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Francisco Fernandez, Universidad Autonoma de Yucatan

Dr. Fernandez has been a faculty member at the Autonomous University of Yucatan for twenty years, and was appointed chair of the Anthropology department in 1997. He approved the university's co-sponsorship and hosting of the Out from the Shadows conference.

Video: Milton Friedman on Marijuana Legalization

Even in a time of Democratic ascendancy, conservative voices for legalization remain important. This video of Milton Friedman discussing marijuana prohibition, posted by MPP, was brought to my attention in an email recently. Check it out, as well as the second part of it at MPP-TV. Check out this interview with Friedman about legalization of all drugs too.

Learning from Crystal Methamphetamine

The Community Response to Crystal Methamphetamine Study and the Chemical Dependency Institute (Beth Israel Medical Center) are pleased to announce the presentation of findings from a recently completed qualitative study examining Crystal Methamphetamine in Gay communities in NYC. Please reserve this date to learn more about this study and the important findings for men in our community and service providers who work with them. This is NOT quantitative epidemiology; the forum will focus on data from a qualitative study of community response to crystal meth in NYC. We will examine dynamics of community action in response to meth, from grassroots levels to service providers and politicians, and talk about the social, historical and material contexts for crystal meth use among gay men/MSM in NYC. For additional information contact Laurens Van Sluytman at 212-256-2546, or via e-mail: [email protected].
Date: 
Tue, 06/09/2009 - 2:00pm - 5:00pm
Location: 
208 West 13th Street, Room 410
New York, NY
United States

Free Conference: Safe Injection Facilities of New York

It is with pride that we invite you to join us for a Day Conference on ‘Safe Injection Facilities of New York’ on Friday May 22, 2009 at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Since syringe exchange has proven to be such an effective HIV Prevention intervention over the past 20 years in New York, we think it is time to take a next step and look at safe injection facilities as another proven intervention in the context of public health. Safe Injection Facilities are also a portal that draws injection drug users into positive engagement with other services. The program of the day conference reflects the many facets of studying the implementation of Safe Injection Facilities in New York. The practice, the consumers, the politics, the research of SIFs will be presented. We have several professionals presenting from Vancouver, Canada, where the only SIF in North America exists. We have legal experts to discuss the implementation of SIFs under USA law. We have the consumer point of view through the presentation of a consumer and a presentation about a survey among 200 IDUs from New York. There will be time for discussion. The conference is free. Lunch and snacks will be provided. There will be performances of National Slam Poetry champion Jon Sands. Finally, to start your Memorial Day weekend in right fashion we will close the day with a wine reception. Please, RSVP with name & affiliation at [email protected]. Conference Sponsors: Injection Drug User Health Alliance The Comer Foundation Harm Reduction Coalition NYS Psychological Association/Division on Addictions John Jay College of Criminal Justice
Date: 
Fri, 05/22/2009 - 9:00am - 5:00pm
Location: 
445 W. 59th Street
New York, NY
United States

Medical Marijuana: 10 years ago ...

Dear Friends:

Ten years ago yesterday, the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine (IOM) released its landmark report that forever changed the public debate on medical marijuana.

In November 1996, California became the first state to pass a medical marijuana ballot initiative. The following month, the Clinton administration struck back, threatening doctors if they recommended medical marijuana to patients. But the American Medical Association and the American public responded with outrage and condemnation, throwing the Clinton administration off-balance. The next month, in January 1997, the White House drug czar's office attempted to deflect attention by awarding $1 million in taxpayer money to the Institute of Medicine to conduct a two-year study of medical marijuana.

In 1997 and 1998, MPP brought dozens of patients to a series of IOM hearings to testify about their fear of being arrested. Indeed, many of the patients had already been arrested and/or incarcerated for using medical marijuana.

Then, on March 17, 1999, the Institute of Medicine finally released a report that was not at all what the drug czar's office had hoped for. The report contradicted the claims of the drug czar and other federals officials on a number of fronts:

1. It showed there is scientific evidence indicating that marijuana has medical uses.

2. It recommended that people with AIDS, cancer, and chronic pain who have an urgent need for marijuana be provided with immediate legal protection while further research is done on marijuana's medical uses.

3. It debunked the "gateway theory," saying that there is no evidence that using marijuana will "lead" someone to use cocaine and other drugs.

4. It said there is no evidence that allowing sick people to use medical marijuana will cause an increase in the recreational use of marijuana.

That report has been used as the intellectual foundation of most medical marijuana efforts in the decade since.


