------------------------------------------------------------------- Baldwin Trial Update (Bob Ames, a medical-marijuana patient awaiting trial in Sacramento, e-mails a helpful account of court proceedings in the jury trial of his fellow medical-marijuana patients, Dr. Michael Baldwin and his wife, Georgia, on cultivation-related charges, in Auburn, California. Numerous patients attended, most awaiting their own trials. Placer County Detective Grant admitted on the stand last week that a majorify of his present cases involve medical marijuana patients. Judge Garbolino dropped cultivation charges, citing Proposition 215, but allowed the jury to weigh a charge of sales. The jury is still out after just over a full day of deliberations.)Subject: DPFCA: Baldwin Trial Update To: firstname.lastname@example.org Date: Mon, 10 May 1999 00:29:37 -0700 (PDT) Cc: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Bob Ames) Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org (Bob Ames) Organization: DrugSense http://www.drugsense.org/dpfca/ Greetings, This describes some of the events of the Baldwin trial, being held at the beautiful, Historic Old Auburn Courthouse. CONTENTS *) Cultivation Charges Dropped. *) Judge: Avoid jurors when using medical cannabis on court property. *) Numerous patients attending with Baldwins. Most awaiting own trials. *) State "Expert": Joints weigh 0.25 grams, "abusers" smoke 5 per day. *) Chris Conrad: 0.25g pinners fold in places due to lack of cannabis. Jury provided with 3 of Ryan's joints, 0.33g, 1.0g, 2.0g. Jury also provided another defense exhibit of a tub of green butter, which Mrs. Baldwin testified contained 1 pound of cannabis and 1 pound of butter. *) State "Expert": No indoor plants ever get mold, fungus, or pests. Photos of Baldwin garden show perfect, healthy plants, all of which would have grown up to equal 3 to 6 ounces per plant, meaning the Baldwin garden would have produced 26,457 joints, enough for a 20 year supply for those "abusers" who smoke five 0.25g joints per day, the most he has ever heard of anyone using. "Five joints, I mean EVERY DAY, EVERY SINGLE DAY, is a lot of cannabis.", Mellika said. *) Chris Conrad & Bill Logan: Baldwins' garden severly infected with Spider Mites, many dead clones, clearly patients were about to run out of cannabis and would have waited months for more, and even that would have been insufficient due to the present spider- mites infestation. *) Jury still out. *) Police Again Disregard 215. *) Strange Optional Jury Procedure. --- Cultivation Charges Dropped. Judge dropped cultivation charge, saying basically: In California if you have a valid, verified doctor's recommendation for cannabis, you could cultivate one plant, or a garden "the size of Rhode Island" and you couldn't be convicted under 11358, Cultivation, because of California Health & Safety Code Section 11362.5, Proposition 215. Judge Garbolino did permit the intent to sell charge to remain, saying that 11362.5 doesn't exempt that from prosecution. After the Judge dropped the cultivation charge, the DA claimed he was going to strongly suggest to his boss that he be permitted to drop the intent to sell. Upon returning from lunch, the DA's boss had insisted on continuing with the prosecution. During the ruling dropping the cultivation charge, The Judge quoted portions of the ballot arguments for and against 215. San Francisco's DA Terrance Hallinan had suggested in the ballot arguments that 215 creates an affirmative defense to prosecution, which would require for the defense to prove medical use beyond a reasonable doubt. Then-Attorney General Dan Lungren suggested on the same ballot pamphlet that 215 presents a bar to prosecution. The Judge noted the irony that those two sides would have been expected to have taken the opposite positions on this point, then he ruled in favor of Dan Lungren's opinion and dismissed the cultivation charge, saying 215 presents a bar to prosection. |-) --- Judge: Avoid jurors when using medical cannabis on court property. Ryan Landers, Sacramento Medical Cannabis Spokesman, was walking up to a deputy when the deputy said, "Now don't even ask. I know what you're going to say and I don't want you to even ask. Just go somewhere where jurors won't see you. That's all I can say." After the break, Judge Garbolino basically said, outside of the jury: I'm aware that there are patients who need to use cannabis. Since this is legal for those with doctor's recommendations, all I can ask is that you avoid tainting the jury. I'd suggest the area up either stairs where the doors are locked at the top of the stairs. Jurors, or anyone else, aren't likely to go there so you could probably find some privacy there. Just keep a watch out for jurors. --- Numerous patients attending with Baldwins. Most awaiting own trials. Numerous patients, many of whom are facing trials of their own, have been attending with the Baldwins. Bob DeArkland, Paul Hall, Carrie Becker, Chris Miller, Ryan Landers, and several others including myself Bob Ames, have been there to support the Baldwins. We have learned much which will undoubtedly assist us during our own upcoming trials. Several patients have approached Chris Conrad, William Logan, Lawrence Lichter, and the legendary J. Tony Serra about assisting with their own upcoming cases. Placer County Detective Grant admitted last week on the stand that A MAJORIFY OF HIS PRESENT CASES ARE MEDICAL MARIJUANA CASES. And, although he's a Placer County Detective, a majority of his pending medical cannabis cases are in Sacramento county! --- Experts Wage War State "expert" Nick Mellika is a real piece of work. He comes off as quite honest during initial questioning. It's when he gets to cannabis science when it's obvious he knows nothing. All of his "knowledge" is based on statements made to him by either "cannabis abusers" (those who smoke five 0.25g pinners/day) or by "busted growers" (who want to tell him what he wants to hear). Mellika has no medical training, no horticulture training, no idea how much medical users would need. He has spoken to the head of the NIDA Investigative New Drug (IND) program and has learned about medical cannabis from the Federal government. Mellika said that the government, which provides federal cannabis to the 7 patients who originally sued to get in the program, deliberately provides the worst possible cannabis in order to reduce the medical value of the cannabis provided to those patients who sued to get in to the program. Mellika said that, prior to shipping the cannabis from Mississippi to North Carolina for rolling at a tobacco plant, all buds are removed and only sticks, stems, seeds, and leaf are sent to North Carolina for processing and rolling. Mellika testified that the THC in cannabis breaks down in just a few months. He didn't have an explanation as to why the IND patients are provided with cannabis that is nearly 4 years old. --- Jury still out The Jury is still out after just over a full day of deliberations. Deliberations are scheduled for Tuesday through Thursday at the old Auburn Courthouse. Everyone stays very close-by because the Jurors often have questions or want read-backs. Nice opportunity to speak with the legendary J. Tony Serra and his partner, Lawrance Lichter while they wait day after day for the jury to come back. Tuesdays through Thursdays are the days of the week voten in by the Jury to deliberate. Anyway, we're all hoping for a quick verdict. Dr. Baldwin is going crazy waiting for the verdict. Mrs. Baldwin is more calm, but both are eagerly awaiting acquittal so they can get on with their lives and end this terrible ordeal which began several months ago with Placer County automatically obtaining a warrant after "hearing" that the Baldwins were growing. --- Police again disregard 215 Absolutely no attempt made to check on 215 status prior to obtaining the warrant. No female officers present during early morning raid. 215 paperwork clearly posted and ignored by officers. --- Strange Optional Jury Procedure Strange Optional Jury Procedure. 15 jururs seated during entire trial. After trial, three are randomly picked to be alternates. This supposedly keeps them all interested during the entire trial. Many observers dislike new system. One attorney was overheard saying that he would never again experiment with this new method. *** My very own jury trial on medical cannabis charges begins in 3 weeks in Sacramento, where police admitted policy of automatically arresting all patients and then "let the courts sort it out." Hope to see you at my trail in Sacramento, starting June 2. Bob Ames email@example.com
------------------------------------------------------------------- Letter from Prison - Marvin Chavez (A letter written from Wasco Prison in California describes the injustices encountered by the medical-marijuana patient/activist and founder/director of the Orange County Patient, Doctor, Nurse, Support Group. Chavez is serving a six-year sentence after being denied a Proposition 215 defense to charges related to his helping other patients obtain free marijuana.) Date: Mon, 10 May 1999 17:01:49 -0700 To: "firstname.lastname@example.org" (email@example.com) From: Mark Greer (MGreer@mapinc.org) Subject: DPFCA: Letter from Prison Marvin Chavez Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: Mark Greer (MGreer@mapinc.org) Organization: DrugSense http://www.drugsense.org/dpfca/ NOTE: Many Thanks to D. Paul Stanford for transcribing Marvin's letter which arrived at MAP HQ in a 4 page hand written format which was written from his prison cell. PLEASE FORWARD TO APPROPRIATE LISTS OR INDIVIDUALS *** Letter from Marvin Chavez Sr., an imprisoned medical marijuana patient and activist Dear M.A.P. I want to share my situation with you and bring you up to date on my case. We all knew we would be in for a long haul with Prop 215 and the war against medical cannabis. I did not realize how low those in authority would sink in their abuse of power, persecuting the sick and dying, and disregarding the majority of voters who favor medical marijuana and passed Prop 215. I am still in the California state prison reception center and have begun serving my 6 year sentence. For helping very sick people obtain free marijuana, I stand accused of wrong doing and of being nothing more than a sophisticated street dealer using Prop 215 as a front. When the undercover officer who led to my arrest (himself posing as a patient and giving me a doctor's letter stating he was a patient whom marijuana would help) testified, he made it clear in court that I told him that cannabis was free at our co-op. We asked for any kind of donation to help pay for our copies, telephone bills, and other bills. These donations were not to pay for cannabis, but to pay for our organization's operating expenses. I formed a nonprofit organization called "Orange County Patient, Doctor, Nurse, Support Group Cannabis Co-op." Its sole aim to help the sick and dying people who are in need of medical cannabis. I never profited from my volunteer work and there was never any personal gain of money in this for me. The city of Garden Grove even gave