------------------------------------------------------------------- Hemp Issue Divides Farmers, the Law (The Register-Guard, in Eugene, covers Thursday's hearing by the Oregon House of Representatives' Agriculture and Forestry Committee on an industrial hemp bill. Rep. Floyd Prozanski, the Eugene Democrat who is sponsoring HB 2933, predicted that industrial hemp would become legal and widespread within five years. He also told a Senate panel that Oregon could become a center for high-quality hemp seed, much as it is now for grass seed. Plus the URL for an online audio recording of testimony on HB 2933.) Date: Sun, 25 Apr 1999 18:18:00 -0700 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US OR: Hemp Issue Divides Farmers, The Law Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: firstname.lastname@example.org Pubdate: Fri, 23 Apr 1999 Source: Register-Guard, The (OR) Copyright: 1999 The Register-Guard Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.registerguard.com/ Author: Drew DeSilver NOTE: A recording of the April 22nd testimony on HB 2933 is on the internet at: http://landru.leg.state.or.us/listn/ HEMP ISSUE DIVIDES FARMERS, THE LAW SALEM - Oregon State University researcher Daryl Ehrensing neatly summed up the debate over industrial hemp, a plant whose fibers can be used for cloth, paper and rope but which has the disadvantage of being close kin to marijuana. "You end up with one group telling you hemp is the wonder crop that will save the world," Ehrensing told the House Agriculture and Forestry Committee Thursday, "and to the other group it's the demon weed." It wasn't quite that black-and-white at Thursday's hearing, which was held to consider a bill that would allow Oregon farmers to grow hemp. But supporters and opponents of the measure, House Bill 2933, had so little in common it sometimes seemed as though they were talking about two different plants. In fact, hemp and marijuana are varieties of the same plant, known botanically as Cannabis sativa L. Hemp, grown primarily for the long, strong fibers inside its woody stem, is a tall, spindly plant; it typically contains 1 percent or less of THC, the main psychoactive ingredient of marijuana. Marijuana grown for drug use is short and bushy and contains as much as 15 percent THC. Hemp has been grown in the United States since colonial times; its heyday was the mid-19th century when it was used to make sailcloth and rigging for ships. After cheaper imported fibers cut into the nautical market, and cotton largely displaced hemp for cloth making, the industry went into decline. A federal law in 1937 restricted hemp production, though controls were relaxed during World War II to produce rope for the war effort. A 1970 federal law effectively banned all U.S. hemp production, though it is still legal in more than two dozen countries, including Canada, France and Spain. In the past decade or so, interest in reinstating hemp as a legitimate crop has spread beyond the original core of marijuana-legalization activists to include mainstream farmers and agribusiness interests. Last week, North Dakota became the first state to legalize industrial hemp, though federal restrictions remain in place. Rep. Floyd Prozanski, the Eugene Democrat who is sponsoring HB 2933, predicted that industrial hemp would become legal and widespread within five years. He told a Senate panel that Oregon could become a center for high-quality hemp seed, much as it is now for grass seed. But Larry Welty, assistant commander of the Oregon State Police's drug enforcement section, said legalizing hemp would greatly complicate law enforcement efforts against marijuana. The plants are difficult to distinguish in aerial surveys, Welty said, and marijuana growers could use hemp fields to camouflage their pot crops. Joseph Hickey, executive director of the Kentucky Hemp Growers' Cooperative Association, replied that since hemp and marijuana can cross-pollinate, marijuana farmers who planted the two together likely would reduce the potency of their illicit crop. And Prozanski, a former Lane County prosecutor, noted that under his bill, hemp growers would be licensed by the state Department of Agriculture and would have to open their fields to inspection and testing. Given that, he said, "I think it would be pretty unwise for any farmer in this state to risk asset forfeiture of his land (under anti-drug laws) by trying to grow marijuana covertly between rows of hemp."
