Punishing The Sick Wastes Money

Punishing The Sick Wastes Money
Posted by CN Staff on September 06, 2006 at 08:08:48 PT
By Doug Bandow and Michael Ostrolenk, The Examiner
Source: San Francisco Examiner
San Francisco -- Much that the U.S. government does makes no sense. Jailing the sick and dying for using marijuana is one of the most senseless.The United States faces manifold challenges which consume much manpower and money: the Iraq war, terrorism, illicit immigration, transnational crime. Uncle Sam should clear the decks, so to speak. It is time to conduct policy triage, dropping government tasks that offer little benefit.
But officials in Washington prefer to maintain their power. A few House members recently proposed an amendment to the Justice Department appropriation bill, barring federal officials from using any funds to prevent states “from implementing state laws authorizing the use of medical marijuana in those states.”The measure didn’t legalize drugs. All it did was say that Uncle Sam wouldn’t interfere with states that allowed sick people to smoke marijuana. The bill failed, even though Congress is controlled by a political party claiming to believe in limited government, individual liberty and federalism.A dozen states, including California, have lifted restrictions on patients suffering from such diseases as AIDS, cancer, glaucoma and multiple sclerosis and using marijuana for relief from nausea and pain. Yet Uncle Sam continues to toss these people in jail.Much ink has been spilled on the value of pot as medication, with the Food and Drug Administration recently weighing on the negative side. But The Economist magazine noted that “another reason the FDA statement is odd is that it seems to lack common sense. Cannabis has been used as a medicinal plant for millennia.”Large majorities of American and British oncologists have said they would recommend use of pot if it were legal. Health Canada, the Canadian medical system, has approved the medical use of marijuana.The American Medical Association’s Council on Scientific Affairs reported that “anecdotal, survey, and clinical data” demonstrate marijuana’s medical efficacy. Numerous health and patient organizations, such as the Lymphoma Foundation of America, back access to or at least research on medicinal marijuana.But forget the debate over pot’s value as medicine (or the broader assault on individual liberty). America is, or at least is supposed to be, a federal system. Thus, the efficacy debate should be left to states.If they decide to allow limited medical use, Washington should respect that decision. (Increased medicinal consumption has had no impact on overall marijuana use.) In fact, candidate George W. Bush urged respect for federalism on this subject: “I believe each state can choose that decision as they so choose.”There’s another important issue today, however: good stewardship of limited resources.Assume that recreational drug users should go do jail. The government still has to choose which drugs and trafficking operations to target. Washington can’t hope to interdict everything flooding in, and arresting cancer patients who smoke pot is a huge waste of time.But the resource waste becomes particularly grotesque when compared to the federal government’s other priorities. Washington faces a particularly daunting task in attempting to secure the nation against terrorism, as the recent airport scare illustrates.In a world of limited resources, notes Veronique de Rugy of the American Enterprise Institute: “Congress should direct homeland security funding to programs that provide the greatest return in the most crucial security missions. Since the number of possible attacks is effectively unlimited and the resources we can devote to the fight against terror are limited, spending should not occur without a careful cost-benefit analysis.”Even more so, the government should stop devoting resources to other peripheral tasks, which reduce the personnel and cash available to respond to terrorism and other basic tasks. The resources devoted to cracking down on medical pot may be relatively small, but they exemplify a loss of perspective in Washington. The federal government can’t (and shouldn’t) do it all.It’s time for Uncle Sam to set priorities, and hunting down AIDS patients who smoke marijuana shouldn’t be one of them.Source: San Francisco Examiner (CA)Author: Doug Bandow and Michael Ostrolenk, The ExaminerPublished: September 5, 2006Copyright: 2006 San Francisco ExaminerContact: letters sfexaminer.comWebsite: Medical Marijuana Archives
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help

Comment #31 posted by whig on September 11, 2006 at 23:14:14 PT
Passed along the additional info.I don't know how comfortable I would be doing that public facing kind of job. I used to do that when I was involved in harm reduction, but it wasn't so much fun as something that I considered important to do. So I did it often at some discomfort to myself. I don't think I should be doing things that make me uncomfortable, though. Other people who are more extroverted than me are better at that.But I'll be doing something for sure. It's just that I'd rather be someone that works backstage, apart from writing on blogs.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #30 posted by ekim on September 11, 2006 at 20:15:33 PT
whig thanks for thinking of howard
Howard will be in P.PA. for a three day conference here is his email for anyone that wants to help him. 
