Political Sector

Group formally submits Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request to obtain sources that contributed to the creation of the New York State report released by the Department of Health endorsing legalization

(New York, New York) – Today, Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), in coordination with its award-winning science advisory board and its New York State Affiliate, SAM-NY, released a comprehensive rebuttal to the report released by the New York Department of Health recommending the legalization of marijuana for recreational sales. SAM’s analysis – reviewed by top scientists from Harvard to Johns Hopkins – found several major flaws in the NYS-issued report and calls into question its bases and conclusions. 

Click here to read the comprehensive, peer-reviewed rebuttal

“Why weren’t addiction medicine doctors or the state’s medical association consulted with on this so-called scientific report?” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, founder and president of SAM, and a former Obama administration advisor. “The NYS report reads more like a marijuana industry lobbyist’s manifesto than a research-based document. This manifesto is so one-sided that SAM today formally submitted a FOIL request asking the state to disclose all its sources and any ties to the Big Marijuana industry.”

The report claims that marijuana reduces pain and opioid dependence. In reality, multiple studies have found that marijuana is not an effective treatment for chronic pain. Actually, use of the drug has in some cases made the pain worse.

Additionally, the report claims that marijuana legalization is not increasing crime around marijuana facilities. To the contrary, studies have shown that increased gang violence and other indicators of crime are on the rise in communities near dispensaries.

The report also glosses over major public health and safety data showing increased use among some teens in Colorado, increased risk of DUI in legalized states, increased minority arrests for marijuana in Colorado, and other key data.

Earlier this year, SAM’s advisory board released a comprehensive report analyzing early data from Colorado and several other legalized states.

Source: Email from SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) <reply@learnaboutsam.org>   August 2018

In 2016, Gov. Greg Abbott announced a $9.75 million grant to McKesson Corporation. Now, Texas is among the states investigating the giant drug distributor’s role in a growing opioid crisis

In the early months of 2016, as U.S. overdose deaths were on track to break records and the number of Texas infants born addicted to opioid painkillers climbed steadily higher, Gov. Greg Abbott was courting a massive pharmaceutical company, McKesson, with a multimillion-dollar offer.

At the time, the two stories — Texas public health officials grappling with an overdose epidemic while the governor’s office worked on economic development — seemed unrelated. When Abbott announced he would give McKesson a $9.75 million grant from the state’s Enterprise Fund to woo the pharmaceutical distributor into expanding its operations in North Texas, he mostly received favorable news coverage for promising nearly 1,000 jobs to the local Irving economy.

But as the state and nation’s focus on the opioid crisis has sharpened in recent months, McKesson and other drug companies have come under legal scrutiny and the deal has put Abbott in an uncomfortable position.

Texas has since joined a multistate investigation into pharmaceutical companies, including McKesson, over whether they are responsible for feeding the nation’s opioid crisis and whether they broke any laws in the process. Several Texas counties have moved to sue McKesson and other companies for economic damages, alleging that manufacturers downplayed addiction risks and their distributors failed to track suspicious orders that flooded communities with pills.

The state grant to McKesson, worth about $10,000 for each job it brought to North Texas, is the largest Abbott has doled out from the Enterprise Fund, the controversial deal-closing incentives program created in 2004 under former Gov. Rick Perry. No U.S. state or local government has publicly given McKesson a more generous grant since 2000, according to data compiled by Good Jobs First, a Washington D.C.-based group that tracks government subsidies and other economic incentives.

In statements at the time, Abbott said the company’s expansion would “serve as an invaluable contribution to the Texas economy.”

But if Texas decides to sue McKesson, as several of its counties have, lawyers for the state will likely argue the opposite has happened — at least in the context of the company’s distribution of opioids. Across the country, local and state governments have begun to argue they are bearing the financial burden associated with opioid addiction.

One state lawmaker suggested Abbott’s office should have more closely scrutinized McKesson’s record before issuing the grant — even though the grant happened more than a year before Attorney General Ken Paxton announced Texas was joining the multistate investigation.

“There needs to be better oversight here,” said state Rep. Joe Moody, an El Paso Democrat and member of the new House panel examining the opioid crisis. “You’re in the middle of the opioid crisis, and we’re issuing an enormous grant that comprises a significant amount of grants this company is getting across the country.” 

Abbott’s office did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Faced with the lawsuits and investigations, McKesson — headquartered in San Francisco but with a sizable Texas footprint — has denied any wrongdoing and insisted it is trying to work toward halting the opioid crisis, not fuel it.

“Our partnership with the state remains strong,” said Kristin Chasen, a company spokeswoman. “We certainly agree that the opioid epidemic is a national public health crisis, and we’re cooperatively having lots of conversations with AG Paxton and the others involved in the multistate investigation.”

A nationwide emergency

Opioids are a family of drugs that include prescription painkillers like hydrocodone as well as illicit drugs like heroin. Last Thursday, President Donald Trump declared a nationwide emergency to address the surging human and financial toll of opioid addiction.

U.S. drug overdose deaths in 2015 far outnumbered deaths from auto accidents or guns, and opioids account for more than 60 percent of overdose deaths — nearly 100 each day, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. That death toll has quadrupled over the past two decades. 

“Beyond the shocking death toll, the terrible measure of the opioid crisis includes the families ripped apart and, for many communities, a generation of lost potential and opportunity,” Trump said Thursday

In Texas, opioids have claimed proportionately fewer lives than in other states, and the growth of opioid-related deaths has been slower, according to U.S. mortality data. Still, the casualties in Texas — 1,107 accidental opioid poisoning deaths in 2016 — have seized the attention of state policymakers.

Last week, Texas House Speaker Joe Straus ordered lawmakers to form a select committee on opioids and substance abuse to examine an issue that he said has had a “devastating impact on many lives.” The announcement came after Paxton joined a 41-state investigation into whether a slew of drug manufacturers and distributors broke any laws in allegedly fueling the crisis.

“This is a public safety and public health issue. Opioid painkiller abuse and related overdoses are devastating families here in Texas and throughout the country,” Paxton said when he announced the probe in June.

Some Texas counties have already taken the drug companies to court.

In late September, Upshur County, population about 40,000, sued a slew of painkiller manufacturers and distributors — including McKesson. Seeking to recoup an unspecified amount in financial damages, the East Texas county argues the drug companies broadly “ignored science and consumer health for profits,” meaning the county “continues to spend large sums combatting the public health crisis created by [a] negligent and fraudulent marketing campaign.”

More specifically, the suit argues McKesson and other distributors “did nothing” to address the “alarming and suspicious” overprescription of drugs.

Bowie County, a rural slice of East Texas nudging Arkansas, has since joined the lawsuit, with other East Texas counties expected to follow. El Paso County isalso mulling legal action, and Bexar County, home to San Antonio, has announced plans to sue.

In an interview last week, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said he couldn’t immediately offer a complete list of companies his county would target, but “I’m sure McKesson is one of them.”

Wolff chuckled when asked about the company’s grant from the state. “That’d give us $10 million more that we could get out of their hides in our lawsuit, if you look at it that way.”

In teaming up to probe drug companies, some experts suggest governments are following a playbook similar to one used during the 1990s to sue tobacco companies for their role in fueling a costly health crisis — an effort that resulted in a settlement yielding more than $15 billion for Texas alone.

“It’s like a polluter externalizing all his risk,” said Mike Papantonio, a Florida-based lawyer with experience in tobacco litigation. 

“He makes a lot of money because he pours the poison right into the river,” said Papantonio, who now organizes a legal conference for groups interested in suing pharmaceutical companies. “The shareholders love it, but then the taxpayers have to come back and fix it.”

“McKesson is a great company”

At the April grand opening of the new McKesson campus in Las Colinas, near Irving, local leaders gathered alongside Abbott and company executives for a ribbon-cutting at the $157 million, 525,000-square foot campus.

“McKesson is a great company,” Abbott said on the stage of a large meeting room at the newly renovated headquarters. 

“I am proud of the work McKesson is doing,” he went on, “and make a commitment of my own to continue to ensure Texas attracts further business and expanding enterprise.”

Beth Van Duyne, then the mayor of Irving, now a U.S. Housing and Urban Development administrator under Trump, defended the city’s decision to give the pharmaceutical company a more than $2 million incentives package on top of the state’s Enterprise Fund gift.

“Having to offer incentives is always a difficult decision to make, but as long as the return on that investment is strong, we can support it,” Van Duyne said in a video recorded from the grand opening.

Even though the promise of taxpayer funds came before Paxton launched his investigation, Moody, the Democratic lawmaker, said Abbott’s office should more carefully vet companies before granting them taxpayer money, and in McKesson’s case, it should have considered the drug company’s alleged role in the opioid crisis.

“We know there’s a problem with drug distribution. These drugs being taken out of the regular route, finding their way into other people’s hands — leading to deaths, leading to overdoses,” he said, later adding, “I don’t think it’s unrealistic to ask that to be part of the evaluation at all. Part of the conversation of growing the economy is what types of companies, businesses do you want?” 

State Rep. Kevin Roberts, a Houston Republican and fellow member of the House panel studying opioids, said he did not know what went into Abbott’s decision making, so he couldn’t comment on the wisdom of the grant. But he agreed that the state should also consider wider issues when deciding which businesses are awarded grants from the enterprise fund.

“I do believe that there is some ethical responsibility in that process as well,” he said. “Just because things look profitable doesn’t mean you do them.”

The fact that McKesson got the state grant doesn’t shield it from liability if Texas ultimately files an opioid lawsuit, Roberts added. “If General Paxton goes forward, the fact that they got a TEF grant does not excuse them.”

Pressure to act

McKesson is also facing legal challenges outside of Texas.

In a recent report to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the company noted an opioid-related lawsuit brought by the State of West Virginia and nine similar complaints filed in state and federal courts in West Virginia against McKesson and other large distributors. McKesson also listed a federal lawsuit in which the Cherokee Nation alleges the company oversupplied drugs to its population.

In January, McKesson agreed to pay $150 million and revamp its compliance procedures to settle a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Department of Justice after prosecutors alleged the company failed to detect and report “suspicious orders” of opioids.

The company paid $13.25 million to settle a similar Justice Department suit in 2008. McKesson did not admit wrongdoing in either case.

Chasen, the spokeswoman, said McKesson is “really proud of our controlled substances monitoring program today,” and the recent scrutiny addresses conduct “that was really far in the past at this point.”

Chasen added that the company reports all orders “in real time” to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, flagging suspicious ones. 

Mark Kinzly, a co-founder of the Texas Overdose Naloxone Initiative, which educates police officers and the public on overdose prevention, has been critical of the state’s mixed response to the opioid epidemic. In 2015, for example, Abbott drew the ire of Kinzly and other advocates when he vetoed a “Good Samaritan” bill that would have protected someone from prosecution, even if they possessed a small amount of drugs, when they called 911 to help a friend in the throes of overdose.

Abbott said at the time that the bill had an admirable goal but did not include “adequate protections to prevent its misuse by habitual drug abusers and drug dealers.”

Kinzly said Trump’s declaration of a national opioid emergency may lead more politicians to demonstrate support for expanding drug treatment programs. “That will put some pressure on Republican governors, I would imagine,” he said.

Trump, for his part, suggested Thursday that pharmaceutical companies remained in the federal government’s crosshairs.

“What they have and what they’re doing to our people is unheard of,” he said. “We will be bringing some very major lawsuits against people and against companies that are hurting our people.” 

Source: https://www.texastribune.org/2017/10/31/during-opioid-crisis-texas-subsidized-drug-company-its-now-investigati/

October 2017

There was big news in Congress today that I wanted you to know about. A proposed government spending bill released today eliminated a provision that has protected the marijuana industry from federal prosecution for violating the Controlled Substances Act.

The Rohrabacher-Farr language was eliminated from the Commerce, Justice, Science bill that funds the Department of Justice, even though the language had previously been included in the 2017 base text. In addition, the Financial Services bill retained language preventing Washington, DC from implementing full retail sales and commercialization of recreational marijuana.

Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) submitted testimony to the Appropriations Committee to push back against this provision, which has allowed unsafe and untested products to masquerade as medicine. Rather than submit their products to the FDA for approval as safe and effective medicines, the marijuana industry has instead been using medical marijuana laws as a guise to increase demand for marijuana consumption and service the black market with large amounts of high-potency marijuana.

“If I were an investor, I would sell my marijuana stocks short,” said Kevin Sabet, President of SAM. “The marijuana industry has lost in every state in which they were pushing legislation in 2017, the industry’s largest lobbying group is losing its bank account , and now they are losing protection that has helped them thrive despite marijuana’s illegal status. Although the debate over Rohrbacher-Farr is far from over, the bad news just keeps coming for the pot industry. But it’s great news for parents, prevention groups, law enforcement, medical professionals, victims’ rights advocates and everyone who cares about putting public health before profits.”

Evidence demonstrates that marijuana – which has skyrocketed in average potency over the past decade – is addictive and harmful to the human brain, especially when used by adolescents. Moreover, in states that have already legalized the drug, there has been an increase in drugged driving crashes and youth marijuana use. States that have legalized marijuana have also failed to shore up state budget shortfalls with marijuana taxes, continue to see a thriving black market, and are experiencing a continued rise in alcohol sales.

Thank you for the work that you are doing to help with these big wins for public health and safety!  

Source: Email from Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) June 2017

TO ALL OUR READERS: THE NDPA WOULD URGE YOU TO READ THE REPORT MENTIONED IN THE ARTICLE BELOW, (Tracking the Money That’s Legalizing Marijuana and Why It Matters), WHICH GIVES A DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF HOW MARIJUANA BECAME THE NUMBER ONE DRUG OF CHOICE FOR MILLIONS OF PEOPLE WORLDWIDE, HOW IT BECAME ‘BIG BUSINESS’ IN THE USA AND WHY WE NEED TO DISSEMINATE THIS INFORMATION WIDELY.

Report by National Families in Action Rips the Veil Off the Medical Marijuana Industry
Research Traces the Money Trail and Reveals the Motivation Behind Marijuana as Medicine

Tracking the Money That’s Legalizing Marijuana and Why It Matters documents state-by-state financial data, exposing the groups and the amount of money used either to fund or oppose ballot initiatives legalizing medical or recreational marijuana in 16 U.S. states.

• NFIA report reveals three billionaires — George Soros, Peter Lewis and John Sperling — who contributed 80 percent of the money to medicalize marijuana through state ballot initiatives during a 13-year period, with the strategy to use medical marijuana as a runway to legalized recreational pot.
• Report shows how billionaires and marijuana legalizers manipulated the ballot initiative process, outspent the people who opposed marijuana and convinced voters that marijuana is medicine, even while most of the scientific and medical communities say marijuana is not medicine and should not be legal.

• Children in Colorado treated with unregulated cannabis oil have had severe dystonic reactions, other movement disorders, developmental regression, intractable vomiting and worsening seizures.

• A medical marijuana industry has emerged to join the billionaires in financing initiatives to legalize recreational pot.

ATLANTA, March 14, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — A new report by National Families in Action (NFIA) uncovers and documents how three billionaires, who favor legal recreational marijuana, manipulated the ballot initiative process in 16 U.S. states for more than a decade, convincing voters to legalize medical marijuana. NFIA is an Atlanta-based non-profit organization, founded in 1977, that has been helping parents prevent children from using alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. NFIA researched and issued the paper to mark its 40th anniversary.

The NFIA study, Tracking the Money That’s Legalizing Marijuana and Why It Matters, exposes, for the first time, the money trail behind the marijuana legalization effort during a 13-year period. The report lays bare the strategy to use medical marijuana as a runway to legalized recreational pot, describing how financier George Soros, insurance magnate Peter Lewis, and for-profit education baron John Sperling (and groups they and their families fund) systematically chipped away at resistance to marijuana while denying that full legalization was their goal.

The report documents state-by-state financial data, identifying the groups and the amount of money used either to fund or oppose ballot initiatives legalizing medical or recreational marijuana in 16 states. The paper unearths how legalizers fleeced voters and outspent — sometimes by hundreds of times — the people who opposed marijuana.

Tracking the Money That’s Legalizing Marijuana and Why It Matters illustrates that legalizers lied about the health benefits of marijuana, preyed on the hopes of sick people, flouted scientific evidence and advice from the medical community and gutted consumer protections against unsafe, ineffective drugs. And, it proves that once the billionaires achieved their goal of legalizing recreational marijuana (in Colorado and Washington in 2012), they virtually stopped financing medical pot ballot initiatives and switched to financing recreational pot. In 2014 and 2016, they donated $44 million to legalize recreational pot in Alaska, Oregon, California, Arizona, Nevada, Massachusetts and Maine. Only Arizona defeated the onslaught (for recreational marijuana).

Unravelling the Legalization Strategy: Behind the Curtain

In 1992, financier George Soros contributed an estimated $15 million to several groups he advised to stop advocating for outright legalization and start working toward what he called more winnable issues such as medical marijuana. At a press conference in 1993, Richard Cowen, then-director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said, “The key to it [full legalization] is medical access. Because, once you have hundreds of thousands of people using marijuana medically, under medical supervision, the whole scam is going to be blown. The consensus here is that medical marijuana is our strongest suit. It is our point of leverage which will move us toward the legalization of marijuana for personal use.”

Between 1996 and 2009, Soros, Lewis and Sperling contributed 80 percent of the money to medicalize marijuana through state ballot initiatives. Their financial contributions, exceeding $15.7 million (of the $19.5 million total funding), enabled their groups to lie to voters in advertising campaigns, cover up marijuana’s harmful effects, and portray pot as medicine — leading people to believe that the drug is safe and should be legal for any use.
Today, polls show how successful the billionaires and their money have been. In 28 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, voters and, later, legislators have shown they believe marijuana is medicine, even though most of the scientific and medical communities say marijuana is not medicine and should not be legal. While the most recent report, issued by the National Academies of Sciences (NAS), finds that marijuana may alleviate certain kinds of pain, it also finds there is no rigorous, medically acceptable documentation that marijuana is effective in treating any other illness. At the same time, science offers irrefutable evidence that marijuana is addictive, harmful and can hinder brain development in adolescents. At the distribution level, there are no controls on the people who sell to consumers. Budtenders (marijuana bartenders) have no medical or pharmaceutical training or qualifications.

One tactic used by legalizers was taking advantage of voter empathy for sick people, along with the confusion about science and how the FDA approves drugs. A positive finding in a test tube or petri dish is merely a first step in a long, rigorous process leading to scientific consensus about the efficacy of a drug. Scientific proof comes after randomized, controlled clinical trials, and many drugs with promising early stage results never make it through the complex sets of hurdles that prove efficacy and safety. But marijuana legalizers use early promise and thin science to persuade and manipulate empathetic legislators and voters into buying the spin that marijuana is a cure-all.

People who are sick already have access to two FDA-approved drugs, dronabinol and nabilone, that are not marijuana, but contain identical copies of some of the components of marijuana. These drugs, available as pills, effectively treat chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and AIDS wasting. The NAS reviewed 10,700 abstracts of marijuana studies conducted since 1999, finding that these two oral drugs are effective in adults for the conditions described above. An extract containing two marijuana chemicals that is approved in other countries, reduces spasticity caused by multiple sclerosis. But there is no evidence that marijuana treats other diseases, including epilepsy and most of the other medical conditions the states have legalized marijuana to treat. These conditions range from Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and Crohn’s disease to Hepatitis-C, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and even sickle cell disease.

Not So Fast — What about the Regulations?
Legalizers also have convinced Americans that unregulated cannabidiol, a marijuana component branded as cannabis oil, CBD, or Charlotte’s Web, cures intractable seizures in children with epilepsy, and polls show some 90 percent of Americans want medical marijuana legalized, particularly for these sick children. In Colorado, the American Epilepsy Society reports that children with epilepsy are receiving unregulated, highly variable artisanal preparations of cannabis oil recommended, in most cases, by doctors with no training in paediatrics, neurology or epilepsy. Young patients have had severe dystonic reactions and other movement disorders, developmental regression, intractable vomiting and worsening seizures that can be so severe that their physicians have to put the child into a coma to get the seizures to stop. Because of these dangerous side effects, not one paediatric neurologist in Colorado, where unregulated cannabidiol is legal, recommends it for these children.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta further clouded the issue when he produced Weed in 2013, a three-part documentary series for CNN on marijuana as medicine. In all three programs, Dr. Gupta promoted CBD oil, the kind the American Epilepsy Society calls artisanal. This is because not one CBD product sold in legal states has been purified to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards, tested, or proven safe and effective. The U.S. Congress and the FDA developed rigid processes to review drugs and prevent medical tragedies such as birth defects caused by thalidomide. These processes have facilitated the greatest advances in medicine in history.

“By end-running the FDA, three billionaires have been willing to wreck the drug approval process that has protected Americans from unsafe, ineffective drugs for more than a century,” said Sue Rusche, president and CEO of National Families in Action and author of the report. “Unsubstantiated claims for the curative powers of marijuana abound.” No one can be sure of the purity, content, side effects or potential of medical marijuana to cause cancer or any other disease. When people get sick from medical marijuana, there are no uniform mechanisms to recall products causing the harm. Some pot medicines contain no active ingredients. Others contain contaminants. “Sick people, especially children, suffer while marijuana medicine men make money at their expense,” added Ms. Rusche.

Marijuana Industry — Taking a Page from the Tobacco Industry
The paper draws a parallel between the marijuana and tobacco industries, both built with the knowledge that a certain percentage of users will become addicted and guaranteed lifetime customers. Like tobacco, legalized marijuana will produce an unprecedented array of new health, safety and financial consequences to Americans and their children.

“Americans learned the hard way about the tragic effects of tobacco and the deceptive practices of the tobacco industry. Making another addictive drug legal unleashes a commercial business that is unable to resist the opportunity to make billions of dollars on the back of human suffering, unattained life goals, disease, and death,” said Ms. Rusche. “If people genuinely understood that marijuana can cause cognitive, safety and mental health problems, is addictive, and that addiction rates may be three times higher than reported, neither voters nor legislators would legalize pot.”
The paper and the supporting data are available at www.nationalfamilies.org.
About National Families in Action

National Families in Action is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization that was founded in Atlanta, Georgia in 1977. The organization helped lead a national parent movement credited with reducing drug use among U.S. adolescents and young adults by two-thirds between 1979 and 1992. For forty years, it has provided complex scientific information in understandable language to help parents and others protect children’s health. It tracks marijuana science and the marijuana legalization movement on its Marijuana Report website and its weekly e-newsletter of the same name.

Source: https://globenewswire.com/news-release/2017/03/14/936283/0/en/New-Report-by-National-Families-in-Action-Rips-the-Veil-Off-the-Medical-Marijuana-Industry.html

The following letter was submitted to the US government Food and Drug Adminstration by Australian Professor Dr. Stuart Reece as evidence against the suggested re-scheduling of cannabinoids in the USA. This item can be found online where a full list of carefully researched references is included. Professor Reece has produced an extraordinary article which should be widely read.

We cannot recommend this article highly enough.

NDPA April 2018

http://GordonDrugAbusePrevention.com

This website has been created as a public service to help address the problem of the use of marijuana and other mood- and mind-altering substances in the United States and around the world. A purpose is help inform the public, the media, and those in positions of public responsibility of the challenges facing the nation as a result of the widespread use of psychoactive and mood-altering substances, particularly marijuana and designer drugs. The harmful effects of these substances have not been well understood. In fact, there is great ignorance of the harmful effects of marijuana and other drugs that are being used for experimental or recreational purposes. The implications that the harmful effects that these drugs have for the health and wellbeing of individuals, families, and society are legion. * * * * * * *

Federal Register Submission
Food and Drug Administration,
10903 New Hampshire Ave.,
Silver Spring,
MD, 20993-0002, USA.

Re: Re-Scheduling of Cannabinoids in USA – Tetrahydrocannabinol and Cannabidiol Related Arteriopathy, Genotoxicity and Teratogenesis

I am very concerned about the potential for increased cannabis availability in USA implied by full drug legalization; however, a comprehensive and authoritative submission of the evidence would take weeks and months to prepare. Knowing what we know now and indeed, what has been available in the scientific literature for a growing number of years concerning a myriad of harmful effects of marijuana, marijuana containing THC should not be reclassified.

These effects that are now well documented in the scientific literature include, alarmingly, harm involving reproductive function and birth anomalies as a result of exposure to or use of marijuana with THC. In addition to all of the usual concerns which you will have heard from many sources including the following I have further particular concerns:

1) Effect on developing brains

2) Effect on driving

3) Effect as a Gateway drug to other drug use including the opioid epidemic

4) Effect on developmental trajectory and failure to attain normal adult goals(stable relationship, work, education)

5) Effect on IQ and IQ regression

6) Effect to increase numerous psychiatric and psychological disorders

7) Effect on respiratory system

8) Effect on reproductive system

9) Effect in relation to immunity and immunosuppression

10) Effect of now very concentrated forms of cannabis, THC and CBD which are widely available

11) Outdated epidemiological studies which apply only to the era before cannabis became so potent and so concentrated

12) Cannabis is now known to have an important arteriopathic effect and cardiovascular toxic effect .

These issues are all well covered by a rich recent literature including reviews from such major international authorities as Dr Nora Volkow Director of NIDA, Professor Wayne Hall and others .

Cannabinoid Therapeutics

In my view the therapeutic effects of cannabinoids have been wildly inflated by the press. Moreover, with over 1,000 studies listed for cannabinoids on clinicaltrials.gov, the chance of a type I experimental error, or studies being falsely reported to be positive when in fact they are not, is at last 25/1,000 at the 0.05 level.

THC as dronabinol is actually a failed drug from USA which has such a high incidence of side effects that it was rarely used as superior agents are readily available for virtually all of its touted and alleged therapeutic applications. My American liaisons advise that dronabinol sales have climbed in recent times as patients use it as a ruse to avoid detection of cannabinoid use at work in states where it is not yet legal. So when I call it a failed therapeutic I mean in a traditional sense, not in the novel way it is now applied for flagrantly flouting the law.

In considering the alleged benefits of cannabis one has to be particularly mindful of cannabis addiction in which cannabinoids will alleviate the effect of drug withdrawal as they do in any other addiction. Moreover, the fact that cannabis itself is known to cause both pain and nausea, greatly complicates the interpretation of many studies.

I also have the following concerns which relate in sum to the arteriopathy and vasculopathy and the genotoxicity of cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol and likely including cannabidiol and various other cannabinoids:

Cannabinoid Arteriopathy

Particularly noteworthy amongst these various reports are two reports by Dr Nora Volkow in 2014, the Director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse at NIH to the New England Journal of Medicine which together document the adverse cardiovascular and cerebrovascular effects of cannabis at the epidemiological level ; a report from our own increase cardiovascular aging to BMJ Open ; a series of reports showing a fivefold

increase in the rate of heart attack within one hour after cannabis smoking ; several reports of cannabis related arteritis ; other reports of the cerebrovascular actions of cannabis ; documentation that cannabis exposure increases arterial stiffness and cardiovascular and organismal aging ; and a recent report showing that human endothelial vascular function – vasodilation – is substantially inhibited within just one minute of cannabis exposure .

It is also relevant that a synthetic cannabinoid was recently shown to directly induce both thromboxane synthase and lipoxygenase, and so be directly vasoconstrictive, prothrombotic and proinflammatory .

Vascular aging, including both macrovascular and microvascular aging is a major pathological feature not only because most adults in western nations die from myocardial infarction or cerebrovascular accidents, but also because local blood flow and microvascular function is a key determinant of stem cell niche activity in many stem cell beds. This has given rise to the vascular theory of aging which has been produced by some of the leading researchers at the National Health Lung and Blood Institute at NIH, amongst many others .

It can thus be said not only that “You are as old as your (macrovascular) arteries”, but also that “you are as old as your (microvascular) stem cells.” Hence the now compelling evidence for the little known arteriopathic complications of cannabis and cannabinoids, carry very far reaching implications indeed. This was confirmed directly in the clinical study of arterial stiffness from my clinic mentioned above .

Whilst aging, myocardial infarction and cerebrovascular accidents are all highly significant outcomes and major public health endpoints, these effects assume added significance in the context of congenital anomalies. Some congenital defects, such as gastroschisis, are thought to be due to a failure of vascular supply of part of the anterior abdominal wall . Hence in one recent study the unadjusted odds ratio of having a gastroschisis pregnancy amongst cannabis users (O.R.=8.03, 95%C.I. 5.63-11.46) was almost as high as that for heroin, cocaine and amphetamine users (O.R.= 9.35, 95%C.I.
6.64-13.15), and the adjusted odds ratio for any illicit drug use (of which was 84% cannabis) was O.R.=3.54 (95%C.I. 2.22-5.63) and for cannabis alone was said by these Canadian authors to be O.R.=3.0. Hence cannabis related vasculopathy – arteriopathy beyond its very serious implications in adults also carries implications for paediatric and congenital disorders and may also constitute a major teratogenic mechanism.

Cannabinoid Genotoxicity and Teratogenesis

Cannabis is associated with 11 cancers (lung, throat, bladder, airways, testes, prostate,

cervix, larynx) including;

Four congenital and thus inherited cancers (rhabdomyosarcoma, neuroblastoma,ALL,

AML and AMML);

Sativex product insert in many nations carries standard warning against its use by

males or females who might be having a baby.

Cannabis – and likely also CBD – is known to be associated with epigenetic changes

some of which are believed to be inheritable for at least four generations.

Cannabis is known to interfere with tubulin synthesis and binding and it also

acts via Stathmin so that microtubule function is impeded . This leads directly to

micronucleus formation. Cannabis has been known to test positive in the

micronucleus assay for over fifty years. This is a major and standard test for

genotoxicity. Micronucleus formation is known to lead directly to major chromosomal toxicity including chromosomal shattering – so-called chromothripsis –and is known to be associated with cell death, cancerogenesis and major foetal abnormalities.

Cannabis has also been linked definitively with congenital heart disease is a statement

by the American Heart Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2007, on the basis of just three epidemiological studies, all done in the days before cannabis became so concentrated. Congenital heart defects have also been linked with

the father’s cannabis use . Indeed, one study showed that paternal cannabis use was

the strongest risk factor of all for preventable congenital cardiac defects.

Cannabis has also been linked with gastroschisis in at least seven cohort and case

control studies some of which are summarized in a Canadian Government

Report 200. In that report the geographic incidence of most major congenital anomalies

closely paralleled the use of cannabis as described in other major Canadian reports.

The overall adjusted odds ratio for cannabis induction of gastroschisis was

quoted by these authors as 3.0. Moreover, outbreaks of both congenital heart disease and gastroschisis in North Carolina also paralleled the local use of cannabis in that state as described by Department of Justice Reports . The incidence of gastroschisis was noted to double in North Carolina 1999-2001 in the same period the cannabis trade there was rising.

Figures of cannabis use in pregnant women in California by age were also

recently reported to JAMA 229, age group trend lines by age group which closely

approximate those reported by CDC for the age incidence of gastroschisis in the USA

Importantly much of the cannabis coming into both North Carolina and Florida is said to originate in Mexico. An eight-fold rise in the rate of gastroschisis has been reported from Mexico . Gastroschisis has also risen in Washington state. Cannabis has also been associated with 17 other major congenital defects by major Hawaiian epidemiological study reported by Forrester in 2007 when it was used alone

When considered in association with other drug use – which in many cases cannabis leads to – cannabis use was associated with a further 19 major congenital defects. In addition to the effect of cannabinoids on the epigenome and microtubules, cannabinoids have been firmly linked to a reduction of the ability of the cell to produce energy from their mitochondria. An extensive and robust evidence base now links cellular energy generation to the maintenance and care of cellular DNA .

Moreover, as the cellular energy charge falls so too DNA maintenance collapses, and indeed, the cell can spiral where its remaining energy resources, particularly as NAD+, are routed into failing and futile DNA repair, the cell slips into pseudohypoxic metabolism like the Warburg effect well known in cancerogenesis , NAD+ falls below the level required for further energy generation and cellular metabolism collapses. Hence this well-established collapse of the mitochondrial energy charge and transmembrane potential forms a potent engine of continuing and accelerating genotoxicity .

Moreover, the well documented decline in mitochondrial respiration induced by cannabinoids, including tetrahydrocannabinol, cannabidiol and anandamide achieves particular significance in the light of the robustly documented decline in cellular energetics including NAD+ which not only occurs with age but indeed, has now been shown to be one of the primary drivers of cellular and whole organismal aging. It follows therefore that cannabinoid administration (including THC andCBD) necessarily phenocopies cellular aging. This implies of course that cannabinoid dependent patients are old at the cellular level. Indeed, normal human aging is phenocopied in the clinical syndrome of cannabinoid dependence which includes:

1) Neurological deficits in:

i) attention,

ii) learning and

iii) memory;

iv) social withdrawal and disengagement and

v) academic and

vi) occupational underachievement

2) Psychiatric disorders including

i) Anxiety,

ii) Depression,

iii) Mixed Psychosis

iv) Bipolar Affective disorder and

v) Schizophrenia,

3) Respiratory disorders including:

i) Asthma

ii) Chronic Bronchitis (increased sputum production)

iii) Emphysema (Increased residual volume)

iv) Probably increased carcinomas of the aerodigestive tract

4) Immune suppression which generally implies

i) segmental immunostimulation in some parts of the immune system since the innate and adaptive immune systems exert profound homeostatic mechanisms in response to suppression of one of its parts. A Substantial literature on immunostimulation

5) Reproductive effects generally characterized by reduced

i) Male and

ii) Female fertility

6) Cardiovascular toxicity with elevated rates of

i) Myocardial infarction

ii) Cerebrovascular accident

iii) Arteritis

iv) Vascular age – vascular stiffness

7) Genotoxicity in

i) Respiratory epithelium and

ii) Gonadal tissues.

8) Osteoporosis

9) Cancers of the

i) Head and neck

ii) Larynx

iii) Lung

iv) Leukaemia

v) Prostate

vi) Cervix

vii) Testes

viii) Bladder

ix) Childhood neuroblastoma

x) Childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia

xi) Childhood Acuter Myeloid and myelomonocytic leukaemia

xii) Childhood rhabdomyosarcoma 201,202.

The issue here of course is that cannabinoid dependence therefore copies without exception all of the major disorders of old age, each of which is also faithfully phenocopied by cannabis dependence.

The most prominent disorders of older age include:

1) Alzheimer’s disease

2) Cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease

3) Osteoporosis

4) Systemic inflammatory syndrome

5) Changes in lung volume and the mechanics of breathing

6) Cancers

Hence this provides one powerful pathway by which cannabinoid exposure can replicate and phenocopy the disorders of old age. This is not of course to suggest that this is the only such pathway. Obviously changes of the general level of immune activity, or alterations of the level of DNA repair occurring directly or indirectly associated with cannabis use can form similar such pathways: both are well documented in cannabis use and also in the aging literature as major pathways implicated in systemic aging.

Nevertheless, the decline in mitochondrial energetics together with its inherent genotoxic implications does seem to be a particularly well substantiated and robustly demonstrated pathway which must give serious pause to cannabinoid advocates if the sustainability of the health and welfare systems is to be factored in together with any consideration of individual patient, advocate and industrial-complex rights.

The genotoxicity of THC, CBD and CBN has been noted against sperm since at least 1999 (Zimmerman and Zimmerman in Nahas “Marijuana and Medicine” 1999, Springer). This is clearly highly significant as sperm go directly into the formation of the zygote and the new human individual. CB1R receptors are known to exist intracellularly on both the membranes of endoplasmic reticulum and mitochondria. In both locations they can induce organellar stress and major cell toxicity including disruption of DNA maintenance. Interestingly mitochondrial outer membrane CB1R’s signal via a complex signalling chain involving the G-protein transduction machinery, protein kinase A and cyclic-AMP across the intermembrane space to the inner membrane and cristae, in a fashion replicating much of the G-protein signalling occurring at the cell membrane. This machinery is also implicated in mitonuclear signalling, and the mitonuclear DNA balance between mitochondrial DNA and nuclear DNA transcriptional control, which has long been implicated in inducing the mitochondrial unfolded protein cellular stress response cell aging, stem cell behaviour and DNA genotoxic mechanisms.

You are no doubt aware that human sperm are structured like express outboard motors behind DNA packets with layers of mitochondria densely coiled around the rotating flagellum which powers their progress in the female reproductive tract. These mitochondria also carry CB1R’s and are significantly inhibited even at 100 nanomolar THC. The acrosome reaction is also inhibited .

Cannabidiol is known to act via the PPARγ system 101,302-308. PPARγ is known to have a major effect on gene expression, reproductive and embryonic and zygote function during development 309-332 so that significant genotoxic and / or teratogenic effects seem inevitable via this route. Drugs which act in this class, known as the thiazolidinediones, are classed as category B3 in pregnancy and caution is indicated in their use in pregnancy and lactation.

The Report of the Reproductive and Cancer Hazard Assessment Branch of the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment of the Health Department of California was mentioned above in connection with the carcinogenicity of marijuana smoke . Since virtually all mutagens are also teratogens it follows therefore from the basic tenets of mutagenesis that if cannabis is unsafe as a known carcinogen it must also be at the very least a putative teratogen.

CBD has also been noted to be a genotoxic in other studies . All of which points to major teratogenic activity for both THC and CBD. Some of the quotations from Professor James Graham’s classical book on the effects of THC in hamsters and white rabbits, the best animal models for human genotoxicity, bear repeating:

a) “The concentration of THC was relatively low and the malignancy severe.”

b) “40-100μg resin/ml there occurred marked inhibition of cell division.

c) “large total dose, Hamsters, 25-300mg/kg …“oedema,phocomelia,omphalocoele, spina bifida, exencephaly, multiple malformations and myelocoele. This is a formidable list.”

d) “It is to this anti-mitotic action that the authors attribute the embryotoxic action of cannabis.”

e) “By such criteria resin or extract of cannabis would be forbidden to women

during the first three months of pregnancy.”

Indeed, even from the other side of the world I have heard many exceedingly adverse reports from US states in which cannabis has been legalized including Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Florida and California. Taken together the above evidence suggests that these negative reports stem directly from the now known actions of cannabis and cannabinoids, and are by no means incidental epiphenomena somehow related to social constructs surrounding cannabis use or the product forms, dosages, or routes of administration involved.

Cannabis that contains increasingly high levels of THC is now widely available, particularly in the jurisdictions where the use of cannabis has been legalized. This means that another major genotoxin, akin to Thalidomide, is being unleashed on the USA and the world. This is clearly a very grave, and. indeed, an entirely preventable occurrence.

Dr Frances Kelsey of FDA is said to have the public servant based at FDA who saved American from the thalidomide scandal which devastated so many other English-speaking nations including my own . This occurred because the genotoxicity section of the file application with FDA was blank. It was blank because thalidomide tested positive in various white rabbit and guinea pig assays. It is these same tests which cannabis is known to have failed. Dr Kelsey’s photograph has been published in the medical press with President Kennedy for her service to the nation. The challenge to FDA at this time seems whether Science can triumph over agenda driven populism, its primary vehicle, the mass media, and its primary proximate driver the burgeoning cannabis industry. Since FDA is the Federal agency par excellence where Health Science is weighed, commissioned and thoughtfully considered the challenge in our time would appear to be no less.

Evidence to date does not suggest that major congenital malformations are as common after prenatal cannabis exposure as they are after prenatal thalidomide exposure. Nevertheless the qualitative similarities remain and indeed are prominent. It is yet to be seen whether the rate of congenital anomalies after cannabis are quantitatively as common: epidemiological studies in a high potency era have not been undertaken; and even the birth defects rates from most birth defects registers in western nations including that held by CDC, Atlanta appear to be seriously out of date at the time of writing. Moreover the non-linear dose response curve in many cannabis genotoxicity studies which includes a sharp knee bend upwards beyond a certain threshold level which suggests that we could well be in for a very unpleasant quantitative surprise. At the time of writing this remains to be formally determined.

Dr Bertha Madras, Professor of Addiction Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School has recently argued against re-scheduling of cannabis. Her comments include the following:

“Why do nations schedule drugs? …… Nations schedule psychoactive drugs because we revere this three-pound organ (of our brain) differently than any other part of our body. It is the repository of our humanity. It is the place that enables us to write poetry and to do theater, to conjure up calculus and send rockets to Pluto three billion miles away, and to create I Phones and 3 D computer printing. And that is the magnificence of the human brain. Drugs can influence (the brain) adversely. So, this is not a war on drugs. This is a defense of our brains, the ultimate source of our humanity” .

I look forward to seeing the comments that you post concerning the reasons why the classification for marijuana should not be changed and that, indeed, the public should be alerted to the very harmful effects of marijuana with THC, especially in light of the wide range of marijuana’s harmful effects and the high potency of THC in today’s marijuana and in light of the idiosyncratic effects of marijuana of even low doses of THC and owing to the certain risk of harm to progeny and babies born to users of marijuana.

Please feel free to call on me if you would like further information concerning the research to which I have referred herein.

Yours sincerely,

Professor Dr. Stuart Reece, MBBS (Hons.), FRCS(Ed.), FRCS(Glas.), FRACGP, MD(UNSW). School of Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences Edith Cowan University and University of Western Australia, Perth, WA stuart.reece@uwa.edu.au

Source: http://GordonDrugAbusePrevention.com.

July 2017 Revised January 2018

Injury Prevention Centre: Who we are

The Injury Prevention Centre (IPC) is a provincial organization that focuses on reducing catastrophic injury and death in Alberta. We act as a catalyst for action by supporting communities and decision-makers with knowledge and tools. We raise awareness about preventable injuries as an important component of lifelong health and wellness. We are funded by an operating grant from Alberta Health and we are housed at the School of Public Health, University of Alberta.

Injury in Alberta

Injuries are the leading cause of death for Albertans aged 1 to 44 years. In 2014, injuries resulted in 2,118 deaths, 63,913 hospital admissions and 572,653 emergency department visits. Of all age groups, young adults, 20 to 24 years old had the highest percentage of injury deaths with 84.9%. Youth, 15 to 19 years of age had the second highest percentage of injury deaths with 76.4%.

1. Alberta is spending an estimated $4 billion annually on injury – that amounts to $1,083.00 for every Albertan.

2. Potential impact of cannabis legalization on injury in Alberta In 2018, the Government of Canada will legalize the use of cannabis for recreational purposes. In the United States, some jurisdictions have similarly legalized cannabis for recreational use and have collected data on the changes in injuries due to cannabis use. Jurisdictions that have legalized the use of recreational as well as medical cannabis have experienced increases in injuries due to burns (100%), pediatric ingestion of cannabis (48%), drivers testing positive for cannabis and/or alcohol and drugs (9%), drivers testing positive for THC (6%) and drivers testing positive for the metabolite caboxy-THC (12%) when comparing pre- and post-legalization numbers.

3. (pg. 149) Of greatest concern are the traffic outcomes. “Fatalities substantially increased after legislation in Colorado and Washington, from 49 (in 2010) to 94 (in 2015) in Colorado, and from 40 to 85 in Washington. These outcomes suggest that after legislation, more people are driving while impaired by cannabis.”

4. (pg.155) Alberta can expect to see similar changes in injuries when the new laws take effect. The objective of this document is to recommend policies for inclusion in the Alberta Cannabis Framework that will minimize negative impacts of cannabis legalization on injuries to Albertans. Our focus is on:

* Preventing Cannabis-Impaired Driving

* Preventing Poisoning of Children by Cannabis

* Preventing Burns due to Combustible Solvent Hash Oil Extraction

* Preventing Other Injuries due to Cannabis Impairment

* Developing Surveillance to Identify Trends in Cannabis-Related injury

* Implementing a Comprehensive Public Education Plan

Injuries due to cannabis impairment in Alberta can be expected to rise following the legalization of recreational cannabis use. To mitigate the negative effects of legalization on injuries in Alberta, the Injury Prevention Centre recommends the Government of Alberta take the following actions for:

Preventing Cannabis-Impaired Driving

Impose administrative sanctions at a lower limit than Criminal Code impairment

Mandate a lower per se levels for THC/alcohol co-use

Increase sanctions for co-use of alcohol and cannabis

Separate cannabis and alcohol outlets by the creation of a public retail system for the distribution of cannabis products

Support Research to Improve Enforcement Tools

Apply sufficient resources to training and enforcement

Conduct public education regarding cannabis-impaired driving .

Preventing Poisoning of Children by Cannabis

Uphold federal legislation regarding packaging

Support public education on cannabis poisoning’

Preventing Burns due to Combustible Solvent Hash Oil Extraction

Prohibit the production of cannabis products using combustible solvents if it fails to appear in federal Bill C45.

Implement public education regarding the dangers of producing cannabis products using combustible solvents

Preventing Other Injuries due to Cannabis-Impairment

Inform the public about the risks of other activities when impaired

Develop Surveillance to Identify Trends in Cannabis-Related injury

Collect and analyze emergency department, hospital admission and death data for injuries involving cannabis impairment

Develop and implement a comprehensive public education campaign about the safe use of cannabis

Source: https://injurypreventioncentre.ca/downloads/positions/IPC%20-%20Cannabis%20Legalization Jan. 2018

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Even as a marijuana legalization gains traction around the U.S. and the world, the anti-pot contingent soldiers on to promote its own agenda. These advocates are on a mission to keep marijuana illegal where it is, make it illegal where it is not and to inform the public of the dangers of marijuana legalization as they see it.

So who are these anti-marijuana legalization crusaders?

They come from different backgrounds. Some come from the business world. Two are former White House cabinet members. Another is an academic. Two are former ambassadors. One is the scion of a famous political family. Many are psychiatrists or psychologists. Others are former addicts. Still others are in the field of communications. Oh – one is a Pope.

They have different motivations. Some act because of the people they met who suffered from drug abuse. Others are staunch in their positions for moral reasons and concern for the nation’s future; still others for medical and scientific reasons.

Here is a list of the most significant:

  1. Calvina Fay

Drug Free America Foundation, Inc. and Save Our Society From Drugs (SOS). She is also the founder and director of the International Scientific and Medical Forum on Drug Abuse.

She was a drug policy advisor to President George W. Bush and former Tennessee Governor Lamar Alexander. She has been a U.S. delegate and lecturer at international conferences.

President Bush acknowledged her efforts in drug prevention in 2008, and in 2009 she received the President’s Award from the National Narcotics Officers Associations Coalition.

She related during an interview that she became involved in the world of countering drug abuse as a businessperson. She started a company that wrote drug policy for employers, educated employees on the dangers of drugs and trained supervisors on how to recognize drug abuse. It was from this that she became aware of the gravity of the issue.

“People used to come to me to tell me they had a nephew or niece who had a drug problem,” Fay said. “This was when I realized how broad a problem this is. It became personally relevant at one point.”

President Bush acknowledged her efforts in drug prevention in 2008, and in 2009 she received the President’s Award from the National Narcotics Officers Associations Coalition.

I realized how broad a problem this is. It became personally relevant at one point.”

After she sold her company, she was approached by the DEA and the Houston Chamber of Commerce to improve the way substance abuse in the workplace was addressed. After a while she built a coalition of about 3,000 employers.

During this time she kept meeting more and more people who were addicted or had loved ones who were. So it became important to her to be involved in drug abuse prevention and treatment. She then became aware of the movement to legalize drugs.

“I knew that we had to push back against legalization, because if we did not prevention and treatment would not matter,” Fay asserted.

  1. Kevin Sabet

Sabet is the director of the Drug Policy Institute at the University of Florida, where he is an assistant professor in the psychiatry department at the College of Medicine.

He is a co-founder of Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) and has been called the quarterback of the anti-drug movement.

Sabet served in the Obama Administration as a senior advisor for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) from 2009-2011. He previously worked on research, policy and speech writing at ONDCP in 2000 and from 2003-2004 in the Clinton and Bush Administrations, respectively. This gives him the distinction of being the only staff member at ONDCP to hold a political appointment in both the Bush and Obama Administrations.

He was one of three main writers of President Obama’s first National Drug Control Strategy, and his tasks included leading the office’s efforts on marijuana policy, legalization issues, international demand reduction,drugged driving and synthetic drug (e.g. “Spice” and “Bath Salts”) policy. Sabet represented ONDCP in numerous meetings and conferences, and played a key role in the Administration’s international drug legislative and diplomatic efforts at the United Nations.

He is also a policy consultant to numerous domestic and international organizations through his company, the Policy Solutions Lab. His current clients include the United Nations, where he holds a senior advisor position at the Italy-based United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) and other governmental and non-governmental organizations.

Sabet is published widely in peer-reviewed journals and books on the topics of legalization, marijuana decriminalization, medical marijuana, addiction treatment, drug prevention, crime and law enforcement.

He is a Marshall Scholar. He received his Ph.D. and M.S. in Social Policy at Oxford University and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley.

  1. Bill Bennett

Bennett was a former “drug czar” (i.e. director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy) during the administration of President George H.W. Bush. Prior to that he was the Secretary of Education in the Reagan administration. Bennett is a prolific author – including two New York Times Number- One bestsellers; he is the host of the number seven ranked nationally syndicated radio show Morning in America. He studied philosophy at Williams College (B.A.) and the University of Texas (Ph.D.) and earned a law degree from Harvard.

Bennett, along with former prosecutor Robert White, recently penned an op-ed piece for the Wall Street Journal calling marijuana a public health menace. The two are also finishing a book about marijuana legalization which is due out in February 2015.

Bennett frequently features on his radio show guests warning of the dangers of marijuana legalization. He is concerned that while the science shows that legalizing marijuana is not beneficial, public opinion is going in the other direction.

Why is he involved in this? Simply put, he thinks marijuana legalization is bad for America. The author of the acclaimed series of books about American history called America: The Last Best Hope thinks marijuana legalization will have deleterious effect on Americans, especially the youth of America.

“Because as Jim Wilson said, drugs destroy your mind and enslave your soul,” he told MainStreet.

“Medical science now proves it,” he added.

  1. Patrick Kennedy

The other co-founder of Project SAM is former Rhode Island Democrat congressman Patrick Kennedy, son of Ted Kennedy. When he started SAM in Denver in 2013, Kennedy, who has admitted past drug use, was quoted as saying, “I believe that drug use, which is to alter the mind, is injurious to the mind … It’s nothing that society should sanction.”

His organization seeks a third way to address the drug problem, one that “neither legalizes or demonizes marijuana.” Kennedy does not think incarceration is the answer. He wants to make small amounts a civil offense. He emphasizes his belief that public health officials need to be heeded on this issue and they are not. He predicts that, if legalized, marijuana will become another tobacco industry.

“The thought that we will have a new legalized drug does not make sense to me,” Kennedy said during a 2013 MSNBC interview.

  1. Joseph Califano

This former Carter administration U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare founded, in 1992, the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (since 2013, it has been called CASAColumbia). He is currently the chairman emeritus. The center has been a powerful voice for research, fundraising and outreach on the dangers of addiction. It shines the light, especially on the perils of marijuana for adolescents.

Recently Califano released an updated edition of his book How to Raise a Drug-Free Kid: The Straight Dope for Parents. He believes an update was needed because of the advances in science regarding youth and substance abuse that have occurred during the past five years.

He zeroes in on marijuana in the book, which he says is more potent today than it was 30 or 40 years ago. He points out – during an interview about the book published on the CASAColumbia website – the hazards of “synthetic marijuana” also known as Spice or K2. He says this is available in convenient stores and gas stations but is so lethal it was banned in New Hampshire.

Califano stresses that parents are the bulwark against substance abuse and addiction. He cited data during the interview that “70% of college students say their parents’ concerns or expectations influence whether or how much they drink, smoke or use drugs. Parental disapproval of such conduct is key to kids getting through the college years drug free. This is the time for you to use social media to keep in touch with your kids.”

He makes the analogy that “sending your children to college without coaching them about how to deal with drugs and alcohol is like giving them the keys to the car without teaching them how to drive.”

  1. Stuart Gitlow

Gitlow is the President of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), a professional organization representing over 3,000 addiction specialist physicians.

In 2005, he also started the Annenberg Physician Training Program in Addictive Disease at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, NY. He is currently executive director. He is on the faculty of both the University of Florida and Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

About ASAM’s attitudes toward marijuana, he said:

“Our positions and policies with respect to marijuana have been developed over many decades and have been updated based upon the latest scientific evidence. We are firmly opposed to legalization of marijuana and reject the notion that the plant marijuana has any medical application.”

That said, he believes anecdotal evidence supports that more research should be conducted to deduce which parts of the marijuana plan can havemedical value.

Why did he get involved in this?

“I didn’t get involved in this as a “crusader” or because of a specific interest, but rather because I serve as the spokesperson for ASAM,” he told MainStreet.com. “In fact, though, given that there is so much industry-sourced money financing the marijuana proponents, and that the science-based opposition has little funding at all, I recognize the need for the public to actually hear what the facts are, particularly given the media bias and conflict of interest in terms of being motivated by potential ad revenue.”

  1. David Murray

A senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, Washington D.C., Murray co-directs the Center for Substance Abuse Policy Research. While serving previous posts as chief scientist and associate deputy director for supply reduction in the federal government’s Office of National Drug Control Policy. Before entering government, Murray, who holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in social anthropology from the University of Chicago, was executive director of the Statistical Assessment Service and held academic appointments at Connecticut College, Brown, Brandeis and Georgetown Universities.

