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

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

MDMA's verbal memory - a LTE

Researchers evidencing illicit club drug harms seemingly ignore Ecstasy's [MDMA] popularity, or the contextual dangers stemming directly from its illegal status. [NZH 29Nov] Nor do they make a comparison with known harms from early use of that other culturally acceptable anesthetic drug, Alcohol. The 'verbal memory' of drunken adults would discourage any thinking teen if the double standards in drug education didn't get in the way.

 

Gt.Britain's rational and refreshingly balanced response announced recently by UK Professor Nutt, is to downgrade MDMA and LSD. Like Cannabis, 'on evidence' the harms have been largely overstated. The UK Science and Technology Select Committee further advised the principles underpinning 'ABC' drug classification was seriously deficient saying it was about political expediency and criminal status rather than relative harms. NZ could well take on board these points as it considers what to do about medicinal and recreational cannabis. Drug policy must be formulated around informed consent. That is the adult thing to do. Young folk, according to WellTrust have unfettered access to all manner of drugs and in a very dangerous context, a point that prohibition has a lot to answer for.  As adults we have an ethical if not moral imperative to fix this, and soon.

 

Blair Anderson

Director, Educators for Sensible Drug Policy

http://www.efsdp.org

 

(200 words)

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

On Medpot and Crime, California Dreamin / ;-)

"Relief from the burden of criminality through medical protection enhances a salutary self-perception."

(also see "Marijuana - the Anti-Drug" - physicians are finding that patients using cannabis are reducing use of conventional prescription medications or even discarding them completely.)

Demographics:

  • male patients, 72; female, 28%.
  • Women are more likely than men to use cannabis for psychotherapeutic purposes (32% to 18%).
  • Men are more likely to use for harm reduction (4% to 1%).

/Blair

Fred Gardner: Dr. Mikuriya's Observations 10 Years of Legalized Medical Marijuana in California

Posted by Gary Storck / Saturday, November 4, 2006

It's hard to believe that 10 years have passed since California voters passed Prop 215. While there has been much progress in that time, there continues to be too much pain and suffering, caused by the U.S. government's failure to listen to its people and the science. While some areas of California have good access to medical cannabis, like the San Francisco Bay Area, the fight continues in other areas. In some locales, local authorities are teaming up with the DEA to close dispensaries. Even in places like San Francisco, a NIMBY backlash is threatening to push dispensaries out of neighborhoods where patients can easily access their medicine.

The good news is hundreds of thousands of patients ARE getting their medicine, and much has been learned from these patients. The passage of Prop 215 has helped inspire 10 other states to pass medical marijuana laws. And in those areas where local officials have been supportive, patients now have access to a wide selection of different strains, hash, kif, edibles, capsules, tinctures, salves and more. Vaporizers are cheaper, more efficient and more commonplace. Activist groups like CA NORML, Americans for Safe Access and DPA are fighting against the backlash and having success sticking up for patients. While the US war on the sick and dying shows no signs of abating, hopefully the next ten will be smoother. There is even a little hope for action at the federal level should Democrats retake Congress. I'll be exploring the election results and their impact Tuesday night on this blog.

Below, Fred Gardner details Dr. Tod Mikuriya's observations ten years after. Dr. Mikuriya was last in Madison in 2005 when he spoke at the 35th Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival.

Dr. Mikuriya's Observations 10 Years of Legalized Medical Marijuana in California

By FRED GARDNER

Tod Mikuriya, MD (Berkeley), was the first California doctor to monitor patients' use of cannabis systematically. In the early 1990s his interviews with members of the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club documented Dennis Peron's observation that people were self-medicating for an extremely wide range of problems.

The broad range of applications confirmed what Mikuriya had learned from his study of the pre-prohibition medical literature on cannabis, and so when Prop 215 was being drafted, he urged that it apply not only to people with a list of named conditions, but to those treating " ... any other illness for which marijuana provides relief."

