interested in allowing physicians to prescribe buprenorphine and a buprenorphine/naloxone combination to maintain or detoxify patients. Buprenorphine is a mild, Schedule V narcotic that has been used in maintenance therapy for heroin addicts in France. Under the Narcotic Treatment Act of 1974, physicians must now get a DEA registration and approval by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to use approved narcotics in drug abuse treatment. Additionally, state agencies are involved in the regulation process. This burdensome regulatory scheme has resulted in a treatment system that is "preventing physicians from treating patients in an office setting or in rural or small towns, thereby denying treatment to thousands in need of it," Sen. Levin said (CR, p. S1091). S. 324 would require a physician to: (1) notify the Secretary of HHS ("Secretary") that s/he intends to dispense approved drugs for maintenance or detoxification treatment; (2) have, "by training or experience," the ability to treat and manage opiate-dependent patients; (3) have the capacity to refer patients to appropriate counseling and other services; and (4) limit the number of patients treated at one time to 20, unless the Secretary changes the number through the regulatory process. The bill would require drugs in Schedules IV or V to: (1) be approved under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act or section 351 of the Public Health Act for maintenance or detoxification treatment; and (2) not be subject to an "adverse determination" by the Secretary and Attorney General. Although buprenorphine maintenance won't help many of the persons being maintained on methadone today, it could help low-level, younger users who haven't developed a high tolerance to opiates, according to Dr. Marc Shinderman, medical director of the Center for Addictive Problems in Chicago. He added, "This legislation would allow patients and doctors to develop a therapeutic alliance in an office-based setting, and provide a low-threshold treatment option which is now not possible with methadone due to governmental over-regulation." Edith Springer, DPF Board member and Senior Trainer at the Harm Reduction Training Institute, also welcomed the legislation. "Although the bill doesn' t go far enough in allowing doctors and patients to decide on the treatment of their choice, passage of this legislation would set a precedent that can only help us. Some patients have found buprenorphine to be helpful, and they should have it available as a mode of treatment." *** Sen. McCain Seeks Radical Cutbacks in Methadone Maintenance Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) introduced S. 423, the "Addiction Free Treatment Act," on February 11, which would significantly reduce the number of methadone patients and the amount of time patients would be allowed to be maintained on methadone. According to McCain, methadone maintenance is "Orwellian" and "disgusting and immoral." The bill would require: (1) Medicaid payments for methadone and Levo-Alpha Acetyl-Methadol (LAAM) treatment to be terminated after a maximum of six months; (2) clinics to conduct random and frequent drug testing; and (3) the termination of a patient's treatment if s/he tests positive for illicit drugs. Federal funds administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration would be subject to the same restrictions. McCain's bill is very similar to a plan promoted last summer by New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, which would have required methadone patients at city hospitals to be abstinent within 90 days. At the end of five months, only 21 of the 2,100 patients were methadone-free, and five of those had relapsed into heroin use. In January, the mayor abandoned his plan, saying it was "somewhat unrealistic." Doctors, patients, and patient advocates have derided the McCain bill, and are surprised that he would attempt this after Giuliani's proposal failed miserably. Beth Francisco of the Advocates for Recovery Through Medicine, found the bill to be "horrible," and believed it would result in fewer people entering methadone treatment, more people relapsing into heroin use, and more diversion of methadone into the black market for persons kicked out of programs. Both the American Society of Addiction Medicine and the American Methadone Treatment Association have opposed the bill as well. AMTA's press release challenged McCain's "'Flat Earth Policy' of restricting federal funds for methadone treatment," and ASAM's policy alert noted the McCain bill is in direct conflict with the National Institutes of Health 1997 Consensus Panel on "Effective Medical Treatment of Opiate Addiction," which found that "all persons dependent on opiates should have access to methadone hydrochloride maintenance therapy...." S. 423 had no co-sponsors at press time and was referred to the Senate Finance Committee. *** White House Releases Drug Strategy Amid Criticism from Reformers, Republicans The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) released its 1999 National Drug Control Strategy on February 8, calling for $17.8 billion to be spent in fiscal year 2000. The request represents an increase of $735 million (+4.3%) over 1999's regular appropriations, and $1.1 billion (+6.5%) more than the projected FY 2000 budget included in last year's Strategy. The Strategy is being promoted as an update of last year's plan because it has a 5-year projected budget and 10-year goals to reduce drug use, drug trafficking, and associated harms by 50 percent. Not surprisingly, the plan was criticized by drug policy reformers and Republicans alike. DPF's Scott Ehlers noted that "We're creating a system where you have to get into the criminal justice system to get into treatment," in Joanne Jacobs' syndicated San Jose Mercury News column. The Washington Post also quoted DPF as saying the Strategy was "hypocritical and disappointing," and Eric Sterling of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation as saying, "This is a betrayal of what the White House says it's doing, promising a balanced strategy when it is lopsided." Sterling was referring to the fact that 66% of the Strategy's budget will go to law enforcement, prisons, and other supply reduction efforts, while only 34% goes to drug prevention and treatment. Republican criticisms came from Rep. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who denounced the White House for talking about prevention and treatment, but spending the vast majority of its budget on law enforcement. Rep. Porter Goss (R-Fla.) characterized the Clinton Strategy as a "Just say maybe" plan instead of "Just say no." One area of "prevention" that the White House is supporting is "countering attempts to legalize drugs" and "countering attempts to legalize marijuana" (p. 52-54). The White House plans to fight legalization efforts by "informing state and local government as well as community coalitions and civic organizations about the techniques associated with the drug legalization movement" and "working with the international community to reinforce mutual efforts against drug legalization." The 1999 National Drug Control Strategy is online at: http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/policy/ndcs.html. The Drug Policy Foundation's press release on the 1999 National Drug Control Strategy is located at: http://www.dpf.org/html/prstrategy.html. *** Mexico Certified as Fully Cooperating in Drug War; Congressional Action to Decertify in Question On February 26, President Clinton certified Mexico as fully cooperating in the drug war, despite criticisms from Republicans who argue that Mexico's efforts have been inadequate. Republicans pointed out that two-thirds of the cocaine that enters the United States passes through Mexico, drug seizures were down last year, and Mexican law enforcement faces extensive corruption problems. The Clinton administration believes that decertification would only hamper anti-drug efforts and reduce cooperation between Mexico and the United States. Every year since the passage of the certification law (PL 99-570), the President has had to certify which major source and transit countries are fully cooperating with U.S. anti-drug efforts. If a country is not certified, all U.S. foreign aid except humanitarian and anti-drug aid is suspended for the year. This year, the State Department identified 28 countries as being major sources or transit points of illicit drugs. Afghanistan and Burma were the only countries to be decertified, while sanctions against Colombia, Cambodia, Pakistan and Paraguay were waived due to national security reasons. Congress can overturn the President's decision by passing a joint resolution approved by both the House and Senate, subject to a presidential veto. In 1997, the House passed a disapproval resolution regarding Mexico, but the Senate did not. Thus far, two certification-related bills have been introduced in the Senate. S. 554, introduced by Sen. Bill Campbell (R-Col.) on March 5, would allow for the temporary waiving of a country's decertification status on national security grounds. Aid to a country would be cut off in October of the same year if the country did not meet conditions spelled out by the President when the waiver was granted. S. 596, sponsored by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Cal.) and introduced March 11, would exempt from the certification process certain countries with which the United States has bilateral agreements and other counterdrug plans. According to Congressional Quarterly, Rep. Clay Shaw (R-Fl.) and Sen.Trent Lott (R-Miss.) are considering a decertification effort, while Sens. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) are working to ensure that any decertification effort fails. *** Governor Jesse Ventura Slams Drug War at National Press Club While in Washington for the annual meeting of the National Governors Association, Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura was featured at the National Press Club on February 22 to talk about his recent electoral victory, the Reform Party, and the state of American politics. In addition to slamming the two-party system and career politicians, he also had some critical words for the war on drugs. When Ventura was asked, "Do you have plans to reform the drug laws in Minnesota? If so, how? And should nonviolent drug offenders fill up the scarce prison cells? Should they even be arrested?" he said: "First of all, I think prison cells should definitely be for violent prisoners ... because those are the ones that are committing acts of violence against other humans, and those are the ones that need to be taken off our streets to make them safe. As far as drug offenders goes, in a lot of ways I lump this into one of my core values that I teach ... And one of those is that you can't legislate stupidity. And I'm very clear on that. And it's not just in the drug world, it's in many worlds. Government today, every time someone does something stupid, they come back and want to legislate and make a law - stop people from doing stupid things. It can't be done, ladies and gentlemen. ... As far as drugs go, my mother, God bless her, lived through prohibition of alcohol, and she told me that the war right now on drugs is the same as the prohibition of alcohol was when she went through that as a young person. And I believe very strongly that in order to conquer a war on drugs, it's simple. You have to stop the demand. That's the key to it. Stop the demand and the supply will dry up. ... [W]e have drugs in Stillwater State Prison. These people are locked up 24 hours a day. If we can't keep them out of the prison, how are we going to stop it out in the free world on a street corner? So I think, in my viewpoint, we need to take a new approach to the war on drugs. We need to look at educating people, again, that stupidity is not the right avenue to go down, get our young people to make good choices, and the only way you're going to defeat this war is by defeating the demand for it, not the supply of it." *** Other Legislation to Watch: S. 5 - Drug Free Century Act Sponsor: Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) Increases penalties for numerous drug offenses, promotes drivers license suspension for drug offenders, bans federal funding of needle exchange, and adds $2.6 billion to drug enforcement. H.R. 906 - Civic Participation and Rehabilitation Act of 1999 Sponsor: Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) Restores the federal voting rights of persons who have been released from incarceration. H.R. 982/S. 227 - Syringe exchange funding ban Sponsors: Rep. Goodlatte (R-Va.)/Sen. Coverdell (R-Ga.) Prohibits the expenditure of federal monies to "directly or indirectly" fund syringe exchange programs. Contact Your Representative and Senators *** Bills to Support *** S. 324 - Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 1999 (Hatch, R-Utah) H.R. 516 - Know Your Customer Sunset Act (Paul, R-Texas) H.R. 906 - Civic Participation and Rehabilitation Act of 1999 (Conyers, D-Mich.) H.R. 912 - Medical Use of Marijuana Act (Frank, B., D-Mass.) H.R. 913 - Retrospective application of mandatory minimum safety valve (Frank, B., D-Mass.) H.R. 939 - Crack Cocaine Equitable Sentencing Act of 1999 (Rangel, D-N.Y.) H.R. 1053 - Repeal of Higher Education Act drug provision (Frank, B., D-Mass.) *** Bills to Oppose S. 5 - Drug Free Century Act (DeWine, R-Ohio) S. 423 - Addiction Free Treatment Act (McCain, R-Ariz.) H.R. 982/S. 227 - Syringe exchange funding ban (Rep. Goodlatte, R-Va./Sen. Coverdell, R-Ga.) *** To Call: Find out who your representative is by calling the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 225-3121 or your senator by calling (202) 224-3121. Have your zip code ready to give the operator. To Fax, Write a Letter, or Email: Call the Capitol Switchboard, then call your representative's or senator's office to get the fax number. You can email your House and Senate members by going to: www.house.gov or www.senate.gov. Letters can be sent to your representatives in both houses as follows: Honorable [name of your representative] U.S. House of Representatives Washington, DC 20515-1101 Honorable [name of your senator] U.S. Senate Washington, DC 20510-2203 *** To support the Drug Policy Foundation, please send $35 to the address below for membership. Benefits include the quarterly magazine, The Drug Policy Letter, Action Alerts, drug policy updates, and discounts on books and videos. You can also join the Foundation through our website at: http://www.dpf.org/html/join.html. To join DPF's Drug Policy News Service and Advocacy Network, please send email to email@example.com with the following message in the body of the email: subscribe dpnews Firstname Lastname. To unsubscribe send the message: unsubscribe dpnews. *** The Drug Policy Foundation "Creating Reasoned and Compassionate Drug Policies" 4455 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite B-500 Washington, DC 20008-2328 ph: (202) 537-5005 fax: (202) 537-3007 email: firstname.lastname@example.org web: www.dpf.org www.drugpolicy.org
