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

Friday, December 31, 2004

Anti-marijuana message for teens

Sunday Times[Aust]: Anti-marijuana message for teens

THE NSW Government's anti-cannabis message will be targeted at teenagers through an advertising campaign in shopping centres and cinemas.

Special Minister of State John Della Bosca today launched an extension of the cannabis information campaign, which is part of the Government's $230 million drug program. It involves a series of posters at cinema and in shopping centre bathrooms during the January school holiday. A digitally animated slide also will screen in regional cinemas as part of pre-movie entertainment. "Cinemas and shopping centres draw thousands of young people during the summer school holidays," Mr Della Bosca said. "Rerunning the campaign during this period provides a great opportunity to reach as many young people as possible."

Mr Della Bosca said the campaign aimed to reinforce the message that cannabis was not a soft or recreational drug, or one without risks.

The anti-drugs campaign also has included the rollout of four cannabis treatment clinics across NSW and cannabis resource kits in high schools across the state.
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Thursday, December 30, 2004

Youth drug problem taxes health service, [WellTrust's SickBullshit]

Top Stories from NZCity: "Youth drug problem taxes health service
Growing drug problems among young people could eventually swamp the country's mental health services
30 December 2004

Substance abuse experts say growing drug problems among young people could eventually swamp the country's mental health services.

The warning comes from WellTrust, an agency established in Wellington to help young people with drug and alcohol problems.

Director Pauline Gardiner says the average age of those now being referred is 11 and a half.

Several 7 and 8 year olds are also being treated, some displaying early signs of illnesses such as paranoias and hallucinations.

Pauline Gardiner says with more than half of Capital and Coast Health's mental health services budget already spent on those in their 20s with drug problems, things do not look good for the future.

She says parents who are aware of drug and alcohol abusers in their families should ensure that they point out the risks to their kids.

Ms Gardiner says parents need to be open with their children about the prevalence of those problems in the family.

She says they could discuss it, along with other hereditary family traits such as a predisposition to red hair or diabetes. "
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Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Viagra , Viox, Celebrex, and Strattera kill dailly

Letter to the Editor

Viagra , Viox, Celebrex and Strattera kill daily.

The US's FDA have approved and maintain exclusive oversight of new drugs
despite massive flaws in monitoring contraindications and complications
that have lead to thousands of deaths and made more than 300,000
healthcare consumers per annum very very sick. Yet the US refuses to
examine under first principles the effacious and widely used herb,
cannabis. Here in New Zealand, Jim Anderton has just announced the
funding a few studies looking into cannabis in conjunction with
co-existing conditions looking for proof that cannabis is somehow the
culprit. Who is he asking? It is the very same organisations that treat
these people and then ask for taxpayer money. Well he would wouldn't he.
This sure looks like the politics of fears and obsfucation and may
account for how WELLTRUST and others gets its 'crisis' funding. This
treatment industry research will find "clinicians fallacy" as they write
their own self-serving ticket. It is time drug policy got real and
honest. Cannabis hasn't killed anyone. Prohibition on the other hand is
an indentified impediment to treatment access while damaging antidrug
education efforts and its all contained in research we have already paid
for.

What is Jim on that keeps him so delusional, deluded and distracted, and all at our expense?

sig. Blair Anderson
50 Wainoni Road
Christchurch, NZ.
cell phone 025 2657219 ph (643) 389 4065

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Tuesday, December 21, 2004

More drugs being seized

Customs makes 16 the number of busts of crystal methamphetimine or "ice" in 2004 compared to previous year

The volume of class-A drugs being seized at New Zealand's border has skyrocketed. Customs has made 16 times the number of busts of crystal methamphetamine or "ice" in 2004 compared with last year.

Figures show almost 14,000 grams of ICE have been snatched in the year to September, compared with 862 grams last year. Around 1.5 million precursor tablets, used to make the harmful drug, have also been seized, double last year's haul. Customs Minister Rick Barker says although it is great so many drug-runners are being caught, the increased demand for methamphetamine is of great concern.