What motivated him to get involved in a campaign to oppose marijuana legalization?

“It results from a steady regress from encountering a host of social pathologies (homelessness, failed school performance, domestic violence, child neglect, poverty, early crime, despair and suicide) and then time and again stumbling over a common denominator that either was a trigger or an accelerator of that pathology – substance abuse,” Murray told MainStreet. “Yet one finds as a dispassionate social analyst that the matter is either discounted, or overlooked, or not given sufficient weight, in the efforts to remediate the other surface manifestation pathologies,” he continued. “Moreover, one keeps encountering a sense that there is a closet with a door that is shut and it holds behind the door a host of explanations or guides to understanding of our woes, yet few are willing to open that door and address what lies behind it.”

He notes that even those who acknowledge the impact of substance abuse across so many maladies seem to not approach the problem with an open and searching mind. He said often one finds a ready-made narrative that serves to explain away the impact. The more that narrative is refuted “with counter argument or robust data indicating otherwise” the more social analysts resist or are in denial about the inadequacy of the standard narrative.

Subsequently, people who do criticize this encounter pressure from peers essentially telling to accept the narrative or shut up.

He mentions a good specific example can be found by encountering the reaction to the “gateway hypothesis” regarding early marijuana exposure. The literature in support of the gateway is quite strong he says.

“Yet everywhere the dominant response is to evade the implications,” he points out. “Our analysts pose alternative and unlikely accountings that seem practically Ptolemaic in their complicated denial of the obviously more simple and more real mechanism: exposure to the drug does, in fact, increase the likelihood of developing dependency on other, ‘harder’ drugs in a measurable way.“

  1. John Walters

He was, from December 2001 to January 2009, the director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and a cabinet member during the Bush Administration. During this time he helped implement policies which decreased teen drug use 25% and increased substance abuse treatment and screening in the healthcare system.

He is a frequent media commentator and has written many articles opposing the legalization of marijuana. He points out many of the fallacies of the pro-legalization movement. His editorials, essays, and media appearances have refuted the claims of the New York Times, pro-legalization libertarians and others.

For example, during a July 2014 appearance on Fox News Walters responded to the editorial boards condoning legalizing pot. Walters said when the science is increasingly revealing the risks of marijuana the “New York Times wants to act like it time to be ruled by Cheech and Chong.”

Walters has taught political science at Michigan State University’s James Madison College and at Boston College. He holds a BA from Michigan State University and an MA from the University of Toronto.

  1. Robert DuPont

DuPont was the founding director of National Institute on Drug Abuse. He has written more than three hundred professional articles and fifteen books including Getting Tough on Gateway Drugs: A Guide for the Family, A Bridge to Recovery: An Introduction to Twelve-Step Programs and The Selfish Brain: Learning from Addiction. Hazelden, the nation’s leading publisher of books on addiction and recovery, published, in 2005, three books on drug testing by DuPont: Drug Testing in Drug Abuse Treatment, Drug Testing in Schools and Drug Testing in the Criminal Justice System.

DuPont is active in the American Society of Addiction Medicine. He continues to practice psychiatry with an emphasis on addiction and anxiety disorders. He has been Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Georgetown University School of Medicine since 1980. He is also the vice president of a consulting firm he co-founded in 1982 with former DEA director Peter Bensinger – Bensinger, DuPont and Associates. DuPont also founded, in 1978, the Institute for Behavior and Health a drug abuse prevention organization.

  1. Bertha Madras

A professor of psychobiology for the Department of Psychiatry of Harvard Medical School. She is in a new position at McLean Hospital, a Harvard Medical School hospital affiliate. She was a former deputy director for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).

She has done numerous studies about the nature of marijuana. She is the co-editor of The Cell Biology of Addiction, as well as the co-editor of the 2014 books Effects of Drug Abuse in the Human Nervous System andImaging of the Human Brain in Health and Disease.

She rejects the claims of pot proponents. For example, she states that the marijuana chemical content is not known or controlled. She also notes that the “effects of marijuana can vary considerably between plants” and that “no federal agency oversees marijuana, so dose or purity of the plant and the contaminants are not known.”

  1. Carla Lowe

A mother of five grown children, grandmother of nine, graduate of UC Berkeley and former high-school teacher, Lowe got started as a volunteer anti-drug activist in 1977 when her PTA Survey to Parents identified “drugs/alcohol” as their priority concern. She organized one of the nation’s first “Parent/Community” groups in her hometown of Sacramento and co-founded Californians for Drug-Free Youth. She also chaired the Nancy Reagan Speakers’ Bureau of the National Federation of Parents for Drug-Free Youth, co-founded Californians for Drug-Free Schools, and in 2010 founded an all-volunteer Political Action Committee, Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana (CALM)

She has travelled throughout the U.S. and the world speaking to the issue of illicit drug use, primarily marijuana, and its impact on our young people. As a volunteer consultant for the U.S. State Department and Department of Education, she has addressed parents, students, community groups and heads of state in Brazil, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Pakistan, Germany, Italy, Ireland, and Australia.

CALM, is currently working with parents, law enforcement, and local community elected officials to stop the proliferation of marijuana by banning “medical” marijuana dispensaries and defeating the proposed 2016 ballot measure in California that will legalize recreational use of marijuana.

She wants to go national and is part of an effort to start Citizens Against Legalization of Marijuana-U.S.A. that will also function as a Political Action Committee dedicated to defeating legalization efforts throughout the country.

Lowe is a strong proponent of non-punitive random student drug testing. She believes this is the single most effective tool for preventing illicit drug use by our youth, and will result in billions of dollars in savings to our budget and downstream savings from the wreckage to our society in law enforcement, health and welfare, and education.

 

  1. Christian Thurstone

He is one of a few dozen mental health professionals in America who are board certified in general, child and adolescent, and addictions psychiatry. He is the medical director of one of Colorado’s largest youth substance-abuse treatment clinics and an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Colorado Denver, where he conducts research on youth substance use and addiction.

According to a May 2013 interview posted on the University of Colorado website, Thurstone was named an Advocate for Action by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy in October 2012 for his “outstanding leadership in promoting an evidence-based approach to youth substance use and addiction.”

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper named Thurstone to a state task force convened to make recommendations about how to implement Amendment 64, a constitutional amendment approved by Colorado voters in November 2012 to legalize the personal use and regulation of marijuana for adults 21 and older.

He became involved in the marijuana issue in 2009 “when a whole confluence of events occurred that led to the commercialization of marijuana….What matters is not so much the decriminalization; it’s the commercialization that affects people, especially kids. …95% of the treatment referrals to Denver Health are for marijuana. Nationwide, it’s two-thirds of the treatment referrals according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).”

  1. Peter Bensinger

Bensinger was a former DEA chief during the Ford, Carter and Reagan administrations. He was in the vanguard opposing medical marijuana in Illinois. He acknowledges medical marijuana as a value but he notes that it is available as a pill or spray, so the idea of legalizing smoked marijuana for medicinal purposes is merely a ploy.

  1. David Evans

The executive director of the Drug Free Schools Coalition before becoming a lawyer he was a research scientist, in the Division of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, New Jersey Department of Health. He was also the manager of the New Jersey intoxicated driving program. He has written numerous articles warning of the dangers of marijuana legalization.

  1. Pope Francis

The new pontiff, while being hailed by many as being a liberal influence in the Catholic Church has taken an intransigent line against marijuana legalization. This past June the new international pop culture icon told the 31st International Drug Enforcement Conference in Rome, “No a ogni tipo di droga (No to every type of drug).”

He was an active opponent of marijuana while a bishop in his native Argentina. He says now that attempts to legalize drugs do not produce the desired results.

He deplores the international drug trade as a scourge on humanity. Pope Francis has said it is a fallacy to say that more drug legalization will lead to less drug use.

  1. Dennis Prager

A nationally syndicated radio talk show host in Los Angeles, Prager has used his microphone to condemn marijuana legalization. He has asked rhetorically, “Would you rather your pilot smoke cigarettes or pot? and “ How would Britain have fared in World War II if Winston Churchill had smoked pot instead of cigars?

  1. Mel and Betty Sembler

The Semblers are longtime soldiers in the war on drugs. They co-founded, in 1976, a nonprofit drug treatment program called Straight, Inc. that successfully treated more than 12,000 young people with drug addiction in eight cities nationally from Dallas to Boston. They also help fund other organizations dedicated to opposing legalizing drugs including marijuana. Betty Sembler is the founder and Board Chair of Save Our Society From Drugs (S.O.S.) and the Drug Free America Foundation, Inc. Both organizations work to educate people about attempts to legalize as “medicine” unsafe, ineffective and unapproved drugs such as marijuana,heroin, PCP and crack as well as to reduce illegal drug use, drug addiction and drug-related illnesses and death.

  1. Seth Leibsohn

Leibsohn is a radio host, writer, editor, policy, political and communications expert. He is a former member of the board of directors of the Partnership for a Drug Free America-Arizona Affiliate.

He told MainStreet that he got involved in the campaign against marijuana after seeing the effects of pot smoking on a college friend.

“One thing I noticed and never left my mind was a friend I had in college who so very clearly, freshman year, was one of the most gifted and intelligent thinkers and writers I had ever met,” he said. ” I predicted to myself and others, he’d be the next big American author, published in The New Yorker, books of short stories galore. But then he picked up a really habitual marijuana smoking practice. He smoked, probably, daily. This was the mid to late ’80s. And to this day, I believe he is still a smoker….and he is a waste-case. Lazy, never had a serious job, never published a serious piece of writing, totally ended up opposite what I had predicted. That story never left my mind.”

Leibsohn also noticed this was happening more and more. But the problem really was driven home while he was the producer and co-host for the Bill Bennett radio show, Morning in America.

“We noticed something very interesting: whenever we dealt with the issues of drug abuse, and particularly marijuana, the phone lines lit up like no other issue,” he said. “We had doctors, we had nurses, we had truckers, we had small businessmen, we had housewives, we had moms, we had brothers, we had teachers, we had sisters, we had aunts, we had uncles telling us story after story of the damage marijuana and other drugs had done to their and their loved ones lives. It amazed me how widespread the issue is. I concluded, to myself, this issue of substance abuse may very well be the most important and damaging health issue in America.”

He also noticed that “there just weren’t that many who seemed to give a serious damn about it.” He said Joe Califano and Bill Bennett were about the only ones he knew with a large microphone or following who would address the issue. The silence in other precincts and from others was astounding to him.

“I still am amazed not more people are taking this as seriously as it should be taken,” he said. “But I know, too, that any family that has been through the substance abuse roller coaster, needs to know they are not alone, and they are the real experts–their stories tell the tale I wish more children and pro-legalizers could hear. Today, I still talk, write, and research on the issue and have joined the board of a non-profit dedicated to helping on it as well,” he explained.

  1. Alexandra Datig

A political advisor and consultant who has experience of more than 13 years on issues of drug policy she was instrumental in the defeat of California Proposition 19, The Regulate Control & Tax Cannabis Act. Datig serves on the Advisory Board for the Coalition for a Drug Free California, the largest drug prevention coalition in California.

She became involved in the anti-marijuana legalization movement because of her own experiences. She was working in politics at the local and state level for over eight years by 2009, but she also reached ten years in sobriety from a 13-year drug addiction that nearly cost her her life. When California Proposition 19 came along, she decided “to jump in and form my own independent campaign committee “Nip It In The Bud.”

“I began reaching out to several other committees, drug prevention groups and law enforcement and together we built a powerful statewide coalition for which I became one of its leading advisors and strategists,” she told MainStreet

“Today, I consider myself a miracle, because I was able to turn my life around,” she told MainStreet. “This is not something I could have done had I not gotten sober. Having rebuilt my life in recovery, I believed that my experience could convince voters that legalizing a drug like marijuana for recreational use would make our roads more dangerous and, much like cigarettes, was targeted at our youth. That legalization would cause harm to first time users, people who suffer from depression and mental disorders and especially people vulnerable to addiction or relapse.”

  1. Monte Stiles

A former state and federal prosecutor, Stiles supervised the Organized Crime/Drug Enforcement Task Force – a group of agents and prosecutors who investigate and prosecute high-level drug trafficking organizations, including Los Angeles street gangs, Mexican cartels and international drug smuggling and money laundering operations.

One of his proudest personal and career achievements was the organization and implementation of the statewide “Enough is Enough” anti-drug campaign which produced community coalitions in every area of Idaho. In addition to the prosecution of drug traffickers, Monte has been a passionate drug educator and motivational speaker for schools, businesses, churches, law enforcement agencies, and other youth and parent organizations. He left government service in April 2011 to devote all of his time to drug education, other motivational speaking and nature photography.

 

Source:   ZOHYDRO Backlash,  ACCBO newsletter, April-June 2014

There has been a lot of talk recently about marijuana legalization — increasing tax revenue for states, getting nonviolent offenders out of the prison system, protecting personal liberty, possible health benefits for those with severe illnesses. These are good and important conversations to have, and smart people from across the ideological spectrum are sharing their perspectives.

But one key dimension of the issue has been left out of the discussion until now: the marketing machine that will spring up to support these now-legal businesses, and the detrimental effect this will have on our kids.

Curious how this might work? Look no further than Big Tobacco. In 1999, the year after a massive legal settlement that restricted certain forms of advertising, the major cigarette companies spent a record $8.4 billion on marketing. In 2011, that number reached $8.8 billion, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. To put it into context, the auto industry spent less than half of that on advertising in 2011, and car ads are everywhere.

At the same time, despite advertising bans, these notoriously sneaky tobacco companies continue to find creative ways to target kids. Data from the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that the most heavily marketed brands of cigarettes were also the most popular among people under 18.

This is not a coincidence, and gets to the very core of Big Tobacco’s approach: Hook them young, and they have a customer for life. Why do we think the legal marijuana industry will behave differently from Big Tobacco? When the goal is addiction, all bets are off.

In Colorado, where there are new rules governing how legal marijuana is advertised in traditional media, there are still many opportunities to market online and at concerts, festivals and other venues where kids will be present. Joe Camel might be retired, but he’s been replaced by other gimmicks to get kids hooked — like snus and flavored cigarettes. The marijuana industry is following suit by manufacturing THC candies, cookies, lollipops and other edibles that look harmless but aren’t. Making marijuana mainstream will also make it more available, more acceptable and more dangerous to our kids.

Addiction is big business, and with legal marijuana it’s only getting bigger.

Not surprisingly, Big Tobacco is also getting on the marijuana bandwagon. Manufacturers Altria and Brown & Williamson have registered domain names that include the words “marijuana” and “cannabis.” Imagine how much they will spend peddling their new brand of addiction to our kids. We cannot sit by while these companies open a new front in their battle against our children’s health.

Why is this an issue? There is a mistaken assumption that marijuana is harmless. It is not. Marijuana use is linked with mental illness, depression, anxiety and psychosis. It affects parts of the brain responsible for memory, learning, attention and reaction time. Developing brains are especially susceptible to all of the negative effects of marijuana and other drug use. In fact, poison control centers in Colorado and Washington state have seen an increase in the number of calls regarding marijuana poisoning. This isn’t a surprise — with legal marijuana comes a host of unintended consequences.

I’ve spent the past several years after leaving Congress advocating for a health care system that treats the brain like it does any other organ in the body. Effective mental health care, especially when it comes to children, is critically important.

Knowing what we now know about the effects of marijuana on the brain, can we really afford to ignore its consequences in the name of legalization? Our No. 1 priority needs to be protecting our kids from this emerging public health crisis. The rights of pot smokers and the marijuana industry end where our children’s health begins.

I’m not alone in my concerns about this trend toward legalization. Even Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has said that marijuana legalization in his state was “reckless” and reaffirmed his opposition to it during his campaign for re-election. He also said he will “regulate the heck” out of it. For that, I applaud his leadership and courage.

Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia have legalization ballot measures up for a vote this fall. I hope common sense will prevail, and they choose a better path than making addiction the law of the land.

At the end of the day, legalizing and marketing marijuana is making drug use acceptable and mainstream. Just as Big Tobacco lied to Americans for decades about the deadly consequences of smoking, we can’t let “big marijuana” follow in its footsteps, target our kids and profit from addiction.

Patrick J. Kennedy is a former United States representative from the state of Rhode Island.

Source: http://www.npr.org/2014/10/30/360217001/kennedy-are-we-ready-for-big-tobacco-style-marketing-for-marijuana

 

Theresa May has walked into the sunshine again after a few awful days. Such is the magic of politics.

Just a few days ago, much of her shine as a tough and competent Home Secretary had worn off.  Her child abuse inquiry appeared doomed before it had begun. With the prospect of an expensive and endless white elephant ahead (what the experience of both the Saville and Chilcot probes portend) as she apologised to the victims, she must have been ruing the day she ever gave into their demands.

Yes, it was just a few days ago that she could please no one. Her insistence on opting back into the European Arrest Warrant infuriated her backbenchers and left the Eurosceptic public astonished. Could she really be giving carte blanche for us to be picked off our own streets and dumped in a Latvian, Czech or Bulgarian gaol where due process, habeas corpus and so forth are, despite their EU member status, still  pretty much conspicuous for their absence?

Then at the nadir of her fortunes up she comes smiling.  All thanks to the Daily Mail – and very grateful she should be to them too – she was handed Norman Baker’s scalp on a plate.  Overnight she became the new scourge of the Lib Dems, to the joy of her party and her admirers.

Nick Clegg, the Mail discovered, had encouraged the BBC to give airtime to the drug-legalising organisations (Transform and Release) to promote the controversial and highly (Lib Dem) spun Home Office report pushed by his Home Office placeman, one Norman Baker.

This report was already proving a severe embarrassment to her, adding to her woe.

Opening up the drug debate to ‘legalising liberals’ had never been of her choosing.  She was bounced into it.  At the time of the Home Affairs Select Committee report and Nick Clegg’s demand for a Royal Commission on Drugs Policy (a couple of years ago now), giving permission to her then (Lib Dem) Minister, Jeremy Browne, to go on a jaunt (sorry, I meant an international drugs policy fact-finding mission) must have seemed infinitely preferable.

But instead of subsequently chucking into the bin the contents of this ‘jolly’ (to the drug-loving countries of Uruguay, Colorado, the Czech Republic and Portugal, to name but a few of those selected)  – which she should and could have done on the basis of its questionable content – she sat on it.

At that moment she made herself a hostage to fortune. Specifically, she made herself a hostage to Norman Baker, the conspiracy theorist, ageing hippy and would-be rock star that Clegg had chosen to replace the more cogent and intelligent Mr Browne.

But for the Daily Mail scoop, but for their forensic research, which exposed the report’s dodgy facts, but for their pinning the whole thing on Calamity Clegg and Barmy Baker, Theresa would today still be doing daily battle with an unbearably smug Norm and seeming rather less than in charge.

Indeed, she still might be blissfully unaware of the civil servant porkies they so glibly presented in her name as ‘evidence-based’ policy  – of the false facts it took the Mail to expose.

“It is clear that there has not been a lasting and significant increase in drug use in Portugal since 2001”, the civil servants, who drafted the report with Baker’s blessing, asserted.     Except there has been.

In the decade following decriminalisation, school-age drug use, as the Mail correctly pointed out, rose from 12 per cent to 19 per cent of the age group. Back in 1995 (before decriminalisation) only 8 per cent of this group had tried drugs.

Either the researchers were not going  to let an inconvenient fact get in the way of good story or they just didn’t bother to do their homework. That’s why anyone interested in reading through the entire report is advised to put down the rose-tinted spectacles accompanying it.

It skates through medical marijuana in the United States, legalisation of cannabis in Colorado and Uruguay, drug consumption rooms, ‘assisted heroin injecting’ and other liberal ‘harm reduction’ but ethically dubious policies in other countries. It ignores swathes of criticism of these back door to legalisation policies and lacks the rigour and detail to provide a credible basis for discussion.

Predictably, it treats Portugal’s ‘dissuasion commissions’ on a par with the USA’s longstanding, 2,500-strong federal wide and much respected drug court network – of which independent evaluations have demonstrated positive outcomes and over whose time span  cocaine use has dropped by 75 per cent.

Frankly, Mrs May is lucky to no longer have this dodgy dossier still hanging round her neck.  With all the plaudits that have been raining down on her – from the Mail to the Telegraph – for being the longest-serving Home Secretary since Rab Butler, for surviving one of the most difficult senior roles in Cabinet, for regaining the top spot in the battle for the Tory succession in the regular poll of activists by Conservative Home and accompanying fulsome praise –  she’d do well to reflect how lucky she has been.

She might think it is time to sharpen up those micro-management skills that The Times’s Francis Elliott rather kindly supposes to have kept her on top.  The Daily Mail scoop and the Lib-Dems’ shenanigans and spin surrounding the publication of a report that she herself signed off show these much-hyped qualities have not been much in evidence.

A bit more micro-management and she’d have sent her civil servants back to the drawing board and queried their ‘facts’, instead of letting Norman’s day arrive and allowing the report’s publication on the very same day as ‘loopy’ Caroline Lucas’s much heralded and Russell Brand-supported parliamentary drugs debate.

For all her apparent skills this is far from her first mistake. She made a far worse one on her first day in office when she signed off Harriet Harman’s horrendous and costly Equalities Act without any further discussion or reflection.  She didn’t stop there but published her own ‘right on’ Contract for Equalities.  There is nothing that ‘We’re all in this together’ does not cover.

I guess we just have to be thankful she didn’t then, this last week, under Lib Dem pressure for ‘evidence-based policy’,  action equal access to illicit drug use by decriminalising it.  Her featherbrained new feminist minister Lynne “gay marriage” Featherstone (responsible for crime prevention) is bound to suggest it. Be warned.

Source: By Kathy Gyngell conservativewoman.co.uk    6th November 2014

John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., and Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., don’t seem to care much about the toll recreational marijuana imposes on Colorado. Each reacted with righteous indignation to the Trump administration’s decision to rescind the Obama administration’s lax pot policies.

“It’s not a black market anymore. It’s not a criminal activity, and we would hate for the state to go backwards,” Hickenlooper said Thursday, expressing concern about the potential for more federal enforcement against our state’s illegal marijuana industry.

Gardner asserted his duty Thursday to protect the state’s “right” to sanction, host, and profit from an industry that flagrantly violates federal law to the detriment of traffic safety, federal lands, children, and neighboring states that are burdened by Colorado pot. Never mind that even the Obama policy emphasized a need for federal enforcement against drugged driving, damage to kids and neighboring states, and the presence of cartels and pot on federal land. Somehow, Colorado has a right to avoid these federal enforcement measures even the Obama administration wanted.

Colorado politicians need to stop pandering and start leading, which means telling the truth about the severely negative consequences of big commercial pot.

Hickenlooper, Gardner, and other politicians tell us everything is rosy, but that’s not what we hear from educators, cops, social workers, doctors, drug counselors, parents, and others in the trenches of the world’s first anything goes marijuana free-for-all. It is not what we see in the streets.

If Hickenlooper and Gardner cared to lead on this issue, they would tell the world about the rate of pot-involved traffic fatalities that began soaring in their state in direct correlation with the emergence of legal recreational pot and Big Marijuana. They would talk about Colorado’s status as a national leader in the growth of homelessness, which all major homeless shelter operators attribute to commercialized, recreational pot.

They would talk about the difficulty in keeping marijuana from crossing borders into states that don’t allow it. They would spread the words of classroom educators and resource officers who say pot consumption among teens is out of control.

Honest leaders would talk about illegal grow operations invading neighborhoods and public lands. They would stop selling false, positive impressions about a failed policy for the sake of “respecting the will of voters” who made a mistake. They would not follow public perception but would lead it in a truthful direction.

Hickenlooper says legalization has eliminated illegal pot in Colorado, which is laughable to men and women who enforce the law and talk to us.

El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder speaks of more than 550 illegal rural home-grow operations in El Paso County alone.

Mayor John Suthers — Colorado’s former U.S. attorney, attorney general, district prosecutor and state director of corrections — speaks of hundreds of illegal pot operations in Colorado Springs he hopes to raid. We could go on with countless accounts of leading law enforcers who describe illegal pot activity that exceeds limits of departmental budgets and personnel.

That’s the small stuff, relative to the massive black market Colorado’s legalization attracts to federal property.

Dave Condit, deputy forest and grassland supervisor for the Pike-San Isabel and Cimarron-Comanche National Grasslands, recently accompanied Forest Service officers on the raid of a Mexican cartel’s major grow operation west of Colorado Springs. It was among at least 17 busts of cartel operations in the past 18 months. He describes the type of operation mostly based in Mexico, before legalization made Colorado more attractive. Condit said the agency lacks resources to make a dent in the additional cartel activity in the region’s two national forests.

“It was eye opening to put on the camouflage and sneak through the woods at 4 in the morning,” Condit told The Gazette’s editorial board Friday. “I had no idea the scope of these plantations. These are huge farms hidden in the national forests. The cartels de-limb the trees, so there is some green left on them. Other trees are cut down. They fertilize the plants extensively, and not all these fertilizers and chemicals are legal in this area.

“This is different than anything we have experienced in the past. These massive plantations are not the work of someone moving in from out of state who’s going to grow a few plants or even try to grow a bunch of plants and sell them. These are massive supported plantations, with massive amounts of irrigation. The cartels create their own little reservoirs for water. These operations are guarded with armed processors. They have little buildings on site. The suspects we have captured on these grows have all been Mexican nationals.”

Condit said the black market invading Colorado’s national forests has grown so large the entire budget for the Pike and San Isabel forests would not cover the costs of removing and remediating cartel grows in the forests he helps supervise.

“There’s a massive amount of resource damage that has to be mitigated,” Condit said. “You’ve got facilities and structures that have to be deconstructed. We would need to bring in air support to get materials out of there. There are tens of thousands of plants that have to be destroyed.”

Condit hopes the Colorado Legislature will channel a portion of marijuana proceeds to the Forest Service to help pay for closure and reclamation of cartel operations.

“For every plantation we find, there are many more,” Condit said.

Authorities captured only two cartel suspects in the raid Condit witnessed, and others escaped by foot into the woods.

“This operation had a huge stockpile of food. Hundreds and hundreds of giant cans (of food), and stacks of tortillas two or three people could not consume in months,” Condit said. “So it appeared they were planning to bring in a large crew for the harvest. I wouldn’t have thought you could hide something like that in our woods, but you can.”

Officers seized a marijuana stash and plants worth an estimated $35 million that morning. Merely destroying the plants presented a significant expense.

“Whether you’re a recreational shooter, a weekend camper, or you’re going to walk your dog in the woods, you should be concerned,” Condit said. “Some of these people have guns. If you stumble into $35 million worth of illegal plants, I’d be concerned. We are concerned for our own personnel.”

That’s not the view of either Colorado senator, other pandering politicians or the state’s top executive. From their offices Washington and Denver, they see things quite differently.

“Now the people who cultivate marijuana, the people who process marijuana, the people who sell marijuana are not criminals,” Hickenlooper said Thursday. “They’re not committing any crimes.”

No black market? No crimes? Tell the cartels. They come to Marijuana Land in the wake of Amendment 64, wisely betting state leaders will defend their risky and unprecedented law no matter what. They count on politicians to look the other way, so they can tell the world their new system works.

The Colorado Springs Gazette is a sister newspaper to the Washington Examiner. This editorial originally ran there.

Source: Colorado Springs Gazette Editorial Board | Jan 10, 2018, 9:23 AM

Studies show that approximately 187,000 people die each year from drug overdose. A majority of these deaths are attributed to opioids, one of the most powerful drugs available both legally and illegally. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, over 90 Americans die each day from opioids overdose, a tragic and alarming statistic.

While many have images of underground drug peddlers, cartels, and violent gangs, a large part of opioid abuse is actually from prescription drugs. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) notes that almost one-third of patients that are prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them. Around 80 percent of heroin users first abused prescription opioids.

The unfortunate reality is that the roots of the opioid crisis run deep. Arguably, it is a greater challenge to combat the “legal” side of the crisis–prescriptions, pharmaceutical companies, and the like–than the illegal side. This is because, despite stricter Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines, rules and regulations are extremely difficult to enforce.

What’s more, it is increasingly hard to monitor over-prescriptions, prescription fraud, and documentation abuses. Pharmacies are compelled to trust doctors’ judgments, and physicians are sometimes unaware that patients have been prescribed drugs by other physicians for the same medical problem. Despite repeated attempts to solve these problems, no viable answer has been found.

However, thanks to the promising prospects of blockchain technology, all of these issues may be solvable. One company, BlockMedX, is working on an HIPAA compliant system that provides a completely secure, end-to-end solution that will go to great lengths in solving the opioid and prescription drug epidemic.

BlockMedX’s Ethereum Based Solution

BlockMedX’s solution revolves around creating a streamlined, secure system for drug providers, pharmacists, and patients. It runs on the Ethereum blockchain, creating a cryptographically secure prescriber-to-patient platform.

Prescriptions are securely transmitted and recorded by the blockchain, in conjunction with platform’s token (MDX). Each token is paired with a unique and specific prescription, thus validating the origin of the prescription. In order to access the prescription, physicians, pharmacies, and patients will have to login to a website that is connected to the blockchain.

Each physician will have access to their personal prescribing history as well as the history of each patient they interact with. This will help them detect prescription abuse, which often takes place when a patient sees multiple doctors to receive medication for one issue. Physicians will also be able to make use of BlockMedx proprietary verification system, which ensures that only the actual physician can digitally sign prescriptions.

Once a physician issues a prescription it is sent in the pending state, where it awaits a signature by BlockMedx. When the prescription is digitally signed on the blockchain, it is moved to the approved state. It is then logged on the blockchain as an immutable record. Physicians can therefore know for certain that their patients have been issued the correct prescription. They can also track its progress, allowing them to make sure that their prescriptions aren’t defrauded or misused.

Pharmacies are given a list approved prescriptions that can be accepted, declined, or revoked. They will then open the BlockMedX decentralized app to access the network.

The pharmacy can view the prescription information as well as the patient’s full prescription history. They will then accept or decline each prescription on the queue, based on the information they have.

If a prescription is accepted, the pharmacy will receive the MDX tokens sent by the physician and deposited into its wallet. Then, pharmacies can receive payment from the valid patient via MDX tokens.

From a regulatory perspective, the blockchain provides unique advantages that the current pharmaceutical system doesn’t have. Because all transactions, from physician to pharmacy to patient, are logged on the public ledger, any third party entity can audit the transactions. For governments and regulatory bodies, this means there is an easy and secure way to enforce existing regulations and requirements. By viewing the immutable record stored on the blockchain, authorities can track prescription abuses and prosecute them accordingly.

From the perspective of physicians and pharmacies, the blockchain provides a way to view prescription histories in order to help prevent fraud and over-prescribing. The BlockMedX platform allows all parties involved, including third party auditors, to crack down on the opioid crisis in an efficient and streamlined manner.

Source: https://www.techworm.net/2018/01/blockchain-startup-can-help-prevent-medical-prescription-abuse.html 7th January 2018

WASHINGTON – China’s Ministry of Public Security last week announced scheduling controls on two fentanyl precursor chemicals – NPP and 4ANPP, substances that can be used to make illicit drugs. The scheduling controls will take effect on February 1, 2018 and is the result of the ongoing collaboration between the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Government of China and their shared commitment to countering illicit fentanyl-class substances.

“Fentanyl compounds significantly contribute to the current opioid crisis in the United States. By stemming the chemicals used to make these substances, this latest Chinese scheduling action will help save lives,” said DEA Acting Administrator Robert W. Patterson. “This scheduling action is an important step and a testament to the progress our countries are making together in addressing this epidemic.”

DEA and Chinese officials maintain frequent contact to collaborate and share data on the threat from fentanyl-class substances and their impact on the United States. Information-sharing includes scientific data, trafficking trends, and sample exchanges. This dialogue has resulted in improved methods for identifying and submitting deadly substances for government control.

The Chinese Government previously controlled four fentanyl-class substances – carfentanil, furanyl fentanyl, valeryl fentanyl, and acryl fentanyl – which took effect on March 1, 2017, and another four new psychoactive substances/fentanyl-class substances – U-47700, MT-45, PMMA, and 4,4’ DMAR – which took effect on July 1, 2017. Source: U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration dea@public.govdelivery.com 5th Jan 2018

As part of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s ongoing efforts to protect consumers from health fraud, the agency today issued warning letters to four companies illegally selling products online that claim to prevent, diagnose, treat, or cure cancer without evidence to support these outcomes. Selling these unapproved products with unsubstantiated therapeutic claims is not only a violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, but also can put patients at risk as these products have not been proven to be safe or effective. The deceptive marketing of unproven treatments may keep some patients from accessing appropriate, recognized therapies to treat serious and even fatal diseases.

The FDA has grown increasingly concerned at the proliferation of products claiming to treat or cure serious diseases like cancer. In this case, the illegally sold products allegedly contain cannabidiol (CBD), a component of the marijuana plant that is not FDA approved in any drug product for any indication. CBD is marketed in a variety of product types, such as oil drops, capsules, syrups, teas, and topical lotions and creams. The companies receiving warning letters distributed the products with unsubstantiated claims regarding preventing, reversing or curing cancer; killing/inhibiting cancer cells or tumours; or other similar anti-cancer claims. Some of the products were also marketed as an alternative or additional treatment for Alzheimer’s and other serious diseases.

“Substances that contain components of marijuana will be treated like any other products that make unproven claims to shrink cancer tumours. We don’t let companies market products that deliberately prey on sick people with baseless claims that their substance can shrink or cure cancer and we’re not going to look the other way on enforcing these principles when it comes to marijuana-containing products,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. “There are a growing number of effective therapies for many cancers. When people are allowed to illegally market agents that deliver no established benefit they may steer patients away from products that have proven, anti-tumour effects that could extend lives.” The FDA issued warning letters to four companies – Greenroads Health, Natural Alchemist, That’s Natural! Marketing and Consulting, and Stanley Brothers Social Enterprises LLC – citing unsubstantiated claims related to more than 25 different products spanning multiple product webpages, online stores and social media websites. The companies used these online platforms to make unfounded claims about their products’ ability to limit, treat or cure cancer and other serious diseases. Examples of claims made by these companies include:

· “Combats tumour and cancer cells;”

· “CBD makes cancer cells commit ‘suicide’ without killing other cells;”

· “CBD … [has] anti-proliferative properties that inhibit cell division and growth in certain types of cancer, not allowing the tumour to grow;” and

· “Non-psychoactive cannabinoids like CBD (cannabidiol) may be effective in treating tumours from cancer – including breast cancer.”

Unlike drugs approved by the FDA, the manufacture of these products has not been subject to FDA review as part of the drug approval process and there has been no FDA evaluation of whether they work, what the proper dosage is, how they could interact with other drugs, or whether they have dangerous side effects or other safety concerns. The FDA has requested responses from the companies stating how the violations will be corrected. Failure to correct the violations promptly may result in legal action, including product seizure and injunction.

“We have an obligation to provide caregivers and patients with the confidence that drugs making cancer treatment claims have been carefully evaluated for safety, efficacy, and quality, and are monitored by the FDA once they’re on the market,” Commissioner Gottlieb added. “We recognize that there’s interest in developing therapies from marijuana and its components, but the safest way for this to occur is through the drug approval process – not through unsubstantiated claims made on a website. We support sound, scientifically-based research using components derived from marijuana, and we’ll continue to work with product developers who are interested in bringing safe, effective, and quality products to market.”

This latest action builds on the more than 90 warning letters issued in the past 10 years, including more than a dozen this year, to companies marketing hundreds of fraudulent products making cancer claims on websites, social media and in stores. Additionally, the FDA recently took decisive action to prevent the use of a potentially dangerous and unproven treatment used in ‘stem cell’ centers targeting vulnerable cancer patients. The FDA encourages health care professionals and consumers to report adverse reactions associated with these or similar products to the agency’s MedWatch program.

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, promotes and protects the public health by, among other things, assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

Source: https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm583295.htm

MEDS Act promotes FDA-compliant medical research of marijuana

 (Alexandria, VA)– Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) applauds U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Chris Coons (D-DE) for introducing the Marijuana Effective Drug Studies (MEDS) Act of 2016. Once passed, it would make it easier for researchers to perform legitimate research on the medical effectiveness and safety of marijuana’s components.

Rather than rescheduling marijuana, the MEDS Act comprehensively identifies barriers to legitimate research and offers comprehensive, responsible solutions instead of “medicine by ballot initiative.” More specifically, the bill:

  • Enables more research on marijuana by creating a faster, more streamlined process for obtaining approval from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to conduct research, including the ability to amend and supplement research proposals without reapplying.  Currently, researchers who want to conduct research on marijuana must interface with several federal agencies and engage in a complex application process that can take a year or longer must start from scratch if they make any changes to their research proposal;
  • Eliminates the burdensome requirement of some DEA field offices that marijuana be kept in bolted safes – a requirement not possible in many research and clinical settings – and codifies current DEA regulations that allow marijuana to be stored in securely locked, substantially constructed cabinets; and
  • Requires the licensing of marijuana manufacturers for the purpose of valid scientific and clinical research and drug development and establishes manufacturing licenses for the commercial production of FDA-approved medical marijuana products.

“These steps are important because despite state laws, raw marijuana (smoked or ingested) is not medicine, and has never passed through the rigorous FDA approval process to ensure the health and safety of patients,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, President of SAM.  “The plant’s components should be studied so those in need can access any therapeutic benefits while knowing dosage, side effects, and contraindications.  And more broadly speaking, the MEDS Act upholds the important, basic principle that all medications-including marijuana-based drugs-should go through the scientific process and accessed through legitimate doctors.”

SAM is proud to join the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Society of Addiction Medicine, American Preventive Medical Association, American Pain Society, American Society of Anesthesiologists, and the American Academy of Pain Medicine in support of the MEDS Act.

Source:  https://learnaboutsam.org/sam-applauds-bi-partisan-legislation-legitimate-medical-marijuana-research/   

20th June 2016

The Liberal government, thanks to Justin Trudeau’s mindless statements during the federal election of 2015, became committed to legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. The purpose of this initiative was to encourage millennials to vote for the Liberal Party.

Like many of its other policies, the Liberal government was clueless about the unintended consequences of this promise. For example, it has yet to solve the problem that has arisen because Canada ratified UN drug treaties that prohibit the use of marijuana. Further, S. 33 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) specifically states that it is the responsibility of governments to protect children from the use and trafficking of drugs:

33. Parties shall take all appropriate measures, including legislative, administrative, social and educational measures, to protect children from the illicit use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances as defined in the relevant international treaties, and to prevent the use of children in their illicit production and trafficking of such substances.

The CRC defines “child” as anyone under 18 years of age. However, once marijuana is legalized, it becomes normalized and becomes acceptable. As a result, adolescents under the age of 18 years will have access to it, as they have easy access, today, to cigarettes.

The Liberals are merrily proceeding with their legalization of marijuana, ignoring their treaty obligations as well as many other serious problems inherent with the legalization.

Unfortunately, the government thinks it cannot back down from its proposal on marijuana as its credibility is already seriously on the line with its accumulating failures on other policies. These include the defeat of electoral reform; the enormous, accumulating national debt, far in excess of what had been promised; the incompetence of the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women Inquiry; failure to provide transparency and honesty, insisting on continuing with its pay-for-access scheme for corporate high rollers; the flaunting of regulations by Trudeau to vacation with billionaire, the Imam Aga Khan, in the latter’s private island, and the $10.5 million award to terrorist Omar Khadr, who killed an American soldier and blinded another in Afghanistan. Under all these circumstances, it is not unreasonable to describe the Trudeau government as dumb and dumber, as the Liberal blunders are piling up.

Despite this, on April 13, 2017, the Liberal government tabled legislation on marijuana. It provides only a vague and little considered framework for the sale, distribution and possession of it. This framework is based on the federal government’s use of its criminal law provisions to supposedly provide “protection of public health”. This is why Trudeau has been going across the country loudly proclaiming that the objective of his marijuana legislation is “to reduce harm to Canadians” and to “decrease the black market of marijuana”. These comments are nothing more than mindless prattle.

The government is ignoring the reality of recreational marijuana use which occurred in Colorado when it legalized recreational marijuana in 2013. Since that time, Colorado has experienced:

· Marijuana use by Colorado youth between the ages of 12 and 17 years old increased by 20%; this was 74% higher than the national average of that age group;

· Marijuana use of university age youths increased by 17%;

· Marijuana use by adults age 26+ years old increased 63% in comparison to an increase nationally of 21%;

· In 2014 when retail marijuana businesses began operating in Colorado, there was a 32% increase in marijuana related traffic deaths. During the same period of time, alltraffic deaths increased by only 8%. Marijuana related traffic deaths were approximately 20% of all traffic deaths;

· There was a 29% increase in the number of marijuana related emergency room visits in 2014 and a 38% increase in the number of marijuana related hospitalizations;

· During the years 2013-2014, the average number of children exposed to marijuana was 31 per year. This was an increase of 138%;

· According to the Colorado Attorney General, legalization of marijuana did not reduce black market marijuana activity “the criminals are still selling on the black market…. We have plenty of cartel activity and plenty of illegal activity that has not decreased at all”; and

· Homelessness in Colorado surged by 50% with 20 to 30% of newcomers living in shelters, having moved to Colorado to have easy access to marijuana.

Trudeau and his government apparently haven’t even read their own Health Canada Website, which lists the risks of marijuana to include:

· Risks to health, some of which may not be known or fully understood. Studies supporting the safety and efficacy of cannabis for therapeutic purposes are limited and do not meet the standard required by the Food and Drug Regulations for marketed drugs in Canada.

· Smoking cannabis is not recommended. Do not smoke or vapourize cannabis in the presence of children.

· Using cannabis or any cannabis product can impair concentration, ability to think and make decisions, reaction time and coordination. This can affect your motor skills, including ability to drive. It can also increase anxiety and cause panic attacks, and in some cases cause paranoia and hallucinations.

· Cognitive impairment may be greatly increased when cannabis is consumed along with alcohol or other drugs which affect the activity of the nervous system (e.g. opioids, sleeping pills, other psychoactive drugs)

The warning goes on to list specifically when cannabis should never be used by anyone:

· under the age of 25

· who has serious liver, kidney, heart or lung disease

· who has a personal or family history of serious mental disorder such as schizophrenia, psychosis, depression, or bipolar disorder

· who is pregnant, is planning to get pregnant, or is breast-feeding

· who is a man who wishes to start a family

· who has a history of alcohol or drug abuse or substance dependence

In June 2016, ignoring this crucial information, Trudeau established a Task Force to make recommendations on marijuana use. The Committee was headed by former Liberal Justice Minister Anne McLellan. The bad news was that the nine-member Committee included the controversial Dr. Perry Kendall, who, both as Ontario Medical Officer of Health and BC Provincial Health Officer, has advocated for legalization of drugs. In June, 2010, Dr. Kendall claimed that the use of the drug ecstasy can be “safe” when consumed “responsibly”. In 2016, Dr. Kendall called for the decriminalization of personal drug use and possession.

The Committee’s Report, released in December, 2016, could have been written by the marijuana industry. It is void of concerns for public safety and, if implemented, will cause damage to generations of Canadians to the benefit of the marijuana industry.

The Committee recommended that the age of majority, that is 18, be set for the use of marijuana (nineteen years for those in provinces where that is the age of majority).

On May 29th, 2017 an alarmed Canadian Medical Association (CMA), in an editorial in its Journal, stated that current research shows the brain doesn’t reach maturity until around age 25. The CMA editorial referred to the fact that the 9% risk of developing dependence over a lifetime rises to 17% if marijuana use is started in the teen years.

The CMA recommends that the government raise the legal age for buying marijuana to 21, and that it restrict the quantity and potency of the marijuana available to those under 25 years of age.

The Canadian Paediatric Society position paper on the effects of cannabis on children and youth cites serious potential effects, such as: increased presence of mental illness, including depression, anxiety and psychosis; diminished school performance and lifetime achievement; increased risk of tobacco smoking; impaired neurological development and cognitive decline; and a risk of addiction.

In 2010, Canadian youth were ranked No. 1 for cannabis use among 43 countries in Europe and North America. Are we trying to maintain this record?

The federal Task Force also recommended that individuals be allowed to possess 30 grams of marijuana and be permitted to cultivate marijuana for non-medical purposes providing it is limited to four plants per residence, and has the maximum height limit of 100 centimetres. No doubt the police will be knocking on doors with their measuring sticks to ensure that the width and height of the marijuana plants conform to the law.

Just like the Big Tobacco Industry before it, the Big Marijuana Industry is pumping up its corporate growers, in anticipation of grabbing billions of dollars in the growing, distribution and selling of pot across the country. Tobacco smoking is the second biggest risk factor for early death and disability after high blood pressure. Fortunately, because of intense advertising against tobacco smoking, its prevalence has dropped from 35% to 25% among men and from 8% to 5% among women. What on earth then, are we doing by reversing ourselves and adding dangerous marijuana smoke to the deadly mix?

Provinces Concerned About the Marijuana Proposal

Each of the provinces will be required to implement its own rules and restrictions in respect of the distribution and sale of marijuana. This means the provinces will have the last say on the method of sale and point-of-sale restrictions, having regard to the key objective of the federal legislation – supposedly, to prevent or reduce harm to Canadians. In deciding their own rules, Houdini wouldn’t be able to accomplish this. Neither are the provinces likely to reap the supposed vast profits from the sale of marijuana. The provinces are rightly skeptical about any such windfall since taxes on pot are expected to stay low to ensure the regulated market elbows out illegal dealers.

It is significant that on November 1, 2016, the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO), Jean-Denis Frechette, released a 77 page study entitled, “Legalized Cannabis: Fiscal Considerations”, which states that the federal government may have little fiscal space to heavily tax cannabis the way it does tobacco, without pushing the legal price well beyond that of currently illicit pot. Price legal pot too high and the black market will continue to flourish; too low and governments could be seen to be encouraging its use.

The PBO projects that sales tax revenue in 2018 could be as low as $356 million and as high as $959 million, with a likely take of about $618 million based on legalized retail cannabis selling for $9 per gram – in line with current street prices.

In addition, health care costs are expected to soar with the legalized use of recreational marijuana. As an example, a new study presented to the Pediatric Academic Societies in 2016, found that one in six toddlers admitted to a Colorado hospital with coughing, wheezing and other symptoms of bronchiolitis tested positive for marijuana exposure.

The Liberal government hopes to have this marijuana muddle all sorted out by July 1, 2018, disregarding the harm to society caused by this legislation. What seems to matter to this government, only, is that millennials vote for the party in the 2019 federal election – even if they are all spaced-out from the use of marijuana!

The Liberal government is reckless and utterly irresponsible in bringing this marijuana legislation forward.

Reality Volume XXXVI Issue No. 10 October 2017 Source: http://www.realwomenofcanada.ca/big-bad-liberal-marijuana-muddle/

2015 will be remembered as the year legalization hit bumps most supporters never anticipated.

For pro-health advocates that oppose marijuana legalization, it was a year of fantastic victories! Here are the top 10:

10. Big Marijuana is Real — and People are Writing About It.

When we started talking about Big Marijuana in 2013, many people laughed. Could marijuana even be compared with Big Tobacco in any credible way? But now, that’s ancient history. Several articles – even in legalization-friendly blogs like this one – mention the term. And the term is not just rhetoric — the most senior federal legalization lobbyist in the country resigned in protest because, in his words, “industry was taking over the legalization movement.” Not only was that heroic of him, it was historic for us.

9. Continuing Positive Press Coverage of Groups Opposing Legalization. 

With the exception of some very pro-pot columnists, this year represented one in which our side was represented just a little bit better than in the past. A profile of SAM was featured in the International Business Times, and other articles continued to broadcast our message to new audiences.

With the hiring of a new Communications Director in 2016, you can bet we won’t let up on this next year.

8. Several States Resisted Full-Blown Legalization. 

We entered 2014 after setbacks in Alaska and Oregon; but we stuck to winning messages and formed coalitions in a bloc of New England states that were all under attack in the early part of 2015. From Maine to Massachusetts to New Hampshire to Rhode Island, our partners and affiliates fought back —- and not one state legalized via legislature as the legalizers had promised. We’ll be taking this momentum into 2016.

7. Lawyering Up.

 Many of our friends made strong statements in court — “Colorado and other states cannot legalize in the face of federal law,” they argue. Of course we know they are right, and we know that regardless of legal outcomes the statement they sent was loud and clear. (We’re also happy that the Justice Department, in its opposition to the suit, solely argued against it on procedural grounds — they did not substantively come out in favor of legalization to the Solicitor General). The plaintiff’s bar should take notice—just like Big Tobacco became a big target for lawsuits, Big Marijuana and those who sell the drug will, too.

6. Marijuana Stores Banned in California, Washington, Colorado, Oregon, Michigan, and Elsewhere. 

Despite legalization in some states, we know that local ordinances are one of the key strategies to keeping marijuana out of communities. The majority of towns in most weed-friendly states have indeed banned stores altogether. Even in Detroit, up to half of Detroit’s roughly 150 medical marijuana dispensaries could close following a Detroit City Council vote to approve a restrictive zoning ordinance. We will keep pushing hard for more bans in 2016.

5. Legalizers Made No Gains in Congress This Year
.

 For the past decade, it seemed that every year we lost a little more in Congress. Not in 2015. Despite the most aggressive lobbying effort yet by pro-marijuana folks, they made no progress on key provisions:

· They wanted to give tax breaks to pot shops—just like Big Tobacco lobbies to lower taxes on cigarettes.

  • They wanted to allow pot businesses to leverage Wall Street money through the banking system.
  • They wanted to stop the Justice Department from enforcing the law in states with legalized recreational marijuana.
  • They wanted to give pot to our most vulnerable citizens to “treat” PTSD — even though science says marijuana makes PTSD, as well as other mental illness, worse.
  • They wanted Washington, DC, to become a mecca for Big Marijuana.

And we won – on every issue.

4. Continued Support from ONDCP, DEA, and NIDA.

2015 was a transitional year for key federal drug policy agencies. A new ONDCP Director was appointed — and even though we are still waiting for the Obama Administration to enforce federal law, it is clear where Director Botticelli’s heart is. Right after getting into office, the Director sat down with me for a one-to-one on-the-record interview where he blasted legal pot. And only a few weeks ago, he was featured on 60 Minutes talking about the harms of marijuana and the harms of the industry.

Additionally, we saw the appointment of a new DEA Administrator — this time from the FBI. Administrator Rosenberg has been an excellent leader by moving to support legitimate medical research over faux claims of “medical” marijuana.

And we continue to receive support from NIDA Director Nora Volkow, who headlined SAM’s summit last year, for her unwavering support of public health above profits. 

3. Real Progress on Researching the Medical Components of Marijuana.

 I’m proud that SAM took a bold stand this year to defend the legitimate research of medical components of marijuana. And our ground-breaking report paid off. The federal government has already adopted two of the report’s provisions — eliminating the Public Health Service review and getting rid of onerous CBD handling requirements. We will continue to fight for legitimate marijuana research, and to separate it from faux medicine-by-ballot-initiative. 

2. No States Legalized “Medical” Marijuana in 2015.

This is a big one, given where the country is on the “medical” marijuana issue. No state legalized the drug for medical purposes this year, despite several tries in key states. Even in Georgia, where legalizers have been emboldened by a few pot-friendly legislators, a government-convened panel voted to follow science and impose sensible restrictions on the drug. 

1. Ohio! 

Of course, the victory in Ohio tops the field. Despite being outspent 12-to-1, our affiliates and partners brought us a huge victory in November. We plan to build on this for 2016, but we need your help.

Despite the nonstop talking point of “inevitability,” we know that the 8% of Americans who use pot don’t speak for 92% of Americans that don’t want to see Big Tobacco 2.0, don’t want to worry about another drug impairing drivers on the road, and don’t want to think about keeping things like innocuous-looking “pot gummy bears” away from their kids. We know that the pot lobby will work hard for things like not only full-blown legalization in several more states next year, but also things like on-site pot smoking “bars” (they are really proposing these in Alaska and Colorado as we speak) and an expansion of pot edibles.

In 2016, let’s nip Big Marijuana in the bud.

Source: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/kevin-a-sabet-phd/top-10-antimarijuana-lega_b_8879338.html

Priorities for Reform of UK Drug Policy : Policy-UK Forum

Dear Mr Marsh.

Thank you for the invitation. I shall not be attending.

You have included in the Speakers Niamh Eastwood & Mike Trace, both people who push drugs legalisation. I have debated publicly with both. Their positions are well known. I do not take either seriously as unbiased commentators on drugs policy. I doubt government does either. I regard both as paid apostles of a particular point of view. A point of view which is not shared by most MPs or members of the public.

In Mike’s case, he was, in his own word “disgraced”, when forced to resign from his then new job at the UN, when he was exposed as  being (again in his own words), “a fifth columnist”, for the George Soros financed, “Open Society”, worldwide, drug legalisation campaign, (of all possible drugs) . Release has been similarly supported by Soros and was named in Mr Trace’s covert plan on this subject, when it was exposed several years ago..

Given those two speakers, your conference seems to me, to be just another platform for the legalisation lobby, not a genuine, open and serious debate, which can improve policy making or add significant value.