------------------------------------------------------------------- Town questions inaction in police case (The Oregonian says residents of Gold Hill, Oregon, wonder why their city council was slow to put Police Chief David M. Crawford on leave after his indictment on five criminal charges. According to Alan Scharn, deputy director of the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training, "In most police agencies in the state of Oregon, the mere fact that you've been arrested or indicted on these charges means you'd be out the door on your ear before you could bat an eye.") Newshawk: Portland NORML (http://www.pdxnorml.org/) Pubdate: Sun, Apr 25 1999 Source: Oregonian, The (OR) Copyright: 1999 The Oregonian Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Address: 1320 SW Broadway, Portland, OR 97201 Fax: 503-294-4193 Website: http://www.oregonlive.com/ Forum: http://forums.oregonlive.com/ Author: Beth Quinn, correspondent, the Oregonian Town questions inaction in police case * Gold Hill residents wonder why the City Council was slow to put the acting chief on leave after his indictment on criminal charges GOLD HILL -- When the City Council in this tiny Southern Oregon town put the acting police chief on paid leave last month after his indictment on five criminal charges, some residents wondered why it had taken so long to get him off the streets. Police Chief David M. Crawford, 41, already faced two criminal charges of attempted coercion. And city officials had received numerous complaints of traffic stops for minor violations escalating into angry confrontations that sometimes ended with Crawford making verbal threats. "If the same set of circumstances occurred in my organization and one of my officers was charged criminally with something, he wouldn't be working," said Jackson County Sheriff Robert Kennedy. That's a view shared by most police agencies in the state, according to Alan Scharn, deputy director of the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training. "In most police agencies in the state of Oregon, the mere fact that you've been arrested or indicted on these charges means you'd be out the door on your ear before you could bat an eye," Scharn said. Even Crawford's attorney, Michael Jewett of Medford, said the case is unprecedented in his 20 years of criminal defense. "I don't think I've ever seen a police chief indicted," he said. Crawford entered not guilty pleas earlier this month and faces trial on all the charges in Jackson County Court on June 2. Jewett said that Crawford did not want to comment on the case. Crawford's troubles began last summer when he was charged with two misdemeanor counts of attempted coercion for a July 1996 confrontation with an elderly couple from Shady Cove. George and Patricia Wagner told investigators Crawford menaced them with his truck and verbally abused them after they braked for deer in the road. They said he identified himself as an off-duty Gold Hill police officer before threatening to burn down their house if they reported the incident. After a brief paid suspension after his arrest, Crawford returned to duty. Crawford's second indictment followed a Jan. 2 confrontation with a dirt biker who said Crawford menaced him with a police cruiser and roughed him up while making an arrest. Chris Brooks, 29, told investigators that Crawford kicked him and banged his head against the cruiser's hood, then threatened to arrest him on felony charges if he complained. After the second indictment, Gold Hill officials placed Crawford on paid leave and launched their own investigation of his conduct. City officials offer a quick explanation about why Crawford remained on the job after the first indictment. "He was not in a police officer's uniform representing Gold Hill (during the confrontation). That's the main difference," said Councilman Hy Klaus. Some of the city's 1,240 residents don't buy it. "They knew there was a problem a year ago with the man, and they never did anything about it," said former Councilwoman Dorothy Edler. "If there was a dozen complaints against me in my job, I wouldn't last." One of those complaints was filed by Steve and Betsy Hettum about an alleged run-in with Crawford in September 1996 as Betsy Hettum and two out-of-town guests walked home from a nearby tavern. "He handcuffed and beat up one of my friends and used some foul language with my wife," said Steve Hettum, who filed the complaint in May. "They left him on the street and what happened? It happened again." Crawford filed no charges in the incident, but the Hettums launched an advisory ballot initiative to replace the Gold Hill police with Jackson County sheriff's deputies. Betsy Hettum has since been appointed to the Gold Hill City Council. Gold Hill officials haven't always been so patient with their police department. The city's last chief, Katie Holmboe, was quickly fired following allegations of misconduct, but a lengthy investigation by the Oregon Department of Justice resulted in no criminal charges. Mayor Tim Roddam said there are valid reasons for the city's go-slow attitude toward Crawford. "Everything in this whole muddle is not as it appears. There's a lot of extenuating circumstances," Roddam said. Roddam and others blame "people in town who want to cause trouble" for stirring up problems for Crawford and his predecessor. "It has intimidated the entire city -- all of this fighting and whatnot," Roddam said. One resident who's proud of her reputation as a troublemaker is former Councilwoman Christine Alford, who last summer collected written complaints about Crawford and passed them on to Jackson County's sheriff and district attorney and Gold Hill officials. An investigation by Jackson County District Attorney Mark Huddleston resulted in the criminal indictments pending against Crawford. Kennedy then ordered his deputies to respond to calls inside Gold Hill city limits if callers expressed fear of Crawford. The ballot initiative to replace the police department with sheriff's deputies won 64 percent of the vote in November. But the City Council voted 4-1 last month to retain Gold Hill's police department. The lone vote to eliminate the city police department was cast by Councilwoman Donna Silva, who took office in January after campaigning for improved public safety. But at its April 5 meeting, the City Council decided to reopen the search for a permanent Gold Hill police chief. "We still have an active search on, and we really are looking forward to finding the right qualified person," Klaus said. "And that's including Dave, if he's not convicted on these two charges." Do you have news of Jackson, Josephine or southern Klamath counties? You can reach Beth Quinn at 541-474-5926 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Marijuana