Drug warriors such as Andrea Barthwell and David Murray have argued strenuously that cannabinoid-based pharmaceuticals such as Marinol and Sativex are completely different from marijuana. They’ve bristled at Rob Kampia’s claims that Sativex is "liquid marijuana" and they’ve long used the availability of Marinol as an excuse to arrest patients who prefer cultivated marijuana instead.
Whether extracted or synthesized, THC-based medicines don’t include anything not present in the plant itself, so it’s ludicrous to argue that one can be medicinal and the other can’t. Yet they’ve done exactly that. Afterall, if this stuff is medicine, it sure as hell isn’t marijuana.
Thus I was rather surprised to come across this Google ad:
The link goes directly to the official Marinol website, sponsored by Solvay Pharmaceuticals. So while Barthwell is saying the stuff ain’t pot, Solvay is marketing their product as "legal marijuana."
Moreover, since Google ads are designed to offer products relevant to the web page on which they appear, Solvay’s ads target anyone interested in marijuana. Structured as such, this ad campaign will reach many recreational users and encourage them to become patients. I’m not saying that’s what they’re trying to do, but it's unusual to see a pharmaceutical company boasting that its product is legal.
Let’s assume Solvay is merely trying to inform the public that one needn’t break the law in order to enjoy the widely recognized medical benefits of marijuana. It’s perfectly understandable, and very smart from a marketing perspective. Afterall, if I had to choose between nausea medications, I’d pick the one that lists "exaggerated happiness" as a possible side effect.
The fun part is that by calling Marinol "legal marijuana", Solvay is basically mocking the very people who helped them get Schedule III approval in the first place. And they’ve got absolutely nothing to lose. Aggressively marketing Marinol at this time makes sense with Sativex on the horizon.
Ultimately, the drug warriors’ goal of distinguishing cannabinoid-based pharmaceuticals from the plant itself could prove a lost cause. Marijuana is popular among patients and a large segment of the general population. Claiming that these pharmaceuticals are totally different from marijuana may suit hardcore drug warriors trying to save face, but it’s not smart if you’re trying to win over patients who like marijuana or prospective patients who’ve heard good things about it. You’re better off saying your product is similar but legal and more potent.
So if Solvay Pharmaceuticals refers to its medicine as marijuana, and patients refer to their marijuana as medicine, it seems everyone’s on the same page except Barthwell and Murray.
Tensions over Amendment 44 in Colorado have reached a fever pitch as self-appointed marijuana experts continue to emerge with absurb predictions.
A rally at the state Capitol on Friday morning turned into a shouting match between the groups for and against a proposed amendment that would legalize small amounts of marijuana in Colorado.
Gov. Bill Owens and the state's top law enforcement officers planned a press event on the west steps of the Capitol to urge voters to turn down Amendment 44, which would legalize adult possession of one ounce of marijuana.
Supporters of pot legalization tried to shout them down.
If Governor Owens is gonna say stuff like this, I can’t say I blame them:
"In addition to human costs, legalizing marijuana is sure to have an economic impact on every Colorado citizen. These costs include increased costs for substance abuse treatment and other social programs as well as lost revenue due to decreased worker productivity.”
Once again, legalizing marijuana won’t increase treatment costs. It will reduce them dramatically. Most people in marijuana treatment are enrolled against their will following an arrest, which won’t happen anymore if Amendment 44 passes.
As for decreased worker productivity, show me some data and we’ll talk. If the government had the guts to actually study this, they’d find that marijuana users who haven’t been hung out to dry by the criminal justice system are just as productive and successful as non-users; probably far more so than heavy drinkers. The data would then be buried and brought up only by us.
Next they gave the microphone to Park County Sheriff Fred Wegener:
Wegener, who is the president of the County Sheriffs of Colorado, said, "We are also concerned that legalizing marijuana will cause a spike in impaired driving fatalities and injuries caused by more motorists driving impaired on marijuana. The reality also exists that it is more difficult for law enforcement to detect impairment caused by marijuana and other drugs as compared to alcohol."
Clearly something’s got to be done about these mischievous stoners who are too sober to fail a sobriety test.
This is getting ridiculous. Is it so crazy that we want to try something different? We’re asking to step back from a policy that’s done nothing but piss people off for 70 years and these guys start giving prophesies of a great plague. What do they know?
If you're a parent, you might want to brush up on your drug slang to stay alert to possible drug use by your children, suggest addiction experts at the Menninger Clinic in Houston.
