Pubdate: Wed, 08 Oct 2003
Source: Anderson Valley Advertiser (CA)
Column: Cannabinotes
Copyright: 2003 Anderson Valley Advertiser
Author: Fred Gardner
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)
Bookmark: (Tulia, Texas)


Within a few blocks of Broadway and 18th Street in Oakland, at least six 
cannabis clubs are thriving -plus a plant store that sells supplies for 
growers. The anchor tenant in the 'hood now known as Oaksterdam is Jeff 
Jones's original Oakland Cannabis Buyers Co-op, transformed by federal 
injunction into a hemp store and registration service that issues cards to 
doctor-approved patients on behalf of the city.  Two doors down is the 
Bulldog, a sidewalk cafe named and modeled after a famous club in 
Amsterdam.  Around the corner on Telegraph is the high-volume Third Floor, 
and the Lemon Drop, which carries a fine line of pastries and serves the 
best coffee, and the newly opened 420 Cafe, which has a brick wall worthy 
of the Village Gate.

Buildings that stood empty are getting tenants, nearby restaurants and 
surrounding businesses are benefiting from the foot traffic -an estimated 
thousand patrons a day- and Oaksterdam seemed like an unmitigated 
urban-renewal success story until last month, when City Council President 
Ignacio De La Fuente declared the cafe cluster to be in violation of city 

According to De La Fuente, the city ordinance authorizing the OCBC to 
distribute cannabis envisaged the operation of only one club. On Sept. 23, 
at De La Fuente's urging, the City Council Public Safety Committee began 
discussing whether Oaksterdam requires regulation. A stream of articulate 
and/or passionate cannabis users, business owners, and concerned citizens 
lined up to argue for the multi-club model. "If you have only one club it 
will be a target for John Ashcroft," seemed like a key point.

And, of course, "competition lowers prices..."

The only opposition came from members of the Sexual Minority Alliance of 
Alameda County, a youth group that occupies a building in close proximity 
to several clubs.  Youth from SMAAC must constantly observe the cannabis 
consumers. Sometimes the odor of pot wafts into their building.

Sometimes, they say, customers coming out of the clubs offer to sell them 
pot. The flamboyant head of SMAAC threatened the Oakland officials with "a 
federal lawsuit in two weeks" if the gay, lesbian, transgender and 
"questioning" youth in his group were still being exposed to cannabis.

I could see his point but I kept thinking "Eek, a mouse!"

The City Council member friendliest to the cannabis purveyors was Nancy 
Nadel. At one point she scolded a speaker for using the term "Oaksterdam," 
saying it undercut the image that medical dispensaries should project. 
Cousin Nancy meant well, I suppose, but does a provider of healing herbs 
have to project sadness and solemnity? Can't a cafe be a place that 
promotes well-being? And isn't there something different about marijuana, 
given the legacy of prohibition and continued unavailability through 
regular channels?... Lighten up, Cuz. There's the letter of the law and the 
sprit of the law. The spirit of Prop 215 -what the voters were trying to 
tell the government, basically, was, "Marijuana? Big deal." Oakland ought 
not to take umbrage at a comparison to charming, prosperous Amsterdam. Next 
time you're feeling reverent towards a medical facility, recall that the 
employees of Seton Hospital in Daly City call it "Our lady of 280."

Councilwoman Jean Quan claimed the responsible center position at the Sept. 
23 session. "I'm not comfortable with one club," she said, "but I'm not 
comfortable with the concentration." Quan implied that she had special 
expertise on the subject of cannabis clubs "as the wife of a 
physician."   She ought to ask her husband exactly how much he learned 
about cannabis in medical school?

And did he try to make up for what he missed by taking any continuing 
education courses on cannabis therapeutics?  The medical establishment and 
its auxiliary members such as Jean Quan ought to show a little humility in 
this area. The docs are taught many Latin terms in med school, but not "mea 

Downplaying the Harm of HRT

The U.S. government -guided by the pharmaceutical corporations- continues 
to downplay the dangers of Hormone Replacement Therapy. In late September 
the FDA, the NIH, and the DHS issued a fact sheet on the subject claiming 
that HRT prevents hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and osteoporosis. FDA 
director Mark McClennan announced it to the media with a statement 
emphasizing the positives:  "Postmenopausal hormone therapy is a major 
personal decision for women, and they should be armed with the latest key 
facts and useful tools to make the best decision for their needs... Our 
recommendation is that if that if you choose to use hormone therapy for hot 
flashes or vaginal dryness, or if you prefer it to other treatments to 
prevent thing bones, take the lowest dose for the least duration required 
to provide relief." The right-wingers have at last found a question on 
which they support a woman's right to choose!

Meanwhile the German FDA -the Commission on the Safety of Medicines- issued 
guidelines on HRT instructing doctors that the dangers far outweigh the 
benefits and they should cut way back on prescriptions. (The combination of 
estrogen and progestin has been found to greatly increase the risk of 
breast cancer and significantly increase the risk of heart attacks, blood 
clots, strokes, dementia, and other problems more serious than hot 
flashes.) The head of the German Commission, Bruno Muller-Oerlinghausen, 
called the widespread use of HRT "a national and international tragedy" and 
compared it to the "naove and careless use" of thalidomide in the 1950s 
(which resulted in thousands of babies being born deformed).