No sooner had Prop 215 passed than top California law enforcement agents colluded with Clinton Administration officials and Prohibitionist strategists from the private sector to plan its disimplementation. On Dec. 30, 1996, Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey, Attorney General Janet Reno, Health & Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala, and the director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse, Alan Leshner, held a press conference to threaten California doctors with loss of their licenses, i.e., their livelihoods, if they approved marijuana use by their patients. McCaffrey stood alongside a large chart headed "Dr. Tod Mikuriya's, (215 Medical Advisor) Medical Uses of Marijuana." Twenty-six conditions were listed in two columns. ("Migranes" was misspelled.) "This isn't medicine, this is a Cheech and Chong show," he said. Reno said prosecutors would focus on doctors who were "egregious" in approving marijuana use by patients.

Dr. Mikuriya watched the press conference on CNN at his home in the Berkeley Hills. "As doctors become more fearful," he says. "I'll obviously get more and more patients who are using cannabis or are considering it. Will that make it seem that there's something 'egregious' about my practice? You bet it will!"

From the Attorney General's office in Sacramento a memo went out from Senior Deputy AG John Gordnier to district attorneys in all 58 counties asking them to forward any cases involving Mikuriya. In due course, on the basis of complaints from sheriffs, cops, and DAs, Mikuriya was investigated by the medical board and found to have committed "extreme departures from standard practice." He was placed on probation and ordered to pay $75,000 for his own prosecution.

Over the years the number of cannabis specialists among California doctors has risen slowly but steadily. In 2000 Mikuriya organized a group, now known as the Society of Cannabis Clinicians, to share data for research purposes. More than 20 doctors have become involved with the SCC. Collectively they have approved cannabis use by an estimated 350,000 patients. This summer, with the 10th anniversary of Prop 215's passage approaching, I surveyed the SCC doctors get their basic findings. Here are Dr. Mikuriya's responses to the survey he inspired.

Approvals issued to date: 8,684.
Previously self-medicating: >99%
Category of use: Analgesic/immunomodulator 41%
Antispasmodic/anticonvulsant 29%
Antidepresssant/Anxiolytic 27%
Harm reduction substitute: 4%

Results reported are dependent on the conditions and symptoms being treated. The primary benefit is control without toxicity for chronic pain and a wide array of chronic conditions. Control represents freedom from fear and oppression. Control -or lack thereof- is a major element in self-esteem.

With exertion of control, with freedom from fear of incapacity, quality of life is improved. The ability to abort an incapacitating attack of migraine, asthma, anxiety, or depression empowers.

Relief from the burden of criminality through medical protection enhances a salutary self-perception.

Alteration in the perception of and reaction to pain and muscle spasticity is a unique property of cannabis therapy.

Patient reports are diverse yet contain common elements. 100% report that cannabis is safe and effective. Return for follow-up and renewal of recommendation and approval confirms safety and efficacy.

Cannabis seems to work by promoting homeostasis in various systems of the body. Its salient effects are multiple and concurrent. They include- o Restoration of normal functioning of the gastrointestinal tract with normalization of peristalsis and restoration of appetite. o Normalizing circadian rhythm, which relieves insomnia. Sleep is therapeutic in itself and synergistically helps with pain control. o Easement of pain, depression, and anxiety. Cannabis as an anxiolytic and antidepressant modulates emotional reactivity and is especially useful in treating post-traumatic stress disorders.

Patients treated for ADHD: 92
Patients using cannabis as a substitute for alcohol: 683.
The slow poisoning by alcohol with its sickening effects on the body, psyche, and family can be relieved by cannabis.

Medications no longer needed? Opioids, sedatives, NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories), and SSRI anti-depressants are commonly used in smaller amounts or discontinued. These are all drugs with serious adverse effects. Opioids and sedatives produce depression, demotivation, and diminished mobility. Weight gain and diminished functionality are common effects. Cognitive and emotional impairment and depression are comorbid conditions. Opioids adversely effect vegetative functioning with constipation, dyspepsia, and gastric irritation. Pruritus is also an issue for some. Circadian rhythms are disrupted with sleep disorders and chronic sedation caused by these agents. Dependence and withdrawal symptoms are more serious than with sedatives.