Slang terms for drugs constantly change and evolve, the researchers said. For example, while marijuana is still called weed or pot by some, it's also referred to by newer terms such as chronic or schwagg.
Are they serious? Dr. Dre’s marijuana-themed album "The Chronic" came out in 1992. And "schwag" of course is a derogatory term for really bad marijuana that’s been in use forever as far as I know.
2. The painkiller Oxycontin is also called: a) oxies; b) cotton.
They say only (b) is a correct answer. So if your child asks to borrow money so he can get some "oxies" go ahead and help out.
6. Combining the prescription drug Viagra with Ecstasy is called: a) 24-7 heaven; b) sextasy.
Answer: (b) Parents who’ve let their daughter go to "sextacy" parties will be shocked to learn the truth. But no, I don’t think we have to worry about Congress banning Viagra anytime soon.
8. Working Man's Cocaine is: a) crack cocaine; b) methamphetamine.
Answer: (b). Meth users have jobs? I heard all they did was rob gas stations and pluck out their eyebrows.
10. "Juice" is the slang term for: a) steroids; b) PCP.
Answer: both. So if you overhear your kid using the word "juice" they're either on steroids or PCP. The hard part is figuring out which.
This is the sort of useless information one can expect from "addiction experts" who regularly turn out to know less about drugs than everybody else.
They said marijuana makes you sterile, but today I learned that it can increase fertility.
From Medical News Today:
This study involved eight volunteers - they were all heavy [tobacco] smokers. Four of them had normal sperm function, while the other four had reduced sperm function. Some of their sperm was washed in a regular medium and some was washed in a low-concentration cannabinoid solution.
They found that the sperm of the smokers who had reduced sperm function improved significantly after being washed in the low-concentration cannabinoid solution, while the sperm of the smokers with normal function did not.
Every time they study it, marijuana accomplishes something new and amazing. That’s probably where they got the idea to wash sperm with it. Right now I bet scientists are putting cannabinoid solution on all sorts of things to see what happens.
But the question remains: if you wash your sperm in cannabinoids will your baby be born a hippy?
President Bush never tires of spending our tax dollars losing not winning various wars. Now he wants to give Colombia another $600 million International Herald Tribune reports.
Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns calls it a strategy adjustment:
"In any counterterrorism or counter-narcotics campaign you sometimes have to adjust strategy to be effective as conditions change," Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns told reporters in Bogota, announcing the White House was seeking to maintain current levels of support for its caretaker in the war on drugs through 2008. "We'll be open to any suggestions the Colombian government makes."
I think what he meant to say was that we refuse to adjust our strategy and we’re not open to suggestions. And what does he mean "as conditions change"? Nothing's changed since Plan Colombia began eight years ago . That’s the problem.
Meanwhile the police we trained with the last $600 million are getting killed systematically. Sound familiar?
Shaq was cleared of any wrong-doing after being accused of excessive force by a drug suspect. Bear in mind of course that getting cleared of misconduct following a SWAT raid is incredibly easy. So one lucky suspect may very well have gotten his ass kicked by Shaq. That’s awesome, but it could also be a sign of terrible things to come.
The madness of it all left Radley Balko "speechless". Had it not, he would likely point out that this is yet another unintended admission by police that they actually feel quite safe during these raids. After all, if executing a warrant is so dangerous, why would you bring along a man whose body is worth millions? Seriously. He’s easier to shoot than just about anybody.
So Canada spends tax dollars to provide medical marijuana to sick people, while here in America, we spend tax dollars trying to prevent sick people from getting medical marijuana.
If that doesn’t boggle your mind, consider that Canada provides marijuana even though Sativex is already available up there. Meanwhile our drug warriors want sick people here to wait indefinitely while the FDA figures out how to approve Sativex without admitting that marijuana plants are literally soaked in medicine.
And while Canadian patients are choosing between spliffs and sublingual sprays, Americans patients are choosing between suffering and breaking the law.
Even drug-fearing Americans generally agree that this doesn’t make much sense. But if our drug warriors are correct that marijuana can’t heal the sick without hurting kids, then we’ll be thanking them next year when all Canadian children become crack-addicted sex-workers.
This year beheadings are popular. I wonder what people would say if things like this were happening on American soil:
In the most horrendous instance, drug lord gangs busted into a nightclub, toting rifles, and rolled five heads across the dance floor, terrifying onlookers.
