Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, for reasons that are
far from clear, chose to enter the debate over medical marijuana with
a thoroughly unscientific - one might even say anti-scientific -
blanket denial that marijuana has any medical value at
all.Specifically, the grandiosely titled "Inter-Agency Advisory
Regarding Claims That Smoked Marijuana Is a Medicine" referenced a
"past examination" that "concluded that no sound scientific studies
supported medical use of marijuana for treatment in the United States,
and no animal or human data supported the safety or efficacy of
marijuana for general medical use." That is simply not true. As
Scientific American magazine noted on its Web site the next day, the
statement simply ignores "the existence of a 1999 report by the
Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, which
concluded that marijuana was 'moderately well-suited for particular
conditions, such as chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and AIDS
wasting.'" The Institute of Medicine report, which was commissioned by
the "drug czar" at the time, Gen. Barry McCaffrey, and included a
series of hearings around the country as well as a complete review of
the scientific literature worldwide, summarized its conclusions as
follows: "Advances in cannabinoid science of the past 16 years have
given rise to a wealth of new opportunities for the development of
medically useful cannabinoid-based drugs.
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Despite Assured Privacy, Addicts Wary Of Internet
Five years ago, Barry Karlin sensed a huge business opportunity where
most people saw only devastating social blight.
There were more than 16 million people in the United States who
needed treatment for drug or alcohol addiction, but only one in five
addicts who sought help could get it because the number of programs
was limited and the cost was so high.
Enter the Internet -- or so Karlin imagined.
Rather than undergo the shame and awkwardness of face-to-face group
counseling programs, addicts could find the support they needed in
cyberspace. Karlin calculated the size of the potential market for
drug treatment -- online and offline -- at $12 billion.
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- -A Last-Minute Twist
Led by doctors who learned nothing about cannabis in medical school
and never employed it in clinical practice, the Medical Board of
California decided in April 2004 to discipline the state's leading
authority on the subject.
Tod Mikuriya, MD, was put on probation for five years, subjected to
supervision by a "practice monitor," and fined $75,000 for the cost
of his own prosecution. Instead of accepting the punishment,
Mikuriya, 74, a Berkeley-based psychiatrist, has gone to great
expense to appeal in Superior Court. "It's the principle of the
thing," he says without irony.
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This week a House subcommittee held hearings on a bill, the Second
Chance Act, which is meant to deal with the problems that prisoners
encounter on their reentry into society and also with their need for
substance abuse treatment.
The concern over prisoners and recidivism is justified. Though
national crime rates declined steadily over the past decade, the
Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that the percentage of released
prisoners re-arrested within three years increased from 62.5 percent
in 1983 to 67.5 percent in 1994. And given that offenders are
arrested for only a fraction of the crimes they commit, even this
depressing statistic is an underestimate. Few would dispute that the
correctional system must be changed. But how?
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23-Year-Old Turns Tables on Drug War With Denver Victory
It's not even noon and Mason Tvert already has hit seven television
and five radio news shows in his post-election victory lap as the
architect behind an effort to make Denver the first U.S. city to
legalize adult marijuana possession.
Tvert has drawn international coverage by turning the tables on the
He calls marijuana the "safer alternative" for society and criticizes
the "hypocrisy" of elected officials who condemn pot while condoning
alcohol use, despite studies showing that alcohol fuels deadly
violence, car wrecks and abuse.
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WASHINGTON -- The FBI, famous for its straight-laced crime-fighting
image, is considering whether to relax its hiring rules over how
often applicants could have used marijuana or other illegal drugs
earlier in life.
Some senior FBI managers have been deeply frustrated that they could
not hire applicants who acknowledged occasional marijuana use in
college, but in some cases already perform top-secret work at other
government agencies, such as the CIA or State Department.
FBI Director Robert Mueller will make the final decision. "We can't
say when or if this is going to happen, but we are exploring the
possibility," spokesman Stephen Kodak said
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CRC Health Group, the country's largest provider of drug treatment
services, has doubled the size of its Silicon Valley headquarters, as
concern about methamphetamine-fueled crime continues to rise.
