------------------------------------------------------------------- It's legal, so confiscation improper (A letter to the editor of the Oregonian objects to a provision in HB 3052, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Mannix, which would prevent law enforcement officials from returning seized plants to medical-marijuana patients with valid state registry cards.) Newshawk: Portland NORML (http://www.pdxnorml.org/) Pubdate: Sat, May 08 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: Charles A. Bugin, Milwaukie (a suburb south of Portland) It's legal, so confiscation improper In response to the May 1 article on the registration of medical-marijuana patients, Rep. Kevin Mannix, R-Salem, was credited with having introduced legislation, through House Bill 3052, that would eliminate a requirement that law enforcement agencies return seized marijuana plants to medical-marijuana patients possessing valid state cards. I wonder if Mannix also favors confiscating insulin from diabetics? Law-enforcement agencies need to be held accountable for illegal seizures of property. The real crime is to allow medical marijuana, legalized by Oregon voters, to be viewed as second-class treatment because of the narrow minds of a small sect in our society.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Ask patients to help heal themselves (An editorial in the Oregonian by Robert Landauer says new-generation psychiatric drugs put heavy pressure on the Oregon Health Plan budget. Let 'em eat St Johns Wort or wear pyramids on their heads. Landauer's call for mental patients to treat themselves apparently wouldn't extend to letting them use medical marijuana, however.) Newshawk: Portland NORML (http://www.pdxnorml.org/) Pubdate: Sat, May 08 1999 Source: Oregonian, The (OR) Copyright: 1999 The Oregonian Contact: email@example.com Address: 1320 SW Broadway, Portland, OR 97201 Fax: 503-294-4193 Website: http://www.oregonlive.com/ Forum: http://forums.oregonlive.com/ Author: Robert Landauer, editorial columnist, the Oregonian, can be telephoned at (503) 221-8157 or reached by mail at 1320 S.W. Broadway, Portland 97201 or by electronic mail to firstname.lastname@example.org Ask patients to help heal themselves Oregon is looking for ways to help mentally ill persons who are losing touch with reality but who spurn treatment and aren't dangerous enough to be locked up. The legal, ethical, financial and institutional issues are as tangled as a bird's nest in a fishing reel after a bad cast. Persons with chronic, serious, untreated mental illnesses make up 17 percent of the state's prison population and about a third of the homeless. Intervention before they break laws or drift to the streets might ease the load of law-enforcement and social-service agencies. New-generation psychiatric drugs put heavy pressure on the Oregon Health Plan budget. Alternative approaches might reduce the need for these expensive neuraleptic medicines. Mostly, though, families, psychiatrists and other mental-health workers, police, jailers and judges seek utmost wellness and maximum freedom for persons with mental illnesses. Oregon has been moving in that direction. The rate of civil commitment -- forced hospitalization of mentally ill people who have not broken the law but who judges say are dangerous to themselves or others -- fell 50 percent between 1988-89 and 1998-99, says Barry S. Kast, administrator of Oregon's Mental Health and Developmental Disability Services Division. There has been a 16 percent decline over the same period in the number of allegations of mental illness. So the commitment rate is decreasing much faster than the reports of illness. The civil-commitment rate is not necessarily proof of the quality of the mental-health system, but it offers clues of where to look for more certain indicators. The availability of treatment for people with mental illnesses is one such area. During 1987-88 to 1997-98, the number of Oregon adults able to get mental-health treatment rose from 28,662 to 51,527. Provisions in Medicaid and the Oregon Health Plan to get earlier mental-health treatment for children doubled that treatment population from 10,951 to 23,377. That's a promising trend. The message, says Kast, is that people are getting into treatment earlier, and commitment usually is not necessary when that happens. Still, service organizations estimate that 25 percent to 40 percent of the 5 million Americans with severe mental illnesses receive no therapy. Higher rates of homelessness, violence, incarceration and suicide follow. "I think people don't participate in treatment because they don't like the menu," says Cecelia Vergaretti of the Mental Health Association of Oregon. Treatment of mental illness, then, is too serious to be left solely to the psychiatrists and mental-health agencies -- or to civil libertarians with no personal, family or professional experience with the realities of mental illness. It is an arrogant illusion that the mentally ill can't make useful choices about their treatment. Many of them can. Enlisting them as partners in shaping their treatment promises to be more productive than trying, for example, to force drugs on people who resent the imposition and, consequently, reject all help. Oregon has an exciting opportunity to learn more about helping the mentally ill. The National Mental Health Consumers' Self-Help Clearinghouse, aided by numerous Oregon and national co-sponsors, will conduct a National Summit of Mental Health Consumers and Survivors Aug. 25-29 in Portland. (Information toll-free at 1-800-553-4539, extension 297.) This is a prime chance to find out in detail what people with mental disabilities hope to see on treatment menus as well as information about what repels them. Forced outpatient treatment has benefits in some cases. Its greatest drawbacks, though, are that it often doesn't work and tends to stifle discussion of alternative approaches that might be more accepted and effective. What we haven't tried nearly enough is recruiting the patients to help them heal themselves. That's what Oregon should do now.