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Europe: British Junior Docs Call for Marijuana-Based Medicine Prescriptions

The British Medical Association's (BMA) Junior Members Forum voted Sunday in favor of marijuana-based medicines being prescribed by the National Health Service (NHS) to ease the suffering of patients. The group called on the BMA to lobby the British government to change the laws to allow research to develop treatments with cannabinoids, the active ingredients in the plant.

In the British medical system, junior doctors are those who have received a medical degree and are in postgraduate training. While the term seems to imply callow youth, junior doctors in Britain may in fact have logged years treating patients at the NHS.

The vote in Dundee, Scotland, came after the forum heard from Dr. Andrew Thomson, a Scottish General Practitioner and prominent member of the BMA, who told of a patient of his suffering terrible pain who he was unable to help with cannabis because of the state of the law. "A lot of our patients turn to using cannabis to try to relieve their pain -- let's not make them criminals," he said. "Let's not turn pain into punishment."

His patient, a professional woman who suffered from multiple sclerosis, knew of the evidence about cannabis relieving pain, but could not commit a criminal act, Thomson told the forum. "It was frustrating to see it but I could not encourage her to use it," he said. "I know what is best for my patient potentially but I am not allowed by the system to use what would relieve the suffering."

Diverging US, EU drug strategies in Afghanistan

Spero News (TX)

Opium for the people: Extraordinary move to legalise poppy crops

The Independent (UK)

YPU members vote for legalized pot

New Haven, CT
United States
Yale Daily News (CT)

Europe: Britain to Provide Heroin to Addicts, "Restricted" Home Office Brief Says

The British government is prepared to begin prescribing heroin through the National Health Service to "recidivist veteran users" after a pilot program has proven successful, according to a report in the newspaper The Independent, which cites a "restricted" briefing paper prepared by the Home Office strategic policy team. The briefing paper also suggests the licensing of heroin and cocaine sales, but the government will not go that far, The Independent said.

According to the brief, which The Independent says it has obtained a copy of, "The Home Office should consider wider rolling out of injectable heroin prescription for highly dependent users through the NHS. Given the failure of supply-side interventions to have any significant effect on the drugs market, it is worth considering a greater management of the market by wider rolling out of injectable heroin prescription for highly dependent users through the NHS."

According to the Home Office sources cited by the newspaper, only hard-core users who have not responded to methadone treatment will be eligible. "It is only going to apply to a small number of people," said a Home Office spokesman.

Home Office sources added that in Switzerland, where doctors prescribe heroin rather than methadone to such users, 26% have quit using and criminality and unemployment have decreased. Citing the Swiss experience, the brief says, "Contrary to popular belief, there is evidence that heroin does not necessarily intoxicate the user -- it can be stabilized with people living relatively normal lives."

The brief also warns that Britain is in a losing battle with drug smugglers and suggests legalizing the sale of heroin and cocaine. "There is mounting evidence of the impossibility of winning the war against drugs supply. A system of controlled availability of drugs would allow the Government to exert a much greater degree of influence over the way in which substances are used than is currently possible," the report advised. "There is a strong argument that prohibition has caused or created many of the problems associated with the use or misuse of drugs. One option for the future would be to regulate drugs differently, through either over-the-counter sales, licensed sales or doctor's prescription."

But in an Independent on Sunday editorial, the newspaper noted that the government will not move to license or otherwise regulate drug sales. "Legalising drug supply has been firmly rejected by the government because it would sanction the use of drugs," the newspaper noted. "The policy of targeting drug smugglers and dealers continues, despite the report's warning that reducing the drug supply drives up the price and increases crime."

Europe: British Top Cop Calls for Prescription Heroin for Addicts

The head of the British Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) called this week for addicts to be prescribed heroin to prevent them from committing crimes to feed their habits. ACPO head Ken Jones, the former chief constable of Sussex, also admitted that current law enforcement strategies are failing when it comes to a "hardcore minority" of heroin users.
Ken Jones
"You need to understand there is a hard core, a minority, who nevertheless commit masses of crime to feed their addiction," Jones said in remarks reported by The Independent. "We have got to be realistic -- I have looked into the whites of these people's eyes and many have no interest whatsoever in coming off drugs. We have to find a way of dealing with them, and licensed prescription is definitely something we should be thinking about."

Jones is one of the most senior police officials ever to advocate the use of prescription heroin in the effort to reduce the harm from black market use of the drug. According to research in Great Britain, heroin users commit an average of 432 crimes a year.