People were surprised, but I’m sure everyone knew what it was all about. This kind of thing has been commonplace ever since the drug war began.
Various anti-immigration bloggers are now citing these incidents as evidence that our borders must be secured, for fear that Mexicans will come to America and start cutting peoples’ heads off.
It’s a bit silly, because the worst drug traffickers have no reason to leave Mexico. They’ve got the run of the place. The people crossing the border are poor folks who come here for economic opportunities, less-overt corruption, and white picket fences that don’t have severed heads impaled on them.
If you’re concerned about immigration, note that our drug war incentivizes traffickers to dig tunnels and cut holes in the fence.
If you don’t want your tax-dollars spent educating foreigners, note that you’re footing the bill to train counter-narcotics police in Colombia that just get massacred ten at a time.
And if you’re troubled by all the beheadings near our border, note that our current policy ensures their continuation for the remainder of human history.
Stopping the drug war is our only chance to defund drug terrorists and bring a close to this global catastrophe.
"It's a step backwards in South Dakota and a step backwards nationally," said Burns. "Do not fall for the con." "The risk far outweighs the benefits," said Minnehaha County Sheriff Mike Milstead, who opposes the measure. "There's great concern about how easily this marijuana could fall into the wrong hands."Burns went on to argue that marijuana was not a medicine, that legalizing medical marijuana would lead to an increase in teen drug use, and that it's just not a good idea, darn it! The press conference got play in the Sioux Falls Argus-Leader and on the main Sioux Falls TV station, KELOland, but both media outlets made sure to include opposing voices. There hasn't been a lot of other coverage of the initiative, a mere handful of stories. The Argus-Leader editiorialized briefly and feebly—sorry, the link seems to have vanished—against the initiative, with its four-sentence editorial complaining that marijuana didn't come in pill form and that passing the initiative would pose problems for police. Both reasons given are lame. Yes, raw marijuana is plant material. It is not processed, standardized, subject to FDA scrutiny (for what that's worth). But that certainly does not stop patients from rapidly learning to titrate their dosage and to figure out which strains work for them. The law enforcement excuse is even sillier. The South Dakota initiative provides for a state registry of patients and caregivers. If a county sheriff believes he may have evidence of a marijuana grow, the only thing he would have to do is pick up the phone and call the Health Department. If the person is not on the registry, let the evidence be gathered and the search warrant be issued. Two weeks until election day. Will South Dakota voters be as compassionate as those in other states? We will soon see.
From The Observer:
The apparent trend is reinforced by British figures which show that the popularity of cannabis in the UK has plummeted, with 600,000 fewer people smoking or eating marijuana than three years ago.
It’s tempting to argue that reduced penalties have led to reduced consumption, but I wouldn’t go that far. The truth, as experts such as Peter Cohen have been saying for quite some time, is that drug policy just doesn’t have much effect on usage rates.
My guess is that a reduction in marijuana use in England would have happened with or without the change in policy. Of course, that being the case, it makes a lot more sense not to arrest people.
The real lesson here is that easing up on marijuana users doesn’t cause a spike in usage. It just doesn’t. This simple and increasingly obvious fact simultaneously refutes every argument against legalization.
So it’s no wonder our drug warriors are vigorously opposing any attempt to experiment with reduced marijuana penalties. If they actually believed that legalization in Colorado or Nevada would be a disaster, their best move would be to step aside and let us learn our lesson.
Like some drug déjà vu, cocaine use is once again on the rise among students and the rich and famous, a trend University of Florida researchers say likely signals a recurring epidemic of abuse.
"Our data is closest to real time to any data available in the United States," [Dr. Mark] Gold said. "With death reports, there is no fudge factor. The other states will show the same thing: That we are in the early stages of a new cocaine epidemic that is being led by the rich and famous and students with large amounts of disposable income and that is responsible for more emergency room visits and more cocaine-related deaths than we have seen at any time since the last cocaine epidemic."
Oh man, that sounds bad. But Congress will probably think of something. Maybe we’re not being tough enough on cocaine dealers.
And we should warn kids about the dangers of marijuana, which could be causing the cocaine abuse.
The Chicago Crime Commission will hold its Stars of Distinction, 2006 Awards Dinner to recognize outstanding individual and organizational contributions in fighting crime. DEA Administrator Karen P. Tandy will accept the Education Award along with Museum for Science and Industry partners responsible for bringing “Target America: Opening Eyes to the Danger Drugs Cause” to Chicago.