me a business license. As a patient of Prop 215, I suffer from Ankylosis Spondyitis, Fibromyalgia and herniated vertebrae in my neck and lower back. These are chronic conditions. I tried all kinds of medications from 1991 until April of 1996. The side effects of these pharmaceuticals were so hard on my body, mind and spirit that I became a zombie and hermit. I decided that I would educate myself and take charge of my medical situation. My doctor and I sat down and discussed the use of medical cannabis. I got approval to use medical cannabis for my condition from my doctor. That is when I decided to make a commitment to help promote California's Prop 215. I became a patient activist to restore patient's hope and to improve the quality of other patient's lifes. I wanted to help others receive medical care and to educate patients, doctors and nurses about the medicinal properties of cannabis. As a political prisoner of Prop 215, I was sent to state prison for 6 years because I have acted according to my beliefs and in fulfilling the will of the voters who approved Prop 215. I wanted to help others and also help relieve my own pain and suffering. The officials in Orange County are trying to shut me down and to discourage me, but my faith and spirit are strong. They cannot keep a good patient down. I'm making a stand so that others, as well as myself, can exercise our rights as Americans. With the help of God and people like you, we can and will prevail. While I'm at Wasco State Prison Reception Center until they move me, I'm attempting to reach out to other patients with medical conditions and educate them about their rights and about Prop 215. The state prison officials are denying me the use of cannabis as my medication. Since I have been here, I have not received the necessary medical care I need. I need you to witness and tell others about what I'm doing as a patient activist. What they are causing patients is anguish, pain and wrongful punishment, and they are inflicting this torture upon sick and dying Americans. Now that the changing of old guard has taken place, as a political prisoner of Prop 215, there is now hope. With the new guard in office (Governor Davis, Attorney General Lockyear, Orange County Sheriff Carona, State Senator Vasconcellos and others), the old guard has been removed (Governor Wilson, Attorney General Lundgren, Orange County Sheriff Gate, Orange County district Attorney Capizzi and others). They took an oath and have a duty and responsibility to enforce the voters initiative, Prop 215. I give them a big heroes welcome and thank them for standing up and letting their voices be heard for sick and dying California people. We need them to face down the federal government and uphold Prop 215. As a patient activist, I was up front and used common sense in a common language, with straight talk and with the truth. I believed that would hold up under fire. We, the patients, are living proof that medical cannabis does help us. In the Orange County Register, dated April 3, 1999, they reprinted a report from the Sacramento Bee about a meeting between Drug Czar General McCaffrey, US Attorney General Janet Reno and California Attorney General Lockyear. The federal officials were both very clear that medical cannabis use violates federal law. McCaffrey said a massive additional research effort is needed. If this is the case, why is the federal government providing medical cannabis to 8 medical patients and it costs the taxpayer over $250,000 as of November 1996. Then, federal Drug czar McCaffrey threatened our California Attorney General Lockyear with arrest if he implements a state law passed by the people of this state. The federal Drug Czar has abused his power. Just like any other war, there are victims and prisoners. I am a prisoner of war, and I have lost other friends in this drug war. We are threatened by our own government with jail and prison and told we must live in fear. Our positive spirits have brought us together. It is important to remember we are upholding the truth. The truth will set us free. Please keep us strong in our faith and hope. Please give one another the support we all need in our different ways. The government has cut off my disability payment. I'm reaching out to anyone who can help me. A trust fund has been put together on my behalf. Please make a donation to my trust fund. Please make out a check or money order and mail it to Marvin Chavez, Sr. Trust Fund P.O. Box 6826 Santa Ana, CA 92706 Please write to me at Marvin Chavez, Sr. P28708 C3A 111L Wasco State Prison Reception Center P.O. Box 5500 Wasco, CA 93280-5500 Please do not use sticker address labels. I may receive a book of 20 stamps. If you'd like to interview me, please write your questions and send them to me. I will answer them. I will be transferred at any time from here at Wasco State Prison Reception Center. I don't yet know when or to what prison they will transfer me to for the majority of this 6 year prison sentence the state has given me for helping other patients. The mail here is very slow to get to us. It takes 12 to 15 days. Here is the telephone number for the California Department of Warrants. You can contact them so that you may keep track of where I am. Their number is 916-445-6713. My attorneys are James M. Silva, 310-450-2690 J. David Nick, 415-552-4444 You may use the information in this letter in any way you like (newspaper, Internet, etc). Please share this message with others. Would you please send a copy of articles about medical marijuana to me, especially anything on Prop 215. I would like to be as up to date as possible in my incarcerated predicament. I will share the information you send with others and educate them about Prop 215. I want you all to know that I thank you for your support. I need your words and donations. I send my love to you all. There will always be a special place in my heart for you. Because you have helped me, I am still able to help others to help themselves. There is an old saying, "What comes around goes around." May you all know love and peace forever. Please tell everyone that I say hello. Tell them that my spirit is strong. I'm asking those that are sitting and watching to make a stand for the principles and values that will end this Drug War. Please join together and help groups that are working to end this madness. I thank you. God bless you all and bless the other medical cannabis patients. Yours truly, Marvin Chavez, Sr. Founder/ Director, Orange County Patient, Doctor, Nurse, Support Group Cannabis Co-op *** Mark Greer Executive Director DrugSense MGreer@mapinc.org http://www.drugsense.org http://www.mapinc.org
------------------------------------------------------------------- Assembly bill eases marijuana penalties (An Associated Press article in the Las Vegas Sun says Nevada law makes the first-time offense for possessing any amount of marijuana a felony punishable by between one and four years of jail and a $5,000 fine. Assemblywoman Chris Giunchigliani, D-Las Vegas, thinks the time has come for change. Her AB 577, pending in the Ways and Means Committee, would decriminalize the first-time possession of less than an ounce. The penalty of up to $500 would go to anti-drug programs. "Notice the absence of opposition here," Giunchigliani said. "It's risky for anyone in law enforcement to be at the forefront of this, but I've received calls from judges and DAs who say they support it. And there has been positive reaction from the public. Statewide, there really has been no major opposition.") Date: Mon, 10 May 1999 20:18:06 -0500 From: "Frank S. World" (email@example.com) Organization: http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Lobby/7417/ To: editor (firstname.lastname@example.org), DPFCA (email@example.com) Subject: DPFCA: US NV: Assembly bill eases marijuana penalties Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: "Frank S. World" (email@example.com) Organization: DrugSense http://www.drugsense.org/dpfca/ Source: Las Vegas Sun Website http://www.lasvegassun.com/ Email firstname.lastname@example.org Pubdate: May 10, 1999 at 13:29:55 PDT ASSEMBLY BILL EASES MARIJUANA PENALTIES LAS VEGAS SUN CARSON CITY (AP) - Nevada is either the best or the worst state in the country when it comes to laws governing the possession of small amounts of marijuana. The state has the toughest pot laws in the country. Possession of any amount is a felony. But only a handful of Nevada's prison inmates are locked up on marijuana charges - an indication that few Nevadans use marijuana - or that hardly anyone enforces those tough laws. "Depending on your point of view, you're either at the top or the bottom," said Paul Armentano, communications director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Only two states consider possession of small amounts of marijuana a felony punishable by as much as four years in prison - Nevada and Arkansas. And Nevada is tougher on first-time offenders than Arkansas, at least on the books. Nevada's law makes the first-time offense for possessing any amount of marijuana a felony punishable by between one and four years of jail and a $5,000 fine. Assemblywoman Chris Giunchigliani, D-Las Vegas, thinks the time has come to change the books. Her AB577 would decriminalize the first-time possession of less than an ounce. The bill is pending in the Ways and Means Committee. The penalty would be a fine of up to $500, which would go to anti-drug programs. In Arkansas, possession of between an ounce and 10 pounds of marijuana is a crime punishable by four to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. Less than an ounce is punished by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Legislators have been reluctant to talk about decriminalization of pot laws in recent years. Even the trend to permit marijuana for medical use was not helping legislators to soften harsh drug laws, Armentano said. Such discussions have been taboo, he said, and NORML was encouraged that in Nevada, decriminalization has become part of a public policy discussion. It is a discussion where most Nevada law enforcement groups are remaining silent. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, the state's district attorneys and the attorney general's office all have said nothing when the bill was being discussed in committee. The Nevada Narcotics Officers Association and the Nevada Division of Investigations testified against the bill before the Senate Judiciary Committee. They argued weaker laws encouraged drug use, particularly among young people. "Notice the absence of opposition here," Giunchigliani said. "It's risky for anyone in law enforcement to be at the forefront of this, but I've received calls from judges and DAs who say they support it. And there has been positive reaction from the public. Statewide, there really has been no major opposition." Giunchigliani said she couldn't estimate what the cost savings might be if her bill passes. "Since not that much bed space is taken up solely by marijuana prisoners, we can't break out how much might be saved," she said. "It would prevent or divert, however, which saves money down the road."
