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Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy National Conference 2012

 

'Progress not Prisons'
Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy
National Conference 2012

Calgary, Alberta
March 2-4, 2012

THE PLACE TO CONNECT
for Young People, Activists, Researchers, Service Providers
and Others Looking to Change Drug Policies in Canada and Around the World

************************

To find out more -Click here ...

Youth and students interested in presenting can be a part of the conference -Click here ...

Travel scholarships available for youth and students -Click here ...

'an exciting weekend full of informative presentations, engaging workshops, and more'

Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy

Date: 
Fri, 03/02/2012 - 9:00am - Sun, 03/04/2012 - 7:00pm
Location: 
Calgary, AB
Canada

Patient Advocates File Appeal Brief in Federal Case to Reclassify Medical Marijuana

 

PRESS RELEASE
Americans for Safe Access
For Immediate Release:
January 26, 2012
Contact: ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford or ASA Media Liaison Kris Hermes

Patient Advocates File Appeal Brief in Federal Case to Reclassify Medical Marijuana
Lawsuit in the D.C. Circuit challenges DEA denial to reschedule marijuana for medical use

Washington, DC -- The country's leading medical marijuana advocacy group, Americans for Safe Access (ASA), filed an appeal brief today in the D.C. Circuit to compel the federal government to reclassify marijuana for medical use. In July 2011, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) denied a petition filed in 2002 by the Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis (CRC), which was denied only after the coalition sued the government for unreasonable delay. The ASA brief filed today is an appeal of the CRC rescheduling denial.

"By ignoring the wealth of scientific evidence that clearly shows the therapeutic value of marijuana, the Obama Administration is playing politics at the expense of sick and dying Americans," said ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford, who filed the appeal today. "For the first time in more than 15 years we will be able to present evidence in court to challenge the government's flawed position on medical marijuana." Although two other rescheduling petitions have been filed since the establishment of the Controlled Substances Act in 1970, the merits of medical efficacy was reviewed only once by the courts in 1994.

The ASA appeal brief asserts that the federal government acted arbitrarily and capriciously in its efforts to deny marijuana to millions of patients throughout the United States. ASA argues in the brief that the DEA has no "license to apply different criteria to marijuana than to other drugs, ignore critical scientific data, misrepresent social science research, or rely upon unsubstantiated assumptions, as the DEA has done in this case." ASA is urging the court to "require the DEA to analyze the scientific data evenhandedly," and order "a hearing and findings based on the scientific record."

Patient advocates argue that by failing to reclassify marijuana, the federal government has stifled meaningful research into a wide array of therapeutic uses, such as pain relief, appetite stimulation, nausea suppression, and spasticity control among many other benefits. In 1988, the government ignored the ruling of its own Administrative Law Judge Francis Young who said that, "Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man."

Since the CRC petition was filed in 2002, an even greater number of studies have been published that show the medical benefits of marijuana for illnesses such as neuropathic pain, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer's. Recent studies even show that marijuana may inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Last year, the National Cancer Institute, a division of the federal Department of Health and Human Services, added cannabis to its list of Complementary Alternative Medicines, pointing out that it's been therapeutically used for millennia. The ASA appeal asserts that scientific evidence that  was studied or discovered after 2002 is still relevant and must be considered.

Attorneys David Holland and Michael Kennedy filed the original petition in 2002 on behalf the Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis, which included several individual patients and groups, such as ASA and Patients Out of Time.

AFI: Several patient-petitioners are available for interviews:

William Britt
Mr. Britt is a 52-year-old resident of Long Beach, California, who developed polio as a child, which caused him to have scoliosis, a fused left ankle, shortened left leg, and bone degeneration in his left hip.  Mr. Britt also suffers from epilepsy, depression and insomnia, and uses marijuana to treat chronic pain in his leg, back, and hip. Marijuana has reduced Mr. Britt's seizures and depression, and helps him sleep. Although Mr. Britt has taken prescription medication such as Marinol, Robaxin, Soma, and Xanax, none has proven as effective as marijuana.