The Chicago Crime Commission, whose motto is "combating crime since 1919" ought to know a thing or two about prohibition. It’s Chicago for crying out loud. That they would give an award to the head of the DEA for putting together an exhibit blaming drug users for 9/11 demonstrates a dramatic misunderstanding of every issue the commission works on.
What kind of non-profit gives awards to Washington bureaucrats for excellence in the field of smarmy government propaganda?
The whole thing reeks of string pulling. I’m convinced that this epic travesty is a convenient PR move in response to Pete Guither’s terrific campaign against the exhibit.
So I wasn't surprised to discover that Peter Bensinger, former head of DEA, is on the Chicago Crime Commission’s board of directors.
Coincidence? Hell no.
Afterthought: It’s super annoying that this ridiculous exhibit is now an award-winning ridiculous exhibit. But the Bensinger connection proves this is political, which in turn proves that Pete Guither’s efforts genuinely rattled these guys. Nice job, Pete!
One undercover officer was held at gunpoint while attempting to buy $500 worth of cocaine during the operation, dubbed "Heat Wave" for the high temperatures recorded when the operation was started in July. "I was very scared," said the officer, who had previously arranged to buy 10 "jabs" of crack cocaine. The dealers knew he would have several hundred dollars on him, said the officer.Police then stepped in to make the arrests. The market -- reportedly operated by a gang known as "The Conservative Vice Lords" -- operated near a pre-K-8 school, Keller reported. Sgt. Carlos Mostek told her, "Had any gunfire erupted, the children who were attending school would have been in harm's way." That's a valid concern. I hope the bust was not done during school hours or anywhere near school hours, because gunfire could certainly have broken out as part of that. I also hope the undercover officer attempted his buy during non-school hours -- his activity also nearly prompted gunfire. This is a losing situation from beginning to end. Because of prohibition we have this open air markets, staffed by gang members who are willing to shoot at each other -- risking the lives of bystanders in the process -- in order to protect their turf or to capture turf from others and thereby increase their market share. A police raid, while shutting the market down, in the process increased the overall danger in the vicinity, at least for as long as the sting and bust were in process. Will the corner calm down? Perhaps, but the activity may restart even there, and if not it will certainly move to somewhere else. Sometimes these busts lead to more internecine violence as rival operators fight each other for the opportunity to be the new guys on the block. Sometimes the instability even draws in new drugs to the neighborhood that weren't common there before. Legalization, not raids and arrests, is what will clean the mess of the illegal drug trade off the streets. Click here to send a letter to the editor. Note: According to gangresearch.net, the Conservative Vice Lords started as a gang but transformed themselves into a community empowerment organization. I don't know enough about this topic to offer an evaluation; I just got the name of the reported gang from the article. If anyone is able to clarify this issue, please post your knowledge here for us. Thanks in advance.
More and more often, it seems, drugs that were widely thought to be effective against serious illnesses turn out to show little or no value when tested in large, impartial clinical trials insulated from drug company influence.Desperate need for effective new treatment, huh? Look no further. In fact, marijuana may eliminate the need for Alzheimer’s treatments altogether, since it seems to actually prevent the onset of the disease.
These discouraging results speak mostly to the desperate need for effective new treatments for Alzheimer’s.
I have enough experience with Alzheimer’s to know that families confronted with it will usually try anything. It’s ironic to think that the family values fanatics who arbitrarily oppose medical marijuana may soon find themselves shoving a bong in grandma’s mouth.