------------------------------------------------------------------- U.S. report backs easing of restrictions on pot (A Reuters article in the Toronto Star summarizes the Institute of Medicine report on medical marijuana.) Date: Thu, 18 Mar 1999 10:30:54 -0500 To: email@example.com From: Dave Haans (firstname.lastname@example.org) Subject: TorStar: U.S. report backs easing of restrictions on pot Newshawk: Dave Haans Source: The Toronto Star (Canada) Pubdate: Thursday, March 18, 1999 Page: A24 Website: http://www.thestar.com Contact: email@example.com U.S. report backs easing of restrictions on pot Recommends marijuana for the seriously ill WASHINGTON (Reuters - AP) -- A U.S.-commissioned report released yesterday strongly backed certain medical uses of marijuana, declaring that for some people with diseases such as AIDS and cancer, it may be one of the most effective treatments available. The widely anticipated report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) also said there was no evidence marijuana use leads to harder drugs. The report was commissioned by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and could spark a reassessment of the decades-long U.S. drive to ban almost all marijuana use. "We uncovered an explosion of new scientific knowledge about how the active components in marijuana effect the body and in how they might be used in a medical context," Dr. John Benson, one of the principal investigators for the report, told a news conference. The IOM study highlighted continued concerns over marijuana, noting the common practice of smoking the drug was dangerous. But for some patients with severe AIDS or cancer symptoms, marijuana -- even in its smoked form -- appears to have benefits that outweigh its risks, the investigators said. "Smoked marijuana should not generally be recommended for long-term medical use," the report said. "Nonetheless, for certain patients such as the terminally ill or those with debilitating symptoms, the long-term risks are not of great concern." Authors of the report sought to sidestep the political issue of medical marijuana, noting repeatedly that their brief was simply to assess the effectiveness of "cannabinoid" drugs such as THC, marijuana's main active element. The IOM report stressed new research should aim to design a "non-smoked, rapid onset" delivery system which could mimic the speedy action of a smoked marijuana cigarette. But the report's authors noted that some desperately ill patients may not want to wait the years it would take to develop a safe alternative. To help these patients, the report suggested that doctors be allowed to launch clinical studies of marijuana. In Canada, federal Health Minister Allan Rock this month authorized clinical trials. The U.S. report also declared marijuana did not appear to be a "gateway" to the use of harder drugs. In fact, it concludes, most drug users started by using tobacco and alcohol. White House anti-drugs "czar" Barry McCaffrey, who commissioned the report in 1997, yesterday welcomed its findings but added the government will continue to classify marijuana as illegal.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Medical Marijuana Gets Nod (The version in Canada's National Post) Newshawk: Kathy Galbraith Pubdate: Thu, 18 Mar 1999 Source: National Post (Canada) Copyright: Southam Inc. Page: 12 Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.nationalpost.com/ Forum: http://forums.canada.com/~canada Medical Marijuana gets Nod U.S. report says drug is effective in treatment of AIDS, cancer patients. Washington. A U.S. - commissioned report strongly backed certain medical uses of marijuana, declaring that for some people with serious diseases such as AIDS and cancer, it may be one of the most effective treatments available. The widely anticipated report by the independent Institute of Mecicine was commissioned by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and could spark a reassessment of the decades-long U.S. drive to ban almost all marijuana use. "We uncovered an explosion of new scientific knowledge about how the active components in marijuana affect the body and in how they might be used in a medical context," Dr.John Benson, one of the principal investigators for the report, told a news conference. Supporters of the medical marijuana movement declared the report an unequivocal victory. Bill Zimmerman, director of Americans for Medical Rights, said the findings would radically rework the public image of what has long been one of the United States' most demonized drugs. "They are in effect saying that most of what the government has told us about marijuana is false. It's not a gateway to heroin and cocaine it has legitimate use, and it's not as dangerous as common drugs like Prozac and Viagra," he said. "This is about as positive as you can get." The study, the product of more than 18 months of research, highlighted concerns over marijuana, noting that the common practice of smoking the drug was medically dangerous. But it also declared that marijuana was not particularly addictive and did not appear to lead to the use of harder drugs. For some patients with severe AIDS or cancer symptoms such as nausea, wasting, and lack of appetite, marijuana- even in its smoked form- appears to have benefits that outweigh its risks, the investigators said. "Smoked marijuana should not generally be recommended for long-term medical use," the report said. "Nonetheless, for certain patients such as the terminally ill or those whith debilitating symptoms, the long-term risks are not of great concern. Authors of the report sought to sidestep the political issue of medical marijuana, noting repeatedly that their mandate was simply to assess the effectiveness of cannabinoid drugs such as THC, marijuana's main active element. There is only one U.S. government-approved symthetic cannabinoid pill Marinol. Marijuana proponents argue that the pill is not as effective as the raw plant. The institute report stressed new research should aim to design a "non smoked, rapid