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Cities should have freedom on tobacco use (An op-ed in the Oregonian by King City Mayor Jan Drangsholt urges Oregon legislators to reject HB 2806, which would preclude local governments - except in Corvallis - from passing their own laws governing tobacco use. It's not appropriate for state legislators to decide for any Oregon community how to handle an issue that needs to reflect community values. Unfortunately, it's not clear how Drangsholt would feel about letting local residents vote on other aspects of drug policy.) Newshawk: Portland NORML (http://www.pdxnorml.org/) Pubdate: Sat, May 08 1999 Source: Oregonian, The (OR) Copyright: 1999 The Oregonian Contact: email@example.com Address: 1320 SW Broadway, Portland, OR 97201 Fax: 503-294-4193 Website: http://www.oregonlive.com/ Forum: http://forums.oregonlive.com/ Author: Jan Drangsholt is mayor of King City, Oregon Cities should have freedom on tobacco use * Legislators should butt out of whether local governments can pass their own ordinances I'm not a tobacco control advocate. In fact, the King City Council and I decided against enacting an ordinance to ban smoking in the workplace just recently. But I think it would be dangerous to deny local governments the right to consider their own laws governing tobacco use. That's why I am against House Bill 2806, which would prevent Oregon cities from enacting ordinances to regulate indoor smoking in bars or restaurants. It's not appropriate for the state to decide for any Oregon community how an issue that needs to reflect community values, such as secondhand smoke, should be handled. State lawmakers should butt out. While we in King City clearly don't see eye-to-eye with the city council members in Corvallis who passed the state's first ban on smoking in public places, we absolutely defend their right to take that stand. Elected city leaders are best able to gauge what is in the best interests of their community and their residents. What's best for Corvallis isn't necessarily best for King City. Is that really a surprise? Certainly the Legislature is in no position to dictate to King City residents or the residents of any Oregon city how best to handle such a complex local issue. The King City Council considered the facts. We weighed the opinions of both tobacco control advocates and those advocating for smokers' rights. During the process, we were thrust into the media spotlight. It wasn't surprising that what we were considering made the news -- if an ordinance had passed, it would have had an impact on virtually every person in King City. In the end, we decided it was best for King City not to enact this ordinance. Don't get us wrong. We don't think secondhand smoke is a blessing. There are plenty of credible and respected parties who told us it is a health risk. We don't think many in our community like secondhand smoke. We were presented with public opinion polls showing support for a smoke-free workplace ordinance. For now, we just believe that adults should continue to be responsible for making their own decisions. What about the King City Council's fact-finding process could be of concern to the state lawmakers who support HB 2806? Can it be that these legislators lack trust in those of us elected to guide our cities and make complex local decisions? Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers said, "It's entirely appropriate to have local lawmakers weigh off the benefits vs. the costs" of local smoking ordinances. The Oregon Constitution understands that. It gives local governmental bodies the right to pass ordinances they deem to be in the best interests of their communities. Even though I'm no tobacco control advocate, I think the state is treading on dangerous ground here. Give us local lawmakers some credit. Don't deny local governments the right to consider laws governing something as local as tobacco smoke. Don't pass HB 2806.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Referendum Madness (A staff editorial in the Bangor Daily News says the Maine legislature had a lot of good reasons to reject the citizen-initiated bill legalizing marijuana for medical purposes. The one given - that voters should decide this by referendum - isn't among them. "This is about safe, effective medicine and good science. That's a matter for the laboratory, not the voting booth.") Date: Sat, 8 May 1999 03:38:18 -0700 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US ME: Referendum Madness Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: EWCHIEF@aol.com Pubdate: Sat, 08 May 1999 Source: Bangor Daily News (ME) Copyright: 1999, Bangor Daily News Inc. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.bangornews.com/ REFERENDUM MADNESS The Legislature had a lot of good reasons to reject the citizen-initiated bill legalizing marijuana for medical purposes. The one given -- that voters should decide this by referendum -- isn't among them. Referendum is a valuable, important tool in representative democracy, especially when used for issues of conscience when the will of the majority does not trample the rights of the minority. The extent to which recreational drugs should be legalized or controlled may someday be such an issue. The issue here, however, isn't what people should or should not be able to do in their spare time in the privacy of their homes. This is about safe, effective medicine and good science. That's a matter for the laboratory, not the voting booth. There is evidence, including compelling first-person testimony, that marijuana can relieve the nausea and pain that often accompany treatments for cancer, AIDS and other devastating diseases. It is a shame that lawmakers, state and federal, have not been more committed to funding the research that can validate those claims, determine appropriate conditions for use and develop effective, smoke-free, measured-dose delivery systems. It is a greater shame, truly shameful, that pro-pot advocates use the suffering of these disease victims to promote their cause. Their longstanding argument that smoking marijuana is a harmless, repercussion-less recreation has been shredded -- chronic pot smokers exhibit a variety of physical and mental-health problems, pot is the main gateway kids take to other, stronger, drugs. The tactics - antics, really - of the pro-legalization side are likely the primary reason lawmakers have not been more willing to fully fund the research and testing that marijuana or any other potential medication must undergo to protect consumers from harm and false hopes. Bypassing the rigorous review that brings safe and effective drugs to market would create a tremendous loophole in a process that determines what is good medicine. It is understandable that the Legislature showed no interest in approving the bill that now goes to referendum. It is a bad bill; based upon unsubstantiated claims of benefit; vague in its definitions, vaguer still in its protections from misuse. The provision allowing patients and their loosely defined "care givers" to grow marijuana in an unregulated and uncontrolled way, is a recipe for mischief; pot would be as common as zucchini. The Legislature could have proposed a competing, substantially more sound measure that would have gained the support of patient advocates, but now it is probably too late. Absent a bill-writing miracle, an ill-conceived competing measure now would likely lead to a run-off between a bad bill and a worse one. This is not a new issue. For years, disease victims have been claiming significant symptom relief from marijuana. For years, the Legislature avoided taking any action, lest they be labeled pro-pot. Now, an issue that should be decided by informed lawmakers with the advice and counsel of scientists, physicians and law enforcement will be decided by voters who must make a political decision about compassion.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Drug War Makes More Trouble Than Drugs (A letter to the editor of the Standard-Times, in New Bedford, Massachusetts, says the surest way to alleviate the problems concerning New Bedford's illegal drug traffic is legalization, which simply means replacing intensive criminalization with sensible civil regulation.) Date: Sat, 8 May 1999 11:33:11 -0700 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US MA: PUB LTE: Drug War Makes More Trouble Than Drugs Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: John Smith Pubdate: Sat, 08 May 1999 Source: Standard-Times (MA) Copyright: 1999 The Standard-Times Contact: YourView@S-T.com Website: http://www.s-t.com/ Author: PAUL M. BISCHKE, Syracuse, NY DRUG WAR MAKES MORE TROUBLE THAN DRUGS The surest way to alleviate the problems Ross Grace Jr. described in his April 30 column concerning New Bedford's illegal drug traffic is legalization, which simply means replacing intensive criminalization with sensible civil regulation. Criminalization reduces society's control over pleasure drugs since there are no standards for dose, purity and age limits in the black-market distribution system. Many Americans say they want to reduce drug problems, but they insist that the only distribution system must continue to be the black market. You can't have it both ways. The Drug War creates more problems than the drugs themselves. I've seen the results of intensified drug interdiction while living in another Northeastern city, Syracuse, New York. It didn't create a pristine city, but rather a series of drug-war zones. In New Bedford's drug-war escalation, you should expect dramatic news stories, but not an improved or safer urban community. Mr. Grace misuses the term "poison" in relation to street drugs. The unreliable quality, unknown dose, and impurity of street drugs makes some of them toxic, especially those requiring processing (meth, heroin, etc.). I