Michael Krawitz
Mr. Krawitz is a 49-year-old resident of Elliston, Virginia, who suffered an automobile accident in 1984 while serving in the United States Air Force.  Mr. Krawitz has been rated by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as being totally and permanently disabled. Mr. Krawitz uses marijuana to treat chronic pain and trauma associated with his accident.  He also use marijuana to treat central serous retinopathy. However, because of Mr. Krawitz's medical marijuana use, he has been denied pain treatment by the VA.

Steph Sherer
Ms. Sherer is a resident of Washington, D.C. and the founder and Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access (ASA). In April of 2000, Ms. Sherer suffered a physical attack that has caused her to suffer from a condition known as torticollis, which causes her to experience inflammation, muscle spasms, pain throughout her body, and decreased mobility in her neck. Because of pain medication she was prescribed, including Soma, Robaxin and Ibuprofin, Ms. Sherer suffered kidney damage. After her doctor recommended medical marijuana, Ms. Sherer successfully reduced her inflammation, muscle spasms, and pain. This prompted Ms. Sherer to found ASA in April of 2002 to share what she learned about the medical benefits of marijuana with others. Since then, ASA has grown to more than thirty-five thousand members, including many seriously ill persons who would have benefited from the use of marijuana for medical purposes, but who were deterred from doing so, in part, by the government's statements that marijuana “has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.”

Further information:
ASA appeal brief filed today: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/CRC_Appeal.pdf
DEA answer to CRC petition: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/CRC_Petition_DEA_Answer.pdf
CRC rescheduling petition: http://www.drugscience.org/PDF/Petition_Final_2002.pdf

# # #

With over 50,000 active members in all 50 states, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is the largest national member-based organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research. ASA works to overcome political and legal barriers by creating policies that improve access to medical cannabis for patients and researchers through legislation, education, litigation, grassroots actions, advocacy and services for patients and the caregivers.

Envisioning America without the War on Drugs

Envisioning America without the War on Drugs-a talk with Ethan Nadelmann

More than 1 billion dollars has been spent on America’s “War on Drugs” since its inception on June 17th 1971.   What would our policies look like if the war on drugs ended tomorrow?  What sorts of opportunities would there be for increased treatment, drug education and harm reduction activities?  In a time of increasingly scarce resources, what could the U.S. do with the money that is now spent on the “War on Drugs?”  How much money do we currently spend on pursuing these often devastatingly harmful policies under the pursuit of the drug war?

This talk is provided for free by Roosevelt University’s Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy and Students for Sensible Drug Policy (Roosevelt University chapter).

Ethan Nadelmann is the founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, the leading organization in the United States advocating for drug policies grounded in science, compassion, health, and human rights. Nadelmann was born in New York City, received his BA, JD, and PhD from Harvard, as well as a M.Sc. in International Relations from the London School of Economics, and then taught politics and public affairs at Princeton University from 1987 to 1994.  He has authored two books on international criminal law enforcement - Cops Across Borders and (with Peter Andreas) Policing the Globe – as well as many dozens of articles on drug policy in publications such as Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Science, International Organization, National Review and The Nation. Described by Rolling Stone as “the point man” for drug policy reform efforts, Ethan Nadelmann is widely regarded as the outstanding proponent of drug policy reform both in the United States and abroad.

When:  February 7th, 2012

Time: 4:30 to 6pm

Where: Roosevelt University, Congress Lounge, 2nd Floor

Cost: Free

RSVP: kkane@roosevelt.edu

Date: 
Tue, 02/07/2012 - 4:30pm - 6:00pm
Location: 
430 S. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60605
United States

Marijuana Legalization Question Takes First Place Again in Obama YouTube Forum

This video question about marijuana legalization from Stephen Downing, former Deputy Police Chief in Los Angeles and member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, finished first place today in voting for the White House's "Your Interview with the President" contest on YouTube:

 

 
Marijuana policy has consistently topped the charts in these online votes, and it's not the first time a YouTube or change.gov question on legalization has reached the president's desk. Last year Pres. Obama responded by calling the issue "an entirely legitimate topic for debate." What will Obama do with the question this time?