as Medicine: Let's Make the Law Work (A staff editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle says the 25-member task force appointed by California Attorney General Bill Lockyer shows state government finally appears ready to properly implement Proposition 215. More than 70 modern scientific studies and 2000 years of anecdotal evidence support claims that pot is a helpful folk medicine for people suffering from AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, migraine headaches and an array of other ailments.) Date: Sun, 25 Apr 1999 04:19:40 -0700 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US CA: MMJ: Editorial: Marijuana as Medicine: Let's Make the Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: firstname.lastname@example.org (Lee T. Neidow) Pubdate: Sun, 25 Apr 1999 Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA) Copyright: 1999 San Francisco Chronicle Section: Editorial Page 8 Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.sfgate.com/chronicle/ Forum: http://www.sfgate.com/conferences/ MARIJUANA AS MEDICINE: LET'S MAKE THE LAW WORK CALIFORNIA, THE FIRST state in the union to legalize medical marijuana 2 1/2 years ago, finally appears ready to find a way to properly implement the law, and it's high time. In November 1996, voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 215, a landmark initiative that permitted patients to use, grow and possess pot if it is recommended by a doctor. It was a radical initiative, poorly drafted and loaded with ambiguities. The measure put the state in direct conflict with federal law and the Clinton administration's hard-nosed drug policy. While doctors can prescribe morphine, amphetamines, codeine and a pharmacopoeia of potentially dangerous drugs, federal law strictly outlaws marijuana under any circumstances. The drug war crackdown on marijuana has taken a heavy toll on pot heads and peddlers, filling jails and prisons across the country. Though penalties for pot offenses often seem draconian, we are not arguing for legalizing marijuana. Just for the record, we deplore illegal drug use by anyone and urge kids to stay clean. Marijuana should not be used for recreation, and adults who use it as medicine should not drive or operate heavy equipment. Since Prop. 215 passed, medical pot advocates have sought legal ways to distribute marijuana, such as cannabis buyers' clubs, where patients can buy the stuff with a note from their physician in safe surroundings. But zealous federal and state drug warriors have fought the clubs every step of the way, closing most and driving the rest underground. It is difficult for many law-abiding patients to find the pot they insist helps their medical conditions and gives them solace. In a hopeful sign, California Attorney General Bill Lockyer has appointed a 25-member task force to study Prop. 215 and find ways to implement and oversee the law. The task force of narcotics experts, doctors, pot advocates and law enforcement officers is co-chaired by state Senator John Vasconcellos, D-Santa Clara, a long-time champion of medical marijuana, and Santa Clara District Attorney George Kennedy, a law-and-order Republican. Their tricky mission is to find ways to make marijuana available to patients who truly need it, without violating federal law and within the spirit of Prop. 215. It's a worthy goal. More than 70 modern scientific studies and 2000 years of anecdotal evidence support claims that pot is a helpful folk medicine for people suffering from AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, migraine headaches and an array of other ailments. Until a federal judge halted pot sales operations last October, the Oakland Cannabis Buyers Cooperative was a model of discreet distribution. The cooperative required a membership card, a California doctor's written recommendation, and patients had to be state residents. Although it no longer sells pot, the Oakland cooperative remains open, offering referrals, cultivation advice and lobbying for more compassionate drug laws. Dr. Mike Alcalay is the cooperative's medical director. He has been HIV-positive since 1985 and says smoking marijuana has saved his life. The 57-year-old Alcalay is a good advertisement for the medical benefits of marijuana. He is on a harsh regimen of protease inhibitors. He takes 40 to 60 pills a day, including three experimental drugs, and he credits pot for keeping him alive and healthy. ``It's hard to define how because it helps in so many modes,'' he says. ``It gives you an appetite, eliminates queasiness, nausea and helps with pain. I call it a wonder drug.'' Alcalay says he smokes two or three joints a week. He doesn't like to get stoned, but concedes pot lifts his spirits as he fights off the effects of the disease. Prop. 215 was a crudely-written initiative, but it created a crack in the drug-war battlements and inspired a grassroots movement to legalize medical pot in six other states and probably Washington, D.C. (A disapproving Congress refuses to allow the votes to be counted, so the issue remains moot.) Advocates have targeted four more states for future marijuana initiatives. As with so many many social and intellectual trends, California is the innovator and leader in the medical marijuana movement. Some recreational dopers are sure to take advantage of any loosening of marijuana laws, but their misdemeanors should not deny medicinal pot to legitimate patients. California voters put the law on the books in 1996, and now the AG's Medical Marijuana Task Force has a rare opportunity to find a creative, compassionate and practical solution to a knotty problem neglected too long. WHERE MEDICINAL MARIJUANA LAWS HAVE TAKEN ROOT Since 1996, a majority of voters in seven states has approved ballot initiatives to remove criminal penalties for the medical use of marijuana. A medical pot measure was on ballot in Washington, D.C., last year, but Congress refused to count the vote. Exit polls suggested it passed by 69 percent. -- In recent years, measures to legalize medical marijuana have been approved in every state where the public has had a chance to vote on the issue. However, pot remains illegal under federal law. Four other states are targeted for similar measures. -- U.S. Representative Barney Frank, D-Mass., introduced a bill (HR 912) in March that would allow states to determine their own policies on medical marijuana. However, last year the House passed a nonbinding resolution opposed to medical pot laws. LEGAL California Oregon Washington Alaska PLANNED Hawaii Florida Maine Minnesota CHALLENGED Nevada Colorado Arizona Washington D.C.