approval of a medical marijuana
initiative, nearly three-fourths of
Western states now have such laws — while
only two of the 37 states outside the West
have adopted them.
is the West so much more receptive to the
procedural standpoint, it’s just easier to
get pot issues on Western ballotbecause
most states in the region allow such
initiatives. Nationwide, just 24 states
allow citizens to put issues on the ballot
by petition, bypassing the Legislature.
Eleven of those states are in the West.
activists and political scientists also
say Westerners are less willing than other
Americans to tell their neighbors what
they can and can’t do. And historically,
Western states tend to be in front on
“I would guess
many of the people that voted for it
probably don’t use marijuana, but they
don’t want to say their neighbors can’t,”
said Steven Stehr, political science
professor at Washington State University.
have a stronger belief in kind of
individualism in the old-fashioned
frontier sense,” said Sven Steinmo, a
University of Colorado political scientist
and board member for the Center of the
also is newer than the rest of the country
and states don’t have deeply ingrained
traditions, said David Olson, political
scientist at the University of Washington.
in the West are much less constrained ...
and it gives opportunities for initiatives
like the death with dignity issue in
Oregon or medicinal marijuana. You name
it,” Olson said.
Oregon rejects ambitious program
Montana has become the 11th state in the
country — and the ninth Western state — to
allow medical marijuana. The approval came
even as Montana voted by wide margins to
ban gay marriage and to re-elect President
Bush, a Republican.
“We always say
in Montana we’re extraordinarily
independent, so we’ll vote for
contradictory things,” said Jerry Calvert,
political science professor at Montana
State University in Bozeman.
initiative passed 62 percent to 38
percent, support that marijuana reform
groups say was the highest ever for a
medical marijuana ballot initiative.
rejected a measure that would have
dramatically expanded its existing medical
marijuana program. That may have been too
ambitious even for the West, said Bruce
Mirken, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy
also has an existing medical marijuana
law, rejected a measure to decriminalize
the drug, though marijuana groups were
impressed that 43 percent of voters there
region, voters in Ann Arbor, Mich., and
Columbia, Mo., approved local medical
The 9th U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco
has ruled that states are free to adopt
medical marijuana laws so long as the
marijuana is not sold, transported across
state lines or used for nonmedicinal
purposes. The ruling covers only those
Western states in the circuit. The Bush
administration has appealed the ruling to
the U.S. Supreme Court.
favorable initiative process in the West,
the region is also usually the start of
progressive political movements that work
their way East, said Keith Stroup,
executive director of the National
Organization for the Reform of Marijuana
In addition to
Montana, Western states that allow medical
marijuana are Alaska, California,
Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon and
Washington state. Arizona has a law
permitting marijuana prescriptions, but no
Vermont are the only states outside the
West with existing medical marijuana laws.
medical marijuana has not only found
acceptance in the West, but the region may
set the tone for proposals across the
marijuana becomes more regulated and
institutionalized in the West, that may
provide a model for how we ultimately make
marijuana legal for all adults,” said
Ethan Nadelmann, executive director for
the Drug Policy Alliance.
TWO THIRDS OF LOCAL ARRESTEES TEST
POSITIVE FOR DRUGS
Justice Research Division
has released its latest
on drug use among local arrestees as part
of an on-going series of public bulletins.
The data, collected through a SANDAG
administered program called “ADAM”
(Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring), provides
law enforcement agencies, treatment
centers, and prevention programs with an
in-depth look at drug prevalence and
choice among male and female arrestees.
In 2003, 67
percent of male arrestees and 69 percent
of female arrestees interviewed tested
positive for at least one of the following
drugs: marijuana, cocaine, opiates/heroin,
PCP, or methamphetamine. Individuals who
reported having a prior arrest were more
likely to test positive for at least one
drug. The data collected also revealed
interesting trends related to the use of
each of the five drugs among the county’s
continues to be the most commonly used
illicit substance in the U.S. In 2003,
about three-quarters (77% of males and 73%
of females) of San Diego arrestees
reported trying the drug at some point in
time, and 45 and 39 percent, respectively,
reported using it within the past 30 days.
In addition, 39 percent of males and 29
percent of females tested positive for
marijuana at the time of their arrest.
Marijuana was the only illegal drug for
which males were more likely to test
Over half of
both male and female arrestees (53% of
males and 60% of females) reported ever
having tried methamphetamine, and 32 and
38 percent, respectively, reported using
it within the past 30 days. Thirty-eight
percent of males and 47 percent of females
tested positive for methamphetamine, a
drug which has typically been used more
extensively in the western portions of the
country. Compared to data obtained from
other ADAM sites, San Diego had the fifth
highest positive rate for males and the
second highest positive rate for females
was less prevalent than methamphetamine,
but still showed high usage among
arrestees. More than one-third (39% of
males and 36% of females) reported ever
trying cocaine, and only four percent
noted using it within the past 30 days. In
contrast, females were significantly more
likely to report ever using crack (36%),
compared to males (28%). In 2003, 10
percent of males and 15 percent of females
tested positive for cocaine/crack.