What's So Funny About the War on Drugs?

For all the progress that's been made towards bringing the drug policy debate into the political mainstream, there remains a tragic tendency among many in the press to burst out laughing at the idea of fixing our disastrous drug laws. The latest embarrassing example comes courtesy of Al Kamen in The Washington Post:

Yes, we know that jobs and the economy are the marquee issues for this campaign. Even major topics such as war and education are getting short shrift among the wannabe nominees.

But those reefer-mad kids over at Students for Sensible Drug Policy are trying to, uh, smoke the candidates out on their favorite subject.
...

Pass the chips, dude. This is some entertaining TV. 

Pass the chips? Wow. I can't speak for Al Kamen, but there's nothing about the War on Drugs that makes me hungry for junk food. Eric Sterling didn't like Kamen's tone very much either and responded with a deservedly harsh letter to the editor:

Regarding Al Kamen’s Jan. 18 column “ ‘Reefer Madness’ for the YouTube Generation”:

This article is consistent with my hypothesis that the rules of professional conduct of journalists or some style manual require that articles about drug policy include a joke about chips, brownies or junk food. Can reporters and editors be so humor-deprived that they always have to joke about laws and policies that every year put hundreds of thousands of cannabis users in handcuffs, give them a criminal record and cost hundreds of millions of dollars on pointless police overtime. Ha, ha, ha, “pass the chips”; I’m dying with laughter.

Kamen's childishness is meant to be cute, I assume, but it plainly belittles a gutsy effort by a concerned group of young Americans to ask valid questions of candidates on the campaign trail. How odd it is that he calls attention to these young activists bravely confronting prominent politicians, only to turn around and insult them. For what…caring about something?

Is the arrest of close to a million Americans a year for marijuana a strange or entertaining thing to be upset about? For that matter, is our world-record incarceration rate and the spiraling costs that go along with it? Is the escalating violence in Mexico amusing to anyone? If these things aren't funny, then we should be applauding rather than laughing when someone works to ensure that we don't ignore these issues entirely when choosing our next president.

Marijuana Education Day

Saturday, January 28th, 2012
Nashville, Tennessee

Marijuana Education Day
 
Featuring NORML founder
Keith Stroup, Esq.
 
Luncheon Seminar
Medical, Legal and Legislative Updates
10:30 am to 3:00 pm
Sunset Grill, 2001 Belcourt Avenue
$30/person. Cash Bar.
 
Dinner with Keith Stroup
7:00 pm, Sunset Grill
$125/person. Cash Bar.
 
Mail checks payable to TN NORML to:
205 Clearbrook Ct., Nashville, TN 37205-3925
Please respond by 25 January.
For information, email tnnorml@gmail.com or call 615-294-6187.
Date: 
Sat, 01/28/2012 - 10:30am - 9:00pm
Location: 
Nashville, TN
United States

Pain Relief Network's Siobhan Reynolds Killed in Plane Crash

Prominent pain patient advocate and Pain Relief Network founder Siobhan Reynolds, 50, was killed in a plane crash on Christmas Eve day. She was one of three people aboard a small private plane attempting to land at an Ohio airport that afternoon. The plane missed the runway and instead crashed on a parallel road, killing all aboard.

For the last decade, Reynolds had been a fierce advocate for patients suffering chronic pain and the doctors who attempted to treat them with high-dose opioid pain medication protocols. She came to be an advocate through personal tragedy -- her husband, a chronic pain patient, died as the family moved cross-country seeking effective relief for him.

But Reynolds turned her personal tragedy into activism of the highest sort, founding the Pain Relief Network to advocate for an effective response to the under-treatment of pain in this county. She was present for the trial of Northern Virginia pain management pioneer Dr. William Hurwitz, a trial I attended and where we first met. Hurwitz was convicted of being a drug dealer and imprisoned, an injustice that only deepened Reynolds' fire for justice.