(Pity they fail to understand... they caused this mess, and are now only able to measure how badly they are doing! / Blair)
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Sunday, December 19, 2004

Poll shows seniors back medical marijuana

Poll shows seniors back medical marijuana

(this newsclip is getting heavy media coverage in America, it may also recieve NZ press as an AP item / Blair)

Poll shows seniors back medical marijuana

ELIZABETH WOLFE
Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Nearly three-fourths of older Americans support legalizing marijuana for medical use, according to a poll done for the nation's largest advocacy group for seniors.

More than half of those questioned said they believe marijuana has medical benefits, while a larger majority agreed the drug is addictive.

AARP, with 35 million members, says it has no political position on medical marijuana and that its local branches have not chosen sides in the scores of state ballot initiatives on the issue in recent elections.

But with medical marijuana at the center of a Supreme Court case to be decided next year, and nearly a dozen states with medical marijuana laws on their books, AARP decided to study the issue.

"The use of medical marijuana applies to many older Americans who may benefit from cannabis," said Ed Dwyer, an editor at AARP The Magazine, which will discuss medical marijuana in its March/April issue appearing in late January.

Among the 1,706 adults polled in AARP's random telephone survey in November, opinions varied along regional and generational lines and among the 30 percent of respondents who said they have smoked pot. AARP members represented 37 percent of respondents.

Overall, 72 percent of respondents agreed "adults should be allowed to legally use marijuana for medical purposes if a physician recommends it." Those in the Northeast (79 percent) and West (82 percent) were more receptive to the idea than in the Midwest (67 percent) and Southwest (65 percent). In Southern states, 70 percent agreed with the statement.

Though 69 percent of those age 70 and older said they support legal medical marijuana use, less than half agreed it has medical benefits. Seventy percent of respondents age 45-49 said they believe in the medical benefits of pot, as did 59 percent of those in the 50-69 age group.

And while 74 percent of all people surveyed said pot is addictive, older respondents were more likely to think so: 83 percent of those 70 and older, compared with 61 percent of those aged 45-49.

Generational lines also divided those who have smoked pot: Just 8 percent of those 70 and older admitted having lit up, compared with 58 percent of the 45-49 group, 37 percent of those between 50 and 59 and 15 percent of the 60-69 set.

National polls in recent years have found majority support for allowing the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

Last month, the Supreme Court heard arguments over whether federal agents can pursue sick people who use homegrown marijuana with their doctors' permission and their states' approval.

The Bush administration has argued that allowing medical marijuana in California would undermine federal drug control programs, and that pot grown for medical use could end up on the illegal market and cross state lines.

The AARP poll of adults age 45 and older was conducted Nov. 10-21 by International Communications Research of Media, Pa. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

ON THE NET see AARP: http://www.aarp.org & AARP magazine: http://www.aarpmagazine.org
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Thursday, December 16, 2004

Coroner to be asked for ruling on missing man

Another missing south Auckland man is likely to officially be declared dead early next year even though his body has not been found.

It will be the second time police will have taken the unusual step of asking a coroner to declare a man dead without a body.

Jason Kearney, 26, disappeared in 1996. Four years later police opened a homicide inquiry when an informant told them he had been murdered.

The information was fully investigated and police said though they did not have enough evidence to charge anyone, they still believed the informant was right but a name police were given was incorrect.

"I still believe he has been murdered. The two things we need to know is why and who," Detective Senior Sergeant Mark Gutry from Counties Manukau police said.

Mr Kearney left his Pakuranga home in South Auckland on August 17, 1996, and has never been seen since. His car was found the next day near Cossey's Dam in the Hunua Ranges, West Auckland.

Mr Gutry said eight years after Mr Kearney's disappearance a reward had expired but a payment would be considered if someone was convicted.

He said Mr Kearney was a "bit player" in the drug scene. He grew a small amount of cannabis and used it, but the chances of him being killed over a drug deal which went wrong, could not be ruled out, though it was unlikely.

He was not suicidal or depressed.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2004

cannabinotherapies in Aussie

PRESS RELEASE 6 December 2004

Australian Medical Cannabis Information Service (MCIS) has struck out at yet another blow to the re introduction of cannabinotherapies.