onset" delivery system which could mimic the speedy action of a smoked marijuana cigarette. We prefer to move away from the plant," said another principal investigator Dr.Stanley Watson. "From the point of view of safety we are quite concerned about it." But the report's authors also noted that some desperately ill patients may not want to wait the years it would take to develop a safe alternative such as cannabinoid "inhaler". To help these patients, the report suggested that doctors be allowed to launch clinical studies of marijuana, telling each test subject the risks and rewards of smoking the drug. In 1996, California passed an initiative aimed at allowing patients with AIDS, cancer, and other serious diseases to use the drug. While federal authorities have used their power to block implementation of the California measure, voters in six more states passed similar bills in 1998- adding pressure on the Food and Drug Administration to consider removing marijuana from the list of the most dangerous narcotics. "We will carefully study the recommendations and conclusions contained in this report," the Office of National Drug Control Policy said in a statement.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Canna Pharm shut down in Ottawa (A list subscriber forwards a photo from Le Droit, a French language newspaper.) Date: Tue, 30 Mar 1999 09:31:21 -0500 From: ron bublies (email@example.com) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Pariseau photo Jean-Charles Pariseau waves tongue at cop: Here is a photo from the front page of Le Droit, a French language newspaper from Ottawa, dated March 18, 1999. It was taken shortly after Canna Pharm was shut down by the RCMP, and Jean-Charles Pariseau's medicine, as well as many other AIDS and cancer patients was destroyed to the laughter of the officers conducting the raid. This photo sums up the mood here in Ottawa. Can you spot the nazi in the photo? Peace and puffing Ron B.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Feds Screwed Up On Pot (NOW magazine, in Canada, says federal health minister Allan Rock has made no move to improve the lot of medical marijuana patients. His announcement last week that the government intended to establish guidelines for clinical trials is considered by many a cynical manoeuvre to lend the appearance of sophistication and compassion to a stalling operation. Marie Andree Bertrand, a member of the government's famous Le Dain commission that recommended the decriminalization of pot in the early 1970s, says Rock's insistance on more studies before allowing medical use is to "laugh in the face of the Canadian public." The research, she says, was done and paid for 25 years ago. Among other evidence, the Le Dain commission cited a series of classified U.S. army studies from the 1950s showing a number of potentially valuable therapeutic effects from the use of synthetic cannabinoids for everything from fever and epilepsy to high blood pressure. Says the commission's Bertrand, "We spoke of all the symptoms that would be alleviated by cannabis," contradicting what she calls "lies" emanating from public health authorities.) Date: Thu, 18 Mar 1999 23:30:15 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: Canada: Feds Screwed Up On Pot Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Mike Maunz Pubdate: Thu, 18 Mar 1999 Source: NOW Magazine (Canada) Page: 20 Copyright: 1999 NOW Communications Inc. Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.now.com/ Forum: http://www.now.com/forum/index.html Author: Colman Jones FEDS SCREWED UP ON POT Liberals Blowing Smoke On Medical Marijuana Study -- The Evidence Has Been In For 25 Years For many connoisseurs of altered reality, the pungent sweetness of the marijuana plant heralds a gentle, spacy universe where time lingers and reflection is a multilayered experiment. But the much-maligned herb also offers less sublime possibilities. Those who suffer physical torment talk of it as a salve -- a calming, pain-easing medicine more important for its ability to make life bearable than for its invitation to a fifth dimension. Centuries after healers discovered the plant's therapeutic charms and decades after scientists learned how to test it, our federal government still refuses to legalize its use by thousands suffering from cancer, AIDS and multiple sclerosis. Despite an Ontario judge's recent decision that denying citizens medical access to the substance is unconstitutional, and despite many appeals, federal health minister Allan Rock has made no move to make the situation easier for sick people. While he suggested a year ago that he might allow access, last week he derailed the legalization question by announcing the government's intent to establish guidelines for clinical trials. Cynical move This move, seemingly dramatic and bold, is considered by many a cynical manoeuvre to lend the appearance of sophistication and compassion to a stalling operation. Marie Andree Bertrand, a member of the government's famous Le Dain commission that in the early 1970s recommended the decriminalization of pot, says that to insist on more study of the plant before allowing medical use is to "laugh in the face of the Canadian public." The research, she says, was done and paid for 25 years ago. *** The bushy, hardy plant known as cannabis sativa has been used medicinally across the globe for thousands of years. In 1971, the Le Dain commission cited a series of classified U.S. army studies from the 50s showing a number of potentially valuable therapeutic effects from the use of synthetic cannabinoids for everything from fever and epilepsy to high blood pressure. Says the commission's Bertrand, "We spoke of all the symptoms that would be alleviated by cannabis," contradicting what she calls "lies" emanating from public health authorities. "The minister is reinventing the wheel. This is full of bullshit." As well as Le Dain, a host of prestigious groups including the American Public Health Association, the British Medical Association, the Canadian AIDS Society, the Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian Hemophilia Society have endorsed medical marijuana. A 1997 editorial in the New England Journal Of Medicine even stated that to demand evidence of therapeutic efficacy for pot is "hypocritical." Noxious feelings "The noxious sensations that patients experience are extremely difficult to quantify in controlled experiments," the journal stated. "What really counts for a therapy with this kind of safety margin is whether a seriously ill patient feels relief as a result of the intervention, not whether a controlled trial proves its efficacy." Most scientific research on pot has been limited to testing oral tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the ingredient that causes smokers to get high, but THC is only one of the plant's many chemical constituents. The best evidence about smoking pot concerns its use in preventing nausea among cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. A series of six studies conducted by American state health