That legalisation lobby has lost the debate in the U.K. The starting point was the exposing of Mike Trace. Further debate involving these two very discredited speakers (discredited by association), is in my view pointless. The drug legalisation debate in the U.K, is over. The Psychoactive Substances Bill, approaching 3rd reading, also overtakes some of your agenda.

Thank you for the invitation.

David Raynes

NDPA

Source: Response to invitation to

UK Drugs Policy – Criminal Justice, Public Health and the Psychoactive Substances Bill

Policy-UK Forum, letter from David Raynes, consultant and media spokesman for NDPA.

Sent January 2016.

 

 

Legalizing opioids may give Americans greater freedom over their decision-making, but at what cost? One painful aspect of the public debates over the opioid-addiction crisis is how much they mirror the arguments that arise from personal addiction crises.

If you’ve ever had a loved one struggle with drugs — in my case, my late brother, Josh — the national exercise in guilt-driven blame-shifting and finger-pointing, combined with flights of sanctimony and ideological righteousness, has a familiar echo. The difference between the public arguing and the personal agonizing is that, at the national level, we can afford our abstractions.

When you have skin in the game, none of the easy answers seem all that easy. For instance, “tough love” sounds great until you contemplate the possible real-world consequences. My father summarized the dilemma well. “Tough love” — i.e., cutting off all support for my brother so he could hit rock bottom and then start over — had the best chance of success. It also had the best chance for failure — i.e., death. There’s also a lot of truth to “just say no,” but once someone has already said “yes,” it’s tantamount to preaching “keep your horses in the barn” long after they’ve left.

But if there’s one seemingly simple answer that has been fully discredited by the opioid crisis, it’s that the solution lies in wholesale drug legalization. In Libertarianism: A Primer, David Boaz argues that “if drugs were produced by reputable firms, and sold in liquor stores, fewer people would die from overdoses and tainted drugs, and fewer people would be the victims of prohibition-related robberies, muggings and drive-by-shootings.”

Maybe. But you know what else would happen if we legalized heroin and opioids? More people would use heroin and opioids. And the more people who use such addictive drugs, the more addicts you get. Think of the opioid crisis as the fruit of partial legalization. In the 1990s, for good reasons and bad, the medical profession, policymakers, and the pharmaceutical industry made it much easier to obtain opioids in order to confront an alleged pain epidemic. Doctors prescribed more opioids, and government subsidies made them more affordable. Because they were prescribed by doctors and came in pill form, the stigma reserved for heroin didn’t exist. When you increase supply, lower costs, and reduce stigma, you increase use.

And guess what? Increased use equals more addicts. A survey by the Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation found that one-third of the people who were prescribed opioids for more than two months became addicted. A Centers for Disease Control study found that a very small number of people exposed to opioids are likely to become addicted after a single use. The overdose crisis is largely driven by the fact that once addicted to legal opioids, people seek out illegal ones — heroin, for example — to fend off the agony of withdrawal once they can’t get, or afford, any more pills. Last year, 64,000 Americans died from overdoses. Some 58,000 Americans died in the Vietnam War.

Experts rightly point out that a large share of opioid addiction stems not from prescribed use but from people selling the drugs secondhand on the black market, or from teenagers stealing them from their parents. That’s important, but it doesn’t help the argument for legalization. Because the point remains: When these drugs become more widely available, more people avail themselves of them. How would stacking heroin or OxyContin next to the Jim Beam lower the availability? Liquor companies advertise — a lot. Would we let, say, Pfizer run ads for their brand of heroin? At least it might cut down on the Viagra commercials. I think it’s probably true that legalization would reduce crime, insofar as some violent illegal drug dealers would be driven out of the business.

I’m less sure that legalization would curtail crimes committed by addicts in order to feed their habits. As a rule, addiction is not conducive to sustained gainful employment, and addicts are just as capable of stealing and prostitution to pay for legal drugs as illegal ones. The fundamental assumption behind legalization is that people are rational actors and can make their own decisions. As a general proposition, I believe that. But what people forget is that drug addiction makes people irrational. If you think more addicts are worth it in the name of freedom, fine. Just be prepared to accept that the costs of such freedom are felt very close to home.

Source: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/453304/opioid-crisis-legalization-not-solution

 

Legalisation of cannabis is likely to lack priority for this new government.

There is one benefit to MMP, it is that the whackier campaign ideas tend to perish in the coalition negotiation process.

That hasn’t entirely been the case this time, the worst example being the Green Party’s promise to initiate a referendum on the subject of legalising cannabis (by 2020).

This would seem to be a case of a party formulating policy in the hope that it will garner votes as opposed to genuinely believing it will be beneficial. That view is reinforced by Green leader James Shaw’s assurance last week that he had never smoked cannabis, adding the illuminating comment, “It isn’t good for you, is it?”

“We know that cannabis is a carcinogenic, as is tobacco. Unlike tobacco, however, it is also linked, beyond dispute, with mental illness and poor academic achievement.”

Too right it isn’t. There is enough evidence to support that to stupefy an entire nation, which makes it all the more extraordinary that he would not only propose a referendum in the first place, but would stick to his guns when it came to striking a deal with Labour.

All the more extraordinary because Mr Shaw’s party is one of the leading lights in the drive to make New Zealand tobacco-free by 2025. (Presumably the term smoke-free is now redundant).

If all goes according to his plan, a substance that harms the physical health of the user will disappear just in time to be replaced by another substance that does even more damage, physically, emotionally and intellectually, than tobacco ever has.

We know that cannabis is a carcinogenic, as is tobacco. Unlike tobacco, however, it is also linked, beyond dispute, with mental illness and poor academic achievement. From there it can be held accountable for reducing the user’s ability to find employment, and everything that goes with that, including poverty, for themselves and their dependents.

The drive for legalisation has taken a turn (for the worse) this time around because of strident appeals to recognise its medicinal benefits. It might well dull pain – it certainly dulls most of the user’s senses – but there is a undoubtedly deliberate blurring of the lines by the drug’s supporters between medicinal cannabis, which does not include its mind-altering properties, and the ‘benefits’ to be gained by allowing its cultivation/possession and consumption in the traditional manner.

People have long waxed eloquent about cannabis as a pain killer, usually from the dock as they are in the process of being sentenced for growing the stuff. If personal experience of that is anything to go by, its fans tend to show all the signs of long-term use, which might make them happy but has reduced their role in society to that of passengers.

It might well be true that cannabis does not represent any great threat to the physical or mental health of a middle-aged dope smoker who indulges on an occasional basis. The same cannot be said for those who start young, and there, Mr Shaw, lies the rub.

We have been told for years, most often by the National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (Norml – there’s an oxymoron for you) that legalisation would of course need to be accompanied by strict controls that would keep it out of the hands of young people.

That assurance has been given to the writer on numerous occasions, but no one has ever been able to explain how any such measures would stand any chance of success, given our experience with tobacco and alcohol.

Neither of those substances may be legally purchased or used by minors, but both are. No one in this country has yet been able to devise controls that prevent that, and the same, inevitably, will apply to cannabis. Prove to us that you have cracked that, Mr Shaw, and people might start listening to you.

The best reason for not legalising cannabis was offered to this newspaper some years ago by a teacher at Kaitaia College. He said the college was home to any number of bright, determined, ambitious young people who knew what they wanted to do with their lives, and had mapped out exactly how they were going to achieve their ambitions.

They knew that even a minor cannabis conviction would nobble those ambitions, and for that reason alone wouldn’t touch the stuff with a barge pole.

No one the writer knows has ever come up with a better reason for not legalising it. And no one will. If it is legalised future generations of bright, ambitious young people will assuredly dabble in it, to their (and our) cost.

Even if they don’t succumb to regular use it will rob them, to some degree, of their potential, to a far greater degree than flirting with alcohol or tobacco ever would.

We don’t hear Mr Shaw, or anyone else, suggesting that our children should have greater access than they already do to alcohol and tobacco, for good reason. How they can be prepared to countenance access to cannabis defies explanation.

Perhaps Mr Shaw’s political interest in this issue outweighs any concern he might have for future generations. Perhaps the legalising of cannabis has such appeal to his voter base that he can accept the inevitable collateral damage. Hopefully he is in a very small minority, and will remain so.

And don’t buy the hoary old story that our prisons are full of people who wouldn’t be there if cannabis was legal. Those who insist that this is true have either been doing too much personal research into the ‘benefits’ of sucking on cannabis cigarette all day or are deliberately trying to deceive.

No one is in jail in this country today purely because they have been caught using cannabis. One or two might be there because they were caught growing or dealing it on a substantial scale, but possession of cannabis, whatever the law might say, is no longer an imprisonable offence in this country, and hasn’t been for a very long time.

There will be some who are in jail on convictions that include possession of cannabis, but it won’t have been the drug that put them behind bars. They will have offended in other ways. To say that people are in jail because of personal possession is a blatant lie.

Some elements of the current debate are certainly worth pursuing, including that drug addiction in general should be regarded as a health issue rather than a criminal matter. And there is no doubt that drug treatment facilities are woefully inadequate. But again, this is where the pro-cannabis logic collapses.

We know the harm cannabis does; we know it leads to dependence on much harsher chemical substances; we know that people who become addicted, to whatever substance, are unlikely to get the help they need to get off it. And we know that the damage done, by cannabis and other drugs, is permanent. Dead brain cells don’t grow back.

Yet here we are talking about legalising it. It makes no sense whatsoever to even consider it. A handful of people might genuinely believe that it will ease their pain, or, in medical form, will reduce the severity of some far from common conditions (again, the use of medical marijuana is a separate issue), but legalising cannabis for all and sundry will not benefit society in any imaginable way.

There can be absolutely no question that legalising cannabis will, in fact, do enormous harm, and any politician who is unaware of that, or is prepared to trade that harm for electoral success, has no place in Parliament.

Source:http://www2.nzherald.co.nz/northland-age/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503399&objectid=11938825-

The BBC Today programme has long been a shill for liberalising the drug laws. This morning’s edition, however, ran an item at 0810 which almost caused me to fall off my chair.

The item was pegged to the collapse of the prosecution case against people accused of supplying nitrous oxide (the “laughing gas” used by dentists). This has called into question a law passed last year banning such so-called “legal highs” which are considered a loophole in the drug laws. All too predictably, the discussion was soon steered from this specific issue into “bringing fresh thinking to bear on the whole problem” (code for drug liberalisation).

What was startling was the choice of interviewees and the way in which they were introduced by the Today anchor, John Humphreys.

The first, Kirstie Douse, was described as “head of legal services for Release, that’s an organisation that campaigns on drugs and drugs law”.

Humphrys didn’t say whether Release campaigned for drug liberalisation or further restriction. But Release is Britain’s veteran drug liberalisation campaign group which for decades has been at the centre of attempts to liberalise the drug laws. So why so coy?

The second interviewee in such a discussion would normally be expected to provide balance through an alternative view. The person chosen for this role turned out to be Mike Trace. Humphrys introduced him with these words: “Mike Trace, the former deputy drugs czar”. That was it.

What was not revealed was that, in 2003, Trace was outed in a newspaper article as a pro-drug legalisation mole who had just been appointed to a key position in global anti-drug strategies which he was helping to undermine.

I know this because I was the journalist who outed him.

Trace was appointed deputy drug czar in Tony Blair’s government. For a time, he occupied a position of great influence in the drugs world. He was Director of Performance at the Government’s National Treatment Agency. He was chairman of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, (ENCDDA) the body which effectively draws up EU drug policy. And he was appointed Head of Demand Reduction at the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime. In all these posts, he was supposed to be upholding laws to reduce drug use.

In 2003, however, he was forced to resign from his new role as the UN’s Head of Demand Reduction after I exposed him helping assemble a secret network of lobbyists working to subvert the UN drug control laws — which underpin the use of criminal penalties for the drug trade — and pressurise governments into legalising drugs.

Trace was — in his own words — a “fifth columnist”: an underground agitator who was supposed to be upholding the laws to reduce drug use but who was a key player in a co-ordinated international effort to disband the world’s anti-drug laws by stealth – and who was being secretly paid to do so by notorious international legalisers.

The legalisers’ main obstacle was the UN conventions on drugs which require countries to prevent the possession, use, production and distribution of illegal narcotics. I discovered that Trace was at the heart of a network operating covertly to undermine those conventions.

The British headquarters of his operation was to be financed in part by the Open Society Institute, funded by the billionaire financier George Soros, which openly campaigns for “harm reduction” and legalisation on the grounds that the war on drugs causes more harm than drugs themselves. I wrote:

“But that’s not all. For Mr Trace’s attempts to obtain additional funds from European sources disclose a vast and intricate web of non-governmental organisations, all beavering away at drug legalisation.

“In particular, Mr Trace sought funding from the Brussels-based Network of European Foundations for Innovative Cooperation (NEF). This innocuous-sounding grant-giving body has actually spawned a proliferation of drug legalisation efforts through its offshoot ENCOD, the European NGO Council on Drugs and Development.

“ENCOD says that ‘drug use as such does not represent the huge threat for society as it is supposed to do’. The real threat, it says, is posed by the war on drugs to the ‘millions of peasants in Peru, Bolivia and Colombia’ — the people cultivating the drug crops! So it wants a legal framework to bring about the industrialisation of drug production, no less. And to achieve this, it proposes that public opinion should be softened up by ‘harm reduction’ policies which will pave the way to eventual legalisation.”

Subsequently, Trace claimed he had been selectively quoted, that he had used the term “fifth columnist” as a joke and that the idea of some organised conspiracy was “completely insane.”

But I had drawn my revelations from a cache of Trace’s email correspondence detailing this huge covert attempt to subvert the UN drug laws. Here are some extracts from that correspondence.

“In terms of my own involvement”, Trace wrote, “I think that it would be of most use providing advice and consultancy from behind the scenes, in the light of my continuing role as chair of the EMCDDA, my association with the UK government and some work I am being asked to put together by the UNDCPD in Vienna. This ‘fifth column’ role would allow me to oversee the setting up of the agency – while promoting its aims subtly in the formal governmental settings.’

In another message, he wrote: “The host organisation in London [to challenge the UN drugs conventions] will be Release, a long established drugs and civil liberties NGO.”

He wrote to Aryeh Neier, president of Open Society Institute New York: “The basic objectives remain the same – to assemble a combination of research, policy analysis, lobbying and media management that is sufficiently sophisticated to influence governments and international agencies as they review global drug policies in the coming years. The key decision points remain the reviews of the European Union Drug Strategy in 2003 (and again in 2004), and the political summit of the UN Drug Programme in Vienna in April 2003.”

His involvement was kept secret and advice was given about the line to take to conceal it. One meeting minuted thus: 

“Mike to remain on the group, and contribute to the initiative, but members need to ensure that, externally, the line is that he gave advice on policy and lobbying in the summer but is no longer involved.”

Trace himself wrote: “Now I have taken up my post at the UN, I absolutely cannot be associated with a lobbying initiative – the line I am using is that, through the summer, I gave advice to several groups on how the EU and UN policy structures worked, but am now no longer in contact.” He also warned a colleague: “A small but crucial point – can I from now on not be referred to by name in any written material.”

He also wrote: “Finally, I have been offered the post of Head of Demand Reduction at the UN, and intend to accept it. The Executive Director, Antonio Costa, is, at least for the moment, asking me for guidance on how to handle the April meeting, so I have the opportunity to influence events from the inside, while continuing to work on this initiative.”

I put a stop to that. Now the BBC is adding its own underhand efforts to this sinister, and sinisterly sanitised, cause.

Source:  http://www.melaniephillips.com/no-trace-objectivity/31st August 2017

Kevin Sabet, the president and CEO of Virginia-based Smart Approaches to Marijuana, has become arguably the most influential critic of marijuana legalization in the United States. But in an extended interview on view below, he fights against the perception that he’s a one-dimensional prohibitionist along the lines of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Sabet stresses that he and his organization, shorthanded as SAM, take what he sees as a sensible approach to cannabis by arguing in favor of treatment rather than jail time for users in trouble and advocating for greater study of the substance to determine the best ways to utilize it medically.

We first spoke to Sabet in January 2013, just prior to SAM’s launch in Denver, when he appeared alongside co-founder Patrick Kennedy, a former congressman from Rhode Island and a member of the Kennedy political dynasty. Sabet’s background is similarly stocked with connections to heavyweights. The author of Reefer Sanity: Seven Great Myths About Marijuana, he served stints in the Clinton and Bush administrations and spent two years as senior adviser to President Barack Obama’s drug-control director before taking on the SAM cause.

In the more than four years since then, he’s made countless media appearances while lobbying behind the scenes to try and stop the momentum generated by the pot legalization bandwagon.

Sabet, who says SAM’s funding mainly comes from small donors and grants as opposed to hard-core drug-war groups or Big Pharma, doesn’t think it’s too late to accomplish this goal, in part because only a relatively small percentage of the populace actually uses marijuana. Moreover, he feels that plenty of those who abstain will more actively fight against pot’s normalization if public use (and its attendant smoke and scent) becomes more prevalent in cities such as Denver, which he sees as having been demonstrably harmed by legalization. He blames cannabis for turning the 16th Street Mall into a homeless haven that visitors actively avoid and suspects that in his heart of hearts, Governor John Hicklenlooper knows legalization was a terrible mistake but can’t admit it publicly because the right to toke is enshrined in the state constitution.

Likewise, Sabet considers it inarguable that the marijuana industry is targeting young people with colorfully packaged pot edibles and argues that simply keeping cannabis away from kids isn’t enough. He cites studies showing that the brains of 25-30 year olds are still developing — and can still be harmed by weed.

Continue to learn more about Sabet’s cause and the arguments he makes to support it.

Westword: SAM recently put out a release about the amount of tax revenue Colorado has collected as a result of the marijuana industry [in reference to a VS Strategies report estimating that the state has generated more than $500 million in cannabis revenue since legalization]. In it, you talk about how drug use and its consequences cost taxpayers $193 billion per year, with Colorado’s annual share being approximately $3.3 billion. But that’s for all drugs, correct?

Kevin Sabet: Oh, yeah, absolutely. But you need to look at the fact that marijuana is used far more than any of the other drugs, and look at the costs associated with driving, crashing, mental illness — and long-term costs we’re not able to account for. Marijuana isn’t correlated with mental illness overnight. If often takes time. And so the cost of that can’t be calculated in any way. There was a study done a few weeks ago by the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and Addiction finding that just in

Canada alone, a much smaller country than the U.S. in population, marijuana-related car crashes cost a billion dollars. That’s just the car crashes, and those were directly related to marijuana. And the report came from a government think tank, not any kind of anti-drug group.

I honestly think it isn’t surprising coming from this group [VS Strategies]. It’s an industry group that wants to basically make money from marijuana — much more money than the State of Colorado will make after you account for costs. When you look at the actual number and context of just education alone, the marijuana revenue is barely newsworthy. The Department of Education in Colorado says they need $18 billion in capital construction funds alone. The reality is, the Colorado budget deficit is actually rising, not falling. This isn’t plugging a hole in the deficit. It’s actually costing money. There’s one area where I’d agree with [former Colorado Director of Marijuana Coordination] Andrew Freedman: You don’t do this for the money. But it’s a great talking point, and it polls well, just like the talking point of it being safer than alcohol polls well. This polls well, too, so you’re going to have an industry group that thrives off commercialization touting the numbers. That’s not surprising at all.

SAM is usually described as an anti-marijuana organization. Is that an accurate description from your viewpoint? Or is it pejorative in some way?

I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s pejorative, but I think it’s overly simplistic. It’s true that we don’t want to see the legalization of another illegal substance. We think that our experience with pharmaceuticals, which are, of course, legal, as well as alcohol and tobacco, has been an utter disaster from a public cost and public-policy point of view. We’ve never regulated those drugs in a responsible way. Lobbyists and special interests own the rule-making when it comes to these drugs. And what we’re saying is, do we really want to repeat history once again? It just happens to be marijuana. It really could have been any substance. And we will be talking about the legalization of other drugs if marijuana goes through. Because it doesn’t stop with marijuana in terms of the policy goals of many of these organizations. So I think it is overly simplistic. And we’re very concerned about commercialization.

Also, we don’t want to see a return to an enforcement-heavy policy that throws everybody behind bars or saddles young people, especially, with criminal records that prevent them from getting a job or being able to access public benefits or being able to go to school. We want to see people given another chance. But we also want to see this treated as a health issue, and you don’t treat marijuana as a health issue by ignoring it or facilitating its use. You do brief interventions if they’re needed, treatment if it’s needed. I don’t think everyone who uses marijuana needs treatment, just like everyone who drinks or uses other drugs doesn’t need treatment. But some people are using it in a way that is problematic, and they need an early intervention, perhaps, to prevent them from moving on to a substance-use disorder — or they need more intense treatment. It really just depends.

We also want to see research into components of marijuana that may have therapeutic value. We don’t want to see people needlessly suffering. But if Perdue Pharma or Pfizer said tomorrow that they have a new blockbuster drug but they don’t want it to go through the FDA and instead want to put it up to a vote, we’d be up in arms. And rightfully so. Everybody would be up in arms. And we don’t think marijuana should get a free pass because there are stories of it helping people. I don’t doubt that it helps some people — things like cannabidiol oil, etc., or even smoking marijuana to relieve pain. I don’t doubt that it helps some people. But we don’t want to turn back the clock to pre-FDA days, where we had snake-oil salesmen and wild claims about drugs. We want to put it through the same system, and if that system is problematic and difficult, then let’s look at what those barriers are and resolve them.

So I think we are a sensible organization that takes our cues from science. That’s why, on our board, you don’t see people benefiting from the policy position that we take. If anything, people like the doctors from Boston Children’s Hospital who are on our advisory board, or Harvard professors, they’re going to have more business if marijuana is legal, because they’re going to have people with more problems. We’re working counter to their self-benefit, if you think about it. That’s why we’re led by the science. And the reason we started this…. I left the White House and saw there was a huge disconnect between the public’s understanding of marijuana and what was being told to them by various sources, and we’re trying to bridge that gap. Many of the things you just touched upon are on the four items in the “What We Do” section of your website. But some things, such as “To promote research on marijuana in order to obtain FDA-approved, pharmacy-based cannabis medications,” we don’t hear your organization talking about very often. Is that the fault of the media, because they’re only focusing on the legalization-is-bad angle? Are you giving equal weight to some of these other goals?

I think that’s just people looking through the glasses they want to look through. I think the legalization groups are threatened by a sensible organization led by Harvard doctors that doesn’t want to put people in prison, so they want to paint us as the most irrational dinosaurs from the Stone Age on these issues. The reality is, we spend a lot of our time on all of these issues. In fact, we have released the most comprehensive document that any policy organization has released, I think, on the hurdles of medical marijuana research. That’s right on our website — the six-point plan. And we’ve also done a CBD guide — everything you need to know about CBD. After the guide to everything you need to know about CBD, we did a report on research barriers, and we got a lot of people from both extremes that didn’t like it. John Walters, my former boss, wrote a scathing editorial, saying we were off the mark in calling for more research. When we get criticized from multiple angles, I think people can decide for themselves whether that’s credible or not….

It’s just not sexy, though. I can’t remember the last time that someone from USA Today or Huffington Post said, “Oh, we want to cover the fact that you released a wonky policy document aimed at FDA senior scientists with ten letters after their name.” They’re not banging on the door to get that story. Instead, they’re banging on the door to say, “The governor of Nevada has just declared a state of emergency on pot. What do you think?”

I’m not going to say it’s the fault of the media. I think that’s overused these days. But we’re doing our best, and whether it’s noticed by USA Today or the Huffington Post or the Washington Post or not, that doesn’t matter as much. We’re getting it out there, and I know that hundreds of lawmakers have read it. In fact, three out of our six recommendations have been adopted since we released that report. I don’t think we’re the only reason they’ve been adopted, but I think us pushing and prodding and putting it down on paper gave some political cover to some people who may not have supported it in the past, and I’m very proud of that. I know it doesn’t satisfy Medical Marijuana Inc. or these hundreds of CBD manufacturers who are selling God knows what because they don’t get it looked at by the FDA; they’re not going to be happy about that. But I think the science speaks for itself, and scientists and others have noticed. That’s why they’ve asked to join my advisory board — top researchers who want to be part of this team not because we’re zealots, but because we look at the science and are able to get it out there….

Another of the talking points on your website says, “Alcohol is legal. Why shouldn’t marijuana be legal?” How do you answer that question?

To me, saying, “Alcohol is bad and it’s legal, so why shouldn’t marijuana be legal?” is like saying, “My headlights are broken, so why don’t we break the taillights, too?” It doesn’t make much sense. First of all, alcohol and marijuana are apples and oranges in many ways. They’re different just because of their biology and their pharmacology, but they’re also different in their cultural acceptance and prevalence in Western society. Alcohol has been a fixed part in Western civilization since before the Old Testament. The reason alcohol prohibition didn’t work — and that’s debatable….

What’s the debate?

If you look at scholars who studied Prohibition much more than I have, there is a vigorous debate. Alcohol use fell during Prohibition, harm fell as well. Cirrhosis of the liver, which is a top-ten killer of white men, wasn’t a top-ten killer. Organized crime had been in place, and obviously it was strengthened from Prohibition, although it isn’t like it caused it, and it certainly didn’t go away when Prohibition ended…. But it’s very difficult to prohibit something that 60 to 70 percent of the population are doing on a regular basis. Marijuana is still used by fewer than 10 percent of the population monthly, and so the idea that it’s the same in terms of acceptance is wrong. Right now, those 10 percent of users have convinced 55 percent of Americans that this is a good idea.  HOW

That also points to the fact that I think support for marijuana is very soft. I think the industry has overplayed its hand about things like public nuisance, public use, secondhand smoke, car crashes. Once these things become greater in prevalence, which they inevitably will if more states legalize and commercialize, then I think you’re going to have the backlash I think will come, and it will come because of the increased problems….

Alcohol is such an accepted part of society. We accept the negative consequences. Alcohol is not legal because it’s safe. Alcohol isn’t legal because it’s so good for you. Alcohol is legal because it’s been a fixed part of Western civilization for millennia. Marijuana has not been. Of course it was used thousands of years ago. Was it used by certain cultures? Absolutely. But there’s no comparison, complete apples and oranges, when it comes to alcohol’s culture acceptability. So that’s why alcohol is legal — not because we love the effects it has on society. No parent, no teacher, no police officer, says, “I’d be better if I was drinking all the time.” No police officer says, “Man, I wish more people drank.” No parent says, “I wish my kid drank more.” That’s not why it’s legal, because it’s so great.

And alcohol has done very little for our tax base. One of the reasons Prohibition was repealed was because the industrialists were convinced that it would help eliminate or mitigate the corporate tax or even the personal income tax. That’s laughable today. It doesn’t do that at all. Instead it costs us way more money than any revenue we bring in. I think marijuana would be the same story. It affects our bodies differently.

Alcohol affects the liver, marijuana affects the lungs. Alcohol is in and out of your system quite rapidly, but marijuana lingers in the system longer, and according to studies, the effects also linger for longer. They affect different parts of the brain. So they’re different in many ways, but in some respects, they’re the same. They’re both intoxicants, and unlike tobacco, they specifically cause changes in behavior. And that’s a difference with tobacco, another legal drug. Tobacco isn’t correlated with paranoia or obsessiveness or mental illness and car crashes, and obviously, marijuana is.

In some ways, legal drugs offer an interesting example. I think they offer an example of the sort of social and financial consequences that would come with legalizing other drugs.

Source:  http://www.westword.com  14th August 2017

Today, Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), a national group promoting evidence-based marijuana laws, issued the following statement regarding medical marijuana legislation introduced by Senators Booker (D-NJ) and Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN):

“No one wants to deprive chronically ill patients of medication that could be helpful for them, but that’s not what the legislation being introduced today is about. We wouldn’t allow Pfizer to bypass the FDA – why would we let the marijuana industry? This bill would completely undermine the FDA approval process, and encourage the use of marijuana and marijuana products that have not been proven either safe or effective. The FDA approval process should set the standard for smart, safe, and sound healthcare in our country, so we can be sure that patients are receiving the best treatments that do more help than harm,” said SAM President and former senior White House drug policy advisor Kevin Sabet.

“Raw marijuana is not medicine, so marijuana in crude form should not be legal, but the medicinal components properly researched, purified, and dosed should be made available through compassionate research programs, as outlined in SAM’s six-point plan entitled “Researching Marijuana’s Medical Potential Responsibly.” We understand the FDA process can seem cumbersome to those suffering from intractable diseases, but early access programs to drugs in development are already available.

“Also, while FDA approval is the long-term goal, seizure patients shouldn’t have to go to the unregulated market to get products full of contaminants. Responsible legislation that fast-tracks these medications for those truly in need should be supported, rather than diverting patients to an unregulated CBD market proven to be hawking contaminated or mislabeled products as medicine, as this bill would endorse. In 2015 and 2016 the FDA sent multiple warning letters to numerous CBD manufacturers, outlining these concerns. We support the development of FDA-approved CBD medications, like Epidolex, which is in the final stages of approval.”

News media requesting a one-one-one interview with a representative from SAM can contact anisha@learnaboutsam.org.

 About SAM

Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) is a nonpartisan, non-profit alliance of physicians, policy makers, prevention workers, treatment and recovery professionals, scientists, and other concerned citizens opposed to marijuana legalization who want health and scientific evidence to guide marijuana policies. SAM has affiliates in more than 30 states. For more information about marijuana use and its effects, visit http://www.learnaboutsam.org.

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Officer Sean Brinegar arrived at the house first — “People are coming here and dying,” the 911 caller had said — and found a man and a woman panicking. Two people were dead inside, they told him.

Brinegar, 25, has been on the force in this Appalachian city for less than three years, but as heroin use has surged, he has seen more than his fair share of overdoses. So last Monday, he grabbed a double pack of naloxone from his gear bag and headed inside.

A man was on the dining room floor, his thin body bluish-purple and skin abscesses betraying a history of drug use. He was dead, Brinegar thought, so the officer turned his attention to the woman on a bed. He could see her chest rising but didn’t get a response when he dug his knuckle into her sternum.

Brinegar gave the woman a dose of injected naloxone, the antidote that can jumpstart the breathing of someone who has overdosed on opioids, and returned to the man. The man sat up in response to Brinegar’s knuckle in his sternum — he was alive after all — but started to pass out again. Brinegar gave him the second dose of naloxone.

Maybe on an average day, when this Ohio River city of about 50,000 people sees two or three overdoses, that would have been it. But on this day, the calls kept coming.

Two more heroin overdoses at that house, three people found in surrounding yards. Three overdoses at the nearby public housing complex, another two up the hill from the complex.

From about 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., 26 people overdosed in Huntington, half of them in and around the Marcum Terrace apartment complex. The barrage occupied all the ambulances in the city and more than a shift’s worth of police officers.

By the end of it, though, all 26 people were alive. Authorities attributed that success to the cooperation among local agencies and the sad reality that they are well-practiced at responding to overdoses. Many officials did not seem surprised by the concentrated spike.

“It was kind of like any other day, just more of it,” said Dr. Clay Young, an emergency medicine doctor at Cabell Huntington Hospital.

But tragic news was coming. Around 8 p.m., paramedics responded to a report of cardiac arrest. The man later died at the hospital, and only then were officials told he had overdosed. On Wednesday, authorities found a person dead of an overdose elsewhere in Cabell County and think the death could have happened Monday. They are investigating whether those overdoses are tied to the others, potentially making them Nos. 27 and 28.

It’s possible that the rash of overdoses was caused by a particularly powerful batch of heroin or that a dearth of the drug in the days beforehand weakened people’s tolerance. But police suspect the heroin here was mixed with fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is many times more potent than heroin. A wave of fatal overdoses signaled fentanyl’s arrival in Huntington in early 2015, and now some stashes aren’t heroin laced with fentanyl, but “fentanyl laced with heroin,” said Police Chief Joe Ciccarelli. Another possibility is carfentanil, another synthetic opioid, this one used to sedate elephants. Police didn’t recover drugs from any of the overdoses, but toxicology tests from the deaths could provide answers.

A battle-scarred city

In some ways, what happened in Huntington was as unremarkable as the spurts in overdoses that have occurred in other cities. This year, fentanyl or carfentanil killed a dozen people in Sacramento, nine people in Florida, and 23 people in about a month in Akron, Ohio. The list of cities goes on: New Haven, Conn.; Columbus, Ohio; Barre, Vt.

But what happened in Huntington stands out in other ways. It underlines the potential of a mysterious substance to unleash wide-scale trauma and overwhelm a city’s emergency response. And it suggests that a community that is doing all the right things to combat a worsening scourge can still get knocked back by it.

“From a policy perspective, we’re throwing everything we know at the problem,” said Dr. James Becker, the vice dean for governmental affairs and health care policy at the medical school at Marshall University here. “And yet the problem is one of those that takes a long time to change, and probably isn’t going to change for quite a while.”

Surrounded by rolling hills packed with lush trees, Huntington is one of the many fronts in the fight against an opioid epidemic that is killing almost 30,000 Americans a year. But this city, state, and region are among the most battle-scarred. West Virginia has the highest rate of fatal drug overdoses of any state and the highest rate of babies born dependent on opioids among the 28 states that report data. But even compared with other communities in West Virginia, Huntington sees above-average rates of heroin use, overdose deaths, and drug-dependent newborns. Local officials estimate up to 10 percent of residents use opioids improperly.

The heroin problem emerged about five years ago when authorities around the country cracked down on “pill mills” that sent pain medications into communities; officials here specifically point to a 2011 Florida law that arrested the flow of pills into the Huntington area.

As the pills became harder to obtain and harder to abuse, people turned to heroin. It has devoured many communities in Appalachia and beyond.

In Huntington, law enforcement initially took the lead, with police arresting hundreds of people. They seized thousands of grams of heroin. But it wasn’t making a dent. So in November 2014, local leaders established an office of drug control policy.

“As far as numbers of arrests and seizures, we were ahead of the game, but our problem was getting worse,” said Jim Johnson, director of the office and a former Huntington police officer. “It became very obvious that if we did not work on the demand side just as hard as the supply side, we were never going to see any success.”

The office brought together law enforcement, health officials, community and faith leaders, and experts from Marshall to try to tackle the problem together.

Changes in state law have opened naloxone dissemination to the public and protected people who report overdoses. But the city and its partners have gone further, rolling out programs through the municipal court system to encourage people to seek treatment. One program is designed to help women who work as prostitutes to feed their addiction. Huntington has eight of the state’s 28 medically assisted detox beds, and they’re always full.

Also, in 2014, a center called Lily’s Place opened in Huntington to wean babies from drugs. Last year, the local health department launched this conservative state’s first syringe exchange. The county, health officials know, is at risk for outbreaks of HIV and hepatitis C because of shared needles, so they are trying to get ahead of crises seen in other communities afflicted by addiction.

“Huntington just happens to have taken ownership of the problem, and very courageously started some programs … that have been models for the rest of the state,” said Kenneth Burner, the West Virginia coordinator for the Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program.

‘A revolving door’

While paramedics in the area have carried naloxone for years, it was this spring that Huntington police officers were equipped with it. Just a few officers have administered it, but Monday was Brinegar’s third time reviving overdose victims with naloxone.

Paramedics, who first try reviving victims by pumping air with a bag through a mask, had to administer another 10 doses of naloxone Monday. Three doses went to one person, said Gordon Merry, the director of Cabell County Emergency Services. During the response, ambulances from stations outside Huntington were called into the city to assist the eight or so response teams already deployed.

Merry was clearly proud of the response, but also frustrated. He was tired, he said, of people whom emergency crews revived going back to drugs. Because of the power of their disease, saving their lives didn’t get at the root of their addiction.

“It’s a revolving door. We’re not solving the problem past reviving them,” he said. “We gave 26 people another chance on life, and hopefully one of those 26 will seek help.”

In the part of town where half the overdoses happened, some homes are well-kept, with gardens, bird feeders, and American flags billowing. “Home Sweet Home,” read an engraved piece of wood above one front door; in another front yard, a wooden sculpture presented a bear holding a fish with “WELCOME” written across its body.

But many structures are decrepit and have their windows blacked out with cardboard and sheets. At one boarded-up house, the metal slats that once made up an overhang for the front porch split apart and warped as they collapsed, like gnarled teeth. On the plywood that covered a window frame was a message spelled out in green dots: GIRL SCOUTS RULE.

In and around the public housing complex, which is made up of squat two-story brick buildings sloping up a hill, people either said they did not know what had happened Monday, or that “lowlifes” in another part of the complex sparked the problem. Even as paramedics were responding to the overdoses, police started raiding residences as part of their investigation, including apartments at the complex, the chief said.

Just up the hill, a man named Bill was sitting on a recliner on his front porch with his cat. He said he saw the police out in the area Monday, but doesn’t pay much attention to overdoses anymore. They are so frequent.

Bill, who is retired, asked to be identified only by his first name because he said he has a son in law enforcement. He has lived in that house for five decades and started locking his door only in recent years. His neighbors’ house had been broken into, and he had seen people using drugs in cars across the street from his house. He called the police sometimes, he said, but the users were always gone by the time the police arrived.

“I hate to say this, but you know, I’d let them die,” Bill said. “If they knew that no one was going to revive them, maybe they wouldn’t overdose.”

Even here, where addiction had touched so many lives, it’s not an uncommon sentiment. Addiction is still viewed by some as a bad personal choice made by bad people.

“Some folks in the community just didn’t care” that 26 of their fellow residents almost died, said Matt Boggs, the executive director of Recovery Point.  Recovery Point is a long-term recovery program that teaches “clients” to live a life without drugs or alcohol. Boggs himself is a graduate of the program, funded by the state and donations and grants.

The clients live in bunk rooms at the facility for an average of more than seven months before graduating. The program says that about two-thirds of graduates stay sober in the first year after graduation, and about 85 percent of those people are sober after two years.

Local officials praise Recovery Point, but like many other recovery programs, it is limited in what it can do. It has 100 beds for men at its location in Huntington, and is expanding at other sites in the state, but Boggs said there’s a waiting list of a couple hundred people.

Mike Thomas, 30, graduated from the main part of the program a month ago and is working as a peer mentor there as he transitions out of the facility. Thomas has been clean since Oct. 15, 2015, but has dreams about getting high or catches himself thinking he could spare $100 from his bank account for drugs.

Thomas hopes to find a full-time job helping addicts. His own recovery will be a lifelong process, one that can be torn apart by a single bad decision, he said. He will always be in recovery, never recovered.    “I’m not cured,” he said.

 

A killer that doesn’t discriminate

As heroin has bled into communities across the country, it has spread beyond the regular drug hotbeds in cities. On a 2004 map of drug use in Huntington — back then, mostly crack cocaine — a few blocks of the city glow red. Almost the entire city glows in yellows and reds on the 2014 map.

In 2015, there were more than 700 drug overdose calls in Huntington, ranging from kids in their early teens to seniors in their late 70s. In 2014, it was 272 calls; in 2012, 146. One bright spot: fatal overdoses, which stood at 58 in 2015, have ticked down so far this year.

“I used to be able to say, ‘We need to focus here,’” said Scott Lemley, a criminal intelligence analyst at the police department. “I can’t do that anymore.”

Heroin hasn’t just dismantled geographic barriers. It has infiltrated every demographic “It doesn’t discriminate.   Prominent businessmen, their child. Police officers, their child. Doctors, their child,” Merry said. “The businessman and police officer do not have their child anymore.”

The businessman is Teddy Johnson. His son, Adam, died in 2007 when he was 22, one of a dozen people who died in a five-month period because of an influx of black-tar heroin. The drug hadn’t made its full resurgence into the region yet, but now, Johnson sees the drug that killed his son everywhere.

 

Teddy Johnson lost his son, Adam, in 2007 to a heroin overdose. He has several tattoos dedicated to Adam’s memory.  He runs a plumbing, heating, and kitchen fixture and remodelling business. From his storefront, he has witnessed deals across the street.

Adam, who was a student at Marshall, was a musician and artist who hosted radio shows. He was the life of any party, his dad said.

Johnson was describing Adam as he sat at the marble countertop of a model kitchen in his business last week. With the photos of his kids on the counter, it felt like a family’s home. Johnson explained how he still kept Adam’s bed made, how he kept his son’s room the same, and then he began to cry.

“The biggest star in the sky we say is Adam’s star,” he said. “When we’re in the car — and it can’t be this way — but it always seems to be in front of us, guiding us.”

Adam’s grave is at the top of a hill near the memorial to the 75 people — Marshall football players, staff, and fans — who died in a 1970 plane crash. It’s a beautiful spot that Johnson visits a few times each week, bringing flowers and cutting the grass around his son’s grave himself. Recently a note was left there from a couple Johnson knows who

just lost their son to an overdose; they were asking Adam to look out for their son in heaven.

But even here, at what should be a respite, Johnson can’t escape what took his son. He said he has seen deals happen in the cemetery, and he recently found a burnt spoon not more than 20 feet from his son’s grave.

Johnson keeps fresh flowers on his son’s grave and cuts the grass around the grave himself.

“I’ve just seen too much of it,” he said.

If Huntington doesn’t have a handle on heroin, at least the initiatives are helping officials understand the scale of the problem. More than 1,700 people have come through the syringe exchange since it opened, where they receive a medical assessment and learn about recovery options. The exchange is open one day a week, and in less than a year, it has distributed 150,000 clean syringes and received 125,000 used syringes.

But to grow and sustain its programs, Huntington needs money, officials say. The community has received federal grants, and state officials know they have a problem. But economic losses and the collapse of the coal industry that fueled the drug epidemic have also depleted state coffers.

“We have programs ready to launch, and we have no resources to launch them with,” said Dr. Michael Kilkenny, the physician director of the Cabell-Huntington Health Department. “We’re launching them without resources, because our people are dying, and we can’t tolerate that.”

In some ways, Huntington is fortunate. It has a university with medical and pharmacy schools enlisted to help, and a mayor’s office and police department collaborating with public health officials. But what does that herald then for other communities?

“If I feel anxious about what happens in Huntington and in Cabell County, I cannot imagine what it must be like to live in one of these other at-risk counties in the United States, where they don’t have all those resources, they don’t have people thinking about it,” said Dr. Kevin Yingling, the dean of the Marshall University School of Pharmacy.

Yingling, Kilkenny, and others were gathered on Friday afternoon to talk about the situation in Huntington, including the rash of overdoses. But by then, there was already a different incident to discuss.

A car had crashed into a tree earlier that afternoon in Huntington. A man in the driver seat and a woman in the passenger seat had both overdosed and needed naloxone to be revived. A preschool-age girl was in the back seat.

Source:    https://www.statnews.com/2016/08/22/heroin-huntington-west-virginia-overdoses/ 22.08.16

Addiction Advocacy Needs A Bill Gates, David Geffen, Warren Buffett, Or Tom Steyer

Addiction doesn’t need someone to put their name on a building, or name a research institute. Addiction desperately needs bold philanthropists who want to leverage the people power of the grassroots. Addiction and drug overdoses claim one life every four minutes in America. In the time it takes to order a latte, someone dies—from an illness that is highly treatable. The addiction crisis is the result of social prejudice; criminal justice policies that incarcerate people with addiction instead of giving them treatment; health care policies that make it difficult or impossible to get medical help for substance use disorders; ignorance; and “abstinence-only” drug policies that are ineffective and backwards.

The fact is, people who struggle with substance use disorder are treated like second-class citizens. Admitting there’s a problem can mean losing your job, home, and custody of your children. That makes addiction a civil rights issue. And, thanks to the work of advocates across the nation, it’s finally being recognized as a moral issue, as well. Thought leaders like Tom Steyer are helping to drive this message home. I first met Tom during the Democratic National Convention. I had just shared my experience with addiction and recovery when Tom approached me. I was taken aback by the story he shared. He, too, lost someone very dear to him due to addiction: his best friend, who struggled with addiction for decades. His friend contracted HIV and Hepatitis C through drug use, and died of medical complications due to his illnesses. A few months later, Tom joined me at the Facing Addiction in America summit in Los Angeles, where we invited him to share his story on stage with the U.S. Surgeon General. As Tom talked, tears filled my eyes. He said, “We must embrace our shared humanity and recognize that addiction is a deadly, chronic illness, not a personal failing.” I’d lost friends, too. I was at risk, too. It was time to bridge the gap between policies and public awareness.

People like Tom Steyer and other pioneering philanthropists, who give tens of millions to progressive causes such as medical research, environmental causes, and water quality, must also step up to end the addiction crisis in America. Our fight is America’s fight. The sooner they do, the quicker we can heal this nation from our generation’s most urgent public health crisis.

Working alongside lobbyists, nonprofit groups, social organizers, and peer recovery groups, they can help fill the gaps left by policies and laws that omit or punish people with substance use disorder. As the current administration takes steps toward a health care bill that will leave people suffering from addiction without medical care, these philanthropic giants are in a unique position to help. Why? Because their involvement would not be tied to political party or personal gain. Rather, they would focus on the solution, plain and simple.

Addiction should be one of the issues on the list of social problems we urgently address, next to finding a cure for cancer and ending childhood hunger. Addiction permeates the social fabric of America. Nobody is exempt. As many people suffer from addiction as diabetes; more people use pain medications than tobacco products. For every person who’s developed full blown substance use disorder, another dozen are on the road to addiction. Substance use disorder affects every corner of society, including our collective health, family unity, the economy, workplace productivity, and our reliance on social programs. It also keeps jails full of people who may struggle to find jobs to support their families once they’re released, and will never be able to vote again.

The recovery advocacy movement has been built slowly, through the efforts of individuals and highly fragmented groups. We have an incredible grassroots movement that addresses an issue that directly impacts one in every three families in America, and indirectly touches all of us. But fundraising for recovery advocacy has been largely through family and friend donations—which, although heartfelt, aren’t sufficient to fund serious research, create desperately needed social infrastructure, or provide education about the true nature of addiction. While organizations dedicated to battling cancer, heart disease, and diabetes raise hundreds of millions of dollars annually, the “addiction field,” such as it is, raises perhaps $25 million from private sources. This is unconscionable.

Gates, Geffen, Buffett, Steyer, and other philanthropic giants have the potential to be visionaries in this space. They could quickly stem the addiction epidemic without waiting for policy makers to hammer out yet another law that places people’s recovery at risk. They could find the solution that keeps families intact. With their help, nobody will lose another friend to this disease or the health problems that come with it. Bob and Suzanne Wright demonstrated the power and possibility of this kind of giving when they funded Autism Speaks. Their philanthropy helped move autism front and center: why not do the same for addiction?

What will our society, our culture, be like when we finally take addiction out of the equation? For many people, and their families, the answer is coming much too slowly.

It’s time to apply our knowledge, build a coalition, and offer the solutions our country so desperately needs. It’s time to change the framework of this crisis and confront our deepest values. Instead of punishment, we need to help the people who are sick—dying from this illness. It’s time to work together and end America’s addiction crisis for good.

What we need now is for America’s philanthropic visionaries to step up to help us dramatically accelerate the pace of progress in this urgent effort. Addiction doesn’t need someone to put their name on a building, or name a research institute. Addiction desperately needs bold philanthropists who want to leverage the people power of the grassroots. Ryan Hampton is an outreach lead and recovery advocate at Facing Addiction, a leading nonprofit dedicated to ending the addiction crisis in the United States.

Source:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/addiction-advocacy-needs-a-bill-gates-david-geffen_us_592ddfaae4b075342b52c0f5   30th May 20127

O, let me not be mad, not mad, sweet heaven. Keep me in temper and keep the Liberal Democrats away from government. For they would make us all mad.

On Friday, new meaning was given to the Progressive Alliance. Maybe the Lib Dems have taken pity seeing Labour struggling to convince even the BBC that the nationalisation of everything can be paid for just by whacking more taxes on the rich. That was my first thought on reading of their pledge to completely legalise cannabis.

In the spirit of cooperation, I thought they have dreamt up a way to raise a billion quid of Labour’s shortfall. People won’t notice, not when they are stoned anyway.

Yes, the Lib Dems’ great money-raising wheeze depends on getting all us puffing away on the weed, just like we knock back the alcohol or used to grab a fag at the first excuse. Why not? Cigarettes and alcohol have always proved nice little earners, even if smuggling went up with every tax hike.  So why not add dope and kill two birds with one stone (no pun intended) and make yourself popular with all those ageing liberal hippies like Simon Jenkins, Mary Ann Seighart and Camilla Cavendish, former head of David Cameron’s policy unit, who are all forever bellyaching on about accepting drugs as part of the fabric of life and restoring sanity to society.

Hang on a minute – that’s the Lib Dem plan! It’s nothing to do with helping Labour out of a hole. It’s to finance their own mental health programme. Yes, you have read that. Wasn’t it last week that the well-meaning Norman Lamb earmarked, guess what, but a billion quid to fight that historic injustice, he says, is faced by people with mental ill health? An historic injustice that goes back all of 2 years.

‘Under the Conservative Government, services have been stretched to breaking point at a time when the prevalence of mental ill health appears to be rising.’

It is more than bizarre that the Lib Dems fail to join up the dots of mental illness and treatment (on which they have been campaigning vigorously) with increased use of drugs, particularly cannabis (which is what legalisation means).

Have they missed entirely the connection between cannabis use and mental ill health? Are they unaware that cannabis use triples psychosis risk? And from 17 to 38 can lose you 8 IQ points? Perhaps they are suffering that IQ loss already.

In Lib Dem happy land, everything can be squared – even Tiny Tim’s evangelical religious beliefs with gay marriage – and on drugs it is back to the future of hippy protest.

They have all been out straggling the airwaves, forgotten but former Lib Dem MPs – Dr Evan Harris (Dr Death as he was better known) and Dame Molly Meacher’s former sidekick Dr Julian Huppert – emerging into the daylight blinking to press their old cause, along with their Frankenstein master, the suitably named Professor David Nutt, of magic mushroom and alcohol antidote research fame.

One wonders whether the God-fearing Tim knows what he’s conjured up.  As a concerned parent, he should know that if legalisation means anything at all it means drug use going up as the latest stats from Colorado underline. Past-month marijuana use among 12-to-17 year-olds there has increased from 9.82 per cent to 12.56 per cent, according to the most recent year-by-year comparison looking at pre-legalisation data.

Well I for one am looking forward to seeing the contortions he’ll have to go through to join up the dots on his mental health and drugs legalisation policies. I suggest before he finds himself being asked to justify adding to our already overcrowded and underfunded secure psychiatric units – peopled with male psychotics addicted to cannabis – he reads one of the many comprehensive reviews of the link between cannabis and mental illness.

However, I am not holding my breath that Andrew Marr or any other progressive liberal BBC interviewer will press him on it.

Source:  http://www.conservativewoman.co.uk/kathy-gyngell-potty-lib-dems-want-legalise-cannabis-boost-mental-health/   14th May 2017

How do you know when you are being softened up for something? One sure sign is when what you are being asked to give your support to is sold to you as entirely unproblematic or as a panacea to a host of problems. Never believe it.

My antennae began twitching when the latest round in the campaign for legalised ‘medical cannabis’ began back last autumn. The instigator was the All Party Parliamentary Group for Drugs Policy Reform chaired by one Baroness Molly Meacher and its ammunition a misleading and derivative report: Accessing Medicinal Cannabis: Meeting Patients’ Needs.

With a general election under way it seems the good Baroness and her backers have decided to give their ‘medipot’ campaign another crack of the whip, ever hopeful of a change of government heart over legalising so-called medicinal cannabis.

What could be wrong with that, I hear you ask. Well, if I was sceptical about the stated purpose of this report when it was first published, I am even more so this time. Why? First, because the case for medicinal cannabis is based on a false premise, which the recent licensing of cannabidiol demonstrates again. Second, the scientific research on its efficacy doesn’t stack up too well. And third, there no safe way of using the unprocessed plant for recreational let alone medical purposes.

To recap, contrary to received wisdom, no one has stopped or is stopping  the scientific study of the chemicals in cannabis for medicinal purposes. Two approved cannabis-derived medications, Marinol and Sativex, exist already and a third, Epidiolex is undergoing clinical trials at the moment. In addition to this, the non psycho-active CBD or cannabidiol has been approved by Britain’s medicines regulatory authority, the MHRA, and the compound is now to be licensed and regulated as a medicine. Evidence of the efficacy of the derived compounds of cannabis for the wide range of symptoms they have been tested on is at best weak. This is what a dispassionate systematic research review conducted by the American Academy of Neurology and endorsed by the American Autonomic Society, the American Epilepsy Society, the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers, the International Organization of Multiple Sclerosis Nurses, and the International Rett Syndrome Foundation, shows.

There are indisputable  scientific and safety reasons for why the whole unprocessed cannabis plant is not and will never be approved as a medicine; that’s unless we chose to revert to medieval quackery and throw all scientific and safety advances  out of the window. It is not just that cannabis risks (addiction, psychosis, cancer, impaired cognitive functioning, to name but some) outweigh any possible benefits, but that as a natural ‘herb’ it is untested for pathogens and bacteria. Who is their right mind would chose mould over an approved antibiotic? And where is the luminary who thinks smoking is a sensible medication delivery system? – which how most cannabis users chose to ingest the weed.

