Drug & Alcohol Headline Week in Review from MOMSTELL.COM

OCTOBER 4, 2004 Edition

 

1. CHANGE IN MARIJUANA PROSECUTION EYED
2.
SMACKING DOW
3.
QUEBEC CANADA'S POT HOT SPOT
4.
EDITORIAL: DRUG LAWS MAY NEED REFORMING
5.
FDA OKs PAINKILLER PALLADNE, WITH RESTRICTIONS
6. STRONGER PAINKILLER SPARK UNINTENTIONAL ODs
7. HIV/AIDS RISK; INCOME AND MARIJUANA USE AMONG INMATES RELATED TO RISK OF REPEAT OFFENSE
8.
WALTERS SLAMS OREGON MEDICAL MARIJUANA MEASURE
9.
OREGON'S BALLOT MEASURE #33 WOULD PUT 6 POUNDS OF "MEDICAL" MARIJUANA IN THE HANDS OF CHILDREN

10.
LEGALIZERS STRATEGIZE TO GET THE "JUST-SAY-NO" MONKEYS OFF THEIR BACKS


 

BOSTON GLOBE
CHANGE IN MARIJUANA PROSECUTION EYED
Mayor Richard M. Daley has endorsed a proposal to issue fines for possession of small amounts of marijuana rather than clog the courts with cases that tend to be thrown out by judges.
 
Daley said the volume of marijuana cases that are tossed out by local courts -- upwards of 90 percent, according to one recent study -- mean minor possession is virtually decriminalized in Chicago now.
 
Much of the national debate on decriminalizing marijuana has focused on its medicinal use. But Bruce Mirken, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project based in Washington, D.C., said a growing number of cities and states are developing alternatives to prosecuting minor marijuana busts to unclog jammed court systems and free officers to focus on more serious crimes.
 
Mirken said his group has tracked at least 11 states -- California, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Oregon -- that have fashioned laws relaxing criminal penalities in minor marijuana cases. In many cases, police are now allowed to issue citations instead of making arrests.
http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2004/09/26/a_change_in_marijuana_prosecution_eyed?mode=PF

TIME (Asia)  
SMACKING DOWN
In the terrible years of 1999 and 2000, Australia's heroin trade was moving at a furious pace. On certain streets across the nation, dealers whispered offers to almost anyone who walked past, and sales were made on footpaths with nonchalant ease. "It was the height of the madness," recalls Melbourne outreach worker Richard Tregear. The drug was everywhere, and as purity rose so did the risk of a fatal overdose. In Melbourne, paramedics like Lindsay Bent were frantic. During those "crazy couple of years," Bent says, it wasn't unusual to treat 18 overdoses in a day in the cbd alone. It's not like that now. When Bent last checked his team's supply of naloxone, which is used to reverse the effects of opiate overdose, only a single dose had been used in the previous week.
 
The change in the heroin trade in late 2000 and early 2001 was as sudden as it was unexpected.
 
Though heroin is more available now, the ripple effects of the drought continue to be felt, most noticeably in national overdose-death rates, which have plunged since 2000. In New South Wales alone, according to National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre data released this month, there was a 67% fall in opiate-related deaths between 1999 and 2002, while the number of users more than halved. Property crime and ambulance call-outs to overdoses are also down thanks to what the federal government says is the only sustained heroin shortage in the Western world.
 
Making the shortage last will depend on understanding its causes.
http://www.time.com/time/pacific/magazine/printout/0,13675,503040920-697173,00.html 


GLOBE AND MAIL (Canada)
 
QUEBEC CANADA'S POT HOT SPOT

The taint of an exploding pot trade is growing faster than the corn fields in this small farming community, leaving frustrated locals with an ominous new town nickname.
 
"Bienvenue a Stoner City," said Jean-Francois Coté, a farmer who recently found 220 marijuana plants grown secretly in his field.
 
Along the fertile valley about halfway between Montreal and Quebec City, pot growers have infiltrated farmers' fields and recruited high school students to harvest the crop.
 
The region has quickly become a drug-growing leader in Canada. Statistics show police seized more marijuana plants in Quebec in 2003 than they found in British Columbia, a province much better known for growing pot.
 
Pierreville has become the epicentre of Quebec's marijuana cultivation. Provincial police officers at the local detachment have run out of pins for their maps to mark the scores of pot fields they have found hidden in the tall corn.
 