 below is a show he did in Kal back in 2004 good going on pressing the flesh -- meeting others is as real as it gets we need good representives willing to look into the eyes and respond. thank you for standing when it gets tuff.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #29 posted by whig on September 11, 2006 at 13:55:27 PT
I passed that notice along to some folks in Pittsburgh.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #28 posted by ekim on September 11, 2006 at 10:40:48 PT
thank you Afterburner #10
Sep 15 06 National Conference of Editorial Writers N/A Howard Wooldridge Pittsburgh Pennsylvania USA 
 Board Member Howard Woodridge will speak at this year's National Conference of Editorial Writers about the failure of drug prohibition. Working a booth for LEAP and talking to conference visitors will be Steve and Doreen Heath. Event location: Sheridan Station Square, 300 West Station Square Drive.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #27 posted by FoM on September 07, 2006 at 14:07:16 PT
2 Berkeley Students, Grad Arrested 
2 Berkeley Students, Grad Arrested Over Pot Brownies, Cookies***By Henry K. Lee, Chronicle Staff WriterThursday, September 7, 2006 
 BERKELEY -- Two UC Berkeley students and a recent university graduate were arrested today on drug charges in connection with a batch of marijuana-laced cookies that sent 13 students from a residential co-op to local hospitals. Complete Article:
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #26 posted by Truth on September 07, 2006 at 10:53:16 PT
Great speach. A true patriot.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #25 posted by FoM on September 07, 2006 at 10:15:03 PT
He always seemed like a good person. I wasn't sure what political party he was with and I did a search and he is a Democrat! Now that really made me happy.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #24 posted by whig on September 07, 2006 at 10:08:31 PT
Mayor of Salt Lake City speaks out
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #23 posted by FoM on September 07, 2006 at 09:48:50 PT
I am curious as to what could have gotten them so sick but it said they were drinking and that will do it.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #22 posted by whig on September 07, 2006 at 09:47:26 PT
FoM #13
Didn't hear about it but I haven't picked up a Daily Planet in a week or two.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #21 posted by whig on September 07, 2006 at 09:39:57 PT
9/11 and cannabis
More discussion, disagreement, conversation:
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #20 posted by FoM on September 07, 2006 at 08:45:33 PT
SFC: Suspect Sweets Send 30 People To Hospital
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #19 posted by FoM on September 07, 2006 at 08:39:37 PT
Paul Armentano
I just wanted to say thank you for commenting on CNews. Keep up the good work you are doing. 
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #18 posted by mai_bong_city on September 07, 2006 at 08:34:50 PT
i can't believe i defended this jerk. 
he voted for the hinchey-rohrabacher ammendment and i had a lte printed in the paper commending him for doing the right thing. seems he doesn't even know what the right thing is, and just cast a vote without thinking. then turns around and discounts it all.
i am really fading. this constant onslaught has taken it's toll.
where is our hope, our help? he respects the states that have voted for it, huh? like his OWN?Reply from Congressman Denny Rehberg (MT):Thank you for contacting me regarding the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes. It is good to hear from you.While I respect the views of residents of states that have adopted legislation regarding the medical use of marijuana, I am concerned that legalization will result in increased abuse of all varieties of drugs and send a conflicting message to our children. Many experts share my concerns.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has classified marijuana, together with heroin, LSD, methamphetamine, hashish and a number of other drugs as Schedule I drugs. According to the FDA, these drugs carry a high potential for dangerous abuse and as a result doctors have been prohibited from prescribing them for medicinal purposes. In fact, the American Medical Association, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the American Glaucoma Society, the American Academy of Ophthalmology, and the American Cancer Society have all rejected the claim that marijuana has any therapeutic value. In addition, the National Institute on Drug Abuse conducted an exhaustive review of the medical literature and found little or no effectiveness of marijuana when used for medical purposes. Finally, the bulk of our law enforcement community insists that legalization may increase crime and traffic fatalities and will hamper their efforts to prevent the spread of all types of drugs into our communities. A synthetic form of marijuana, commonly referred to as THC or Marinol, has been approved as an anti-nausea agent for chemotherapy patients and as an appetite stimulant for patients with AIDS Wasting Syndrome. However, there are important differences between THC and marijuana. Specifically, THC is stable and can be prescribed in quantified dosage amounts. Street marijuana cannot be specifically prescribed and this can lead to over-use or ineffective use. I truly believe with safer and less-addictive treatments readily available, the dangers to society of marijuana legalization far outweigh any potential benefits. Thanks again for contacting me. For more information and to sign up for my e-newsletter, please visit my website at Keep in touch. 
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #17 posted by paul armentano on September 07, 2006 at 08:12:28 PT
Good question. NORML has a nationwide database of "science/health" writers who we are regularly in contact with re: research/science-based news. From time to time, these writers do bite on cannabis-research stories. Why not more often? The fact the nearly 80-90 percent of cannabinoid research is preclinical, and more importantly, takes place at Universities overseas is a large reason why US science writers are disinterested. Also, as a rule of thumb, studies that affirm "negative" findings receive more attention from both journal editors and the media than studies that affirm "positive" outcomes. The most effective way for researchers to receive media coverage of their work is for their institution to write and forward a press release to their local media outlets. Of course, when NIDA send out a PR, it generally garners instant attention.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #16 posted by paul armentano on September 07, 2006 at 07:56:14 PT
More CO LTEs (Aurora Sun Sentinel) 12:59:00 PM Let marijuana issue be in state's handsEditor:Kudos to the Aurora Sentinel in its Aug. 31 editorial, "Tax dollars wrong for DEA push," for rightly criticizing the Drug Enforcement Administration's decision to use taxpayers' funds and paid staff time to campaign against Amendment 44, The Alcohol-Marijuana Equalization Initiative.Regardless of whether one favors or disapproves of Amendment 44, Colorado voters deserve the opportunity to decide this issue free from undue, federally sponsored interference.Of course, it's not surprising that the DEA would oppose any potential liberalization to the current blanket prohibition of cannabis - a policy that results in the arrest of some 750,000 Americans on marijuana charges every year and costs taxpayers between $10 billion and $12 billion annually.Nevertheless, despite this costly criminal crackdown, the US National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that 94 million Americans - that's 40 percent of the U.S. population age 12 or older - have used cannabis during their lives. It makes no sense to continue to treat nearly half of all Americans as criminals for their use of a substance that poses no greater - and arguably far fewer - health risks than alcohol. The law should reflect this reality, not deny it.Paul ArmentanoSenior policy analystNORML FoundationWashington, D.C.See other LTEs critical of the DEA here:
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #15 posted by FoM on September 07, 2006 at 06:30:42 PT
Thank you. When I read about something like this I can't figure out what would have been put in cookies that could get people sick.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #14 posted by mayan on September 07, 2006 at 06:17:04 PT
Here's a story that says they smoked but every other article says they ate cookies. Up To 20 Injured After Smoking Possibly Tainted Substance:
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #13 posted by FoM on September 07, 2006 at 06:07:16 PT
Whig, Do You Know About This?
SOME 13 BERKELEY CO-OP RESIDENTS SENT TO HOSPITALBERKELEY (BCN) Some 13 young people were sent to the hospital with severe medical symptoms after ingesting what they thought were marijuana cookies at a University of California at Berkeley student housing cooperative Wednesday night, UC Berkeley police Lt. Doug Wing said. Berkeley and Alameda County firefighters responded to the Cloyne Court co-op at 2600 Ridge Road at about 8 p.m., Alameda County Fire Department Battalion Chief Dan O'Hara said. They found a group of about 30 people ages 18 to 25 suffering shortness of breath, racing heartbeats and anxiety, he said. O'Hara said about 13 of them were sent to the hospital and two more were treated at the house after reportedly eating the marijuana-laced cookies. According to Wing, police don't know if the cookies were laced with some other drug or if they simply ingested too much, but police are treating the situation as a criminal investigation at this time. O'Hara said he believes more than marijuana was in the cookies based on the symptoms. "Our primary concern is the well-being of the students,'' Wing said, although he couldn't confirm that those involved were registered students because co-ops are not official university housing. Wing said a co-op's residents jointly own and operate their housing, but the university leases the land from private corporations, so they are within the jurisdiction of the UC Berkeley Police Department. According to the University Students' Cooperative Association, Cloyne Court is Berkeley's largest co-op, housing 149 students on the north side of campus.Copyright: MMVI, CBS Broadcasting Inc.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #12 posted by mayan on September 07, 2006 at 05:40:53 PT
Terrorists = Federal Prohibitionists
Washington faces a particularly daunting task in attempting to secure the nation against terrorism, as the recent airport scare illustrates.Washington is where the terrorists live! Keeping the populace in fear and hooked on petrochemicals and pharmaceuticals is how they are securing their power,their war on drugs and their war OF terror. By systematically weakening the middle-class the fascist neo-cons are insulating themselves from their only natural nemesis. The bans on industrial,medicinal and recreational cannabis have nothing to do with saving us from ourselves and everything to do with denying us sustainability,