Opioids are undoubtedly the analgesic of choice in treating acute pain. For chronic pain, however, I recommend the protocol proposed by a doctor named Fronmueller2 to the Ohio Medical Society in 1859: primary use of cannabis, resorting to opiates for episodic worsening of the condition. Efficacy is maximized, tolerance and adverse effects are minimized. (Neither cannabis nor human physiology has changed since 1859.)

NSAIDs can be particularly insidious for those who do not immediately react with gastric irritation and discontinue the drug. Chronic irritation with bleeding may produce serious morbidity. Most often, the dyspepsia produced is suppressed with antacids or other medications. Many patients tolerate acute intermittent use but not chronic use. SSRIs, if tolerated, coexist without adverse interaction with cannabis. Some SSRI users say cannabis is synergistic in that it treats side effects of jitteriness or gastrointestinal problems.

Many patients report pressure exerted by the Veterans Administration, HMOs such as Kaiser Permanente, and workers' compensation program contractors to remain on pharmaceutical regimens. A significant number describe their prescribed drugs as ineffectual and having undesirable effects. "Mainstream" doctors frequently respond to reports of adverse effects by prescribing additional drugs. Instead of negating the problem, they often complicate it. Prevailing practice standards encourage polypharmacy -the use of multiple drugs, usually five or more.

Out of the ordinary conditions? While all pain reflects localized immunologic activity secondary to trauma or injury, the following atraumatic autoimmune disorders comprise a group of interest: Crohn's disease Atrophie blanche, Melorheostosis, Porphyria, Thallasemia, Sickle cell anemia, Amyloidosis Mastocytosis, Lupus, Scleroderma, Eosinophilia myalgia syndrome. These are all clearly of autoimmune etiology, difficult to treat. Specific metabolic errors such as amyloidosis and certain anemias warrant further study and may elucidate the underlying mechanisms of the illnesses and the therapeutic effects of cannabis. Multiple sclerosis with its range of severity varies in therapeutic response to cannabis.

Demographics: male patients, 72; female, 28%. Women are more likely than men to use cannabis for psychotherapeutic purposes (32% to 18%). Men are more likely to use for harm reduction (4% to 1%). A roughly bell-shaped curve describes the age of my patients. 0-18 years, 1%; 19-30, 19%; 31-45, 36%; 45-60, 37%; older than 61, 7%.

Additional Observations:

Proactive structuralism works. Meaning: people can create something and by doing so, set a precedent.

Medical cannabis users are typically treating chronic illnesses - not rapidly debilitating acute illnesses.

The cash economy works better than the bureaucratic alternative. Word of mouth builds a movement.

The private sector is handling marijuana distribution because the government has defaulted.

Cannabis was once on the market and regulated, then it was removed from the market and nearly forgotten.

Not all that we've learned in the past 10 years is new.

Once upon a time the California Compassionate Use Act of 1996 became the law of the state. We had the mistaken belief that civil servants, sworn to uphold the law, would set about implementing the new section of the Health & Safety Code. Hardly... Twenty California doctors have been investigated by the Medical Board for approving cannabis use by their patients. Limited immunity from prosecution for physicians was either proclaimed invalid or, more commonly, evaded by the Board and the Attorney General. They dissimulate, pretending that it is not the physician's approval of marijuana at issue, but his or her standard of practice. They then hold cannabis consultants to a standard that most HMO doctors violate constantly.

The fix is in. The state criminal justice entities share information and operate in concert with the DEA. There has been a total end run around the injunctive protection of the Conant ruling. [In Conant, a federal court enjoined the government from threatening doctors who discuss cannabis as a treatment option with patients.] General media indifference enables this RICO under color of authority and the continuing defiance of the will of Californians who spoke ten years ago.

This is counterbalanced by the rewards of helping patients with serious chronic aliments who have adverse experience utilizing so-called main stream medicines.

Fred Gardner can be reached at fred@plebesite.com

http://www.madisonnorml.org/blog/archives/000112.php

--
Blair Anderson
ph (643) 389 4065 cell 027 265 7219
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Monday, November 27, 2006

BMJ on C&C to MFE

Katie Andrews-Cookson
Advisor, Climate Change
Ministry for the Environment.
Wellington

Hi Katie...