departments in the 1980s, involving nearly 1,000 patients, showed that pot worked better than conventional prescription anti-nausea drugs and oral THC (marketed today as the synthetic pill Marinol) in alleviating chemo's queasy downside. Just last October, a study published in the New York State Journal Of Medicine looked at 56 cancer patients receiving chemo for whom conventional anti-nausea drugs were not working. Smoking pot, it turns out, did the trick in nearly eight out of 10 cases, with no serious negative side effects. In light of this kind of info, a good number of cancer doctors are now quietly recommending a joint now and then to their patients, despite the drug's illegal status. The list of uses for the much-beloved weed goes on. The problem is that much of the evidence is anecdotal, so healing by weed hovers in limbo -- good enough for doctors and a host of scientific associations, but insufficient to sway regulators. Its use in Canada thus remains strictly verboten under the Controlled Drugs And Substances Act, which prescribes six months in prison and a $1,000 fine for those caught taking a whiff to ease their aches and pains. This despite December's ruling by Ontario judge Patrick Sheppard in favour of Toronto's Terry Parker, an epileptic. Benedikt Fischer, a scientist with the Addiction Research Foundation (ARF), now part of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, is surprised that Rock's announcement hasn't addressed the "legal circumstances and regulation currently governing -- or not clearly governing at all -- the issue of medicinal marijuana use." He cautions that the timetable of any further research is going to be long-range. "Rock hasn't specified what medical or health indications they're looking at. Even if they started the trial process tomorrow, it will take four or five years before we see any substantive results or data coming out of it." Doctor Andrew Weil, director of the University of Arizona's program of integrative medicine and a renowned authority on psychoactive drugs, allows that some clinical trials should be repeated but stresses that "on the basis of what we know at the moment, marijuana could be authorized for uses in medicine." Non-toxic drug Perhaps the most significant advantage weed offers, Weil says, is the fact that its use entails no side effects. The effects of other, conventional treatments are sometimes so serious that patients have to stop taking them despite their suffering. "It is so non-toxic -- relative to the pharmaceutical drugs that are used routinely -- that you may as well look for ways to use it, because we don't have anything else in medicine that is so non-toxic." Canada is perhaps the last industrialized western democracy to officially recognize pot's medicinal benefits, even lagging behind our neighbours to the south, where seven states and the District of Columbia have approved such uses. In Israel, revelations that police have provided an elderly asthma sufferer with a monthly dose of dope for six years, with special permission from the health ministry, led the government to form a committee to establish guidelines for doctors prescribing marijuana. Clinical tests are also under way in Britain, but in some other European nations therapeutic use is already allowed. Alan Young, a law professor at Osgoode Hall, attributes the logjam to Canadian fear of American disapproval. "That's what holding things up, because the rest of the industrialized world has more or less given up on its quest to criminalize marijuana use." Governments, he says, have not funded studies, so they are correct in asserting that there are no really compelling, large-scale, valid double-blind studies. "It's by their own indifference and negligence that those studies don't exist. For them to deny access to marijuana because of the absence of valid, medically accepted studies is the height of hypocrisy," says Young, who worked on the Parker case and represented AIDS sufferer James Wakefield, who lost his suit against the feds to get medical pot. "What occurred on March 3 (Rock's announcement) was an exercise in politics at its worst level, in the sense that it was an announcement made simply to stall and to create the illusion that this government does truly care about the plight of sick people. "I see this as at least a five-year project, minimum. Cannabis sativa is a very remarkable, very mysterious plant, and putting aside the 400 or so chemicals we have identified, there are 60 different cannabinoids." Replicating results Certainly, marijuana research is not going to be straightforward. Independently replicating results from clinical trials will be a problem, since the precise chemical makeup of the drug varies greatly from plant to plant. Will the supply be handled by drug stores or street-corner pushers? "Those details are being worked out by officials who are working hard on developing a plan, and as information becomes available we'll make it public," says Rock spokesperson Derek Kent. Umberto Iorfida, president of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) in Canada, imagines that Rock's scheme will probably allow for permits to be issued to both growers and dispensers of medicinal pot. This could take the form of existing buyers clubs like the B.C. Compassion Club Society (a nonprofit group that provides cannabis to 650 members) or large drugstore chains, which could be provided with permits that would enable them to purchase from growers. Perhaps there would be a body akin to the wheat pool that would measure and label THC content on packaging. "Certainly, they (the government) are not going to grow it and dispense it," suggests Iorfida, who has no doubt that existing growers will end up supplying the weed. Marijuana is currently being grown for medical use in greenhouses in the Netherlands, though these are not licensed by the government. Then there are a handful of other official growers, like a U.S. government farm at the University of Mississippi and a British firm, GW Pharmaceuticals. "When it comes to cultivating marijuana, the underground community knows more than the botanists and pharmacologists, and we should be tapping into that information," says Young. Weed licence One private grower that may figure here is Brown Bear Medicinals, a co-op organized by Brian Taylor, the mayor of Grand Forks, BC, one of the first outfits in Canada to apply for an industrial hemp licence. Taylor says the co-op is also applying to cultivate medicinal cannabis for the Compassion Club and/or clinical trials. "We'd like to be a supplier in the next little while to patients in both the special access as well as trials and research," Taylor says. "We have a vision of how access could happen over the next little while, with controlled groups supplying through the medical community, with either prescriptions or letters of recommendation or research studies. I think there's a way we can include a whole bunch of people who have been left out in the cold up until now." Ottawa's plans to move on this issue come as little