------------------------------------------------------------------- The Drug War's Collateral Damage (Chicago Tribune columnist Salim Muwakkil reflects on Joshua Wolf Shenk's article, "America's Altered States" in the May edition of Harper's magazine. While we're fed scare stories and outright lies about the "controlled substances" our government has demonized, more dangerous drugs are being pushed legally through a pharmaceutical industry that is reaping huge profits by offering the same kind of chemical relief. The Partnership for a Drug-Free America, the group responsible for demonizing ads, receives most of its funding from the pharmaceutical industry. It's clear we would rather indulge our addiction to war metaphors and racial biases than seriously address the problem of drug dependency. Because of those unfortunate fixations the American people have become the drug war's ultimate casualty.) Date: Tue, 11 May 1999 04:29:10 -0700 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US IL: OPED: The Drug War's Collateral Damage Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Steve Young Pubdate: 10 May 1999 Source: Chicago Tribune (IL) Copyright: 1999 Chicago Tribune Company Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.chicagotribune.com/ Forum: http://www.chicagotribune.com/interact/boards/ Author: Salim Muwakkil THE DRUG WAR'S COLLATERAL DAMAGE America's war on drugs strongly confirms the adage that truth is war's first casualty. While we're fed scare stories and outright lies about the "controlled substances" our government has demonized, more dangerous drugs are being pushed legally through a pharmaceutical industry that is reaping huge profits by offering the same kind of chemical relief. But that shouldn't be surprising: The Partnership for a Drug-Free America, that group responsible for those demonizing ads ("This is your brain on drugs . . .," et al.), receives most of its funding from that very same pharmaceutical industry. They certainly can afford it; the inflation-adjusted revenue of major pharmaceutical companies in 1998 was $81 billion, more than four times what it was in 1970. About 24 percent of that growth derives from drugs designed for pleasure, vanity or convenience. These companies' advertising budgets have been soaring in sophisticated attempts to hook Americans on the legal drug habit, even as they lavishly fund propaganda urging a drug-free society. That particular contradiction is central to the argument made by Joshua Wolf Shenk in an article entitled "America's Altered States" in the May edition of Harper's. "When does legal relief of pain become illegal pursuit of pleasure?" is the article's subtitle, and Shenk examines that question at great length. He finds that contradictory attitudes about drug use are widespread in this culture. We appear to believe, he writes, "that altering the body and mind is morally wrong when done with some substances and salutary when done with others." For example, Shenk explains, there is little difference between the physiological affects of the drug MDMA (street name: ecstasy) and that of Prozac. "Both drugs work by increasing the presence of serotonin in the brain," he notes. His article explores the social calculus that approves Prozac and makes money for its makers, Eli Lilly & Co., but demonizes MDMA and jails its purveyors. He finds racial biases deeply implicated. Those biases allow us to criminalize the urge for chemical relief among members of minority and countercultural groups, while tolerating it in the mainstream. And that's nothing new, as Shenk explains; this country's restrictive drug policies have always been inspired by a mixture of xenophobia and commercialism. Prohibitive drug laws "were all, in part, a reaction to inflamed fears of foreigners or minority groups." Theodore Roosevelt's drug adviser warned, for example, that "cocaine is often a direct incentive to the crime of rape by the Negroes," he notes. "Opium was associated with the Chinese. In 1937, the Marijuana Tax Act targeted Mexican immigrants," Shenk says. Legal drugmakers with markets to protect inflamed those fears, and the dual forces of lucre and racism still fuel the current drug war. According to Justice Department figures, the number of incarcerated drug offenders increased 12-fold from 1980, when the drug war began in earnest, to 1995. The U.S. now imprisons more of its citizens percentage-wise than any country on Earth, and this burgeoning jail population is disproportionately composed of young, minority drug offenders. A 1996 Justice Department study found that while 12 percent of the nation's drug users were black, they represented 60 percent of those in state prisons for drug felonies. America's drug war is producing global cartels of illicit drug dealers while fueling crime, racial animosity and assaults on civil liberties at home. It is diverting untold resources from more productive social investments. But there may be hope; war propaganda has failed on at least one front. Americans in six states--Arizona, Alaska, California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington--have passed ballot initiatives favoring medical use of marijuana and six more states are being targeted this year. Since marijuana prohibition is central to drug war strategy, those referenda represented serious battlefield losses. Voters emphatically rejected drug czar Barry McCaffrey's attempt to dismiss medical pot as a "cruel hoax." The National Academy of Science's Institute of Medicine vindicated the electorate's wisdom when it released a report in March finding that marijuana has clear medicinal value for patients suffering from a variety of illnesses, including cancer and AIDS. The report also refuted the argument that marijuana serves as a "gateway" to more dangerous drugs like cocaine and heroin. It might have added other substances to that dangerous list. "Legal medications are the principal cause of between 45,000 and 200,000 American deaths each year," Shenk notes. "Marijuana, though not harmless," he adds, "has never been shown to have caused a single death." It's clear we would rather indulge our addiction to war metaphors and racial biases than seriously address the problem of drug dependency. Because of those unfortunate fixations the American people have become the drug war's ultimate casualty.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Why Some Get Busted and Some Go Free (An unusually perceptive staff editorial in the New York Times discusses how racial profiling and racist perceptions among police and in society at large exacerbate the racially disparate harms caused by the war on some drug users. For example, white intravenous drug users outnumber black users by at least five to one. But drug sweeps tend to concentrate on inner cities. Federal data show five arrests for every 100 white addicts, but 20 arrests for every 100 black addicts. As a result, white addicts tend to be less worried about random searches, and so tend to carry clean needles. But black addicts know they are much more vulnerable to random searches and so are less likely to carry clean needles. Instead, they share the needles of strangers. As a consequence, the rate of HIV infection for black drug users is many times that of whites.) Date: Mon, 10 May 1999 08:58:47 -0700 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US: Editorial: Why Some Get Busted and Some Go Free Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Robert Field http://www.csdp.org/ Pubdate: Mon, 10 May 1999 Source: New York Times (NY) Copyright: 1999 The New York Times Company Section: Editorial Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.nytimes.com/ Forum: http://www10.nytimes.com/comment/ WHY SOME GET BUSTED AND SOME GO FREE Drug arrests on the 10 o'clock news tend to show inner-city blacks and Latinos being led away in handcuffs. But Federal health statistics show only slight differences in the rates of drug use for whites and people of color -- and define the typical drug addict as a white male in his 20's who lives in a suburb where drug busts almost never happen. The Partnership for a Drug-Free America expects to spend nearly $200 million this year to convince policy makers and affluent Americans that the drug problem crosses racial, economic and geographic lines. This point would seem self-evident. But the myth that drug use is confined to the black inner city will be difficult to dislodge. The Hartford Courant learned how deep the myth runs when it published a series in 1992 that examined the lives of drug addicts who supported their habits through prostitution. Conditioned to think of drug abuse as a minority problem, some readers were stunned that 70 percent of the drug-addicted prostitutes shown in the series turned out to be white. Some doubted that the story was true. The refusal to believe that white heroin addicts exist was particularly self-deceptive in a state that is almost 90 percent white. The same stereotypes have been at play for decades along the mid-Atlantic stretch of Interstate 95, where the presumed link between race and drugs has led state troopers to stop and search black motorists based on race alone. The profiling scandal in New Jersey is spreading. Last week Boston opened a profiling investigation of its own. The move in Boston was helped along by a Federal judge who sharply cut the expected sentence for a black man who had been charged with weapons possession after a random traffic stop. Judge Nancy Gertner chastised the police, saying that nothing in the man's record or driving conduct justified them in stopping him. Turning to the police record, the judge found a host of random stops. She noted that "African-American motorists are stopped and prosecuted for traffic stops more than any other citizens" and suggested they were "imprisoned at a higher rate for these offenses as well." Citing "deep concerns" about the disparity, the judge gave the man 30 months, when she could have given him six years. Statistics from Maryland and New Jersey show that black motorists are about five times as likely to be stopped on the highway as whites. Even Americans who disapprove of racial profiling tend to view it as a passing humiliation, with no broad social import. But criminologists have long argued that profiling goes well beyond the personal and exerts a substantial impact on the criminal justice process and the broader social order as well. Speaking at a national conference last week, Dr. Dawn Day, an addiction specialist from the Dogwood Center in Princeton, N.J., drew a connection between racial profiling of intravenous drug users and the rapid spread of AIDS in the black community. The most conservative estimates suggest that white intravenous drug users outnumber black users by at least 5 to 1. Even so, drug sweeps tend to be concentrated in inner cities, which are widely viewed as the sole source of the problem. Dr. Day's calculations, based on Federal data, show 5 arrests for every 100 white addicts, but 20 arrests for every 100 black addicts. Unworried about random searches and arrests, many white addicts carry clean needles so that they can avoid sharing needles and the risk of getting AIDS. But black addicts know that they are vulnerable to random search and arrest and often choose not to carry needles. Instead, they share the needles of strangers, getting AIDS and other blood-borne diseases in the process. As a consequence, the rate of H.I.V.infection for black drug users is many times that of whites. Criminologists have argued for decades that racial profiling plays a central role in the fact that black Americans make up a disproportionate part of the prison population. Drug cartels have long since grasped this point, minimizing the use of non-whites as couriers and using people who look like mild-mannered suburban housewives whenever possible. Police departments have historically justified profiling by arguing that it leads to valid arrests. But the practice also exempts from scrutiny the vast majority of drug users and couriers who are by definition non-black. The race-based practice catches some of the guilty, but it violates the lives of many more innocent people, undermining law-enforcement credibility in minority neighborhoods. Finally, the myth that drug crime is a "black" problem, confined to ghettos, allows the culture to deceive itself about the vast scope of the epidemic.