Studies in Switzerland and the Netherlands, where prescription heroin programs are underway, have found reductions in crimes committed by participants. While Britain has some 40,000 registered heroin addicts using methadone (and an estimated 327,000 "problem drug users" of cocaine or heroin), only a few hundred are currently receiving prescribed heroin as part of a pilot program. That's not enough, said Jones.

"I am not in any shape or form a legalizer, but what I am concerned with is that we have to shape up to some tough realities," he said. "We don't have enough treatment places for those who want to go on them. What we need is a cross-party consensus which considers the overwhelming public view to be tough on the roots of drugs, as well as treating its victims," he argued.

"I was a drugs officer and we have to be realistic," Jones continued. "There is a hardcore minority who are not in any way shape or form anxious to come off drugs. They think 'I am going to go out there and steal, rob, burgle and get the money to buy it'. What are we going to do -- say 'OK we are going to try and contain this by normal criminal justice methods' and fail, or are we going to look at doing something different? Start being a bit more innovative. It is about looking at things in a different way without turning away completely from the current position."

While up until the 1960s, British doctors regularly prescribed heroin to addicts, that practice ended under US pressure and because of scandals related to loose prescribing. It is time to go back to the good old days, Jones said. "There are junkies who are alive today who would have been dead now," he said. "Their lives are stable, yes, their addiction is being maintained, but far better they are being maintained than them trying to get their fix off the street from crime. Heroin is an incredible stimulator of crime and I think we are foolish if we don't acknowledge that."

A Special Letter from Ed Rosenthal

Dear Friend, As you probably know, I was tried in 2003 for providing marijuana starter plants to medical marijuana distribution centers. The exact charges were manufacture, providing a place to manufacture and conspiracy. The jury found me guilty on all three felony counts. Within four days of the trial eight of the jurors repudiated the verdict. After leaving the jury box they learned the whole truth. They had not been allowed to hear that I was appointed as a City Officer empowered to provide patients with medical marijuana. Jury members told the media that they felt that they had been used and worse. One of the jurors revealed that she had consulted a lawyer about the trial while she was a juror. After considering all the facts of the case the judge sentenced me to one day in prison, time served. I appealed the convictions on three grounds: improper actions by the juror, the fact that I was a city officer should have exempted me from prosecution under federal law and that even if I was not protected I had been led to believe I was by proper authorities and thus should be free from prosecution under the rules of estoppel, that is, when a person is advised by the government that his/her actions are legal, they shouldn’t be arrested even if the individual was ill-advised. The 9th circuit reversed the conviction on the basis of a juror’s fear of voting against the judge’s instructions and held that I could be re-tried. The trial was set for late October. However, just a few weeks ago the prosecutor filed a superseding indictment charging me with 14 counts including filing false tax returns, money laundering $1,854.77 as well as manufacturing and conspiracy. The sentencing structure for this case could put me away for the rest of my life. I don’t plan to lose this case. Just as it is for me, this is an extremely important case for the government. The Bush regime hopes that winning this case will give them a pass to attack all providers functioning under the California Medical Laws, as well as decimating progress made in the other states with medical marijuana laws. As you may know, the federal authorities closed all of the medical facilities in San Diego in September. In October they closed a few facilities in rural areas of California as well as San Francisco and in Los Angeles. Now in late January they are on another rampage in southern California. My success, not guilty verdicts, will send a message to the government that the public will not tolerate federal interference in state medical programs. It will be a major setback for the government’s efforts to contain the medical marijuana phenomenon I have recruited an extremely well qualified and dedicated legal team to work at a reduced rate. Even so we will need funds for court expenses as well as publicity. This is a critical moment and I am reaching out to my friends, to political activists and to all who have voiced concern about this issue as well as those concerned about my well being. Please help me fight these laws. Give me the tools so I can win this battle. The first trial cost over $350,000 and used up most of my savings. It left me in a critical, vulnerable position financially. I don’t have the money to finance this trial. Help me win this battle so to protect medical marijuana users and dispensaries throughout the state and country. To be honest, my experience in asking readers to help out the marijuana movement financially has been a failure in the past. Almost all of you will read this, sympathize with my position, and then turn the page, thinking that it’s not your concern. However, the outcome of my trial will have a direct impact on your lives. This is a cutting edge case that the U.S. government is attempting to use to intimidate activists in their battle against marijuana. You can help turn the tide by making a generous contribution to . Green-Aid is a tax deductible non-profit organization that with a goal of challenging the laws using tipping point court cases. This case will cost about $300,000. I am asking everybody who values their relationship with marijuana to contribute. Are you one of 300 people who value changing the laws as much as a quarter lb.? Or a thousand people who are willing to contribute the value of one ounce? If you can’t afford that, you could give the equivalent of a quarter ounce. Please help You can contribute online by credit card or by mail for checks. Donate at our website or send your check payable to “Green Aid” to: 484 Lake Park Ave. - Box 172, Oakland, CA 94610. Green Aid, The Medical Marijuana Defense and Education Fund is a non-profit 501(c)3 Charitable Corporation and all contributions to it are tax deductible. With your help these laws are doomed. Stay Free, Ed PS: Please find attached a full history of my case in 'The Bust and the Trial' and a note regarding a recent attack by the goverment on local authorities in 'CVAG Meeting'. The feds gameplan is to shut down all dispensaries & providers. Help me stop them.
United States