consolation to people suffering from AIDS and other illnesses, who don't want to wait four or five months before finding out whether they'll receive compassionate access under rules already in force that allow certain critically ill patients to obtain drugs that have not been approved. As for Rock's clinical trials, Compassion Club founder Hilary Black says, "The people who really need access now are not going to be alive in a couple of years -- they're fading fast." Health Canada's Kent, however, insists that the research plan "would be flexible enough to ensure that those who require marijuana for medicinal reasons would be accommodated." But why can't people currently using pot for medicinal reasons be granted an exemption? Kent cautions, "We're working at determining where medicinal-quality marijuana can be located, where it could be legally available. We're looking at obtaining a product that's of good quality and originates from a licit, licensed supplier. And we have to bear in mind that that has to be used in a proper scientific context." Young counters that there are by definition no licensed suppliers. "They're the only institution that can license a manufacturer, so they keep setting themselves up for failure by saying, 'We don't have the clinical trials, we don't have a licensed manufacturer.' That's all a product of our government's policy." As for "proper scientific context," the ARF's Fischer notes that clinical trials -- or science, if you will -- can't answer everything. He says, "At the end of the day, we may have a few trials that indicate no significant superior value of marijuana over other existing conventional therapies, and we'll still have a huge list of unanswered questions. Awaiting studies "At some point, the government will have to address the issue of compassionate use, even in the lack of hard scientific evidence." In the meantime, local organizations aren't waiting for the studies to be mounted. Outfits like Black's Compassion Club and the for-profit Medical Marijuana Resource Centre here in Toronto are openly selling pot to medicinal users who show doctors' letters confirming they have one of several life-threatening or debilitating conditions alleviated by pot intake. Black says the club's supply comes from 15 growers the club has contracts with. "We can go see their grow rooms so we know it's being done cleanly, without any chemicals. "If Rock wanted to show good faith, he would put a stay on any criminal proceeding right now that has anything to do with medical use, and that would show that this is real and not just political fluff."
------------------------------------------------------------------- Mexico Furious Over Report Linking Official To Drug Cash (An Associated Press article in the Chicago Tribune says the Mexican Embassy has formally asked the Clinton administration to respond to charges by a former U.S. Customs official, William Gately, published in the New York Times Tuesday, that his undercover investigation into Mexican drug trafficking was shut down after the name of Mexico's defense minister, Gen. Enrique Cervantes, surfaced in it.) Date: Sat, 20 Mar 1999 11:59:59 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US: Mexico Furious Over Report Linking Official To Drug Cash Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Steve Young (firstname.lastname@example.org) Pubdate: 18 March 1999 Source: Chicago Tribune (IL) Section: Sec. 1 Copyright: 1999 Chicago Tribune Company Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.chicagotribune.com/ Forum: http://www.chicagotribune.com/interact/boards/ Author: Associated Press MEXICO FURIOUS OVER REPORT LINKING OFFICIAL TO DRUG CASH WASHINGTON -- The Mexican Embassy has formally asked the Clinton administration to respond to charges by a former U.S. Customs official that his undercover investigation into Mexican drug trafficking was shut down after the name of Mexico's defense minister surfaced in it. The New York Times reported Tuesday that the administration ended the investigation several weeks after undercover Customs agents were told by bankers working with Mexico's most powerful cocaine cartel that Gen. Enrique Cervantes was a client who wanted money laundered. The Customs agents were mystified by the decision to end the investigation on schedule rather than extend it to explore information involving Cervantes, particularly in view of intelligence reports "pointing to corruption at the highest levels of the Mexican military," the Times said. In a formal letter Tuesday to the State Department, the Mexican government denounced "unsubstantiated allegations" against Cervantes and said the Times article "gives prominence to misleading, biased and slanderous information against Mexican officials." Meanwhile, Assistant U.S. Atty. Duane R. Lyons in Los Angeles, who is one of the federal prosecutors involved in "Operation Casablanca," took exception to the comments in the Times article of William Gately, identified by the Times as a former senior Customs agent, now retired. "Gately believes our defendants were talking about a high-ranking Mexican official, but I do not share Mr. Gately's sentiment about Cervantes being involved," Lyons said Tuesday. New York Times Foreign Editor Andrew Rosenthal said Gately was not the single source of the allegations.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Experts Tell the White House That Marijuana Makes Medicinal Sense (The Guardian, in Britain, briefly summarizes the U.S. Institute of Medicine report on medical marijuana.) Date: Sat, 20 Mar 1999 11:57:31 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US: MMJ: Experts Tell The White House That Marijuana Makes Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Martin Cooke (firstname.lastname@example.org) Pubdate: Thu, 18 March 1999 Source: Guardian, The (UK) Copyright: Guardian Media Group 1999 Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.guardian.co.uk/ Author: Michael Ellison in New York EXPERTS TELL THE WHITE HOUSE THAT MARIJUANA MAKES MEDICINAL SENSE Campaigners for the legal use of marijuana as a medicine in the United States won a significant round yesterday when an independent panel reported to the White House that the drug could help fight pain and that it should be tested. The Institute of Medicine also said there was no conclusive evidence that smoking marijuana led to harder drugs. "It's taken a long time but I feel like now people will stand up and listen," said Irvin Rosenfeld, a stockbroker from Boca Raton, Florida, who has smoked the drug for the past 27 years to combat a rare medical condition. "When you have a devastating disease all you care about is getting the right medicine and not having to worry about being made a criminal." Mr Rosenfeld, one of only eight people in the US who receives marijuana from a government programme, has tumours that press on his muscles. The drug relaxes his muscles, allowing him to move more easily. Voters in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington have backed the medicinal use of marijuana. But the House of Representatives declared last year that it was dangerous and addictive and should not be legalised for medical purposes. The institute said chemicals in the plant ease anxiety, stimulate appetite, relieve pain, reduce nausea and vomiting and could help people undergoing chemotherapy or suffering from Aids. The institute, part of the National Academy of Science, did warn smoking the drug could cause respiratory disease and suggested it be taken through an inhaler.