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Albany County Says No To Proposed Forfeiture Law (The Times Union, in Albany, New York, says a proposal to allow police to forfeit the cash and cars of suspects arrested on minor drug charges failed 25-12 Monday as county legislators called the law illegal and potentially unfair.) Date: Tue, 11 May 1999 16:41:35 -0700 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US NY: Albany County Says No To Proposed Forfeiture Law Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Capital Region NORML Pubdate: Mon, 10 May 1999 Source: Times Union (NY) Copyright: 1999, Capital Newspapers Division of The Hearst Corporation Contact: email@example.com Address: Box 15000, Albany, NY 12212 Feedback: http://www.timesunion.com/react/ Website: http://www.timesunion.com/ Forum: http://www.timesunion.com/react/forums/ Author: Jay Jochnowitz, Staff Writer ALBANY COUNTY SAYS NO TO PROPOSED FORFEITURE LAW Albany -- Legislators call the plan to seize cash and cars of suspects in minor drug cases unfair A proposal to allow police to seize the cash and cars of drug suspects arrested on minor drug charges failed Monday as county legislators called the law illegal and potentially unfair. While lawmakers said they favor trying to deter drug sales, most said a forfeiture law was the business of the state, not the county. Some said the whole concept of seizing property on arrest was fundamentally wrong. "I was always kind of partial to the idea of giving somebody a trial before you convict them," said Paul Collins, an Albany Democrat. The bill, endorsed by Albany Democrat Gary Domalewicz and Colonie Republicans Peter Crummey and Gavin Donohue, was defeated across party lines 25-12. Donohue portrayed the law, similar to those enacted in five other New York state counties including Columbia and Rensselaer, as a way to discourage New York City drug dealers from coming north. The law would have allowed police to seize up to $1,000 in cash and $5,000 in other property when arresting someone on misdemeanor drug charges. Current federal law allows seizures above those thresholds. In addition to the law's legality, which County Attorney Michael Lynch had also questioned, legislators warned it could be wielded unfairly. Mary Lou Connelly of Guilderland speculated, for example, that a single mother might lose her car if a child were arrested. Collins noted, too, that for the forfeiture to become permanent, a suspect would need to be convicted only of an "offense" -- leaving open the possibility that a person cleared of drug charges but convicted of speeding would still lose their money and car. And Lucille McKnight, who represents Albany's South End, said the law would likely hurt minorities, who she said are unfairly targeted by police. She called it "unconstitutional, unfair and inhumane." Domalewicz shrugged off the defeat, stating, "That's the great thing about the Democratic Party; we don't walk lockstep. I think everyone pretty much made their minds up on this law three months ago." The legislature on Monday also began reviewing a proposal to follow the state's lead and eliminate the county's 4 percent sales tax on clothing and footwear under $110. But while a public hearing was set for May 25 at the County Court House and a committee review will follow, the proposal appears doomed. Monday night saw a show of opposition from Democratic and GOP mayors and town supervisors, including Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings and Colonie Supervisor Mary Brizzell. They warned that the lost sales tax revenue -- estimated at $10.2 million annually, $4.7 million of which would otherwise go to communities -- would have to be made up for in property tax hikes. County Comptroller Michael Conners also noted that an estimated 46 percent of that money comes from non-county residents, so people living in the county would have to make up millions more than they would save. While County Executive Michael Breslin favors the bill, Conners opposes it and Democratic Majority Leader Frank Commisso predicted it will be defeated.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Needle Exchanges Do Work (A letter to the editor of the New York Times from the president of Prevention Works, the organization that runs the District of Columbia's only needle-exchange program, corrects false assertions by a previous writer opposed to such programs. Studies from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the GAO, NIH and the Office of Technology Assessment unanimously concluded that needle exchanges reduce HIV transmission. None found that the programs increase drug use. Recently, University of British Columbia epidemiologist Martin Schecter explained that Canadian needle users have a higher rate of HIV infection because in Canada it is legal to purchase syringes in pharmacies. Those who can afford to buy syringes do not have to share needles. Those who participate in needle exchanges, though, cannot afford to buy clean syringes and are forced to share, significantly increasing their risk of HIV infection.) Pubdate: Mon, 10 May 1999 Source: New York Times (NY) Copyright: 1999 The New York Times Company Page: A22, Letters to the Editor Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.nytimes.com/ Forum: http://www10.nytimes.com/comment/ Author: Patricia S. Fleming, President, Prevention Works Note: The LTE being responded to is at: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v99.n457.a05.html NEEDLE EXCHANGES DO WORK As president of the organization that runs the District's only needle-exchange program, I want to correct false assertions made by Calvina Fay [letters, April 26]. Ms. Fay said, "Most needle exchange programs are not exchanges at all, but are needle giveaways." However, exchange rates of dirty needles for clean ones are extremely high, exceeding 90 percent in most cases. In the District, we exchange more than 3,000 needles a week with a return rate of 97 percent. This ensures that dirty needles are not discarded in the streets. Ms. Fay questioned whether needle-exchange programs are a successful HIV prevention tool. Studies - including those conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. General Accounting Office, the National Institutes of Health and the Office of Technology Assessment of Congress - unanimously concluded that needle exchanges do reduce HIV transmission. None find that the programs increase drug use. Ms. Fay misrepresented a Vancouver study as showing that needle exchange is "a tremendous failure," despite the Canadian authors' numerous public clarifications including an April 9, 1998, op-ed in the New York Times. Most recently, study co-author and University of British Columbia epidemiologist Martin Schecter explained that individuals who participate in Canadian needle-exchange programs are expected to have a higher rate of HIV infection because in Canada, unlike in the United States, it is legal to purchase syringes in pharmacies without a prescription. Those who can afford to buy syringes do not have to share needles. Those who participate in needle exchanges, though, cannot afford to buy clean syringes and are forced to share, significantly increasing their risk of HIV infection. Among those who endorse needle-exchange programs are the American Medical Association, American Nurses Association, American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Public Health Association. These respected associations agree that needle-exchange programs slow the spread of HIV without encouraging illegal drug use. PATRICIA S. FLEMING President Prevention Works Washington
------------------------------------------------------------------- Medical Marijuana: Will IOM Report Encourage Clinical Trials? (The Scientist says the March 17 report from the Institute of Medicine should define the medical-marijuana issue more tightly. Do the report's conclusions encourage researchers who have long sought approval of clinical trials of marijuana? "I hope so," says one of the report's two principal investigators, John A. Benson Jr. Unfortunately, the magazine omits any discussion of who might have the money or desire to fund any of the six recommendations made by the report, all of which ignore the needs of patients trying to survive in the here and now.) Date: Wed, 19 May 1999 00:34:25 -0700 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US: MMJ: Will IOM Report Encourage Clinical Trials? Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Paul Consroe Pubdate: Mon, 10 May 1999 Source: The Scientist (US) Copyright: 1999 The Scientist, Inc. Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.the-scientist.com/ Author: Peter Gwynne, firstname.lastname@example.org MEDICAL MARIJUANA: WILL IOM REPORT ENCOURAGE CLINICAL TRIALS? As an issue on the cusp of science and social policy, the value of marijuana in medicine refuses to go away. For several years, researchers wishing to undertake clinical trials of marijuana's medical effects on humans have claimed that the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are stonewalling by insisting that the protocols are unacceptable. Those organizations complain that several proponents of clinical trials have failed to understand the complexity of the issue and have been unwilling to change their protocols. ONDCP has warned physicians in states whose voters have approved initiatives that back the concept of prescribing marijuana for medical purposes that they risk losing their licenses if they follow that advice. A new report from the Institute of Medicine should define the issue more tightly.(1) It may also stimulate clinical trials somewhat different from those advocated to date. The report concludes that cannabinoids, marijuana's active components, have potential applicability for some human symptoms. However, it also suggests that those components should be delivered by a mechanism other than inhaling smoke. The report recommends that any clinical trials of smoked marijuana should be short, approved by institutional review boards, and applied only to patients most likely to benefit from the treatment. "We say basically that we believe the future is nonsmoked, inhaled molecules - inhaled from marijuana or synthesized," says Stanley J. Watson Jr., codirector of the University of Michigan's Mental Health Research Institute and co-principal investigator of the report. "We can imagine situations where you might want to start with a short-term study with cannabinoids in the form of a cigarette. But we feel there should be a time limit on those studies." In fact, the report provides some solace for both sides in the prickly debate. And both sides quickly claimed credit. "The scientific evidence in the report shows that marijuana is relatively safe and effective medicine for many patients," asserts Chuck Thomas, codirector of the Marijuana Policy Project, an advocacy group in Washington, D.C., that favors marijuana usage. "The smoked-marijuana community should see this study as a nail in the coffin," retorts Eric Voth, chairman of the International Drug Strategy Institute, based in Topeka, Kan. "It says that any kind of research needs to be done with the ultimate focus of nonsmoked cannabinoids. That's been my point all along." Do the report's conclusions encourage researchers who have long sought approval of clinical trials of marijuana? "I hope so," says the other co-principal investigator, John A. Benson Jr. "We tried very hard to suggest a number of experiments ...," adds Benson, who is dean and professor of medicine emeritus at the Oregon Health Sciences University School of Medicine. The report contains six recommendations, each of which bears on studies of marijuana's effects on humans: 1. Research should continue into the physiological effects of synthetic and plant-derived cannabinoids and the natural function of cannabinoids found in the body. The research should include, but not be restricted to, effects caused by THC (tetrahydrocannabinol - the best-characterized cannabinoid in marijuana plants) alone. 