OCTOBER 4, 2004 Edition
IN MARIJUANA PROSECUTION EYED
QUEBEC CANADA'S POT HOT SPOT
DRUG LAWS MAY NEED REFORMING
PAINKILLER PALLADNE, WITH RESTRICTIONS
7. HIV/AIDS RISK; INCOME AND MARIJUANA USE AMONG INMATES
RELATED TO RISK OF REPEAT OFFENSE
SLAMS OREGON MEDICAL MARIJUANA MEASURE
OREGON'S BALLOT MEASURE #33 WOULD PUT 6 POUNDS OF "MEDICAL"
MARIJUANA IN THE HANDS OF CHILDREN
LEGALIZERS STRATEGIZE TO GET THE "JUST-SAY-NO" MONKEYS OFF
BOSTON GLOBECHANGE IN
MARIJUANA PROSECUTION EYED
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.
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.
EDITORIAL: DRUG LAWS MAY NEED
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.
WALL STREET JOURNAL
FDA OKs PAINKILLER PALLADNE,
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
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.
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
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
MENTAL HEALTH WEEKLY
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
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.
WALTERS SLAMS OREGON MEDICAL
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
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
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
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
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
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
Sec 23 establishes an Oregon medical Marijuana Commission that is
stacked with proponents of medicalization of marijuana.
LEGALIZERS STRATEGIZE TO GET THE "JUST-SAY-NO" MONKEYS OFF THEIR
"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
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
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
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