She and the Pain Relief Network played a central role in winning freedom for Richard Paey, the wheelchair-bound pain patient sentenced to 25 years in state prison, and that was just one of her many interventions in the DEA's war pain doctors. Where the DEA saw only "pill mills" and Dr. Feelgoods, Reynolds saw the effectiveness with which high-dose opioid theory brought relief to suffering people.

Her feisty and tireless advocacy brought her into direct conflict with the DEA and federal prosecutors, most notably in the case of Kansas pain clinic owner Dr. Steven Scheider, who was charged with over-prescribing pain pills, and his wife, Linda, a nurse who was charged along with him. When Reynolds set up shop in Kansas to publicize the case and the issues and lend support to the Schneiders, Assistant US Attorney Tanya Treadway opened a criminal investigation into Reynolds and the Pain Relief Network, seeking, among other things, all of Reynolds' email, phone records, and other communications with doctors, patients, and attorneys.

As always, Reynolds fought back against the feds, and, in a shameful episode in American jurisprudence, she lost -- and worse. Not only was she forced to comply with Treadway's subpoena, but Treadway and the federal courts conspired to hide the whole sordid episode from public view. The ruling in the case has never been published, nor are the briefs available for scrutiny. Reynolds was even barred from sharing the briefs she submitted with the press.

That ruling was the last straw for the Pain Relief Network, which Reynolds announced was being dissolved a year ago. But not for Reynolds. I spoke with her earlier this year, and she was planning to form another pain advocacy organization. It is our loss that she never got the chance.

Siobhan Reynolds wasn't always easy to work with because she was a true believer in her issue. She was impatient with potential allies who were not willing to go as far as she was, whether they were physicians groups or academics or drug reformers. She wanted the Controlled Substances Act abolished as an abomination, and if you weren't ready to go there, she didn't really want to waste her time with you. But sometimes a movement needs a determined, fiery-eyed idealist. Siobhan Reynolds was that person for the movement against the under-treatment of chronic pain.

McArthur, OH
United States

Pain Patients Lose a Leading Advocate, Siobhan Reynolds, 1961-2011

Siobhan Reynolds (left) at 2004 Congressional briefing, with Dr. Frank Fisher, Ron Libby and Maia Szalavitz (photo courtesy PRN)
My friend and colleague Siobhan Reynolds, founder of the Pain Relief Network (PRN), died in a plane crash this weekend outside Columbus, Ohio. The pilot of the plane, her partner Kp Byers, was also a pain activist, an attorney whose practice had focused since 1992 on defending medical professionals caught in the crosshairs of the drug war. Radley Balko has written an extensive tribute to Siobhan, online here. So does Jacob Sullum at Reason.

As Radley has noted and as many others will doubtless note, Siobhan's work organizing media and legal support for patients, doctors, pharmacists and nurses was a courageous one. An article in the New York Times last year by Adam Liptak shows the degree to which prosecutors and even some judges felt threatened by the scrutiny Siobhan and PRN had drawn to their handling of certain cases, and the lengths to which they were willing to abuse legal process to shut her down. Perhaps the daring of riding in a small plane is a mirror of the daring she showed in her career taking on the government.

PRN did shut down last year, the organization's financial resources and Siobhan's own resources depleted by the struggle. But Siobhan was working on forming a new patient advocacy organization, Radley noted. I hope that others will take up that torch in her name. The under-prescribing of opiates to many patients who need them, and the injustice of lengthy mandatory minimum drug sentences being leveled at doctors and others over prescribing practices that at worst are debatable, is one of the most challenging problems in the drug war to take on. There is far too little help -- medical, advocacy, or otherwise -- for the people most deeply affected. Among those people were her husband, the late Sean Greenwood.