2. Clinical trials of cannabinoid drugs for symptom management should be conducted with the goal of developing rapid-onset, reliable, and safe delivery systems. 3. Psychological effects of cannabinoids such as anxiety reduction and sedation, which can influence perceived medical benefits, should be evaluated in clinical trials. 4. Studies to define the individual health risks of smoking marijuana should be conducted, particularly among populations in which marijuana use is prevalent. 5. Clinical trials of marijuana use for medical purposes should be conducted under limited circumstances. They should involve marijuana use for less than six months in patients with conditions for which there is reasonable expectation of efficacy, and should collect data about efficacy. They should also be approved by institutional review boards. 6. Short-term use of smoked marijuana (less than six months) for patients with debilitating symptoms must meet several conditions, including the failure of all approved medications to provide relief. Those recommendations would certainly appear to set the stage for fresh research projects. However, even participants in the IOM committee warn that change won't occur overnight. "It will be a long process," predicts Billy Martin, a professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Virginia Commonwealth University and a member of the IOM panel. Martin warns that proposals for clinical studies of marijuana's medical effects must still meet tough criteria. Researchers' Challenges Critics of the federal government's approach to medical marijuana agree that it's difficult to set up studies. But they blame a government that, they say, opposes the idea that marijuana can offer medical benefits. "It's still as hard as ever to get marijuana for clinical studies," says Paul Consroe, a professor of pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center. Consroe and others complain particularly about the process of obtaining the starting material for clinical studies. Scientists can obtain marijuana for such research only from NIDA, which obtains it in turn from a farm in Mississippi.(2) NIDA insists that researchers who apply for the plant must have their studies approved by the National Institutes of Health. "No other drug of any type has to meet that standard," says Consroe. "On the one hand, the government says that we don't have enough proof about marijuana's medical effects. On the other hand, they won't let us get the proof." Consroe and University of Arizona colleagues have experienced that situation firsthand. In September 1997, they and the FDA agreed on a protocol for a large, so-called Phase III study of marijuana's ability to stimulate the appetites of patients with AIDS and cancer. Then, in February of last year, recalls Consroe, a new chair of the FDA committee ordered the group to downsize to a small, Phase I study. After the team had submitted a new protocol, the FDA rejected the study entirely. Finally, "they told us we had to go back to do animal studies," says Consroe. "I said, 'With all due respect, marijuana has been studied to death.' It's a political drug. You're not talking science." Another disappointed researcher is Ethan Russo, a neurologist at the Western Montana Clinic. For the past two years, he has tried to persuade NIH to fund a clinical study of the use of cannabis in treating migraines. "There is this singling out of cannabis, which is irrational from a scientific standpoint," Russo charges. "There does not seem to be any change in the attitude of NIH top managers about allowing studies to go forward." One scientist has managed to cut through the red tape. Starting in 1992, Donald Abrams of San Francisco General Hospital sought funding for a clinical study of the differential effects on AIDS patients of smoked marijuana, Marinol--a tablet form of THC--and a placebo pill.(3) In late 1997, he received grant money for the study, which focuses on patients taking protease inhibitors. "We started the study last May and have now enrolled 35 patients out of 63," Abrams says. "The project should be complete by next January." However, his study was not approved until its focus was changed from the efficacy to the safety of marijuana. Lester Grinspoon, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, argues that the safety issue is long dead. "This country has devoted millions of dollars, mainly through NIDA, to establish the toxicity of marijuana," he says. "They've come up with a goose egg." He predicts that pressure from potential patients will eventually force a change in attitudes. The Government's Response Government sources say good research proposals will receive a fair hearing. "NIH gets a huge number of grant applications every year," says Bobbi Bennett, NIH's spokesperson on medical marijuana. "Usually, we're only able to fund ... 30 percent of them. We remain open to any grant applications for research on marijuana. They will be put through the same peer review system" as other applications. ONDCP, meanwhile, has taken a cool view of the IOM report. "We will continue to rely on the professional judgment of the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the director of the National Institutes of Health, and the Surgeon General on all issues related to the medical value of marijuana and its constituent cannabinoids," the agency declared in a statement. "We look forward to considered responses from our nation's public health officials to the interim solutions recommended by the report." Peter Gwynne (email@example.com) is a freelance science writer based in Marstons Mills, Mass. References 1.Institute of Medicine, Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base, Washington, D.C., National Academy Press, 1999. 2.P. Gwynne, "Trials of marijuana's medical potential languish as government just says no," The Scientist, 9:1, Nov. 27, 1995. 3.P. Gwynne, "Medical marijuana debate moving toward closure," The Scientist, 11:1, March 31, 1997. The Scientist, Vol:13, #10, p. 1, May 10, 1999
------------------------------------------------------------------- Action Alert: Support the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act, H.R. 1658 (A news release from the Drug Policy Foundation, in Washington, D.C., explains how to lobby your U.S. representative in Congress to support the bill sponsored by Reps. Henry Hyde, R-Ill., and John Conyers, D-Mich. The bill would, among other reforms, force the government to prove that forfeited property is related to a crime, as opposed to the current practice of owners having to prove that their property is innocent.) Date: Mon, 10 May 1999 17:23:48 EDT 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: ACTION ALERT: Support the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act, H.R. 1658 DRUG POLICY FOUNDATION ACTION ALERT *** Available on the web at: http://dpf.org/html/hr1658alert.html and http://www.dpf.org/pdf/hr1658alert.pdf . Support Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Urge Your Representative to Cosponsor H.R. 1658 Released: May 10, 1999 -- Please Redistribute Under the guise of fighting the war on drugs, law enforcement can seize your home, car, or money without ever charging you with a crime. The practice of taking property that "looks guilty" is known as civil asset forfeiture, and it is one of the most abused police powers in America today. Reps. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), John Conyers (D-Mich.), and other members of the House of Representatives in Congress are seeking to curb federal civil asset forfeiture abuses with H.R. 1658, the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act. If passed, this legislation would: -- force the government to prove that property is related to a crime, as opposed to the current practice of property owners' having to prove that their property is innocent; -- create an "innocent owner defense," whereby property owners who are either unaware of or unsuccessfully try to stop criminal activity on their property could recover the property; -- provide indigent defendants with appointed counsel; -- eliminate the cost-bond requirement, which currently requires property owners to pay $5,000 or 10 percent of the seized property's value to contest the seizure in court; -- provide compensation for property damage caused by federal agents; -- extend the time for filing a claim to contest a forfeiture; and -- provide prevailing property owners with compensatory interest in certain situations. WHAT TO DO Call or Write Your Representative -- The Drug Policy Foundation is urging you to contact your representative and ask him/her to cosponsor H.R. 1658. Feel free to use the following: "As your constituent, I urge you to support H.R. 1658, the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act. This legislation will serve to protect my property rights, which are threatened by abuses of civil asset forfeiture laws. The current law places the burden of proof on the property owner, reversing the presumption that an American is innocent until proven guilty. H.R. 1658 would shift the burden back on the government to prove that a person's property was involved in a crime. It would also establish an "innocent owner defense" for persons who were not aware that their property was being used in a criminal activity, and provide a court-appointed attorney for people who cannot afford one. "Please join the 13 Republican and 16 Democratic cosponsors, or vote in favor of H.R. 1658 to restore Americans' property rights. I look forward to hearing from you about your position on this important legislation." HOW TO: Call Your Representative -- Calling your representative is an easy way to make your views known to him/her. This bill is going to move quickly, so if you don't have time to send a letter to your representative, give him/her a call. You should: -- Find out who your representative and his/her phone number by going to http://www.house.gov/writerep and entering your state and zip code. You can also call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 225-3121 and tell the operator your zip code. -- Speak with the legislative assistant who is working on asset forfeiture or criminal justice issues. -- Keep the message simple. Urge your representative to support H.R. 1658 and civil asset forfeiture reform for the reasons outlined above. Ask for a return letter explaining your representative's position on the legislation and civil asset forfeiture. Fax, Write a Letter, or Email Your Representative and Senator -- Writing your member of Congress is very effective, and usually results in a written response explaining your member's position. You can find the fax number and email address of your representative by going to http://www.house.gov/writerep. Letters can be addressed to your representative as follows: The Honorable [name of your representative] U.S. House of Representatives Washington, DC 20515-1101 Faxing or mailing your letter is most effective, but if you donīt have time, feel free to use email. Please send a copy of your letter and representative's response to: Scott Ehlers, Public Policy Office, Drug Policy Foundation, 4455 Conn. Ave. NW, Suite B500, Washington, DC 20008-2328. Fax: (202) 537-3007. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. ADDITIONAL RESOURCES ON ASSET FORFEITURE DPF's Online Civil Asset Forfeiture Project: http://www.dpf.org/html/forfeiture.html PDF version of DPF's new Policy Briefing on asset forfeiture: http://www.dpf.org/pdf/CAFBriefing.pdf PDF version of this action alert: http://www.dpf.org/pdf/hr1658alert.pdf DPF press release on introduction of HR 1658: http://www.dpf.org/html/prhr1658.html A summary and talking points of HR 1658: http://www.dpf.org/html/hr1658summary.html PDF version of the full text of HR 1658: http://www.dpf.org/pdf/HR1658.pdf *** 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. You can sign on or off this list by going to: http://www.dpf.org/html/listform.html *** 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 www.dpf.org www.drugpolicy.org