independence and empowerment. It is absolutely imperative that we quickly expose the 9/11 inside job before the next gargantuan false-flag attack or both the drug war and terror war will escalate and be with us for a long,long time and we will have no freedom left with which to fight for the truth...White House Targets Conspiracy Theorists As Terrorist Recruiters: WAY OUT IS THE WAY IN...Who really blew up the twin towers?,,1864657,00.htmlSome look back to 9/11 and see a U.S. conspiracy: Widow's Letter to Ann Coulter: Flag Terrorism: Belittling the Theories About September 11: - A Modern Fairy Tale: Jones' Warning - A CALL TO ACTION!!! Worldwide 9/11 Truth Events: Flag News - Saving the world one drill at a time:
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #11 posted by E_Johnson on September 07, 2006 at 00:10:49 PT
Paul that's really great, but a question
Ten years ago I never would have imagined the science would get this far. It pains me that this science isn't being reported by science writers. The only people who seem to know about it are the scientists and people in our community.Is there some way NORML can woo science writers with all this juicy, groundbreaking science?The story here is not just validating marijuana as a treatment. Cannabinoid research is revealing new things about the human brain that are exciting and unanticipated.To get science writers interested, I think we should be pushing the latter aspect as much the former one.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #10 posted by afterburner on September 06, 2006 at 21:00:25 PT
Here's the Final Vote List on Hinchey Rohrabacher
ekim, Find out how your Representative voted.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #9 posted by ekim on September 06, 2006 at 19:35:52 PT
anyone have the voting results on this failedbill
A few House members recently proposed an amendment to the Justice Department appropriation bill, barring federal officials from using any funds to prevent states “from implementing state laws authorizing the use of medical marijuana in those states.”this should be big news --- what are they running on..maybe some of the lawmakers that voted to cage voters will be asking for votes -----
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #8 posted by whig on September 06, 2006 at 17:59:16 PT
Paul Armentano'll be in touch by e-mail soon.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #7 posted by paul armentano on September 06, 2006 at 13:19:18 PT
Whig et al.
Yes, there is an Introduction -- an exerpt of which is below. If you would like to follow up with any questions, feel free to contact me via e-mail...Best,
Paul A.While the initial clinical investigations of cannabis in the 1960s and 1970s primarily assessed the potential therapeutic use of cannabinoids to provide symptomatic relief (e.g., chemotherapy-induce nausea, MS-associated spasticity, etc.), investigators today are frequently exploring the potential curative role of cannabis and cannabinoids to moderate the progression of various life-threatening diseases – in particular, autoimmune disorders such as Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease, as well as neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (a.k.a. Lou Gehrig’s disease.)  Investigators in increasing numbers are also beginning to study the anti-cancer activities of cannabinoids, as a growing number of recently published studies confirm the ability of cannabinoids to reduce the proliferation of specific cancer cells via apoptosis (program cell death) and by inhibiting angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels).  Arguably, these latter trends represent far broader and more significant applications for cannabinoid therapeutics than researchers could have imagined some thirty or even twenty years ago.The following report is a comprehensive summary of the most recently published research (2000-2006) on the therapeutic use cannabis and cannabinoids for 15 separate clinical indications: Alzheimer's disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis,diabetes mellitus, dystonia, Fibromyalgia, gastrointestinal disorders, gliomas, Hepatitis C, hypertension, incontinence, osteoporosis, pruritis, sleep apnea, Tourette's syndrome.  In some of these cases, modern science is now reaffirming longtime anecdotal reports of medicinal cannabis users (e.g., the use of cannabis to alleviate GI disorders).  In other cases, this research is highlighting entirely new potential clinical utilities for cannabinoids (e.g., the use of cannabinoids to modify the progression of diabetes.)
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #6 posted by whig on September 06, 2006 at 13:06:56 PT
Paul Armentano
I'm really looking forward to the report and hope to be able to feature it on Cannablog when you have it ready. Do you have any introductory materials or summary that will be available as well, and can I maybe ask you some questions about it and follow up on it as a regular topic?