But rational science hasn’t stopped the medipot activists in their tracks. Over the last few months they’ve been relentlessly pressing their victimhood status on the media and the inequity they suffer of not having a free and easy access to their preferred untested drug, i.e. dope.  They have really been doing rather well at convincing the media of their non-existent problem. The Daily Mail even fell for it this week, reiterating the campaigners’ victim meme of being sick people unjustly prosecuted by harsh and uncompromising authorities for the crime of tending to their pain when, in fact, it is the regulatory authorities who are protecting people from poisoning themselves. No wonder Baroness Meacher, chair of the aforesaid APPG, sounded so triumphant on the airwaves yesterday as she pushed the case for medipot to an all believing radio host. Even the Mail (all that has stood between us and drugs legalisation, she as much as said) had finally written a balanced article on the topic, she crowed.

She herself certainly was not balanced. I cannot make up my mind, given her ‘economy with truth’ regarding drug statistics on previous occasions that I have taken her up on, here, and here whether the Baroness is just daft and deluded, genuinely ingenuous, or, more worryingly, actively disingenuous. Running true to form, Baroness Meacher failed in her interview (go to circa one hour, 6 minutes into the programme) to either mention the medicines approval system or the recent licensing of cannabidiol as a medicine.  She also misled the public, deliberately it seemed, by giving the impression that the UK government has actively frustrated cannabis-based research when it hasn’t. In fact, the opposite is the case, as drugs policy analyst David Raynes made clear on the same programme.  The UK government broke ground when it licensed research into cannabis in 1998.

In the  absence of research, her spurious argument went, there remains a medical need for public access to the raw cannabis plant and therefore an end to its classification as a harmful recreational drug. There we had it.

The truth is that the APPG on Drugs Policy Reform she chairs is hardly an independent or dispassionate body. It is funded by The Open Society, which is in turn is a George Soros front. According to the Washington Times (Source: www.washingtontimes.com 2nd April 2014) this is the billionaire philanthropist who, with a cadre of like-minded, wealthy donors, has dominated the pro-legalisation side of the marijuana debate in the US by funding grass-roots movements in every state. No wonder so many capitulated.  Through a network of nonprofit groups,  Mr. Soros has spent at least $80 million on these drugs legalisation efforts since 1994. And more in the last three years. I fear the APPG’s effort (ably backed by Nick Clegg who also seems oblivious to the relationship between cannabis and mental illness) is but the latest in a line of such campaigns whose objective is effectively to legalise recreational cannabis. These go back to 1979 when Keith Stroup of NORML, the group “that speaks for pot users’ originally admitted that medipot was  a red herring to get pot a good name.  More recently he revealed that he was not too keen on cannabis compounds being subjected to scientific drug research trials. He said that the “pharmaceuticalisation” of cannabis was a battleground to be fought in order to protect ‘the options of patients’ – to smoke dope as it is.

I wonder if this too is why Meacher is so reluctant to give a full account of cannabis research and medical regulation? It rather pulls her medi-pot carpet from under her feet.

Source:  http://www.conservativewoman.co.uk/kathy-gyngell-the-push-for-medipot-remains-a-push-for-pot/   May 2017

Challenges Top Marijuana Lobbyist to Answer Four Questions

[Alexandria, VA, May 2, 2017] – Today, Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), a national organization committed to promoting evidence-based marijuana laws at the Federal, state, and local levels, released the following statement in reaction to the admission by Rob Kampia, the Executive Director of the Marijuana Policy Project, that the special interest group is actively soliciting financial contributions from the tobacco industry in exchange for shaping their marijuana legalization initiatives. MPP is the lead lobbying group responsible for funding and organizing every state-based marijuana commercialization campaign in the U.S.

“Rob Kampia’s shameless solicitation for contributions from the tobacco industry is quid pro quo special interest politics at its worst,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, President and CEO of SAM. “Marijuana laws in our country should be informed by science and evidence, not the financial interests of the tobacco industry or a growing for-profit marijuana industry.  When the head of the lobbying group responsible for every single marijuana legalization initiative in America asks tobacco companies, ‘what do you want?’ it should send chills down the spine of every public health and safety official in America.

This is an outrage and we challenge the Marijuana Policy Project to immediately disclose any and all ties to the tobacco industry so that communities in Michigan and across the country considering changes to marijuana laws can see through the haze of what’s really driving pro-marijuana legalization campaigns in America.”

Kampia’s admission was published last week in the Marijuana Business Daily in a story entitled, “MPP Chief Ready to Barter For Marijuana Campaign Donations.” According to the Daily:

The executive director of Marijuana Policy Project, Kampia called Marijuana Business Daily on Thursday after reading an MJBizDaily story about negotiations in Michigan over a likely ballot measure to legalize recreational cannabis in the state.

He solicited tobacco business interests in Michigan in search of campaign donations to run what will likely be a multimillion-dollar, 19-month endeavor, but he said he was largely unsuccessful.

“It’s the kind of thing where I actually go out and I try to court well-funded constituencies and philanthropists, and say, ‘What do you want, what do you hate, what’s going to turn you off so I can’t actually ask you for money later,’ and sometimes you get so far as to say … ‘Is there something that we put something in here that would cause you to immediately escalate your commitment?'” Kampia explained…

In response to Kampia’s latest comments, SAM also challenged MPP to answer four questions regarding MPP’s ties to the tobacco industry:

1. How much total money has MPP taken from the tobacco industry since the organization was established in 1995?

2. Which state-based marijuana ballot initiatives led by MPP have been influenced by input from the tobacco industry?

3. What specific changes to marijuana legislation or ballot initiatives has the tobacco industry proposed in exchange for financial contributions to MPP?

4. Has MPP disclosed its ties to the tobacco industry with Members of Congress it is currently lobbying in support of Federal legislation that would incentivize the commercialization of marijuana in the United States?

Evidence demonstrates that marijuana – which has skyrocketed in average potency over the past decades – is addictive and harmful to the human brain, especially when used by adolescents. Moreover, in states that have already legalized the drug, there has been an increase in drugged driving crashes and youth marijuana use. States that have legalized marijuana have also failed to shore up state budget shortfalls with marijuana taxes, continue to see a thriving black market, and are experiencing a continued rise in alcohol sales.

Source:  learnaboutsam.org.  2nd May 2017

The letter below speaks of the heroin epidemic in the USA.  The figure of heroin and opioid addiction that has destroyed countless families and killed more than 50,000 Americans in 2015 alone is salutary.

A chronicle of President Barack Obama’s tenure must include the heroin epidemic that he leaves us with. Our nation is plagued with a systemic heroin and opioid addiction that has destroyed countless families and killed more than 50,000 Americans in 2015 alone. This one-year death toll is greater than the total number of Americans killed in action during the Vietnam War.

The opioid casualty count only tells part of the story. More than half a million Americans admit to being addicted to heroin, and each of them has a very difficult, if not impossible, road to recovery. Yet, heroin flows into our nation every day and is readily available for $5 a bag 24/7 on street corners throughout the cities and suburbs of America.

How was this level of accessibility not reason enough for President Obama to make slowing our porous borders a priority?  Obama, in his final days as president is now becoming more vocal about the epidemic he leaves behind. However, this is too little, too late in the extreme. His record-setting pardoning and lessening of drug dealer sentences, which have included heroin dealers, further erodes his record on the heroin epidemic. Classifying a heroin dealer as a nonviolent criminal in the face of the American opioid death toll is nonsense.

Perhaps Obama was one of the lucky ones that didn’t have a close friend or relative addicted or taken by heroin and he just didn’t notice the plague that took root under his watch.

Robert Cochran Stafford

Source:  http://www.app.com/story/opinion/readers/2017/01/14/letter-obama-legacy-includes-drug-addiction-epidemic/96557686/

Examining the data closely and correctly.

By:  By DAVID W. MURRAY, BRIAN BLAKE, JOHN P. WALTERS

The closing reports on the Obama administration’s drug policy were delivered this week. Drug-induced deaths for the year 2015 were reported by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on December 8, and the youth school survey of drug use for 2016, Monitoring the Future (MTF), was just released by the National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The findings document Obama’s eight years of unbroken failure.

Simply put, it appears inescapable that the two sets of findings are related, in that the flood of commercial, high-potency marijuana unleashed by legalization in the states has served as a “gateway” to the opioid problem, both by priming greater drug use by those who initiate with heavy, developmentally early marijuana use, and further by empowering the illicit drug market controlled by criminal cartels.

Both data releases were somewhat muddled in the offering, neither of them being presented with public briefings at venues such as the National Press Club, as was common in the past.

Instead, the MTF data were only presented in a teleconference for reporters, while the CDC at the last minute determined that the official data for drug overdoses would not be ready until next year, instead directing researchers and the press to their online data system, WONDER, where searchers could uncover them for themselves.

These data releases are bookends—the youth survey showing us the likely future patterns of drug misuse as the high-school-aged cohort ages through adulthood, while the CDC overdose death data are retrospective, revealing where the worst drug epidemic in American experience was more than a year ago.

Data on deaths for 2016, which by all indications from states and municipalities are accelerating upward even more sharply, have not even been analyzed yet (their release is scheduled for December 2017), and will no doubt surface as a further shock in a succeeding administration.

Because there has yet to be a formal report of 2015 final numbers, the precise CDC figures for overdoses by drug remain troublingly vague. That said, the increases are shocking. There were 52,404 overall drug-induced deaths for 2015. That figure has climbed from about 38,000 (and stable) as recently as 2008. For 2015, fully 33,091 deaths were attributable to the opioids, alone (up from 28,647 in 2014, the toll rising most steeply dating from 2010).

Regarding the recent increase, the head of death statistics at the CDC stated; “I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything like this. Certainly not in modern times.”

For the MTF survey, marijuana use rose between 2015 and 2016. High school seniors saw their past month (or current) use rise to a rate of 23 percent, (up from 21 percent in 2015), while past year use rose to 36 percent (up from 35 percent). For the past year category, the rise since 2007 exceeds a 12 percent increase, but most of that rise took place earlier in the Obama years, peaking in 2011-2012 and then stabilizing at the higher level.

Somewhat surprisingly, given the anticipated impact of commercial legalization of marijuana in some states in 2014, with yet other states being added in this last election cycle, the overall impact on youth marijuana use appears modest, especially when compared to the wider data showing steep increases in young adults and those 26 and older, from other national surveys.

There are two immediate cautions in reading these data, however. The first is that many teens are now consuming marijuana in forms other than smoking; that is, as edibles and drinks, which this survey has difficulty detecting. In other words, there may be a hidden dimension of use of what is now a drug of unprecedented potency and availability. The second caveat is the known impact of marijuana use on high-school drop-out rates, pushing them higher. The effect is that the very students most at risk of heavy use are no longer captured in this school-based survey, which might be systematically understating actual prevalence increases because we have lost our ability to capture them.

The real drug use stunner lies elsewhere, largely in the CDC overdose data. The United States is in the grip of a wide and deepening drug use crisis, the most visible alarm being the opioid overdose contribution to the overall drug-induced death data, which by 2015 were sufficient to show up in general health data as driving a decrease in American life-expectancy tables.

Moreover, it is clear that the situation will worsen quickly, for both opioids and for newly resurgent cocaine use, which also registered as an increase in drug overdose deaths, and in recent measures of college-age youth, where use of cocaine, after steep declines, suddenly shot up 63 percent in a single year, 2013-2014, and remained high.

Coupled with the nationwide spread of adult commercial marijuana use and the still surging methamphetamine crisis, the situation is dire across all the major illicit drugs.

The opioid crisis has two dimensions, only one of which has received administration attention. The epidemic has been driven by misuse of prescription opioids, which climbed steadily for several years, and by the emergence of surging illicit drugs, both heroin and new synthetics like fentanyl and its analogs, from illicit rogue labs and smuggled into the United States.

Curiously, even though production increases of heroin and of cocaine have shot up in source countries such as Mexico and Colombia, and as synthetic opioid seizures have rocketed up in border seizures, the administration and the press seem seized by the prescription overdose dimension, which has begun to slow and even abate.

For instance, outlets such as the Washington Post continue to misstate the actual data. In a recent editorial, they insist that “the prescription opioid category accounted for the largest share of deaths, at 17,536.” Accordingly, they urge further policy attention to doctor prescribing practices.

But the latest data show otherwise. According to the CDC WONDER database, there were 19,885 deaths from illicit opioid production, heroin/illicit fentanyl and analogs. And that latter category is the one surging, rising 23 percent for heroin and a stunning 73 percent for synthetics from 2014 to 2015, while strictly prescription deaths rose only 4 percent.

Apparently, the blind spot for the administration (and the press) is that to address the real engine of overdose deaths, they must confront international and cross-border production and smuggling, an understanding of the problem that the Obama administration has abjured, since it requires the forces of law enforcement, national security, and reductions in illicit drug supply.

Two final notes on the 2015 opioid data, which are but harbingers for the hurricane of use and deaths already being seen in the states for 2016.

First, the steep line of ascent for overdose deaths can be closely paralleled by the administration’s mainstay, the insistent distribution and use of naloxone, the opioid overdose antidote medication. Without that reversal drug being deployed, the true death toll would be much worse. But it also means that simply giving out more and more naloxone cannot be a solution to the crisis, as deaths have accelerated away in spite of a reliance on such measures, which prove ineffectual in the long run and faced with new potencies.

The second sobering realization can be found in an analysis we published on the crisis in November, where we noted that for 2014, heroin overdose deaths were now comparable to those from gun homicides nationwide, both standing at 10,500 per year. The point may have been an inspiration for the Washington Post article on CDC WONDER data for 2015, proclaiming that heroin overdoses now exceeded gun homicide deaths (12,989 to 12,979, respectively).

The fact is true, but what is remarkable is the deep parallel in the rise of the respective figures in a single year, both keeping pace by climbing at a nearly identical rate.

It’s almost as if the trafficking in heroin driving the overdoses is itself tied to the emergent gun homicide crisis surging in our major cities. Those who lived through the violent 1980s and early 1990s will remember the connection well.

The Obama drug policy began with unilateral executive action opening the floodgates to marijuana commercial legalization and it is closing with never-before-seen death rates from drug use. The Trump administration faces a drug death epidemic worse than the crisis the Reagan administration inherited from President Jimmy Carter—and that contributed to even greater levels of violence and addiction before the Carter legacy was reversed.

David W. Murray and Brian Blake are senior fellows at Hudson Institute’s Center for Substance Abuse Policy Research; both served in the Office of National Drug Control Policy during the George W. Bush administration. John P. Walters is Hudson’s chief operating officer and former director of drug control policy for President George W. Bush.

Source:  WEEKLY STANDARD  DEC 15, 2016

Please share this post with every concerned parent you know! Spread the Word about Pop Pot!

Pew Research released a new poll from late August and early September that shows 57% of American voters favor marijuana legalization.  Based on the question and the article, the poll probably means that 57% of the voters favor marijuana decriminalization.   Next time the poll should be more specific in its meaning.  The same day this poll was released, a headline from the Cape Cod News in supposedly “liberal” Massachusetts read Support Scarce for Legal Pot.   There could not be a bigger difference in meaning  between these headlines.  Why the difference?

Despite this poll, all 5 states with ballots for marijuana legalization this November poll at less than 57% in favor of legalization.  There is a disparity between the survey question and legalization in practice. Legalization creates a new industry expected to make a lot of money for investors.   It is the reason that Weed Maps, ArcView group  and Soros-funded groups contribute to the ballots.  There’s a big difference between legalization and decriminalization.  Did those conducting the survey explain what legalization means?

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Since the Sacramento Bee made this chart, at least $10 million more has been raised by  California’s Yes on 64 campaign. With the business Weed Maps, MJ Freeway and George Soros funding so much, it’s obviously a good business venture.  George Soros gave at least $4 million.

Legalization creates commercial marijuana stores regulated by the state .   Administering and implementing it is very difficult to do.   Pot sales are taxed at various levels and earn some money.  But as Colorado marijuana director, Andrew Freedman said, it’s not worth legalizing for the benefit of tax revenues.

When presented with facts, voters are  sceptical of commercialization and don’t want more impaired drivers.  The cost of regulation is  high.   On October 1 in Colorado, new rules began,  and the packaging must make it more difficult for children to access. Gummy candies in the shape of animals are now forbidden. The number of hospitalizations and overdose deaths from marijuana edibles which make up nearly 50% of the market necessitated these changes.

Opting out of commercial pot is very tough, too.  Dealing with inconsiderate neighbors who grow a lot of pot plants is difficult.  In Colorado, city governments are often greedy for tax money while residents say no to pot.  When voters want to ban dispensaries, other forces such as the marijuana industry fight them.   It’s one of the reasons Colorado now has buyer’s remorse

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Why Marijuana Decriminalization ?

Decriminalization means that marijuana is not treated as a crime but as a mistake; offenders are charged with a small fine, like a speeding ticket.   In legal terms, it’s the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony.  The marijuana lobbyists have successfully convinced Americans that large numbers of people go to jail for marijuana possession only.

The only people who go to jail for marijuana possession charges have committed other crimes and have plea bargained to get convicted of lesser charges.   Other crimes include drug dealing, transportation of drugs or possession of a large amount of drugs that indicates intent to sell.  Selling drugs is not a victimless crime.

Marijuana lobbyists omit information about drug courts which allows users an alternative and provides addiction treatment.

The reason that marijuana possession is a felony crime in some states is so that it can be used as evidence to convict when there are more serious crimes.  Drugs and drug paraphernalia become supporting evidence when other crimes may be harder to prove.

How are Minorities Really Affected by Drug Laws?

Minorities have the most to lose by using marijuana.  Daily or near daily use of marijuana by teens nearly doubles the risk of dropping out of high school.   Dropping out of high school makes future education and job prospects dim.  Furthermore, a study of long-term marijuana users in New Zealand over a 25-year period found an average 7-point drop in IQ by age 38.   People who complain that this study did not adjust for IQ differences as reflected by socio-economic class should realize that IQ differences resulting from socio-economic factors are in play seen before age 13, when participants first entered the study.

A recent study from UC Davis showed how chronic marijuana users faced more downward mobility than chronic alcohol users.  In the US, the disproportionate arrest of minorities may reflect concern about dropping out of school and what that means for the future. The higher conviction rate for minorities is probably a reflection of income disparity and poverty.  A disproportionate number of black and Hispanic drug dealers go to jail.   Minorities are less likely to be able to afford the legal fees that allow wealthy white drug dealers to get less time in jail or wiggle their way out of going to jail.  Justice reform should not be centered on legalizing drugs, but on giving minorities better legal representation. Retired Judge Arthur Burnett, National Executive Director of the  National African-American Drug Policy Coalition, says that  African-American communities already suffer from a liquor store on every corner. Black voters know commercial marijuana would prey on their communities at a much higher rate.  “Do we really want to substitute mass incapacitation for mass incarceration?” he asked.

There’s a strong misconception that people go to jail just for having a joint.   (The threat of jail is not the reason to tell kids not to use pot, but defense of your brain is!)   There’s also a misconception that inequities in the justice system would be solved by legalization.

Maybe next time Pew Research present the polls with a bunch of different options between decriminalization, allowing home grows only or commercialization.   Or Pew Research should a better job at explaining what they mean by legalization.

Source:  http://www.poppot.org/2016/10/13/pew-research-poll-actually-reflects-pot-decriminalization   OCTOBER 13, 2016 EDITOR

The “bud tender” had shoulder length black hair, a deep well of patience and a connoisseur’s pride in his wares as he spread tray after tray of marijuana-based products on the glass counter top.

There were fruit gums, chocolate caramels, granola packets, medicated sugar to drop in your coffee or tea in the morning, Rosemary Cheddar Crackers for a savoury taste, a bath soak and even sensual oil for the bedroom, Charles Watson explained.

Then he moved on to his dozen jars of green, frosted-looking marijuana lumps for smoking, all grown legally in Denver and all named and labelled with a percentage breakdown of their chemical composition to indicate their potency and character.

How marijuana changed Colorado

Mr Watson, a salesman for the prominent Colorado marijuana chain Native Roots, explained that he had a higher tolerance than most users to his products’ effects. For a novice he suggested Harlequin, which would be similar to the cannabis you would have found in the Sixties or early Seventies. It was milder than something like Alien OG with its sky-high THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, content. “Even smoking a tiny bit of that can get you nice and elevated,” Mr Watson said.

Almost anywhere else in the world Native Roots would be considered an unusually well-stocked drug den and Mr Watson could be facing time in jail. In Colorado, where sales of recreational marijuana to adults over 21 have been legal since January 2014, he is one of more than 27,000 people licensed to work in a booming new industry with global ambitions.

“We’re trying to show the world you can sell and regulate it in a responsible manner,” Mr Watson said. His clients are not only stereotypical stoners — they include everyone from the healthy guy that’s just run a marathon to wheelchair users who are inhaling oxygen.

Colorado’s governor, John Hickenlooper, opposed legalisation at the time of the vote in 2012 and subsequently said that he wished he could wave a magic wand and abolish it. In May, however, he changed his tune. “If I had that magic wand now, I don’t know if I would wave it,” he said. “It’s beginning to look like it might work.”

By the end of this year, if a series of state referendums fall in favour of legalisation, recreational marijuana could be approved in nine states, including California, whose economy was the sixth largest in the world last year.

Colorado raised $135 million from marijuana fees, licences and taxes last year, a fraction of the overall state budget of $27 billion but welcome revenue all the same.

Recreational and medical marijuana customers pay a 2.9 per cent regular Colorado sales tax charge and any local taxes. Recreational consumers are also charged an additional 10 per cent state marijuana sales tax and the price of their marijuana includes a 15 per cent excise tax paid by the retailer when purchasing his wares from the grower. The revenue feeds into a state schools building programme. If it is legalised in California, voters will decide whether a portion of the taxes from recreational marijuana sales will go towards tackling the state’s homelessness problem.

There are still marijuana-related crimes in Colorado, for example where the supplier is unlicensed or the customer is under 21 but there are far fewer than previously. The total number of marijuana-related prosecutions fell by more than 8,000 a year between 2012 and 2015, and was down 69 per cent among the 10-17 age group.

Violent crime fell by 6 per cent and property crime dropped by 3 per cent between 2009 and 2014, the first year of the experiment, debunking pessimistic forecasts made before legalisation.

The state’s senior law enforcement official, Stan Hilkey, the executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Safety, said he was surprised by the results. “During the debate there was a ‘sky is gonna fall’ mentality from a lot of us, including me,” he said. “I haven’t seen that.” He said, however, that after three decades as a police officer he found it difficult “to shed my cop glasses”. Asked if legalisation had brought any benefits to the public or to law enforcement, he said: “None that I’m aware of.”

In May the state’s county sheriffs, prosecutors and police chiefs wrote to Colorado legislators to complain about the extra workload foisted on them by legalisation. They called for a two-year break from the constant tweaks to the regulation of

medical and recreational marijuana. Their letter said that there had been 81 bills on the subject introduced in the previous four years.

They wrote: “Industry forces are working constantly to chip away at regulations put in place to protect public health and safety.”

Mr Hilkey added that legalisation had failed to defeat the black market, which continues to thrive because its product is cheaper and not restricted by age. It has also created new problems, including the illegal export of licensed and unlicensed marijuana to neighbouring states and almost certainly brought greater profits to organised crime activity in Colorado.

The ban on marijuana sales at national level means that officially at least, banks will not open accounts for marijuana growers or vendors, so the industry remained a cash business, he said. Therefore this made it ripe for criminals.

There were 2,538 licensed marijuana businesses in Colorado last December, many of which hire security to protect against armed robberies.

Last month a former Marine Corps veteran working as a guard at the Green Heart dispensary in Aurora, near Denver, was shot dead in a botched robbery, the first killing at a licensed marijuana business, though not the first robbery.

Two days later a small group of Republicans in Congress blocked a measure backed by both parties that would have effectively opened the banking system to marijuana businesses.

You get dirty looks if you smoke a cigarette in the street but people barely think twice if they smell weed

A spokesman for Blue Line Protection Group, one of the largest companies competing to provide security and compliance services to the new industry, said that it was a myth that there was no banking. In practice some local banks and credit agencies now feel comfortable offering services to the marijuana industry but the national chains are still waiting for approval from the federal government.

Andrew Freedman, the governor’s director of marijuana coordination, said that if California voters passed recreational legalisation, the federal government would feel compelled to step in to open up legitimate banking for the industry.

Mr Freedman, a lawyer who refuses to give a personal opinion on legalisation, said that Colorado had succeeded in creating a heavily regulated marijuana industry where consumers could safely buy a healthier product than was available on the black market.

He said that it was too early to answer many of the most pressing questions about legalisation, including what impact it had on alcohol, tobacco and opioid usage although he had been pleasantly surprised by how few tragedies there had been through marijuana overdoses.

His greatest worry is that over time people’s comfort with legalisation could make radically different patterns of marijuana use socially acceptable.

That may be happening already though. Evan Borman, 33, an architect who lives down the street from a medical marijuana shop, said attitudes in the state were shifting, though he claimed that he smoked “no less and no more” than he did before legalisation. He said: “You get dirty looks if you smoke a cigarette in the street but people barely even think twice if they smell weed.”

Source: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/yes-it-s-legal-but-the-law-s-still-a-drag-j8rdh3nbj    August 22nd 2016

Meeting held to discuss ways to improve and enhance U.S.-China joint drug investigations

This week the heads of the national drug-control agencies for the United States and the People’s Republic of China, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg and Director General (DG) Hu Minglang from the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) of the Ministry of Public Security, met at DEA Headquarters in Arlington, Virginia to discuss ways to stop the flow from China to the United States of deadly synthetic drugs.  This meeting follows an announcement by America’s President Obama and China’s President Xi Jingping during the G20 Summit held earlier this month in Hangzhou, China that the U.S. and China will continue to work together to address the illicit supply of fentanyl and its compounds.

Chemical makers in China are the United States’ primary source of synthetic drugs such as fentanyl and its compounds.  They are smuggled into the country either directly from China by Americans who order them over the Internet or from Mexico by cartels that purchase the drugs in bulk and then smuggle them, alone or mixed with heroin, across America’s Southwest Border.  When China controlled 116 chemicals, including certain fentanyl-related compounds, in October of 2015, seizures of those drugs here in the United States dropped significantly.

Recently, the DEA and the NCB have seen an increased level of cooperation andintelligence sharing.  Last month, at the invitation of the NCB, a senior-level DEA delegation travelled to China to learn about their drug control efforts and examine steps to further bilateral cooperation.

Fentanyl, a synthetic opiate painkiller, and related compounds are often mixed with heroin to increase its potency, but dealers and buyers may not know exactly what they are selling or ingesting. These drugs are deadly at very low doses and come in several forms, including powder, blotter paper, tablets, and spray.  Overdoses in the U.S. due to these drugs have increased exponentially in recent years, and DEA has issued national warnings about the danger.    More information about fentanyl and other dangerous synthetic opiates can be found at www.dea.gov.

Source:  U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration: dea@public.govdelivery.com Press Release 29th Sept.2016  

The number of school-children who have used cannabis has doubled in the European country that decriminalised drugs, according to a major international survey.

Number of pupils taking cannabis doubles under softer drug laws in Portuguese system hailed by Nick Clegg

*  Fifteen per cent of 15 and 16-year-olds in Portugal admitted to use of drug

*  In 1995, when tougher drug laws were in place, it was just 7 per cent

*  Findings led to fresh warnings Britain should not follow decriminalization

Portugal’s liberal policies, which mean those caught with drugs for personal use are no longer treated as criminals, have been hailed by campaigners including former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg

Fifteen per cent of 15 and 16-year-olds in Portugal admitted having used the drug in the survey carried out last year.  In 1995, when tougher drug laws were in place, the number of teenagers in the country who had used cannabis was just 7 per cent.

Portugal’s liberal policies, which mean those caught with drugs for personal use are no longer treated as criminals, have been hailed by campaigners including former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, tycoon Sir Richard Branson, and even Home Office civil servants.

But the findings on the Portuguese experiment led to fresh warnings yesterday that Britain should not follow the decriminalisation lead.   In contrast to Portugal, the number of teenagers who use cannabis in Britain – where laws against drug abuse are frequently criticised by reform campaigners – has more than halved over the past 12 years.

Kathy Gyngell, a fellow of the right-wing Centre for Policy Studies think-tank, said that the Portuguese outcome was entirely predictable.

She added: ‘It is what happens when you remove sanctions. It is a disaster for young people in Portugal, and it would be a disaster for young people in this country if the Portuguese example were ever followed here. ‘Even though our laws against cannabis and other drugs are hardly enforced, removing them would send a highly damaging signal. It would be playing Russian roulette with the lives of young people.’

In Britain, according to government-backed studies, 30 per cent of school pupils between 11 and 15 had tried illegal drugs in 2003. But by 2014 the level was down to 11 per cent of 15-year-olds who had tried cannabis, and 2 per cent any other illegal drug.

The findings on cannabis in Portugal come from the respected European School Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD), which carried out a survey last year in 35 European countries. Nearly 3,500 Portuguese schoolchildren took part.

But the findings on the Portuguese experiment led to fresh warnings yesterday that Britain should not follow the decriminalisation lead

Portugal brought in its decriminalisation law in 2001. Instead of being arrested, those caught with drugs for personal use are considered to have a health problem and are required to appear before a committee which considers the best treatment.

In 1999, the number of 15 and 16-year-olds in Portugal who had used cannabis was 9 per cent. According to the ESPAD survey, this rose to 15 per cent in 2003, dropped to 13 per cent in 2007 and, in 2011, rose again to 16 per cent.

The latest finding shows that cannabis use among pupils has remained at around double mid-1990s levels consistently for a dozen years.

In Britain brief experiments with drug liberalisation under Tony Blair’s government led to indicators of rising cannabis use among the young.  However levels appear to have more than halved since 2003, matching falls in smoking and drinking among young people, and, since 2008, record falls in numbers of teen pregnancies.

The increasing number of clean-living teens in Britain has been associated with the rise of social media and the development of a ‘Facebook generation’ more likely to be exchanging messages from their bedrooms than hanging around on the streets.

Portuguese drug policies were praised in a 2014 Home Office report, inspired by Lib Dem Coalition ministers, which said the country had seen ‘improvement in health outcomes for drug users’.

In 2012 the Commons home affairs select committee, then led by recently-disgraced MP Keith Vaz, said it was ‘impressed’ by Portuguese policies and that the country had ‘a model that merits significantly closer consideration’ in this country.

Even last week Mr Clegg was praising the Portuguese example, saying that ‘there have been dramatic reductions in addiction, HIV infections and drug-related deaths. In other words, you don’t need criminal penalties in order to intervene and change people’s drug habits’.

Cannabis has been assessed as increasingly dangerous in recent years as stronger variants of the drug, such as ‘skunk’, have become more widely available. Cannabis use is also increasingly associated with violent crime.

And an inquiry by Manchester University published in May found that nearly a third of the children and young people who commit suicide have been taking illegal drugs.

Source:  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3801297/Number-pupils-taking-cannabis-doubles 22.09.16

By Bartow Jerome Elmore Assistant Professor of Environmental History at The Ohio State University and Author of Citizen Coke: The Making of Coca-Cola Capitalism

When news broke yesterday about the discovery of $56 million worth of cocaine at a Coca-Cola plant in France, the press was all abuzz. But as it turns out, this Cocaine-Cola connection is not entirely new; Coca-Cola has been intimately linked to domestic manufacture of cocaine in the United States for years.

A little glimpse into Coke’s history reveals all.

Yes, most people know that Coca-Cola’s first president Asa Candler became concerned about cocaine in the early 1900s and decided to remove any trace of the drug in the company’s famous drink, but few people know that Coke continued to use what is called “decocainized coca leaf extract” in its signature beverage. In company ledgers, this―mixed with kola nut powder― is what is known as Merchandise #5, one of the “secret ingredients.”

Here’s how the process works. Beginning in the early 1900s, Coca-Cola partnered with a company called Maywood Chemical Works based in Maywood, New Jersey (now the Stepan Company) to import coca leaves (which contain small quantities of the alkaloid found in purified cocaine powder) from Peru for Coca-Cola. The company removed the cocaine alkaloid from these leaves and then sold Coca-Cola the leftover extract. As per the cocaine, Maywood sold it under close federal supervision for approved medical uses.

Federal law sanctioned this practice. Legislators wrote a special exemption into the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914, the Jones-Miller Act of 1922, and subsequent counternarcotics legislation that allowed “decocainized coca leaves or preparations therefrom” to be sold in the United States. Some lawmakers called this clause the “Coca-Cola joker” because it was clearly designed to protect Coke’s secretive coca business.

Over time, Coke’s demand for coca leaves grew so great that legislation had to be passed to allow leaves to come into the country beyond what was needed for the manufacture of cocaine for medicinal purposes. These laws specified that alkaloids extracted from these coca leaves had to be destroyed with federal officials bearing witness.

All was well for Coke for many years under this arrangement, but in the 1960s, the company got a crazy idea: why not grow coca leaves secretly in the United States? That way the company would have a domestic source of supply.

It may sound outlandish, but that’s exactly what happened. In the 1960s, Coca-Cola, working with its partner, the Stepan Company, gained federal approval to begin a secret coca cultivation operation in Hawaii called the “Alakea” project. University of Hawaii scientists agreed to participate in the project but were prohibited from publishing any reports about their work because Coke did not want the public to know about its relationship to these coca leaves.

Within months, those working on Alakea could happily report that coca shrubs were growing in Hawaii, but celebrations lasted only so long. Soon a fungus wiped out the entire crop and the project was abandoned.

The failure of Alakea was really no matter for Coke, which simply continued sourcing leaves from Peru. All of this was channeled through Stepan, a third-party buffer that helped keep Coke’s coca trade out of sight. Import records show that Stepan is still happily bringing in coca leaves in the 2010s.

David Mercado / Reuters

What’s problematic about all this is that cocaleros, coca farmers in Peru, have been getting a raw deal. For years, Coca-Cola has enjoyed exclusive access to coca leaves coming into the United States and cocaleros have been prohibited from selling other coca products—teas, candies, and flours—to American markets. Coke has no doubt liked it this way because competition for coca leaves would drive up prices, which is never good for business.

But cocaleros see it differently. Peruvians with intimate knowledge of coca production in the Andes told me back in 2012 that coca farmers would love nothing more than to “revalorize” the coca leaf and once and for all quash the misconception that the coca leaf and purified cocaine are the same thing. Then cocaleros might experience a commercial boon that would allow them to abandon exploitative relationships with drug lords and monopolistic buyers.

Today, if I were to travel to Peru and try to return home with a small batch of coca leaves (perhaps to brew tea), I would be detained by border officials.

So here’s the essential question: if Coke can work partnerships to bring coca leaves into the United States, why can’t the rest of us? That’s the real story behind the Cocaine-Cola connection.

Source:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/coca-cola   1st Sept. 2016

 

SPICE IN THE CITY: NEW YORK DEA LEADS HUGE ATTACK

AGAINST SYNTHETIC DRUG TRAFFICKERS

Money flow from synthetic drug sales to Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan continues

 Contact: DEA Public Affairs   (202) 307-7977

MANHATTAN, N.Y.- DEA, NYPD and a host of other state, local and federal agencies today announced a massive takedown that targeted the local sale of dangerous designer synthetic drugs manufactured in China.  The scheme, which operated in all five boroughs of New York City, allegedly involved the unlawful importation of at least 100 kilograms of illegal synthetic compounds, an amount sufficient to produce approximately 1,300 kilograms of dried product, or approximately 260,000 retail packets.  As part the operation, five processing facilities were searched, as well as warehouses used to process, store, and distribute the drugs. In addition, over 80 stores and bodegas around New York City were searched.

Communities, families, and individuals across the United States have experienced the scourge of designer synthetic drugs, which are often marketed as herbal incense, bath salts, jewellery cleaner, or plant food. These dangerous drugs have caused significant abuse, addiction, overdoses, and emergency room visits. Those who have abused synthetic drugs have suffered vomiting, anxiety, agitation, irritability, seizures, hallucinations, tachycardia, elevated blood pressure, and loss of consciousness. They have caused significant organ damage as well as overdose deaths. Over the past several years, DEA has identified over 400 designers drugs from eight different structural classes, the vast majority of which are manufactured in China. Smoke able synthetic cannabinoids (SSC) represent the most common class of designer drugs. In addition, DEA cases involving synthetic drugs often reveal the movement of drug proceeds from the United States to Middle East countries such as Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. ……..

DEA Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt said:  “There is a misconception that synthetic cannabinoids, known on the street as ‘synthetic marijuana,’” ‘K2,’ and ‘spice,’ are safe.  Synthetic cannabinoids are anything but safe.  They are a toxic cocktail of lethal chemicals created in China and then disguised as plant material here in New York City. Today’s arrests represent law enforcement’s efforts to combat this emerging public threat.  By investigating and arresting manufacturers and distributors of ‘spice’ in the city, we have cut off the accessibility for those feeding the beast.”

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said:  “Today, we launch an aggressive assault on a public health crisis that is reaching epidemic proportions: the scourge of dangerous new drugs that are killing people and sending thousands upon thousands to emergency rooms in New York City and around the country.  Despite sometimes being called synthetic marijuana, this is not marijuana – it can have unpredictably severe and even lethal effects.  What is more, use of these drugs aggravates all manner of other societal ills: it is entering prisons; preying on the homeless; burdening our hospitals and emergency rooms; fuelling addiction; exacerbating mental health problems; and increasing risks to cops who must deal with people high on this poison.  Synthetic cannabinoids are a deadly serious problem that demands an equally serious response.  Today’s collective action is just the start of that response, one that will not end until this poison in a packet no longer endangers our community.”

NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said:  “This is a scourge on our society, affecting the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods and our most challenged citizens. It affects teenagers in public housing, homeless in the city shelter system, and it’s quite literally flooding our streets. This is marketed as synthetic marijuana, some call it K2. It is sold by the names of Galaxy, Diamond, Rush, and Matrix. But its real name is poison.”

HSI Acting Special Agent in Charge Glenn Sorge said:  “Synthetic marijuana is rapidly becoming a huge problem in our communities.  It is cheap and dangerous, especially for our teens and young adults.  We are working side by side with our law enforcement partners both here and abroad to combat the sale of this hazardous alternative to marijuana.”

Sheriff Joseph Fucito said:  “The Sheriff’s Office stands ready with our partners in law enforcement in addressing the sudden proliferation of synthetic drugs sales in licensed retail locations throughout New York City. Owners and operators of licensed locations have an obligation to keep illegal and highly dangerous substances out of the hands of our children. The Sheriff’s Office is committed to agency partnerships and enforcement strategies that advance this goal.”

…….The SSC retail packets were sold under names such as “AK-47,” “Blue Caution,” “Green Giant,” “Geeked Up,” “Psycho,” “Red Eye,” and “Black Extreme,” each containing between approximately three and six grams of product, and sometimes marked “not for human consumption,” or “potpourri.”  The illegal SSC retail packets were sold to individual customers for approximately $5 per packet.

.SSC are widely accessible because they are inexpensive and commonly sold at otherwise legitimate retail locations.  The colorful logos used on the SSC retail packets and the flavors used, such as lime, strawberry, and blueberry, make SSC attractive to teenagers and young adults.  Physical effects of SSC include agitation, rapid heart rate, confusion, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, paranoia, panic attacks, and acute kidney injury.  In addition, SSC products have inconsistent potencies, often containing more than one synthetic compound, and are sometimes laced with other toxic chemicals.  In a recent two-month period, use of SSC resulted in 2,300 emergency room visits in New York State.  Nationally, calls to poison centers in the United States related to synthetic cannabinoid use between January and May 2015 increased 229% over the same period in 2014.

 Source:  Press Release   US Drug Enforcement Administration.  16th Sept. 2016

 

 

 

A backlash is growing in a state where marijuana has quickly become a $1 billion legal business. For months, Paula McPheeters and a handful of like-minded volunteers have spent their weekends in grocery-store parking lots, even in 95° F heat. Sitting around a folding table draped with an American flag, they asked passing shoppers to sign a petition. Inevitably a few sign-wielding young protesters would show up to argue that McPheeters’s group was dead wrong. With the two sides often just yards away from each other, shouting matches erupted. “We’re peaceful people,” one woman yelled. “You’re drugged out,” countered an angry man. Threats and phone calls to police became the norm.  The wedge dividing the people of this small blue-collar city of Pueblo, Colo.?   Legal marijuana.

Colorado gave the green light to recreational marijuana back in 2012, when it passed a law to make nonmedical pot sales legal starting Jan. 1, 2014. But now opposition is rising in communities across the state. Colorado has become a great social experiment, the results of which are still not clear. “The jury is still out as to whether this was a good idea,” says Colorado attorney general Cynthia Coffman.

What’s undeniable is this: Legal marijuana is in high demand in Colorado. Only three other states—Alaska, Washington, and Oregon—plus the District of Columbia currently permit recreational adult use of cannabis. (It’s legal for medical use in another 19 states.) Of that group, Colorado led the way in 2015 with $996.5 million in licensed pot sales—a 41.7% jump over 2014 and nearly three times the figure in Washington State. Recreational sales made up nearly two-thirds of the total.

Now, as citizen groups attempt to put the brakes on the growing industry, a heated debate has emerged about the drug’s societal impact. Doctors report a spike in pot-related emergency room visits—mostly due to people accidentally consuming too much of potent edible pot products. Police face new cartel-related drug operations. Parents worry about marijuana being sold near their homes and schools. And less affluent communities like Pueblo struggle with the unintended consequences of becoming home to this emerging and controversial industry.

Amendment 64 decriminalized marijuana statewide, but Colorado’s cities and counties still decide if the drug can be grown and sold locally. At least 70% of the municipalities in the state have banned commercial operations, either by popular vote or board decisions.

Many other communities have begun pushing back. Last fall, controversy arose in the small western Colorado town of Parachute when an antipot group attempted to recall members of the town council who had welcomed pot shops. (Voters defeated the recall 3 to 1.) Debate has since emerged in Aspen, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs, Grand Junction, Littleton, and Rifle over the number, location, smell, and mere existence of retail and cultivation facilities. Citizens in the San Luis Valley, in the southern part of the state, say their schools and social services have been overwhelmed by a flood of newcomers coming to grow cannabis on cheap land, despite limited water. And just this spring officials in Colorado Springs and Englewood opted to ban pot social clubs, which are akin to lounges in which people can legally smoke weed in public.

“I’m getting calls now from people who voted for legalization thinking it wouldn’t affect them,” says Kevin Sabet, co-founder of national antimarijuana legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana. “They’re surprised to see these are sophisticated businesses opening up next to their schools selling things like marijuana gummy bears. And they’re angry.”

Officials in Denver, which is home to one-third of the state’s cannabis market, moved this spring to rein in pot capitalism. The city passed an ordinance capping the number of dispensaries and grow facilities at the present level. But discontent continues to fester in poorer communities, where many of these operations inevitably land. “We were told that legalization would take drugs out of our community,” says Candi CdeBaca, a community activist who grew up in the mostly Latino and poor Denver neighborhood of Elyria-Swansea. “The drugs stayed—and the drug dealers changed.”

CdeBaca points to, for example, an increase in school suspensions related to marijuana. And unlike the meatpacking plants and refineries that once dotted the area, CdeBaca says, this new industry hasn’t brought her neighbors jobs. Instead, the money is flowing to outsiders.

“It’s the Wild West, and the well-funded marijuana industry has dominated the regulatory process, and people are finally speaking up,” says Frank McNulty, a lawyer for Healthy Colorado, which plans to put a measure on the November state ballot—an easier task in Colorado than in many other states—that would limit the active drug ingredient THC in cannabis candy and concentrates and require health warnings on packaging. The marijuana industry has objected to the proposal, and the issue is now before the Colorado Supreme Court.

Cannabis backers bristle at the pushback, calling it a back-door effort by prohibitionists who simply disagree with the legalization of the drug. Mason Tvert, director of the Marijuana Policy Project, which leads legalization efforts nationwide, cites studies showing minimal impact on society and no harm to Colorado’s growing economy. Says Tvert: “Anyone who says it’s caused an increase in this or that [problem] is full of shit.”

What plays out in Colorado may influence what happens across the nation. Pot remains illegal under federal law. But legalization of recreational marijuana for adult use will be on the November ballot in California, Massachusetts, and Nevada, and likely in Arizona and Maine too. Voters in Arkansas, Florida, and Missouri will be voting on whether to approve it for medical use. The growth of the cannabis industry has begun to attract the interest of big companies. Microsoft announced in mid-June that it has developed a software product to help states track marijuana growth and sales.

In a recent appearance on CNBC, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper offered this advice to other states considering legalization: “I would suggest wait a year or two and see how it goes.”

Nowhere has the impact of legalization in Colorado been felt more powerfully than in the small community of Pueblo, located 114 miles south of Denver. At least 20 dispensaries and 100 growing facilities with 4 million square feet of cultivation now dot the highways near this town of 160,000, which has aggressively embraced the budding industry, making it the top cultivation spot in the state. “We’re sort of like the Napa Valley of cannabis,” says Pueblo County commissioner Sal Pace.

Pueblo has struggled for decades, ever since the 1983 recession, when most of the jobs at the local CF&I steel mill disappeared. Today the community is dealing with failingschools, rising gang activity, and increased crime. With a total of 26 homicides in 2014 and 2015, Pueblo earned the highest per capita murder rate in the state.

When the county’s three commissioners approved licenses for marijuana operations in 2014, Pueblo’s problems got worse, argues McPheeters, a Pueblo mom and community-college budget manager who is the driving force behind a group called Citizens for a Healthy Pueblo. “The promises of marijuana have not come true,” she argues. After weeks of contentious petition drives, McPheeters’s group believes it has gathered enough signatures to put a measure on the November ballot to revoke all the recreational marijuana licenses in the county. Marijuana industry groups, however, have sued, arguing that the number of signatures falls short under a new state law. A judge is set to decide in July.

Groups serving the poor in Pueblo report a flood of homeless people arriving from other states. Local homeless shelter Posada, for instance, has witnessed a 47% jump in demand since 2014, including 1,200 people who reported to shelter workers that they came to smoke pot or get jobs in the industry, says Posada’s director, Anne Stattelman. She says her funding is tapped out. “It’s changed the culture of our community,” she says.

The city’s three hospitals officially threw their support behind the antipot ballot measure after reporting a 50% spike in marijuana-related ER visits among youth under age 18 and more newborns with marijuana in their system. A number of local businesses are also backing the ban after struggling to find sober employees.

Commissioner Pace, in particular, has emerged as a target of criticism for citizens hoping to rid Pueblo of legal marijuana.  As a state legislator he drafted early pot regulations and then as commissioner led local efforts to launch the industry in Pueblo County after 56% of voters in the city approved Amendment 64. “It will take time to change some people’s opinions that pot is bad,” he says.

The pro-marijuana contingent in Pueblo say critics are misplacing blame for the area’s problems. They argue that the pot business has generated jobs and taxes as well as a college scholarship and a local playground. Revoking the licenses of cannabis shops, they say, will only fuel the black market. Says Chris Jones, an employee at a local dispensary clad in a Bob Marley T-shirt: “We already voted on this one time. Let it stand.”

Both antipot groups and marijuana advocates tend to cherry-pick data to support their claims. However, Larry Wolk, chief medical officer for the state department of health, says it’s too early to draw conclusions about the true social and health impacts on Colorado.

Marijuana-related hospitalizations have tripled in Colorado since legalization, and emergency room visits have climbed 30%, according to a state report released this spring. And pot-related calls to poison control have jumped from 20 to 100 a year, says Wolk. Drug-related school suspensions have also climbed. Yet teen usage hasn’t shot up dramatically, and crime has remained fairly stable. Marijuana-related DUIs increased 3%, and traffic fatalities involving THC increased 44%—but the absolute numbers were small in comparison to those that involved alcohol, according to the report.

The data is tricky, Wolk says, because Colorado didn’t track these numbers the same way prior to legalization. Are there more suspensions, he asks, because teachers are more aware? Are doctors now asking about marijuana at hospitals when they didn’t previously? “It may be a year or two before we’ll really have good answers,” says Wolk.

Marijuana legalization has delivered some surprises statewide to regulators, police, and citizens alike. For instance, many people thought legalization would quash the black market for the drug. “That’s been a fallacy,” says Coffman, Colorado’s attorney general. Legalization of cannabis stores and grow operations has drawn more drug-related crime, she says, including cartels that grow the plant in Colorado and then illegally move it and sell it out of state. “They use the law,” she says, “to break the law.”

Since 2013, law officials say, they have busted 88 drug cartel operations across the state, and just last year law-enforcement made a bust that recovered $12 million in illegal marijuana. Adds Coffman: “That’s crime we hadn’t previously had in Colorado.”

The state legislature is trying to play catch-up. Last year it passed 81 bills enacting changes to drug laws, prompting state law-enforcement groups to request a two-year moratorium on new laws so that they could have time to adjust. Lawsuits are also flying—including one from Colorado’s neighbors. Nebraska and Oklahoma have sued Colorado, claiming that it is violating federal drug statutes and contributing to the illegal drug trade in their states.

Another surprise to many Coloradans is that a promised huge tax windfall to benefit schools hasn’t materialized. Of the $135 million generated in 2015, for example, $20 million goes to regulatory and public-safety efforts related to cannabis, $40 million funds small rural school construction projects, and the rest goes to youth drug prevention and abuse programs. That’s a drop in the bucket for a $6.2 billion education budget.

A third revelation to parents in particular is the potency of today’s pot, says Diane Carlson, a mother of five who started Smart Colorado to protect teens from the drug. The weed, edibles, and concentrates sold in stores have THC levels that average 62% and sometimes as high as 95%, according to a 2015 state report. That compares with levels of 2% to 8% in the 1990s. “We passed this thinking it was benign, that it was the stuff from college,” says Carlson. “The industry is just moving too fast, and we’re playing catch-up while the industry is innovating.”

Sitting in a Denver café, Carlson compares marketing by the marijuana industry to that of Big Tobacco in the 1950s, portraying the product as a harmless cure-all for everything from ADHD to anxiety. Yet research shows that marijuana is harmful to the developing brain. She supports Healthy Colorado’s ballot initiative to limit the active drug ingredient in THC in marijuana edibles, candy, and concentrates to 17%.

The backlash worries Mike Stettler, the founder of Marisol, one of Pueblo County’s largest dispensaries, which has been endorsed by comedian and weed smokers’ icon Tommy Chong. The onetime construction worker fears that Pueblo’s pushback against pot will shut down his entire recreational dispensary and its 10-acre grow operation,

which generated $4.5 million in revenue last year. “I’m hoping and praying this thing doesn’t go through, but you don’t know,” he says.

He says he has invested millions in his business and has more plans for growth. In May he flew to Las Vegas to discuss a partnership with famed guitarist Carlos Santana to create a Santana brand of weed called Smooth, named after the artist’s hit song.

Inside, Marisol is a veritable wonderland for cannabis enthusiasts. Customers can consult a “budtender” for advice on the right weed for energy, sleep, or relaxation. They can also choose from a seemingly boundless variety of marijuana merchandise—from vegan “dabbing” concentrates for water pipes to pot-infused bottled beverages to peanut-butter-and-jelly-flavored THC candies. There are even liquid products designed to alleviate marijuana overdoses.

Giving a tour of the store, employee Santana O’Dell, clad in green tights with tiny marijuana leaves on them, sighs as a beatific smile appears on her face. “This is freedom,” she says.

For a growing number of her neighbors, however, legalized marijuana is starting to feel like a really bad high.

Source:  a version of this article appears in the July 1, 2016 issue of Fortune.

American Thinker

 

 

 

By Thomas Lifson

George Soros is a brilliant mastermind, the closest thing to a real-life Bond villain in human history.  He thinks strategically, targeting sources of leverage, and he wants to bring about structural change.  See, for instance, his close involvement in the Secretary of States Project.

Another attempt at targeting strategic sources of leverage has been outed at Politico (!) by Scott Bland:

While America’s political kingmakers inject their millions into high-profile presidential and congressional contests, Democratic mega-donor George Soros has directed his wealth into an under-the-radar 2016 campaign to advance one of the progressive movement’s core goals — reshaping the American justice system.

The billionaire financier has channeled more than $3 million into seven local district attorney campaigns in six states over the past year — a sum that exceeds the total spent on the 2016 presidential campaign by all but a handful of rival super-donors.

Typically, D.A. races do not attract big bucks, so the Soros money can become a major factor.  Needless to say:

His money has supported African-American and Hispanic candidates for these powerful local roles, all of whom ran on platforms sharing major goals of Soros’, like reducing racial disparities in sentencing and directing some drug offenders to diversion programs instead of to trial. It is by far the most tangible action in a progressive push to find, prepare and finance criminal justice reform-oriented candidates for jobs that have been held by long-time incumbents and serve as pipelines to the federal courts — and it has inspired fury among opponents angry about the outside influence in local elections.

That is a remarkably long time horizon for a man as old as Soros to embrace.  Generational in scope.  Maybe he expects his sons to complete his vision, but my guess is that his money has funded a vast organization that will operate tax-free to accomplish this huge political transformation.

Throughout the progressive agenda.  For many decades ahead.

There is a lot of good reporting in the story on the various races Soros has funded.  Kudos to Politico for this one.