------------------------------------------------------------------- FDA Moves to Reduce Accidental Drug Deaths (The Los Angeles Times says more than 100,000 Americans are inadvertently killed every year by prescription drugs - one of the leading causes of death in the country. In a 150-page document expected to be released today, the FDA plans to unveil several initiatives to prevent fatalities blamed on misuse of prescriptions.) From: "Peter McWilliams" (email@example.com) To: "Peter McWilliams" (firstname.lastname@example.org) Subject: The FDA--Grrrrrr. Date: Mon, 10 May 1999 19:55:48 -0700 Have a look at these pathetically feeble FDA attempts to end the 100,000 unnecessary deaths caused by prescription medications in the US, while at the same time the FDA keeps medical marijuana--which has killed precisely no one in 5000 years of recorded medical use--completely forbidden. Note how the FDA referrs to these as "accidental deaths." They are murders, pure and simple. This from the front page of Today's LA Times. Take care, Peter *** FDA Moves to Reduce Accidental Drug Deaths * Health: Agency to unveil strategy today to prevent fatalities blamed on misuse of prescriptions. By MARLENE CIMONS, Times Staff Writer WASHINGTON - More than 100,000 Americans are inadvertently killed every year by prescription drugs - one of the leading causes of death in the country. Some people die of drug reactions that are completely unexpected, the stuff of dramatic headlines and heavy lawsuits. But the majority of such deaths are preventable, the result of mistakes or confusion about dosage, dangerous drug interactions from mixing medications or known allergic reactions. Some patients, especially the elderly, die because their liver or kidneys are so weakened by other illnesses that they cannot effectively process new drugs. Alarmed by such drug-induced fatalities, the Food and Drug Administration is talking with leading drug companies, the American Medical Assn., hospitals and consumer groups seeking ways - together and individually - to further protect patients. In a 150-page document expected to be released today, the FDA plans to unveil some of its initiatives. These include an upgraded computer network that will allow drug companies to report unexpected adverse reactions quickly and a new approach to language about the known side effects of prescription drugs that will give patients and doctors better and clearer warnings. The actions were prompted in part by a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Assn. last year that concluded that adverse drug reactions are among the top six causes of death in the United States. But other factors also propelled the issue to the top of the FDA's agenda. Under pressure from patients and politicians for faster access to promising medications, the FDA has in recent years moved drugs more rapidly through the regulatory pipeline. Such speed raises the risk once a drug is in widespread use. Over the last two years, the FDA has recalled five drugs and moved to reevaluate several others, including the diabetes drug Rezulin, whose problems were detailed in a Times series last year, and the Parkinson's medication Tasmar, both of which have caused instances of liver failure. Whether Rezulin will remain on the market is still under debate. "More can be done" overall to enhance public safety, said FDA Commissioner Jane E. Henney, who shortly after being confirmed by the Senate in October created a task force to study the drug approval process. She predicted in an interview that the effect of the changes "will be tremendous." Some of the changes are underway, and others are in the talking stages. Among them: * An $8-million computer upgrade that will enlist the nation's 13 leading drug companies to immediately report any sudden and unexpected reactions to recently licensed drugs. This replaces a computer index that was linked to a paper-based file that was cumbersome and slowed the agency's ability to respond quickly, said Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA's center for drug evaluation and research. The new system means the "FDA can learn about trends faster and act on them faster," Woodcock said. * An international agreement among U.S. drug regulators and those in Europe and Japan to use the same terminology to describe drug reactions or causes of death so that global trends can be more clearly and rapidly identified. "Since companies are now marketing around the world, adopting these [standardized terms is] a major undertaking," Woodcock said. For all nations to use the same language "gives us the best chance possible to find something and spot a trend." * Revised drug information for physicians that will highlight precautions about drugs in an easier-to-find format so doctors don't have to search through pages of detailed information to find what they need to know about possible drug reactions. The FDA plans to propose this within a year. The drug industry has expressed some concerns about the changes, fearing that industry liability could increase as a result of doctors missing something important. "I don't think it's possible to condense all the key information on prescription drugs into such a simplified, standardized format," said Marjorie Powell, assistant general counsel for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, an industry trade group. "It raises lots of things that a creative plaintiff's lawyer could argue in court." But Nancy Ostrove, an FDA official involved in drafting the labeling overhaul, countered: "Their concern is that by highlighting certain information it will discourage prescribers from reading the rest. We don't believe that, because we think they aren't reading it now." Nor are doctors always talking about it with their patients. Many feel hampered by the managed care climate, which has shortened the time they spend with their patients. Also, many physicians, traditionally trained to stick to a few drugs for any particular condition, now are forced by certain health plans to use specific drugs, some of which they may not be familiar with. "If you ask physicians whether they talk to their patients about all the side effects and problems associated with drugs, [most] will say they go through all of it," said one AMA official who requested anonymity. "The reality is that about [two-thirds] engage in some type of oral communication about the drugs, and when you get into the specifics of side effects, it's more like 30%." * New information for consumers. Up to 10 new products annually - those deemed by the FDA to have the riskiest side effects - will carry new, easy-to-understand warning information for the patients themselves. Currently, only certain categories of products, such as hormone replacement therapy or drugs with extremely dangerous side effects such as thalidomide, contain such information. "We believe that the more educated consumers are, the safer they are going to be," Woodcock said. However, many experts acknowledge that it is tough to get consumers to pay attention - either to labels or to their own doctors. The FDA is looking for more ways to encourage consumers to become more involved in their own health. The agency already sponsors community education outreach programs for women through its women's health office and would like to expand these programs "if we could find the resources to do it," Woodcock said. * Better coordination, including the increased use of computers, to avoid medication errors arising from confusion over similar brand names. Problems occurred recently, for example, over prescribing practices for the new pain reliever Celebrex, close in name to the antidepressant Celexa, as well as the epilepsy drug Cerebyx. "We have the ability to forbid a name that's too similar - we do turn down names - but we can't always do as close a review as we like," Woodcock said. "We need computers to do name comparisons in advance." * Designated hospitals to monitor and report drug reactions. The program would be modeled on an existing pilot project that watches for adverse reactions to heart valves, implants and other medical devices. The FDA stresses that tackling adverse drug reactions is not something it can do alone. The agency's primary responsibility is ensuring that a drug is safe and effective before it reaches the market, and it has the authority to remove a drug from circulation if it proves dangerous. But it cannot regulate how doctors practice medicine, how pharmacists fill prescriptions or what consumers do once the drug reaches their medicine cabinet. Dr. Nancy Dickey, president of the AMA, believes that the problems need to be addressed by everyone in the system, with novel ways to protect consumers - much like surgeons and hospitals seeking to avoid mistakes by putting ink on a patient's body at the site where the operation is to occur. "We are looking for that equivalent for prescription drugs - a change in the entire system - that could help prevent mistakes," she said. FDA officials agree. "A lot of these deaths are preventable," Woodcock said. The agency's report and its ongoing discussions with outside groups, such as the pharmaceutical industry and the AMA, takes "the first step toward trying to reduce those deaths - because we think it can be done."
------------------------------------------------------------------- 'Head shop' museum traces drug use, abuse (The Toronto Star says that in a country where there's a hall of fame for everything from bourbon to birth control, it had to happen: The United States opens its first drug museum today, in Arlington, Virginia. First official museum anyway - it's run by the DEA, the 10,000-member Drug Enforcement Administration that pursues drug offenders in 72 countries, including Canada. A poster at the museum entrance states that 4 million Americans admitted to using drugs in 1960; in 1999 the number is 74 million. It doesn't add the dollar signs announced this month by White House anti-drug czar General Barry McCaffrey: Illegal drugs are a $57 billion industry in America. Compare that with the $6 billion video game industry and the $4 billion gun industry.)Date: Mon, 10 May 1999 09:58:39 -0400 To: email@example.com From: Dave Haans (firstname.lastname@example.org) Subject: TorStar: `Head shop' museum traces drug use, abuse Newshawk: Dave Haans Source: The Toronto Star (Canada) Pubdate: Monday, May 10, 1999 Page: A2 Website: http://www.thestar.com Contact: email@example.com Author: Kathleen Kenna, Toronto Star Washington Bureau 'Head shop' museum traces drug use, abuse Paraphernalia, mementos among exhibits ARLINGTON, Va. - In a country where there's a hall of fame for everything from bourbon to birth control, it had to happen: The United States opens its first drug museum today. First official museum anyway - it's run by the DEA, the 10,000-member Drug Enforcement Agency that pursues drug offenders in 72 countries, including Canada. (There's a three-agent bureau in Ottawa; another office is being considered for Vancouver, to crack down on booming cross-border trafficking.) Despite its law-and-order landlord, this government-run ``head shop'' has as much paraphernalia and drug culture mementos as any of the old Yonge St. stores. Not only are there '60s pipes for marijuana and hashish, but there are also the pipes used by opium addicts in the 1800s and the pipes used by crackheads in the 1990s. Here are turn-of-the-century heroin spoons and syringes - available in the 1902 Sears Roebuck catalogue; smugglers' favoured transport objects, from a lacy garter to a hollowed surfboard; and more varieties of rolling papers than you'll find at a Metro convenience store. There's a fur coat worn by a DEA agent who infiltrated the Chicago drug underworld; and a Detroit agent's green platform shoes that give new meaning to the word undercover. There's also hardware from both sides of the street - a machine gun used by DEA agents during the 1930s and a diamond-encrusted handgun seized from a Costa Rican trafficker - and their business props. (The DEA agent gets an encrypted cell phone; the grower has clothes peg devices to trip explosives for those who stumble across his marijuana patch.) While there are plenty of