Increasingly broadening debate amongst health professionals in the august journal BMJ on Beyond Kyoto principals.. (as well as an objective critique on why they have been quiet, none more so than here). Also this informative editorial confirms the Assoc of British Architects are similarly aligned to C&C.

http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/333/7576/983

Blair Anderson
http://mildgreens.com
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Life-chemistry of cannabis

Long time internet collegue Dr. Robert [Bob] Melamede is assistant professor (and Chair of Biology) at UCCS. He presented at the 2006 NORML [USA] conference. Find out how the physics of life works and why cannabinoids play such a crucial role [mp3] with one of the most respected researchers and best presenters on the subjects of the actual life-chemistry of cannabis .
 
Blair Anderson
ph (643) 389 4065   cell 027 265 7219
 
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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Beyond Sativex

While Sativex (a metered dosage whole cannabis preparation) proves the lie, a new study published in the November 2006 Harm Reduction Journal suggests the health outcomes issue is wider than just what one can be prescribed (and thus morally approved).

Here is some selected notes from the Canadian research.

Valid clinical studies of herbal cannabis require a product which is acceptable to patients in order to maximize adherence to study protocols. (Sounds awfully like informed consent to me./Blair) The study shows that medical cannabis users can appreciate differences in herbal product. A more acceptable cannabis product may increase recruitment and retention in clinical studies of medical cannabis.

To our knowledge, this is the first ever evaluation of medical cannabis products for physical and smoking characteristics by authorized patients. We have shown that subjects may appreciate differences between cannabis preparations on the basis of physical characteristics of the herbal material, specifically general appearance and colour. We did not show differences in individual smoking characteristics, but overall impressions confirmed that subjects favoured higher THC content, higher humidity and larger grind size.

The detected differences between products could have arisen by chance, or may have been influenced by other factors such as the use of different modes of administration (pipes and joints). Further study should limit the modes of administration to reduce confounding by these factors. (Au contraire... the study should be enhanced to provide research insight into modes of use.../Blair)

Like Wow Man... some godamn honesty makes for a refreshing change...
Lets see if the NZ Green Party understand the significance and support 'home grow' and to seek the repeal of the bong bill for its inconsistencies and breaches of good faith and human rights.

Consider the wider implications of cannabis use as replacement therapy (hell its supposed to work for methadone, why not cannabis? ). THere is a legacy of exonerative testimony that cannabis replaces alchol. Thats a major head start in harm reduction/minimisation.

Marijuana, the Anti-Drug

The extent to which medical cannabis users discontinue or reduce their use of pharmaceutical and over-the-counter drugs is a recurring theme in a recent survey of pro-cannabis (PC) California doctors. The drug-reduction phenomenon has obvious scientific implications. Medicating with cannabis enables people to lay off stimulants as well as sedatives -suggesting that the herb's active ingredients restore homeostasis to various bodily systems. (Lab studies confirm that cannabinoids normalize the tempo of many other neurotransmission systems.) The political implications are equally obvious. Legalizing herbal cannabis would devastate the pharmaceutical manufacturers and allied corporations in the chemicals, oil, "food," and banking sectors. Put simply, the synthetic drug makers stand to lose half their sales if and when the American people get legal access to cannabis.

In the 10 years since Proposition 215 made it legal for California doctors to approve cannabis use by patients, the PC docs did not adopt a common intake questionnaire, and, with one exception, did not collect systematic data on which pharmaceutical drugs their patients had chosen to stop taking. However, the consistency with which the doctors describe this phenomenon has a force as impressive as any slickly presented "hard" data.

Blair Anderson
http://mildgreens.com
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Friday, November 24, 2006

Give heroin to addicts, says Police Chief

Separately, the [UK] government's drugs adviser, David Nutt, said that ecstasy and LSD, which are believed to be used by half a million young people every week, should be downgraded from class A.

One would have to ask, what then is our Expert Advisoy Committee on Drugs doing?