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Drug War Unfairly Targets Black Community (An op-ed in the Dallas Morning News by a member of the Drug Policy Forum of Texas rebuts pro-drug-war statements to the Greater Dallas Crime Commission by New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, as well as Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk's proud assertion that there are no major problems between the police department and the city's minority communities. Drug-crime statistics for 1998 and data obtained through the Open Records Act, the North Texas Council of Governments, and the National Institute of Drug Abuse reveal that Dallas police are clearly and unfairly targeting the black community in the drug war.) Date: Tue, 27 Apr 1999 03:13:35 -0700 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US TX: OPED: Drug War Unfairly Targets Black Community Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: GALAN@prodigy.net (G. A ROBISON) Pubdate: Sun, 25 Apr 1999 Source: Dallas Morning News (TX) Copyright: 1999 The Dallas Morning News Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.dallasnews.com/ Forum: http://forums.dallasnews.com:81/webx Author: Rick D. Day DRUG WAR UNFAIRLY TARGETS BLACK COMMUNITY In a recent visit to Dallas, New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani spoke to the Greater Dallas Crime Commission. The arch-conservative politico chastised the Clinton Administration's "lack of commitment" to stopping the flow of drugs across the border, even though a record 665,000 Americans were arrested in the U.S. last year for simple marijuana possession. This number has added to a growing prison population that ranks as the highest incarceration level in the Western World. Indeed, when it comes to putting average Americans in jail for drugs, the Clinton camp is making the Nixon Administration look like a group of dope smoking liberals by comparison. Mayor Giuliani went on, warning our fine men in blue to pay close attention to crime statistics, scrutinizing trends to enhance policing efforts. Mayor Ron Kirk proudly said he was pleased at not having any major problems between the police department and the city's minority communities. Perhaps our mayor should take time from his busy agenda of meeting dangerous-thinking individuals like Giuliani, and actually venture into some of his minority communities. He should also heed Giuliani's sage advice. No problems in our minority communities, Mayor Kirk? Look at the statistics. Drug crime statistics for 1998 reveal that Dallas police are clearly and unfairly targeting the black community in the drug war. Using data obtained through the Open Records Act, the North Texas Council of Governments, and the National Institute of Drug Abuse, a disturbing pattern of racial imbalance emerges. When it comes to enforcing our drug laws, statistics show black citizens age 25 to 39 are primary victims, making up 49 percent of all adult drug arrests. Not a surprise, you say? The catch is that statistically the percentage of whites who report they use drugs is about the same as blacks (between 11 percent and 12 percent report having used an illegal drug in the past year). In fact, whites report a higher rate of lifetime drug use ("have you ever used drugs?") than blacks (38 percent vs. 31 percent). There were 7,227 adult drug-related arrests in Dallas last year out of a total 100,500 arrests. Of that number, 4,600, or 62 percent of all drug arrests, involved black citizens. The overwhelming majority of all drug arrests (80 percent) were for nonviolent possession. According to available statistics, out of 460,000 white people in Dallas not one white was arrested in 1998 for selling marijuana. Not only were arrests for cocaine and opiates lumped together, the city records office also reported statistics for "white" as also including Hispanics, muddying the racial disparity figures. When the Hispanic number was subtracted from the artificially inflated white number, disturbing statistics were revealed. Overall, blacks are more than four times as likely as white to be arrested in Dallas for a drug charge. The Dallas Police Department's portion of the drug war - which includes apprehension, transportation and booking into jail - costs a staggering amount of taxpayers' funds. Mayor Kirk's total police budget for fiscal year 1999 is a whopping $258 million. According to the office of city management, the amount and percentage of the police budget that is allocated specifically to drug arrests is $28 million, or about 10 percent. When factoring in all of the above, the average cost per drug arrest is $3,500, not counting the additional $16 million in state and federal drug war grants that augment our local taxpayer dollars. Perhaps the most alarming part is that this averaged amount is but a drop in the bucket of the overall cost of our war on Dallas citizens. The cost of prosecution, incarceration, probation and urine testing adds thousands of dollars to this figure. Any good citizen who retorts that "I don't do drugs, so the drug laws don't affect me" should sit down and do the math. And while that citizen is at it, factor in the reality that our city's drug problem is not any better, and will not get better. Why? Simple. Prohibition does not and cannot work in a free-market society. When supporting the job the Dallas Police Department is doing regarding the black community, Mayor Kirk should first remove his well-heeled foot from his mouth and then do the math himself. One of the last things the Dallas Police Department should exemplify is a racially biased group such as "Giuliani's finest." Unless the mayor and City Council drastically change police policy, this racist trend will continue, effectively destroying Dallas' black community, as it is currently known. Rick D. Day is a Dallas business owner and member of the Drug Policy Forum of Texas.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Most Nations Permit Growing of Industrial Hemp (The Knoxville News-Sentinel, in Tennessee, interviews Erwin "Bud" Sholts, director of agriculture at the University of Wisconsin and chairman of the North American Industrial Hemp Council. "Industrial hemp is grown in Canada, Germany, England - all over the place. Why is it illegal here? The United States is an island of denial in a sea of acceptance," Sholts said. Law enforcement officers claim they can't tell the difference between industrial hemp and marijuana. But proponents say the methods of cultivation are so different anyone can tell the difference. "Industrial hemp seed is planted with a grain drill about six inches apart so as to produce a lot of stalk," Sholts said. "Pot is planted 2 and 2 1/2 feet apart to produce a low bushy plant with leaves and buds. If you plant industrial hemp too close to marijuana, it will cross pollinate and ruin the marijuana crop," he said. "It's actually a marijuana fighter. The cross pollination leads to a lower THC.") Date: Tue, 27 Apr 1999 20:22:00 -0700 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US TN: Most Nations Permit Growing of Industrial Hemp Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: email@example.com Pubdate: Sun, 25 Apr 1999 Source: Source Knoxville News-Sentinel (TN) Copyright: 1999 The Knoxville News-Sentinel Co. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Address: PO Box 59038, Knoxville, TN 37950-9038 Website: http://www.knoxnews.com/ Forum: http://forums.knoxnews.com/cgi-bin/WebX?knoxnews Author: Stan DeLozier, Business Writer Most Nations Permit Growing of Industrial Hemp The United States may be a world leader in some fields, but when it comes to recognizing the value of industrial hemp, the country is way behind, according to a Wisconsin agricultural economist. "Who are we kidding?" asked Erwin (Bud) Sholts. "Industrial hemp is grown in Canada, Germany, England all over the place. Why is it illegal here?" Sholts is director of agriculture at the University of Wisconsin and chairman of the North American Industrial Hemp Council. "The United States is an island of denial in a sea of acceptance," Sholts said. Industrial hemp, which was grown in the United States until 1937, was outlawed by federal law at the behest of law enforcement officers who claimed they couldn't tell the difference between industrial hemp and marijuana. Supporters of legalized hemp concede the leaves look the same, and both plants are classified by botanists as Cannabis sativa L. However, they say the methods of cultivating marijuana and industrial hemp are so different anyone can tell the difference. "Industrial hemp seed is planted with a grain drill about six inches apart so as to produce a lot of stalk," Sholts said. "Pot is planted 2 and 21/2 feet apart to produce a low bushy plant with leaves and buds." In addition, he pointed out that farmers raising hemp would be planting acres clearly open to view, but marijuana growers would be planting in small, hidden plots. Sholts said Tennessee and Kentucky farmers could benefit from crops of industrial hemp since producers of certified seed were located in both states prior to 1937. "You can make a profit of from $200 to $600 an acre on hemp, depending on what the use is," Sholts said. "If you are producing certified seed, as Tennessee farmers probably would, it would be $600." He said hemp would not replace burley tobacco, a mainstay for East Tennessee farmers, but it could provide a supplemental income. Additionally, he said industrial hemp actually would be an aide to law enforcement trying to eliminate marijuana. "If you plant industrial hemp too close to marijuana, it will cross pollinate and ruin the marijuana crop," he said. "It's actually a marijuana fighter. The cross pollination leads to a lower THC." THC, tetrahydrocannibinol, is the chemical that gives marijuana users a high. Sholts said hemp is useful in producing a variety of products ranging from bath accessories to construction materials. "It is very strong," he said. "In the 1930s, Henry Ford made a car out of hemp and compressed soybean hulls. Then he took a sledgehammer to it and a regular car. The hemp car stood-up a lot better than the sheet metal." According to Pete Nelson of the Memphis farm-based company Agronomy Technology Communications, Ford Motor Co. has come full circle. He said Ford began in 1997 using hemp in its foreign transport vans. He said Boeing Co. used industrial hemp in manufacturing aircraft. Strictly speaking, Sholts said there is a system that presumably allows the production of industrial hemp. However, the hemp grower must meet Drug Enforcement Administration guidelines, including that the crop be grown inside a 10-foot high chain-link fence topped by three stands of barbed wire, that it be lighted at night and that it be under 24-hour armed guard. "A wealthy guy in California met all the requirements and the DEA still wouldn't give him a permit," Sholts said.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Another Victory For Medical Marijuana (Rolling Stone magazine examines the political implications of the March 17 Institute of Medicine report. What drew the most attention was the IOM's finding that some of the 66 cannabinoids found in smoked marijuana have "potential therapeutic value . . . moderately well-suited for certain conditions." Less noticed, however, was the report's point-by-point dismantling of anti-marijuana arguments made by drug warriors, including the gateway theory, the supposed abuse potential of marijuana, the notion that medical use of marijuana will lead to wider recreational use, and the idea that marijuana is dangerous to its users. All of this doesn't help McCaffrey's War on Drugs, which in 1997 resulted in 695,000 marijuana arrests, 87 percent of them for possession.) Date: Sat, 24 Apr 1999 22:49:30 -0700 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US: Another Victory For Medical Marijuana Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Support MAP! Pubdate: Sun, 25 Apr 1999 Source: Rolling Stone (US) Copyright: 1999 Straight Arrow Publishers Company, L.P. Contact: email@example.com Address: 1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10104-0298 Fax: (212) 767-8214 Website: http://www.rollingstone.com/ Forum: http://yourturn.rollingstone.com/webx?98@@webx1.html Author: Robert Dreyfuss ANOTHER VICTORY FOR MEDICAL MARIJUANA * A New Government Report Cautiously Endorses Pot As A Painkiller - And It Not Only Embarrasses Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey But Also May Help To Undermine The $17 Billion War On Drugs Perhaps they didn't inhale, but many Americans gasped when a scientific study funded by the White House's drug czar reported in March that marijuana's active ingredients seem to have medical value, "particularly for pain relief, control of nausea and vomiting, and appetite stimulation." As much as the contents of the report, its irony -- as if the 1950s House Un-American Activities Committee had paid for a report finding that communists were good guys after all -- attracted a barrage of media attention. Gen. Barry McCaffrey, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, was forced to put on a brave face. McCaffrey, who since taking office in 1996 has called medical marijuana a "cruel hoax" and "Cheech and Chong" medicine, commissioned the report, which eventually cost $896,000, in January 1997, just months after California and Arizona became the first two states to endorse the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. The study, "Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base," was conducted by the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine, which