death statistics, photos of drug-overdosed corpses, and a few anti-drug posters (``Death to all drug traffickers!'' from Malaysia), the museum doesn't slam visitors with an anti-drug message. Instead, it starts with the China-Britain Opium War of 1840 (China feared for addicts but the British feared loss of trade), to show the historical pleasure-and-pain seesaw of once-legal drugs. The museum has Godfrey's Cordial, an opium-laced spirit available from the 1780s until the 1950s; an 1898 medicine bottle from the Fredrich Bayer Co., the Aspirin manufacturer that added heroin to its over-the-counter cough syrup; and, of course, the early colas of the 1900s whose cocaine ingredients led to today's drug-free Coke label. The label on Mrs. Winslow's Soothing Syrup - sold as a teething remedy - shows why the American Medical Association ran ads in 1906 connecting it to numerous baby deaths. It contained morphine. ``Some of the older people who have come in say they remember their grandmothers used to give them a teaspoon of Mrs. Winslow's with a bit of sugar to help it go down,'' says museum official Sean Fearns. There are sketches of civil war soldiers hooked on morphine and ``society ladies'' of the 1800s swooning over opiates, next to reminders that modern writers and jazz musicians died from it. Some of the Hollywood posters are as outrageous as the day they were printed. An ad for a 1930s drug party flick seems ahead of its time: ``Weird orgies. Wild parties. Unleashed passions. Lust. Sorrow. Despair. Misery.'' A poster at the museum entrance states that 4 million Americans admitted to using drugs in 1960; in 1999 that number is 74 million. It doesn't add the dollar signs announced this month by White House anti-drug czar General Barry McCaffrey: Illegal drugs are a $57 billion industry in America. Compare that with the $6 billion video game industry and the $4 billion gun industry. *** Dave Haans Graduate Student, University of Toronto WWW: http://www.chass.utoronto.ca:8080/~haans/
------------------------------------------------------------------- At War Over Drugs (The Sydney Morning Herald says with regard to Australia's youngest heroin users, asking who speaks for their parents is a raw and divisive issue. Most have lost children to drugs, but that does not give them common cause. The delegates selected for the New South Wales drug summit starting next Monday, as well as the parents who last week established a safe injecting room, are exposing a rift in parental lobby groups as deep as that running through the political and legal establishment. Many parents and a large number of frontline drug workers endorse harm minimisation strategies, believing that if you can support drug-dependent people through the worst of their addiction, they eventually will come out the other side. Even the ones who can't be reclaimed "don't deserve to be condemned to death." But most of the parent representatives who will be at Bob Carr's summit are lining up behind the prohibitionist view.) Date: Mon, 10 May 1999 03:19:37 -0700 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: Australia: At War Over Drugs Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Kenneth William Russell Pubdate: Mon, 10 May 1999 Source: Sydney Morning Herald (Australia) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.smh.com.au/ Author: Deborah Snow AT WAR OVER DRUGS Most have lost children to drugs, but this does not give them a common cause. In fact, as these parents prepare for next week's drug summit, the battle lines are being dug even deeper. DEBORAH SNOW reports. TO AN outsider there seems so much to unite them. They are the battle-scarred veterans of the "war" against illicit drugs, the parents who've been through the unutterable pain of losing a child to addiction, or drug-related death. A club, one of them says, that "you'd never want to join". Having endured it, you ask yourself, how could they not have a common cause? Yet with the five-day NSW drug summit starting next Monday, it's becoming apparent that shared adversity, even of the most extreme kind, does not necessarily make for shared purpose. Last week's establishment of a trial injecting room at the Wayside Chapel in Sydney's Kings Cross exposes a rift in parental lobby groups as deep as that running through the political and legal establishment. The split is poised to come to a head at the summit where a handful of small but politically influential and vocal parent organisations are lining up against a man who takes a very different view of the way ahead. His name is Tony Trimingham. His story is tragic, as are all the tales these parents have to tell. His son, Damien, was 23 when he died from a heroin overdose. Like many addicts, Damien had gone through periods of struggling to free himself from the drug. At times he would succeed. Then depression and unemployment would get the upper hand, and Damien would take a train from the Blue Mountains to the city to score. On what was to be his last such journey, he headed for town after a row with his girlfriend. Withdrawing the last of his funds from an ATM, Damien procured his hit and went into the darkened grounds of the disused St Mary's Hospital in Paddington to inject in solitude. By the time security guards found him he had collapsed. An ambulance arrived too late. It took police three days to notify Tony Trimingham of his son's death. Trimingham believes that if safe injecting rooms had been available in the city, a place for heroin users to shoot up under medical supervision, then his son might not have died. "They would be like brothels," he says. "You go in discreetly, use them and then leave. There's far less risk involved in using a brothel than in picking someone up off the streets." Trimingham's searing experience has made him a leading advocate of the approach to illicit drugs known as "harm minimisation". Its hallmarks are safe injecting rooms, a belief in the need for trials of legally prescribed heroin, support for methadone programs, and needle exchanges. It's an approach also favoured by a large number of frontline drug workers who believe that if you can support drug-dependent people through the worst of their addiction, then eventually they will come out the other side. Even the ones who can't be "reclaimed", says Trimingham, "don't deserve to be condemned to death". It's a stand which takes heavy drug use to be primarily a social and health issue, rather than a law enforcement problem. Yet most of parent representatives who will be at Bob Carr's summit are lining up behind a radically opposing view. They include Angela Wood from Drug Watch Australia, whose daughter Anna died after taking ecstasy in 1995, sparking national uproar; rock legend Normie Rowe, who's been publicly campaigning for tougher drugs action since discovering the heroin addiction of his teenage daughter; Margaret McKay, head of a North Coast organisation called Keep Our Kids Alive, who lost her son David to a methadone overdose; Judy Gibson, wife of football coach Jack, who lost a son, Luke, to heroin at the age of 25; and Jill Pearman, also from Drug Watch Australia, the only one of this group who has been spared personal trauma. While there are differing emphases among the group, all broadly stand under the "zero tolerance" umbrella espoused by the Prime Minister, John Howard. They want money spent on community and school education, on treatment, on cracking down hard on drugs supply. Their catchcry is "prevention", not tolerance. Politically, they tend towards conservatism. For them, safe injecting rooms are an anathema, sending the wrong signals to their children and marking the first step along a road they believe will lead to legalisation. Tony Trimingham has become, for some of them, the voice of the enemy. Angela Wood's resistance to the philosophy of safe drug use has been hardened by the fact that her daughter died after taking a single MDMA tablet at an all-night dance party. These days, she spends most of her time giving talks on a voluntary basis to adolescents in schools. She says: "I can never talk about 'safe use'. I don't talk about harm minimisation. The truth with drugs is that they are going to hurt you. If you use a mind altering drugs on a regular basis they are hurting you." Of Tony Trimingham, she says: "He'll never convert me and I'll never convert him. To me heroin has overtaken the whole debate; heroin has stolen the spotlight. It's such a small amount compared to the damage kids are doing themselves with other substances." Wood dismisses the injecting room at the Wayside Chapel, set up in defiance of the law, as "divisive", a line backed by virtually all the other parents going to the summit. Says Normie Rowe: "I don't understand how if you lost a child you are prepared to keep other kids on drugs until they die. There is only one way with these sorts of drugs and that's abstinence. These people cannot be using their commonsense. You wouldn't give a recovering alcoholic a bottle of scotch a day. It's a publicity stunt, a way of putting their point of view way ahead of anything else. If the Government had the guts, they would send the police in to shut it down. I would like to ask these people what their ulterior motive is." Dark hints about "ulterior motives" are symptomatic of the degree to which fear and suspicion galvanise some in the anti-harm minimisation camp. Rowe got into hot water last year as MC of a drugs seminar organised by the Federal Sports Minister, Jackie Kelly. Enraged by some of the data supplied by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC), which he considers a captive of the harm minimisation lobby, Rowe hurled the report across the stage and queried whether the organisation mightn't be doing the work of international drug barons. UNSURPRISINGLY NDARC, which is largely Commonwealth-funded, responded with legal threats. Rowe has since soft-pedalled this line. More recently, however, NDARC has been dogged by untrue rumours circulating among some of the more conservative parent groups that it receives funds from the US-based George Soros Foundation, which favours drug law reform. Rowe and others get frustrated by what they see as NDARC's downplaying of the scale of the drug problem. But as one exasperated health professional says: "These people are experts on parent suffering. They are not experts on drug use. Because of the tragedies they have suffered they are made into instant experts by the media. But often they are poorly informed." Paul Dillon, of NDARC, argues that "it's still a very small proportion of people who are going to use heroin no matter how available it becomes". He says that last year's 1998 Australian household survey of people 14 years and up shows only 2 per cent of the population had ever tried heroin. "If this drug summit can do anything, I would like to see it ensure that the people who talk to the media about drugs are given accurate information. We all need to give the same message." Yet the chances for achieving that sort of unanimity appear remote. Both sides are jockeying to form alliances, worried that the opposing viewpoint will predominate at the summit. So far, all members of State Parliament are on the invitation list, plus another 80 or so delegates across the spectrum of health services, the judicial system and the community. An unspecified number of associate delegates may also be included. Arguments about who has or has not been invited, who will speak and who will sit on the all-important working groups are already dogging the lead-up to the summit. Trimingham's initial reaction to the line-up was that he would be drowned out by the opposing parent voices. "When I first saw the list, my first reaction was to say I wouldn't go, and that we would protest outside." Rather than a boycott, though, he decided to press for some other members of his parent-based organisation, Family Drug Support, to join the summit as associate delegates. He's also formed an alliance with like-minded health groups (including the Royal Australasian College of Physicians) to caucus at the week-long meeting summit under the banner of a newly formed Coalition for Constructive Drug Action. A