heartily agree that kids shouldn't use any street drugs. However, kids can buy poisons every day (Drano, ammonia, etc.) in grocery and hardware stores. A campaign against selling poison to kids is generally a different issue than drug control. Contact your local poison control center. People go to drug dealers to buy drugs that afford pleasure. Some pleasure drugs are toxic at relatively low doses, for example, alcohol and MDMA. Other drugs have much wider margins of safety before becoming toxic, for example marijuana and psilocybin. The point is that the use of pleasure drugs cannot generally be equated with ingesting poisons. Dose is of vital importance. Mr. Grace called the drug-use and drug-marketing in New Bedford a "cancer" (the favorite term of drug czar Gen. Barry McCaffrey). Cancer is generally treated more successfully by doctors than by police squads. Perhaps New Bedford should seek a public-health solution to its "cancer." PAUL M. BISCHKE, Syracuse, NY
------------------------------------------------------------------- Police Shoot, Kill Henrico Man (The Richmond Times-Dispatch, in Virginia, says William Keith Green, a 29-year-old marijuana offender, was shot and killed by police early yesterday after several officers stormed his Lakeside house in search of "drugs." Police said Green told officers several times during the confrontation that "he was not going to be arrested, he was not going back to jail and that they would have to shoot him." So, first trying pepper spray, three prohibition agents shot Green five times after he was repeatedly told to drop his machete. A subsequent search, aside from yielding a bunch of personal effects the newspaper wouldn't mention except to excite prejudices, yielded "several ounces" of marijuana and a vial of a "white crystal substance.") Date: Sun, 9 May 1999 21:00:21 -0700 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US: VA: Police Shoot, Kill Henrico Man Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Anonymous Pubdate: Sat, 08 May 1999 Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA) Copyright: 1999, Richmond Newspapers Inc. Contact: email@example.com Fax: 804-775-8072 Website: http://www.gateway-va.com/ Author: Mark Bowes, Times-Dispatch Staff Writer POLICE SHOOT, KILL HENRICO MAN 4th time this year county officers have shot a suspect A 29-year-old convicted drug offender was shot and killed by police early yesterday after authorities said he wielded a machete at several officers who had stormed his Lakeside house in search of drugs. Police said William Keith Green told the officers several times during the confrontation that "he was not going to be arrested, he was not going back to jail and that they would have to shoot him," said Sgt. Joe Morris, a Henrico police spokesman. Green was talking to his girlfriend on the phone when police entered his home. "He told her that 'I'm not going to jail and they're going to have to kill me,' " said one officer with knowledge of the incident. "He was clearly combative and encouraging the officers to shoot him." Police said Green was shot five times in his midsection by three narcotics officers after he was repeatedly told to drop his weapon. Officers first tried to subdue him with pepper spray, but "it didn't appear to have any effect on him," Morris said. The incident was the fourth this year in which a criminal suspect was shot by a Henrico County police officer. Green is the second suspect to be killed by police fire this year. "They just run in cycles," Sgt. James Price, the department's internal affairs officer, said of the shootings. "Who's to say what causes a number of them to come in succession as opposed to having just one [in] one year, and having none the next year. Each and every incident is unique into itself with its own set of circumstances." With the exception of 1997, Henrico has recorded one shooting per year since 1995 in which an officer wounded or killed a suspect in a confrontation. One man was killed by police in 1995, others were wounded in 1996 and 1998. Green, of 2128 Dumbarton Road, was pronounced dead at Medical College of Virginia Hospitals shortly after the 1:45 a.m. incident. According to Virginia Department of Corrections records, Green was sentenced in 1990 to prison terms totaling nine years and one month for convictions of simple assault, possession of marijuana and conspiracy to distribute marijuana in Richmond and Hanover County. He received four years and one month in Richmond on the assault and marijuana possession charges, and five years in Hanover for the conspiracy offense, spokesman Larry Traylor said. In the Hanover case, Green was one of 19 people indicted in connection with a marijuana distribution ring that authorities believed was responsible for transporting 300 pounds of pot each week into the Richmond area. During a two-month investigation, authorities confiscated about 100 pounds of marijuana, about $150,000 and four vehicles. Green was discharged from parole in November 1994, Traylor said. It was unclear how long he had been incarcerated. Yesterday's incident unfolded as Henrico narcotics officers tried to serve a search warrant at Green's home. According to an affidavit to search the home, a police informer told investigators that he had seen a quantity of marijuana inside the