Last week the Bush Administration took a baseball bat to US States that allow medical cannabis use, this week the UK Health regulator has rejected a new cannabis preparation that has proven itself through all the required medical and clinical trials.

Mr Andrew Kavasilas, MCIS founder and a noted researcher in the field said, "Very sick people in Australia are calling for medical cannabis preparations, the NSW Premier has called to trial this product for a number of years".

In 1999 the NSW Government formed an Expert Working Party to report on the use of cannabis for medical purposes. The report concluded that the science does indicate that cannabis has beneficial therapeutic properties and that several options should be considered by the NSW government to allow patients access.

Mr Kavasilas said "there's just so many people who have accepted the idea of medical cannabis during the past 5 years or so, trials are needed, people are waiting, who will help them, It's now up to Mr Howard to give the nod on behalf of cancer, chemotherapy, MS and other patients"

"Last year, synthetic Delta 9 THC (one of the active compounds in cannabis) was re introduced, 49 countries used over 90 kg of it, Australia bought 20 grams worth to study, are we going to wait for each compound is synthesised?" he added

Andrew Kavasilas
0427 891 968

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Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Random drug tests target Australian drivers

CBC News - CBC News: Random drug tests target Australian drivers: "Within minutes of the program's launch in the city of Melbourne Monday, police found traces of marijuana in the samples of two of 14 drivers who passed through a drug-testing checkpoint"
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Australia starts trial of random drug testing on drivers

TODAYonline: "Australia starts trial of random drug testing on drivers"

According to Victoria's police minister Andre Haermeyer, one-third of drivers killed on the state's roads last year tested positive for drugs.

A recent Australian survey also revealed that 25 per cent of men under the age 25 admitted that they had driven after taking an illegal drug.
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Sensible sentencing? A Dunedin Court Disparity

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Sunday, December 12, 2004

LEAP "Down Under" Report (2004 highlights) www.leap.cc

LEAP - 2004 Highlights
HTTP://WWW.LEAP.CC

The LEAP "Down Under" Tour

In April 2004 LEAP conducted a tour of New Zealand with Jack Cole, Eleanor Schockett and Eddie Ellison. From an organizational point of view, this was the speakers bureau toughest assignment to date. Working with activists in New Zealand, we scheduled dozens of civic clubs, radio interviews and visits with public officials, including the Kiwi drug czar and the health minister. Presentations were made not just in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, but in outlying communities, too. The speakers were escorted around the country by activists who also provided places for the speakers to stay.

After the success of the New Zealand tour, the trio made it over to Melbourne,Australia for the International Harm Reduction Conference. LEAP acquired over 35 new members while speaking at the conference...harm reductionists were shocked and excited that LEAP existed and wanted to hear more about the effect of LEAP with public officials and the media. We hope to do it again at the next meeting of the IHRC in Belfast during March.

By Mike Smithson, LEAP Speakers Bureau Coordinator
The LEAP Ledger, December, 2004, Page 2
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Thursday, December 09, 2004

First-ever Safety Study Of Medical Cannabis Use In Canada Launched

MONTREAL, A first-of-its-kind study of safety issues surrounding the medical use of cannabis has just been launched. Known as the COMPASS study (Cannabis for the management of pain: assessment of safety study), the research initiative will follow 1400 chronic pain patients, 350 of whom use cannabis as part of their pain management strategy, for a one-year period. Seven participating pain clinics across Canada are now enrolling patients for this study.

"Patients in COMPASS will typically have pain resulting from spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, arthritis or other kinds of hard-to-treat neuropathic or muscle pain," explains Dr. Mark Ware, principal investigator and pain physician at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) Pain Centre. "We are not recruiting cancer patients for this study."

"COMPASS participants will be given access to research-grade herbal cannabis and followed for one year," adds Dr. Jean-Paul Collet, also a principal investigator and Professor of Epidemiology at McGill University.

"We'll be looking at a range of safety issues, including adverse events, kidney, liver, heart and lung function and hormone levels," he says. "Patients will also do tests at the start and end of the study, to help determine whether medical use of cannabis affects cognitive function."