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #5 posted by paul armentano on September 06, 2006 at 12:52:17 PT
Thanks for the compliment. It's much appreciated.Also, NORML will have a comprehensive report coming out in the next week or so summarizing the recent (2000-2006) clinical and preclinical data on the therapeutic use of cannabinoids for both symptomatic relief and disease modification. I hope all of you folks at C-News will take the time to give it a look.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #4 posted by whig on September 06, 2006 at 12:45:12 PT
Paul Armentano
Sometime I'm going to join NORML, and it will be because of you. Fantastic work, Paul.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #3 posted by paul armentano on September 06, 2006 at 12:10:21 PT
Denver Post LTEs
Marijuana on state ballotRe: "Legalizing pot would hurt kids, and here's why," Aug. 27 Cindy Rodríguez column.I strongly disagree with Cindy Rodríguez's stance against Amendment 44. Maybe it's because I'm a college graduate myself and I work in the tech industry that all of the adult pot smokers I've known have been of above-average intelligence with above-average salaries.As a woman and a taxpayer, I prefer that law enforcement direct their resources toward reducing violent crimes against women and children, not waste my money chasing down otherwise non-violent, taxpaying and law-abiding adults who use marijuana.The war on marijuana has been costly and ineffective. It has resultedin the criminalization of the hemp plant, which has many uses and is a better crop for many U.S. farmers than cotton or other alternatives.It's time to move beyond alarmist language to focus our attention and resources on the real problems that confront us.Paulie Rainbow, Denver ...Although Cindy Rodríguez admits that the moderate use of cannabis by adults is in many ways a safer alternative to alcohol, she nonetheless argues against Amendment 44 - the Alcohol-Marijuana Equalization Initiative - because she believes that pot is inappropriate for children. In fact, there are many activities in our society that are permissible for adults but forbidden for children, such as riding motorcycles, skydiving, drinking alcohol or smoking tobacco. However, we do not condone arresting adults who responsibly engage in these activities in order to dissuade adolescents from doing so. Nor should we justify arresting adult cannabis smokers on the grounds of sending a message to children.Paul Armentano, Senior Policy Analyst, NORML, Washington, D.C. ...Cindy Rodríguez's column hit the nail right on the head. I would like to add that marijuana is also a key gateway drug for other addictive and dangerous illicit drugs like methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin.Robert K. Hoshide, Montrose ...Cindy Rodríguez's arguments against Amendment 44 are persuasive, except for one key point. Relaxing anti-pot law does not mean greater use by kids. I first heard the "kids and pot" alarm in the hype leading up to California's 1996 enactment of Proposition 215 for medical marijuana. Prop 215 would send the wrong message, I heard, and I believed it at the time. But I was wrong. Kids' pot use has been on a downward trend since 1996, based on California's latest biennial student survey. Prop 215 was not the only influence in the past eight years, but if it was as bad as many thought, kids' pot use should have at least stayed flat.John Chase, Palm Harbor, Fla. ...Re: "DEA education vs. lobbying," Aug. 30 editorial.I would like to say two things to Jeff Sweetin, special agent in charge for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency's Denver office. First, thank you for your continuing efforts to clean up the state of Colorado. Despite the resistance you face from liberal mountain communities for your enforcement efforts, most citizens sleep better knowing your agents are up there too. Second, how can the general public make donations to help you keep marijuana illegal in Colorado?I can only hope the general public is smart enough to see the campaign by SAFER for what it is. \ SAFER is clearly a bunch of losers with barely the ambition to put on a suit and come up with a misleading acronym.There are many people in our state whose dangerous drug knowledge comes solely from what they see on television. Thankfully, the DEA is being responsible and exercising its role as non-partisan experts on the subject.Matthew Hayes, Aurora
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #2 posted by paul armentano on September 06, 2006 at 12:03:36 PT
CO Gazette LTE
AMENDMENT 44 DEA overstepped authority trying to influence ballot Kudos to The Gazette for condemning the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s decision to misappropriate taxpayers’ funds and staff time to campaign against Amendment 44, The Alcohol-Marijuana Equalization Initiative (“DEA should butt out of state ballot debate,” The Gazette, Aug. 30). Whether one favors or disapproves of Amendment 44, Colorado voters deserve the opportunity to decide this issue free from federally sponsored interference. Further, The Gazette is correct to question the DEA’s “expert” credentials and to inquire whether the agency can be “an honest broker of information” regarding drug policy. According to the DEA’s mission statement (, the agency’s primary function is to “enforce the controlled substances law.” DEA officials do so, according to the agency’s Web site, by investigating and prosecuting violators of controlled substances laws and seizing their assets. Not surprisingly, nowhere on the DEA’s Web site does the agency state that its mission is to make law or influence public policy. This November, that duty ought to be left to Colorado’s voters. Paul Armentano NORML Foundation Washington, D.C.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #1 posted by Truth on September 06, 2006 at 10:41:38 PT
What they said.
[ Post Comment ]

Post Comment