“The whole process of these marijuana plantations brutalizes the landscape,” said David Graber, Pacific West regional science chief for the National Park Service. The outdoor growing season for marijuana is coming to a close for the year, but some scars left by clandestine pot farms will take months to heal. Anti-drug agencies must deal with tons of trash, human waste, erosion and other forms of soil disturbance, loss of vegetation and chemical pollution that kills marine life. The illegal plots also increase poaching of wildlife, raise the threat of wildfires started accidentally at campsites and put outdoor enthusiasts in harm's way. For instance, the U.S. Forest Service recently warned deer hunters to avoid two areas in Mendocino and Glenn counties until authorities could evict the marijuana growers. Marijuana production on public lands in the United States has risen as the nation moves to further secure its borders and slow the movement of marijuana from Mexico. Mexican organized crime is behind the surge in such illegal plantings, according to law enforcement agencies. Growers favor public property partly because if their plants are discovered, they can flee without leaving behind traceable evidence. But there are other reasons for the popularity of forests and parks. “The nation's public lands have become a haven for this illegal activity due to the relatively few law enforcement personnel and the vast and often remote tracks of sparsely or uninhabited lands,” said the U.S. Forest Service's 2005 marijuana report.Lee talked to only National Forest and law enforcement sources, and even included a quote from drug czar John Walters, but failed to note the fundamental fact that is driving marijuana growers into the national forests: Marijuana prohibition. So I wrote him a letter:
Dear Mr. Lee: Interesting report on the damage done by illegal pot farming, although I’ve seen numerous variations of it before. But like most similar reports, your story begs a rather large question: Why are people growing pot in the forests in the first place? You alluded to increased border enforcement and a law enforcement learning curve, but again, that’s begging the question. Could it be because marijuana is ILLEGAL? Asking that questions sort of shifts one’s whole perspective: From the point of view of people who do not support marijuana prohibition—like me and nearly half of Californians, according to national polls—the environmental damage you describe is yet another unfortunate, unintended consequence of marijuana prohibition. When you write this story next year, I would respectfully suggest you include that perspective. I would be happy to provide you with contact information for California-based marijuana reform activists who are very informed and articulate on this issue. Thanks for your time. Phillip Smith Drug War Chronicle www.stopthedrugwar.orgTo which Lee replied:
Phil... thanks for your comments... i'd suggest you consider writing a letter to the editor. Regards, mleeNow, did I sway Mr. Lee? He gave no direct indication of that in his brief reply, but at least I was able to put the whole marijuana prohibition issue before him. He has been informed that at least one reader thinks he is missing part of the story. I guess we'll have to wait until next year, when he writes next year's version of this annual story. But in the meantime, the ants are working.
Canadian troops fighting Taliban militants in Afghanistan have stumbled across an unexpected and potent enemy -- almost impenetrable forests of marijuana plants 10 feet tall.
General Rick Hillier, chief of the Canadian defense staff, said Thursday that Taliban fighters were using the forests as cover.
Awesome! But it gets better:
"We tried burning them with white phosphorous -- it didn't work. We tried burning them with diesel -- it didn't work. The plants are so full of water right now ... that we simply couldn't burn them," he said.
Even successful incineration had its drawbacks.
"A couple of brown plants on the edges of some of those [forests] did catch on fire. But a section of soldiers that was downwind from that had some ill effects and decided that was probably not the right course of action," Hillier said dryly.
This sounds like a job for my college buddies. If the problem persists, I’d be willing to assemble a tactical unit with experience disposing of surplus cannabis.
Colorado ’s initiative would allow adults to legally possess up to an ounce of marijuana. That might not seem like much, but, in reality it makes between 30 and 60 joints.
Whatever. An ounce is the same amount regardless of how many joints you intend to roll, and it’s not that much. If you’re rolling 60 joints out of an ounce, try smoking two or three of them. But watch out; large joints are two to three times more dangerous than small ones.
US Drug Czar John Walters says legalization will inundate our drug treatment centers.
No, it won’t. Most marijuana users who enter treatment programs are forced to do so by the criminal justice system. Ending misdemeanor marijuana arrests will dramatically reduce the number of people entering treatment for marijuana. And to the extent that fear of arrest is a primary motivation for some who decide to quit, legalization could reduce voluntary admissions as well.
On the other hand, as my colleague Tom Angell pointed out in conversation, legalized marijuana will carry less stigma and could lead to more voluntary admissions from people who are finally comfortable admitting they’re having problems. If Tom is correct, we’ll end up with more people in treatment for marijuana who want and need it, and less people forced into treatment based on arbitrary criteria such as an arrest. Sounds good to me.
It’s an interesting discussion, but one that John Walters can’t participate in because he’s busy misinterpreting various data:
“We have more teens in treatment nationwide for marijuana dependency and abuse as teens than for all other illegal drugs combined. We have more teens seeking treatment for marijuana dependency than for alcoholism.”
This one’s actually true, but it’s his fault. Thanks to prohibition, marijuana sellers don’t have to check ID, making it the easiest drug to get if you’re underage.
I just keep telling myself that this crap can’t go on forever. Whether we win in Nevada or Colorado next month, or somewhere else down the road, the war on marijuana is an ugly swelling pimple that’s almost ready to pop. Get it over with already. You know you want to.