in August 1997 assembled an eleven-person panel to conduct an eighteen-month investigation of marijuana's benefits and risks through a series of public hearings and exhaustive study of current research. What drew the most attention after the release of the report was its finding that some of the sixty-six "cannabinoid" substances found in smoked marijuana have "potential therapeutic value ... moderately well-suited for certain conditions, such as chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and AIDS wasting." Less noticed, however, was the report's point-by-point dismantling of many of the key anti-marijuana arguments made by drug warriors. In understated, scientific language, the institute questioned the widely cited "gateway" theory, which holds that marijuana leads users on to harder drugs like heroin and cocaine; cast doubt on marijuana's addictive properties; rejected the notion that use of medical marijuana will stimulate wider recreational use of the drug; and knocked down the idea that marijuana is dangerous to its users. Not surprisingly, marijuana advocates cheered the report's conclusion and promised that behind these findings they would expand the campaign to win statewide ballot initiatives in support of medical marijuana. McCaffrey, on the other hand, was left with nothing to do but spin, citing the report's conclusion that smoking marijuana is a risky and uncertain method for delivering the drug's active ingredient, to the body. "The study concludes that there is little future in smoked marijuana as a medically approved medication," said McCaffrey in a statement faxed from his office. This point is essentially well taken. The report indeed notes that research into the potential uses of marijuana ought to emphasize pills, inhalers and other "non-smoked, rapid-onset cannabinoid delivery systems." But it also says that for certain patients, short-term use of smoked marijuana might be helpful. Until other delivery systems are developed, the report says, "there is no clear alternative for people suffering from chronic conditions that might be relieved by smoking marijuana, such as pain or AIDS wasting." It also points out that the very act of smoking marijuana raises serious concerns about respiratory diseases and cancer, similar to or even more intense than those associated with tobacco smoke. But if the danger of marijuana rests chiefly in the fact that marijuana smoke can cause lung and respiratory disease, that hardly justifies including marijuana in the War on Drugs. "By that measure, it would be logical to jail cigarette smokers," says Bill Zimmerman, executive director of Americans for Medical Rights, the organization leading the effort to place medical-marijuana initiatives on statewide ballots. THE INSTITUTE OF MEDICINE'S task force scoured the literature for research on marijuana. Its researchers setup a Web site for public comment and solicited input from 130 organizations, and they also visited four cannabis-buyers' clubs in California and two HIV-AIDS clinics. In public hearings during the winter of 1997-98 in California, Louisiana and Washington, D.C., the report's authors and its advisory panel of scientists not only heard testimony from dozens of experts but also listened to a wide range of patients who use marijuana to treat AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma and other ailments. While noting that exact data are not available, the report says that based on its informal surveys, medical-marijuana users are over-whelmingly male, usually in their forties and typically suffering from AIDS. Cancer patients and victims of chronic pain, including back pain, are the next most common users of medical marijuana. Though patients' stories are often disparaged as anecdotal and unscientific, one of the study's two principal investigators, Dr. John A. Benson Jr., dean and professor emeritus at Oregon Health Sciences University School of Medicine in Portland, says, "in medicine, you start with anecdotes. The idea was to get a feel for, one, whether it is harmless, and two, whether it helped them. So we're educating ourselves and learning the scope of the illnesses." Many of the patients who appeared before the panel were located and organized by the Marijuana Policy Project, a marijuana-law-reform group based in Washington, D.C. According to Chuck Thomas, a co-founder of the MPP, the testimony from marijuana-using patients was crucial. "It humanized the issue," he says. "It took it out of the realm of just scientific data to show the human dimension." A case study cited in the report is that of "G.S.," who used marijuana to treat AIDS wasting syndrome. "After years of final-stage AIDS, I had wasted to 130 pounds," G.S. testified. "The purple Kaposi's sarcoma lesions were spreading. The dark circles under my eyes told of sleepless nights and half-waking days." But smoking marijuana, said G.S., "calmed my stomach against handfuls of pills [and] made me hungry again so that I could eat without a tube." Pot, he said, also eased his pain and "calmed my soul," leading him to accept the fact that he was likely facing death: "I lived to gain fifty pounds, regain my vigor and celebrate my thirty-fifth birthday." Says Benson, clearly moved, "The patients were enormously, enormously grateful to us. The National Institutes of Health didn't let them in the door, and, well, we seemed official. They just wanted someone to listen." DRUG WARRIORS ARE WORRIED THAT the report grants new legitimacy to medical marijuana, but they may have an even bigger problem on their hands, because the report also undercuts one of their most precious assumptions: the gateway theory. The warriors have argued for years that there is scientific and medical proof that among many users, pot acts as a stepping-stone to more potent, more addictive and more dangerous substances. A leading advocate of that point of view is Dr. Herbert Kleber. Kleber works for the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (headed by former Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare Joseph A. Califano Jr.) at Columbia University. He was selected as one of thirteen pre-publication reviewers of the report, but he says that his criticisms of it were ignored. He had urged its authors to give more weight to recent research showing that marijuana helps to release a chemical in the brain, called dopamine, the same chemical whose activation is triggered by harder drugs like heroin. By activating a sort of "reward system' within the brain, Kleber's argument goes, marijuana conditions the brain's pleasure centers to certain kinds of stimulation and sends the user on a quest to deliver ever-greater kicks - from more powerful drugs - to those pleasure centers. "They didn't pick it up," says