MPP co-founder Chuck Thomas with IOM investigators in 1998

The release of that report was the first time that MPP received a barrage of national media coverage, all over the course of just two weeks. But that media coverage pales in comparison to the coverage that MPP and the broader marijuana policy reform movement has been receiving over the last four months.

This is now a lesson in "be careful what you wish for." As the marijuana issue continues to explode across the political landscape in nearly all 50 states, MPP and our allies are getting stretched more and more thin ... as we attempt to capitalize on the opportunities that are presenting themselves in the news, in state legislatures, in Congress, and at the ballot box.

Anything you can give to help fund these exploding efforts would be greatly apprecated.

Thank you,

Rob Kampia
Executive Director
Marijuana Policy Project
Washington, D.C.

P.S. As I've mentioned in previous alerts, a major philanthropist has committed to match the first $2.35 million that MPP can raise from the rest of the planet in 2009. This means that your donation today will be doubled.

Feature: The Boston Ibogaine Forum -- from Shamanism to Cutting Edge Science

special to Drug War Chronicle by Doug Greene, assisted by Kevin Franciotti

On a cold and clear Presidents Day weekend, dozens of treatment professionals, underground providers, patients, researchers and entheogenic enthusiasts gathered at Boston's Northeastern University for the Boston Ibogaine Forum, the 2009 installment of the annual ibogaine conference, sponsored the Northeastern Students for Sensible Drug Policy (which is also hosting the Northeast SSDP Regional conference on April 3-5), the National AIDS Brigade, and Cures Not Wars.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/boston-ibogaine-conference.jpg
conference panel, Dana Beal at podium
Ibogaine is considered the 'active' compound in the Tabernanthe iboga plant, used for centuries as a healer, teacher, and catalyst for ceremonies by the Bwiti people indigenous to what is now the Central-west African republic of Gabon. But the versatile plant has remained virtually unknown in the West, where it has a very different history.

Researcher Howard Lotsof, PhD, addicted to heroin and methadone, discovered the anti-addictive action of ibogaine in 1962. Given a capsule of pure ibogaine HCL by a trusted friend who was familiar with chemistry, Lotsof was simply seeking a new high. He was astonished when coming out of this difficult experience 36-opiate-abstinent hours later to realize he had no physical craving for opiates, and even more remarkably, had experienced very little of the agonizing physical symptoms normally associated with opiate withdrawal.

Although other early research was undertaken in the 1960s, ibogaine's eventual acceptance as anti-addiction agent in the West was tied to Lotsof's remarkable personal story. Off opiates, Lotsof turned with enthusiasm toward ibogaine and other psychedelics, running trials in the mid-1960s before going to prison under new federal drug laws banning the psychedelics at the end of the decade. For another two decades, Lotsof and ibogaine as addiction treatment wandered in the wilderness, his research supported by groups such as Cures Not Wars.

It was only in 1989 that Lotsof made significant contacts with mainstream researchers, who undertook their own pioneering researches. In the years between then and now, thanks to the missionary efforts of Lotsof and his supporters, ibogaine has ever so slowly become of greater and greater interest to addiction researchers and others.

Valentine's Day morning found ibogaine aficionados at the movies for Facing the Habit, a 2007 film featuring heroin users who succeed -- or fail -- to kick their habit through ibogaine treatments. Next up was ibogaine's most prominent advocate, the mustachioed Cures not Wars co-founder and Yippie! Dana Beal, who brought conference attendees up to speed on the latest research on ibogaine's anti-addictive properties, including its ability to regenerate dopamine pathways in the brain through its activation of glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor GDNF. This exciting research had a panel of its own later in the day featuring Roman Paskulin, founder and director of Slovenia's Open Mind Institute and Dr. Tracy Blevins.

Beal was followed by a panel of ibogaine treatment providers discussing the special safety challenges involved in treating multiple addictions to different drugs, including Drs. Anwar Jeewa and A.R. Gani, of the groundbreaking residential treatment center Minds Alive in Durban, South Africa, Dr. Bruno Rasmussin of Brazil, and long-time provider Rocky Caravelli.

Next up was one of the most interesting presentations of the conference, by Justin Kirkland, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Obiter Research on the company's efforts to develop more cost-effective methods of synthesizing 18 Methoxycorinaridine 18-MC, an ibogaine analog with fewer side effects and greater potential for treating methamphetamine and nicotine dependence. The day's events closed with McLean Hospital's Dr. Carl Anderson discussing ibogaine, dream states and fetal R.E.M.

Sunday started with another ibogaine documentary, the Dutch Rites of Passage, followed by SSDP Northeastern's Arielle Torra presenting on the subjective experiences of patients treated at Dr. Deborah Mash's Healing Transitions Institute for Addiction clinic on St. Kitts.

The first scheduled panel of the day addressed the controversial use of ibogaine for other indications, including hepatitis C (HCV). Former New Mexico Department of Health Harm Reduction Coordinator Phillip Fiuty and Rocky Caravelli confirmed the existence of HCV patients whose conditions have improved and even cleared the virus without interferon treatment. Caravelli also described positive effects on herpes, MS and asthma. Jason Farrell, founder and former executive director of Positive Health Project and currently CEO of Harm Reduction Consulting Services, Inc., suggested a collaborative study by clinics in South Africa, Mexico and Brazil tracking the viral loads of HIV/HCV patients for six months to a year.

Next, former High Times and drugwar.com writer and editor Preston Peet gave dramatic personal testimony on ibogaine's efficacy in managing chronic pain by drastically cutting opioid tolerance.

The liveliest panel of the conference came up next, featuring Patrick Kroupa -- a pioneer hacker and long-time activist whose multiple roles include High Priest of the Sacrament of Transition, an Eastern European based iboga religion -- Dr. Deborah Mash, Peet, and Lenny of the New York City ibogaine support group comparing ibogaine to more conventional treatments, such as 12-step cold turkey, methadone taper, buprenorphine and ultra-rapid opiate detox (UROD). UROD -- the direct injection of the opiate blocker naltrexone under benzodiazepine sedation -- was denounced by all panelists as ineffective and inhumane.

The next panel, comparing the anti-addictive effects of ibogaine to other entheogens, featured Harvard Assistant Professor of Psychiatry John H. Halpern and Jon Harrison, the principal investigator for the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies ibogaine outcome study at Pangea Biomedics in Playas de Tijuana, Mexico. Halpern compared ibogaine's effectiveness to other entheogens sometimes given as treatment modalities for drug addiction, most notably peyote use in the possible treatment of alcoholism among the Native American population, and the sacramental use of ayahuasca among American members of the Santo Daime and UDV churches.

This observational case study is examining changes in substance use in 30 individuals seeking ibogaine-based addiction treatment, and is intended to gather information to evaluate whether ibogaine-assisted therapy helps opiate-dependent people stop using opiates or practice moderated use after the therapy. Twelve-month follow-up data is being collected from participants in the study to examine whether ibogaine-assisted therapy facilitates improvements in quality of life that result in decreased harms associated with chronic or mismanaged opiate use. The study has received Institutional Review Board approval from the California Institute of Integral Studies and has enrolled 11 of the 30 subjects. For many months, MAPS had no success in raising funds for the study, but received its first significant donation at the conference, and by March 2nd, had raised all the funds for the study.

Halpern, who's published some of the only research on peyote use by Native Americans, surprised the crowd by revealing that the National Institute on Drug Abuse had so constrained his research that he wasn't allowed to directly study peyote's manifest anti-addictive effects. He also had no data on receptor-mediated anti-addictive effects, ascribing it all to "psychedelic glow."

Sunday's program closed with Makky, Boston University Professor of Classical Studies Carl Ruck and Beal discussing shamanic scenes in South America vs. Africa, a possible iboga role in the ancient world, and the dangers of "The Mushroom and the Cross" approach offending fundamentalists, respectively.

Presidents Day opened with a roundup of the international ibogaine scene. Venezuelan Drs. Rosaria Dávalos and Zulema Medrano described great progress in promoting ibogaine treatments, but also obstacles due to continued deference to the US. Drs. Jeewa and Gani gave details on their residential treatment center. Australian treatment provider Jason Chamon described a smaller, informal treatment scene -- clandestine in Australia, legal in New Zealand. De Loenen finished up, appearing live via Skype to contrast the more relaxed attitudes in Spain and Portugal with a forum in Holland on arrhythmia in ibogaine patients.

The international ibogainesters were followed by a panel on ibogaine's role in harm reduction, featuring Jason Farrell, Phil Fiuty and Cures not Wars cofounder and veteran drug policy activist Doug Greene. Farrell stressed the need for ibogaine treatment providers to be careful about whom they treat to minimize risks, citing a recent case in Netherlands where a patient refused to stop alcohol use before a treatment and had a seizure and then two days of arrythmia. At the same time, he urged greater availability of ibogaine treatment, advising potential providers to get a space and cots and "just do it." Greene praised ibogaine as the most libertarian option for drug treatment, and called on the drug policy reform movement to center its efforts on marijuana and ibogaine.

The conference closed with a panel that included the National AIDS Brigade's Jon Stuen-Parker discussing his lawsuit against the federal government for inattention to crack and heroin. MAPS founder and President Rick Doblin then gave the attendees a road map to promote ibogaine to state and federal policymakers, while Dana Beal suggested a letter from members of Congress to President Obama's forthcoming DEA Administrator.

This was the first ibogaine conference to be streamed live on the Internet, with twice as many people often logged-on as were in the room. Although speakers and attendees alike were frustrated by the conference's uneven pacing and complete disregard of the announced, reaction to the content of the conference was generally positive. Jason Farrell said: "It was a very impressive conference that opened my eyes to the serious, international work that's being done on ibogaine. It's unfortunate that it didn't get the news coverage it deserved."

Long-time drug policy reform activist Valerie Vande Panne said: "It's good to see ibogaine getting the research and recognition it deserves. Clearly, it has been beneficial in a holistic, dignified, and humane way to the lives of many who considered themselves addicts ready for a life change."

Rick Doblin said: "Many of the speakers were fascinating and had lots of experience and important information to share, and the future of ibogaine is bright. The clinics are moving toward more of an above-ground, responsible medical model and are realizing the importance of aftercare programs. I'm not sure where resources would come from for clinical studies to make ibogaine legal in the US -- that may be a stretch too far for NIDA, even under Obama. While I don't see commercial drug development happening in the near term in the US, or anywhere else, there will be more prospective research at the clinics which will, over time, build support for more clinical studies."

Streaming video of the conference can be found here.

Dying to Get High: Marijuana as Medicine

Find out how patients all over the country have defied the federal government in order to acquire their medicine and hear what is at stake in the battle to end marijuana prohibition. For more information, contact 207-333-6985 or [email protected].
Date: 
Wed, 03/18/2009 - 7:00pm - 8:30pm
Location: 
Glickman Family Library -- 7th Floor
Portland, ME 04104
United States

2009 Boston Ibogaine Forum at Northeastern University

Please join us for this exciting forum! Complete schedule here: http://www.neu.edu/ssdp/ibogaine/. Ibogaine is a revolutionary poly-drug addiction interrupter that happens to be a schedule I drug, meaning that according to the FDA, there are no medicinal indications and a high likelihood for abuse. Unlike the hype of the counter-culture's sacramental-like advocacy of LSD and mushrooms in the 1960s, very few people knew of ibogaine or had ever taken it; unfortunately what little was known led it to be condemned by Richard Nixon with all other so-called ''hallucinogens." Indigenous to the West African Republic of Gabon, ibogaine is believed to be the principle active ingredient in the iboga plant, which has been used by the people of the Bwiti religion. For centuries, the Bwiti utilized iboga in rituals involving the veneration of deities or communication with ancestors as well as for treatments of various physical and mental ailments. In the west, however, the use of ibogaine has primarily been for treatment of chemical dependence to various drugs of abuse, including: nicotine, cocaine, alcohol, heroin and methadone/suboxone. Check out www.ibogaine.com or log onto youtube and search for tons of video testimonials and documentaries regarding ibogaine's religious and medical implications. For more information, contact [email protected] or 516-884-5130.
Date: 
Sat, 02/14/2009 - 10:00am - Mon, 02/16/2009 - 4:00pm
Location: 
450 Dodge Hall
Boston, MA
United States

Drugs, Pregnancy, and Parenting: What Experts Have to Say

People working in the field of family law and child-welfare often have cases that involve issues of drug use. These lawyers, social workers, counselors, advocates and investigators, however, are often trying to do their jobs without the benefit of evidence-based research or access to experts knowledgeable about drugs, drug treatment and the relationship between drug use, pregnancy and parenting. That is why on February 11, 2009 we are sponsoring a spectacular one-day continuing education program entitled: Drugs, Pregnancy and Parenting: What the Experts in Medicine, Social Work and the Law Have to Say. Please join us and please help us spread the word. You can register now: http://napwtraining.eventbrite.com/ If your work involves family law, child welfare law, advocacy on behalf of children, parents or families pregnant and parenting women and their families or issues of drug use – this continuing education program is for you. Even if this is not specifically your field of work, this truly interesting day will be a great way to earn continuing education credits. Substance Abuse Counselors can earn New York CASAC credits. This dynamic program features nationally and internationally renowned medical, social work, and legal experts as well as people with direct experience who will help distinguish myth from fact, evidence-based information from media hype and provide meaningful tools for improved advocacy, representation, care and treatment. Panelists will discuss current research on marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, as well as other areas of research regarding drug use, prenatal exposure to drugs, recovery, treatment and parenting. This up-to-date research is critical for effective representation and care. Discussion points will include: • What does a positive drug test predict about future neglect and abuse? • What tools can I use to distinguish between myth and fact regarding the effect of drugs and other claims made about drug use and drug users? Is there such a thing as a "crack baby"? • Is there a difference between drug use and abuse? Can a person parent and be a drug user? • How should social workers, lawyers, counselors, advocates and judges use and interpret drug tests? • How do we determine what, if any, treatment should be required and how do we measure its success? • What is the relationship between drug use, abstinence, relapse and recovery? • What does evidence-based research tell us about the effectiveness of different kinds of drug treatment? • How can we implement safety plans that keep families together? • How can I best advocate for/ help my client when drug use is an issue? No matter what kind of work you do or practice you have, this course will challenge your assumptions, identify valuable resources and generate hope about families where drug use is an issue. Registration: The fee is $20 in advance or $25 at the door. Breakfast, lunch and beverages will be provided.) Financial aid is available. Please register at: http://napwtraining.eventbrite.com/ This program was developed through a consultative process with representatives from all aspects of New York City's child welfare system. We really appreciate the time people have taken to inform us and to share their knowledge and experiences with us. This program is co-sponsored by: National Advocates for Pregnant Women, New York University School of Law, and New York University Silver School of Social Work Continuing Legal Education, (7 NY-CLE credits) Social Work and CASAC credits for full or partial day program available for New York. This program is appropriate for practitioners at all levels. Students are welcome as well. For more information, contact Allison Guttu, NAPW Equal Justice Works Staff Attorney, at 212.255.9252 or [email protected].
Date: 
Wed, 02/11/2009 - 9:00am - 6:00pm
Location: 
40 Washington Square South
New York, NY
United States

Methamphetamine: Graphic Montana Scare Campaign May Not Work After All, Study Finds

The Montana Meth Project, an anti-methamphetamine campaign based around scary images of the perils of meth use, has been widely touted as a successful public health intervention. Its images showing the extreme consequences of using the popular stimulant "just once" have been touted by supporters as highly effective at deterring teen meth use, and it has even garnered state and federal funding and been adopted by other states based on those claims.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/methcrystals.jpg
methamphetamine crystals
Not so fast, said the authors of a new study released this week. In Drugs, Money, and Graphic Ads: A Critical Review of the Montana Meth Project, published this month in the journal Prevention Science, researchers found that the ad campaign produced a number of negative consequences and challenged its impact on meth use rates in the state.

According to the study, teens who had been exposed to six months of the project's graphic ads were three times as likely to say they did not believe meth use was a risky behavior and four times more likely to strongly approve of regular meth use. Half of the teens said the ads exaggerated the dangers of meth use.

The Montana Meth Campaign and its proponents overlooked such unflattering results when presenting findings to the media and policymakers, the researchers said. Instead, the campaign portrayed its results in the most positive light possible.

The researchers also scoffed at claims the program had reduced meth use. "Meth use had been declining for at least six years before the ad campaign commenced, which suggests that factors other than the graphic ads cause reductions in meth use. Another issue is that the launch of the ad campaign coincided with restrictions on the sale of cold and flu medicines commonly used in the production of meth. This means that drug use could be declining due to decreased production of meth, rather than being the result of the ad campaign," said review author David Erceg-Hurn in a Society for Prevention Research news release Thursday.

Ereceg-Hurn also attacked the theoretical underpinnings of the campaign. "The idea behind the ad campaign is that teenagers take meth because they believe it is socially acceptable, and not risky, and the ads are meant to alter these perceptions," he said. "However, this theory is flawed because the Meth Project's own data shows that 98% of teenagers strongly disapproved of meth use and 97% thought using meth was risky before the campaign started," Erceg-Hurn said.

Spending government funds on Meth Project-style campaigns is a waste of money, Erceg-Hurn concluded. Or, in more diplomatic terms: "Based on current evidence, continued public funding and rollout of Montana-style anti-methamphetamine graphic ad campaign programs is inadvisable."

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