------------------------------------------------------------------- US Urged By Panel To Give Medical Trial To Marijuana (The version in Ireland's Examiner) Date: Thu, 18 Mar 1999 09:25:59 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US: US Urged By Panel To Give Medical Trial To Marijuana Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Martin Cooke (firstname.lastname@example.org) Pubdate: 18 March 1999 Source: Examiner, The (Ireland) Copyright: Examiner Publications Ltd, 1999 Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.examiner.ie/ US URGED BY PANEL TO GIVE MEDICAL TRIAL TO MARIJUANA THE active ingredients in marijuana can help fight pain and nausea and deserve to be tested in scientific trials, says a US federal advisory panel. The Institute of Medicine also said there was no conclusive evidence that marijuana use leads to harder drugs. The report is certain to reignite the debate over whether marijuana is a helpful or harmful drug. In the past few years, voters in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington have approved measures in support of the medicinal marijuana, even though critics say such measures send the wrong message to kids. Congress has taken a hard line on the issue. The US House last autumn adopted by 310-93 vote a resolution that said marijuana was a dangerous and addictive drug and should not be legalised for medical use. The White House drug policy office asked the institute, which is an affiliate of the National Academy of Sciences, to examine the issue. The institute said that because the chemicals in marijuana ease anxiety, stimulate the appetite, ease pain and reduce nausea and vomiting, they can be helpful for people undergoing chemotherapy and people with Aids. But the panel warned that smoking marijuana can cause respiratory disease and called for the development of standardised forms of the drugs, called cannabinoids, that can be taken, for example, by inhaler. "Marijuana has potential as medicine, but it is undermined by the fact that patients must inhale harmful smoke," said Stanley Watson of the Mental Health Research Institute at the University of Michigan, one of the study's principal investigators. Even so, the panel said, there may be cases where patients could in the meantime get relief from smoked marijuana, especially since it might take years to develop an inhaler. The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy said it would carefully study the recommendations. "We note in the report's conclusion that the future of cannabinoid drugs lies not in smoked marijuana, but in chemically defined drugs" delivered by other means, the office said in a statement. One patient called the findings long overdue. "It's taken a long time, but I feel like now, people will stand up and listen," said Irvin Rosenfeld, a Florida stockbroker who has smoked marijuana supplied by the federal government for 27 years because of a rare medical condition. "When you have a devastating disease, all you care about is getting the right medicine ... and not having to worry about being made a criminal." Rosenfeld suffers from tumours that press into the muscles at the end of long bones. The marijuana relaxes those muscles, allowing him to move with less pain. Rosenfeld is one of just eight people in the US receiving marijuana from the government because of unusual diseases. Daniel Zingale of Aids Action said he was: "Pleased the study validates the benefits of medicinal marijuana." Chuck Thomas of the Marijuana Policy Project said the report shot down claims marijuana had no medical benefits.
------------------------------------------------------------------- US Medical Report Backs Marijuana Use (The Scotsman version) Date: Fri, 19 Mar 1999 00:45:49 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US: US Medical Report Backs Marijuana Use Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Martin Cooke (firstname.lastname@example.org) Pubdate: Thur, 18 Mar 1999 Source: Scotsman (UK) Copyright: The Scotsman Publications Ltd Contact: Letters_ts@scotsman.com Website: http://www.scotsman.com/ Forum: http://www.scotsman.com/ US MEDICAL REPORT BACKS MARIJUANA USE A US-commissioned report released yesterday strongly backed certain medical uses of marijuana, declaring that for some people with serious diseases such as AIDS and cancer, it may be one of the most effective treatments available. The widely anticipated report by the independent Institute of Medicine (IOM) was commissioned by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and could spark a reassessment of the decades-long US drive to ban almost all marijuana use. But US officials said the drug would continue to be classified as illegal and that there were "complicated scientific issues" that had to be assessed. Dr John Benson, one of the principal investigators for the report, told a news conference, "We uncovered an explosion of new scientific knowledge about how the active components in marijuana affect the body and in how they might be used in a medical context." The IOM study, the product of more than 18 months of research, highlighted continued concerns over marijuana, noting that the common practice of smoking the drug was medically dangerous. But it also said marijuana clearly controlled some forms of pain, was not particularly addictive and did not appear to be a "gateway" to harder drugs such as heroin. For some patients with severe AIDS or cancer symptoms such as nausea, severe weight loss and lack of appetite, marijuana =AD even in its smoked form =AD appears to have benefits that outweigh its risks, the investigators said. "Smoked marijuana should not generally be recommended for long-term medical use," the report said. "Nonetheless, for certain patients such as the terminally ill or those with debilitating symptoms, the long-term risks are not of great concern." Authors of the report sought to sidestep the political issue of medical marijuana, noting repeatedly that their brief was simply to assess the effectiveness of "cannabinoid" drugs such as THC, marijuana's main active element. The White House anti-drugs "tsar", Barry McCaffrey, who commissioned the report in 1997, welcomed its scientific findings but said smokable marijuana was not the answer and the government would continue to classify it as illegal. "Everyone is looking for a cure these days and pain is seen as a sort of blurry background," Mr McCaffrey, who has long opposed relaxing marijuana laws, told a news conference in Los Angeles, adding that the government would support more research in this area. The IOM report