Kleber of the report's authors. He adds that the evidence of marijuana's effect on dopamine could be the "smoking gun" that could help prove the gateway theory. The Institute of Medicine report, however, explicitly dismisses this idea, noting that "brain reward systems are not strictly 'drug reinforcement centers.' Rather, their biological role is to respond to a range of positive stimuli, including sweet foods and sexual attraction." In other words, if marijuana is a gateway to cocaine, so are chocolate and sex. If pot is a gate-way to use of narcotics, the report continues, it may only be because of the drug's social and legal stigma. That is, users have to break the law to obtain marijuana, often interacting with dealers of other drugs. "There is no evidence that marijuana serves as a steppingstone on the basis of its particular drug effect," says the report. "Instead, it is the legal status of marijuana that makes it a gateway drug." Other points in the report: Marijuana, if addictive, is only mildly so, and few users develop a dependence on the drug. "They appear to be less likely to do so than users of other drugs (including alcohol and nicotine)," it says, "and marijuana dependence appears to be less severe than it is for other drugs." It adds, "A distinctive marijuana withdrawal syndrome has been identified, but it is mild and short-lived." It notes that in 1996 almost 69 million Americans over age twelve had tried marijuana, but only five percent of the population were current users. Contradicting those who say that approving marijuana for medical use or decriminalizing it would increase its use for recreational purposes, there port says, "At present the data on drug-use progression neither support nor refute the suggestion that medical availability would increase drug abuse." Also, it notes, "there is not strong evidence that decrirminalization [of marijuana] causes a significant increase in marijuana use." While noting that "marijuana is not a completely benign substance," the report says, "Except for the harms associated with smoking, the adverse effects of marijuana use are within the range [of effects] tolerated for other medications." Yet, it warns, abuse of marijuana can lead to "diminished psycho motor performance" (i.e., don't smoke and drive) and possible short-term effects on the body's ability to resist bacteria, viruses or tumors. All of this doesn't help McCaffrey's War on Drugs, which in 1997, the most recent year for which FBI figures are available, resulted in the arrest of 695,000 Americans on marijuana-related charges, eighty-seven percent of them for possession. Mike Gray, author of Drug Crazy and one of the most knowledgeable critics of U.S. drug policy, points out that marijuana is the linchpin of the federal government's $17 billion drug war (a total that, he says, expands to $50 billion when state and local efforts and collateral programs are counted). Without marijuana's 10 million regular users, the drug war involves just 3 million users of other drugs, hardly a significant enough problem to sustain the all-out effort now under way, says Gray. "How would they justify it? You can't, once you take marijuana out of the mix." But taking marijuana out of the drug-war mix is not about to happen any time soon. Though the report suggests a wide range of research studies that might lead to more-concrete conclusions about marijuana's usefulness as medicine, it's unclear whether the powers that be - namely, McCaffrey's ONDCP, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and Congress - will allow such research to go forward. Both McCaffrey and Rep. Bill McCollum, a Florida Republican who bitterly opposes efforts to approve medical marijuana on state ballots, say that they will support further research, as recommended by the Institute of Medicine's report. And Benson, the Oregon scientist, says, "We hope that it will go on. It was our intent to suggest specific research projects." But others wonder who will be willing to put up the money - perhaps tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars-to develop cannabinoid-based medicines. (Only one such drug, called Marinol, a synthetic version of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, is available in pill form now.) Private research into marijuana's usefulness is hamstrung; scientists cannot obtain samples of the illegal substance for research purposes except through NIDA, which is reluctant to make it available. "The Number One obstacle to this treatment is politics," says Daniel Zingale, executive director of AIDS Action. In February, the group joined up with dozens of other AIDS activists to urge McCaffrey to change U.S. policy on medical marijuana, to no avail, and also battled McCaffrey unsuccessfully over needle-exchange programs that could help prevent AIDS transmission via shared syringes. "If it weren't for the politically charged nature of this debate, the science would be driving the policy," says Zingale. "But the politicians are lagging behind the public." Certainty, the public favors the idea of medical marijuana. Polls consistently show strong support for marijuana for medical purposes, usually in the range of sixty to eighty percent, says Chuck Thomas of the MPP. But at the same time, the polls register a conflict: While favoring medical marijuana, Americans also exhibit a strong and fervent opposition to the legalization of marijuana for nonmedical use. A poll taken for the American Civil Liberties Union revealed that two-thirds of Americans oppose legalization, most of them adamantly, and fifty-seven percent agree that using marijuana to get high is morally wrong. Bill Zimmerman, who helped engineer the medical-marijuana ballot initiative in California in 1996, as well as successful votes last year in Alaska, Oregon, Washington and a first round in Nevada, says that medical marijuana will appear on ballots in more and more states - unless the federal government radically revises its marijuana policy. Maine will vote on a medical-marijuana initiative this year; in 2000, votes will be taken in Colorado and Nevada. Popular or not, the idea of using marijuana for medical purposes is a non-starter in Congress. Last September, Bill McCollum, perhaps Congress' leading militant in the War on Drugs, organized passage of a House of Representatives resolution condemning efforts to approve marijuana for medical use. Hard-core conservatives like Georgia Republican Rep. Bob Barr - who called the Institute of Medicine report "a waste of taxpayer money and another step toward drug legalization" - can be counted on to raise a furor over, say, research money to study medical marijuana use. Says Zingale, "I think that we have a long, long way to go before Congress understands this issue."