CRC inaugurated its new offices in Cupertino on Monday. The privately held
company has 87 facilities in 21 states, and treats approximately 22,000
people a day.
Kathryn Jett, the director of the California Department of Alcohol and Drug
Programs, said people need to understand that methamphetamine addictions
are treatable. "We know we are not going to arrest our way out of the
methamphetamine problem," she said.
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Jamaica's deep social and economic crisis due to crime, violence and
natural disasters urgently requires us to "put our noses to the grindstone,
and shoulders to the wheel" to extricate our beloved country from the iron
grip of adversity. There is, however, a huge waste of intellectual energy
that should be engaged in the national recovery effort, particularly in the
field of education, instead of promoting the low-level priority issue of
In recent forums and publications, it was asserted that "the people" want
ganja to be decriminalised. This oft-repeated statement is misleading, as
it flies in the face of the two national polls whose data stand until new
polls are conducted. The Gleaner Don Anderson Poll of August 14 - 28, 2001
reported 53.3 per cent against legalisation; also the Observer Stone Poll
of August 26 - 27, 2001 reported a majority of 48.3 per cent against
legalisation that includes decriminalisation.
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Washington -- Methamphetamine has made its way into Virginia. The
illicit drug, which is easily and cheaply produced by consumer
products, has spread quickly and created a national crisis. In a
survey by the National Associa-tion of Counties released this month,
58 percent of the 500 law-enforcement agencies sur-veyed in 45 states
cited meth as their greatest drug problem, easily sur-passing all other drugs.
According to the highly respected National Survey on Drug Use and
Health, in 2003 meth lured 12.3 million Americans aged 12 and older
to try it. As former U.S. Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey has said,
"Methamphetamine is one of the worst drug menaces ever to threaten
America, associated with paranoia, stroke, heart attack, and
permanent brain damage, leaving a trail of crime and death."
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Yes, I think we should legalize marijuana--and maybe all
But the big news is that some prominent conservative Republicans agree
What is it about marijuana that makes politicians hallucinate? The
faintest whiff of "the weed of madness" (as government propaganda used
to call it) causes them to see distorted images of things that aren't
there and never were: law and order, justice, reelection. But they
don't see the obvious.
The war on drugs was lost years ago, and pretending otherwise only
makes the problem worse.
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Both during and since the recent meeting of President Bush and Afghani
President Hamid Karzai, the administration has danced around the
critical issue of Afghanistan's growing drug crisis and its impact on
the terror threat. The late April arrest of Hajji Bashir Noorzai, whom
the Drug Enforcement Administration called the ''Pablo Escobar of
heroin trafficking in Asia'' for providing heroin money financing
Osama bin Laden, proved once again the connection between Afghan drugs
and terrorism. Noorzai even used al Qaeda operatives to transport the
heroin out of Afghanistan.
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People in pain are hurting--but the drug company that makes a pot pill
Medical marijuana ruined Eddie and Dianna Davis' lives. Several years
ago, a spat with an ex led Oconee County authorities to get a warrant
to search their Walhalla, S.C., home. The next thing they knew, the
South Carolina Department of Social Services had sundered the family,
taking their four children into custody. Diana and Eddie's crime?
Possession of 7 grams (less than a third of an ounce) of marijuana. I
met them at the Anti-Marijuana Prohibition Rally last month,
co-presented by two groups, the N.C. Cannabis Association and For Safe
Access Now. She and Eddie, he in his wheelchair, reposed under the
graceful oaks shimmering in the sun at Union Square in the shadow of
the stately Greek Revival capitol building--the physical manifestation
of the concept of the law: wisdom tempered with mercy.
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The headline over a recent National Journal article about U.S. drug czar
John Walters seems fairly mundane: "Drug Czar Plays Defense" ( see
But the subtitle generates more interest. "If you can name the current
drug czar, you are probably mad at him."