'Heroin should be made legal'

United Kingdom
The Argus (UK)

Canada: Vancouver Mayor Pushes Stimulant Maintenance Plan

Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan, who wants to begin a groundbreaking plan to provide cocaine and methamphetamine users with prescription stimulants, has released the results of a poll he commissioned that showed strong support for the notion among Vancouver residents. The survey released last Friday showed that 61% of respondents would support such a program to deal with rampant drug abuse in the city's Downtown Eastside.

The mayor needs to win an exemption from Canada's drug laws from the federal government. Under Sullivan's plan, called CAST (Chronic Addiction Substitution Treatment), up to 700 chronic cocaine and meth users would be provided with maintenance doses of stimulants. The release of the poll results is designed to increase pressure on the federal government to approve the experimental program.

The poll also found that an even larger majority of Vancouver residents were skeptical of traditional abstinence-based drug treatment programs. According to the poll, 71% of respondents believed such programs actually worked for less than one-quarter of participants.

"The public appears to be aware that large numbers of addicted people will continue to be involved in crime and disorder as a result of long-term drug use," Sullivan said in a press release last Friday. "We know that many drug users do not respond, in the long term, to traditional abstinence-based treatment programs."

Latin America: Mexico Moves to Decriminalize Drug Possession -- So It Can Concentrate on Drug Traffickers

Legislators from Mexican President Felipe's Calderon's National Action Party (PAN -- Partido de Accion Nacional) have introduced a bill in the Mexican Senate that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of drugs for "addicts." An even stronger drug reform bill that included higher personal drug possession limits and would have applied to all drug consumers passed both the Mexican Senate and Congress, only to be vetoed by then President Vicente Fox after strong objections from Washington.
DEA Spanish-language poster targeting Mexican trafficking organization
Under this year's version of the bill, which was introduced in the Senate Wednesday, people caught for the first time with less than two grams of marijuana and similarly small single-dose amounts of other drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamine, would not be prosecuted. But persons caught more than once in possession of illegal drugs would be prosecuted unless they qualified as "addicts" by proving they were in drug treatment or under medical care. The bill retains a provision that would protect indigenous people engaging in religious drug use from prosecution.

But the proposed legislation may not mark a liberalization of Mexico's drug policy, but may instead broaden Mexico's ability to arrest and prosecute drug offenders by allowing state police and judicial systems to take action against drug offenders under them. Under current law, that ability is reserved to the federal government. The bill would allow authorities to concentrate on drug traffickers by freeing up resources to go after dealers, and it increases prison sentences for drug trafficking offenses.

"This isn't legalization," said PAN Sen. Alejandro Gonzalez, who heads the Senate's justice commission. "We're going to go much harder against drug dealers," he told a Mexico City press conference Monday.

Since taking office in December, President Calderon has declared war on Mexico's violent drug trafficking organizations with a vengeance. He has sent thousands of troops into hotbeds of drug trafficking, such as the state of Michoacan, as well as major cities plagued by prohibition-related violence and corruption, such as Tijuana and Acapulco.

Last year's version of the bill set higher personal use quantities, causing it to ultimately be vetoed, said Gonzalez. "An error was made, unfortunately, in the lower house, adding the (exemption for) consumers. That really betrayed the spirit of the reforms, by increasing (personal use) quantities, and that's why we're paying attention to the criticisms and making changes," he noted.

Is "the spirit of the reforms" then to facilitate Mexico's drug war rather than end it?

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