house within the past 72 hours. When police arrived at the home they identified themselves, announced their intentions and "demanded entry into the house," Morris said. When they got no response, the officers forced their way into a rear door and tried to locate anyone inside before beginning the drug search, which is standard procedure. "It's a safety issue that they notify anyone that's actually inside the dwelling of a location where a search is being conducted . . . and then secure those people before the actual search takes place," Morris said. It was during the sweep of the home that officers confronted Green, who had a machete. After spraying Green with the chemical agent, "he continued to come at the police officers in a threatening manner with the machete over his head, making hacking motions," Morris said. Several times he struck the side of a doorway with the weapon, Morris added. The three officers then fired a total of eight shots at Green with their .45-caliber service pistols. Five shots struck him, one officer said. Police later searched the home and recovered several ounces of marijuana, some prescription pills, $65 in cash, drug paraphernalia and smoking devices, material to package drugs, a set of scales that can be used to weigh drugs, a vial of "white crystal substance," a cellular phone and a pager. Documents, photos and a roll of film also were taken, according to an inventory of items seized. Police also found copies of arrest warrants from Newport News that indicated Green had been arrested in recent months on charges of stalking and domestic assault, an officer said. Yesterday's incident marked the second time in recent months that pepper spray was ineffective in subduing a suspect. In March, a Henrico officer wounded a man armed with a knife inside the Wal-Mart Super Center in Short Pump after a dose of pepper spray failed to have any effect on him. "It's never been 100 percent," Morris said. "It's not going to be effective in every situation. It's just a tool that we use . . . in hopes of subduing offenders without using deadly force." Police officials declined to release the names of the three officers until the case can be reviewed by Henrico Commonwealth's Attorney Toby Vick.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Marijuana Is Medicine (A letter to the editor of the Washington Post from Robert D. Kampia of the Marijuana Policy Project responds to a letter by former NIDA chief Robert DuPont about the March 17 Institute of Medicine report on medical marijuana. DuPont lists IOM's recommendations for short-term use but neglects to mention that IOM also urged the government to create compassionate-use programs for patients with long-term needs. "IOM does not want patients to be arrested," claims Kampia.) Date: Sat, 8 May 1999 17:30:03 -0700 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US: PUB LTE: Marijuana Is Medicine Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Kendra Wright http://www.familywatch.org/ Pubdate: Sat, 08 May 1999 Source: Washington Post (DC) Copyright: 1999 The Washington Post Company Page: A17 Address: 1150 15th Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20071 Feedback: http://washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/edit/letters/letterform.htm Website: http://www.washingtonpost.com/ Author: Robert D. Kampia Note: The writer is executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project http://www.mpp.org/ Also: The referenced OPED is at: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v99.n457.a04.html MARIJUANA IS MEDICINE One word was conspicuously absent in Robert DuPont's op-ed "Medicine -- Not Pot": "arrest." At present, it is a federal crime for seriously ill people to use medicinal marijuana, even if their doctors approve. Patients are being arrested and jailed for obtaining and using their medicine. Last month, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) said, "We concluded that there are limited circumstances in which we recommend smoking marijuana for medical uses." DuPont lists IOM's recommendations for short-term use but neglects to mention that IOM also urged the government to create compassionate-use programs for patients with long-term needs. IOM does not want patients to be arrested. Why is DuPont hiding the whole truth? DuPont and his ilk will do whatever it takes to keep existing criminal penalties in place for medicinal marijuana users. It's time to stop this cruelty. The simplest way to protect patients is to pass House Bill 912, which would end the federal prohibition of medicinal marijuana and allow states to create their own policies without federal interference. Robert D. Kampia The writer is executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Hemp Is Marijuana (A letter to the editor of the Washington Post from Jeanette McDougal, co-chair of the drug warrior group, Drug Watch/Minnesota, criticizes Washington lawyer and former CIA director James Woolsey for representing the North American Industrial Hemp Council as a lobbyist. She just knows NAIHC members wear dirty underwear.)Date: Wed, 19 May 1999 23:22:48 -0700 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Jo-D Harrison Dunbar Pubdate: Sat, 08 May 1999 Source: Washington Post (DC) Page: A17 Copyright: 1999 The Washington Post Company Address: 