Sounds accurate, at least in my personal situation. But I'm opposed to the
whole concept of a federal drug czar, and I find the tactics of Walters
little more despicable than his predecessors. In the National Journal,
however, other drug warriors just as conniving and dishonest as Walters
describe an unlikable bureaucrat, both imperious and isolated.
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If You Can Name the Current Drug Czar, You Are Probably Mad at Him.
Republican and Democratic members of Congress, law enforcement officials
around the country, academics who study drug policy, even former and
current staff members are raising complaints about the performance of the
White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Under the leadership of
John Walters, the office is accused of retreating from its mission,
abandoning key programs without consulting with Congress, and losing (or
forcing out) key staff members with years of experience.
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Data From the Author's Practice Show That Many Californians Use
Cannabis to Treat Emotional Conditions. Government Studies Obscure
This Reality and Some Reformers Seem Reluctant to Acknowledge It.
In response to TV news footage of able-bodied young men buying
cannabis in Oakland, city officials voted in 2004 to limit the number
of dispensaries. The politicians were exploiting (and re-enforcing) a
misconception that California's medical marijuana law applies only to
those with serious physical illnesses.
Many of my own patients are seemingly able-bodied young men. Their
histories reveal problems that are indeed serious (impaired
functionality at school and/or work, use of addictive drugs) and that
are treated effectively with cannabis.
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MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Retired U.S. Gen. Barry McCaffrey, drug czar under
former President Bill Clinton, said Wednesday the war against drugs is a
bigger problem than the war against terror.
Speaking at a news conference in Mexico City, McCaffrey said 52,000 people
die from drugs each year compared to the 12,000 U.S. troops that have been
killed or wounded in Iraq since the war started.
Better cooperation between Mexico and the United States has helped win
small battles in the fight against drugs, McCaffrey said, adding that the
countries now share evidence and have common laws for money laundering,
polygraph testing and wire tapping.
[continues 252 words]
Conservative commentator Armstrong Williams abused public trust by turning
his television show into a clandestine paid advertisement for the
administration's No Child Left Behind initiative.
It's another embarrassing moment for journalists, but the Department of
Education shouldn't escape its share of the shame for complicity in this
latest erosion of public trust.
Mr. Williams' arrangement with the department required him to produce radio
and television spots with Education Secretary Rod Paige. Mr. Williams also
was expected to lobby black journalists to support No Child Left Behind.
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The Bush administration faces a closer look at how it tries to influence
public opinion as it readies campaigns to overhaul Social Security and the
tax code, following reports that the Education Department paid a
conservative columnist to promote its policies.
Armstrong Williams, a prominent commentator and frequent guest on
television news shows, lost his syndicated column after disclosures that he
was paid $240,000 by the Education Department to promote the "No Child Left
Behind" law to other black journalists. In an appearance on CNN's
"Crossfire" Saturday, Mr. Williams said, "I used bad judgment," and
apologized to his audience. "It's the first time we've done business with
the government, but I just would not do it again."
[continues 517 words]
A Nation Addicted To Profits From Cocaine
With new federal statistics showing that one of every six teens still
abuses illegal drugs on at least a monthly basis, perhaps we need an
additional approach to end this decades-long crisis. While President Bush
and Colombia's President Alvaro Uribe praised progress and expressed a
commitment to continue to fight narco-terrorism, they did not provide
additional resources to combat the poverty that fuels the drug trade and
violence in the first place in the No. 1 drug supplier to America.
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The three-year, 17 percent drop in teen drug use is not the only good news
about illegal drugs.
According to the annual CIA assessment, last year there was a 23
percent drop in coca production in Colombia, and an 18 percent drop in
coca production in the entire Andean Ridge region. The result is the
lowest level of cocaine production since 1986.
Both the drop in teen drug use and cocaine production in Colombia and
the rest of the Andean Ridge Region are the legacy of former "drug czar"
[continues 160 words]