Ed Lasky adds:

Soros runs rings around the Koch brothers and everyone else yet merits little attention from the media.  He drills down to state level and probably county levels when it comes to judges as well.  Also, he led the way with the Secretary of State Project that helped elect various secretaries of state – positions responsible for ensuring the integrity of voting practices and results – and can be manipulated, as was most probably the reason we have Al Franken as the senator from Minnesota.  I wrote about the SOS strategy of his and the Democracy Alliance years ago.  The judiciary is supposed to be independent.  There is no branch of government on the federal or state level – and county level – that Soros does not want to manipulate.

Richard Baehr adds:

The amount Soros spends – a few million here, a few million there – look benign compared to Adelson throwing 100 million into the 2012 campaign.  But he is far more effective.

The recent release of emails was a complete non-story for major media.  They won’t attack him.

Source:  http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2016/08/another_soros_puppet

News coverage about marijuana legalization is fairly predictable. If there’s even a toehold to support driving this addictive substance into the country, count on splashy headlines. Today’s breathless summaries of President Barack Obama’s remarks on the subject to The New Yorker were no exception.

The chief narrative spinning out at this hour boils down to this one quote from the President: “I don’t think it (marijuana) is more dangerous than alcohol.”

Cue the sampling of headlines appearing this evening on a Google search:

Fox News: “Marijuana no more dangerous than alcohol”
USA Today: “Obama: Pot no more dangerous than alcohol”
CNN: Obama says marijuana ‘no more dangerous than alcohol’
Huffington Post: “Obama: Marijuana no more dangerous than alcohol’
Time’s Swampland: “Obama says marijuana can be less dangerous than alcohol”
The (U.K.) Telegraph: “Barack Obama says smoking marijuana less dangerous than alcohol”
NPR: Marijuana is ‘not more dangerous than alcohol’

(Check out how this article conveniently lops off the President’s most critical remarks about marijuana — and asks readers to click over to The New Yorker to see those.)

Then there’s this from Time: “Obama on Marijuana Legalization: ‘It’s important for it to go forward.’”

Now, take a look at the full passage to which these news organizations — and many others — were reacting. It appears at the bottom of this post. The President expresses a fair amount of skepticism about marijuana legalization — but you wouldn’t know that if you’re just skimming the headlines and stories rocketing around the world at this hour.

Why no headlines screaming that the President called the case for marijuana legalization “overstated?” Why aren’t news organizations trumpeting that he called marijuana use a “bad idea, a waste of time, not very healthy.” Where are the headlines about the President’s acknowledgement that marijuana legalization could lead to a slippery slope of negotiated doses of cocaine and finely calibrated doses of meth?

After all, the President has to know the nation’s largest marijuana-advocacy groups already are laying the groundwork for full-scale recreational drug legalization that includes psychedelics, meth and cocaine. This is no secret. They’ve been at it for decades. Just a few months ago, Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, led what amounted to a pep rally for recreational drug lovers. Among his rah rah sis boom bah:

What is it we’re fighting for? Is it simply to legalize it all … some of us, yes, some of us, yes. Some of us believe deeply in our hearts that the best way to treat every drug is the way we treat alcohol and cigarettes today. And we may in fact be right. But what I also know is that to make that argument to the broader public, the public who has engaged and accepted that marijuana should be legally regulated, that we need to hold their hands and engage them into a different basis.”

Nadelmann followed up with this: “We’re not just a movement or people who like marijuana and relish our psychedelics … all the other drugs we enjoy, and we do so responsibly.”

Let’s ask President Obama what he thinks about all of that — and let’s demand the clear and straight answers we’re not getting from him.

While reporters eager to make the case that using weed is much like having a glass of wine or craft beer with a meal spin like tops, far more astute observers see very clearly what’s going on here: the President is playing both sides of a fence. Even some staunch legalization advocates bemoaned his waffling remarks, calling his position on marijuana “incoherent.” Again, judging from today’s giddy and incredibly myopic news coverage, you’d think he was crystalline.

Similarly, smart and responsible journalists will stop the cheerleading for weed — and the stenography — and doggedly question the President’s easy-breezy comparisons of marijuana and alcohol. He’s got opinions, but does current, reputable science support them? Not really, especially if we’re talking child health. Today’s marijuana is at least 10 times more potent than the strains the President recalls using when he was a teenager and young adult. The President — and everyone else basing their opinions on their experiences in the 1960s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s — must also stop to consider highly concentrated and increasingly popular forms of marijuana called “hash oil.” Doses of that oil often exceed 80 percent THC. That’s a far cry from the weed of Woodstock, which contained 1-3 percent THC, and the marijuana of around 8 percent THC the President used in the 1980s. This is obvious, and it’s worth mentioning.

Also worth mentioning? Kids take their cues from adults — especially adults they admire, like President Obama. So, when he says he doesn’t think marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol, is he stopping to consider what our nation’s health — specifically our nation’s child health — would look like if adolescent marijuana use rates caught up with youths’ use rates of alcohol? The rest of us should certainly stop to think about that — and let’s not wait for news organizations to get around to the reporting. Review the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future study for yourself. In 2013, 22.7 percent of high school seniors reported past-month use of marijuana compared to 39.2 percent of seniors who said they used alcohol in the previous 30 days.

Another elephant in this room? The President’s senior drug policy advisors at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and the National Institute on Drug Abuse are not on board with marijuana legalization — and it sure would be interesting to know what they make of the President’s comparison of marijuana and alcohol. Similarly, it would be great to know what they think of the President’s remark that it’s “important” for efforts to legalize recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington — which he also said would be “a challenge” — to move forward. When is it also going to be just as important for these states to pull the plugs on their grand experiments? How much death and destruction must be recorded to make those determinations? Whatever those limits are, it’s probably safe to say the President will be out of office when our country faces them.

At least President Obama makes clear he wants to reform laws that perpetuate racial and ethnic disparities and punish addiction more than treat it. That, too, is a case wildly overstated by marijuana supporters — and the President, having very easy access to public records and advisors who routinely present this information to communities across the country, probably knows this, too. But good for him. Many drug-prevention groups — such as Smart Approaches to Marijuana, or Project SAM — stand with him there. I strongly suspect the President knows marijuana legalization is not at all necessary to make those reforms — so it’s worth asking him what he’s waiting for. Why not champion reform now? We can certainly make changes without compromising the interests of public health and safety.

On the issue of marijuana legalization, President Obama needs to get serious because, whether he likes it or not, pot — especially as the drug harms American youth in greater numbers — is fast becoming a very big part of his legacy and grossly undermining his stated goals for reforming healthcare and education. He needs to lead — and that guidance for our nation must be rooted in much, much more than his opinions and personal experience.

Christine Tatum is a former staff writer for The Denver Post, Chicago Tribune, (Arlington Heights, Ill.) Daily Herald and (Greensboro, N.C.) News & Record. She was elected to serve as 2006-07 national president of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Global reaction:

The United States has staggering problems with alcohol and is failing to control its use and harm — which is all the more reason marijuana legalization is a bad idea for the U.S. and the world, writes Sven-Olov Carlsson, intentional president of IOGT International, in this open letter to President Obama. The IOGT is the world’s largest body of drug-prevention-and-policy advocates.

The President’s remarks on marijuana legalization as reported by The New Yorker:

When I asked Obama about another area of shifting public opinion—the legalization of marijuana—he seemed even less eager to evolve with any dispatch and get in front of the issue. “As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.”

Is it less dangerous? I asked.

Obama leaned back and let a moment go by. That’s one of his moves. When he is interviewed, particularly for print, he has the habit of slowing himself down, and the result is a spool of cautious lucidity. He speaks in paragraphs and with moments of revision. Sometimes he will stop in the middle of a sentence and say, ‘Scratch that,’ or, ‘I think the grammar was all screwed up in that sentence, so let me start again.’

Less dangerous, he said, ‘in terms of its impact on the individual consumer. It’s not something I encourage, and I’ve told my daughters I think it’s a bad idea, a waste of time, not very healthy.’ What clearly does trouble him is the radically disproportionate arrests and incarcerations for marijuana among minorities. ‘Middle-class kids don’t get locked up for smoking pot, and poor kids do,’ he said. ‘And African-American kids and Latino kids are more likely to be poor and less likely to have the resources and the support to avoid unduly harsh penalties.’ But, he said, ‘we should not be locking up kids or individual users for long stretches of jail time when some of the folks who are writing those laws have probably done the same thing.’ Accordingly, he said of the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington that ‘it’s important for it to go forward because it’s important for society not to have a situation in which a large portion of people have at one time or another broken the law and only a select few get punished.’

As is his habit, he nimbly argued the other side. ‘Having said all that, those who argue that legalizing marijuana is a panacea and it solves all these social problems I think are probably overstating the case. There is a lot of hair on that policy. And the experiment that’s going to be taking place in Colorado and Washington is going to be, I think, a challenge.’ He noted the slippery-slope arguments that might arise. ‘I also think that, when it comes to harder drugs, the harm done to the user is profound and the social costs are profound. And you do start getting into some difficult line-drawing issues. If marijuana is fully legalized and at some point folks say, Well, we can come up with a negotiated dose of cocaine that we can show is not any more harmful than vodka, are we open to that? If somebody says, We’ve got a finely calibrated dose of meth, it isn’t going to kill you or rot your teeth, are we O.K. with that?’”

Source: Dr.Thurstone.com Jan.19th 2014

From:

Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs

First published: 27 November 2014

Last updated: 25 March 2015 , see all updates

Part of: Drug misuse and dependency

Report presented to the crime prevention minister recommends a revised generic description, designed to control a broad-range of ‘third generation’ synthetic cannabinoids.

 

Documents

‘Third generation’ synthetic cannabinoids    –  PDF, 611KB, 29 pages

Addendum to report on ‘third generation’ synthetic cannabinoids   –  PDF, 21.1KB, 2 pages

Wouldn’t it be simpler for the USA to not legalise so-called medical marijuana and so-called recreational pot? (drug taking is not recreational !). Freely available marijuana will lead to more use by youth and research has shown that 10% of users will need treatment for addiction and mental health issues. 10% of a larger number of users will result in a larger number requiring treatment – with the inevitable increase in financial costs of treatment.

ACLU Calls Legislature’s Plans to Raid Pot Taxes “Dangerously Shortsighted and Unwise”

  

pot-tax

Pot Tax

In 2012, voters approved spending marijuana taxes on public health. Now, Republicans and Democrats want to grab that cash for other needs. 

Budget negotiations in the state legislature are not going well. House Democrats want taxes; Senate Republicans don’t.

Now, Republicans are telling Democrats to hand their tax proposals over to the Republican-controlled senate (where leaders promise no new taxes) before the two sides start negotiating. As the Seattle Times reports, the Democrats are like, uh, no thanks.

So negotiations are stalled and a special session seems likely.

One of the many efforts that hangs in the balance is the Republican-controlled senate’s plan to raid almost $300 million in expected marijuana tax revenue to pay for K-12 education. (House Democrats also want that money. Their budget keeps most of the 2012 initiative’s earmarks, but redirects some of them to non-marijuana-related needs like life skills training in schools and home visitation programs for new parents.) As I’ve explained before, marijuana tax dollars are—according to the initiative 56 percent of Washington voters supported in 2012—supposed to pay for public health efforts, like drug use prevention, treatment, research, public education campaigns about using marijuana safely, and healthcare. Not only does diverting those funds run counter to the vision of public-health-focused legalization that was sold to the voters. It also has some experts worried about negative impacts on public health.

In its second letter to lawmakers this month, the ACLU of Washington is joined by a long list of substance abuse prevention advocates in pleading with legislators to stop trying to snatch marijuana tax revenues to balance their budgets.

“Using I-502-earmarked funds to fill a budget hole now is dangerously shortsighted and unwise from both a public health and a cost-benefit perspective,” the group writes. “Reduced funding for prevention and drug education programs today means increased substance abuse tomorrow, which translates directly to lost productivity and more health care costs down the line. The increased costs of these outcomes in the years to come will make today’s supposed savings pale by comparison.”

The letter also points out a recent University of Washington survey of 115 low-income families of teens attending Tacoma middle schools, in which only 57 percent of parents knew the legal age for consumption and 63 percent knew home grows are illegal.

“To combat this misinformation,” the letter reads, “the legislature must invest in prevention and drug education, which is known to work—for example, youth initiation of tobacco use was cut in half when tobacco litigation settlement dollars went to prevention programs.Now is not the time to cut funding for programs that prevent marijuana use and abuse by youth.”

Here are the guys who wrote the senate budget plan, which redirects almost all of the tax revenue: Republican Andy Hill (andy.hill@leg.wa.gov) and Democrat Jim Hargrove (jim.hargrove@leg.wa.gov).

And here are those who sponsored the house proposal, which is less dramatic in its redirecting, but still opposed by the ACLU: Ross Hunter (ross.hunter@leg.wa.gov), Timm Ormsby (timm.ormsby@leg.wa.gov), Pat Sullivan (pat.sullivan@leg.wa.gov), Mia Gregerson (mia.gregerson@leg.wa.gov), Chris Reykdal (chris.reykdal@leg.wa.gov).

Here’s the full letter:

April 15, 2015
Re: Reallocation of Initiative-502 tax revenue in SSB 6062/SSB 5077 and 2SHB 2136/SHB 1106

Dear Lawmakers,

The undersigned organizations and individuals, representing Washington State’s substance abuse prevention, treatment, and public health communities, along with the ACLU of Washington, are greatly concerned about legislation currently under consideration that seeks to reallocate earmarked tax revenue in Initiative 502 (I-502). Diverting these funds would directly contradict the will of Washington voters, who made it clear in passing I-502 that they wanted a well-regulated and public health-oriented approach to marijuana policy rather than just legalization without more. And these funds provide resources for substance abuse prevention and treatment programming, drug education for youth and adults, community health care services, academic research, and evaluation, all of which are currently grossly underfunded.

Reallocating money from I-502’s original earmarks defies the will of Washington’s voters. By eliminating the Dedicated Marijuana Fund, the relevant Senate proposals, SSB 6062 and SSB 5077, would effectively eliminate I-502’s earmarks, ignoring the Initiative’s intent to “[g]enerate[] new … tax revenue for … health care, research, and substance abuse prevention.” Initiative 502 (2012), Part I – Intent – available athttp://www.newapproachwa.org/sites/newapproachwa.org/files/I-502%20bookmarked.pdf. The House proposals, 2SHB 2136 and SHB 1106, are not as sweeping as the Senate’s, but would still redirect money away from prevention programs to other non-marijuana-related programs. In moving forward with this cash grab, the legislature would be risking the interests and health of both Washington’s youth and its adults—the former would not get the benefit of participating in evidence-based prevention programs, and the latter will not get sufficient education about risky marijuana use. Neither is a good outcome for Washington. I-502 won by a large margin, receiving almost 56% support, and won in 20 of Washington’s 39 counties (including 5 east of the Cascades)—the legislature should respect the clearly expressed will of Washington’s voters.

Using I-502-earmarked funds to fill a budget hole now is dangerously shortsighted and unwise from both a public health and a cost-benefit perspective. Reduced funding for prevention and drug education programs today means increased substance abuse tomorrow, which translates directly to lost productivity and more health care costs down the line. The increased costs of these outcomes in the years to come will make today’s supposed savings pale by comparison.

As the Washington State Institute for Public Policy has shown repeatedly, the benefits from evidence-based public health/prevention and substance programs far outweigh the costs. WSIPP – Benefit-Cost Results – available at http://www.wsipp.wa.gov/BenefitCost 
Washington voters also enacted a measure that was to have been robustly evaluated by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy. RCW 69.50.550 Independent, reliable cost-benefit evaluation of the impacts of I-502 is critical to ensuring the legislature has solid data to inform future decisions about funding priorities that protect and promote public health and safety. SSB 6062 repeals the provisions mandating and funding these evaluations, which is unwise from a policy and public health perspective. Under the Senate proposal, funding for marijuana related research at the University of Washington and Washington State University would also be cut.

I-502 is still a new law and the general public is unfamiliar with its features—making this a crucial time for public education about the law. According to research from the University of Washington, “only 57 percent of Washington parents surveyed knew the legal age for recreational marijuana use.” UW Today, Deborah Bach, Study Shows Teens and Adults Hazy on Washington Marijuana Law, March 9, 2015, available athttp://www.washington.edu/news/2015/03/09/study-shows-teens-and-adults-hazy-on-washington-marijuana-law/. One of the study’s authors indicated it “convincingly points out that people don’t have good information about the new law.” Id. To combat this misinformation, the legislature must invest in prevention and drug education, which is known to work—for example, youth initiation of tobacco use was cut in half when tobacco litigation settlement dollars went to prevention programs. Now is not the time to cut funding for programs that prevent marijuana use and abuse by youth.

Lawmakers should not defy the will of the voters by reallocating I-502 tax revenue away from substance abuse prevention and treatment programming, drug education for youth and adults, community health care services, academic research, and evaluation. Please leave I-502’s critical earmarks intact.

Sincerely,

Carolyn Bernhard, Co-Chair, Prevention Works in Seattle Coalition
Kimberlee R. Brackett, President and CEO Science and Management of Addictions (SAMA)
Julie Campbell, Director, Ballard Coalition
Mark Cooke, Campaign Policy Director, ACLU of Washington
Brittany Rhoades Cooper, PhD Assistant Professor, Human Development, Graduate Faculty in Prevention Science, Extension Specialist, Washington State University
Shelley Cooper-Ashford, Executive Director, Center for MultiCultural Health
Josh Daniel, Content Inventions
Norilyn de la Pena, concerned parent, Federal Way
Aileen De Leon, Executive Director, WAPI Community Services
Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson (ret.), Initiative 502 Co-Sponsor
Dennis M. Donovan, Ph.D., Member, Board of Directors, Science and Management of Addictions (SAMA) Foundation
Sinivia Driggers, President, Samoan Nurses of Washington
Derek Franklin, Washington Association for Abuse & Violence Prevention (WASAVP)
Tracie Friedman, Youth Program Volunteer, Lau Khmu Association of Seattle
John Gahagan, Vice Chair, Science and Management of Addictions (SAMA) Foundation
Mike Graham-Squire, Washington Association for Abuse & Violence Prevention (WASAVP)
Gary Goldbaum, MD, MPH, Snohomish County Health Officer & Director
Kevin Haggerty, MSW, Ph.D., Director, Social Development Research Group
Mona T. Han, Executive Director, Coalition for Refugees from Burma
Patty Hayes, Interim Director, Public Health-Seattle & King County
Laura G. Hill, Professor and Chair, Department of Human Development, Interim Director of the Prevention Science PhD program, Washington State University
Alison Holcomb, National Director, Campaign to End Mass Incarceration at ACLU
Renee Hunter, Executive Director, Chelan-Douglas TOGETHER for Youth
Elaine Ishihara, Director, APICAT for Healthy Communities
Mark Johnson, Johnson Flora, Initiative 502 Co-Sponsor
Ramona Leber, Washington Association for Abuse & Violence Prevention (WASAVP)
Priscilla Lisicich, Executive Director, Safe Streets Campaign – Pierce County
Inga Manskopf, Prevention WINS coalition member
Marcos Martinez, Executive Director, Entre Hermanos
John L. McKay, Visiting Professor of Law Seattle University, Initiative 502 Co-Sponsor
Michael McKee, Health Services & Community Partnership Director,
International Community Health Services
Delton Mosby, Mental Health and Chemical Dependency Professional, Therapeutic Health Services
Sal Mungia, Gordon Thomas Honeywell, Initiative 502 Co-Sponsor
Adrienne Quinn, Director, Department of Community and Human Services, King County
Roger Roffman, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, School of Social Work, University of Washington
Andrew J. Saxon, MD, Science and Management of Addictions (SAMA) Board Chair, Professor Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington
Lorena Silva, community member, Yakima Valley
Rick Steves, Guidebook author and travel TV host, Rick Steves’ Europe, Initiative 502 Co-Sponsor
Jennifer Stuber, Associate Professor, University of Washington
Val Thomas-Matson, Program Manager, Health King County Coalition
Linda J. Thompson, Executive Director, Greater Spokane Substance Abuse Council (GSSAC)
Leslie R. Walker, MD, Chief, Division of Adolescent Medicine, University of Washington Department of Pediatrics & Seattle Children’s Hospital
Paul Weatherly, Bellevue College Alcohol/Drug Counseling Program
Leondra Weiss, Nurse Manager, Harborview Women’s Clinic
Robert W. Wood, M.D., Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of Washington, Initiative 502 Co-Sponsor
The Washington State Psychiatric Association

Filed under: Political Sector,USA :

April 20, 2015

For Immediate Release

For More Information Contact: Lana Beck (727) 828-0211 or (727) 403-7571

Weeds 3: A Documentary Showcasing Legitimate Scientific Research or an Infomercial to Legalize Marijuana?

(St. Petersburg, FL) Drug Free America Foundation stands with other major medical associations whose positions support the research into the medical efficacy of marijuana. These associations include: the American Medical Association, American Society of Addiction Medicine, American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychiatric Association. However, Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s documentary blurs the lines between legitimate research and propaganda. The important take-a-way from the show was that research on the potential benefits of marijuana is taking place today without the rescheduling of the drug. Unfortunately, the show failed to point out the multitude of harms of marijuana use and the impacts in states that have determined medicine by popular vote.

Two things about the documentary that really upset me as a medical professional are that Sanjay Gupta had a chance to drive home the point that because research is underway on the potential benefits of components in marijuana, there is no need to legalize it through referenda where dosages can’t be controlled and various strains can’t be cloned. Nor is it necessary to reschedule the drug,” said Dr. Eric Voth, an expert on drug policy and Chair of the Institute on Global Drug Policy.

The other disappointing aspect about this show is the lack of discussion about the myriad of scientific research out there that shows the other side of marijuana that is harmful and addictive,” continued Voth. “If we are going to have open dialogue about marijuana research, then Gupta shouldn’t muddy the water by sending an incomplete message to the public about the right and the wrong way to approach true scientific research. I think this was an intentionally missed opportunity by Gupta to further a less-than-scientific agenda,” concluded Voth.

By ignoring the potential harms of marijuana use and not acknowledging the big problems that Colorado and California have experienced since marijuana has been legalized in those states, CNN and Dr. Gupta failed to cover this issue honestly,” said Amy Ronshausen, Deputy Director of Drug Free America Foundation, Inc. and Save Our Society From Drugs. “This show failed to cover Colorado’s increases in drugged driving fatalities and emergency room visits because of marijuana use. Nor did the show discuss the alarming trend surrounding high potency marijuana edibles sold as ‘medicine’ and marketed to be appealing to youth,” continued Ronshausen. “There was a lot of discussion about how marijuana may help PTSD symptoms, but none about the mounting research on how the drug exacerbates psychotic symptoms,” concluded Ronshausen.

Source: Press Release DFAF 20th April 2015

By Kathy Gyngell Posted 19th July 2015

Anyone thinking that born again Christian Tim Farron might take an axe to the Liberal Democrats’ muddled drugs legalisation policy now that he has won the leadership context should think again.

Writing on his Facebook page just a few weeks ago he declared the (so-called) ‘War on Drugs’ must end. Without any irony he also promised: “If I am leader I will make the case based on evidence, not dogma”, citing Portugal, where drugs have been decriminalised and addicts are directed to treatment not to prison, as a model for the UK to follow.

I am not sure where he has been living but like Nick Clegg before him clearly not in the UK. He seems to be as oblivious as his predecessor to the fact that children’s drug use in Portugal shot up as a consequence and that ’treatment’ is what addicts get and have been getting in the ‘punitive’ UK too – for years. Yes, Mr Farron the vast majority of drug addicts here are hundreds of times more likely to get 12 weeks of treatment than twelve weeks in prison – or any other length of custodial sentence for that matter. He only has to check the National Drug Treatment Monitoring Statistics (official statistics published by Public Health England) to follow my drift. In 2013/14 over 193, 000 drug users, two thirds of the estimated addict population, got treatment. And prison was not even on the cards.

Nor should he be under any illusion that the final third of untreated addicts (roughly the same size as our entire prison population) are to be found in prison. The fact is that only a tenth of those serving custodial sentences are at Her Majesty’s pleasure for drugs offences – very few for simple possession, and hardly any at all for cannabis alone.

The idea that large numbers of low-level non-violent drugs offenders are incarcerated here or in the US is a very persistent myth – propagated by those who can’t wait for our far from punitive drug laws to be further liberalised. They, like President Obama in the USA, push the victimisation myth – claiming that drug use, in and of itself is harmless, that the only harm comes from the wicked and unnecessary ‘criminalisation’ of drugs. Never mind the shocking damage to health (mental and physical) and associated violent and anti-social behaviour. Such was the American President’s belief in this popular theory that he declared his own war on this unjust sentencing when he took office. Now it turns out that he has been having a bit of struggle to find these low level drug using victims of ‘mass incarceration’ in his federal prisons, whose sentences he promised to commute.

The new Lib Dem leader would do well to acquaint himself with these US facts too.

For, in the seventh year of his presidency, Mr Obama has managed to add just 46 federal felons to the list of those whose sentences he has commuted. And were they the low level dope users he and his mentor George Soros still insist fill these prisons? Emphatically not. The men Obama has just released turn out to be crack dealers, cocaine dealers, and methamphetamine dealers, some convicted of dealing more than 10 pounds of crack.

You might wonder why, with the Lib Dems in electoral oblivion and the battle for drug legalisation over in the UK, why I am bothering to set these records straight for Mr Farron?

Well, however extraordinary it might seem, there appears be a weak link at the heart of the Conservative Party. The liberal Mr Oliver Letwin has been listening to the siren voices

of Clear the pro-cannabis lobby, whose latest tactic is to legalise pot via the back door of medical marijuana. According to their website he has promised to “..investigate the question of prescription cannabis for relief of medical conditions.. (and)..will start the process of talking to people in MHRA, Public Health England and so forth to try to get a sense of the pros and cons.”

It is astonishing that Mr Letwin, given the Government’s freedom from batty Lib Dem pressure, is wasting his time on something for which it takes a small amount of research to find there is no medical evidence for, but a lot of evidence of damage. As Mary Brett wrote on this site last year, the pressure for so called ‘ medicinal’ cannabis has more to do with self-interest than with real concern for people who are ill. It is astonishing to think that Mr Letwin, who is always held up to be a clever man, could be fooled by Clear’s blandishments.

He should note that taking herbal cannabis as a medicine is the equivalent to eating mouldy bread to get penicillin or, for that matter, to chewing willow bark for aspirin; and that there are no scientific studies that establishing that marijuana is effective as a medicine whether smoked or eaten.

It is not just that medical marijuana does no good it is that it does active harm. In America teenagers report how easy it is to get hold of ‘diverted’ medical marijuana from adults’ prescriptions. This is worrying as their cannabis use has doubled and their perception of its risk has halved in the years since individual states allowed medical marihuana (now 23 of them). This is not a scenario any right-minded person would wish on young people here. As I have written on this site before, cannabis wrecks young lives.

How much more evidence will the clever Mr Letwin require, I wonder, before he kicks this idea into touch?

Comment: Another sensible and well researched article from Kathy Gyngell. Oliver Letwin might also like to know that it has been known for over 30 years that users of cannabis are statistically more likely to go on to use other drugs – in particular cocaine. The intelligent thing to do would be to read the research and not just listen to the pro-cannabis lobby. .

See: Clayton & Voss Jan 1982 Us. Journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependence – ‘risk of marijuana user to progress to cocaine consumption is 10 times greater than the risk of a heavy smoker developing cancer of the lung.’

PRIDE Survey 1990 ‘ Marijuana users are 66 times more likely to use cocaine subsequently than subjects who have never consumed marijuana’.

Kandel et al 1975 Science l90 (1975):912 – Escalation from marijuana to Cocaine

A study by Dr. Ronaldo Laranjeira from San Paulo University in Brazil also showed a connection between marijuana use and cocaine use.

Thus firm and fair laws on the use of cannabis will also contribute to a lowering of all illegal drug use – and good prevention would discourage the inappropriate use of any drugs – legal or illegal. Ann Stoker NDPA

Source:  conservativewoman.co.uk    19th July 2015

Wouldn’t it be simpler for the USA to not legalise so-called medical marijuana and so-called recreational pot ? (drug taking is not recreational !). Freely available marijuana will lead to more use by youth, and research has shown that 10% of users will need treatment for addiction and mental health issues. 10% of a larger number of users will result in a larger number requiring treatment – with the inevitable increase in financial costs of treatment.

ACLU Calls Legislature’s Plans to Raid Pot Taxes “Dangerously Shortsighted and Unwise”

In 2012, voters approved spending marijuana taxes on public health. Now, Republicans and Democrats want to grab that cash for other needs.

Budget negotiations in the state legislature are not going well. House Democrats want taxes; Senate Republicans don’t.

Now, Republicans are telling Democrats to hand their tax proposals over to the Republican-controlled senate (where leaders promise no new taxes) before the two sides start negotiating. As the Seattle Times reports, the Democrats are like, uh, no thanks.

So negotiations are stalled and a special session seems likely.

One of the many efforts that hangs in the balance is the Republican-controlled senate’s plan to raid almost $300 million in expected marijuana tax revenue to pay for K-12 education. (House Democrats also want that money. Their budget keeps most of the 2012 initiative’s earmarks, but redirects some of them to non-marijuana-related needs like life skills training in schools and home visitation programs for new parents.) As I’ve explained before, marijuana tax dollars are—according to the initiative 56 percent of Washington voters supported in 2012—supposed to pay for public health efforts, like drug use prevention, treatment, research, public education campaigns about using marijuana safely, and healthcare. Not only does diverting those funds run counter to the vision of public-health-focused legalization that was sold to the voters. It also has some experts worried about negative impacts on public health.

In its second letter to lawmakers this month, the ACLU of Washington is joined by a long list of substance abuse prevention advocates in pleading with legislators to stop trying to snatch marijuana tax revenues to balance their budgets.

“Using I-502-earmarked funds to fill a budget hole now is dangerously shortsighted and unwise from both a public health and a cost-benefit perspective,” the group writes. “Reduced funding for prevention and drug education programs today means increased substance abuse tomorrow, which translates directly to lost productivity and more health care costs down the line. The increased costs of these outcomes in the years to come will make today’s supposed savings pale by comparison.”

The letter also points out a recent University of Washington survey of 115 low-income families of teens attending Tacoma middle schools, in which only 57 percent of parents knew the legal age for consumption and 63 percent knew home grows are illegal.

“To combat this misinformation,” the letter reads, “the legislature must invest in prevention and drug education, which is known to work—for example, youth initiation of tobacco use was cut in half when tobacco litigation settlement dollars went to prevention programs.Now is not the time to cut funding for programs that prevent marijuana use and abuse by youth.”

Here are the guys who wrote the senate budget plan, which redirects almost all of the tax revenue: Republican Andy Hill (andy.hill@leg.wa.gov) and Democrat Jim Hargrove (jim.hargrove@leg.wa.gov).

And here are those who sponsored the house proposal, which is less dramatic in its redirecting, but still opposed by the ACLU: Ross Hunter (ross.hunter@leg.wa.gov), Timm Ormsby (timm.ormsby@leg.wa.gov), Pat Sullivan (pat.sullivan@leg.wa.gov), Mia Gregerson (mia.gregerson@leg.wa.gov), Chris Reykdal (chris.reykdal@leg.wa.gov).

Here’s the full letter:

April 15, 2015
Re: Reallocation of Initiative-502 tax revenue in SSB 6062/SSB 5077 and 2SHB 2136/SHB 1106

Dear Lawmakers,

The undersigned organizations and individuals, representing Washington State’s substance abuse prevention, treatment, and public health communities, along with the ACLU of Washington, are greatly concerned about legislation currently under consideration that seeks to reallocate earmarked tax revenue in Initiative 502 (I-502). Diverting these funds would directly contradict the will of Washington voters, who made it clear in passing I-502 that they wanted a well-regulated and public health-oriented approach to marijuana policy rather than just legalization without more. And these funds provide resources for substance abuse prevention and treatment programming, drug education for youth and adults, community health care services, academic research, and evaluation, all of which are currently grossly underfunded.

Reallocating money from I-502’s original earmarks defies the will of Washington’s voters. By eliminating the Dedicated Marijuana Fund, the relevant Senate proposals, SSB 6062 and SSB 5077, would effectively eliminate I-502’s earmarks, ignoring the Initiative’s intent to “[g]enerate[] new … tax revenue for … health care, research, and substance abuse prevention.” Initiative 502 (2012), Part I – Intent – available athttp://www.newapproachwa.org/sites/newapproachwa.org/files/I-502%20bookmarked.pdf. The House proposals, 2SHB 2136 and SHB 1106, are not as sweeping as the Senate’s, but would still redirect money away from prevention programs to other non-marijuana-related programs. In moving forward with this cash grab, the legislature would be risking the interests and health of both Washington’s youth and its adults—the former would not get the benefit of participating in evidence-based prevention programs, and the latter will not get sufficient education about risky marijuana use. Neither is a good outcome for Washington. I-502 won by a large margin, receiving almost 56% support, and won in 20 of Washington’s 39 counties (including 5 east of the Cascades)—the legislature should respect the clearly expressed will of Washington’s voters.

Using I-502-earmarked funds to fill a budget hole now is dangerously shortsighted and unwise from both a public health and a cost-benefit perspective. Reduced funding for prevention and drug education programs today means increased substance abuse tomorrow, which translates directly to lost productivity and more health care costs down the line. The increased costs of these outcomes in the years to come will make today’s supposed savings pale by comparison.

As the Washington State Institute for Public Policy has shown repeatedly, the benefits from evidence-based public health/prevention and substance programs far outweigh the costs. WSIPP – Benefit-Cost Results – available athttp://www.wsipp.wa.gov/BenefitCost
Washington voters also enacted a measure that was to have been robustly evaluated by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy. RCW 69.50.550 Independent, reliable cost-benefit evaluation of the impacts of I-502 is critical to ensuring the legislature has solid data to inform future decisions about funding priorities that protect and promote public health and safety. SSB 6062 repeals the provisions mandating and funding these evaluations, which is unwise from a policy and public health perspective. Under the Senate proposal, funding for marijuana related research at the University of Washington and Washington State University would also be cut.

I-502 is still a new law and the general public is unfamiliar with its features—making this a crucial time for public education about the law. According to research from the University of Washington, “only 57 percent of Washington parents surveyed knew the legal age for recreational marijuana use.” UW Today, Deborah Bach, Study Shows Teens and Adults Hazy on Washington Marijuana Law, March 9, 2015, available athttp://www.washington.edu/news/2015/03/09/study-shows-teens-and-adults-hazy-on-washington-marijuana-law/. One of the study’s authors indicated it “convincingly points out that people don’t have good information about the new law.” Id. To combat this misinformation, the legislature must invest in prevention and drug education, which is known to work—for example, youth initiation of tobacco use was cut in half when tobacco litigation settlement dollars went to prevention programs. Now is not the time to cut funding for programs that prevent marijuana use and abuse by youth.

Lawmakers should not defy the will of the voters by reallocating I-502 tax revenue away from substance abuse prevention and treatment programming, drug education for youth and adults, community health care services, academic research, and evaluation. Please leave I-502’s critical earmarks intact.

Sincerely,

Carolyn Bernhard, Co-Chair, Prevention Works in Seattle Coalition
Kimberlee R. Brackett, President and CEO Science and Management of Addictions (SAMA)
Julie Campbell, Director, Ballard Coalition
Mark Cooke, Campaign Policy Director, ACLU of Washington
Brittany Rhoades Cooper, PhD Assistant Professor, Human Development, Graduate Faculty in Prevention Science, Extension Specialist, Washington State University
Shelley Cooper-Ashford, Executive Director, Center for MultiCultural Health
Josh Daniel, Content Inventions
Norilyn de la Pena, concerned parent, Federal Way
Aileen De Leon, Executive Director, WAPI Community Services
Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson (ret.), Initiative 502 Co-Sponsor
Dennis M. Donovan, Ph.D., Member, Board of Directors, Science and Management of Addictions (SAMA) Foundation
Sinivia Driggers, President, Samoan Nurses of Washington
Derek Franklin, Washington Association for Abuse & Violence Prevention (WASAVP)
Tracie Friedman, Youth Program Volunteer, Lau Khmu Association of Seattle
John Gahagan, Vice Chair, Science and Management of Addictions (SAMA) Foundation
Mike Graham-Squire, Washington Association for Abuse & Violence Prevention (WASAVP)
Gary Goldbaum, MD, MPH, Snohomish County Health Officer & Director
Kevin Haggerty, MSW, Ph.D., Director, Social Development Research Group
Mona T. Han, Executive Director, Coalition for Refugees from Burma
Patty Hayes, Interim Director, Public Health-Seattle & King County
Laura G. Hill, Professor and Chair, Department of Human Development, Interim Director of the Prevention Science PhD program, Washington State University
Alison Holcomb, National Director, Campaign to End Mass Incarceration at ACLU
Renee Hunter, Executive Director, Chelan-Douglas TOGETHER for Youth
Elaine Ishihara, Director, APICAT for Healthy Communities
Mark Johnson, Johnson Flora, Initiative 502 Co-Sponsor
Ramona Leber, Washington Association for Abuse & Violence Prevention (WASAVP)
Priscilla Lisicich, Executive Director, Safe Streets Campaign – Pierce County
Inga Manskopf, Prevention WINS coalition member
Marcos Martinez, Executive Director, Entre Hermanos
John L. McKay, Visiting Professor of Law Seattle University, Initiative 502 Co-Sponsor
Michael McKee, Health Services & Community Partnership Director,
International Community Health Services
Delton Mosby, Mental Health and Chemical Dependency Professional, Therapeutic Health Services
Sal Mungia, Gordon Thomas Honeywell, Initiative 502 Co-Sponsor
Adrienne Quinn, Director, Department of Community and Human Services, King County
Roger Roffman, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, School of Social Work, University of Washington
Andrew J. Saxon, MD, Science and Management of Addictions (SAMA) Board Chair, Professor Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington
Lorena Silva, community member, Yakima Valley
Rick Steves, Guidebook author and travel TV host, Rick Steves’ Europe, Initiative 502 Co-Sponsor
Jennifer Stuber, Associate Professor, University of Washington
Val Thomas-Matson, Program Manager, Health King County Coalition
Linda J. Thompson, Executive Director, Greater Spokane Substance Abuse Council (GSSAC)
Leslie R. Walker, MD, Chief, Division of Adolescent Medicine, University of Washington Department of Pediatrics & Seattle Children’s Hospital
Paul Weatherly, Bellevue College Alcohol/Drug Counseling Program
Leondra Weiss, Nurse Manager, Harborview Women’s Clinic
Robert W. Wood, M.D., Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of Washington, Initiative 502 Co-Sponsor
The Washington State Psychiatric Association

Source: http://www.thestranger.com

Filed under: Political Sector,USA :

 

 

The liberal billionaire George Soros is well known for funding groups world wide who promote the legalization of drugs.  It is rare for him to be sued – he usually decides to settle ‘out of court’.  This story beautifully describes  the character of the man.

 

A Syracuse, N.Y., restaurant owned by the liberal billionaire George Soros doesn’t pay its tipped employees fair wages, some of those employees alleged in a lawsuit filed this week.

Those employees signed on to a class suit lodged this week against the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que restaurant chain, the Syracuse Post-Standard reported on Monday

 

The suit claims Dinosaur failed to properly use the “tipped credit” provision in federal law, which requires employers to make up the difference between tips and pay to meet minimum wage standard. It also says Dinosaur required tipped employees to spend more than 20 percent of their work day doing “side work,” which includes setting up dining areas, for which they do not get tipped. The suit says workers should be paid minimum wage for that work.

The suit also claims Dinosaur failed to properly pay overtime wages, “misappropriated” tips belonging to the tipped workers, wrongly required tipped workers to share tips with managers for large events and failed to properly pay workers for shifts exceeding 10 hours. The suit also claims Dinosaur failed to keep accurate records of tips and wages.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday in federal court in New York City by the Fitapelli & Schaffer law firm, according to the firm’s web site. It says it seeks to represent “servers, bussers, runners, bartenders” and other tipped employees.

 

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que is majority owned by Soros Strategic Partners, an investment firm run by George Soros, who bankrolls liberal groups that complain about unfair wages for tipped workers.

Source: http://freebeacon.com/  31st March 2015

Nick Clegg ignited a huge controversy last night by claiming that all drug users should be treated as ‘victims’. The Liberal Democrat leader said they should not be given criminal records for possessing illegal substances – even if they they are caught with ‘harder’ drugs such as heroin or crack cocaine.

Meanwhile, Sir Richard Branson made the astonishing claim that smoking powerful skunk cannabis does not cause ‘any harm’ – despite evidence that a quarter of new cases of psychosis are linked to it.  Announcing his party’s new drugs policy yesterday, Mr Clegg said: ‘We shouldn’t be treating the criminal “Mr Bigs” the same as the users. The latter are the victims of the former.’

But his comments were dismissed by the head of the Chatham House think tank Robin Niblett, who said: ‘Are all users victims or is there a large proportion of people who enjoy drugs and take them recreationally? It is a question of demand, rather than people who need to be treated for an addiction.’

Other experts have also questioned whether it is right to label all drug users as victims. Stuart Waiton, senior lecturer in sociology at Abertay University, said: ‘The problem we have today is that society finds it difficult to hold people to account for their actions.

‘The idea of moral responsibility is very weak because we assume that everyone’s a victim. People don’t need medical support – unless their bodies are falling to bits – they need to take responsibility for their own actions.’

The Lib Dems’ new policy would end prosecutions for people caught with small amounts of drugs for ‘personal use’. It would cover all drugs. Mr Clegg said the policy would be included in the Lib Dem manifesto.

It is widely seen as a pitch to win back young voters disillusioned by the party’s betrayal over university tuition fees.

The Liberal Democrat leader said drug users should not be given criminal records for possessing illegal substances – even if they they are caught with ‘harder’ drugs such as heroin or crack cocaine

With neither Labour nor the Tories backing decriminalisation, it is unlikely to become government policy even if the Lib Dems remain in power after the election.

Mr Clegg received a public endorsement yesterday from Sir Richard, who suggested that smoking skunk is safe.

The Virgin tycoon shared a platform with the Lib Dem leader to promote the party’s pledge. He said: ‘Of people taking hash [cannabis], something like 99 per cent do not have a problem … Take people taking skunk.

‘It’s slightly worse than alcohol. But there are a lot of people doing it for recreational purposes and they enjoy doing it and it’s not doing them any harm.’   A study last month by Kings College London found that 24 per cent of new cases of psychosis are linked to the use of skunk.

The report concluded that smoking skunk trebles the risk of someone having a psychotic episode.

Last night, Mr Clegg also insisted that the so-called ‘war on drugs’ was ‘not working’, although he was later forced to concede that official figures show drug use has been falling in Britain for years.

Downing Street rejected Mr Clegg’s analysis and said it was not supported by David Cameron.

Andy Cook, chief executive of charity Twenty Twenty, which works with disadvantaged young people, said: ‘Cannabis is ruining the life opportunities of those we work with, so the idea that society would be better off if  this stuff was decriminalised is crazy. ‘Making it more easily available and more culturally acceptable will mean that more of our young people would take it. The result will be that more of our young people would fail to make the most of their potential.’

Source:  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2980158    5th March 2015

The Russian government is likely to disband the Federal Drug Control Service, according to an official document obtained by The Moscow Times.

The document, signed on Feb. 10 by Larisa Brychyova, head of the legal directorate of the presidential administration, cites an order by President Vladimir Putin to dissolve the agency from March 1.

The agency’s functions will be redistributed among the Interior and Health ministries, according to the document.

Business daily Vedomosti reported Monday that the agency is being liquidated due to budget considerations.

Putin’s proposal will be considered by the Cabinet before becoming official, a process that is generally no more than a technicality for Kremlin initiatives.

The Federal Drug Control Service was established in 2003 on the foundations of the Federal Tax Police Service and employs about 35,000 people, having been ordered by Putin in 2012 to cut its staff by 5,000 people by 2016, state news agency Interfax reported. The service was allocated more than 29.5 billion rubles ($473 million) from the federal budget last year, according to its website.

According to the Kommersant daily, drugs policy director Viktor Ivanov — the agency’s outspoken head — will likely return to the presidential administration where he served as a presidential aide before joining the agency in 2008.

In an interview with Kommersant last week, Ivanov denied rumors that the agency would be liquidated, saying that in the last five years it had busted almost 350 criminal gangs, “almost 10 times more than all other law enforcement agencies put together.” He also said in the interview that since the agency was created, the drug-related mortality rate in Russia has halved.

Last October, Ivanov said that drugs are to blame for 80 percent of all deaths of Russians aged 18 to 34 in Russia during the past five years. The rate has improved, but the number is still too high, Ivanov said in an interview with the TV Center television channel.

There are 8.5 million drug addicts in Russia — almost 6 percent of the population — a government report said in 2013. Many of them are heroin users, supplied by the steady flow of the opiate into Russian from Afghanistan through neighboring Central Asian countries. The Russian Federation has the highest prevalence of opiate use in eastern and southeastern Europe, according to the UN 2014 World Drug Report.

Ivanov and his agency were often criticized for their opposition to drug substitution therapies. As many as 100 drug users in Crimea have died since the peninsula was annexed from Ukraine by Russia as a direct result of the treatment becoming illegal under Russian law, a UN official said in January.

In recent years, Ivanov’s agency has found it hard to battle the spread of synthetic marijuana and other smoking blends that are known generally as “spice.” Sold widely online, they have caused a spate of recent high-profile deaths.

Longtime anti-drugs crusader Yevgeny Roizman, founder of the City Without Drugs movement in Yekaterinburg, spoke against the decision to disband the agency Monday.

“This agency is much more effective than the police. Moreover, competition between various agencies makes them achieve results,” he wrote in his LiveJournal blog.

“After investing loads of money and creating a powerful professional structure that has proved its effectiveness, to then just disband it all is a chaotic and absurd decision. Drug dealers are dancing with joy. Some people in the Interior Ministry are dancing too,” he wrote.

Source: http://www.themoscowtimes.com/ 16th Feb.2015

Last month, people voted to legalize recreational use of marijuana in Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia. As the movement toward marijuana legalization continues, lawmakers and policy experts are looking to the experiments in Colorado and Washington for guidance. We should not overlook, however, valuable lessons from our experience with another legal drug: tobacco.

In the late 19th century, the landscape of tobacco consumption was very different than it is today. Tobacco use was much less prevalent, and cigarettes accounted for a tiny portion of consumption. Yet by the mid-20th century, almost half of U.S. adults smoked, with major consequences for public health. Despite important health policy achievements since, cigarette smoking remains a major contributor to the top causes of death in the United States, including cardiovascular and lung diseases, as well as cancer.

This drastic rise in the prevalence of smoking can be attributed to a number of successful business strategies. Hand-rolling of cigarettes, a technique that limited production potential, was supplanted by machine manufacturing. Changes in the chemical composition and curing process of cigarettes made them more flavorful as well as more addictive. Aggressive marketing techniques sought to build a larger consumer base. Advertisements often featured doctors in an effort to quell public fear over smoking-related health concerns; other campaigns targeted children or adolescents, who represented potential lifetime customers. Finally, the industry created powerful lobbying groups to protect their profits from regulations aimed at curbing consumption.

Alarmingly, marijuana businesses are now mimicking many of Big Tobacco’s successful strategies. New methods of consuming marijuana (such as vaporization) are said to represent a healthier way to get high — though little research supports this claim — encouraging individuals to consume more marijuana in one sitting. The percentage of tetrahydrocannabinol (the euphoria-inducing compound associated with many adverse health effects) in marijuana is much higher than it was a few decades ago. Just as tobacco companies featured doctors in advertisement campaigns, marijuana advocates have appealed to medical authority by successfully lobbying in many places for the approval of “medical marijuana” for a plethora of conditions, even when little or no scientific evidence supports its use.

Although it is laudable that Colorado has placed restrictions on marijuana advertising, it is also disturbing that the marijuana industry quickly mounted powerful legal efforts to challenge these restrictions in court.

The formula for success in profiting from a legal drug is simple and has been clearly outlined by Big Tobacco: Identify a product with addictive potential, aggressively market it to as large an audience as possible, develop technical innovations to allow for and promote increased consumption, and deny or minimize potential costs to human health. The marijuana industry is poised to copy this formula, with dire consequences.

Important lessons can also be drawn from the Netherlands, where marijuana has been decriminalized since 1976. Following decriminalization, the Dutch government strictly enforced guidelines prohibiting advertising and transactions above a certain quantity (to discourage mass production and distribution). For about a decade, marijuana consumption rates remained stable. However, in the mid-1980s, waning enforcement of these guidelines coincided with a drastic increase in both the commercialization of marijuana and rates of consumption. The overriding lesson from the Netherlands is that it was commercialization, not decriminalization itself, that led to sharp increases in use.

If we are intent on legalizing marijuana for recreational use, lessons from the tobacco industry and the Dutch marijuana experiment suggest that we do so in a way that does not pit corporate incentives against the interests of public health. Similar to efforts in Uruguay, production and distribution should be done solely by the government so as to ensure that there is no corporate incentive to entice more people to consume marijuana in larger quantities. Advertisements in all media venues should be banned, or as stringently regulated as allowed by law.

While the health effects of marijuana are generally not as severe as those of cigarette smoking, the consequences — including addiction, psychosis and impaired cognitive abilities — are nonetheless real. Notably, these effects are most pronounced in children and adolescents. Claims that marijuana legalization will make it easier to prevent use by minors are not backed by scientific or historical evidence. The most prevalent drugs consumed by teenagers are those that are legal: alcohol and tobacco. This should give us pause to consider the optimal way to legalize marijuana — and indeed whether other states should consider legalization at all.

Samuel T. Wilkinson is a resident physician in psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine. This first appeared in The Washington Post.

Source: http://www.courant.com/opinion/op-ed/hc-op-marijuana-mimics-big-tobacco-1214-20141212-story.html

Filed under: Economic,Political Sector :

So who supports decriminalising cocaine, heroin, LSD, methamphetamine, ecstasy and all dangerous drugs, including marijuana?

No, it’s not your teenage nephew. It’s President Obama’s new acting head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, Vanita Gupta. In 2012, Gupta wrote that  “states should decriminalise simple possession of all drugs, particularly marijuana, and for small amounts of other drugs.” (Emphasis mine).

Last week, President Obama appointed Vanita Gupta to the position of acting head. According to the Washington Post, the administration plans to nominate her in the next few months to become the permanent assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division. Her views on sentencing reform – a bi-partisan effort in recent years – have earned her qualified kudos from some conservatives.

But her radical views on drug policy – including her opinion that states should decriminalise possession of all drugs (cocaine, heroin, LSD, ecstasy, marijuana and so on) should damper that support of those conservatives, and raise serious concerns on Capitol Hill.

As the deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union and the director of its Center for Justice, Gupta’s legal and policy positions are well documented in her long paper trail, which, no doubt, will be closely scrutinised if and when she is nominated and gets a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

To begin, she believes that the misnamed war on drugs “is an atrocity and that it must be stopped.” She has written that the war on drugs has been a “war on communities of color” and that the “racial disparities are staggering.” As the reliably-liberal Huffington Post proclaimed, she would be one of the most liberal nominees in the Obama administration.

Throughout her career, 39-year old Gupta has focused mainly on two things related to the criminal justice system: first, what she terms Draconian “mass incarceration,” which has resulted in a “bloated” prison population, and second, the war on drugs and what she believes are its perceived failures.

She is particularly open about her support for marijuana legalisation, arguing in a recent CNN.com op-ed that the “solution is clear: …states could follow Colorado and Washington by taxing and regulating marijuana and investing saved enforcement dollars in education, substance abuse treatment, and prevention and other health care.”

Yet just last week the current Democratic Governor of Colorado, John Hickenlooper, said that legalising recreational use of marijuana was a “reckless.” And there is a growing body of evidence to prove his point: (1) pot-positive auto fatalities have gone up 100 percent in 2012, the year the state legalized pot; (2) the majority of DUI drug arrests involve marijuana and 25 to 40 percent were pot alone; (3) from 2011 through 2013 there was a 57 percent increase in marijuana-related emergency room visits – and there are many other indications of failure. New research, from a 20-year study, proves the dangers of marijuana.

But Gupta does not stop with marijuana. In calling for all drugs to be decriminalised – essentially legalising all dangerous drugs – Gupta displays a gross lack of understanding of the intrinsic dangers of these drugs when consumed in any quantity.

Heroin, LSD, ecstasy, and methanqualone are Schedule I drugs, which are defined as “the most dangerous drugs of all the drug schedules with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence.” Cocaine, methamphetamine, Demerol and other drugs are Schedule II drugs, defined as “drugs with a high potential for abuse…with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence.”

Sound public policy must be based on facts, not radical unsafe, and dangerous theories.

This article is reproduced by the kind permission of The Daily Signal, the multimedia news site created by the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC.

Source: conservativewoman.co.uk 22nd October 2014Bottom of Form 

It felt a bit like being invited to a christening, but: no baby. Thursday morning (September 4) saw the annual release of the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), produced by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) and used as one basis for the strategic goal of drug use by the President’s Office of National Drug Control Policy. (The report is always a retrospective on the previous year, such that the data represent the situation in 2013.) 