The Pain Relief Network still has an online presence, and its home page provides Siobhan's reasons for the organization's closure and her hopes of what could happen in the future. Our own web site has an archive devoted to the pain under-treatment issue, much of the material in it about Siobhan's work.  Also, Siobhan wrote several articles this year on prohibition and the drug war's impact on the doctor-patient relationship, the articles linked to from her web site.

Last but not least, in the YouTube video posted below, "Being Unable to Help," Siobhan talks about what was impossible to do for her husband in the current medical and legal environment. Share it widely.

 

13th Annual Students for Sensible Drug Policy International Conference

Hi David,

I know you're eager for more details about SSDP's 13th Annual International Conference, and since you've been to one of our previous conferences, I wanted to make sure you got first access to vital information about this once-in-a-lifetime event. 

Early bird registration
Register today to take advantage of significantly discounted early bird registration rates. 

  • $45 - Students
  • $65 - Alumni
  • $95 - Non-students

Fees will increase on January 2, 2012. Included in each registration will be four meals (breakfast and lunch will be provided during both days of the conference), a tote bag, name tag and conference program.


Call for session proposals

SSDP wants this event to be the biggest, best conference yet, so we've decided to open a call or proposals for folks like you to come up with ideas for workshops, panels, talks, meetups, or other programming for us to consider including as part of SSDP2012.

More details and proposal submission form here.

Scholarships

Each year, SSDP establishes a scholarship fund to help make it affordable for our student activists to attend our national conference. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to our SSDP2012 Scholarship Fund today. Last SSDP conference, we were able to award 165 student scholarships and we hope to be able to help even more this year! 

Students can learn more about scholarship opportunities and how to apply here. 

And more...

Check out the ssdp.org/conference for exhibiting opportunities, sponsoring the event, location information, frequently asked questions, and more.  Details and more information will be posted at ssdp.org/conference as well as on our blog, the Dare Generation Diary. You can also find this event on Facebook. Questions should be directed to conference@ssdp.org.

See you in Denver!

Best,

Stacia Cosner

Associate Director

 

WHO

Hundreds of SSDP chapter leaders, members, alumni, and supporters of drug policy reform from all over the world.

WHAT

SSDP2012: The 13th Annual International Students for Sensible Drug Policy Conference

WHERE

Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center
7800 East Tufts Avenue
Denver, CO 80237
Reserve your room using the SSDP discount here.

WHEN

March 24-25, 2012

WHY

To gather hundreds of individuals who know there are alternatives to the failed war on drugs and want to do something about it. The weekend will include expert panels, guest speakers, an awards ceremony, networking events, an alumni reunion, SSDP Congress, and more.

 

 


     

Students for Sensible Drug Policy
1317 F Street NW Suite 501, Washington, DC 20004 - (202)393-5280 - www.ssdp.org

Thanks for your support
You received this email because you are one of more than 100,000 people who support Students for Sensible Drug Policy and subscribe to our e-list. Please help us grow our grassroots movement to end the failed War on Drugs by inviting family and friends to join.

Date: 
Thu, 11/24/2011 - 10:00am - Fri, 11/25/2011 - 4:00pm
Location: 
Denver, CO
United States

Cedars-Sinai Denying Transplant to Medical Marijuana Patient with Inoperable Liver Cancer

PRESS RELEASE

Americans for Safe Access
For Immediate Release:
November 17, 2011
Contact: ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford or ASA Media Liaison Kris Hermes

Cedars-Sinai Denying Transplant to Medical Marijuana Patient with Inoperable Liver Cancer
Patient advocacy group calls on preeminent health center to change harmful transplant policy

Los Angeles, CA -- Sixty-three year-old medical marijuana patient Norman B. Smith was diagnosed with inoperable liver cancer in 2009 and sought treatment from the internationally lauded Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Smith's oncologist at Cedars-Sinai, Dr. Steven Miles, approved of his medical marijuana use as a means to deal with the effects of chemotherapy and pain from an unrelated back surgery. In September 2010, Smith became eligible for a liver transplant, but after testing positive for marijuana in February he was removed from the transplant list. Smith's cancer was in remission until just recently, but now he is scheduled to undergo radiation treatments in the next few days.

Medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) issued a letter today urging the Cedars-Sinai Transplant Department to promptly re-list Smith for a liver transplant. The letter also urges Cedars-Sinai to change its transplant eligibility policy. "Denying necessary transplants to medical marijuana patients is the worst kind of discrimination," said ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford, who also authored the letter to Cedars-Sinai. "Cedars-Sinai would not be breaking any laws, federal or otherwise, by granting Norman Smith a liver transplant, and it's certainly the ethical thing to do."

Smith is not the only medical marijuana patient in the U.S. being denied a transplant. At least one other Cedars-Sinai patient reported to ASA in 2008 that they had been kicked off the transplant list because of their legal medical marijuana use. Over the past four years, ASA has received numerous reports of patients being purged from transplant lists across California, as well as in other medical marijuana states like Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington. In 2008, Seattle resident and medical marijuana patient Timothy Garon died after being denied a liver transplant by the University of Washington Medical Center. A year later, in 2009, Big Island resident and medical marijuana patient Kimberly Reyes died at Hilo Hospital after being denied a liver transplant.

Cedars-Sinai is demanding that Smith not only abstain from marijuana use for at least six months, forcing him to undergo random toxicology tests, but he is also required to participate in weekly substance abuse counseling over the same period. Although Smith was within two months of receiving a transplant before he was de-listed, he will be put at the bottom of the list even after satisfying the policy requirements. "ASA seeks to change this harmful and uncompassionate policy not only for Smith's benefit, but also for the benefit of numerous other medical marijuana patients who are being made to suffer unnecessarily as a result of political ideology," said Elford.

Between January 2010 and October 2011, Smith took part in a rare clinical trial to combat his liver cancer. The trial, which included only 60 people worldwide, involved weekly infusions and daily pills. Smith also smoked medical marijuana during this time, but stopped in August 2011 to try to adhere to the transplant eligibility requirements. Smith was the only patient in the entire 93-week trial who had a successful remission, earning him the moniker of "Miracle Man." Because of the cancer's return, Smith may not have six months to live. However, instead of re-listing him for a transplant, Cedars-Sinai is scheduling him for radiation treatment. "Norman Smith's life hangs in the balance between his desperate need for a liver and an anti-marijuana sentiment that informs a misguided and life-threatening transplant policy," continued Elford.

Smith not only has the support of his oncologist and other Cedars-Sinai staff, but also his psychologist, who wrote a strong letter of recommendation that Smith be approved for a liver transplant. Nonetheless, Dr. Steven D. Colquhoun, the director of Cedars-Sinai's Liver Transplant Program compared Smith's legal medical marijuana use to "substance abuse." In a letter sent to Smith in May, Dr. Colquhoun indicated that the liver transplant center "must consider issues of substance abuse seriously since it does often play a role in the evolution of diseases that may require transplantation, and may adversely impact a new organ after a transplant." Despite Dr. Colquhoun's assertions and Cedars-Sinai's restrictive policy, an independent study has shown that marijuana use has no adverse impact on the survival rate of transplant recipients.

AFI: Norman Smith is available for interviews at 310-801-8370 or normanbsmith55@gmail.com

Further information:
Video of Norman Smith: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_kYTwQ6jdY&feature=youtu.be
ASA letter to Cedars-Sinai: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/Cedars_Letter_ASA.pdf
Cedars-Sinai transplant denial letter to Norman Smith: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/Smith_Transplant_Denial.pdf
Liver transplant study: http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/2027.42/73843/1/j.1600-6143.2008.02468.x.pdf

# # #

 

With over 50,000 active members in all 50 states, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is the largest national member-based organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research. ASA works to overcome political and legal barriers by creating policies that improve access to medical cannabis for patients and researchers through legislation, education, litigation, grassroots actions, advocacy and services for patients and the caregivers.

Location: 
Los Angeles, CA
United States

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