1150 15th Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20071 Feedback: http://washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/edit/letters/letterform.htm Website: http://www.washingtonpost.com/ Author: Jeanette McDougal, co-chair, Drug Watch/Minnesota. HEMP IS MARIJUANA It is shocking that former CIA director James Woolsey -- at one time the chief intelligence gatherer for the whole United States -- failed to properly gather information about his client, North American Industrial Hemp Council (NAIHC). Woolsey assures us that none of NAIHC's members wears tie-dyed shirts [Federal Page, April 30]. Perhaps he should check their boxers. Some of the group's members and directors are vigorous pro-drug advocates. Had he checked, lobbyist Woolsey would have discovered that founding member and immediate past-NAIHC vice president David Morris has been pushing legalization of marijuana, marijuana cigarettes for medicine and industrial cannabis hemp for years in his columns in the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press. Another board member, Andrew Graves, is party to a lawsuit brought by the Kentucky Hemp Growers Cooperative to force the federal government to legally permit the growing of industrial cannabis (marijuana) hemp. The two lead lawyers in the suit -- Michael Kennedy of New York and Burl McCoy of Kentucky -- are on the roster of NORML, the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws, an aggressive pro-marijuana legalization advocate. Surfing the 'Net would have further edified lobbyist Woolsey. He could have observed for himself the hemp-marijuana drug connection; he could see for himself that NAIHC appears in alphabetical order right after NORML, the Lindesmith Center, Marijuana Policy Project and other pro-marijuana organizations on the International Hemp Association Web site. Had Woolsey done a proper background check on "industrial hemp," he would have found that the market does not support the need for another expensive, labor-intensive, hard-to-process, bast fiber, "industrial hemp." We are keenly aware, as should Woolsey be, that industrial cannabis hemp can be refined or "cut" for marijuana street dealing. That is exactly one of the reasons NORML and other pro-drug groups support Woolsey and the NAIHC effort. It is my hope that upon review of so-called "industrial hemp," Woolsey will honorably resign.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Health Department opposes marijuana as medicine (The National Post notes an internal Canadian Health Department memo prepared for minister Allan Rock is filled with discredited arguments against therapeutic use of cannabis, revealing bureaucrats' bias. An edited version of the memo, originally stamped secret, was obtained under the Access to Information Act.) Date: Sat, 8 May 1999 18:41:31 PDT From: Carey Ker (email@example.com) Subject: Canada (National Post): Health Department opposes marijuana as medicine To: firstname.lastname@example.org Saturday, May 08, 1999 Health Department opposes marijuana as medicine Department memo: Briefing paper filled with arguments against therapeutic use of cannabis Jim Bronskill Southam News OTTAWA - Allowing the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes could send the wrong message to Canadian teenagers, sparking greater acceptance of the drug, warns an internal Health Department memo. The concern is one of a litany of thorny issues raised by federal officials in the newly released briefing document, which examines the potential use of marijuana for therapeutic purposes. The note, prepared by the department's health protection branch for minister Allan Rock, identifies several stumbling blocks, including health hazards posed by cannabis, possible friction with the medical profession and the difficulty of obtaining legal supplies of the drug. An edited version of the memo, originally stamped secret, was obtained under the Access to Information Act. The department cites United Nations research that indicates the age of initiation into drug abuse has been falling yearly. "The rate of drug use among young people is linked to their perceptions of risks related to drugs," says the memo. "The use of marijuana as a therapeutic product may convey the false message that marijuana has some benefit and is not that dangerous." It notes several "hazardous effects" of marijuana, including short-term impairment of motor skills, increased blood pressure, lung damage, suppression of the immune system and risk of dependence among heavy users. The memo suggests government efforts to stamp out smoking and to combat illegal drug use could be undermined by making marijuana available for medicinal use, saying the move "may be in conflict with the Canadian drug and tobacco strategies." Canada is a signatory to a series of international treaties that require the federal government to exercise control over production and distribution of narcotics, including marijuana. "Any movement towards legal access to marijuana may be perceived negatively by other countries." The federal government has come under pressure in recent years to allow sufferers of AIDS and cancer to smoke marijuana to cope with nausea caused by chemical therapies. Others believe smoking the drug can relieve pain associated with multiple sclerosis, as well as