The official data from this national survey is eagerly awaited by researchers and drug policy experts, and is one of the official “report cards” on the President’s National Drug Control Strategy. Media coverage is typically widespread, and often front-page, especially when there is either strikingly good or negative news in the results. 

Given that this Administration has declared an “end to the drug war” and facilitated, beginning in January of 2014, the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado and now Washington, and amid reports of a heroin outbreak and a stunning rise in seizures of methamphetamine at the border, one would have thought that the topic of drug use trends would be significant.

This year, the results are not good. Drug use is up, again, as it has been every year since the Obama Administration took over drug policy in 2009. But you would be hard-pressed to find that information, as this year, as SAMHSA Administrator Pam Hyde noted at the Press Club, there would be a “change” in plans. The NSDUH data would not be released yet; there was no report. 

I asked the Edelman Public Affairs personnel at the front desk, “Where’s the NSDUH report?” Don’t have it. “Is it online?” Nope. “When do you expect it?” Oh, probably a couple of weeks.” At which point, one suspects that it will be “old news.” No further press event has been announced. 

For an Administration that claims transparency and science as hallmarks, the actual practice certainly fell short. 

If the political goal was to avoid negative press coverage, it worked very well. Though the Washington Post had room this morning for a report on the spread of obesity in America, and had recently run two stories (one a front-page personal account about the new ONDCP Acting Director, the other an A-2 musing about the drug budget which included data from last year’s survey), this time they ran not a word. Even watchdogs need sleep. 

The annual NSDUH is a large and comprehensive document costing taxpayers roughly $70 million per year, running to hundreds of pages with tables, charts, calculations of statistical significance, detailed methodologies, and numerous breakdowns and cross-tabs by such variables as age cohorts, gender, pregnancy status, and periods of drug use for multiple drugs. For a policy expert, it is a fundamental menu of data and evaluation. 

Hence it was a shock to learn that the only data available at the event was a short press booklet with one page devoted to illicit drug use, and but a single table. It showed past month drug use for Americans 12 and older, ages 12-17, and curiously, 18 and older (the more consequential category is the group 18-25, always the category with the highest drug prevalence rates; but this was not available.) 

There was no comparison with any earlier year, so any trend lines were not presented, even in comparison to last year. There was just theSAMHSA story line. 

What did that one table provide? Illicit drug use for those 12 and older in 2013 was 9.4 percent of the population, with marijuana use standing at 7.5 percent. So? Is that up, down, or flat? How does it compare to the previous Administration’s performance? Are any changes statistically significant, or just the random fluctuation found in any large survey?

There is no way from this document to answer those questions. But through a little digging it is possible to find this: For all Americans 12 and over, past-month illicit drug use in the most recent NSDUH report is 9.4 percent. That figure is up from 2012, when it came in at 9.2 percent. Moreover, since 2008, the upward change is 16 percent. 

The Obama Administration set for itself the goal of a 15 percent reduction in the current use of any illicit drug. Instead, they have delivered an increase of 16 percent measured since the end of the George W. Bush Administration, when they took command of drug policy.

And marijuana? The most recent low point for past-month marijuana use, 12 and older, was 2007, when it stood at 5.8 percent. In 2013, marijuana use had climbed to 7.5 percent (7.6 percent for the population 18 and older). That is an upward change of 29 percent, in six years, or nearly 5 percent increase per year. And we have yet to see the full effects of the January 2014 initiation of legal marijuana on the rest of the nation. 

There was one additional discussion about drugs in the press kit, with a somewhat self-serving implication involving the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Fully 37.3 percent of people, we read, who needed drug treatment, sought it, but did not get it cited “no health coverage/could not afford” as the reason that they weren’t treated for a diagnoseable substance problem. Could the new “parity” requirement for insurance coverage in the ACA be the answer?

But here’s the real math. There were 20.2 million aged 12 and older who met the criteria for “needing treatment but did not receive it” for an illicit drug or alcohol use problem. Of those, only 4.5 percent “felt that they needed treatment.” So, of the 20.2 million who needed treatment, only 908,000 felt they needed it and sought it, equaling 4.5 percent. 

It is only that last 4.5 percent of whom it is true that, of them, 34.8 percent made an effort but couldn’t get treatment for insurance or cost reasons. That figure, however, represents only 1.6 percent of the total number that stand in need of substance use treatment.  That’s not where the treatment policy problem is; it lies with those who don’t feel that they need treatment and aren’t even seeking it, expanded coverage or no.

Here, only available from last year’s NSDUH, is a chart showing the 2002-2012 data for “past month use, all Americans 12 and older”: 

Source: http://www.hudson.org/research/10594-duck-and-cover-how-the-obama-administration-mishandled-the-2014-national-household-survey-on-drug-use-and-health 

 September 5, 2014

Filed under: Political Sector,USA :

For at least my first decade as Chief Executive of the Addiction Recovery Foundation, campaigning for recovery treatment for addicts and alcoholics, the evidence I presented to government ministers, their ‘health’ expert advisers and even large ‘treatment’ chains as to what worked was met with accusations. I was being “ideological” and representing a “different philosophy” – and worse.

My perceived defect was that I advocated abstinence-based treatment, based not just on my own and countless millions of others’ experience, but also on world-class empirical research published in 1996 with Project Match (an 8-year, multi site, $27-million investigation that studied which types of alcoholics respond best to which forms of treatment).

In my second decade of campaigning for best-practice treatment for recovery from addiction, rigorous research confirmed and consolidated proof for the effectiveness and efficacy of abstinence-based therapy linked to and/or based on the 12-step programme that I and others had advocated. But all efforts to communicate this evidence to the Department of Health’s National Treatment Agency fell on stony ground.

It is true, with the advent of the Conservative-led Coalition Government, the efficacy of abstinence-based rehabilitation was finally acknowledged in the Government’s new drugs strategy.

Well nominally this was the case. But the old approach – the default medical management of ‘clients’ with substitute opiate prescription – was written in too. In the small print. For as has become disappointingly clear over the last four years, while politicians now pay lip-service to rehabilitation, the funding and practice of treatment has not changed.

Rather than investing in the abstinence-based residential rehabs that result in 60 per cent of their clients achieving sobriety and the chance of a new life, funding has continued to pour into the services and providers developed under the Labour government, whose skill, if it can be called that, is to ‘manage’ rather than transform addicts’ lives.

As a result, at least 18 more rehabs have closed under the current Government, on top of the 24 rehabs that gave up the ghost in face of inadequate government-financed referrals in the 24 months up to the last general election. Yet Iain Duncan Smith had promised in the lead-up to the election that rehab capacity would increase tenfold. Instead it has halved. Why is this?

Answer: it is not about best clinical practice but about money, numbers, proxy targets and endless performance management.

Earmarked government expenditure for addressing drug problems has been running at over £1 billion a year for several years. Yet only about £20-30 million of this huge budget is spent funding addicts to recover at the rehabs that have managed through their own enterprise to survive closure. Even so this allocation is not evenly spread but according to how treatment providers work the system. Those businesses and charities who know how to operate in the public sector secure more funding, regardless of the quality of their provision.

Unsurprisingly, given the Department of Health’s historic antipathy to abstinence and its stubborn adherence to counter-productive ‘methadone’ treatment, some treatment providers who stand to gain financially are working with civil servants to redefine rehabs as not necessarily being abstinent!

The Department of Health’s default is still substitution treatment – swapping an illicit drug for a state-provided drug: for example, prescribing methadone for heroin addicts, then prescribing heroin in the very expensive diamorphine form if the methadone does not work. Government ministers who acknowledge that this approach has proved an expensive failure – in welfare terms too – seem to be powerless over these civil servants and their network of advisers. Top civil servants, for their part, have told me that ministers were not specific in their directives, something sadly borne out when I discussed fine-tuning the wording of government guidance with them.

Big Pharma and those others who profit from government largesse always seem to win: witness the unnecessary spending of £1 billion from the public purse on unused flu jabs a few winters ago.

Now we read of the Prime Minister’s public support for pharma “investment” and employment. It might seem promising that the Government now includes alcohol as well as other drugs when it discusses treatment – but is it a fluke that the timing coincides with the launch by pharmaceutical companies of new drugs which are, basically, equivalent to methadone for alcoholics?

The general public might be forgiven for thinking that the strength ranking of research on how to treat addiction indicates strength of accuracy and efficacy. But ranking may simply reflect the number of research trials, which of course multinational ‘pharmas’ have endless resources to fund. The small rehab or intervention therapists can never hope to compete and can only offer the evidence of their experience. The Government is on record as saying this does not count – despite testimony after testimony of successful rehabilitation.

Although there is discussion of this changing, little has happened. Trials with negative results still need not be publicised; only the three best trial results are usually enough to secure official UK or US medical approval. Impartiality and transparency – and users of these products – are sacrificed for commercial gain.

Now we see Big Tobacco and Big Pharma turning to marijuana products. What a gift of a marketing tool that so many pro-legalisers pave the way for them. There will be a high cost to pay. For, financially and personally, it will borne by a society that is still denied the most cost-effective and clinically-effective solutions to the addiction it will drive.

Worse we have a Minister for Drugs in Norman Baker who is seriously considering making cannabis available for pain relief, despite no scientific evidence for it and negligible evidence even for the licensed medicine Sativex. Science, not ideology, should guide his responsibility to the public he is supposed to serve.

His stance belies the fact that legalising drugs demonstrably increases demand and harms – as evidenced by alcohol, tobacco and emerging research on benzodiazepines and prescribed drugs as well as by so called medical marijuana in the United States.

This is a far cry from the hopes we had when the Coalition took power. There is little to choose between its lip-service and Labour’s original policy, something the Centre for Social Justice’s latest report reminds us of.

Source: www.conservativewoman.co.uk   22nd August 2014

Filed under: Political Sector :

Prescription Drugs ‘Orphan’ Children In Eastern Kentucky

Orphaned by prescription drug overdoses .   Story highlights

  • Many children and teens in eastern Kentucky have lost a parent to drug overdose
  • “Without a normal mom and dad, you feel different,” one teen says
  • Kentucky is the fourth most medicated state in the nation and sixth for overdoses
  • A drug task force aims to help children left behind by parents’ addictions

This area of eastern Kentucky is known for lush, green hillsides and white picket fences. It is a place where bluegrass music may be heard trailing off when a car passes by, where “downtown” is a two-block stretch of quaint shops. Life here may seem simple, but a darkness has been quietly nestling itself into the community.

“Rockcastle County is averaging one drug-related death per week,” said Nancy Hale, an anti-drug activist and educator. “When your county is a little over 16,000 people and you’re losing a person a week … you’re losing a whole generation.”

The generation being lost, Hale said, is parents. An inordinate number of children in Rockcastle County — and in neighboring areas in eastern Kentucky — are living without them.

According to 2010 census data, more than 86,000 children in Kentucky are being raised by someone who is not their biological parent — mostly grandparents — and many here blame those fractured families on prescription drugs.

Prescription drugs can be dangerous 

“I know a little girl who found her father dead of a drug overdose, found her uncle dead of a drug overdose, and now she’s living with her aunt,” said Karen Kelly, executive director of Operation UNITE, a community coalition devoted to preventing overdose deaths in Kentucky.

“The kids really are the ones paying the biggest price.”

‘You’re always worried’

“It’s a terrible thing,” said Sean Watkins, 17, a junior at Rockcastle County High. “Especially in our community, it’s really bad.”

When he was 10, Watkins and his family were expecting his mother for dinner, but she never showed up. He and a family friend went looking for her at her home.

They walked into her bedroom and saw her face down, motionless. The friend quickly whisked Watkins out of the room. “I don’t know what was going on, but I knew something was wrong,” said Watkins.

His mother was dead after overdosing on Oxycontin.

At the time, Watkins says that he and his mother had been estranged for years because of her prescription-drug addiction. His father had not been in his life since shortly after his birth.

“Growing up without parents, without a normal mom and dad, you feel different,” said Watkins. “You go to your friend’s house and they have a happy family … you’re jealous. You want that.”

Shortly after his mother’s death, Watkins says his grandmother also became addicted to prescription drugs, and eventually vanished. Now he lives with his grandfather.  “I’m grateful that I have my grandfather who stepped in and takes care of me now,” said Watkins. Still, he calls growing up without parents “horrible.”

Gupta: Let’s end the prescription drug death epidemic

It sometimes feels is as if every student at his school has been touched by the epidemic, he said. “The hardest part of growing up without a dad would be not having that model family that you always see,” said Avery Bradshaw, 16, also a student at Rockcastle County High School.

Bradshaw’s father overdosed on Oxycontin when he was 7. His mother, he said, is in and out of his life, so he is being raised by his great-grandparents.

Avery knows many children at school who are not so lucky. After their parents overdose or abscond because of prescription drugs, the kids go from couch to couch and from home to home — living in a constant state of transience.

For those children whose parents have not overdosed but are deep in their addiction, there is a sense of perpetual wariness about what they might find when they get home from school.

“You’re always worried … if your parents are even going to be there, you know, what’s going on in your house?” said Bradshaw. “A lot of kids have to go through that every day and it definitely wears them down, you know.”

Guardians’ Day

The prescription drug overdose epidemic just recently began appearing on the national radar, so figures concerning the number of children orphaned after a parent overdoses are difficult to assess.

What is known is the high number of overdoses, broadly: In the United States, someone dies of a prescription drug-related overdose about every 19 minutes. The epidemic affects every state in the nation, and has hit hardest in places like Washington, Utah, Florida, Louisiana, Nevada and New Mexico.

Kentucky — and the Appalachian ridge, generally — is one of the regions hit hardest. Kentucky is the fourth most medicated state in the nation and it has the sixth highest rate of overdose deaths, according to the state’s Attorney General.

In Knott County, adjacent to Rockcastle, Kelly said more than half of the children have lost their parents due to death, abandonment or legal removal. Anecdotally, she says, the numbers in other areas could be even higher.

And in nearby Johnson County, so many children have lost parents that school administrators there changed “Parents’ Day” to “Guardians’ Day.”

Addiction and death are common concerns for families here, according to Kelly — too common.

Her voice wavering, Kelly recalled the story of a young girl who realized her mother was overdosing on prescription drugs right in front of her.

“She wanted to call the police and the other adults in the home were so high they wouldn’t allow her to call,” said Kelly. “So she crawled up into her mother’s arms while her mother died. Now she’s just living with a lady she met at the local Boys and Girls Club.

“Those are the situations we’re dealing with in eastern Kentucky.”

Prescription drug deaths: Two stories

“Someone has to take care of these kids, and we simply do not have the facilities to do that,” said U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, whose district in Kentucky is mired in prescription drug abuse. “So it’s neighbors, it’s churches, other civic groups that are trying to be parents to these kids who are orphaned by drug-abusing parents.

“That’s a huge undertaking, because there’s literally tens of thousands of these young children,” he added.

Rogers started the Operation UNITE drug task force in 2003 as a response to the broader prescription drug abuse epidemic in his state. Initially, he thought, “If we could get the pushers off the streets, that the problem would be solved.”

But years after he launched the task force, groups of children were showing up at community meetings to speak of their struggles after one parent — or both — overdosed.

“That hit me like a ton of bricks in the head,” said Rogers. “These are young people who are now thrown into the streets. So there are some real side effects to these parents using drugs.”

Now, the UNITE program is channeling energy toward the children floundering socially, emotionally and academically after losing parents. They have programs set up at schools across Kentucky.

‘It’s time for it to stop’

Hale, who worked in the local school system for 34 years, started a UNITE chapter at Rockcastle County High.

“It really got to the point where we were sick and tired of going to funerals,” Hale said. “We were tired of having kids come in and not being able to sit through physics class because they were worried about Mom who had overdosed. So we were like, ‘What can we do? How can we help these families?'”

One way UNITE helps is by educating and counseling children who are having problems at home related to addiction. The group also empowers children like Bradshaw to speak out about their own loss.

“I know that a lot of kids deal with drug abuse from their parents,” said Bradshaw. “I don’t know how many have lost parents, but I know a lot of kids definitely deal with that going home every day. I think right now we’re definitely at a point where everybody needs to know about it and how it affects everybody.”

“It’s time for it to stop,” said Kelly. “It’s leaving our communities in shreds and we’re left behind to pick up the pieces from that.”

Advocates such as Hale and Kelly are desperate for an intervention to reach the thousands of children who are not being helped by programs like UNITE.  Watkins said that the pain of having no parents is something that he will deal with for the rest of his life.

“People have to understand that this is a problem,” he said. “It doesn’t affect just the person that uses, it affects the entire family.”

Source:  http://edition.cnn.com/2012/12/14/health/kentucky-overdoses/index.html

 As has been said, sometimes the only causes worth fighting for are the lost ones. 

Stopping the passage of Amendment 2 — the medical marijuana initiative — seems to be one of those causes. The growing forces pushing for its legalization have the momentum and are already making plans to divide the spoils of war.

Make no mistake, while those seeking its passage cite altruistic reasons, the majority are motivated by their desire to make money, their desire to get high, or both. If it somehow helps some truly ill people, well, that’s just a nice bonus.

This — at the moment — losing battle is but one more example of the fact that those Americans who still believe in traditional values, the rule of law, secure borders, smaller government, fiscal responsibility and personal accountability are becoming the silent minority in a nation they no longer recognize. Like ancient Rome, we are witnessing the fall of what was once the greatest nation on Earth, and those pushing for this law can make the transition into anarchy fast enough.

Voices of reason no longer matter. Instead, they are to be mocked and belittled to hasten the desired results. A case in point on this issue being the statement just released by the Florida Medical Association, an organization representing more than 20,000 doctors. The FMA said, “Providing compassionate care to our patients is something we do every day. We believe the unintended consequences of Amendment 2 are serious and numerous enough for us to believe they constitute a public health risk for Floridians.”

The leadership of the FMA voted unanimously to oppose the amendment for the most rational of medical reasons and yet their argument is being dismissed or ignored as white noise by those desperate to profit from this drug. The voices of these doctors seeking to protect the health of you and your family are being drowned out by trial lawyers, in-state pot “entrepreneurs” and out-of-state interests infiltrating Florida like uncontrollable weeds.

Said one politician in Tallahassee about the “green rush” stampede of greed: “None of these folks have come to us and said I have an interest in helping kids with pediatric intractable epilepsy. This is all about what they can get for themselves, not for helping patients.”

If and when Amendment 2 does pass, the worst is yet to come.

If Colorado is any example — and it serves as the poster child for all that can go wrong — a flourishing black market is sure to follow the passage of Amendment 2. The taxes imposed on legal medical marijuana create all kinds of openings for home-growers and others who will work overtime to illegally beat the system and deliver a cheaper product.

Beyond that coming reality, should anyone care to look, dangerous parallels can be found between Big Tobacco and Big Marijuana. As highlighted in The New England Journal of Medicine, the pot industry is diligently following the blueprint of Big Tobacco by continually increasing the potency of its product while creating new delivery systems to make it more addictive and drive up the profit margin.

Unfortunately, like its role model in tobacco, smoked marijuana continues to increase mortality rates, whether the deaths are from vehicular crashes, suicide or respiratory disease, according to the Journal.

And the nonfatal adverse effects eclipse the fatal effects.

Despite the negatives — lethal and otherwise — with less than three months to go before Floridians go to the polls to vote on this amendment, stopping it looks like a lost cause. But until the polls close, there is always hope that 41 percent will square off against the trial lawyers, well-funded politicians, in-state pot merchants and out-of-state hucksters and say, “Not in my state.”

If not, the slippery slope becomes a mudslide covering all in its path.

Source:   Tampa Tribune    http://tbo.com/list/columns-mackinnon   9th August 2014

GEORGIA — Gov. Nathan Deal today plotted a path forward for the safe and legal use of cannabis oil by Georgia children suffering from epileptic disorders. The governor also announced that he and the Department of Human Services will launch pilot projects for public-private partnerships in the state’s foster care system. Deal has consulted with the federal Food and Drug Administration on how the state can begin legal clinical trials with cannabis oil products at Georgia Regents University Augusta. “So far we have identified two tracks worthy of pursuit,” Deal said. “Our most promising solution involves pairing GRU with a private pharmaceutical company that has developed a purified liquid cannabinoid currently in the FDA testing phase. The product contains no THC, which is the component in marijuana that intoxicates a user. The university would create a well-designed trial for children with epileptic disorders, and in order to serve as many children as we can, we would like to pursue a statewide investigational new drug program through a multicenter study that would allow GRU to partner with other research facilities across the state. We have talked with the pharmaceutical company to gauge interest, and the company is willing to continue those initial talks. “Georgia will also possibly pursue a second clinical trial at GRU that would use cannabidiol oil obtained from cannabis product grown by the National Institute on Drug Abuse at its farm located at the University of Mississippi. This road would perhaps take more time because it would require GRU to work through an approval process with NIDA and the FDA. “We do not see these options as mutually exclusive, and we’re looking to move forward on both options at this time. “The General Assembly this year gave serious consideration to legislation that would pave the way for patients in need of cannabis to receive it safely and legally. An issue that could have triggered controversy instead yielded teamwork and a commitment to see this through, as legislators – and I as well – learned the stories of these brave families who are desperately seeking relief for their children’s debilitating conditions. The legislation earned significant levels of support in both houses and in both parties but didn’t make into any bills that reached my desk. “Even if the legislation had passed, we still would need to take these steps, so we haven’t lost any time. As we progress, we’ll determine if the General Assembly needs to take additional action next year.” Georgia Regents University expressed its excitement about the clinical trials. “As the state’s academic health center encompassing a 154-bed children’s hospital, we have a responsibility to address the needs of families whose children are suffering,” said Georgia Regents University President Ricardo Azziz. “We are appreciative of Gov. Nathan Deal for this vote of confidence and look forward to working with the state to establish clinical trials to research the benefits of treating epilepsy and other neurological conditions with cannabidiol oil.”

Source: www.valdostadailytimes.com  10th April 2014

January 19, 2014:  President Obama opines that marijuana is “not very different from cigarettes” and no more “dangerous” than alcohol, just “a waste of time” and “not very healthy.” Maybe like super-sized drinks?

January 23:  Attorney General (AG) Holder says marijuana money should have legal access to the American banking system, and that he would make way for regulations to protect what is, under federal law, illegal money laundering.  Arrival of the Mad Hatter?

January 25:  The “Maryland Mall shooter” kills three, and police soon discover he was using marijuana and needed mental health support, by his own admission. Shadows of Columbine?

January 29:  The AG testifies before the U.S. Senate, refusing to condemn pot legalization and adding that “all drugs are dangerous,” lumping alcohol in with Schedule One narcotics. Curiouser and curiouser …

Here are the incontrovertible facts:  Marijuana is a Schedule One narcotic, meaning a drug assessed as possessing “high potential for abuse,” based on science.  The drug has put hundreds of thousands in treatment over the past ten years, accelerated emergency room incidents according to the Centers for Disease Control, and raised levels of drugged driving, domestic abuse and marijuana-associated crime, according to State and Federal criminal justice databases.

Since the early 1980s, forward thinking policy makers, parents, teachers, doctors, nurses and caring experts have pointed out, in hundreds of studies, how devastating marijuana addiction is. Nor have we rounded some new corner, where the danger is falling.  According to the Columbia University Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA), marijuana potency jumped 175 percent since 2006.  The jump has accelerated both marijuana use and addiction, together with hospital Emergency Room (ER) incidents and voluntary treatment admissions.  And CASA has long observed that the ratio of addicts to first users is roughly one in eight.  So, a little math:  If the President’s and AG’s remarks have encouraged only eight million young Americans in our 315 million-person Nation to try pot, they have just condemned another million young Americans to addiction.  Nor is this addiction easy to shake off.  Those addicted are trapped, which – at best – produces a costly new stream of treatment cases, at worst a rise in overdoses and grieving parents.

The rise in marijuana addiction correlates with other trends.  Friends of the President’s are among the wealthy promoters of this drug’s abuse.  Billionaire financier George Soros, a friend of this White House, has contributed millions to marijuana legalization.  Meantime, other trends demonstrate where this rabbit hole really leads.  Over the past seven years, America has witnessed a 492 percent increase in the proportion of teen medical admissions for marijuana addiction, according to CASA.  The President ignores these numbers, and the devastation they portend, while pouring billions into public messaging against obesity and cigarette companies.

How about a few more trends?  The marijuana spike has led to rising medical and social costs, challenging families and professionals with disinformation as they battle associated domestic abuse, mental health issues and drug-influenced crimes.   The Justice Department has linked poly-drug use to four in five domestic abuse cases, while the President’s own Drug Czar released a 2013 nationwide study showing that “80 percent of adult males [incarcerated for non-drug crimes] tested positive for at least one illegal drug, [and] marijuana was the most commonly detected drug.”  It was “found in 54 percent of those arrested.”

Between 2009 and 2011, there was a shocking 19 percent rise in ER visits tied to marijuana according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), while related overall drug overdose rates – with marijuana a major accelerant – rose for the eleventh straight year to more than 38,000.  Against this backdrop, how can anyone justify indifference?  How can the President speak of compassion and leadership to those 72,000 heartbroken parents, many of whom lost a child that began their drug addiction with marijuana?  Or think about it this way:  The annual numbers of children who die from drug abuse in one year is now five times the Nation’s total losses in both Afghanistan and Iraq.  We pulled out of both those wars, but our kids still die of drug addiction in combat numbers.

Another CDC fact:  The nearly 500-percent increase in marijuana treatment cases is in stark contrast to a more than 50-percent reduction of admissions for other abused substances.  In other words, pot is now outpacing all other addictions.

Finally, peripheral impacts from increased social passivity include reduced test scores and graduation rates for marijuana users, increased family dissolution for adult users, increases non-overdose medical incidents  (e.g. lung, heart and brain issues), and birth defects associated with  pot addiction.  Are these not reason enough to throw the brakes on, Mr. President?  The addiction curve for marijuana is already steep and dangerous.  How about a public correction of the record?  How about siding with us – just everyday Americans who think addiction, overdoses, drugged driving and drug-related crime are bad things?  How about siding with the country’s parents, kids, doctors, nurses, social workers, law enforcement officers and “the average folks” you so often talk about?  How about public opposition to pot, instead of validating illegal narcotics abuse?  In short:  Why don’t you help us, Mr. President, instead of working against us?

Charles, former assistant secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement for Secretary of State Colin Powell, has worked for more than 20 years on drug prevention, addiction treatment and criminal justice issues.  He now heads The Charles Group LLC in Washington D.C.

Source http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/healthcare/197776-presidential-disconnect-on-pot#ixzz2slGnWusO      8th Feb 2014

He ought to change federal drug law rather than refuse to enforce it.

To the delight of dorm rooms everywhere, President Obama has all but endorsed marijuana legalization. “We should not be locking up kids or individual users for long stretches of jail time when some of the folks who are writing those laws have probably done the same thing,” he told the New Yorker magazine. Let’s try to see through this political haze.

Mr. Obama also muses to an admiring David Remnick that while pot is “a bad habit and a vice” and not something he would encourage his daughters to try, “I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.” He called the Colorado and Washington legalization experiments “important for society,” while offering no comment on the federal Controlled Substances Act that he has an obligation to enforce equally across the country.

Marijuana remains a Schedule I substance under that 1970 law, meaning that it has a high risk of abuse. “No more dangerous than alcohol” is still dangerous, given the destructiveness of alcohol-related disease and social ills like drunk driving. There’s an industry related to mitigating alcohol problems, after all.

We tolerate drinking because most adults use alcohol responsibly, and by all means let’s have a debate about cannabis given how much of the country has already legalized it under the false flag of “medical” marijuana. But an honest debate would not whitewash pot’s risks.

A growing body of medical research shows that the psychoactive substance in marijuana may cause permanent cognitive damage when used by adolescents, such as impaired memory and learning. The drug can trigger psychotic episodes, especially among vulnerable late adolescents, and the price decreases and social normalization of recreational use will increase the number of underage potheads.

“Middle-class kids don’t get locked up for smoking pot, and poor kids do,” Mr. Obama added. Actually, almost nobody gets locked up for pot. Americans collectively smoke for three billion days a year and use has increased 38% since 2007, according to a Rand Corp. analysis of federal health survey data, yet there were merely about 750,000 marijuana-related “arrests” in the U.S. in 2012. In the official FBI statistics that can mean anything from a ticket or summons to a full booking.

Very few people are incarcerated for simple possession, which makes up about 88% of arrests. There are currently about 40,000 state and federal prisoners serving time for marijuana-related convictions, and most have violent criminal histories. Most judges

must be persuaded that someone is a true danger to society to sentence prison for mere drug use.

Mr. Obama is also kidding himself if he thinks drug legalization will be a boon to the poor. His own history of drug use is well known, but most users aren’t the privileged students of the Punahou School. Like all human vices, the misery of addiction is always worse for those who lack the resources and family support of the affluent.

Mr. Obama is now the President, not a stoned teenager riffing with his Choom Gang, and he might have set a better example. Parents trying to teach their kids to make better choices than getting high are at a disadvantage when the person in charge of upholding the law says breaking the law is no big deal.

If the President believes that marijuana prohibition is an injustice, he has an obligation to propose his own legislative reforms, instead of unilaterally suspending the enforcement of federal drug laws that don’t fit his political agenda. Why not start with the State of the Union address? Whatever Mr. Obama’s personal views on marijuana, his picking and choosing from the U.S. code is far more corrosive to the rule of law and trust in government.

Source: 21.01.2014 http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303802904579334710499090836?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop

Filed under: Political Sector,USA :

It  is not surprising that many young people believe many drugs to be harmless when much of the media publishes articles which glamourise and normalise drug use.  The money that George Soros has given to the media has had an enormous influence as the article below shows.

George Soros: Media Mogul: Executive Summary

George Soros is arguably the most influential liberal financier in the United States, donating more than $8 billion just to his Open Society Foundations. In 2004, he spent more than $27 million to defeat President George W. Bush and has given away millions more since to promote the left-wing agenda. But what goes almost without notice is Soros’ extensive influence on and involvement with the media.

Since 2003, Soros has donated more than $52 million to all kinds of media outlets – liberal news organizations, investigative reporting and even smaller blogs. He has also been involved in funding the infrastructure of supposedly “neutral” news, from education to even the industry ombudsman association. Many other operations Soros supports also have a media component to what they do.

His media funding has helped create a liberal “echo chamber,” in the words of one group he backs, “in which a message pushes the larger public or the mainstream media to acknowledge, respond, and give airtime to progressive ideas because it is repeated many times.” The goal is “Taking Down Fox News,” as the Soros-supported “Mother Jones” described it.

Despite his denials, Soros has extensive reach into the media. The Media Research Center’s Business & Media Institute conducted a detailed analysis of George Soros and his influence on the media. It found:

Soros Spends More Than $52 Million on Media: Since 2003, Soros has spent more than $52 million funding media properties, including the infrastructure of news – journalism schools, investigative journalism and even industry organizations. That’s a low estimate because many organizations have a media component to what they do but it is impossible to separate the operations.

Ties to Major Media: Soros has connections to more than 30 mainstream news outlets – including The New York Times, Washington Post, Associated Press, CNN and ABC.

Breach of Ethics: Prominent journalists like ABC’s Christiane Amanpour, New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson and former Post editor and now Vice President Len

Downie serve on boards of operations that take Soros cash. But according to the Society of Professional Journalists’ ethical code, journalists should ‘avoid all conflicts real or perceived.’ Reporters and editors serving on boards of groups funded by Soros openly violate both aspects of this guideline.

Reaching More Than U.S. Population: Every month, reporters, writers and bloggers at the many outlets Soros funds – from big players like NPR to the little known Project Syndicate and Public News Service, both of which claim to reach millions of readers – easily reach more than 332 million people around the globe. The population of the entire United States is less than 310 million.

Fox News is Target No. 1: Nearly 30 groups funded by the liberal billionaire have attacked Fox News in the six months since the beginning of December, 2010. Soros-funded media operations claim Fox News has a “history of inciting Islamophobia and racial and ethic animosity” and that it tries to “race bait its viewers.”

Recommendations

The Business & Media Institute has some recommendations for the media to better handle their obvious conflicts of interest when it comes to Soros:

Just Say No to Soros Cash: No purportedly “objective” journalist should serve on a board or advise any outlet that is financed by Soros. If academics do so, they should be open about their affiliations. But working journalists like Downie, Amanpour and Abramson should divorce themselves from the conflict.

Question Motivations of News Sources: Reporters and editors should be aware when a story is being deliberately hyped by a web of linked organizations. Such times should always have reporters questioning not just the motives, but the facts of the case – whether it’s on the right or the left.

Spend Time Investigating the Left: Journalists have no trouble finding incentive to do detailed analysis of conservatives, but spend little time questioning the motives or funding of liberal organizations. Reporters should do a more detailed investigation into the Open Society Foundations and their influence throughout the media.

Source:  www.mrc.org     8/15/2011

Filed under: Political Sector :

In the light of the recent attempt to legalise drug laws in the UK (via the HASC report) we must continue to be vigilant and inform the public and our politicians of the harms – not just to individual users  but to society as a whole – deriving from the use of illegal drugs and the irresponsible use of alcohol.

The following perceptive article was received from a colleague in the United States. 

Please note that the people of Colorado have just put the right to use marijuana into their state constitution, on the same level as the right to assemble, freedom of speech, and freedom of religion. What a great day for the children of Colorado, and all of us.

Someday, in the not-too-distant future, we will look back at this moment like we looked back at the 60s and early 70s at one point in our history, and we will view this day as evidence of a massive and destructive social experiment that careened predictably out of control. But until then, we may have to endure the fact that many lives will be lost in the aftermath of a cultural tsunami, led by counter-culture anti-heroes who preach their religion of pot from the concert stage, movie set, political podium (and sometimes shamefully from a law enforcement website).

At one point in our history, we rejected the notion of a drug culture and made impressive strides in educating America. And like our success with tobacco education, these educational efforts led to fewer people using and abusing drugs – because EDUCATION WORKS. But now, with millions of dollars being used for the dumbing down of America in a haze of marijuana smoke, we may have to relearn the same lessons before we all wake up and fight back.

The saddest part of this is that our federal government has always had the ability to shut this down. As a federal drug prosecutor of almost 25 years, I know that we never had to endure a decade or more of so-called “medicinal” marijuana before the pretense was dropped and full legalization efforts began. For the price of a postage stamp and some paper, the federal government could send a notice of forfeiture to marijuana landlords. This would be most effective in states like Arizona and New Jersey where only one dispensary exists (at this point). Other enforcement action could be taken against the New Barons of Pot who were so interestingly portrayed in Newsweek not too long ago. And the barons would get the message that there is a new Sheriff in town and their looting of the candy store would have to stop. Surprisingly, these new pot entrepreneurs are willing to brag about their millions and even be the stars of TV shows. In the old days, we would have treated these episodes as “confessions” and would have used their own videotapes to convict them.

When the feds have taken decisive action, they have achieved wonderful results, which have been greatly appreciated by municipalities and counties going bankrupt trying to reign in the circus. But these efforts have been too few, too late, and almost nonexistent in some states.

Instead, with limited exceptions, the feds have chosen to “fiddle as Rome burns” while complicit state officials think of ways to launder drug proceeds disguised as tax revenue. In the meantime however, our children our being spoon fed a pop culture by pro-drug anti-heroes masquerading as enlightened people – because it is “cool” to be for pot.

As the marijuana industry has amassed millions, and purchased the souls of politicians and pundits who either ignorantly or purposely point to significant “tax revenues”, the end of drug cartels, and the emptying of prisons from all of those non-existent marijuana user prison inmates, our voting public has been duped into believing them. It isn’t hard to imagine how this happened when the Washington pro-marijuana campaign spent more than $6,000,000 to reach out to soccer moms. What political candidate could have successfully faced this foe with a measly $16,000 in their bank account?

So, on the day that Colorado joins Washington in the revelry, let me add my hope that the quickest solution manifests itself immediately – that the federal government simply enforces the law. This action by President Obama and DOJ would be a welcome relief to everyone who knows that sober children learn better, sober drivers drive better, and sober parents parent better. And it may give the drug prevention coalitions time to catch up.

For this to occur in time, some miracles will have to to happen. But during a season that is defined by miracles, perhaps this is our best hope for a drug free future.

Source: Monte Stiles Retired Federal Organised Crime/Drug Enforcement Task Force USA

 


The ONDCP’s Gil Kerlikowske says the United States is aiming for a 15 percent reduction in the rate of domestic drug use by 2015.

Washington — The Obama administration is working to reduce the demand for illegal drugs inside the United States through public health and safety approaches, as well as cooperating with other countries to reduce drug supplies.

The White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) released its annual National Drug Control Strategy for 2012 on April 17, and in a press statement the ONDCP said drug use in the United States “has dropped substantially over the past thirty years,” thanks to local, state and federal government efforts, as well as international cooperation.

“The rate of Americans using illicit drugs today is roughly one-third the rate it was in the late ’70s. More recently, there has been a 40 percent drop in current cocaine use and meth use has dropped by half,” the press release stated.

It added that to build on this progress, the Obama administration has requested more than $10 billion from the U.S. Congress in its 2013 fiscal year budget request “to support drug education programs and support for expanding access to drug treatment for people suffering from substance use disorders,” as well as $9.4 billion for domestic law enforcement, $3.7 billion for interdiction and $2 billion for international programs.

ONDCP Director Gil Kerlikowske said in the 2012 report that the United States is aiming for “a 15 percent reduction in the rate of drug use and similar reductions in drug use consequences” during the five-year period covering 2010–2015.

Through U.S. community-based programs and early health care intervention, Kerlikowske said, “we will work to prevent illicit drug use and addiction before their onset and bring more Americans in need of treatment into contact with the appropriate level of care.”

At the same time, “we will continue to counter drug production and trafficking within the United States and will implement new strategies to secure our borders against illicit drug flows. And we will work with international partners to reduce drug production and trafficking and strengthen rule of law, democratic institutions, citizen security, and respect for human rights around the world,” he said.

The report said that through “shared responsibility” and effective cooperation, “the United States — working with international partners — can reduce illicit drug use, production, trafficking, and associated violence” and that reduced supplies “are often closely tied to reductions in drug use and its consequences.”

As an example, the report cited cooperation between the United States and Colombia to disrupt the cocaine market over the past 10 years.

The two countries “have worked together to reduce drug production, strengthen the rule of law, and increase citizen security,” which had been threatened by drug-funded terrorist and criminal organizations, and as a result, “potential production capacity for pure cocaine in Colombia was reduced from an estimated 700 metric tons in 2001 to 270 metric tons in 2010, a 61 percent decline,” the report said.

The reduced availability has also led to lower reported rates of cocaine use in the United States, backed up by significant declines in the number of Americans testing positive for cocaine use, the report said.

Source: ONDCP Annual Drug Control Strategy April 2012

Filed under: Political Sector,USA :


RIO DE JANEIRO—Business was brisk in the Mandela shantytown on a recent night. In the glow of a weak light bulb, customers pawed through packets of powdered cocaine and marijuana priced at $5, $10, $25. Teenage boys with semiautomatic weapons took in money and made change while flirting with girls in belly-baring tops lounging nearby.

Next to them, a gaggle of kids jumped on a trampoline, oblivious to the guns and drug-running that are part of everyday life in this and hundreds of other slums, known as favelas, across this metropolitan area of 12 million people. Conspicuously absent from the scene was crack, the most addictive and destructive drug in the triad that fuels Rio’s lucrative narcotics trade.

Once crack was introduced here about six years ago, Mandela and the surrounding complex of shantytowns became Rio’s main outdoor drug market, a “cracolandia,” or crackland, where users bought the rocks, smoked and lingered until the next hit. Hordes of addicts lived in cardboard shacks and filthy blankets, scrambling for cash and a fix.

Now, there was no crack on the rough wooden table displaying the goods for sale, and the addicts were gone. The change hadn’t come from any police or public health campaign. Instead, the dealers themselves have stopped selling the drug in Mandela and nearby Jacarezinho in a move that traffickers and others say will spread citywide within the next two years.

The drug bosses, often born and raised in the very slums they now lord over, say crack destabilizes their communities, making it harder to control areas long abandoned by the government. Law enforcement and city authorities, however, take credit for the change, arguing that drug gangs are only trying to create a distraction and persuade police to call off an offensive to take back the slums. Dealers shake their heads, insisting it was their decision to stop selling crack, the crystalized form of cocaine.

“Crack has been nothing but a disgrace for Rio. It’s time to stop,” said the drug boss in charge. He is Mandela’s second-in-command—a stocky man wearing a Lacoste shirt, heavy gold jewelry and a backpack bulging with $100,000 in drugs and cash. At 37, he’s an elder in Rio’s most established faction, the Comando Vermelho, or Red Command. He’s wanted by police, and didn’t want his name published.

He discussed the decision as he watched the night’s profits pile up in neat, rubber-banded stacks from across the narrow street. He kept one hand on his pistol and the other on a crackling radio that squawked out sales elsewhere in the slum and warned of police. The talk of crack left him agitated; he raised his voice, drawing looks from the fidgety young men across the road. Although crack makes him a lot of money, he has his own reasons to resent the drug; everyone who comes near it does, he said.

His brother—the one who studied, left the shantytown and joined the air force—fell prey to it. Crack users smoke it and often display more addictive behavior. The brother abandoned his family and his job, and now haunts the edges of the slum with other addicts. “I see this misery,” he said. “I’m a human being too, and I’m a leader here. I want to say I helped stop this.”

For the ban to really take hold, it would need the support of the city’s two other reigning factions: the Amigos dos Amigos, or Friends of Friends, and the Terceiro Comando, Third Command. That would mean giving up millions in profits. According to an estimate by the country’s Security Committee of the House and the Federal Police, Brazilians consume between 800 kilos and 1.2 tons of crack a day, a total valued at about $10 million.

It’s unclear how much Rio’s traffickers earn from the drug, but police apprehensions show a surge in its availability in the state. In 2008, police seized 14 kilos; two years later the annual seizure came to 200 kilos, according to the Public Security Institute. Nonetheless, the other gangs are signing up, said attorney Flavia Froes. Her clients include the most notorious figures of Rio’s underbelly, and she has been shuttling between them, visiting favelas and far-flung high-security prisons to talk up the idea.

“They’re joining en masse. They realized that this experience with crack was not good, even though it was lucrative. The social costs were tremendous. This wasn’t a drug for the rich; it was hitting their own communities.”

As Froes walks these slums, gingerly navigating potholed roads in six-inch stiletto heels and rhinestone-studded jeans, men with a gun in each hand defer to her, calling her “doutora,” or doctor, because of her studies, or “senhora,” or ma’am, out of respect. “While stocks last, they’ll sell. But it’s not being bought anymore,” she said. “Today we can say with certainty that we’re looking at the end of crack in Rio de Janeiro.”

Even those who question the traffickers’ sudden surge of social conscience say the idea of the city’s drug lords coming together to ban crack isn’t far-fetched. After all, a similar deal between factions kept the drug out of Rio for years.

Crack first took hold in Sao Paulo, the country’s business capital, during the 1990s. In the early 2000s, it spread across Brazil in an epidemic reminiscent of the one the U.S. had experienced decades earlier. A recent survey found it was eventually sold or consumed in 98 percent of Brazilian municipalities. Most of the cities were too understaffed, underfunded and uninformed to resist its onslaught. And yet, an agreement between factions kept crack a rarity in Rio until a handful of years ago, said Mario Sergio Duarte, Rio state’s former police chief.

“Rio was always cocaine and marijuana,” he said. “If drug traffickers are coming up with this strategy of going back to cocaine and marijuana, it’s not because they suddenly developed an awareness, or because they want to be charitable and help the addicts. It’s just that crack brings them too much trouble to be worth it.”

Duarte believes dealers turned to crack when their other business started losing ground within the city.

Police started taking back slums long given over to the drug trade as Rio vied to host the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. The plan disrupted trade, and the factions began hemorrhaging money, said Duarte. Crack seemed like the solution, and the drug flooded the market.

“Crack was profit; it’s cheap, but it sells. Addiction comes quick. They were trying to make up their losses,” he said. Soon, the gangs were being haunted by the consequences.

Unlike the customers who came for marijuana or cocaine, dropped cash and left, crack users hung around the sales points, scraping for money for the next hit. They broke the

social code that usually maintains a tense calm in the slums; they stole, begged, threatened or sold their bodies to get their next rock. Their presence made the hard life there nearly unbearable.

The Mandela drug boss said crack even sapped the drug kingpins’ authority. “How can I tell someone he can’t steal, when I know I sold him the drugs that made him this way?” he said. Many saw their own family members and childhood friends fall under the drug’s spell.

“The same crack I sell to your son is being sold to mine. I talked to one of the pioneers in selling crack in Rio. His son’s using now. Everyone is saying we have to stop.”

In Mandela, residents had to step over crack users on their way between home and work and warn their children to be careful around the “zombies.” “There were robberies in the favela, violence, people killed in the middle of the street, people having sex or taking a crap anywhere,” said Cleber, an electronics repair shop owner who has lived in Mandela for 16 years. He declined to give his last name because he lives in a neighborhood ruled by gang members, and like many, prefers not to comment publicly.

“Now we’re going out again, we can set up a barbecue pit outside, have a drink with friends, without them gathering around,” he said. “We’re a little more at ease.”

Researcher Ignacio Cano, at the Violence Analysis Center of Rio de Janeiro State University, said crack is still being sold outside only select communities and that it’s hard to tell if the stop is a temporary, local measure or a real shift in operations citywide. He said unprecedented pressure bore down on drug gangs once they began selling crack. In particular, the addicts’ encampments were sources of social and health problems, drawing the attention of the authorities.

Since March 2011, dawn raids involving police, health and welfare officials began taking users off the streets to offer treatment, food, a checkup and a hot shower. Since then, 4,706 people have cycled through the system. Of those, 663 were children or teenagers.

“I have operations every day, all over Rio,” said Daphne Braga, who coordinates the effort for the city welfare office. At the same time, crack became such a dramatic problem nationally that the government allocated special funds to combat it, including a $253 million campaign launched by President Dilma Rousseff in May 2010 to stem the drug trade. Last November, another $2 billion were set aside to create treatment centers for addicts and get them off the streets. In May, 150 federal police officers occupied a Rio favela to implement a pilot program fighting the crack trade and helping users.

“There are many reasons why they might stop,” said Cano.

Crack’s social cost is clear where the drug is still sold, right outside Mandela and Jacarezinho. In the shantytown of Manguinhos, along a violent area known as the Gaza Strip, an army of crack addicts lives in encampments next to a rail line.

Another couple hundred gather inside the slum, buying from a stand inside a little restaurant. Customers eat next to young men with guns and must step around a table laden with packaged drugs and tightly bound wads of cash to use the restroom. Crack users smoke outside, by the lights of a community soccer field where an animated game draws onlookers late into the night.

Source: Associated PressAssociated Press: 08/18/12

More than 20 cannabis farms and factories were discovered by police every day last year as they seized drugs which could sell for £100 million on the streets, figures showed today.

Senior police chiefs said the size and scale of the farms were reducing as criminals producing cannabis were spreading the risk and minimising losses by employing a large number of so-called gardeners to manage small sites across multiple residential areas.

Over the two years since the last report by the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), some 1.1 million plants have been seized with a street value of £207.4 million.

A total of 7,865 farms were found across the UK in 2011/12, up 15% from 6,866 in 2009/10 and more than a 150% increase from the 3,032 identified four years ago, the study by the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) found.

There has been a “move back to the use of residential property” and dismantling factories was seen as “a short term solution, with missed opportunities for further investigation into potentially linked factories”, the police chiefs said.

The number of offences related to cannabis production is also increasing, up from 14,982 in 2010/11 to 16,464 last year.

Scotland Yard Commander Allan Gibson, the lead on cannabis cultivation for the police chiefs, said: “Commercial cannabis cultivation continues to pose a significant risk to the UK .

Increasing numbers of organised crime groups are diverting into this area of criminality but we are determined to continue to disrupt such networks and reduce the harm caused by drugs.

This profile provides a detailed analysis of the current threat from commercial cultivation of cannabis and the work undertaken by law enforcement agencies to combat the threat.”

The highest number of farms (936) were found in the West Yorkshire force area, equivalent to 42 factories per 100,000 people, the Acpo figures showed.

But South Yorkshire had 64 farms per 100,000 people, the highest ratio in the UK , with 851 farms.

The two forces were followed by other heavily-populated force areas, including West Midlands (663 farms, or 25 per 100,000 people), the Metropolitan Police (608 farms, or eight per 100,000 people) and Avon and Somerset (653 farms, or 40 per 100,000 people).

But the Devon and Cornwall force recorded the highest rise in the number of farms since the last report in 2009/10, with the number of farms identified rising 1,664% from 11 to 183 (11 farms per 100,000 people)

Source: www.Independent.co.uk  30th April 2012


A personal view by David Raynes

 

The background to and an account of the hearing, in London on 5th February 2008, of evidence to the UK Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. It met to take this evidence on re-classifying cannabis to Class B from C under the UK system.

There is surely hardly an observer of drug politics in the world who does not know that the UK, four years ago, surprisingly downgraded cannabis from B to C. under our A to C classification system of potential harm, (Also used to establish social sanctions against use & trafficking). With only a short debate in parliament, the issue was driven through by Home Secretary David Blunkett (now out of government) who had only weeks before, entered the UK Home Office as the responsible Minister.  The issue was noticed and claimed around the world as a victory for the drug legalisation lobby who clearly thought this was a step on the way to their nirvana of legal dope for all. Such an action would have been unthinkable for Blunkett’s predecessor Jack Straw (still in Government). Perhaps Prime Minister Blair took his eye off the domestic ball; bogged down over Iraq, he gave Blunkett his way while apparently we are now told, “having real doubts” himself. Thus are we governed.

The downgrading reverberated around and beyond the English speaking world; such is the power of the internet.  Some lobbyists lied about it, saying the UK had made cannabis legal. It had not, it had messed up, confusing the anti-use message and, strangely, had to put up the penalties for trafficking all Class C drugs because Blunkett had apparently not appreciated his proposed action held the danger of making Cannabis trafficking a minor crime compared to tobacco trafficking. Politically unsustainable. He swears now to this writer he had no external influences on him. Foreign readers may not know he is blind. Does his denial of external influence during his arrival briefing and subsequently before his announcement, sound credible?

Cannabis downgrading (and ultimately legalisation) had been heavily pushed in the UK, since the mid 90s, by a small but noisy, largely London based, media lobby. The downgrading and even legalisation issue was taken to the heart of an educated elite, perhaps fearful their kids might get arrested for pot smoking and not overly concerned about the wider social consequences of cannabis use, especially on the socially disadvantaged.

The statutory body that advises government on drugs, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) had also advanced the downgrading issue. A report from the “Police Foundation” (not much to do with the Police) led by Baroness Runciman also contributed to this new golden age of pro-pot haze and muddled thinking. A current Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London, then a senior Policeman, made his own timely contribution by announcing the relaxing of the policing of cannabis the day before a pro-pot march. The scene was set. South London lapsed into a drugs no-mans land of dealers in all illegal substances. Great work! Really helpful to anxious parents. A real mess of confusing signals.

A couple of oddball Chief Constables added their pro-drugs bit and in all the UK parliamentary parties there were similar odd (but minority) contributors to the general nonsense. None of these people thinking through exactly how this idea would further damage Britain’s already bad drug using culture. Rank and file Police Officers, the key top scientists and many experienced drug workers, of course opposed the changes but were ignored. David Blunkett astonishingly refused to see six top scientists & doctors who strongly opposed his downgrading.

The UK continued to develop one of the biggest drug problems in Europe. We have difficulties with all drugs, legal or illegal. In a separate earlier action in 1999, focussing on “the drugs that cause most harm” (I always wonder who thought up that phrase), UK Customs had stopped targeting cannabis imports and the UK was flooded with the stuff, much of it Moroccan Cannabis Resin and according to users, of poor quality. The price after 2000 dropped as supplies increased, “Blunkett’s Blunder” in downgrading took effect three years later.  “Age of first use” dropped alarmingly as did “age of first regular use”. Reportedly, kids–often pre teen were/are using cannabis on the way to school, at school and on their way home. The effect of this is that these kids become un-teachable, discipline breaks down, they fail academically, some drop out of education, they are forever damaged. Many, too many, become mentally ill, some diagnosed psychotic, others below formal diagnosis as mentally ill, are nevertheless unable to really contribute to society and cause huge distress to their families. The unemployment or mentally disabled register looms for many, their jobs taken by educated hard-working Poles and others from Eastern Europe. The government becomes seriously worried. Alarm bells ring in the Department of Social Security and in the Department of Health, both now picking up the pieces of the very wrong Home Office policy. The downgrading policy is looking expensive and socially damaging.

Out on the streets, the imported poor quality cannabis resin was gradually replaced by home grown and Dutch “sinsemilla” or “skunk” cannabis, this getting progressively stronger but strength alone being only one of several contributing factors to damage.. Frequency of use and age of first use is also important, and, in the view of this writer, so is the different ratio of THC to CBD in this new fresh, home grown “super-weed”. The belief is that CBD moderates the effect of THC on the brain.