stressed that the new research should aim to design a "non-smoked, rapid onset" delivery system that could mimic the speedy action of a smoked marijuana cigarette. "I think the main take-home message from this report is that we prefer to move away from the plant," said another principal investigator, Dr Stanley Watson. "From the point of view of safety we are quite concerned about it." But the report's authors also noted that some desperately ill patients may not want to wait the years it would take to develop a safe alternative such as a cannabinoid inhaler. To help these patients, the report suggested that doctors be allowed to launch clinical studies of marijuana, telling each test subject the risks and rewards of smoking the drug. The IOM report landed amid an increasingly bitter US debate over medical marijuana, sparked in 1996 when California became the first state to pass a local initiative aimed at allowing patients with AIDS, cancer, and other serious diseases to use the drug. While federal authorities have used their power to block implementation of the California measure, voters in six more states passed similar bills in 1998 =AD boosting pressure on the Food and Drug Administration to consider removing marijuana from the "Schedule I" list of the most dangerous narcotics. The White House spokesman, Joe Lockhart, told a news conference that the report's main message was the need for further scientific study, and that there should be no rush to subject important issues like drug approvals to popular votes. "I think this is a scientific issue and I'd hate to see there be a referendum on the latest technology in air traffic control and I'd hate to see there be a referendum on FDA review process," Mr Lockhart said. "These are complicated scientific issues and they ought to be debated on a scientific basis." Supporters of the medical marijuana movement declared the IOM report a victory, however, and urged the government to couple its research efforts with a new push to get marijuana to sick people who need it. Bill Zimmerman, director of Americans for Medical Rights, the sponsor of six 1998 state marijuana initiatives, said the IOM's findings would radically rework the public image of what has long been one of the United States' most demonised drugs. "They are in effect saying that most of what the government has told us about marijuana is false ... it's not addictive, it's not a gateway to heroin and cocaine, it has legitimate medical use, and it's not as dangerous as common drugs like Prozac and Viagra," he said. "This is about as positive as you can get."
------------------------------------------------------------------- Official US Report Backs Medical Use Of Marijuana (The Reuters version in Pakistan's Dawn) Date: Fri, 19 Mar 1999 06:03:33 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US: Official US Report Backs Medical Use Of Marijuana Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: email@example.com (Frank S. World) Pubdate: 18 Mar 1999 Source: DAWN (Pakistan) Copyright: 1999 The DAWN Group of Newspapers Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://dawn.com OFFICIAL US REPORT BACKS MEDICAL USE OF MARIJUANA WASHINGTON, March 17: A US-commissioned report released on Wednesday strongly backed the medical use of marijuana, declaring that for some people with serious diseases such as AIDS it may be one of the most effective treatments available. The widely-anticipated report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) was commissioned by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and looked likely to prompt a thorough review of US efforts to ban almost all marijuana use as dangerous drug abuse. IOM investigators declared that marijuana was not particularly addictive and did not appear to be a "gateway" to the use of harder drugs such as heroin. They also said there was no evidence to indicate that approved medical use of marijuana would increase public abuse of the drug. The IOM report, the product of more than 18 months of research, highlighted continued concerns over marijuana, noting that the common practice of smoking the drug was medically dangerous and asking for more studies on how the drug really works on the human body. But on almost every front the independent medical review of scientific research and patient experience found "substantial consensus" to indicate that, for some people, the potential medical benefits of marijuana outweigh its risks. "Smoked marijuana should not generally be recommended for long-term medical use," the report said. "Nonetheless, for certain patients such as the terminally ill or those with debilitating symptoms, the long-term risks are not of great concern." The focus of the report was on "cannabinoid" drugs such as THC, the main active element in marijuana. Research over the last 16 years has provided new insight into how these drugs work on both the brain and the body, where they can help to modulate pain, and alleviate other symptoms of serious illness such as anxiety, lack of appetite, and nausea. The report said one focus of new medical and pharmaceutical research should be to design a "non-smoked, rapid onset" delivery system for the drug which could mimic the speedy action of a smoked marijuana cigarette. But the report's authors also noted that some desperately ill patients may not want to wait. "We acknowledge that there is no clear alternative for people suffering from chronic conditions that might be relieved by smoking marijuana such as pain or AIDS wasting," they said. To help these patients, the report suggested that doctors be allowed to launch one-by-one clinical studies of marijuana, informing each test subject of the potential risks and rewards of smoking the drug. The IOM report lands amid an increasingly bitter US debate over medical marijuana, launched in 1996 when California became the first state to pass a local initiative aimed at allowing patients with AIDS, cancer, and other serious diseases to use the drug. While federal authorities have used their power to block implementation of the California measure, voters in six more states passed similar initiatives in 1998 - boosting pressure on the Clinton Administration to consider removing marijuana from the "Schedule I" list of dangerous narcotics. Barry McCaffrey, Clinton's anti-drug "czar" and long an outspoken opponent of relaxing anti-marijuana law, ordered the IOM report in 1997 to give a scientific basis to the discussion, and his office Wednesday responded to the IOM findings with a call for more research. "We will carefully study the recommendations and conclusions contained in this report," the Office of National Drug Control Policy said in a statement. "We look forward to the considered responses from our nation's public health officials to the interim solutions recommended by the report." Supporters of the medical marijuana movement declared the IOM report an unequivocal victory.-Reuters -------------------------------------------------------------------
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