Since 1999, Canadian patients have been able to use cannabis for medical reasons, under specific circumstances, with a physician's recommendation and Health Canada authorization. However, until now, the safety of cannabis used for medical purposes has not been scientifically studied.

"Other studies are looking at whether cannabis relieves pain and other symptoms," says Dr. Ware. "These studies are important, but we also need to know how safe cannabis used for medical purposes actually is. The experience of recreational users gives us some information, but we must understand safety issues in patients who are taking multiple medications and who may have diseases like high blood pressure or diabetes which complicate the picture."

The herbal cannabis to be used in the COMPASS study is produced by Prairie Plant Systems Inc under contract to Health Canada. The strain used in this study contains about 12 percent THC (the active ingredient). Government-supplied cannabis will be sent to pharmacies at each site and dispensed to patients there.

"Right now, thousands of Canadians are using cannabis to treat their pain," says Dr. Ware. "We need much more information on the safety issues facing these patients. COMPASS is the first-ever attempt to collect this information over an extended period, under a wide range of conditions and in real-world settings."

Patients wishing to participate in the COMPASS study should call 1-866-302-4636 (toll-free) and leave their names and telephone numbers. A study coordinator will contact prospective patients to assess whether they meet study requirements. All patient information will be held in strict confidence. Further information is available from http://www.gereq.net/compass.

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Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Scientific American on Endocannabinoids

The Brain's Own Marijuana; December 2004; by Roger A. Nicoll and Bradley E. Alger; 8 page(s)

Marijuana is a drug with a mixed history. Mention it to one person, and it will conjure images of potheads lost in a spaced-out stupor. To another, it may represent relaxation, a slowing down of modern madness. To yet another, marijuana means hope for cancer patients suffering from the debilitating nausea of chemotherapy, or it is the promise of relief from chronic pain. The drug is all these things and more, for its history is a long one, spanning millennia and continents. It is also something everyone is familiar with, whether they know it or not. Everyone grows a form of the drug, regardless of their political leanings or recreational proclivities. That is because the brain makes its own marijuana, natural compounds called endocannabinoids (after the plant's formal name, Cannabis sativa).

The study of endocannabinoids in recent years has led to exciting discoveries. By examining these substances, researchers have exposed an entirely new signaling system in the brain: a way that nerve cells communicate that no one anticipated even 15 years ago. Fully understanding this signaling system could have far-reaching implications. The details appear to hold a key to devising treatments for anxiety, pain, nausea, obesity, brain injury and many other medical problems. Ultimately such treatments could be tailored precisely so that they would not initiate the unwanted side effects produced by marijuana itself.

SA Perspectives: Marijuana Research; December 2004; by Staff Editor; 1 page(s)

The human brain naturally produces and processes compounds closely related to those found in Cannabis sativa, better known as marijuana [see "The Brain's Own Marijuana," by Roger A. Nicoll and Bradley E. Alger, on page 68]. These compounds are called endogenous cannabinoids or endocannabinoids. As the journal Nature Medicine put it in 2003, "the endocannabinoid system has an important role in nearly every paradigm of pain, in memory, in neurodegeneration and in inflammation." The journal goes on to note that cannabinoids' "clinical potential is enormous." That potential may include treatments for pain, nerve injury, the nausea associated with chemotherapy, the wasting related to AIDS and more.

Yet outdated regulations and attitudes thwart legitimate research with marijuana. Indeed, American biomedical researchers can more easily acquire and investigate cocaine. Marijuana is classified as a so-called Schedule 1 drug, alongside LSD and heroin. As such, it is defined as being potentially addictive and having no medical use, which under the circumstances becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

--


(watch this space for the 'and more' news on endoC and energy/appetite matrix and the consequences for public health and diabetes, heart disease and stroke... /Blair)

sig. Blair Anderson
Christchurch, NZ.

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Educators for Sensible Drug Policy

educators for sensible drug policy [http://www.ESDP.org] and others contribute excellent letters on drug ed.
see http://www.neighbourhoodnews.ca/290580998093452.php

sig. Blair Anderson
Christchurch, NZ.

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