prevent epileptic seizures. Currently, Canadians must apply for access to marijuana and other controlled substances under a special Health Department program. But acceptance of requests would require the availability of a legal source of medicinal-quality marijuana. In March, Rock asked officials to draft a plan for clinical trials of marijuana, and to determine how a safe supply of the drug could be secured.The memo says evidence gathered to date on the benefits of smoking marijuana is "heavily anecdotal." "While there are reports of the therapeutic value of smoked marijuana, sound scientific studies supporting therapeutic claims are lacking." In addition, there appears to be no consensus in the medical community on the use of marijuana by patients. "For some physicians, prescribing marijuana may cause scientific and ethical problems." For example, considering the known adverse effects of smoking, would it be acceptable to administer marijuana in cigarette form? On the other hand, would it be humane to deny comfort, or to prosecute, a terminally ill patient? The memo adds that given the no-smoking policy of hospitals and other public facilities, smoking marijuana in these settings may lead to disputes. Another practical concern is securing a supply of the drug, since the United States is the only country where cannabis is legally cultivated for scientific research. The memo says the manufacture and distribution of marijuana cigarettes would involve a licensing scheme, a testing laboratory, security measures and a monitoring system including enforcement and inspection. "Appropriate measures to prevent diversion of marijuana to the illicit market would need to be carefully established." Copyright (c) Southam Inc. All rights reserved.
------------------------------------------------------------------- 10% Of Those In EU Traffic Accidents On Drugs (The Irish Times says a report conducted for the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction concludes that alcohol is "the biggest problem" in road accidents. However, there has been a four-fold increase since 1987 in the number of drivers killed who have traces of illegal drugs in their bodies. Alcohol was found to be involved in 19 per cent of injurious accidents and 22 per cent of fatal accidents in the EU. The author, Ms Rosalyn Moran of the Health Research Board, said there are no laws in the EU defining illegal blood limits of illicit drugs or medicines and said there is "insufficient" evidence to define safe levels.) Date: Sat, 8 May 1999 11:33:08 -0700 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: Ireland: 10% Of Those In EU Traffic Accidents On Drugs Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Martin Cooke (email@example.com) Pubdate: Sat, 8 May 1999 Source: Irish Times (Ireland) Copyright: 1999 The Irish Times Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Address: Letters to Editor, The Irish Times 11-15 D'Olier St, Dublin 2, Ireland Fax: + 353 1 671 9407 Website: http://www.ireland.com/ 10% OF THOSE IN EU TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS ON DRUGS At least 10 per cent of people killed or injured in traffic accidents in the European Union are taking some type of drug, according to a new report. The Health Research Board report also says there has been a four-fold increase since 1987 in the number of drivers killed who have traces of illegal drugs in their bodies. But the report conducted for the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction says alcohol is "the biggest problem" in road accidents. "Where involvement in traffic accidents is concerned, no drug has ever been found with a frequency that compares to that of alcohol," said the author, Ms Rosalyn Moran of the HRB. Alcohol was found to be involved in 19 per cent of injurious accidents and 22 per cent of fatal accidents in the EU. Ms Moran said alcohol has a "deleterious effect on a range of driving skills", including brake reaction time, collision frequency, steering responsiveness and risk-taking appreciation. She said that the "lesser problem" posed by other drugs, such as benzodiazepines and amphetamines, is "still important". Benzodiazepines "may impair driving skills" in the first few weeks of treatment. Then the effects "may dissipate with continued use". Ms Moran said cannabis "does not seem to significantly impair very basic perceptual mechanisms", but it "does impair more subtle aspects of perceptual performance such as attention and shortterm memory, although these are typically observed at higher doses". Methadone, the substitute for heroin, "does not result in sufficient driving impairments to merit users being designated unfit", particularly among experienced users, she said. Amphetamines have "few effects" on cognitive functioning at lower doses, but at higher doses, "risk-taking increases and responses become inappropriate". She said there are no laws in the EU defining illegal blood limits of illicit drugs or medicines and said there is "insufficient" evidence to define safe levels. Advances in drug testing technology must be developed further, she said, and called on police officers to be trained in "drug-related impairment recognition". -------------------------------------------------------------------
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