This interesting milestone in the public discourse on drug policy also mentions former Metropolitan police detective chief superintendent Eddie Ellison who many readers will recall said much the same thing as our Mr Nutt on TV3's Mikey Havoc's interview. (see LEAP NZ tour April 2004)

Blair Anderson
http://mildgreens.com
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Thursday, November 23, 2006

Green MP takes offence over Maori drug use suggestions

(it appears neither commentators understand white priviledge. /Blair)

Green MP Meteria Turei has taken offence over generalisations about Maori after an addiction expert said the group was more at risk of becoming drug addicts than others.

NZPA reported this week National Addiction Centre director Professor Doug Sellman's study results which found Maori were twice as likely to have lifetime substance use disorders than other ethnic groups.

In an interview on National Radio yesterday he speculated cultural reasons could have an effect. Differences he pointed to included singing and ability at sports which Ms Turei said was "deeply offensive".

"Addiction is an enormously complex issue for everyone who suffers from it. Social and economic factors as well as the impact of colonialism and racism must be seriously considered in analysing this data."

Ms Turei said a 2002 Christchurch School of Medicine report on arrests and convictions for cannabis related offences showed Maori had a higher rate of convictions for those offences because they were stopped and searched more.

"This morning's comments were simplistic and unfair. For such research to have beneficial impacts for Maori the analysis of causality needs to be far more sophisticated," Ms Turei said.

On Tuesday Prof Sellman had said the reasons for the result were not fully understood but underscored the need for effective services to be available.

Prof Sellman said that while complete recovery from severe addiction was relatively rare, recovery of a worthwhile life was achievable.

"But to achieve this, people must be retained in treatment for longish periods of time to consolidate behaviour change and skills acquisition," he said.

[NZPA]

Blair Anderson
http://mildgreens.com
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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

NORML Advisory Board Member Robert Altman Dies

Noted Director, NORML Advisory Board Member Robert Altman Dies
November 21, 2006 - Los Angeles, CA, USA

[Robert Altman joined NORML’s Advisory Board in 2002, six years after he had major heart transplant surgery. Robert was a lifetime user of cannabis, and outsdpoken advocate for reform. If this escaped the notice of media, it must allso be noted that Robert's artistic (and business) success puts paid to the notion that cannabis is a dumb drug. The truth will out. /Blair]


[image courtesy of Thighs Wide Shut

Los Angeles, CA: Filmmaker Robert Altman, director of dozens of films and television dramas, passed away today. He was 81 years old. Altman’s received critical accolades for much of his work, most notably the film “MASH,” as well 1975’s “Nashville” and the 1971 western “McCabe and Mrs. Miller.”

He was nominated as best director for “MASH,” “Nashville,” “The Player” (1992), “Short Cuts” (1993) and “Gosford Park” (2001). Earlier this year, Altman received a lifetime achievement award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.


Condolences to his Whanau and Friends from the MildGreens.
Blair Anderson
http://mildgreens.com
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Monday, November 20, 2006

Youth Targetting... (or so goes the War)

A MAJOR new drive to catch people on illegal drugs is being launched in Winchester tonight and is targeting young people visiting the city's pubs.

In a groundbreaking operation, police will be testing people on their way into four city pubs and stopping and searching anyone who gives a positive result.

It is one of the first times that the machine, called Ion-Track, has been used in the UK to test people on their way into venues. It can detect everything from cannabis to crack.

see: Basingstoke Gazette


Blair Anderson
http://mildgreens.com
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Sunday, November 19, 2006

LEAP: Milton Friedman, Obit


Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist who advocated an unfettered free market and had the ear of three U.S. presidents, died Thursday at age 94.
A member of LEAP, Milton Friedman was a pioneer of the anti-drug war movement who tirelessly advocated for an end to the "War on Drugs" throughout his life. As recently as 2005, Friedman led a list of more than 500 economists who publicly endorsed Harvard University **economist's report on the costs of marijuana prohibition and the potential revenue gains from the U.S. government instead legalizing it and taxing its sale. "I've long been in favor of legalizing all drugs," he said, but not because of the standard libertarian arguments for unrestricted personal freedom. "Look at the factual consequences: The harm done and the corruption created by these laws...the costs are one of the lesser evils."
Can any policy, however high-minded, be moral if it leads to widespread corruption, imprisons so many, has so racist an effect, destroys our inner cities, wreaks havoc on misguided and vulnerable individuals, and brings death and destruction to foreign countries?
** Prof Jeffery Miron, friend of Clifford Wallace Thortnon Jr. who also toured New Zealand prior to the LEAP tour (Apr 2004)
Blair Anderson
http://mildgreens.com
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Thursday, November 16, 2006

LEAP on this.....

“If we really want to improve our urban neighborhoods, the most important thing that we could do — the single most important thing that we could do — is end the war on drugs.”

—Syracuse City Auditor Mitch Lewis


“I thing the Drug War has been arguably the single most devastating, dysfunctional, harmful social policy since slavery.”

—Retired Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper

“Drug legalization is not to be construed as an approach to our drug problem. Drug legalization is about our crime and violence problem.”

—Retired Tonawanda Police Captain Peter Christ

also see http://www.leap.cc

Blair Anderson
http://mildgreens.com
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Monday, November 13, 2006

Impaired while driving policy.

Toronto Star
Letter to the Editor / City Opinion
 
Dear Sir, Madam,
 
Suggested Title: Impaired while driving policy.
 
 
Standard Roadside Sobriety Testing (SRST) absent any evidential base whatsoever treats everyone driving as guilty until we have checked their societal compliance. Acting tough also ignores the policy's negative consequences.  

 

In the guise of looking for drug use, these are just 'personality' tests and will accomplish nothing more than provide for the RCMP to exercise latent and real prejudice with free reign.

An invention of zero tolerance conceived against a background of the USA's failure to prohibit much at all, SRST's subjectivity is as likely to let someone 'on their way' as provide for right to search and seize.  This is both fishing and 'net widening'. It will catch a few more people who are marginally alcohol impaired. It will also catch a few more who are carrying/transporting or have imbibed some 'other prevalent drugs of choice'. The net not only gets wider, but the mesh size decreases.

 

Subsequent compulsory testing at nano-gram accuracy will detect long lasting molecules of the popular herb. These signature metabolites are not impairing but that which remains long after any effect has been enjoyed. .

 

Retired Scotland Yard [Narcotics] Chief Det. Super. Eddie Ellison described this as 'licking someone's exhaust pipe to see if they have been speeding'.
 

There is also the perverse consequence of driving people to more harmful drugs that are harder to detect. The scientific literature suggests if everyone displaced risky alcohol consumption with cannabis, the road toll would plummet.  


Authorities will hail the roadside program a success, the media will report it, MADD will applaud and PM Harper will be reelected. Nothing, including the prevalence of drugs or the actual incidence of impaired driving will change. It falls way short of any standard upon which one destroys people's lives and careers.


The human condition is a many factored thing with stress, relationships, tiredness and distraction the cause of far more incidences and accidents than those caused by drug bogeymen. This will bring RCMP into disrepute by otherwise law abiding citizens

 

Given the popularity of cannabis in Canada this is a dangerously inept public practice to exact on otherwise good citizens, proof indeed that drugs impair politicians while driving policy.



--
Blair Anderson
Director, Educators for Sensible Drug Policy
 
 
50 Wainoni Road,
Christchurch, New Zealand
 
telephone +643 3894065
 

 
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Friday, November 10, 2006

Americans For Drug Free Youth (open letter)

Americans For Drug Free Youth
AFDFY.ORG
mailto: americansfordrugfreeyouth@afdfy.org

Dear Sir/Madam

I was supplied your website by a fellow educator who provided it to me in my capacity as a director of educators for sensible drug policy after a student reviewed critically your U-Tube video and presented her analysis to her class. While I am proud of any student for whom a teacher takes a special interest in his/her work, in this case the analysis was an exemplar.

Consider, were she applying for a job with me in my capacity as a technology and social policy analyst she surely would have been on the interview list.

The bones of her analysis was that everything your organisation claims about the voracity of those for whom drug reform is important, she points out that existing drug policy fails youth and this problem occurs on your watch and not that of the reformers for whom your organisation appears to hold responsible. She says, quite logically the burden of proof is not on reform(ers) but rather on those for whom argue the existing policy base is a success.

Her work showed that the money used for state and other local initiatives pales in significance to the money spent by federal and other sources 'to prevent harm' yet yields little in return. Her research thoroughly garnered from public sources showed the total revenue related to the delivery of DARE program alone exceeded that donated by Messrs Sperling. Soros and friends, many fold. Further, expenditures on faith based intervention programmes again challenges your argument. What was particularly insightful was the perpetuation of and continuing failure to do any cost benefit analysis prohibition per se. If it saves just one child is not good enough. [see http://mildgreens.com/reports/costbenefit.htm]

I know from experience in advocating for educational reform your in all likelyhood not going to 'get it', but when young people who examine from first principles 'get it' and they understand that the failure is on your watch, they see that it is you and yours that are part of the problem. Now that's a tough one I know. I'm just the messenger here.

It might be helpful if you came to understand, as our own New Zealand House of Representatives [Health] Select Committee evidentially reviewed pretty much the same rules as you have in the USA, (we too ascribe to UN international conventions) and found amongst other things, that the double standards in respect of alcohol and tobacco are an impediment to credible (anti) drug education.

Further the same conservative committee recommended that the laws pertaining to cannabis (the primary thrust of drug policy law reformers, both here and as has been your experience in the recent US midterm elections) be reviewed. (see http://mildgreens.com/inq1.htm)

Before you dismiss and possibly bin this correspondence, I courteously ask you to consider that I, and all my colleagues in the international organisation http://www.efsdp.org share the same desires and outcomes as you do... that our children make it to adulthood safe and well, that our society serves to function optimally in delivering the best possible outcomes and recognise that no matter what we do, kids will do some pretty daft things that no matter how hard we try... we just cannot save them all.

What we at EFSDP collectively hold true is that what we are doing now is a disaster. It incentivises the very outcomes we set out to prevent.
That makes US collectively accountable for this mess we render upon our kids, and for my part I don't want a bar of that burden.

I have studied this vexing problem for more than thirty years. If what was supposed to be working was, surely we would see evidence of it by now.
In this regard, the evidence for drug policy reform is on our side. What we are doing is not sustainable.

Which brings me to the final point addressed by the students analysis. Thank you for informing people of the important contribution to informed debate of Messrs Zeese, Cowan, Rosenbaum and others. We now have one young lass who is better informed WHY reform is necessary. She looked these folk up on the net and found out about SAFETY FIRST and BEYOND ZERO TOLERANCE. She found that DARE for example actually encouraged early drug experimentation. She found that we cannot innoculate our kids from reality. Now we have a fully informed (and empowered) bunch of her peers who are critically aware that there is more to drug policy than a friendly policeman whose lectures overstated the harms.

For that is the message from an independently minded young woman of a mere 16 years whose introduction to drug policy was http://americansfordrugfreeyouth.org/

Finally, on a personal note, I trust this is being addressed to whom it may concern.

I am sorry to hear about your son Steven.

I have been involved in drug policy reform for a very long time now, much longer than my 28 year old daughter or 19 year old son. They know what their Dad does. Neither of them have anything but the most fleeting of drug experiences. Both have never come to the attention of the law, never exhibited 'deviant behaviours', remain (as best as they will admit to their Dad!) STD free, don't have a problem with alcohol, don't smoke and haven't fallen foul of the criminal culture maintained by prohibition nor as at the time of writing, committed suicide. There is nothing special in this example I provide you, just as the media wouldn't report any other good news story... but keep in mind that their peers in the Netherlands [where as you know drug policy is far less draconian than in the USA], my children were at 4 to 5 times less the risk of all the behaviours I have mentioned. As a parent I find this differential in risk harms entirely unacceptable. As an educator, it poses another dilemma. How to I explain to an informed parent, let alone an informed youth, that we have to do it 'the prohibitory way' because it is a government mandate and 'them's the rules, no matter how poor the result''.

Educators quite rightly have a problem with lying. It is inherently unhealthy and compromises everything we do. It appears the Police don't have this problem, they can exaggerate and lie (about drug harms) with impunity and we are asked to pretend there is no social cost to this.

How does one convince sceptics that the Dutch drug policy model.isn't responsible for the far better outcomes across the health and justice spectrum than those experienced either by yourself, your fellow Americans for Drug Free Youth and of course us here in New Zealand. (we do have the highest cannabis consumption in the OECD...in fact the 2004 OECD report validates the comparative youth health and justice information I am asserting here, how's that for institutionalised failure!)

If there is a lesson there for us all it is this, where the rules are the same (as the USA) the outcomes are much the same, it is predictable that someones kids are getting into trouble, some very badly, some will come to harm and some will never heal; and some are dying... this occurs all to frequently and we need to 'collectively' do something about it.

It leaves an uncomfortable taste in my mouth to say this, but your personal circumstance is but one of these all to frequent tragic outcomes. I share your grief, just not your solution.

Should you and yours wish to discuss the work we do further, I am happy to call you at a time that suits.

Have an utterly magnificent day.

Yours sincerely,

Blair Anderson
New Zealand Director, Educators for Sensible Drug Policy,
http://edfsdp.org
ph (643) 389 4065 cell 027 265 7219

http://mildgreens.blogspot.com
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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Drug Test All Kids - Yeah Right!

6 November 2006

Scheme cuts use
By Bob Roberts, Deputy Political Editor

RANDOM drug testing could soon be carried out on schoolchildren.

Headteachers across England and Wales are being asked to bring in the scheme after trials saw a drop in drug use.

It is believed the results can uncover early signs children are getting hooked.

And experts say random tests encourage youngsters to turn down drugs outside school if they could be checked the next day.

Peter Walker, an ex-headteacher and government consultant for the project, said: "It doesn't cause any harm, a child still has a right to say no, indeed so does a parent.

"It doesn't disrupt the running of the school, it's relatively cheap to do and brings great benefits like improved performances."

Under the voluntary scheme, saliva is tested for cannabis, amphetamines, morphine and cocaine. It costs £13 a time and results take 20 minutes.

Pilot schemes have shown improvements in behaviour and reductions in drug use.

The Government plans come amid research which suggests around one in four children have tried drugs by the age of 15.

But charity DrugScope has warned that testing in schools is an "extreme measure".

bob.roberts@mirror.co.uk

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/tm_headline=drug-test-all-kids-&method=full&objectid=18049857&siteid=94762-name_page.html


Study finds why youngsters have unsafe sex
(oh yeah, looks remarkably like there remains a need to make sex ed relevent and  'remove the impediments to health promotion' although here again we are notably absent debate on the 'blanket and criminalised prohibition paradigm' that gets in the way.  / Blair)

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Monday, November 06, 2006

UK drug policy goes MildGreen

Transform has produced a detailed briefing on these [herbal high/social tonics /Blair] drugs, considering what the options might be for dealing with them without resorting to a heavy handed crackdown. Specifically this briefing looks at the experience in New Zealand where the drugs have been widely used for a number of years (without, reportedly, any significant public health harms) and where the government have opted to license the drug for sale under a new Class D classification - amended to to their existing ABC system similar to the UK's. The new 'Class D' acknowledges risk but puts in place a series of licensing criteria (age controls, packaging, dosage etc).

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Blair Anderson
http://mildgreens.com
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Saturday, November 04, 2006

Cannabis: the anti-aging drug

(a brilliant excerpt from the debate surrounding the Colorado SAFER initiative and ballot)
Dr. Robert Melamede, associate professor at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs, has researched free radicals (highly reactive chemicals our bodies produce as a byproduct of how we burn fuel) and DNA repair for decades. Dr. Melamede has been interested in cannabinoids for years, having started to consume cannabis when he entered college at age 16.
“What we now know is that we all make marijuana-like compounds, and those compounds help to homeostatically regulate and balance our biochemistry, and they do that literally almost everywhere in your body,” says Dr. Melamede. “Marijuana mimics the way our bodies normally work. In many respects, it can be viewed as an anti-aging drug.”
(and)
State Representative Gary Lindstrom supports the passage of Amendment 44.
“I was a police officer for several years, and I’ve always felt that (Colorado and national) marijuana laws are Draconian at best. They virtually have no purpose whatsoever,” said Lindstrom. “I just think that the time has come.”
Blair Anderson
http://mildgreens.com
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