Professor Eberhard Greiser of the Institute for Prevention Research in 
Bremen attributes 5,000 cases of breast cancer and 2000 cases of uterine 
cancer annually to HRT use. And the supposed benefit in warding off 
osteoporosis has now been disproven!

As the dangers of HRT become known, SmithKlineBeecham, the makers of Paxil, 
are scavenging for customers among the millions of women who are quitting 
but still want a drug to cope with hot flashes.

An item in the Oct. 4 British Medical Journal asserts "other effective 
alternative treatments for menopausal symptoms, especially hot flushes, are 
needed" and cites a recent study involving 165 women.

Some 58% of those taking 12.5 mg of Paxil reported a 50% reduction in the 
frequency and severity of hot flushes (as they're called in England). Some 
43% of those taking placebo also reported a 50% reduction in frequency and 

So, if you factor in the counter-placebo effect, the impact of the Paxil 
was nil! (The counter-placebo effect is the result of the test subjects' 
desire to let the doctor know that they weren't duped by an inert pill, 
that they're aware of having been given a chemically active substance.)

60 Minutes Does Tulia

60 Minutes started its new season with a terrible segment on Tulia, the 
small Texas city where 46 black people were falsely tried, convicted, 
sentenced, and imprisoned as cocaine dealers in 1999 and 2000. The NAACP 
and anti-prohibitionists in West Texas publicized the injustice and in 
June, Governor Rick Perry pardoned the 35 men and women still behind bars.

 From Ed Bradley's report you would have thought the extreme injustice was 
the sole doing of a white rogue cop named Tom Coleman, who was hired to 
work undercover in Tulia after losing several other police jobs. Coleman 
was given ample opportunity to defend his vile behavior, and even got a 
final softball lob from Bradley: "How has this all affected you, personally?"

It's been tough, said the narc, fighting back the tears, but he's managing 
to support his family "and not selling dope to do it."

60 Minutes did not credit those who first shed light on the scandal, or Bob 
Herbert, the liberal NY Times op-ed writer, who devoted several columns to 
the shocking details.

Bradley credited the governor of Texas with reversing the injustice -as if 
he and the whole political and legal establishments of that misbegotten 
state hadn't ignored the situation for years!

Except for a West Texas NAACP leader, nobody provided political analysis. 
She said that the mass arrests in Tulia revealed the War on Drugs as a 
mechanism for racist oppression, and that plenty of Texas lawmen knew all 
about Coleman's bad record and had kept quiet while the prosecutions were 
taking place. (The Attorney General named Coleman "outstanding officer of 
the year.") She also noted that the feds give billions to local "task 
forces" that operate with no supervision or standards.  But her time on 
camera was very brief and I didn't get her name. The focus was entirely on 
Coleman. They even showed him on horseback -simultaneously whipping and 
reigning in the poor horse.

Speaking of undercover agents...

Everybody's got their panties in a twist because Robert Novak outed a CIA 
agent.  We say, give that man -repulsive though he may be- a prize.

In fact, an annual award could be established -the Robert Novak Prize- for 
citizens exposing undercover agents.

If ever there was a waste of taxpayers money... and an excuse not to 
work... and a perversion of traditional American values ("Don't be a 

The CIA set up a fake business to provide cover for Janet Plame. We can 
only wonder how much that operation cost -the money came out of the "black 
budget," which we peons aren't allowed to keep track of. It will cost us 
millions more if a Special Counsel is appointed to investigate who in the 
White House outed Plame to Novak.  The subtext of the whole extravaganza 
will be "The most heinous of all crimes is to snitch on a snitch."  And 
we'll hear a lot of self-serving platitudes about journalists' protecting 
their sources.

But we're just kidding about establishing a Robert Novak Prize. Outing 
undercover narcs in public is a bad tactic.

If one of their victims ever tries to avenge himself, the outers will be 
blamed and called terrorists.  Also, there'll always be another narc to 
replace the narc who got outed.  It's the culture of police work that has 
to be changed -the reliance on snitches and undercover stings-not the 
individual cops.  The reliance on snitches and undercover ops is largely a 
function of the War on Drugs, which is a function of a ruling class with a 
guilty conscience. To end the war on drugs we have to remove from power 
those who require a police force armed and at the ready and penetrating the 
poor communities.

That said, it's hard not to want to expose somebody who has lied to your 
face and tried to cost you your livelihood. During his recent hearing, Tod 
Mikuriya posted on his website a mug shot of Steve Gossett, the Sonoma 
County Deputy Sheriff who presented himself as "Scott Burris" and got the 
doctor's approval to use cannabis based on bogus claims of shoulder pain, 
stress, insomnia, and incipient alcoholism. Mikuriya removed the photo when 
ordered to do so by the administrative law judge.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom