Canvassing for Opinion - aka "Blairs Brain on Cannabis"

IMHO prohibition sentiment requires inherent addiction to status quo, an incapacity to visualise beyond the here and now and a desperate desire to know others might feel the same... Reform is not revolutionary, rather it is evolutionary. Having survived banging your head against a brick wall the evolutionist relishes having stopped. / Blair

Monday, April 26, 2004

The war on the War on Drugs - Jack Cole


"Because we were trained to fight a war on drugs because of that metaphor we felt like we had to have an enemy; and the enemy when you're trying to fight a war becomes the citizens of your country. And when you're fighting a war, thats a very very terrible metaphor for policing in a democratic society, because when you're fighting a war it's no holds barred. And the holds that we didn't have to have barred anymore were the holds on our constitutional rights, which we would just stomp on. Our fourth amendment right in the United States against illegal search and seizure: we would illegally search people all the time, because we felt like We're fighting a war, we're the good guys, and no matter how we get these guys, it's worthwhile because we're taking them off the streets and that's our job."

Dunedin 2004 - Jack Cole, retired police officer LEAP

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Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Cannabis 'Scrips to Calm Kids?

What happens when dialog is contrained? The Medical practice is contrained. It is through the collective wisdom of the universal experience that this kind of meaningful research takes place... the alternative is research by putting kids in cages! Doh!

Tuesday , April 20, 2004 (Fox News)

As a California pediatrician and 49-year-old mother of two teenage daughters, Claudia Jensen says pot might prove to be the preferred medical treatment for attention deficit disorder (search) — even in adolescents.

"Why would anyone want to give their child an expensive pill … with unacceptable side effects, when he or she could just go into the backyard, pick a few leaves off a plant and make tea for him or her instead?" Jensen asked the Drug Policy Subcommittee of the House Government Reform Committee earlier this month.

While some wonder whether Jensen was smoking some wacky weed herself, the clinician for low-income patients and professor to first-year medical students at the University of Southern California (search) said her beliefs are very grounded: The drug helps ease the symptomatic mood swings, lack of focus, anxiety and irritability in people suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders like ADD and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (search).

"Cannabinoids are a very viable alternative to treating adolescents with ADD and ADHD," she told Foxnews.com. "I have a lot of adult patients who swear by it."

Under California state law, physicians are allowed to recommend to patients the use of marijuana to treat illnesses, although the federal government has maintained that any use of marijuana — medicinal or otherwise — is illegal. The federal courts have ruled that physicians like Jensen cannot be prosecuted for making such recommendations.

Jensen said she regularly writes prescriptions recommending the use of marijuana for patients —particularly those suffering pain and nausea from chronic illnesses, such as AIDS, cancer, glaucoma and arthritis.

She has also worked with one family of a 15-year-old — whose family had tried every drug available to help their son, who by age 13 had become a problem student diagnosed as suffering from ADHD. Under Jensen's supervision, he began marijuana treatment, settling on cannabis in food and candy form, and he has since found equilibrium and regularly attends school.

But not everyone is so high on the idea of pot for students with neurological illnesses. Subcommittee Chairman Mark Souder, R-Ind., who invited Jensen to testify after reading about her ideas in the newspaper, was hardly convinced by her testimony.

"I do believe that Dr. Jensen really wants to help her patients, but I think she is deeply misguided when she recommends marijuana to teenagers with attention deficit disorder or hyperactivity," he told Foxnews.com. "There is no serious scientific basis for using marijuana to treat those conditions, and Dr. Jensen didn't even try to present one."

Dr. Tom O'Connell, a retired chest surgeon who now works with patients at a Bay Area clinic for patients seeking medical marijuana recommendations, is working on it. He said cannabis not only helps pain, but also can treat psychological disorders. He is currently conducting a study of hundreds of his patients, whom he said he believes have been self-medicating with pot and other drugs for years, and he hopes to publish a paper on the subject soon.

"My work with cannabis patients is certainly not definitive at this point, but it strongly suggests that the precepts upon which cannabis prohibition have been based are completely spurious," O'Connell said. Worse yet, he added, the prohibition has successfully kept certain adolescents away from pot who now turn to tobacco and alcohol instead.

Jensen, who said she believes Souder invited her to testify to "humiliate me and incriminate me in some way," suggested that a growing body of evidence is being developed to back medical marijuana chiefly for chronic pain and nausea. She said it is difficult, however, for advocates like herself to get the funding and permission to conduct government-recognized tests on ADD/ADHD patients.

"Unfortunately, no pharmaceutical companies are motivated to spend the money on research, and the United States government has a monopoly on the available marijuana and research permits," she told Congress.

Studies done on behalf of the government, including the 1999 Institute of Medicine's (search) "Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base," found that marijuana delivers effective THC and other cannabinoids that serve as pain relief and nausea-control agents. But these same studies warn against the dangers of smoking marijuana and suggest other FDA-approved drugs are preferable.

"We know all too well the dangerous health risks that accompany (smoking)," said Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., ranking member on the subcommittee, who like Souder, was not impressed by Jensen's arguments.

"It flies in the face of responsible medicine to advocate a drug that had been known to have over 300 carcinogens and has proven to be as damaging to the lungs as cigarette smoking," added Jennifer Devallance, spokeswoman for the White House Office of Drug Control Policy (search).

The government points to Food and Drug Administration-approved Marinol (search), a THC-derived pill that acts as a stand-in for marijuana. But many critics say there are nasty side effects, and it's too expensive for the average patient.

On the other hand, Jensen and others say cannabinoids can be made into candy form, baked into food or boiled into tea. They say that despite the FDA blessing, giving kids amphetamines like Ritalin for ADD and other behavioral disorders might be more dangerous.

"Ritalin is an amphetamine — we have all of these youngsters running around on speed," said Keith Stroup, spokesman for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (search).

"Although it flies in the face of conventional wisdom, it's nevertheless true that cannabis is far safer and more effective than the prescription agents currently advocated for treatment of ADD-ADHD," O'Connell said.

Stroup said if Souder's intention was to harangue Jensen, he was unsuccessful in the face of her solid and articulate testimony on April 1.

"It was a good day for her, and a good day for medical marijuana in Congress," he said.

Nick Coleman, a subcommittee spokesman, said Souder doesn't "try to humiliate people.

"But to promote medical marijuana for teenagers with ADD … he does not feel that is a sound and scientific medical practice," Coleman said.

While the issue of treating adolescents with medical marijuana is fairly new, the idea of using pot to treat chronically and terminally ill patients is not. Nine states currently have laws allowing such practices. A number of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have added that they want the states to decide for themselves whether to pursue medical marijuana laws (search).

Among those lawmakers are Reps. Ron Paul, R-Texas, a physician; Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif.; and Barney Frank, D-Mass.

"(Rep. Paul) believes there are some legitimate applications," like for pain and nausea, said spokesman Jeff Deist. "But the real issue is that states should decide for themselves."

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Monday, April 19, 2004

LEAP on TVOne Breakfast

Eddie Ellison member of LEAP ( Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) and former head of scotland yard drug squad. He spoke to Ali this morning about LEAPS views on bringing about a safer society by legalising drugs and getting them out of the hands of criminals. LEAP do not condone the use of drugs.

Blair Anderson
http://mildgreens.blogspot.com

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Wednesday, April 14, 2004

THE GREAT LEAP FORWARD

THE GREAT LEAP FORWARD: "Public speakers RACE, POLICE, CORRUPTION AND THE DRUG WAR Tours spread word on harms of War on Drugs"

EFFICACY TOUR

Clifford Thornton Jr, leader of US drug policy reform group Efficacy and US NORML board member, spent eight weeks over summer touring Aotearoa talking about racism and the drug war. Thornton brought with him the experience of life in a country where the drug war is primarily racist and has become a mighty economic failure collapsing under the weight of imprisoning of so many people. During his time here, Cliff traversed the country and saw that we too are heading down the same destructive road. Like the States, drug policy is being enforced in a discriminatory way with Maori being disproportionately arrested and imprisoned. During his two months here, Cliff met a host of MPs including Nandor Tanczos, Tim Barnett, John Tamahiri, Parkura Horomia, Pete Hodgson, Leanne Dalziel, Don Brash, Nick Smith, Tony Ryall, and Rodney Hide (who urged ACT to taking a stronger line in ending drug prohibition), and United Future's Marc Alexander. Cliff also met with Police Association President Greg O'Connor, NZ Race Relations Conciliator Joris De Bres, Bruce Logan from the Maxim Institute, Waitakare Mayor Bob Harvey and Dunedin Mayor Sukhi Turner. Cliff got some excellent media coverage - he was interviewed on radio stations all around the country and appeared on Linda Clark's Nine 'Til Noon show., repeating his message that marijuana should be legalised and other drugs including speed, cocaine, ecstasy and heroin medicalised.

LEAP TOUR

Hot on the heels of Cliff's visit is a tour by LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition), an organisation of more than 50 speakers based in the US, Canada and Britain. All of them are former "drug warriors" - police, prosecutors, judges, parole, probation and corrections officials who now speak out in opposition to the drug war. En route to the International Harm Reduction Conference in Melbourne, three key LEAP speakers are stopping off in New Zealand for ten days to talk about the harms of drug prohibition with rotary groups, MPs, the media and other interested parties. Jack Cole was Detective Lieutenant for the New Jersey State Police; Eleanor Schockett a former Florida judge, and Eddie Ellison the former chief of Scotland Yard's Drug Squad. They couldn't have arrived at a more appropriate time considering the recent scandal over in police corruption, and the publication of an old photo of Police Association President Greg O'Connor enjoying a joint. Jack Cole is a founding member and executive director of LEAP. From 1964 to 1991 he was a police officer in New Jersey, with 12 years spent undercover in the Narcotics Bureau. At one point he directed a three-year investigation of a Columbian cocaine trafficking organisation. Cole told the Sunday Star- Times that he doesn't want to tell the New Zealanders how to run the country but he does want to warn of the consequences the current law might have. He also offers alternatives which will lower drug crime and addiction. Cole also warns that drug testing at school and in the workplace should stop because it does more harm than good. He said testing converts cannabis users to stronger drugs (like P) which are more difficult to detect, and that employers and school principals would be kidding themselves to think that such a switch might not happen. Eddie Ellison is LEAP Director for Great Britain, and as the former head of Scotland Yard's Drug Squad, saw the change from bulk importation of cannabis in the 70s to bulk importation of heroin and cocaine. His experience in the field of drug control made clear the futility of relying solely on prohibition to lessen the effects of drug abuse on the community. He is a firm believer that drug legalisation presents a far greater opportunity to reduce the impact of drug use and the crimes associated with that use. Eleanor Schockett, a former Florida judge, became interested in drug policy when she wrote her senior paper on the administration of US drug laws and knew something was terribly wrong. As a Judge for the Circuit Court of Miami-Dade County in Florida she saw the havoc wrought by a failed drug policy. The erosion of personal liberties particularly concerned her and she vowed to speak out on the issue. Schockett has already appeared in the Listener warning that the result of New Zealand's increasingly tough stance on drugs will only be growing violence and drug use. That's exactly what happened in the US when the American government took the same approach. Image captions: Eddie Ellison Jack Cole Eleanor Schockett
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Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Eddie Ellison TV ONE / Breakfast

NZOOM - TV ONE - Programmes - Breakfast: "Eddie Ellison member of LEAP ( Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) and former head of Scotland Yard drug squad. He spoke to Ali this morning about LEAP's views on bringing about a safer society by legalising drugs and getting them out of the hands of criminals. LEAP do not condone the use of drugs."

Images (and tour summary) available at http://mildgreens.com/leap
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Sunday, April 04, 2004

Judge Eleanor Schockett: Out On The Streets - Dissenting Opinions of Judges

Judge Eleanor Schockett: Out On The Streets - Dissenting Opinions of Judges:

"There's another solution. We didn't have a drug problem until we passed the laws and created it."

The message for New Zealand? Don't fall into the same trap.

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OUT ON THE STREETS


Growing violence and drug use will be the result of New Zealand's tough new stance on illegal drugs, says a former American judge, because this is exactly what happened when the US took the same approach. Judging it time for New Zealand to glimpse the abyss, Eleanor Schockett is framing a dismal future for life under existing drug laws. "New Zealand does not want to go where the United States has gone," says the former Florida judge. Next week, she is going to be telling this country that, drug-wise, the US is deeply mired in flawed policies reflected in New Zealand's tough new stance. The war on drugs in the US, she alleges, has simply led to more crime and violence. Schockett knows quite a lot about both. She quit the bench last year. Now she has joined an organisation of ex-cops, former prosecutors and judges from the US, Canada and Britain called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition ( LEAP ). They argue that using the criminal law to fight drugs, like the prohibition on alcohol before it, produces gang wars and random violence without reducing drug use. They say the only beneficiaries are drug bosses presiding over an illicit trade, that present drug laws have choked the court system and jammed the jails. More than 2.2 million people are in US jails and each year another 1.6m are arrested for non-violent drug offences. The US has five percent of the world's population and 25 percent of the world's prisoners. Yet, drugs are cheaper, more potent and easier to get than they were 30 years ago. Meanwhile, violence is growing. Schockett recognises an indictment when she sees one. She will be speaking to public meetings and Rotary clubs from April 6 in a visit organised by the Coalition for Cannabis Law Reform and the MildGreens, urging New Zealand not to follow the US down the tough drug road. Instead, she wants a dialogue with addicts, who should be able to get government help, use drugs in a clean and sterile environment, get counselling if they want it. And when they come down from a high and are safe on the streets, they should be free to go. Non-violent drug users should have their slates wiped clean. "Slowly but surely we can wean them off. I'd say that in less than a year you could kill the market for illegal drugs." Arguing that problems are related to prohibition rather than drugs themselves will seem a risky business to alarmed New Zealand audiences. Tens of thousands of kids, according to Customs figures, hook into Ecstasy as a routine lifestyle drug, but it remains a class B drug carrying heavy penalties. When William Bell guns down three people in the Panmure RSA, or Steven Williams kills his six-year-old stepdaughter Coral-Ellen Burrows, or Ese Junior Falealii kills a bank teller and a pizza worker, all of them after bingeing on pure methamphetamine, or P, it may not be the best time for visiting liberals preaching tolerance. Wait, says Schockett. "I'm not a wide-eyed liberal. I've got solid middle-class values." That is virtually a job qualification in Florida, Governor Jeb Bush territory, Jeb being pivotal in manipulating the vote to have his brother George W elected President. Schockett brushed with Jeb Bush during the 2000 election for governor. As a Miami-Dade County circuit court judge, she delivered a decision sidelining a posse of hardline Republican vote-watchers opposed to the Democratic candidate and anxious to operate in Florida's malleable voting system. Bush was elected anyway. In cyberspace, she is famous for a case on Internet anonymity and "cybersmearing". Most public companies in the US, and many in New Zealand, too, are the subject of Internet message boards. Concealing their identities with screen names ( Schockett's favourite in this case was "justthefactsjack" ), investors gossip about company practices, prospects and management. In this action, a Fort Lauderdale shipping company executive was accused on a message board of being under investigation by the US Securities and Exchange Commission, engaging in illegal accounting practices and fraud. He was forced to resign. He went to court to force Yahoo and America Online to reveal the names of his accusers. The defence, supported by the American Civil Liberties Union, argued that this was often the only way of revealing corporate misdeeds and predicted the end of uninhibited speech on the Internet. But Schockett, in a ground-breaking decision that has survived appeal, ruled that an anonymous Internet critic was not entitled to any special privileges. "Someone badmouthed this man online, to the whole world," she says. "It wasn't a freedom of speech issue, it was a responsibility for speech issue. Do you have the right to say anything you want on a worldwide billboard and not be held accountable? Heaven knows there's enough lying on the Internet as it is now." Schockett's message on drugs will clash with New Zealand Government policy. Far from being concerned about longer sentences and filling prisons, Justice Minister Phil Goff seems proud of it. Last month, Goff announced that the government's tougher sentencing and parole laws would see New Zealand's prison population rise by 20 percent over the next seven years. Supported, he claimed, by public opinion, four new prisons were under way to accommodate, among others, more convictions resulting from a tougher drug stance. Police, however, believe their war against drugs is working, citing only a slight increase in drug offences, including P, last year. "Police self-interest gets in the way of common sense," Schockett argues. "They maintain the circular argument that drugs are bad therefore illegal, but they fail to account for the harms resulting from the enforcement of policy. "The view that drug use is a health issue is held across a broad sample of current and former police officers, but the 'tough on drugs' line in the sand prevails. "The drug war has created crime," she says. "[Richard] Nixon put the drug war on the front-burner and ever since we've had a drug war, we have created a problem. We didn't have that many drug dealers and users in this country until 1968, when we made it more difficult for people to get drugs and the prices went up. Now the prices are way down. Most kids in schools will tell you it's easier for them to buy marijuana and cocaine than it is to buy alcohol and tobacco. "You've got violence in the street, little old ladies being hit over the head because someone needs $5 for a cocaine rock. "How do you deal with it? How do you get the drug dealers out of business? "First of all, you take away their market and not make a value judgment about whether people should or should not use certain drugs. It's demand that drives supply and not the other way round. If you ban something, you cannot control or regulate it. "The drug war has done other things. It has undermined the judicial system, because it can't handle what it's supposed to. If half of judicial time is taken up with issues related to criminal law, it's undermining the civil system, because criminal cases have to be filed first. "I had a caseload of 1500 at a time. Most of them were garbage cases. A large number of them involved drugs. "We're not trying serious white-collar crime cases, because we're too busy fighting the drug war. But we're not fighting the drug war. We're fighting our own citizens. "It costs $17,000 to keep someone in prison in Florida for a year. That's more than it costs to send them to the University of Florida. We're not salvaging people, we're destroying them." But people who feel under threat demand ever more repressive laws? "That's the problem. People are making money on this. Police departments get lots and lots of money to fight drugs, and every time they tell you we hauled in two tonnes of cocaine in a shipment, they will also tell you that they only block about 10-20 percent of what's being shipped in. [New Zealand Customs estimate that they get only 15 percent of, say, the Ecstasy bound for the street.] "So the bigger their hauls, the more they acknowledge is getting in." Schockett says she practised what she preaches. "Every opportunity where I could get someone into a drug programme or treatment, as opposed to sending them to jail, I would. These are long-term mental health problems. They don't need to be in jail. "In Iraq, Bush created a fear, then lied about it. "The drug war is the same thing. It is founded on a bunch of lies. "Do I think kids should smoke pot? No. I don't think they should smoke tobacco. Should people snort heroin? No. "I don't have much sympathy with people who go out and get drunk. I'm as square as they come. But it's not something you should be putting people in jail for. "There's another solution. We didn't have a drug problem until we passed the laws and created it." The message for New Zealand? Don't fall into the same trap.


Newshawk: LEAP http://www.leap.cc/ Votes:
Pubdate: Sat, 03 Apr 2004
Source: Listener, The (New Zealand)
Copyright: 2004 Wilson & Horton
Author: Bruce Ansley

Also see http://www.norml.org.nz/article450.html
Blair Anderson
http://mildgreens.blogspot.com

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Thursday, April 01, 2004

Bogus prohibition highlights "Mode of Use" anomaly

Abstract: An elderly Waimate couple have fallen victim to debased "harm reduction" policy under Helen Clark and the so-called progressive Labour government.

Mild Greens say that aside from the glaring natural injustice, it is significant that the medicinal cannabis was not being smoked, since avoidance of that potentially damaging mode of use highlights the practice of harm reduction which is supposed to be underpinning New Zealand's official National Drug Policy.

Press Release: Mild Greens 01/04/04

Bogus prohibition highlights "Mode of Use" anomaly

An elderly Waimate couple have fallen victim to debased "harm reduction" policy under Helen Clark and the so-called progressive Labour government.

Dawn Sarah Willis, a 68-year-old caregiver, was convicted for cultivating and preparing cannabis into bread and cakes for her sick husband, and has received a sentence of 100 hours community service for her 'crime'.

Mild Greens say that aside from the glaring natural injustice, it is significant that the medicinal cannabis was not being smoked, since avoidance of that potentially damaging mode of use highlights the practice of harm reduction which is supposed to be underpinning New Zealand?s official National Drug Policy. Government medicines watchdog, Medsafe, say smoked cannabis could never be prescribed, and that the Minister of Health is awaiting British development of a cannabis spray Sativex before legal prescription is possible.

But why is eaten cannabis not considered as a "SmokeFree" way forward by our stupid government?

Is it too obvious that in moderation this is a safe and user-friendly mode of use?

The Mild Greens say the Willis case (amongst many, many others) is about a gross failure in duty of care, and weak leadership in NZ, pandering to a global War on Drugs protection racket."It is an abomination to deny people in daily need of the social lubrication and medical efficacy of cannabis, and to punish those most vulnerable for what is an everyday activity for tens of thousands of ordinary Kiwis."

"Politicians and Police need to take on board the simmering discontent of a significant proportion of the population who realise the draconian prohibition and enforced black-marketeering of cannabis is devoid of any integrity or credibility (c.f. the NZ Police undercover programme)".

Community leaders also need to heed the advice of the 2003 Health Select Committee who recognised medicinal availability of marijuana should be prioritised, along with formulation of the most appropriate legal status for general widespread use in the community (a task which the HSC found itself incapable of, despite this being its 3-year brief).

And Health Minister Annette King needs to explain, without lying (if that is possible with Labour Ministers), why 'Mode of use' was deleted from the statutory evidence based criteria for classification of substances she passed into law in the year 2000.

Perhaps the Minister could also explain the ongoing suppression of a certain cost-effectiveness investigation into prohibition methods required by the Ministry of Health under National Drug Policy development in 1996. The evidence clearly shows that prohibition of drugs is notorious for incentivising distribution networks, corrupting governments and law enforcement, and rendering drugs completely uncontrolled and subject to the most dangerous methods of use.

"Unfortunately, Police, Judiciary and the majority of Parliamentarians have self-servingly ignored the gross deficiencies of their policy which divides and dyfunctionalises New Zealand."

Regarding the 100hr community sentence dished out to Dawn Willis, (given there were 80 plants seized - ordinarily warranting a stiff jail sentence), Mild Greens ask should the public of NZ be grateful that the system has moderated its bad behaviour so that we don't notice or complain too much? Late last year, Christchurch businessman Ian Jackson walked free on the basis that he was able to demonstrate the medical efficacy of the cannabis he was cultivating and heavily consuming, while still running a highly successful company. Meanwhile, it is understood that another South Island cannabis enthusiast, who produces and gives away 'cookies' to people in need, is up before the Christchurch District Court this week, no doubt facing more contradictory and typically hypocritical and posturing, so-called 'justice'.

And as an aside, the Mild Greens ask New Zealand to consider how many criminalised young Maori receive 'preferential' Police services and are herded through the courts and prisons on false charges based on the bogus and unsubstantiated cannabis law and the criminality it engenders?

MildGreens commend Dawn Willis for her initiative and fully support the exoneration of her, and her husband - and demand that the Government make amends for the forfeitures and persecution of all Victims.

"We also support the prosecution of Ministers and Officials who have conspired to fraudulently maintain dangerous and unjust prohibitionist policies."

Blair Anderson
http://mildgreens.com
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