The weed is so plentiful, a visitor with a few directions from a local resident needs only an hour to find marijuana plants scattered among the corn.
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20040926.wweed0926/BNStory/National/ 
  
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER (AL)  
EDITORIAL: DRUG LAWS MAY NEED REFORMING
When a small group of family members of prison inmates marched this past weekend to seek changes in Alabama's laws governing drug law violators, lawmakers should have been listening. With Alabama's prisons crowded to the point of bursting, the Legislature badly needs to consider changes to the laws that put nonviolent drug abusers behind bars for longer sentences than most states.
 
But the marchers need to focus their message if they expect legislators to listen. Calling for legislators to ease prison time for those who are there for using or possessing drugs for their own use is one thing. Calling for easing laws on those who traffic in or manufacture illegal drugs, as some marchers seemed to be doing, is something else entirely.
http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/NEWSV5/storyV5eddrug928w.htm 

WALL STREET JOURNAL
FDA OKs PAINKILLER PALLADNE, WITH RESTRICTIONS

9/29/2004
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has set restrictions for the new painkiller Palladone, manufactured by Purdue Pharma. The drug is stronger than the controversial OxyContin, which is made by the same pharmaceutical company, the Wall Street Journal reported Sept. 27.

The restrictions include physician education efforts, a tracking system to determine if the drug is being used illegally and a warning label on the drug's packaging.  The caveats attached to the FDA's approval of the drug are aimed at preventing misuse of the drug and the addiction problems that were seen with OxyContin. The new drug is similar to OxyContin, but has a more potent active ingredient.

Purdue Pharma said the formulation for Palladone is different: for example, it is in capsule, not tablet, form, and has a time-release function that makes it more difficult to misuse.   The company plans to roll out Palladone in phases, and limit promotion of the drug for the first 18 months.

"The goal is to ensure safe use of the medication," said J. David Haddox, vice president for health policy at Purdue Pharma. "We're trying to optimize the benefit-risk ratio for this drug." An FDA advisory committee recommended the restrictions after examining the potential misuse of various painkillers, including Palladone. The restrictions do not effect which doctors can prescribe the drug or which pharmacies can stock it.

Palladone will be available in the first half of next year.

SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE
STRONGER PAINKILLER SPARK UNINTENTIONAL ODs

10/1/2004
More legitimate patients, prescribed prescription medication to ease chronic pain, are dying from unintentional overdoses, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported Sept. 26.

"People are quietly dying in their bed almost every day, and it draws no attention," said San Diego police Detective Kevin Barnard, who specializes in prescription-drug cases. "The focus is on the cocaine dealer. We overlook the average person who has an addiction."

Federal officials call prescription-drug addiction a disturbing shift in the country's drug-misuse patterns. While deaths related to prescription drugs are increasing, deaths from heroin and cocaine are decreasing in many parts of the country.

"Medical professionals have been caught off guard by the magnitude of the problem," said H. Westley Clark, head of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment.

According to Clark, thousands of people have died from legal drugs, and millions more are addicted to them. A 2002 Justice Department report estimated that 6.2 million Americans misused legal narcotic painkillers, while 4.1 million Americans used cocaine.

"We do not believe people should be living their lives in pain, but we think medical practices have to be safe and effective," said Clark. "The balance between appropriate pain intervention and maintaining legitimate therapeutic need -- that's the issue."

To address the growing problem, the White House Office of Drug Control Policy is planning to spend more than $100 million in the next fiscal year for prescription-drug education.

"The power and the risk of death from prescription drugs pose a different kind of problem than we have seen," said John Walters, director of the White House Office of Drug Control Policy.

In addition, the U.S. Senate's Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee is examining new ways to monitor prescription drugs. "Over the past 10 years the abuse and diversion of prescription drugs has grown from a regional crisis to a national epidemic," said Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.).

MENTAL HEALTH WEEKLY DIGEST
HIV/AIDS RISK; INCOME AND MARIJUANA USE AMONG INMATES RELATED TO RISK OF REPEAT OFFENSE

September 27, 2004  Income and marijuana use among inmates is related to their risk of becoming a repeat offender. "Inmates report use of a wide range of drugs including heroin, methadone, and cocaine at some point in their lives without a doctor's prescription.

The most commonly used drugs include marijuana and cocaine; tobacco and alcohol are also widely used [Am. J. Public Health 90 (2000) 1939; Am. J. Drug Alcohol Abuse 26 (2000) 229]. "The present study explores the relationship between marijuana use and prior incarceration on 208 inmates' self-reported HIV/AIDS, risk behaviors," researchers in the United States report.

"Analysis involved descriptive and chi-square tests of association. Findings indicate that inmates with higher self-reported levels of education were significantly less likely than others to be repeat offenders," R. Braithwaite and colleagues wrote. "Data also support the argument that income prior to the most recent arrest and frequency of marijuana use was related to the outcome of being a repeat offender," scientists concluded.