Less than one
in five arrestees interviewed in 2003 (17%
of males and 16% of females) reported ever
data revealed that ethnicity and age
factors were linked to drug use patterns.
White non-Hispanics were significantly
more likely to test positive for
methamphetamine, and those who identified
as Black were significantly more likely to
test positive for marijuana and/or
cocaine. Hispanics were significantly
least likely to test positive for any of
the five drugs listed. Finally,
individuals age 18 to 24 were
significantly more likely to test positive
for marijuana, those age 25 to 39 were
more likely to test positive for
methamphetamine, and those age 40 and
older had a greater likelihood of testing
positive for cocaine.
As part of
the continuing project, arrestees are
interviewed by non-custodial research
staff (hired specifically for this
project) within 48 hours of their arrest
and booking into jail. If the arrestee is
available and interested in participating,
he/she is asked a number of questions
related to his/her drug use history and is
also asked to provide a urine sample for
drug testing, both of which are kept
confidential and anonymous. A total of
1,194 adults were approached last year and
86 percent agreed to an interview. Of the
1,030 interviewed, 993 (704 male and 289
female) provided a urine sample.
Canadian Press (CP)
October 27, 2004 Wednesday
Needle exchange needed in prisons to
combat spread of disease, groups say
BY GREG BONNELL
TORONTO (CP) _ The alarming prevalence of
HIV and hepatitis C infection among
inmates is a health issue that affects all
Canadians and requires the country's
prisons to immediately adopt needle
exchange programs, advocacy groups said
"These are transmissible diseases which
are being spread within the prison and
have the potential to spread when people
come out of the prison,'' said Dr. Peter
Ford of the Ontario Medical Association.
"There's a multiplication effect here.
This is a public health issue.''
Programs to prevent the spread of disease
in federal and provincial institutions
aren't working, and the absence of
exchange programs only leads to inmates
sharing dirty, infected needles, the
Almost one in 50 federal inmates has
HIV/AIDS _ a rate 10 times higher than the
general population. The numbers for
hepatitis C were even worse, with almost
one-quarter of prisoners testing positive.
"We are dealing with levels of illness and
infection which are really quite
startling,'' said Ford.
Compounding the problem is that once
prisoners are released, many return to the
community "unaware that they're infected
with the potential to spread the
The call for needle exchange programs was
welcomed Wednesday by the Canadian
HIV-AIDS Legal Network.
"Issues related to prisoners and prison
health are not winners in terms of public
opinion, and they rarely get on the
agenda,'' said spokesman Glenn Betteridge.
"We're asking politicians to put this on
the agenda to protect communities, the
health of prisoners, and the people who
work in prisons.''
While the legal network called upon
federal, provincial and territorial
governments to establish pilot programs in
their correctional centres within 18
months, the OMA had a more immediate date
"They need to be started right now so the
institutions can learn how to do this and
protect everyone,'' said Dr. Ted Boadway,
executive director of health policy.
"We are way behind; it's time we did it,''
said Boadway in reference to several
countries, including Switzerland and Iran,
that already have such programs.
In Ontario, Correctional Services Minister
Monte Kwinter said he would look into the
effectiveness of needle exchanges.
"We're aware that it's an issue and we
want to talk to the stakeholders, the
people in corrections, we want to talk to
the medical profession to see how we can
address it,'' said Kwinter.
"I want to find out what the ramifications
of (needle exchange programs) are. So
we're certainly going to look at that, and
do whatever we have to do to minimize the
Federal Public Safety Minister Anne
McLellan acknowledged the issue warrants
"I think we have to deal in a world of
realism in terms of our penitentiaries and
prisons, and obviously there is a
challenge to control infections of
whatever kind,'' she said from Ottawa.
"There's no point in sticking one's head
in the sand .''
While government-funded needle exchange
programs have existed for the public since
the late 1980s, they're not available to
"In the community they can always get
clean needles,'' said Boadway. "But when
they go into prison they can't, so their
risk goes up.''
Risk is precisely why the union that
represents some 6,000 jail guards in
Ontario wants needles kept out of
"Needles can be used as weapons,'' said
Don Ford of the Ontario Public Service
Employees Union. "Weapons and illegal
narcotics are contraband inside our
maximum-security facilities, so we cannot
condone them coming in.''
Ford also said there's a lack of
compelling evidence on whether prisoners
are contracting diseases through
intravenous drug use while in Ontario
"That's the numbers we'd like to see,''
said Ford. "How many are actually
contracting the disease once they're
The weapons argument did not sit well with
Betteridge, who said in the six countries
his organization has studied, there has
not been one case of a needle from an
exchange program being used as a weapon.
"Prisoners will value these programs,'' he
said. "They'll understand that they're for
As for keeping drugs out of prisons,
Betteridge said that's unlikely.
"Drugs enter into prisons for the same
reason they enter into countries,'' he
said. "There's money to be made selling