spokesman for the physicians' college, Craig Patterson, confirms the new alliance, saying: "We've got to look at what works and what doesn't. We should be looking at things like heroin trials as a research issue, not a moral issue." Trimingham also believes that with 1,800 members, his group dwarfs the others, which he claims would be lucky to boast more than 100 or so members between them. This is strongly denied. While Angela Wood admits that the organisation she heads, Drug Watch Australia, is "not a membership-based organisation", she says she comes into contact with hundreds of parents who urge her to keep up the work she's doing. Others like Margaret McKay and Judy Gibson claim their networks run into the thousands. ASKING who does speak for the parents of Australia is a raw and divisive issue. Dr Andrew Byrne, an inner-city GP who has treated many addicts and their families, backs Trimingham's claim, saying: "Tony speaks for the vast majority of parents of addicts, in my experience. Of course, all parents would like their kids to abstain and so on. But we have to face up to realities. Many people, including myself, start out with a rather narrow philosophy of just cracking down on it. But you come to realise that that's unrealistic." Yet the other parent summiteers feel it is they who are representing the "silent majority". Says Margaret McKay: "I don't know one parent who wouldn't want their kids to grow up drug-free. Most people don't want drugs, have no power and don't know what to do." She is banding together with the Australian Parent Movement to organise a mass protest on June 26, marking International Drug Free Day. Trimingham still believes that one of the greatest obstacles to community acceptance of alternate strategies is that so many people believe "it" can never happen to them. A recent analysis of calls coming in to his 24-hour hotline (which is largely funded by government grants) found nearly half related to kids still living at home with their parents. The second highest origin of calls, after the outer western suburbs, was Sydney's largely privileged North Shore. When questioned, Angela Wood, Normie Rowe, Jill Pearman and Margaret McKay all state they would find it extremely difficult to work with Trimingham. McKay's reaction was typical: "I would not work with someone who is blatantly flouting the law." Yet Trimingham states he's still hoping they can bury their differences in at least some areas. "Just because we favour safe injecting rooms and heroin trials doesn't mean we are not also in favour of education, rehabilitation, and prevention." Trying to build bridges between these disparate, impassioned voices will be the hardest task the summit has ahead of it.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Heroin found on dead prison officer (The Scotsman says police in Tayside last night were investigating the discovery of thousands of pounds worth of heroin found on the body of Bruce Flight, a guard at Scotland's Perth prison who died in hospital after a drinking binge ten days ago.) Date: Mon, 10 May 1999 18:50:19 -0700 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: UK: Heroin found on dead prison officer Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: email@example.com Pubdate: 10 May, 1999 Source: Scotsman (UK) Copyright: The Scotsman Publications Ltd 1999 Contact: Letters_ts@scotsman.com Website: http://www.scotsman.com/ Forum: http://www.scotsman.com/ Author: John Innes HEROIN FOUND ON DEAD PRISON OFFICER POLICE were last night investigating the discovery of thousands of pounds worth of heroin found on the body of a Scottish prison officer, who died in hospital after a drinking binge ten days ago. Tayside Police are waiting for the results of toxicology tests, but it is understood the death of Bruce Flight, 34, was not drug-related. Police sources said the father-of-two's death was caused by a drinking binge that he embarked on after finishing a late shift at Perth prison on 29 April. The next morning an ambulance was called to his house in Dundee when it became clear that Mr Flight was seriously ill. He was taken to Ninewells Hospital, but later died. Medics alerted police after they found the drugs, which sources confirmed as heroin, concealed in Mr Flight's clothing. A police source yesterday confirmed the amount of drugs exceeded that normally deemed to be for personal use. Forensic tests are being carried out on the drugs. Detective Chief Inspector Norrie Robertson said: "A substance has been recovered and has been taken to Tayside Police forensic laboratory for analysis. We cannot confirm what the substance is. An investigation is ongoing." Dozens of prison officers paid their respects to Mr Flight at his funeral at Dundee Crematorium last week, unaware of the background to his death. Colleagues were shocked when they learned of the investigation. William Millar, the governor of Perth prison, said: "There is a police inquiry under way and until that is complete, it would be inappropriate to comment further. Obviously our thoughts and support are with Mr Flight's family at this time." Mr Millar said that prison officers are subjected to rigorous anti-drugs checks. "Staff and their baggage are regularly checked using X-rays and periodic rub-down searches." He admitted the prison had a drugs problem, but said a large number of prisoners were addicted to drugs when they are imprisoned. He said: "Drugs are a major problem in the Scottish prison community as a whole, but we take extensive steps to prevent the misuse of drugs among the inmates. "Security cameras and an intelligence network around the prison go some way to minimising the problem, and visitors and their belongings coming in are given rub-down and metal detector searches." A spokeswoman for Tayside Police said: "A post mortem examination has been carried out and, although toxicology tests are still pending, there are no suspicious circumstances. "A report has been submitted to the procurator fiscal andinquiries are still ongoing."
------------------------------------------------------------------- Drug users can be good moms, book says (According to a Canadian Press article in the Toronto Globe and Mail, "Using drugs does not equal poor parenting," says Susan Boyd, a Simon Fraser University professor whose new book, "Mothers and Illicit Drugs: Transcending the Myths," sums up almost 10 years of research. Ms. Boyd argued that her survey of literature suggests legal substances such as alcohol and tobacco are of greater concern than illegal drugs such as cocaine and heroin. And a spokesman for a province-wide addiction agency in Ontario agreed.) From: Carey Ker (firstname.lastname@example.org) Reply-To: email@example.com To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Canada: Drug users can be good moms, book says Date: Mon, 10 May 1999 11:48:03 -0400 (EDT) Newshawk: email@example.com Source: The Globe and Mail, Page A9 Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Pubdate: Monday, May 10, 1999 Canadian Press, Vancouver Drug-addicted women can still be good mothers, with some help, says a criminologist who has written a book on the subject. "Using drugs does not equal poor parenting," said Susan Boyd, a Simon Fraser University professor whose book, Mothers and Illicit Drugs: Transcending the Myths, sums up almost 10 years of research. "If someone is on a stable methadone maintenance program, they can be just as good a parent as you or I, or anyone else," she said. Ms. Boyd argued that her survey of literature suggests legal substances such as alcohol and tobacco are of greater concern that illegal drugs such as cocaine and heroin. And a spokesman for a province-wide addiction agency in Ontario agreed. Michael Piercy, a program consultant for the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, said the centre is most concerned about alcohol and cigarettes because they can cause more devastating effects than illegal drugs. "The legal substances are far more damaging to fetal development," he said. Ms. Boyd interviewed 28 drug-addicted mothers aged 20 to 51 in British Columbia and the Prairie provinces. She conceded that she could have conducted more interviews, but said 28 was enough to provide a valid assessment. "I felt like I was hearing the same things over and over again," Ms. Boyd said. The women were from various social and economic backgrounds and their addictions included heroin, cocaine and other narcotics. All had been using drugs for more than a year when their children were born; some used drugs well beyond the birth of their children. Ms. Boyd said she met most of the children of her research subjects.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Weekly Action Report on Drug Policies, Year 5, No. 18 (A summary of European and international drug policy news, from CORA, in Italy) Date: Mon, 17 May 1999 11:45:06 +0200 To: CORAFax EN (email@example.com) From: CORAFax (firstname.lastname@example.org) Subject: CORAFax #18 (EN) ANTIPROHIBITIONIST OF THE ENTIRE WORLD .... Year 5 #18, May 10 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:email@example.com *** CORA NEWS *** ITALY- Trent - The CORA is protesting because the account of facts they presented about the malfunctioning of local public services for drug addicts is going to be archived by the Magistrate who is in charge of the case. The CORA says that this is an unjustified imposition and a slap in the face of all those addicts who only want to defend their right to receive decent cures. *** CLIPPINGS *** ITALY - Orvieto - The Police entered two high schools with trained dogs looking for drugs and denounced ten students. The same kind of operation was carried out in the local train station, at the arrival of commuting students. *** NEWS FROM THE WORLD *** 000599 29/04/99 E.U. / FRANCE ADDICTION LE FIGARO / LIBERATION 40% of Parisian high school students have used cannabis at least once in their lives. This is what emerges from a research by the Observatory on Drugs carried out in 1995 on 875 high schools. What seems evident in comparison to earlier researches is that cannabis consumption is undergoing a 'normalising' phase. *** 000600 29/04/99 ASIA / ISRAEL ADDICTION SUEDDEUTSCHE Z. The National Association Against Drugs says that young religious Israelis are accustomed to consuming heavy drugs like LSD, while laymans of the 4 same age tend to use cannabis instead. The Russian immigration has also introduced another peculiar drug: shooting vodka directly in the veins. *** 000603 03/05/99 ASIA / KUWAIT ADDICTION DIE PRESSE If on one hand the Iraqi invasion of eight years ago seems to not have left any trace, on the other the sense of shock and fear lingers on. Young people are trying to overcome these feelings by using drugs. A research says that 44% of young Kuwaitis have tried using them, while the official number of drug addicts is between 15.000 and 30.000. *** 000597 28/04/99 EUROPE / SWITZERLAND LAWS NEUE ZUERCHER Z. On the 13th of June will be able to vote in a referenda to decide whether or not to do away with controlled distribution of heroin from the new law on drugs, which is being at the moment revised. *** 000598 29/04/99 EUROPE MARKET DIE PRESSE The Police heads of 17 countries from the European Union and from the Balkans have met in Austria to discuss about drug traffic. It seems that 80% of the heroin that is sold in western and central Europe arrives through the Balkans. *** 000601 01/05/99 E.U. / ITALY TRAFFIC CORRIERE DELLA SERA In September the trial against a group of Kosovar traffickers headed by an Albenese politician, Ritvan Peshkepia, will start. Many of those people justified themselves at the moment of their arrest by saving they were trafficking in drugs to fund the cause of freedom in Kosovo. *** 000602 03/05/99 ASIA / THAILAND TRAFFIC CORRIERE DELLA SERA The Nation, a Bangkok newspaper, has sounded an alarm: the army of the united Wa is about to become the new drug boss of the Golden Triangle. This thanks to its steady collaboration with the Government of Burma. *** CORAFax 1999 -------------------------------------------------------------------
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