Braithwaite and colleagues published their study in Addictive Behaviors (The relationship among marijuana use, prior incarceration, and inmates' self-reported HIV/AIDS risk behaviors. Addict Behav, 2004;29(5):995-999).  For additional information, contact T. Stephens, Emory University, Rollins School of Public Health, Department of Behavioral Science and Health Education, 1518 Clifton Rd., Atlanta, GA 30322 USA.

Publisher contact information for the journal Addictive Behaviors is: Pergamon-Elsevier Science Ltd., the Boulevard, Langford Lane, Kidlington, Oxford OX5 1GB, England. The information in this article comes under the major subject areas of AIDS/HIV, Epidemiology, Risk Factor, and Marijuana Use. This article was prepared by Mental Health Weekly Digest editors from staff and other reports. Copyright 2004, Mental Health Weekly Digest via NewsRx.com & NewsRx.net.

ASSOCIATED PRESS
WALTERS SLAMS OREGON MEDICAL MARIJUANA MEASURE

9/24/2004  White House drug czar John Walters criticized a ballot initiative in Oregon that would expand the medical use of marijuana, saying it would create a "safe haven for drug trafficking," the Associated Press reported Sept. 13. "People are being played for suckers," Walters said. "Their compassion for sick people is being used to do something that's destructive for the state."

Under Measure 33, medical-marijuana users would be able to obtain the drug more easily and possess more of it.  Supporters of the measure said the state's current medical-marijuana program, which voters approved in 1998, is too restrictive. Currently, patients who receive permission from their physician or osteopath to use marijuana to ease their suffering can grow and use three ounces of marijuana without fear of prosecution.

The expanded measure calls for the creation of state-regulated dispensaries that could supply up to six pounds of marijuana per year to qualified patients. However, a person would only be able to possess up to one pound of marijuana at any time. The measure would also give licensed naturopaths and nurse practitioners the authority to recommend marijuana for their patients.

The Oregon District Attorneys Association opposes the ballot initiative because of the amount of marijuana that can be distributed at one time. According to Benton County District Attorney Scott Heiser, the measure would give patients enough marijuana to smoke a cigarette every hour, 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.

"This is not about medicine; this is about recreational use of dope," Heiser said. The DAs group is also against a provision in the measure that would give free marijuana to indigent patients. "Under this measure, the Benton County Health Department would be required to give away free dope to indigent users at taxpayer expense," Heiser said.

NORTHWEST CENTER FOR HEALTH AND SAFETY
OREGON'S BALLOT MEASURE #33 WOULD PUT 6 POUNDS OF "MEDICAL" MARIJUANA IN TH EHANDS OF CHILDREN
Measure #33 (put on the Oregon ballot through the initiative process) would allow each individual to possess up to six pounds of marijuana plus 10 mature plants for "medical use..  Six pounds is at least 8,200 joints, depending on how it is rolled, and that would provide a user with a minimum of one joint/hour, 24-hours a day, 365 days a year.  Marijuana has more carcinogens than tobacco.  Did you know that smoking 3 joints a day causes as much damage as smoking 20 tobacco cigarettes?  (British Lung Assn.)

Despite its innocuous sounding title  "Amends Medical marijuana Act:  Requires marijuana dispensaries for supplying patients/caregivers; raises patients' possession limit," this Measure also includes even more bizarre and frightening prospects.  Here are some highlights:

Sect 2 (1) would allow expand the definition of attending physician to include a licensed naturopath or a certified nurse practitioner.

Sect 2 (1) (c) would expand the applicable medical conditions to include anything that the  "attending physician" thought it might be good for.

Sec 2 (5) would allow anyone over 18 to be a "medical caregiver" (supplier) so long as their name was on the patient's MJ registry ID card.

Sec 2 (11)  "Usable marijuana" (six pounds and 10 mature plants per person) would exclude male marijuana plants and any seeds, stalks or roots, thus opening the door for possession of many more plants.

Sec 3 (1) (a) and (b)  states that a person may possess Ten marijuana plants at any one time; and one pound of usable marijuana at any one time, UNLESS the person can show that they are only growing one crop of marijuana per year, and has registered that information with the department, in which case the person may possess up to six pounds per patient immediately following harvest, which is the amount provided by the Untied States government to patients through the compassionate Investigational new Drug Program of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Sec 5 (2)(a) Allows the SIX POUND per year limit to be exceeded if the attending physician supplies a statement attesting that the person may need more than that amount. This establishes NO limit to the amount an individual can possess with a note from his certified nurse practitioner.