------------------------------------------------------------------- Weekly Action Report on Drug Policies, Year 5, No. 16 (A summary of European and international drug policy news, from CORA, in Italy) Date: Mon, 26 Apr 1999 22:02:01 +0200 To: CORAFax EN (firstname.lastname@example.org) From: CORAFax (email@example.com) Subject: CORAFax #16 (EN) ANTIPROHIBITIONIST OF THE ENTIRE WORLD .... Year 5 #16, April 25 1999 *** Weekly Action Report on Drug Policies *** Edited by the CORA - Radical Antiprohibitionist Coordination, federated to - TRP-Transnational Radical Party (NGO, consultive status, I) - The Global Coalition for Alternatives to the Drug War *** director: Vincenzo Donvito All rights reserved *** http://www.agora.it/coranet mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org *** NEWS FROM THE WORLD *** 000581 15/04/99 U.E. / ITALY HEALTH IL GIORNALE Convicts who are afflicted by AIDS must not stay in prison. The Italian Senate has approved a law that is supposed to open prison cell for AIDS patients in advanced or terminal phases of the disease. A judge, although, will decide case by case; no freedom for prisoners who are suffering of AIDS. *** 000580 14/04/99 E.U. / FRANCE INFORMATION L'EVENEMENT DU JEUDI The head name in the French Green party's electoral list, Mr. Daniel Cohn-Bendit, reopens the drug issue: 'Enough with what has become by now a religious war' - he says 'Down with prohibitionist laws that only favour drug traffic (between 2 and 4 percent of the world's trade), up with lagalisation of light drugs, with substitutive therapies and with controlled distribution of heavy drugs'. *** 000584 19/04/99 E.U. / SPAIN INFORMATION EL PAIS Jose Guilmon, director of the psychiatry department of the University of Geneva says that great exaggeration about the pros and cons of controlled distribution of heroin lies in the positions of those who are favourable of those who are against. Still he reminds the latter that many diseases are cured with dangerous substances, especially when benefits from their use are greater than the damages. *** 000585 16/04/99 EUROPE / SWITZERLAND INITIATIVE FRANKFURTER The conclusions of the World Health Organisation's report on the esperiment of controlled distribution of heroin in Switzerland (performed on 1000 heroin addicts between 1994 and 1996) say that all positive results depend on a bettered assistance, and not on distribution. *** 000586 20/04/99 E.U. / SPAIN INITIATIVE EL PAIS The Plan Nacional Sobre Drogas is ready into consideration an experiment of controlled distribution of heroin, but does not approve the project that Andalusia wants to adopt. They say it's too similar to the Swiss one, which has already been negatively judged by the World Health Organisation. *** 000583 19/04/99 E.U. / GB / SWANSEA JUISPRUDENCE NEUE ZUERCHER Z. The court of Swansea has inflicted nine months of prison for use and cultivation of cannabis to a man who was curing his backaches with marijuana. Nonetheless, many doctors think that within three years cannabis will enter Britain's official list of pharmaceutical products. *** 000582 15/04/99 EUROPE / SWITZERLAND WAR ON DRUGS NEUE ZUERCHER Z. A research says that 40% of the Swiss people are in favour of legalising cannabis, 48% are against and 12% are unsure. The most severe prohibitionist opinions are to be found in the French and Italian speaking cantons. Opinions of joung people between the ages of 15 and 34 are equally divided: 46% are in favour and 46% are against. *** 000587 21/04/99 E.U. / GB / MANCHESTER WAR ON DRUGS SUEDDEUTSCHE Z. A school in Manchester, not being able to control every day 1500 young people, has started to use a Labrador dog to detect drugs in the students' closets. *** CORAFax 1999 -------------------------------------------------------------------
The articles posted here are generally copyrighted by the source publications. They are reproduced here for educational purposes under the Fair Use Doctrine (17 U.S.C., section 107). NORML is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit educational organization. The views of the authors and/or source publications are not necessarily those of NORML. The articles and information included here are not for sale or resale.
Comments, questions and suggestions.Reporters and researchers are welcome at the world's largest online library of drug-policy information, sponsored by the Drug Reform Coordination Network at: http://www.druglibrary.org/
Next day's news
Previous day's news
to the 1999 Daily News index for April 23-29
to the Portland NORML news archive directory
to the 1999 Daily News index (long)
This URL: http://www.pdxnorml.org/ii/990425.html