A new Home Secretary, (Blunkett having left government), took over and anxiously asked the ACMD for advice –yet again, on cannabis classification. The ACMD resorted to “return-to-sender” for this enquiry after a half-hearted review where, according to inside information, there was no vote merely a decision by the Chairman, Sir Michael Rawlins and a round the table “chat”. Dissent in the ACMD, is not encouraged our spies tell us; the ACMD members, all of them, have only negligible knowledge of the drugs market. The self-selection of new members keeps out those who oppose liberalisation so plainly, the internal debate is and can only be, very one-sided.  Perhaps the Home Office should ensure more balance?

No change then, the cannabis problem for teenagers and pre-teens gets worse. In 2007 the spin doctors and even Ministers take comfort in figures from the British Crime Survey which shows a slight reduction in cannabis use at ages 16 to 24. No one other than this writer mentions this is simply because cannabis for older young people is becoming unfashionable and gets replaced by cocaine, crack-cocaine and (particularly) gross & physically damaging alcohol consumption. Government has allowed 24 hour alcohol licensing despite widespread public concern.  Cocaine use in the UK has also zoomed up. The infection spreads to Ireland, that society develops a similar drug habit.

The regular discovery of organised Cannabis Farms, a new phenomenon in the UK (although known elsewhere, for example in Canada) and an entire new industry in the UK since “Blunkett’s Blunder”, goes unexplained, Cannabis use is down we are emphatically told. When this writer challenges this and points to the farms, one joker (A Professor and a pro-pot lobbyist) suggests the UK is a substantial exporter of cannabis. A statement that defies belief, there is no evidence of such a thing, not substantial anyway. Things are spiralling out of control. Britain is a nation of sick young people; drugs of all sorts are cheaper than ever, youth is more affluent than ever. Prime Minister Tony Blair, architect of “Blair’s Britain” and now being blamed for “Blair’s Feral Youth” is forced from office in the autumn of 2007, largely over Iraq and his handling of the Middle East but his party and most other people are basically just sick of him. This writer tells the media that the cannabis market has widened and deepened, the totality of use is higher. If it is not, where is the output of the cannabis farms going?

A new broom and a largely new group of Government Ministers take over in autumn 2007. Gordon Brown as new Prime Minister is a dour Scot, son of a church Minister he sets a different social tone to Blair and just maybe, has more integrity and social conscience. Consideration is suddenly being given to abandoning plans for giant casinos; 24 hour drinking is being reviewed, so is cannabis policy. Brown appoints a new Home Secretary, Jacquie Smith, first woman in that position. She is a self confessed experimenter with pot at University but all credit to her, she and Brown, together, take a different tone on drugs issues. She is after all a mum and mums (good for them) are driving a new national wave of sustained protest about kids being mentally damaged by pot. Brown signals he is minded to re grade cannabis to where it was, back to Class B, ending the confusion and sending clear messages about the harms. Smith refers the issue once again, back to the ACMD. The implication, clear beyond any doubt, is that Brown and Smith want, and will have, cannabis re-graded even if the ACMD do not support it. On the fringes of the ACMD there are dark mutterings about resignations if their views are ignored. Some observers may think that would be a good thing.

So we arrive at 5th February 2008. The ACMD is forced; reluctantly it seems, to hold some of its hearings in public (Why not all in public you might ask-Parliament is after all in public). It arranges a one day hearing in the City of London. Public access is limited because numbers are limited and prior application and approval are needed.  Questions to witnesses by members of the public are strictly forbidden though there is a short public comment/question session at the end.

Chairman Sir Michael Rawlins runs a tight ship, ACMD members call him “Sir”, he calls them by their first names. Very few ACMD members ask questions. Of those that do the most active seem to do it to show how clever they are, not, particularly, to illuminate the real issues. We get no indication or feel for what most members think at all. There is a pre-occupation with the penalties for drugs use & possession, not the science and social science of harm-potential and the actuality in the country. Arguably the very things that should most concern this committee. Astonishing.

Early witnesses from the Forensic Science Service and GW Pharmaceuticals confirm that herbal cannabis seizures (home grown) in the UK, are gradually getting much stronger in THC and that this new form of the drug contains hardly any CBD, leaving the effects of strong THC unconstrained. Resin we are told, long the staple of the UK market, is declining in market share and historically had almost equal amounts of THC & CBD. More work is needed on the issue of CBD but it is plain that by selection, a much higher THC-containing product is gradually taking over the market. It will continue to do so. Other academic witnesses on the potential mental health effects tell us that CBD may be “anti-psychotic”. The absence of CBD may therefore be aggravating the mental damage from the stronger THC. The new selected cannabis may be two or three times stronger, certainly not the 10 or 20 times of the tabloid press and even some over zealous commentators on my side of the debate. Cannabis is not homogeneous and techniques are available in the market to sieve it and extract a higher THC product. The mental health ill effects are more marked in young men; by 2010 cannabis use will be implicated in 25% of schizophrenia cases. Professor Robin Murray has spoken of 1500 cases a year, very expensive to treat and of course this is only the clinically diagnosed.

The most telling early witnesses are from “SANE” & “Rethink”, both mental health charities. Marjorie Wallace from SANE talks of the “confusion about legality & safety” and that cannabis is implicated in 80% of 1st episode psychosis. She says, “Only re-classification can counter the mixed messages”. There is then, an immediate and astonishing outburst from Chairman Sir Michael, angry, venomous, red-faced. (This is a really serious scientific approach, observe and learn I think to myself?) He barks out, “Are you really wanting people to go to prison for five years for possession”

Any minor confidence one might have had in a dispassionate scientific appraisal, led by Sir Michael at least, surely evaporated. His remarks are nonsense of course and misleading of the ignorant. Sentencing guidelines and historical fact show that imprisonment for just personal use possession, of any illegal drug, hardly occurs in the UK. Why bother with the facts when you are Chairman of such an important meeting, advising government, confident, despite the evidence, that you know best? Does the Home Office know he is behaving like this?

The position of “Rethink” is truly hard to fathom. They accept all the harms of cannabis, indeed they tell us about them, yes they are getting worse but to them, re-classifying so that the public can understand this better, is astonishingly not important. To this observer they seem to have been “got at” by someone, so perverse is their position. Is their funding being threatened if they take a more robust view?  Their position is surely odd especially seen in the light of the remarks by Wallace. This observer smells something very wrong indeed. They are in the same business as SANE, or ought to be. Just what is going on?

Professor Louis Appleby, National Director of Mental Health for the Department of Health gives an impressive presentation, he is clear about the mental harm, we hear of patient suicides and homicides, figures trip out, “68% had taken cannabis”, we (as a society) are “guilty of complacency” (about cannabis), “causal factor”, “benefits from re-classification”. “health perspectives” and much more. Professor Appleby is hugely convincing. He is in no doubt at all that re-classification is needed. One is encouraged that here, at last, we have a public servant being so clear about what is needed and why.

Another presentation about the physical harms is convincing that in cannabis there are all the harms of tobacco and more. Talk of head & throat cancers, early emphysema etc. A second presentation about cannabis & driving illuminates the fact that cannabis is now by far the most common drug found in those arrested under the Road Traffic Act. Cannabis influenced drivers exhibit “poor road tracking” & “divided attention”.

Debra Bell of the “Talking about Cannabis” mum’s pressure group then speaks, together with another mum, an anonymous Barrister, whose own family life, like Debra’s has been severely and permanently damaged by teenage cannabis use. Promising young people damaged mentally and permanently, we are told. Educational under-achievement, wasted years. We are told of the thousands of hits on Debra’s website, the families feeling “let down” by government and the ACMD, the widespread feeling that cannabis use has become acceptable and that parents and teachers were undermined by Blunkett’s downgrading.  Debra tells of the phone calls, parents at their wits-end, desperate and helpless in the face of kids who say cannabis is not so bad, “the government downgraded, it must be OK”. Some kids who even think it is legal. These mums must really worry Prime Minister Brown. These are articulate and educated people, they are not going to give up. They are also voters. These are the people we need to take the campaign against cannabis use forward. They bring a new focus to the battle.

M/s Cindy Burnett. Representing the Magistrates Association & Youth Courts. She is very convincing, she and colleagues are “worried about the message”, “downgrading sent the wrong message”, “caused confusion”. “unnecessary”, “poor effect on health”, “increased addiction”, “ youthful “addiction to cannabis”, “downgrading had a bad effect”, “shoplifting driven by drug addiction” (cannabis), “wrong in principle”, “badly handled”, “downward spiral”, need for Youth courts to be supportive. All strong stuff. The ACMD listen in silence, are they taking it in? Who knows?

A few government apparatchiks from the Home Office talk about their wonderful publicity campaign, they show some clips, fancy indeed but have they worked? How could these adverts turn back the bad effect of downgrading? Like swimming against a strong current. Such stuff keeps people in work but will probably have little effect.

The next speaker is Professor Simon Lenton from the National Drug Research Institute of Australia, his presence confuses, just why is he, particularly him here? I notice he pops up later in the programme again on behalf of The Beckley Foundation, (run by our disgraced ex Deputy Drugs Czar Mike Trace who resigned from the UN when exposed as linked with the George Soros inspired legalisation campaign and “Open Society”). I wonder who has paid Lenton’s fare, was it George? He can afford it. I certainly hope it was not UK public money.

Again, I ponder just why his presence is allowed by Sir Michael.

Lenton is badly briefed about the UK debate and absolutely confused; he addresses us on “The impact of the legislative options for Cannabis”. He seems to think that the lobby against cannabis and for re-classification in the UK is from people who want to “lock users up”; he is more concerned about the social sanctions than about the adverse effects. He does not appear to understand that those who want cannabis upgraded, re-graded to where it historically was, are quite prepared to examine different social sanctions, we know, everyone knows, the UK cannot arrest its way out of our drug problem.  Does he not know the pressure is about putting cannabis back where it belongs? To send a signal about the real harms. To start to change the damaging culture created around use, by the downgrading.

Is Lenton a closet legaliser cloaked in fine words, hiding his real intentions? I “Google” Lenton when I get home and check my files. Yes I thought I had heard of him from Australian friends. As I suspected, keywords, legalisation, Lindesmith, International Harm reduction, support for changes to the UN Drug Conventions etc, need I go on? That and the link with Trace tell me enough.

Does Sir Michael Rawlins understand this chap is a covert pro pot lobbyist? Does the Home Office know the witnesses have been rigged like this?

Steve Rolles from Transform, the UK’s main drug legalisation lobby group (for legalising of all drugs) speaks to us. I know him well and away from this subject can enjoy his company. He is a bright guy. His thunder has been stolen by Lenton he complains! Yes Steve we are having views like yours laid on pretty thick are we not? Is this deliberate? Is Sir Michael rigging all this stuff, does he understand it? If not him just who is rigging it? Legalisation is not up for discussion any more so just why does Transform get a slot (Debra Bell nearly did not!). Steve though admits “Cannabis is more harmful than we thought”. Well more harmful than you thought Steve, my view has been consistent since I met my first pot-heads in the 60s. My allies have always said Blunkett got it wrong, indeed the World Health Organisation indicated the mental harms of pot in its 1997 report.   Rolles advises the ACMD to concentrate on a “Scientific Harm Assessment”. Yes, I can live with that; as long as they take in all harm not just harm to the individual. Yes and they should remember that defining the social penalties for use or trafficking are not what they (the ACMD) are about, leave that to others. Rawlins passion about that penalty issue nags at me.

Do the ACMD silent members (maybe most of them) know they are being manipulated? Again, does the Home Secretary know about this? This loading the witnesses with legalisers when that is not on any agenda is surely verging on the corrupt. No wonder they want to keep out those of a different view. I reflect that it is apparent there are at least two other days of private hearings, just who are this group listening to then?  Would a “Freedom of Information” request flush it out? Can Jacquie Smith just ask? Will she? Perhaps, I muse, she will if she gets a copy of my note.

The penultimate speaker is Simon Byrne Assistant Chief Constable Merseyside Police. He is the Association of Chief Police Officers lead on cannabis. He is a reassuring and sensible figure, ACPO have changed their view, they are seeing the problems with youngsters on the ground, and, picking up the pieces. He is also not interested in locking youngsters up; he wants early intervention, guidance to youngsters and strong signals sent out that use is potentially very damaging. Byrne tells us there have been 2000 cannabis farms found in England & Wales in the last few years since downgrading, that this is a huge new criminal industry since “Blunketts Blunder” (though he does not call it that). Illegal immigrants, often Vietnamese are involved; it is taking up lots of police time. UK based readers may remember downgrading was partly sold as saving police time.  Byrne speaks of confused public views on cannabis; he and his colleagues are now strongly for re-classification to B. Re-classification would reinforce the perceptions of harm. Is anyone listening?

Next witness is Lenton again, this time on behalf of Beckley Foundation.  “Is cannabis use a contributory cause of psychosis”? He is reading a presentation prepared by Wayne Hall & Robin Room.  Yes it is a cause, and more, 1 in 10 users become dependent. Really? Age of first use is important. Well we agree. We just do not agree on a part of the solution, telling the public the truth by classifying the cannabis in the right place.

There is a brief open forum, I manage to chide Lenton for his ignorance about the reasons behind the desire for re classification, I speak about parents and supporting them, telling the truth about cannabis, there is applause from some of the public.  An ACMD member says they are not forgetting the individual sad cases they have heard about (from the mums), he looks at me, he is, I think, defensive, a man with a conscience. I remind the ACMD that Robin Murray’s 1500 schizophrenia cases a year are the tip of an iceberg, there are a quarter of a million people under 35 unable to work and claiming sickness benefits through mental illness, often associated with drug use.  There are thousands of others not in the statistics because their illness is not clinically diagnosed; the prisons are full of those who are said to be mentally ill.

A few other speakers, first a mum, then a legalise cannabis advocate, and more, it comes to an end. It is over. Lenton follows me and speaks to me outside. He is uneasy and edgy.  We debate changing the UN conventions, he wants it, I do not. The best kept international conventions of all I say. Their strength is in the fact that everyone keeps to them. I know but he appears not to, that the UK Government has explicitly said it wishes no change in the conventions. He wants “more freedom for States to do their own thing”. What are those things I say, what can states not do that you want them to do? We in the UK have prescribed heroin for years to a minority of users, the British system. He struggles to answer. He wants the Dutch to be able to deal with and control, (legitimise he means), their cannabis growers. Why I ask? Do neighbours want that? Does he not understand that one European country can not do that independently of the rest? Do the Dutch, most of them, even want that? (We know from an opinion poll that 70% do not want it). I remind him that Dutch drug policy has made the Netherlands, which is a first world country and economy, have a third-world drugs manufacturing, warehousing and distribution problem. Astonishing levels of drugs based criminality feeding ATS (amphetamine type substances) to the whole world, including Australia. . He has no other ideas when challenged. He is plainly not used to being properly challenged. Why is someone with his views here, in this meeting, priming people who are going to advise our government? Who invited him?

As I travel home, I reflect, we have heard very strong messages about the harms of cannabis, is the ACMD about to change its position? I very much doubt it. They seem to be set in their ways, closed off to the harms, controlled tightly by Rawlins, most of them not taking part in the debate. I remember the question “do users mix cannabis with tobacco”. Quite extraordinary, he is in another world.

We have though, I think, seen the cannabis legalisation argument holed below the waterline; they will keep trying but that legalisation debate is surely over in the UK. If it is really over here perhaps it will be over everywhere else. What happens in the UK is of enormous influence because of the English language and the Internet.

Will UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Home Secretary Jacquie Smith re classify cannabis even if the ACMD is not with them? Yes probably. They will have the support of most MPs; the Conservative parliamentary opposition is supporting it. Even some important Liberal Democrats including the then leader (our third party) who have historically been weak and wrong on drug policy have been seen at Debra Bell’s meetings, that is really good. They are also getting the cannabis harm message.  Drug Policy is best when all parties are in broad agreement. Britain’s drug policy failure can I think, be tracked back to the breaking of that unanimity in the mid 90s.

Prime Minister Brown has “made his views clear” on cannabis, he said that this week at “Prime Ministers Questions” in the House of Commons. Brown has widely been accused by his opponents of dither and “government by review”, of putting off decisions. On this I think, based on the evidence, he means business.

David Raynes.

Member. International Task force on Strategic Drug Policy

http://www.itfsdp.org/members.php

Executive Councillor National Drug Prevention Alliance UK

February 2008

Crime, drugs and alcohol abuse cost taxpayers in just three regions £1.5billion a year, according to official reports.
Councils in Birmingham, Luton and Leicestershire have calculated the price of social breakdown in terms of police and court time, health services, welfare benefits and support for families.   In one area, the cost of binge-drinking on hospitals and the criminal justice system was put at £713million a year, while addicts used up another £500m in public sector resources.
The figures have been uncovered by the Conservatives in pilot projects commissioned by the Government but not published centrally.
Caroline Spelman, Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said: “It is no surprise that Labour ministers have tried to bury this bad news.   “Across the country, local taxpayers are footing the bill for Labour’s broken society. The costs of social breakdown, alcohol abuse, poor schooling and drug addiction are just not confined to deprived areas – we all pay for it in our council tax bills and pay packets.
“There is no excuse for the secrecy of Labour ministers – they must come clean and publish all these reports in full.”
The 13 pilot studies were commissioned by the Department for Communities and Local Government a year ago in a £5m project known as Total Place. The idea was that public sector organisations in any given area could save money and improve services by improving co-operation and reducing duplication.
Earlier this month Liam Byrne, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, told MPs that it was up to local authorities whether they wanted to publish their reports or not, and he declined to put copies of each study in the Commons library.   But the Tories have found the results of three Total Place studies, covering Birmingham; Luton and Central Bedfordshire; and Leicestershire.
The Birmingham report found that gang-related murders and attempted murders are costing the city’s taxpayers at least £1.5m a year in police, court and prison costs.  It puts the cost of the activities of “10 major dynastic gang families” at £187.5m over the past 40 years. Birmingham’s two main gangs, the Johnson Crew and the Burger Bar Boys, are each said to include three generations of five families. Their rivalry led to the fatal shooting of two teenage girls, Letisha Shakespeare and Charlene Ellis, at a New Year party in 2003.
In Luton and Central Bedfordshire, a hard core of 250 criminals is blamed for a quarter of all offences, costing taxpayers up to £112m a year.
The Birmingham report puts the cost of alcohol misuse – including public disorder, workplace sickness and health services – at £713m a year. Drug misuse is said to cost £500m in terms of treatment, mental health care, benefits payments and police time.
Leicestershire estimated that drinking costs the NHS, police, workplaces and social services £120m a year.
Source:  Telegraph.co.uk  24th March 2010

Comment:
Amid all the talk about what to do about this particular nasty drug-no one in politics or the media is addressing the fundamental question. How did the UK get to have this terrible drug using culture? Did influential legalisation and liberalisation drug lobbyists adversely affect the drug use culture? Was “media advocacy” a big factor? Where some pro liberalisation/legalisation Members of Parliament (in all political parties) guilty of proselytising without working out the inevitable consequences? Are those members of the “great & (supposedly ) good” , (even some members of the Police & Judiciary), who advocated drug legalisation/liberalisation, also guilty parties? It has been said nations get the drug problem they deserve. We certainly deserve ours. It is surely time for some honesty a rethink and some more competent political leadership.
David Raynes  National Drug Prevention Alliance
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Desperate father pleads for action as legal party drug destroys his teenage son An accountant has made a dramatic nationwide plea for help to stop his son killing himself with the new party drug known as Miaow Miaow.

Stephen Welch, rang BBC Radio 4’s Today programme in desperation because he did not know how to stop his son Daniel’s addiction to mephedrone and his appeals for specialist support had been rejected.
The 58-year-old spelt out the reality of life with a teenager who is destroying his health with a legal substance.

And he revealed that the drug can be bought freely over the phone on an 0800 number “like a Chinese takeaway” and delivered in 15 minutes at a cost of less than £1 a hit.  He also revealed that many of his son’s friends in the affluent, medieval market town of Saffron Walden, were also dependent on mephedrone and experiencing physical and mental problems as a result.

Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Welch, a self-employed accountant, described how last week, Daniel collapsed in front of him after a heavy weekend taking the killer drug.  “He had heart pains, his blood pressure was all over the place, his body went numb,” said Mr Welch. “Then he went into a bout of intense depression and suicidal tendencies. We were very, very scared.  “We thought that maybe we were going to loose him. It was a terrifying situation.”

The close-knit Welch family is desperate for help but have been told by mental health experts that their son’s drug taking is a “lifestyle choice” which they can do little about.  “The said they were not able to offer us any assistance, apart from saying, if necessary, take him to accident and emergency,” said Mr Welch, 58. “There has been an offer of acupuncture sessions but no mention of rehabilitation or even counselling.”

Evidence is growing of a mephedrone epidemic among young people across the social range. A survey published yesterday revealed that more than one in 13 students who attend Cambridge University have tried the drug.

Last week, it was linked to the deaths of Louis Wainwright, 18, and Nicholas Smith, 19, in Scunthorpe. Police have also confirmed that a partygoer’s death from a heart attack in February was caused by mephedrone poisoning.   Despite escalating fears, the Government has taken no action to ban the drug. The substance is actively marketed on dozens of websites as plant food, with the companies and individuals who sell it making millions of pounds unhindered by the authorities.

“It is like ordering a Chinese takeaway but it comes quicker and is cheaper,” said Mr Welch. “The teenagers ring the 0800 number and it is delivered in little packets that say ‘plant food, not for human consumption’.  “Four grams costs £35 and is enough to give two hits to 20 people, that is under £1 a hit. Four grams of cocaine costs about £200.

“All of his friends are taking it, including some who wouldn’t have touched any drugs before but take this one because it is legal.  “They are all having the same problems. They are all, within a very short space of time, becoming dependant on it.”

Before discovering the drug, Daniel had completed his GCSEs at a private Quaker school and was studying a vocational course at a college near Norwich.  But the effects of his habit have left the teenager muddled, depressed and unable to work. While he has tried other drugs and has used cannabis regularly, the high he experienced with mephedrone was in a different league.  Mr Welch, whose three other children have never had drugs issues, said the availability of the drug made it so much harder to protect Daniel and break his dependency.

“It needs to be banned, if only to make it more difficult to get hold of,” he said. “I’m not naive enough to think it will not still be there.  It will go underground but it will become more expensive and it will put some children off taking it if it is illegal.  “It is no good the Government saying ‘we need to wait for this committee or that report’. People are dying from this substance.

“We have had a terrifying experience with our own son. People are making a fortune out of supplying this stuff and it is causing absolute havoc with our children.”  Meanwhile, until the Government acts, the Welch family try to cope with the day-to-day consequences of Daniel’s addiction.

“My wife is affected the most as she is at home most. It is emotionally just draining,” said Mr Welch. “We are absolutely distraught by this.
“The possibilities are too horrendous to think about – those two poor boys in Scunthorpe who died. My son said ‘I looked at their pictures and they looked like normal kids’. I said to him ‘Daniel, you look like a normal kid’.

“He has been very frightened by what has happened this week. We can only support him and hope that he is coming around to realising what a lethal substance this is.” Daniel said that the public and Government officials did not realise how bad the situation had become with mephedrone.  “I want to get across the massive effect it has had on my life and on the lives of people similar to me,” said the teenager.
“Something needs to happen. People are doing the drug who would never think of doing illegal drugs. It is affecting normal people.  “It is so readily available, a phone call away. And it is so cheap that someone always has it. You can swap a cigarette for a line. And that makes it hard to break away from it.

“I’ve got a lot of big decisions to make now about who I see and who I don’t. The problem is these are normal friends, people at university.
“But if I carry on in the way I have been I could be dead in three months. I’m losing weight, I’m not the person I was.”
Source:  www.telegraph.co.uk/health  21st March 2010

Calls for action as crime hits six times worldwide average. Scotland is the worst country in the world for drug-related crime, according to an international study.
The United Nations found there were 656 drug offences per 100,000 people in Scotland. Second-placed Iran recorded 619 per 100,000.
The figures, which compared drug-related crime, possession and abuse across more than 70 states, put Scotland’s drug crime rate at more than double that of England and Wales, and six times the worldwide average.   Experts and opposition parties described the statistics, from a survey by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, as “horrifying”.
Former director of Scotland Against Drugs, Alistair Ramsay, said: “This report should act as a wake-up call to the government. There has been a huge rise in problematic drug users in recent years and we know many of them fund their habit through crime.
“The fact is the way drugs are tackled needs a radical shake-up. We need a proper, co-ordinated strategy.”    Bill Aitken, justice spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives, said: “These are horrifying figures and it is clear action is long overdue.
“Practically all crimes such as shoplifting, housebreaking and car theft are related to a need to feed a drug habit. It may be that much tougher action is necessary in the years ahead.”
However, Gordon Meldrum, director general of the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency, insisted that the war on drugs was being won.   He said: “The latest Scottish Crime and Justice Survey shows encouraging signs that more people in Scotland are living their lives  free from the influence of drugs. We have better intelligence than ever before and more hard drugs are being intercepted closer to source before they are cut into multiple street-level deals.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said that the administration was investing record amounts in justice as well as delivering the highest number of police to fight serious crime.
Source: www.news.stv.tv.  21 February 2010 10:58 AM

Drug policy public hearing – a revivalist meet for the disciples of dope.

A Brussels Parliament sketch by Peter Stoker – Director, National Drug Prevention Alliance
_____________________________________________________________

In the comfortable and prestigious surroundings of the European Parliament, a ‘Public Hearing’ was – in the event – heard by very few of The Public. Perhaps this is just as well, for the average citizen might have torched this expensive building, built from his tax money, had they heard what was being said.

Under the name of the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee, the hearing concerned what was euphemistically called the ‘Anti-Drug’ Strategy, 2005 – 2012, and its attendant ‘Action Plans’ (2005 – 2008 and 2009 – 2011). Enthusiasts of drug policy will know the special significance of 2008; this is the year in which the UN is set to review its Conventions on Drugs, for which more than 100 nations have signed up, thereby generating an enormous and positive influence on drug policy around the world. It is precisely because the Conventions have a positive influence, a bulwark against legalisation, that they are hated by the pro-legalisation crowd. They would kill them today if they could but meanwhile they are working behind and in front of every available screen to administer a death blow as soon as they can.

Deep concern for the public health, social cohesion and safety of European society was cited as the drive for the ‘Anti-Drug’ Strategy – surely matters of interest to The Public, but this meeting was populated by a rather different variety of human being.

Instead of the public there was a collection of around 150 people – of which more than 100 came ‘on a mission from Gomorrah’, bearing banners and leaflets, and demanding a Europe of free drugs – not a Europe free of drugs. Largely in harmony with this aspiring cluster were some 15 MEPs who, if they spoke at all, spoke in terms which garnered the applause of the 100. Also on hand were around 25 EU officials who maintained at discreet silence – in all but one noteworthy case. Mathematicians amongst you will note that this leaves about five people are not accounted for? Who they? The prevention platoon – including yours truly.

Known drug legalisers and liberalisers were greeted like old friends – which maybe they were – and were given reserved seating plus arranged speaking slots in the agenda. Thus were we treated to presentations by ENCOD, TNI, IAPL and others who would not be given house room in any self-respecting house.

Looking on benevolently but keeping a low profile was Mike Trace, the disgraced former Deputy Drugs Tsar for the UK who, on the eve of his elevation to head of Demand Reduction for the UN, was spectacularly exposed by the London Daily Mail as running covert operations with legaliser bodies, notably those bankrolled by George Soros. Trace was obliged to resign his seat at the UN even before he had begun warming it, but he remains a force on the UK and European scene, the beneficiary of a determined rehabilitation scheme by those who feel there is still some useful mileage in him. He is a top cat in Drug Treatment Limited, in the Beckley Foundation, and in RAPt – the Rehabilitation of Addicted Prisoners Trust – the breadwinner job he has held since before his heady days of Drug Tsardom.

The meeting was chaired by Belgian MEP Antoine Duquesne, and did little to diminish his reputation as a strange person. A welcome was offered by the Health Minister for Luxemburg, who promised that of all present today had left their dogmas leashed up outside the front door, and that no preachers had been admitted. Our main goal, he suggested, should be free to reduce Harm … not only the physiological harm drug-users suffer but also the harm of their social exclusion (presumably users should be set on a pedestal in society). The minister concluded by entreating all present to not stick to a static view; there are many approaches, he said, witness the contents of the Action Plan produced by the splendidly named Horizontal Drug Group on the 23rd of February this year.

Next up was a spokesman for the Pompidou Group, Bob Kaiser, who did his best to maintain gravitas in presenting a predictable and unimaginative series of recommendations, ending with the plea that money should not be spent on new organisations (the implication being that it was better to spend it on old organisations – like his).

Paul Griffiths, spokesman for the Lisbon-based monitoring centre, EMCDDA, uttered the recurrent plea for more and better data, not withstanding what he saw as improvements in recent years. We needed, he said, to get much better at collecting evidence, if – that is – evidence-based policy (as distinct from policy-based evidence) is the goal.

A sanguine spokesman from the International Red Cross made new friends in the audience when he asserted that the notion of a drug-free world is unrealistic and that it was in the nature of man to swallow psychoactive substances – much in the way he had evidently swallowed this rhetoric. He lost one friend, however, when he dismissed the concerns of of Madame Roure, MEP for Lyon, France, who spoke of young children in deprived areas being drawn into drug use; that – said the Red Cross man – was a South American or Eastern Europe problem i.e. nothing for us civilised types over here to get excited about. Madame R gave him a short shrift; she was, she said, talking about the fair city of Lyon – not Bogota or Bucharest.

Luc Beauman, spokesman for ENCOD, knew he was preaching to the converted. From his position on the top table he presented a relaxed and intellectually stylish restatement of their position. At this, the 100 erupted into thunderous and extended applause, holding aloft colourful if modestly-sized banners (possibly designed to fit comfortably inside one’s jacket).

It was then that the assembled drug freedom fighters in the cheap seats became restless. Surely, the first cautiously suggested, it is the system of making drugs illegal which just makes prevention harder to appear: wouldn’t a bright new day dawn and everything be super if we just legalised them all?. Others quickly followed over this rickety bridge head: A man from Bologna complained that he couldn’t get a drink after 9pm or smoke cigarettes in shops – this is Prohibitionism even with legal drugs, so it’s just part of the same problem, and we must recognise that prohibitionists are dangerous animals. The appropriately-named ‘Freek’ Polack claimed that he had just one question for the Parliament – then proceeded to ask five; the gist of it was that policies which don’t enable drug use are failures, so why are we silent on this failure? He was received in silence.

An impassioned plea from a hirsute young German drug user took the form of a velvet trap – “You say we need your help, I say you need our help, so when will you stop isolating and demonising us?” (as in ‘When did you stop beating your wife?’).

An Italian plaintiff said he knew of five people, arrested for drug possession who, when their names were published in the media, committed suicide.The notion of an early death during this meeting was perhaps growing in the minds of some, who were by now finding the whole affair life-threatening.

In the name of balance, a Belgian prevention centre worker was invited to speak. He remarked that the discussions “seemed to getting very polemical” – perhaps unintentionally implying that they had not been polemical from the kick-off.

ENCOD’s Luc Beauman took another bite at the cherry; if cannabis is demonised, he opined, then kids don’t take any drug information seriously. Ergo, unreliable prevention messages damage all prevention messages, so his argument went.
( Unreliable libertarian messages did not, it seemed, qualify for the same criticism). ‘Regulation’ – the new buzzword for Legalisation – would usher in a new dawn of ‘ sincere and and honest information’. This would be best achieved by involving citizens, a pious hope of politicians since the 1980s but sadly a hope yet to be realised. 2008 or 2012 were, said Luc, intolerably far away … “What do we want? Regulation! When do we want it? Now!” … and so on …

It was left to the one civil servant who did speak to administer a cold douche of reality. Carel Edwards, Head of the Anti-Drugs Coordination Unit at the EC, told it how it was – and is likely to remain. He was given just six minutes to speak; and said “If you think I can, or will state that the EC position in six minutes, think again”. If today had demonstrated anything, he said, it had demonstrated once again the enormous confusion over the whole subject. The notion that opinions from street level would reach to and direct the top of government is the kind of dream that only comes from those smoking unusual tobaccos. In support of this he cited how few MEPs were here today – and the fact that no of single member state has yet reached what can be called a consenus on drug policy.

He made a somewhat bizarre reference to the Institute for Global Drug Policy Conference held in the European Parliament building about a month ago, characterising this as “Americans expressing a very repressive policy” (It seems that an attendance register, showing the wide variety of European and worldwide delegates at that meeting might helpfully enlighten him). In closing, he said the EC’s aim was to produce an ‘ideology-free, evidence-based’ policy. Those who wanted to debate ideology should go elsewhere; coming as it did after three and a half hours of almost unceasing ideology-pushing, this remark fell on stoned and stony ground alike.

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Filed under: Europe,Political Sector :

The government’s softly-softly approach to cannabis will leave young people facing a mental-health time-bomb, a senior Scottish Labour MP warned last night. Bill Tynan, normally a loyal back-bencher, turned on Ministers who have failed to heed his cautions that downgrading cannabis from Class B to Class C will produce a generation of drug abusers. He said their decision meant that cannabis was now ranked by teenagers alongside cigarettes and alcohol – and many believed it was no longer illegal. Mr Tynan said: “Without doubt reclassification has sent mixed messages about the dangers of cannabis, and despite information to the contrary, many young people believe that cannabis is now legal, just like cigarettes and alcohol. “But research has shown cannabis smoke to be more dangerous than tobacco smoke. There is also large and growing evidence that cannabis is a major contributory factor in the onset of mental-health problems ranging from depression to schizophrenia.” 

Mr Tynan went on: “I believe that the reclassification of cannabis was a dangerous mistake, and that history will confirm that view.” Mr Tynan was elected MP for Hamilton South in 1999, shortly after Strathclyde’s 100th drug death for the year was reported in his constituency. He told The Scotsman yesterday: “The girl who died was the same age as my daughter; it affected me enormously. So I was outraged when the government gave MPs just 90 minutes to debate reclassification of cannabis, it wasn’t nearly enough time to explore all the issues. I am not going to let this go because I firmly believe Ministers have made a major mistake that will have serious ramifications for the future.”  Mr Tynan, who has voted against the government only three times in his five-year parliamentary career, secured a prestigious debate on cannabis in Westminster Hall this week. He told MPs he had been contacted by many drugs experts from universities, hospitals and the legal profession who were appalled at the decision legally to downgrade cannabis.

 


Professor Griffith Edwards, who established the National Addiction Centre at the Maudsley Hospital, said: “There is enough evidence now to make one seriously worried about the possibility of cannabis producing long-term impairment of brain function.” Mr Tynan said he was calling on the government to reopen the debate and look again at the scientific evidence against downgrading the status of cannabis. He said: “I am not convinced the government will reverse their mistaken decision to reclassify cannabis, but they should look at all the evidence.” Caroline Flint, the Home Office minister, said the new status of cannabis was giving police more scope to tackle hard drugs. She said, however, that the situation was under constant monitoring.

By Peter Stoker for HNN News

 
British MPs vote to demote cannabis to a lesser grade of significance.

What do you do when you have put your name to a policy proposal that is seemingly becoming more unpopular by the day? How about inserting it into the Parliamentary calendar at short notice, with limited time, to catch critics off balance? If it could be sandwiched in-between more inflammatory items this should conveniently distract the media – and should it happen that the official Opposition are contemporaneously pre-occupied with their own tragedy, this would indicate an ideal time to slip it through.

But just in case things turn nasty in the House, with risk that the messenger might get shot, it would be prudent to be somewhere else – and let the apprentice take the flak.

Thus it was, yesterday in Parliament. Squeezed between Prime Minister’s Questions (with Tory leader Ian Duncan-Smith possibly within sight of his own execution), a major debate on Northern Ireland, and other business. Opponents given 6 days notice at most – and several got less. And with Caroline Flint deputising for the noticeably absent Home Secretary.

The debate on reclassification of cannabis took place in a House unusually crowded for this kind of issue, which can be explained by its juxtaposition with the other big agenda items. What was not  explained, and caused several MPs in all parties to complain bitterly, was why the debate was limited to 90 minutes, which in effect gave backbenchers only 30 minutes for discussion after the opening speeches were made. As one of them, Peter Wishart, pointed out, the next agenda item, the Mersey Tunnels Bill, hardly competed with cannabis as a subject of national importance, but had been given unlimited time (and in the event took well over three hours).

Labour MP John Mann risked the disapproval of his bosses by saying that the presence of “three-line whips all around the place” was “entirely inappropriate on an issue such as this” – and pronounced himself not persuaded by the choice of arguments utilised by Minister Caroline Flint on behalf of the Government (though he did, in the event, vote in favour of the principle of reclassification).

BLUNT SPEAKING

Shadow Home Secretary Oliver Letwin was equally unimpressed by Ms Flint. Abandoning his usual urbanity, he described the hapless substitute for Mr Blunkett as “all over the place”. It was evident to onlookers that this was not a fight of her own choosing; not only had Mr Blunkett left her to face the howling pack, but her predecessor in the post of ‘Minister with Drugs Portfolio’ – Bob Ainsworth – uttered never a word. Another MP who had been unstinting in championing a liberalising approach through his zealous chairmanship of the Home Affairs Select Committee, but strangely silent today, was Labour MP Chris Mullin.

These were not the only instances of political laryngitis. The backbencher with the House record for number of questions asked, Mr Paul Flynn, an ardent Labour advocate of drug legalisation and consummate interrupter of other speakers, intervened but once, asking of Ms Flint, if she would “give way” (parliamentary parlance for ‘Can I get a word in?). “No” she said, and that was the last we heard of him. For now.

Paul Flynn’s regular Labour team-mate in arguing for drug law liberalisation has been Dr Brian Iddon, a university lecturer from the northwest of England. He too was muted in his contribution, but fulsome in his praise of the work of DrugScope, the NGO which nets over £3 million per year from the government, and repays this by lobbying the government to weaken its drug laws. DrugScope had produced a document about ‘Gateway’ – the syndrome of progression from one drug to another, and which is frequently associated with cannabis – principally because cannabis is the most-used illegal drug. DrugScope concede that there is such a thing as ‘Gateway’ but are dismissive of it having any significant effect on the use of other drugs in the UK scene – which happily coincides with their push for liberalisation of not only cannabis but ecstasy too. Dr Iddon made this praise in response to remarks by Liberal-Democrat drugs spokesman Mark Oaten, who suggested that a perceived increase in ‘home-grown’ cannabis would of itself separate users from the dealers in other drugs. Revealingly, Mr Oaten answered that he too was a beneficiary of DrugScope’s wisdom, having met their representatives only two days before.

Minister Ms Flint persevered with her task. Government strategy, she said, was always to focus on “… educating young people about the dangers of drugs, preventing drug misuse, combating the dealers, and treating addicts …”. Words that frequently, almost compulsively appeared in her contributions included “honesty”, “credibility” and “maturity”. Reclassification was apparently necessary in order to achieve these higher states of consciousness. The short-sightedness, not to mention expediency of this was breathtaking for some participants, but not to the Minister, who accused others of unfairly indulging in more word games than she was … ‘more spinned against than spinning’.

Oliver Letwin was unrepentant, and clinically took the Minister’s arguments apart. The purpose of this whole effort, he asserted, was the “crypto-legalisation of cannabis, in the sense that most young people will be only marginally deterred from taking it. They may be arrested, and they will be warned – and the warning will be that if they are subsequently arrested they will be warned”. The effect of this reclassification would be “… for more rather than fewer young people to be led into hard drugs”.

The Government’s policy was, he said, in “a dreadful muddle”. He went on to ask “Why have the Government introduced this policy?” He had expected the Minister to reject the position that young people would feel they were still breaking the law; in fact she had confirmed that they would still be acting illegally. He had expected her to deny use would increase; instead she had accepted it would. She had also not denied – as he had expected she might – that under the new legislation there would be no relief from dealer penalties for ‘small scale dealing between friends’. This was neither liberalisation nor repression – it was a “muddled middle”. Referring to his normal, well-mannered approach, he said “I do not specialise in saying such things about my political opponents, but in this case I think that the Home Secretary – who has chosen not to attend the debate for reasons that only he can tell – is seeking spurious, short-term popularity … that is not a responsible way to conduct the government of this country … we should consider the fate of our young people.

In the past, Oliver Letwin has expressed his admiration for David Blunkett, in fulfilling his duties despite the disabling effects of his blindness. But today he made no such concessions in attacking what he saw as reprehensible behaviour, compounded by not being present to face the music. He said “I continue to believe that the Home Secretary does not want to make the argument because he does not have an argument. What he is seeking is short-term popularity, and that is a very bad thing”.

Rejecting the notion of full legalisation, whilst acknowledging that one could construct arguments for this (presumably an olive branch to some right wing libertarians on his own benches) Mr Letwin went on to say that another plausible position was to try to “prevent young people from taking cannabis by doing what is done in Sweden – trying to take more effective measures to deter young people from taking it”.

FACTS AND OPINIONS

Tory MP Graham Brady had made a contribution earlier in the week, in anticipation of this very debate, which moved the Speaker to congratulate him for making his points eloquently. There was no such courtesy from Ms Flint. Referring to the well-understood increase in maximum strength of cannabis worldwide (low-grade ‘weed’ in the hippy Haight-Ashbury 60s and 70s was down to 0.5 percent strength, whilst cultivated grades called ‘skunk’ or nederweed’ can range up to 30 percent strength) and knowing of the major increase of cannabis-related psychoses, Mr Brady asked if it was not therefore “… perverse to be down grading its classification in legislation?” Ms Flint would have none of this. The truth, she claimed, was that “… the scientific evidence does not fit his analysis”. In support, she cited the Forensic Science Service, saying they had demonstrated that the THC content “… does not differ significantly from the cannabis used years ago”. (This will come as a surprise to not a few leading scientists, of the calibre of Professor John Henry of Imperial College, one of the UK’s top experts in the field).

Tom Levitt, Labour, referred to the ‘decades’ of debates and the ‘endless’ reports, citing the Runciman Committee (‘Police Foundation’), the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) and the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD). Another speaker chipped in later with mention of the Rowntree report. Oliver Letwin’s reaction was unequivocal: “I do not think that a thousand committees will ever diminish the fact that when this order – I realise the Government will use their majority to get it through – and the accompanying legislation have gone through the two Houses of Parliament [Debate in the House of Lords is scheduled for 11th November] young people will be enticed to buy more, or more often, a substance from dangerous criminals, and they will then be led into hard drug use. That is not a rational policy and no number of committees will persuade me that it is”.

Lambeth Labour MP and former Minister Kate Hoey took a different tack in relation to the above-mentioned reporting bodies. The ACMD is presented as a colloquium of most eminent people (and was cited at the outset of this debate by Minister Flint as the body which “provides the scientific evidence on which to base our decisions”). Ms Hoey pointed out that it is “… part of the Home Office (i.e. not independent), is not a scientific advisory panel (there are hardly any scientists on it) and many of its members have no scientific qualifications. It has about 32 members, of whom a substantial number – about 13 – are committed to liberalisation of drug policy. It has no members from any organisations that have publicly said that they are not in favour of liberalisation. I therefore treat with a little bit of caution the assumption that everything they say is right”.

DOOMED TO SUCCESS

Speaking of her own constituency, Lambeth, and its unwanted role as a laboratory for drug policy experiments, and which other MPs supporting reclassification had cited as evidence of successful liberalisation, she went on to say “I have heard so much rubbish talked today about the Lambeth experiment that it would take me a very long time to deal with it. I will not refer to that experiment except to say that it was not a success. It was one of those schemes that was ‘doomed to success’ from the beginning because the Home Office had decided that it would be successful whatever the outcome”.

And finally, to her own Minister, by now more doubtable than redoubtable, she had this to say: “Why are we doing this now? What is the point of it? … We should not go ahead with introducing this measure glibly. I genuinely cannot understand why we are going down this line. Reclassification will move us further down the route of considering drug abuse as normal, and I am not prepared to support that today”.

Nottinghamshire Labour MP John Mann has earned a good reputation in the House for taking a studied approach to the drugs issue. His informal public inquiry into the problems of heroin abuse in his Bassetlaw constituency won wide praise and is now required reading. On this occasion he started by demonstrating his learning of matters in Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and America. He used this to suggest that all drugs should be reclassified – too rich a diet for his fellows or the Minister to digest in such a short timescale. He moved on to praise Sweden for its constructive approach to drug abusers, in particular supporting the use of mandatory treatment, whatever the drug.

From this good beginning in the eyes of prevention advocates, things started to go pear-shaped as he enlarged on his plans for cannabis. In the name of ‘credibility’ (once more) he advanced the “need to separate the drugs market in people’s eyes …” and said he felt reclassification was “… a clarification and a strengthening” rather than a weakening of drugs policy. To do otherwise, he argued, was to “… treat young people as fools … we suggest to young people that these drugs are all the same and that they should say no to drugs. Say no to which drugs?”

Say no to reclassification? Despite the whips, 160 MPs did. With all but a few Liberal-Democrats siding the Government, the vote in favour came to 316. Encouraging for preventionists, but coming second doesn’t really help in politics.

REFLECTIONS OF AN OBSERVER

It is difficult to reconcile John Mann’s criticism – that under the present classification system, all drugs are currently asserted to be the same – with the fact that there are three classes of drugs, not one. The notion that downgrading of cannabis, from Class B to Class C, is essential in order to distinguish it from Class A, has long puzzled many – and not just the dyslexic.

Equally puzzling is the Minister’s emphatic statement that full legalisation of cannabis “ … would lead to a massive increase in the use of cannabis and health problems” – when compared with the blandishments about the effects on prevalence accruing from reclassification. Something like a comparison of ‘full pregnancy’ with being ‘just a teeny bit pregnant’.

The proposition that downgrading is necessary to achieve ‘credibility’ is fraught with risk; what will be the next concession demanded by drug users and their apologists? Credibility is a fickle thing. It is in the nature of drug misuse that escalation is the norm. Must we therefore look forward to a sequence of outcries that ‘the current strategy is incredible’?

To paraphrase Mel Brooks, in speaking of this ill-managed ‘war about how to conduct the war on drugs’, all they want is a little peace … a little piece of cocaine, a little piece of speed …
 

© HNN INTERNATIONAL CENTRE

Filed under: Political Sector :

THE DAY may come when Mr Blunkett wishes he had left well alone.” This was our warning to the Home Secretary 15 months ago over his proposed cannabis legislation — and that day has now come. Later this month, as part of the Government’s Criminal Justice Bill, cannabis will be downgraded from a Class B to a Class C drug, nominally on a level with tranquillisers. But last minute changes to toughen up the legislation have created utter confusion. The way Mr Blunkett initially presented the reclassification was that adults found in possession of small amounts of cannabis were going to be warned, and the drugs seized, but they would not normally be arrested. Now it turns out that police have been told to arrest anyone smoking cannabis in public and all teenagers in possession of the drug, whatever the circumstances. This is the first the public has heard of these changes. Head teachers are now understandably concerned that teenagers will smoke cannabis in the belief that they cannot be arrested for doing so, and then find themselves with a criminal record. Lady Runciman chaired the inquiry which concluded that the law on cannabis caused more harm than it prevented, and prompted David Blunkett to reclassify the drug. She has expressed her dismay at this extraordinary U-turn. The key point about making it no longer an arrestable offence to possess small quantities of cannabis, as the Home Secretary himself pointed out, was that it would result in more police and court time being devoted to dealing with drug pushers and hard drugs rather than small-time users of cannabis, nearly 64,000 of whom were convicted of possession last year. That argument has now been turned on its head. Mr Blunkett has plainly been swayed by police chiefs asking him how they can be expected to take a tougher line on cannabis dealers while pursuing a no-arrest policy for possessors. They will have pointed out that the pilot project In Lambeth led to an influx of drug dealers and users (though nationwide decriminalisation would presumably not have this local effect). As it is, Mr Blunkett is left with the worst of outcomes: a Class C drug treated as a Class B offence — and a Class A muddle for teachers, pupils, drugs charities and the police.

Source: Evening Standard. 12 January  2004
Filed under: Political Sector :

THE TIMES JANUARY  13 2004
 

The MPs responsible for drugs legislation will be asked today to consider fresh research into the dangers of cannabis, before the drug is downgraded later this month. Recent studies, which were unavailable to the Commons Home Affairs. Select Committee when they last considered drugs policy 18 months ago, have highlighted a greater link between cannabis use and psychosis. Janet Dean, the Labour MP for Burton and a committee member, promised to raise reports in The Times on the growing concern among psychiatrists about the use of cannabis by young people.

The committee endorsed David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, decision to reclassify cannabis from a class B to a class C drug, which comes into force on January 29. But since then Robin Murray, head of psychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry, told The Times that inner-city psychiatric services were nearing a crisis point, with up to 80 per cent of all new psychotic cases reporting a history of cannabis use. Professor Murray said that recent studies showed that those who used cannabis in their teens were up to seven times more likely to develop psychosis, delusions or manic depression.

He said: ‘Unfortunately. then were no experts in psychosis on the committees that advised the Government” Ms Dean said she would draw the Times article to the attention of the committee at its meeting today.
 

HIGHS AND LOWS

If cannabis can cause psychosis should the Government rethink its reclassification?

MY SON sat with me on a hospital bench outside the hospital canteen. Suddenly, he looked up and said “Oh, mother, you don’t know how terrible it is to be Hitler”. “You’re not Hitler,” I said. “Your voices are only your own thoughts”. I took his hand. I knew I was doing what the psychiatrists had told me not to do. You are meant neither to contradict their convictions nor to agree with them. But I knew what I did was right. He looked up. “You really believe that?” “I do,” I said. Then he wept. I put my arms around him, the man who had written to my mother saying I should have a gun put to my forehead and the trigger pulled.
He was in better form than he had been. At this moment he was not complaining that the nurses were plotting to kill him For now, he had stopped showing me the loose floor tiles beneath the hand basin in his washing closet where he believed they buried the bodies of past patients they had gassed. The nursing  staff were endlessly kind and long-suffering for, strange to say, most people loved my son. He  was charismatic,  intelligent, a gifted artist. But without medication he was lost. He had told me that cannabis was the most dangerous of the many drugs he had taken, because it was cannabis which had triggered the paranoia, and it was the drug he feared most. He died in a dealers flat in 2000 of heroin and  dihydrocodeine poisoning within three days of being taken off section and a full year clean of all illegal drugs.

What mystifies me is that Professor Robin Murray head or psychiatry at the Institute or Psychiatry, who gives a convincing picture of the dangers of cannabis says: “We’re not saying-the Government shouldn’t reclassify  cannabis.”  Equally. David Winnick one of the MPs on the Select committee which recommended reclassification, says: “We would not change our view”They talk about informed choice. Come off  it! Children as young as ten start rolling joints. Can you give kids with no experience of life an informed choice? Harm reduction is chickening out of taking adult responsibility for our young. Drug prevention is the only valid course. It has worked in Sweden. Here, we don’t even try.

Source: Letter to The Times, January 13, 2004

The superdrug

WHAT your article failed to mention is the crucial distinction between the original strains of the plant found in the and the cultured strains, which I believe are described as skunk. The past 20 years have seen the emergence of super-potent varieties, often grown hydroponically by enthusiasts interested in one thing only stronger cannabis.

How they have succeeded. Varieties now available can contain hundreds of times stronger doses of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient And God knows what else. The quantity of all manner of other chemical compounds present in the wild strains in doses, may also have been increased dramatically. It is my   contention that heavy use of super-potent skunk is responsible for the increase in cannabis psychosis, which is why we need to make a crucial distinction between the wild herb and the artificially cultivated skunk varieties. I realise that legislating for this is probably unworkable in practice, so. reluctantly. I have to oppose any reclassification of cannabis.

Arthur Battram. Matlock Derbyshire

 Nobody listens

CANNABIS is not safe on, many counts. It is well proven that it affects learning, remembering, thinking and making decisions. Now, mental health problems are in the spotlight. We, and others. said as much to the select committee which recommended reclassification, but  they didn’t want it to know. Mr Blunkett had told them what he wanted, and they and the advisory council were moved to concur. That they dismiss the new evidence of  Professor Murray and  his other eminent colleagues speaks volumes about their zeal, but not their expertise. Meanwhile all other parameters – family and social damage, impact in the workplace, foetal and early childhood damage are all researched, but barely mentioned.
Everyone but the rigid cannabis zealot must surely conclude that cannabis use must be discouraged by all means.

Peter Stoker, National Drug Prevention Alliance, Slough


The freedom of abstinence

WHY is the same question left hanging in the air following the 80 percent increase in the psychoses related to the use of cannabis? When will any government have the courage and willpower to invest in those positive prevention messages (and resources) that communicate to the next generation the truth that health and excellence, through abstinence, are worth making tough choices for?
My 25 years of working with addicts, who all began their tragic descent into addiction through cannabis, confirms to me that abstinence was the beginning of a new life free  of those supposedly harmless, but physically demanding substances which had not only robbed them of their full potential but of their families and society.

David Partington, International Substance Abuse and Addiction Coalition, Reading


Live it  and see

SO. THE Government feels that there is no particular threat from the use of cannabis, despite the ever increasing evidence to the contrary and as a result of reducing its classification are ensuring that this drug becomes even more readily available. I would ask those responsible for this blinked decision to live with the family of a 15-year-old boy who is dependent on cannabis, and then make a judgment based on the facts.