Sec 5 (3) Allows a child the same access to marijuana as an adult provided the custodial parent or legal guardian gives the written permission and promises to control the amount the child uses.  This would allow pot-growing parents to use their children to mask a pot-growing operation.

Sec 7 (1) Provides for marijuana dispensaries, i.e., Pot Markets, and exempts them from criminal prosecution if they have purchased a $1,000 "marijuana dispensary license.  There is no restriction on where these dispensaries may be located, i.e., next to a school, your next door neighbor…

Sec 7(2)(b)(ii) An individual may set up a marijuana dispensaries if he/she provides a petition signed by 25 registry ID cardholders.  This could mean there would be 150 pounds of pot on the site plus 250 mature pot plants. It does not mention what would be charged for each joint or how the sales would be monitored and taxed.  What it does say is that the department shall collect a monthly fee from each dispensary that is 10% of the gross revenue from "delivery of medical marijuana, but may increase it to 20%. 

Sec 7(3) Mandates that the County health Department become marijuana dispensary if no other dispensary is licensed in the county.

Sec 8 Establishes a criteria for providing indigents with marijuana.

Sec 10(2) permits an individual charged with possession or trafficking in marijuana to assert an affirmative defense even if they do not have a registry ID card.  This enables anyone who is ever charged with a marijuana crime to claim that he or she believed it to be good medicine and therefore is innocent of any wrongdoing.

Sec 18 (2) is amended to restrict employers, even in a drug-free workplace environment from denying employment to or terminating the employment of an employee who claims that marijuana is his/her legal medication.

Sec 23 establishes an Oregon medical Marijuana Commission that is stacked with proponents of medicalization of marijuana.

HIGH TIMES
LEGALIZERS STRATEGIZE TO GET THE "JUST-SAY-NO" MONKEYS OFF THEIR BACKS

"High Times” magazine lays out a strategy to get the “just-say-no prohibitionist windup monkeys” off their backs. The “cannabistas” feel that the marijuana laws “reveal the mean streak of a nation founded by Puritans and control fiends.”

Their top ten suggestions for advancing the legalization of marijuana are:

Support Medical Marijuana – “No single cannabis-related issue has been as propulsive…”

Back Up Cops Against The Drug War – “Deprioritization-essentially moving adult marijuana use to the furthest backburner-will hopefully be the wave of the near future, partly because it focuses on practical concerns.”

Buy Hemp Products – “Pocketbook activism is an effective way to show your support.”

Challenge The Stereotypes – “The Partnership for a Drug-Free America (PDFA) and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) are two ubiquitous purveyors of outlandish claims. The latter’s TV ads that align scoring herb with terrorism are both shameless pandering to a nation’s jittery nerves and downright fallacious. According to the PDFA’s Web site, marijuana causes, to cite one example, ‘trouble with thinking and problem solving,’ when in fact cannabis expands consciousness.”

Stop Dumbing Down – “Marijuana can be a creative gift that opens one’s mind, as the art, literature, music and film made under its influence attest.”

Support Pot Smokers – “NORML’s Keith Stroup makes it a point to open all of his public talks by emphasizing that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the responsible use of marijuana by adults, stressing that it should be of no interest or concern to the government. ‘When smokers remain in the closet,’ says Stroup, ‘they are largely invisible to elected officials and therefore do not have the political power that our numbers would otherwise entitle us to exercise.”

Reach Out To The Mainstream – “It’s the responsibility of every cannabis user to keep the issue alive by writing letters to newspapers, calling talk radio, contributing to reform organizations and airing their views to politicians-regardless of the pols’ previous voting records. Others, including High Times editor-in-chief Richard Stratton, suggest that nonviolent civil disobedience, akin to the civil-rights movement of the early60’s, is called for.”

Listen To Criticism – “Too often reformers circle the wagons and hold in contempt those from within the movement who utter a discouraging word. It’s time for aggressive and critical discussion of tactics.”

Resist Drug Testing – “Ethan Nadelmann, founder and executive director of the DPA, points out how the insidious strategy behind hair and urine tests is targeted at the majority of responsible smokers, ‘adults who use it recreationally. The more you reduce the population of marijuana users who are basically occasional, recreational, normalized, integrated users, what you’re left with are the people who are more likely to have a problem with marijuana, problems at work or school. Then you can start to argue that marijuana is associated with deviance and lesser performance. You can better stigmatize marijuana use.’”

Emphasize The Strongest Arguments – “As the late, great medical-marijuana activist Bob Randall once said, ‘Yes, we’ve stressed the herb vs. death drugs conundrum for years. Let’s keep repeating it until everyone understands that justice has been delayed and denied for far too long.’”

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