Perhaps David Blunkett would like to experience the abuse and harassment for money, the aggression resulting in broken windows and smashed furniture, the regular trips to the police station following fights. criminal damage, theft and threatening behaviour all due to the craving for cannabis or the money to buy it. Perhaps he would like his son to have no employable skills because of perpetual truanting and exclusions from school. perhaps he would like his family ripped apart by the constant daily battle to protect a child from ruining his life or killing himself or someone else in the process. Perhaps he would like to fight in the tree-lined street. as I did during Christmas week to disarm a son who was intent on stabbing another boy with a carving knife while neighbours watched  from behind the nets of  their large detached houses.
Cannabis wrecks lives. It is the time the Government woke up to that message.

Too much, too soon

SANE was among the first organisation to identify the links between cannabis and mental illness. There is now a large body of evidence showing just how dangerous it can be for those who are vulnerable to psychotic illness.
What is being sold now is far more toxic than before, with ten times the strength if THC which causes hallucinations and paranoia. This is a far cry from the purer  varieties of the drug we grew up with the 1960s. While it may be a harmless chill out for those whose brains have already matured, for young teenagers the drug can not only trigger  lifelong mental illness but can arrest development leaving them with lost hopes and damage lives. There are good arguments for downgrading the classification of cannabis but we fear it is happening before the public has made aware of the dangers. it is a political decision which ignores recent evidence.

Marjorie Wallace,
SANE, www.sane.org.uk

 

Filed under: Political Sector :

By Kenneth Eckersely

Re-Launched in January 2003, the Home office Minister’s “Updated Drug Strategy 2002” leaves nothing to be desired — except for an effective policy of real prevention capable of reducing the escalating  numbers of new users, plus the provision of effective treatment intended to to cure dependent users. In other words what missing is a Drug Strategy intended to break the vicious circle of more and more of our citizen’s using more and more drugs of all classes.

Nearly every measure,- which Home Office Minister Bob Ainsworth very ably presented this week is capable of achieving what the whole country needs and wants, Unfortunately his Department has, produced a magnificent vehicle which will never get us to where we need to go, because the driver that the Departments of Education and Health have permitted to grab the steering  wheel is not dedicated to reaching the same goals as the government.

Vested interests in the psycho-pharmacological field have been dictating the direction of our drugs education and the nature of our drug treatment for decades. Therefore, whilst the increased spending and personnel resources now being, committed by New Labour are essential to success, they are a total waste because their strategy vehicle is being directed along the road of greater profit to the counselling and pharmacological fraternity instead of along the road towards less drug use and less drug users.

Whilst it was reassuring to hear the Minister announce that it would never be the policy of this government to legalise any currently illicit drug the value of that statement was immediately destroyed by his decision to prescribe heroin alongside Methadone for issue at taxpayer expense to the expanding group of dependent drug users.   As a result whilst not legalising these drugs, he is in fact legalising individual addicts to use them.  And because those recipients of governments largesse will no longer be breaking the law, reported crime statistics will appear to fall but user statistics will continue to climb.

Making a drug legally available to an individual does not by one iota change  its effect on that individual.  He or she is still a hard core drug user. The authoritative BIG ISSUE research ‘Drugs at the Sharp End’ showed that 89% of such users are still basically unemployable  and that their main legitimate income is from Unemployment Benefit and/or Housing  and Children’s Allowances. Furthermore, far from reducing drug use and crime, that report revealed that 8O% of those on prescribed methadone continued to use street drugs on  a weekly basis and that 44% of those on prescribed methadone used heroin on a daily basis.

One assumes that the new strategic move to also prescribe heroin is intended to avoid methadone users continuing with the illegal use of Street heroin. But is the Home Office  not aware of the illegal street  trade in prescribed methadone?  Do they really believe that prescribed heroin will not also find its way back to the  street as prescription users seek to enhance their, low income levels by selling “guaranteed pure government issue heroin” just as occurs with taxpayer supplied methadone.

If one concentrates only on opiate supply issues, the only way government can  squeeze out the drug barons  is by making the official prescription  supply more plentiful, less costly and less dangerous than the smuggled supply.

The barons will respond with purer and even cheaper supplies and the overall effect  will be a flooding  of the market place  with more accessible, stronger  and cheaper supplies stimulating even greater usage as the illegal and legal suppliers battle for their market shares.

This is why aiming at the supply alone can never in the long run be an effective policy. The target should of course be demand. Regrettably  this is not reduced by prescription supply. It is cut only by curing existing users of their habit and by preventing new users from entering the marketplace.

Whilst the Updated Strategy will pump more resources into the sort of ‘treatment’ which merely manages  escalating prescribed drug use – the extra resources which will go into our school system will go mainly into drugs education not drug prevention..  This raises the question which lesson you would want your child to learn ?  ‘I know all about drugs now dad’, (education) or would you prefer ‘I don’t use any drugs dad’ (prevention).

The 6 – 11 age group uses less than one fifth of the drugs used by the 12 – 17 age group,  30% of whom use with increasing regularity, and it is these usage and age levels which make a mockery of the new strategy’s  ‘drugs education’ proposals which are replete with ‘harm reduction’, ‘informed choice’, and ‘responsible use’ messages.   Such messages are likely valid when addressing an established user or addict.  i.e. when it is part of ‘we don’t want to run your life for you, but we would like you to have a long one’.  So we apply harm reduction by giving the heroin user a clean needle because we don’t want him catching AIDS,  and we teach him responsible use to make sure he doesn’t overdose.

But it is quite something else  to an 11-to -14 year old who is just beginning to learn about drugs; ‘This is how you use drugs responsibly’ or, ‘You will come  to less harm  when you’re taking drugs if you do’….. or, ‘So you can find what drug might suit you best, here are the various choices and their effects.

Less than 25% of our school children in the 5 to 18 year age range use drugs (mainly cannabis) on a regular basis ‘THIS MEANS THAT 75% DO NOT USE DRUGS, and to guard against their joining the use group, the principal message for that whole range of ages should be a PREVENTION message based on zero tolerance. Every ‘Say NO to Drugs’ campaign run in Britain has demonstrably saved children totally from drug use or has postponed early city to our drug culture.

It is because ‘Just say NO and similar campaigns have worked that such zero-tolerance campaigns have been attacked by pushers and the inevitable libertarian or psychologist who believes that if child wants to put his hand on a hot stove, he should be given the freedom to do so, in order that he may learn from his own experience.

Bob Ainsworth twice expressed real concern because prisoners re-entering society after completing their sentences continue to a disturbing degree to overdose on drugs within the first weeks of their release, However, he (failed utterly to recognise that even though many of these released offenders had been subjected to rehabilitation in prison, THEY  WERE NOT CURED, proving that the psycho-pharmacological treatments they received inside just do not work, and that what Sweden (for example) does should be tried. He was warm in his praise of those who had put together the Updated Strategy, and it was clear that a lot of good administrative and promotional work had been done by dedicated people within the Home Office and elsewhere. However, when it came to the vital technology of drug prevention and cures the Drug Strategy showed no real understanding of just how far his department has been misled by the vested interests who today essentially control drugs ‘education’ and drug treatment through lobbying front organisations like DrugScope, and the sociologists, psychologists and psychiatrists who run our health and education departments.

These are the people who, by prescription, are pushing  psycho-pharmacological drugs such as Ritalin into our classrooms. These are the same people who are  pushing the benzodiazepines into nursing homes, care homes, private homes and prisons and  now they are pushing heroin and methadone into our drug using youth instead of curing them of their addiction problems – as other countries do.

Addiction is a golden goose which already provides huge profits for prescription drug producers and with heroin now set to go on prescription, pharmaceutical fat cats are all set to get even fatter at taxpayer expense. The now proposed ‘legalisation by prescription’ will do two things, firstly, it will increase the supply of opiates into the society and, secondly, it will increasingly place the production and supply of currently illegal drugs into the self proclaimed “ethical”  of the pharmaceutical industry. (How long before we have the prescription supply of cannabis, cocaine, amphetamines and crack?)  Thirdly, the brand of permissive drugs ‘education’ proposed, which fails to prevent and fails to ‘Say NO’, -will ensure that an increasing number of new drug users are created every day. Fourthly, many questioners at the re-launch of the Updated Strategy were clearly having trouble with understanding why the government were not taking more advantage of existing law governing teenage illegal use of both tobacco and alcohol to close off the two main legal  gateways to cannabis use.

Surveys show that cigarette smoking is a principal gateway to youth usage of cannabis, and that (like drinking of alcohol) may be an even more significant gateway. Whilst both of these substances are on sale to adults, they are both just as illegal as cannabis when it comes to their purchase and use by most of our population under l8 years of age. In addition to the obvious physical and mental effects, failing to stop adolescent illegal use of tobacco and alcohol moves our junior and teenage youth onto the wrong side of the law – namely the same outlaw side, as the use of cannabis.

As a result the move to cannabis is seen by our youth as no more significant in law breaking terms than a pint and a fag.

Our children are under greater attack than any other sector of our society, but the “Updated Drug Strategy 2002” does more to provide doubtful ‘support’ and ‘treatment’ after they’ve been hit, than it does to protect them with up front zero tolerance prevention, followed if necessary by cures based on comfortable abstinence for life.

It used to be known as ‘closing the stable door after the horse had gone’. Fortunately, provided the government can get out from under the control of the pharmaceutical lobby, a realistic updating of our Just ‘updated drug strategy 20O2’ might just get the horse back

Filed under: Political Sector :

From the Homepage of Melaniephillips.com
Daily Mail, 8 January 2004

Three weeks from now, the government’s reclassification of cannabis from a class B to a class C drug comes into effect. At that point, it will be officially considered no more dangerous than painkillers, steroids or tranquillisers.Indeed, simply as a result of announcing this change – which also means the police will no longer arrest people for possessing small quantities of marijuana -many young people now believe cannabis really isn’t very dangerous at all.
Yet now comes the starkest warning yet that it is so dangerous it is causing unprecedented numbers of people to go mad. Professor Robin Murray, one of this country’s foremost experts on psychosis, has told The Times that cannabis is now the ‘number one problem’ reducing mental health services in the inner cities to crisis point. Up to 80 per cent of all new patients suffering from psychosis are reporting a history of cannabis use which, the professor says, has brought on their illness.
Four recent studies show that cannabis use – particularly by young people – can increase the likelihood of psychosis by up to 700 per cent. Furthermore, the drug drastically reduces the chances of recovery, since when patients leave hospital they return to their old haunts, resume taking cannabis and relapse.
Maybe in an attempt to be diplomatic, Professor Murray declines to criticise the fact that no psychosis experts were members of either the Home Affairs Select Committee or the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, both of which played a crucial role in advising the government on re-classifying cannabis. This is because at the time, he says, no-one thought any such experts were needed.
The professor is being far too kind. The omission of such expertise was a disgrace. There has been a welter of evidence, some of it going back more than two decades, suggesting alarming links between cannabis and mental illness. While this did not conclusively prove cannabis was the cause, it certainly indicated strongly that this was so.
In particular, a study of Swedish army conscripts in 1987 reported that those who had used cannabis on more than 50 occasions were six times more likely to develop schizophrenia than those who hadn’t used the drug at all. Another Dutch study of heavy cannabis users revealed a sevenfold likelihood of psychotic symptoms within three years.
In 1998, the National Institute of Public Health in Sweden warned that cannabis was one of the most toxic of all narcotics. ‘Compared with heroin abuse’, it said, ‘cannabis smoking – in addition to the strong grip with which dependence develops – is associated with far more serious risks regarding the development of mental disorders of various kinds.’ It listed these as ‘delirium, cannabis psychosis, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, depersonalisation syndrome, depression and suicide tendency, antimotivational behaviour and impulsive violence’.
In other words, there was enough evidence even then to ring the loudest of alarm bells over cannabis and mental health. But the government simply ignored it.
Since then, further studies to which Professor Murray referred have reinforced this research and produced yet further alarming evidence of the link with mental illness. In New Zealand, young people who had used cannabis three times or more at age 15 or 18 were more likely to exhibit schizophrenic symptoms by age 26. Still other studies in America and Australia show cannabis users have a fourfold risk of depression.
Last November, these new studies were revealed in the British Medical Journal. The government ignored these, too.
Instead, it ploughed on with its reclassification in the apparent belief not only that cannabis doesn’t do much harm to users, but that it doesn’t harm other people. But this is not true either. The changes it causes in the brain can have profound effects on others, ranging from relationship difficulties to violence.
Jamie Lee Osbourne, jailed for life last month for murdering a stranger at random, changed under the influence of cannabis from a church-going teenager to a savage killer. His barrister told the court that cannabis had diminished his inhibitions and given him ‘delusional fantasies’.
Anne-Marie Pyle bludgeoned her father to death before setting fire to his house, after cannabis gave her psychotic delusions. Phillip Caswell, who strangled his sleeping girlfriend and then stabbed her repeatedly with a kitchen knife, blamed the attack on his prolonged cannabis use. And so on, and appallingly on.
The Government has ignored all this, too. Instead, it has issued dangerously mixed messages about cannabis which can only encourage its use. On ‘Frank’, the Home Office drug information website, it has actually downplayed its dangers. ‘Cannabis psychosis’, it says, ‘is rare but happens when someone’s smoked themselves into oblivion. It can continue for some time but is treatable… Once stoned, users can find hidden depths in daytime television/ the most unlikely song lyrics’.
Despite his own evidence, Professor Murray refuses to condemn the government for downgrading cannabis from class B to class C because it does not cause psychosis in most people who use it. This is surely extraordinarily naïve. This reclassification sends out a totally misleading signal that cannabis is not dangerous. As a result, more young people are going to use it. As a result of that, the toll of mental illness he so chillingly describes is going to get worse.
And while most users may not go mad, its effects are not confined to psychosis but also include dependency, demotivation and loss of memory and the ability to think, not to mention physical effects such as an increased cancer risk or infertility.
Given all this, there is surely a case for reclassifying cannabis upwards to a class A drug. The dangers it poses to both individuals and to society are insupportable. To put it on the same level as painkillers is quite grotesque.
The Government’s reckless drug policy has already caused enormous damage, and this is set to accelerate. Ministers have simply shut their ears to those experts who have tried to warn them about the true dangers of cannabis. Instead, it has listened only to two kinds of people.
The first is the great and the good who wish to ensure they or their children will not end up with criminal records for taking drugs. The second is the legalisation lobby which has taken over the American, British and European drug information industry to such a degree that ministers cannot grasp the extent to which its distorted propaganda has successfully bamboozled the police, MPs, the civil service and much of the rest of the establishment.

The result is a criminal and public health menace which is now spiralling out of control, pulling the government behind it.

The above article was also commented on by the editor of the Daily Mail as below:

Letter from Congressman Mark Souder to the Director of National Institute of Health. Maryland.USA.

Honorable Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D. Director April 27, 2004

Dear Dr. Zerhouni:

As you know, “harm reduction” is an ideological position that assumes individuals cannot or will not make healthy decisions. Advocates of this position hold that dangerous behaviors, such as drug abuse, should be accepted by society and those who choose such lifestyles – or become trapped in them  –  should be enabled to continue these behaviors in a less harmful manner. Often, however, these lifestyles are the result of addiction, mental illness of other conditions that should and can be treated rather than accepted as normative, healthy behaviors. Sadly, harm reduction largely ignores these realities and programs driven by this ideological position have not been adequately reviewed with unbiased, scientific rigor.

I am concerned that harm reduction programs that sustain continued drug abuse, such as injection rooms and needle distributions, likely weaken drug abusers’ defenses against infection, sustain drug abusers’ long term risk for disease, and minimize the benefits of the available treatments for HIV disease. These dangers seem to have received insufficient attention by some federal health agencies. Yet, peer-reviewed scientific and anecdotal evidence appear to support this assertion.

Needle exchange is the most visible harm reduction program for injection drug users (IDUs). The first needle exchange programs (NEPs) in the United States were established in Tacoma, Portland, San Francisco, and New York City in the late 1980s in an effort to prevent HIV infection among IDUs. By 1997, there were 113 such programs in more than 30 states.

Vancouver, British Columbia, administers the largest NEP in North America, distributing nearly three million needles every year. The city has a publicly sanctioned site specifically designated for addicts to inject under medical supervision absent of law enforcement. The results of this approach have been horrific. When the Vancouver NEP was established in the late 1980s, the estimated HIV prevalence in Vancouver was 1 to 2 percent among the city’s population of 6,000 to 10,000 IDUs. While the expectation was for needle exchange to decrease HIV rates, the opposite has occurred. Both HIV and Hepatitis C have reached “saturation” among the injection drug using population, meaning few if any of those who are not already infected are left to become newly infected, according to the Vancouver Drug Use Epidemiology report published by the city in July 2003. The HIV prevalence among the Vancouver Injection Drug User Study (VIDUS) cohort is 35 percent with “one of the highest incidence rates reported worldwide,” according to the 2003 Vancouver Drug Use Epidemiology report. The VIDUS has an astounding 82 percent prevalence of Hepatitis C.

While both HIV and Hepatitis C rates have increased in Vancouver since the establishment of the NEP, research has directly linked the NEP to this trend. A study published in the journal AIDS in 1997 found that “frequent NEP attendance” was actually one of the “independent predictors of HIV-serostatus” among IDUs. The study found that HIV-positive IDUs were more likely to have attended NEP and to attend NEP on a more regular basis compared with HIV-negative IDUs. Of those IDUs observed who became HIV infected during the course of the study, about 80 percent said they had no difficulty accessing syringes. And with only one lone exception, the NEP was the main source of syringes for all of those who became infected. Needle sharing by IDUs in Vancouver is normative, and quite widespread. VIDUS data published in 1997 found 76 percent of HIV-positive IDUs studied admitted to borrowing used needles as did 67 percent of HIV-negative IDUs. Thirty-nine percent of HIV-positive IDUs lent used needles (Strathdee S.A., et. al. “Needle exchange is not enough: lessons from the Vancouver injecting drug use study.” AIDS. 1997; 8: F56-65).

The failure of harm reduction to control infectious disease is not limited to Vancouver.

Researchers in Montreal studied nearly 1,600 needle-exchange participants for an average of 21.7 months. The study revealed seroconversion probability of 33 percent among needle exchange users and 13 percent among non-users. The case-control study suggested that consistent needle exchange use continued to be associated with HIV seroconversions during follow-up. Despite adjustments for confounders, the researchers noted that HIV risk elevations related to needle exchange remained both substantial and consistent in their cohort of intravenous drug users (Bruneau J., et. al. “High rates of HIV infection among injection drug users in needle exchange programs in Montreal: results of a cohort study.” Am J Epidermal. 1997;146: 904-1002).

A study of needle exchange programs in Seattle found no protective effect of needle/syringe exchange on the transmission of Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C among participants. The highest incidence of infection with both viruses occurred among current users of the exchange (Hagan H, et. al. “Syringe exchange and risk of infection with Hepatitis B and C viruses.” Am J Epidermal. 1999; 149: 203-218).

Needle exchanges focus almost exclusively upon a single mode of transmission among IDUs-sharing of contaminated needles-and largely ignore other important factors such as the individual, the behaviors that cause risk taking, the impact of the substance on the individual and the substance being abused itself. Studies are increasingly finding these factors play significant harm to IDUs that cannot be reduced by merely providing an unlimited supply of clean needles.

A 10-year study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that the biggest predictor of HIV infection for both male and female IDUs is high-risk sexual behavior, not sharing needles used to inject drugs. High-risk homosexual activity was the most important factor in HIV transmission for men; high-risk heterosexual activity was most significant for women. Risky drug-use behaviors also were strong predictors of HIV transmission for men but were less significant for women, the study found.

“In the past, we assumed that IDUs who were HIV-positive had been infected with the virus through needle-sharing,” noted Dr. Steffanie Strathdee of the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, who conducted the study. “Our analysis indicates that sexual behaviors, which we thought were less important among IDUs, really carry a heavy weight in terms of risks for HIV seroconversion for both men and women.” (Strathdee, S.A., et al. “Sex differences in risk factors for HIV seroconversion among injection drug users.” Archives of Internal Medicine 161:1281-1288, 2001)

Another recent study has found that drug abuse reduces the benefits of AIDS therapy. “There is evidence that HIV-positive injecting drug users benefit less than other risk groups from highly active antiretroviral therapy that has been available since 1996,” according to a study published in the European Journal of Public Health (“Limited effect of highly active antiretroviral therapy among HIV-positive injecting drug users on the population level.” European Journal of Public Health, 2003;13(4):347-349).

Previous research has also demonstrated that “club drugs” can adversely affect AIDS treatment outcomes, both through drug interactions and by affecting adherence to HIV drugs. Methamphetamines and MDMA have a potential interaction with all of the protease inhibitors and delavirdine used to treat HIV infection. Both GHB and marijuana have also demonstrated potential interaction with AIDS medications.

Recently, there has also been some discussion about the possibility that continued drug abuse by those being treated for HIV infection could potentially spawn drug resistant strains of HIV. This could result from the negative impact of illegal drugs on the body’s natural defenses and from insufficient adherence to drug taking regimens by those under the influence of controlled substances.

Now investigators at the McLean Hospital Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Center in Belmont, Massachusetts, have found that cocaine itself has a direct biological effect that may decrease an abuser’s ability to fight off infections. “This research suggests a link between cocaine use and compromised immune response and could help explain the high incidence of infectious disease among drug abusers,” observes Dr. Steven Grant of NIDA’s Division of Treatment Research and Development (Halpern, J. H., et al. “Diminished interleukin-6 response to proinflammatory challenge in men and women after intravenous cocaine administration.” Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 88(3):1188-1193, 2003).

Research has demonstrated that MDMA is immunosuppressive (Connor, T.J., “Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, ‘Ecstasy’): a stressor on the immune system.” Immunology 111(4):357- 367, April 2004) and there is a relationship between meth abuse and immune dysfunction (Qianli, Y., et. al. “Heart disease, methamphetamine and AIDS.” Life Sciences 73(2):129-140, May 2003).

This scientific and anecdotal evidence appears to indicate that harm reduction programs have failed to provide a prevention panacea for drug abusers against the dangers of HIV, hepatitis and other health risks.

Please provide a summary of the available scientific data demonstrating:

(1) The impact of drug abuse on the body’s immune system;

(2) Impaired decision making that increases HIV risk as a result of drug intoxication;

(3) HIV risk by drug users attributable to risky sexual behavior in exchange for drugs and drug money;

(4) Cultural or normative needle sharing behaviors by drug using populations; and

(5) Inferior health outcomes among those being treated for HIV infection.

The finding that continued drug abuse may impair treatment benefits of those infected with HIV while further damaging the immune system raises the alarming possibility that sustained drug abuse may incubate resistant strains of HIV. Have there been or are there any studies, ongoing or planned, examining the possibility that continued drug abuse by those being treated for HIV infection could contribute to the development of drug resistant strains of the virus?

Thank you for your assistance with this request. Please provide a response by September 1, 2004.

Mark E. Souder Chairman, Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources

Comment by NDPA:
(The statistics on problems resulting from needle exchange schemes and injecting rooms in the studies above show that far from preventing problems they actually increase problems. These results are the same from all over the world.   Far from protecting the health of drug users these programmes actually increase the probability that users will contract life threatening illnesses like Hep C.  

Recently
at the annual meeting of the Federation of Drug And Alcohol Professionals (FDAP) in London , NDPA Director Peter Stoker gave an evidence based presentation on the failure of such programmes. Of 22 drug workers in the workshop 21 still voted that injecting rooms should be provided for users.

This is a stunning indictment of workers whose goal is supposed to be (in accordance with UK National policy) to help drug users achieve abstinence.  It would seem that for them dogma  outweighs data.  (Perhaps their position becomes clearer if one considers the result of another debate at the same meeting, which rejected the motion that ‘Drug Workers should themselves be drug free’).

Filed under: Political Sector,USA :

This is the name of the game—create a lot of smoke and hope the authorities light the fire by pressuring Abramoff to plead guilty to something. 

The Washington Post is in its scandal mode, hoping to hype the Jack Abramoff affair into something that will threaten Republican control of the House in the 2006 elections. Then the Democrats could initiate impeachment proceedings against President Bush. While this process unfolds, it would be wise for the public to consider the stories that aren’t being written or published. For example, whatever happened to convicted inside trader and billionaire currency speculator George Soros? He is the proponent of drug legalization who tried to buy the presidency for the Democratic Party in 2004. His other causes include needle exchanges for drug addicts, open borders, assisted suicide, voting rights for felons, abortion and homosexual rights.

Soros makes Abramoff, who spent about $5 million on political influence operations, look like a piker. Soros reportedly spent $400 million in 2004 on his network of foundations and non-profit groups. In reference to his more than $20 million campaign to defeat President Bush in 2004, the National Legal and Policy Center filed a formal Complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging that Soros had violated the Federal Election Campaign Act by failing to report significant expenditures.

Except for some payments to two columnists, Abramoff tried to influence politicians. Soros has a far more impressive record of influencing the press. Soros has put some of his massive fortune into press groups like Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE), the Fund for Investigative Journalism, and Center for Investigative Reporting. James V. Grimaldi, a Post reporter covering the Abramoff affair, is on the IRE board. These groups never subject Soros to scrutiny, except to strictly itemize how much money he is giving away. That earns him the title “philanthropist” or “financier,” but never “inside trader.”

In the latest chapter of the Abramoff affair, the Washington Post on December 31 ran a 3,100 word article by R. Jeffrey Smith about Abramoff arranging contributions to a non-profit organization linked to Congressman Tom DeLay. This followed a 4,000–word article on December 29 about Abramoff written by Grimaldi and Susan Schmidt.

One of the main points in the Smith article was that the group received money from a Russian source and DeLay voted for money for the International Monetary Fund, which was bailing out Russia. At the same time, DeLay opposed the IMF forcing Russia to raise taxes as a condition of receiving such assistance. Is there any evidence that DeLay’s votes or positions were somehow influenced by the Russian money to the non-profit group? No such evidence was presented.

But because the names of Abramoff and DeLay were linked in the same article, the impression was created that there was something sinister going on. This is the name of the game—create a lot of smoke and hope the authorities light the fire by pressuring Abramoff to plead guilty to something. Then we can anticipate countless more stories about the Abramoff affair right up to election day.

In order to understand the partisan game the Post is playing, you have to read between the lines of the story. Near the end of the story, Smith quoted one Larry Noble, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, “a nonpartisan watchdog group,” as offering an opinion about one aspect of the “scandal.”

All of these so-called “nonpartisan watchdog groups” actually have an agenda. Noble’s group is funded by the usual list of liberal foundations, including the Open Society Institute of billionaire George Soros.

This is one reason why you seldom read anything critical of George Soros. He funds some of the “watchdog groups” that supposedly monitor this “problem” of campaign financing for the public and the press.

But the cover-up gets more serious than that, especially because of his opposition to virtually all measures taken to curtail drug use on a national and global basis. Don’t expect to see, for example, any stories about the reported Soros connection to Evo Morales, the new pro-Castro, pro-cocaine president of Bolivia.

During the heat of the 2004 presidential campaign, House Speaker Dennis Hastert made headlines by accusing Soros of having links to the international campaign to legalize dangerous drugs. He specifically mentioned a Soros link to the Drug Policy Alliance and the Andean Confederation of Coca Leaf Producers. Morales was a key figure in this latter group.

In response to the Morales win in the Bolivian presidential contest, Ethan Nadelmann of the Soros-funded Drug Policy Alliance declared that “Coca deserves the same opportunities to compete legally in international markets as coffee” and “Perhaps the time has come to put the coca back in Coca Cola.”

The left-wing Washington Office on Latin America published a report in 2003 advocating accommodation of the coca producers in Bolivia. “It is crucial,” said the author, “that the U.S. government and international organizations permit the Bolivian government the necessary leverage to make key concessions” to the coca lobby. The funders of the study included the Open Society Institute.

There used to be a time when journalists here and abroad exposed the forces behind dangerous mind-altering drugs. In perhaps the most sensational case, journalist Veronica Guerin exposed the criminal gangs behind drug dealing in Ireland. She was gunned down and murdered in 1996. “I am simply doing my job,” Guerin said. “I am letting the public know how this society operates.”

In the powerful movie version of her life and death, in which actress Cate Blanchett plays the role of Guerin, she says about the drug trade, “Nobody is writing about it. Nobody cares.” She did so and paid the price.

Nobody is writing about it much these days either. It’s easier to write about Abramoff.

As for Soros, if you go to his personal website, the latest posting is an interview he gave National Public Radio last May, in which he claimed that he is only trying to spread democracy in the world—the same thing Bush is doing. He just opposes doing it by military means, he claims.

But the new book, Media Cleansing: Dirty Reporting, documents how the fingerprints of the Soros network were all over the rationale for the U.S./NATO military operation in Kosovo. It was an operation conducted without the approval of the U.S. Congress or even the U.N. that Soros loves so much. The book by veteran journalist Peter Brock thoroughly documents how the Clinton Administration waged an illegal and unconstitutional war on Serbia for the benefit of radical Muslims in league with Osama bin Laden.

On the matter of his conviction for inside trading, which occurred in 2002, he told NPR that he wants everyone to know that he is appealing that judgment and that calling him an inside trader is “unfair.” NPR reported that the label is being used by the “conservative” media against Soros. You can bet it won’t be used by the liberal press, which is in his back pocket. And that pocket is deep.

 Source: By Cliff Kincaid  |  January 2, 2006

Filed under: Political Sector :

BY ROSEMARY BENNETT, DEPUTY POLITICAL EDITOR

The public was misled about the dangers of taking cannabis when the Government unwittingly decided to downgrade the drug less than a year ago, the Home Secretary admits today.

In a damning assessment of the decision taken by his predecessor, David Blunkett, Charles Clarke said he is “very worried” about recent evidence suggesting a strong link between cannabis and mental illness. His remarks, made in an interview with The Times, come just weeks before he must decide whether or not to execute an embarrassing about-turn and restore the drug’s Class B status.

Mr Clarke said there was an alarming lack of knowledge about the health dangers posed by the drug among the general public. He also admitted that many people had been left confused by the law change.

“Whatever happens after this, let me reveal one recommendation of the advisory committee, which they make very, very strongly, which is a renewed commitment to public education about the potential affects of the consumption of cannabis, and the legal status of cannabis. That is well made, and I will accept it.”

Asked specifically if the confusion was a result of Mr Blunkett’s decision to downgrade the drug, he said: “Yes. People do not understand the impact of the consumption of cannabis well enough, and what the legal consequences of consuming cannabis are.”

Over Christmas Mr Clarke read the report from a special advisory group he set up to assess the latest medical evidence, and will discuss its findings with colleagues this week before making a final decision.

Leaks of the report suggest the committee says use of the drug is clearly linked to mental illness, but stops short of recommending reclassification.

Mr Clarke refused to confirm the report’s central thrust, but said he had already accepted a secondary recommendation, that ministers had to clear up the confusion in the public’s mind about the drug. “The thing that worries me most (about the downgrading of cannabis) is confusion among the punters about what the legal status of cannabis is.”

The drug was downgraded in in the hope that it would allow the police to focus on more serious drug abuse. Mr Clarke said it was significant how many advocates of the change had had second thoughts.

“I’m very struck by the advocacy of a number of people who have been proposers of the reclassification of cannabis that they were wrong,” he said.

“I am also very worried about the most recent medical evidence on mental health. This is a very serious issue.”

Asked if the downgrading of the drug had served any useful purpose, Mr Clarke paused before responding: “I think it gives it a steer to the citizen on more serious drug consumption.”

Although an about-turn would be embarrassing, it may cause Labour fewer problems in the long run. Mr Clarke will champion curbs on antisocial behaviour this year, which strategists say is undermined by a soft approach to cannabis.

Source: TimesOnLine Jan.5th 2006
Filed under: Political Sector :

By William F. Hammond Jr., New York Sun, May 4, 2006

The billionaire political impresario George Soros gambled $27 million on the campaign to defeat President Bush and came up empty-handed. But no one should conclude that he has lost his eye for a winning investment. The smaller wagers that he and his family have placed on New York politics appear to be paying off in spades.

After years of debate, state lawmakers just agreed to reduce the penalties for drug crimes in New York, which have been among the stiffest in the country.

In Albany County, voters just elected a maverick district attorney who is promising to go easier on drug addicts and keep a sharper eye on corruption at the state Capitol.

In the Legislature, leaders of both houses are pledging to change the way they do business after two decades of late budgets and legislative gridlock. And in the state Senate, Democrats are threatening to take control for the first time since 1965.

A common factor in all of these developments is Soros money. With millions of dollars in strategically placed grants and political contributions, the Soros family is quietly reshaping the state.

Nothing illustrates their impact better than the campaign to soften New York’s anti-drug laws. Pushed through by Governor Rockefeller during a wave of heroin abuse in the 1970s, the statutes imposed lengthy prison sentences for possession and sale of narcotics. Someone caught with four ounces of heroin or cocaine faced a minimum sentence of 15 years to life and a maximum term of 25 years to life.

Earlier this month, after years of fruitless debate, Governor Pataki and the Legislature agreed to an overhaul of these penalties that doubled the weight thresholds for the most serious drug-related felonies, took away the possibility of life terms for nonviolent crimes, and gave about 400 current inmates an opportunity for early release.

Of the many activist groups that campaigned for these changes, none played a more pivotal role than the Drug Policy Alliance, a New York City-based group founded and largely financed by Mr. Soros and his Open Society Institute. The alliance and its affiliates spent more than $100,000 lobbying at Albany over the past two years. In June 2003, when the governor and legislative leaders brought hip-hop entrepreneur Russell Simmons into their late-night, closed-door negotiations on the Rockefeller drug laws, a lobbyist for the Drug Policy Alliance, Deborah Small, was at Mr. Simmons’ side.

On another front, Mr. Soros’s Open Society Institute has been a major supporter of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s School of Law, contributing at least $3.6 million over the past four years. This summer, the Brennan Center published a study identifying New York’s state government as the most dysfunctional in the nation – a finding that has been quoted in newspaper stories and editorials ever since, adding considerably to the movement for reform at Albany. Reacting to recommendations in the Brennan report, both the Republican majority leader of the Senate, Joseph Bruno, and the Democratic speaker of the Assembly, Sheldon Silver, have promised to change the procedural rules in their respective houses.

The Soros money has flowed not just to activist groups, but also to political campaigns.

This summer, the political arm of the Drug Policy Alliance – also founded and financed in part by Mr. Soros – indirectly contributed $81,500 to a candidate for district attorney of Albany County, David Soares, who made his opposition to the Rockefeller drug laws a centerpiece of his campaign. When Mr. Soares defeated the incumbent district attorney in a Democratic primary, and went on to win the general election, elected officials statewide took notice.

In legislative elections, meanwhile, Mr. Soros and his children emerged as the most important backers of Democrats running for the state Senate, contributing a total of $377,500 to their campaign accounts. That money helped Senate Democrats add at least three seats to their minority, with a fourth race still too close to call. As a result, the Senate GOP – which has controlled the house every year but one since 1938 – will see the 38-24 advantage it had at the beginning of this year shrink to 35-27 or 34-28 come January. The minority leader of the Senate, David Paterson of Harlem, predicts his party will win enough seats to take over in 2008 or 2010.

Most contributions in legislative races come from interest groups with a state in state affairs, and they generally give most of their money to the officials in the best position to help their causes – which is to say the majority parties in the Senate and Assembly. This is one reason why Democrats, who outnumber Republicans 5-3 among registered voters in New York, have been unable to claim the Senate. By giving so much money to the Senate minority, and largely ignoring the major players, the Soros family represents a singular threat to the status quo.

The deputy minority leader of the Senate, Eric Schneiderman of Manhattan, said that threat helps to explain why the Senate GOP agreed to this month’s compromise on the Rockefeller drug laws.

“These guys are professionals,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “They don’t hold onto a majority in an overwhelmingly Democratic state by being slouches. They took immediate notice of the contributions, and they will do what they can do to try and neutralize the commitment.”

The people campaigning to change the drug laws believe this month’s legislation – which they view as a partial victory – would not have happened if not for the electoral victories by Mr. Soros and the Senate Democrats.

“It was not because people had a change in heart; it’s because people had a change in political climate,” said the public policy director of the Drug Policy Alliance, Michael Blain. “It’s a shift in power. And power is something hardball New York politicians understand. It’s the only thing they understand.”

A spokesman for the Senate Republicans, Mark Hansen, disputed this analysis.

“We have been discussing the Rockefeller drug laws for a number of years,” Mr. Hansen said. “We continued having discussions with the governor and the Assembly throughout the summer and the fall and ultimately reached agreement in December. It was an ongoing process that culminated in the reform law that was enacted this month.”

Whatever the Senate GOP’s motivations, its actions on the drug laws probably weren’t enough to convince the Soroses to put away their checkbooks.

“The Soroses’ support for David Paterson and Eric Schneiderman and the effort to take the Senate for Democrats is a long-term commitment,” a spokesman for the family, Michael Vachon, told The New York Sun last week.

“They understand the dynamics of Albany,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “They are not going to be fooled by mini-reforms into backing away from broader reforms. They’re not in politics to bring about small steps toward reform.”

Source: DPNA website May 2006
Filed under: Political Sector :

WASHINGTON, June 14 /U.S. Newswire/ — Peter Flaherty, president of the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC), today reacted to the upholding of billionaire George Soros’ conviction of insider stock trading by France’s highest court, meaning Soros has no further appeals.

Flaherty said, “This affirmation of Soros’ criminal conviction adds to the doubts about his credibility and business ethics.”

During October 2004, Soros undertook an anti-Bush media and speaking tour to swing states. In Harrisburg, Pa., on Oct. 19, Flaherty asked Soros how he could come to Pennsylvania, “where corporate scandals have cost people their jobs,” to tell working people how to vote in light of his conviction. Soros denied that he was convicted, and instead attacked NLPC as “Orwellian.” Flaherty followed up by asking why Soros had been fined $2 million, if he had not been convicted. Soros claimed he had not been fined. ( For transcript, go to http://www.nlpc.org/view.asp?action=viewArticle&aid=691 )

Soros apparently misled the media and the audience of 200 people. Numerous news organizations in the U.S. and Europe had reported that Soros was convicted of insider trading in December 2002 and fined $2.2 million. Furthermore, Soros had previously admitted that he was convicted. In a Sept. 12, 2003 interview on the PBS show “Now With Bill Moyers,” Soros told reporter David Brancaccio, “I was found guilty.”

Soros’ contention in Harrisburg that he had not been convicted was apparently based on the fact that the case was under appeal. In France, a suspect is technically considered innocent until appeals are exhausted. Flaherty added, “For Soros, there are no more appeals. There are no more fig leaves to hide behind. His conviction stands.”

Soros apparently failed to report significant expenditures related to his anti-Bush tour, as required. On Jan. 18, 2005, NLPC filed a formal Complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), alleging extensive apparent violations by Soros of the Federal Election Campaign Act. ( http://www.nlpc.org/pdfs/SorosFEC1-18-05.PDF ). The Complaint is pending.

NLPC promotes ethics in public life through research, education and legal action. The group sponsors the Government Integrity Project.

http://www.usnewswire.com/

Source: DPNA website June 26th 2006
Filed under: Political Sector :

Calls for Britain to liberalise existing drug laws are based on dishonest assertions

‘Prevention Doesn’t Work’


Prevention is more than education and does work if done well. Experience in other countries, notably in the USA and Sweden proves that. (SAMHSA Natl. H’hod Survey 1999. Safe Streets Prevention Partnership, Tacoma WA. 1999) Opium and cocaine were legal in the USA in the l880s and at that time America had the highest level of drug use per capita – ever. There were over 400,000 opium addicts. Today less than 5% of the US population uses illegal drugs – that is 12.5 million (which is 9.5 million fewer than in the late 1970s). Overall drug use in USA is down 50% .

 

(ASA Hutchinson. Director DEA: Speech in London June 2002)

‘Cannabis is not very harmful’

Cannabis in the l960s had a THC content of 0.5% and cannot be compared to today’s substance which averages 6% THC and can reach 27-30%. It is fat soluble with a half-life of 7 days and traces can be found in the body for up to 10-12 weeks. It affects body systems at the cellular level.

(H.Ashton,2001. also ‘Marijuana & Medicine’, Humana Press NJ. 1999)

‘There’s no such thing as a Gateway drug’

There is now ample research that shows that the use of tobacco, alcohol and cannabis by young people predicts the use of other illegal substances. Only 2% of non smokers also used cannabis compared to 56% of smokers (PAT survey 1991). Young people who use tobacco, alcohol and marijuana are up to 266 times more likely to use cocaine than those who don’t use any gateway drug. (CASA research l994). 20% of those who used marijuana 3-10 times went on to use cocaine.

(Journal of Psychiatry, Herbert Kleber MD, l988 see also Kandel, 1992 and Fergusson & Howard, N.Z. 2000)

‘Everybody’s doing drugs so we might as well legalise them’

Reliable surveys (for example, the Health Related Behaviour Survey from Exeter University) show that whilst 50% of young People under the age of 18 may try cannabis once or twice, only 20% use more often – and of those only half use regularly. Thus 80% of our youth are not involved with drugs. Research shows that drug users were more likely to support the legalisation of drugs and that ‘research on drug legalisation may be biased if the respondent is a drug user’.

American Journal of Drug & Alcohol Abuse (28(1) 2002, Trevino & Richard).

‘Young people are getting criminal records just for smoking a joint’

This is simply not true. See Justice records for the UK, Sweden and the USA.

(Enforcement Works. Robert Peterson. PAE. NYC USA)
‘Cannabis is not addictive and young users will grow out of using’
Cannabis is addictive. Around 10% of the population carry a gene which makes them susceptible to chemical dependency. For some it is alcohol for others cigarettes and/or cannabis – and later heroin or cocaine. (Gold l989) The more users at the youth level the more people there will be with a dependency problem; the Netherlands and Australia are good examples of this.
(Dutch Inst. On Alcohol & Drugs l993. Pompidou Group Survey 1990).

‘Cannabis can be smoked as a medicine so it can’t be harmful’

No medical authority has ever suggested that any substance could be used medicinally by smoking. Extracts of cannabis have yet to be shown to be useful adjuncts to existing medicines in which case they would be prescribed by doctors as pills, inhalants or injections, and then only after safety and efficacy were proven.

(Campbell, Tramer et al. Pain Research Dept. Oxford Radcliffe. BNJ 2001. Eija Kalso, Pain Clinic, Helsinki University, Finland. BMJ 2001. ‘MJ Won’t stop MS Pain’ Dr.Joep Killestein. VU Medical Centre, Amsterdam. Neurology. 2002. – and numerous other studies.)


 

WASHINGTON. D.C. (June 8) – “In the 1960’s and 1970’s Americans were passive about or even worse, actively endorsed the use of illicit drugs. This misguided attitude fostered an environment of tolerance and acceptance. As a result drug use proliferated. In 1980, therefore there were massive amounts of illegal drugs, drug pushers. and kingpins controlled large segments of U.S. resources; millions of innocent people were victimized; an overburdenend criminal justice system; staggering economic and social costs; and a deep erosion of the health of our people.” (White House Conference for A Drug Free America Report 1988) Ronald Reagan’s leadership, along with Nancy Reagan, sparked a national movement against drugs which resulted in dramatic declines in illicit drug use in America. (and around the world) President Reagan inspired and convinced the nation that the drug problem was not hopeless and could be solved. He was committed to help reverse the permissive attitudes of the 1960s and 1970s that illegal drug use was glamorous, harmless and victimless, and influenced the media and even Hollywood to stop glamorizing drug use. President Reagan believed that the nation needed community based solutions to the drug problem. He and Mrs. Reagan strongly supported the grassroots parents movement and gave these volunteers access to and the opportunity to work closely with major federal agencies. President Reagan sponsored The White House Conference on Drug Abuse. Across the nation spread community anti-drug initiatives, youth programs, drug-free school and workplace programs. The nation spoke with one voice that “drugs were wrong and harmful.” The results illicit drug use was cut in half; – from 25 million to 11 million drug users between 1979 and 1992; drug use was no longer tolerated and in the workplace or in the Armed forces. Crime, drug related hospital admissions and highway deaths declined.

One of the most remarkable accomplishments and reversals in history!!! This story needs to be told. Today. we would do well to reaffirm and implement the recommendations from The White House Conference for A Drug Free America Report of 1988.These positive trends continued until the time when Clinton said he wished he had inhaled drug use by youth began to rise once again. (Monitoring the Future Survey 1996).

HIGHLIGHTS:

New York Times 1988:

“No President has spoken out more against drugs than President Reagan.” No Administration has signed more anti drug treaties or spent more money to stem the flow of drugs into this country.” “We’re rejecting the helpless attitude that drug use is so rampant that we are defenceless to do anything about it. We’re taking down the surrender flag that has flown over of many drug efforts; were running up the battle flag.” President Ronald Reagan. June 24, 1982.

“In this crusade, let us not forget who we are. Drug Abuse is a repudiation of everything America is. The destructiveness and human wreckage mock our heritage.” President Ronald Reagan September 14, 1986.

“Illegal drug use is the foremost concern in our country. And frankly, as I finish my final year in office and look ahead, I worry that excessive drug politics might undermine effective drug policy. If America’s anti drug effort gets tripped up in partisanship, if we permit politics to determine policy, it will mean a disaster for our future and that of our children.” May 18, 1988. President Ronald Reagan.
First Lady Nancy Reagan was a leader in the crusade for a Drug Free America. She was Honorary Chairperson of the National Federation of Parents for Drug Free Youth; and through the “Just Say No Campaign was responsible for the establishment of thousands of parent and youth groups across the country. “ casual drug user cannot mortally escape responsibility for the actions of drug traffickers and dealers. I am saying that if you are a casual drug user, you are an accomplice to murder.” Nancy Reagan February 29. 1988.

Highlights:

Encouraged and supported a nationwide effort to reduce the demand for drugs by increasing Americans knowledge and changing the attitudes and behavior.

Presidential Executive Order 1987- To focus public attention on the importance of fostering a widespread attitude of intolerance for illegal drugs and their use throughout all segments of society.’

Inspired the establishment of the The National Media Advertising Partnership for a Drug Free America to spread the drug prevention message.

Supported the establishment the Drug Free Schools and Communities Program 1986

Changed attitudes by Youth:

In 1980, half of high school seniors surveyed thought smoking marijuana regularly posed a great risk. In 1987,73.5% saw regular marijuana use a great risk. (University of Michigan)

In 1992 more than 79% of high school seniors believed that drug use was very harmful.( Monitoring the Future Survey)

Declines in the overall crime rate ) Uniform Crime Reporting Statistics) Hospital emergency rates declined (Health & Human Services Report)

50% Reduction in illegal drug use on the job (Health & Human Services Report)

(White House Office of Public Affairs Report June 1988)

Created an effective, coordinated federal, stage and local awareness and education campaign against illicit drugs.

Drug use declines:

Current use of cocaine among high school seniors dropped by one third in 1987 to the lowest level since 1978. Daily use of marijuana among these students dropped from one in nine high school seniors in 1979 to one in 30 in 1987.

Prevention Federal funds for drug abuse increased 4 four fold between 1981 and 1988.

Treatment: Federal spending for treatment nearly doubled between 198! and 1988.

Enforcement Increases – the number of federal drug investigators more than doubled and the number of Federal drug prosecutors increased four fold between 1890 and 1988. By 1987 arrests by the DEA of the most serious drug offenders had increased 175 over 1983.

More Drugs Interdicted and Seized

Drug Free Military- Drug use in the military dropped 67% since 1980. Other highlights: improved international cooperation to cut off the production and transportation of illegal drugs. The first to use the federal asset forfeiture law to take the profit out of illegal drug trafficking. 

Source:New York Times 1988
Filed under: Political Sector :

By Alberto Carosa
Rome

“I also continue to follow with great appreciation your commitment to the promotion of moral values in American society, particularly with regard to respect for life and the family”: John Paul II was quoted as saying these words, among other things, when he received President George W. Bush in the Vatican  June 4th, 2004. “Our thoughts also turn today to the 20 years in which the Holy See and the United States have enjoyed formal diplomatic relations”, he also said, “established in 1984 under President Reagan”.

Nobody could envisage at that moment that Ronald Regan would pass away the following day. Yet, he is poised to go down in history as the leader who paved the way for the above promotion by being the first president who openly supported the culture of life, after almost a decade of living under the Roe v. Wade decision. Reagan was the only sitting president to write a book while in office and, fittingly, Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation, was a celebration of the pro-life perspective and an encouragement for the pro-life community to never give up. Congressman Henry Hyde, himself a pro-life champion, says Reagan “gave the right to life position stature and legitimacy”, while nationally syndicated columnist Fred Barnes calls Reagan the “father of the pro-life movement”.

But there is another much less known, albeit no less important, aspect of Reagan’s siding with the culture of life: his war on illicit drugs. He was the first western politicians to make the fight on drug addiction a basic points of his agenda, already in his 1970 campaign, when this public commitment contributed to the overwhelming consensus with which he commenced his political career as governor of California. He was one of the few leaders who grasped the ideological roots underpinning the spreading of drug addiction: the 1968 anti-prohibitionist philosophy with its far-reaching social and cultural implications, rather than being merely and/or primarily health-related. If until 1962 only less than 1% of the entire US population had smoked pot, albeit occasionally, in 1979 and therefore in the peak of the hippy movement, drug addiction involved some 70% of US young adult aged 18-25. Set to fend off the “counter-culture” based on the “free drug America” principle, he reacted by forcefully launching a “drug free America” initiative through an effective synergy between public institutions and the vast sector of civil society, which was in the forefront of the anti-drug fight against the powerful lobby of drug liberalisers.

A typical case in point was the spontaneous establishment of thousand parents associations and family-related NGOs around the country precisely in the late Seventies, to which President Reagan gave his institutional blessings, co-opting them in what he launched as the “War on Drug”. Parents mobilisation had started on earnest in early 1977, when Sue Rusche in Atlanta (Georgia) established the organization “Families
in Action” (FIA), because of their concern about the influence of the drug culture on the young people. FIA is credited with the first parental assault on the community drug culture. The snowball effect was compelling: other anti-drug personalities of the calibre of Betty Sembler (founder and president of Drug Free America Foundation and wife to the present US Ambassador to Italy, Melvin Sembler), Calvina Fay (a pioneering expert on workplace drug abuse prevention programs presently executive director of Drug Free America Foundation) and Stephanie Haynes (president of Drug Prevention Network of the Americas), among countless others, followed suit and anti-drug parent associations mushroomed countrywide. In May 1980 a national parent organization, the National Federation of Parents for Drug Free Youth was established in Silver Springs, Maryland.

This involvement of families for a sound co-operation and interaction between local communities and federal government was legally and initially entrenched in the 1982 Federal Strategy for Prevention of Drug Abuse and Drug Trafficking. And this was only the beginning. In 1984 an unprecedented National Family Partnership was launched under the supervision of the embattled first lady Nancy Reagan with the slogan “Just say no”. For this purpose she invited in Washington hundreds of representatives of over 2000 parent groups, who travelled at their own expense, and board members of the above National Federation of Parents for a discussion which was to formally launch the war on drugs. More in detail, this plan was aimed at beefing up protection for the youth not to be lured into drug addiction by anti-prohibitionist propaganda, through educational programmes and ad-hoc seminars in schools and workplaces nationwide in close co-operation with the Movement of Anti-Drug Parents, health and social services, and the other competent federal agencies.

For its part, the government did not directly fund any portion of the parent movement , but facilitated the movement’s goals and activity in a variety of ways, ranging from public endorsement by the President and the First Lady to making parent-oriented prevention material available for distribution to the public. The role of the state governments varied from one state to another, but generally there was mutual support and collaboration. In April ’85 Nancy Reagan expanded her drug awareness campaign to an international level by inviting first ladies from around the world to attend a two day briefing on the subject of youth drug abuse. The White House commitment culminated with the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, an exemplary milestone on the legislative front of the anti-dope fight, which was signed into law by President Reagan in 1986.

This strategy produced almost immediate results, for the first time reversing the trend: the war on drug managed to slash US illicit drug consumers by a stable 70%, both among teens (12-17) and youth, minimizing related social costs in terms of crime and death. Moreover, the free drug lobby ran into serious difficulties and had to reshape its strategy, by switching from an aggressive to a defensive approach. In other words, drug liberalisers had to start speaking of a “reformist” and no longer “revolutionary” effort to legalise drugs, as aptly pointed out by Sue Rusche in her “Guide to the Drug Legalisation Movement and how you can stop it” (Published by the “National Families in Action”, Atlanta, October 1997), chapter sixth, “The second effort to legalise drugs”.

In particular, this second effort was based on two main pillars:

– Harm reduction philosophy inspired by the 1993 Frankfurt Resolution;

and

– injection of fresh funds by billionaire George Soros, who revived the US drug legalisation movement with millions of dollars.

George Soros seemed to have learnt Reagan’s lesson when he made available $ 6 million “to promote alternatives to the war on drug”, which could not but have been premised, in his own words, on an all-out “war on the war on drugs”.

Source: Drug Free America FoundationAugust 2004

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