Research, Not Rhetoric: Marijuana Can Save Lives 

  Research, Not Rhetoric: Marijuana Can Save Lives 

Posted by CN Staff on March 05, 2007 at 06:36:58 PT
By Dr. David G. Ostrow  
Source: Chicago Sun-Times 

Illinois -- As Illinois legislators prepare to debate a new, practical plan for legalizing the medical use of marijuana (the Legislature actually passed a medical marijuana bill in 1971 but that flawed measure was never put into practice), they should consider a new study, published in the journal Neurology last month. That Feb. 13 study, conducted by Dr. Donald Abrams of the University of California at San Francisco, found smoked marijuana to be safe and effective at treating peripheral neuropathy, which causes great suffering among HIV/AIDS patients.
This type of pain, caused by damage to the nerves, can make patients feel like their feet and hands are on fire, or being stabbed with a knife. Similar pain occurs in a number of other illnesses, including multiple sclerosis and diabetes, and responds poorly to conventional pain medications -- even addictive, dangerous narcotics.Abrams' study matches my own experience in studying the natural history of AIDS. This experience has led me to focus on complementary medications for treatment of peripheral neuropathy, taking leads from my own patients who have used marijuana for pain relief even though this exposed them to possible arrest and imprisonment.The federal government has long claimed that -- as a 2003 White House press release put it -- "research has not demonstrated that smoked marijuana is safe and effective medicine." The study from Abrams and colleagues demolishes that claim and underlines the urgent need for federal and state governments to change their policies.In this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial (the design that's considered the "gold standard" of medical research), a majority of patients had a greater than 30 percent reduction in pain after smoking marijuana. For many, that level of relief means having a significantly improved quality of life, and for some it actually permits return to careers cut short by HIV infection.This is only the latest in a growing accumulation of research showing that medical marijuana can provide real -- sometimes even lifesaving -- benefits. In a study published last year of patients being treated for the hepatitis C virus, those using marijuana to curb the nausea and other noxious side effects of anti-hepatitis drugs were significantly more likely to complete their treatment. As a result, the marijuana-using patients were three times more likely to clear the deadly hepatitis C virus from their bodies -- in plain English, to be cured -- than those not using marijuana. While we don't yet have a way of ridding the body of HIV, there is strong evidence that continuing on treatment without interruption increases one's chances of keeping the virus under control. That translates directly to increased survival. And again, there is published evidence that use of medical marijuana to relieve nausea and other treatment side effects can help HIV/AIDS patients stick to their regimens.Does all this sound too good to be true? That might be because our government spends many billions of dollars in its "War on Drugs" to make us believe that marijuana is an addictive and dangerous drug and actively spreads disinformation about its medical usefulness.Clearly, the White House and its drug czar, John Walters, should abandon their rigid, unscientific rejection of medical marijuana and start reshaping federal policy to match medical reality. And if they won't act, Congress should. There are a number of actions Congress can take to put federal medical marijuana policy on a path toward sanity.The first, and simplest, is to prohibit the Drug Enforcement Administration from spending money to raid and arrest medical marijuana patients and caregivers in the 11 states where the medical use of marijuana is legal under state law. This would remove the cloud of fear that now hangs over hundreds of thousands of desperately ill Americans and those who care for them.But that should be just the beginning. Everything about federal medical marijuana policy should be reconsidered, based on science, common sense, and simple human decency.There is no longer any doubt that marijuana can be a useful medicine for some very ill patients, a medicine that can literally help people stay alive. So even as we await federal action, Illinois -- where the Senate Public Health Committee will hold a hearing on the medical marijuana bill Tuesday -- should create a workable medical marijuana program, like those now in place in 11 states.It is time to end our government's war on the sick and dying.Dr. David G. Ostrow is a co-founder of the Howard Brown Health Center of Chicago and founder of the Medical Marijuana Policy Advocacy Project.Source: Chicago Sun-Times (IL) Author: Dr. David G. Ostrow Published: March 5, 2007Copyright: 2007 The Sun-Times Co. Contact: letters Website: Related Articles: Marijuana as Wonder Drug Still Ostriches On Medical Marijuana SF Study Finds Pot Helps Ease Pain 

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Comment #23 posted by FoM on March 05, 2007 at 17:11:58 PT
Teen Sorry He Taped Nephews Smoking Pot
Here's more on the story. This is so bizarre to me.
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Comment #22 posted by FoM on March 05, 2007 at 17:07:01 PT
One More Comment
I saw the video on the tv and they do not appear to be in a poverty stricken home. I wish I knew what causes things like this to happen.
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Comment #21 posted by Toker00 on March 05, 2007 at 15:37:28 PT
Has anyone here ever been homeless?
I can't say that I have ever really been homeless, but I was caught between homes once...Inequality in wealth and priviledge is what causes mental and social illnesses. Poverty most CERTAINLY causes mental illness. Once you enter this mental illness, things such as what these teens did become the abnormal norm. The hopelessness part is very, very real. How can you lose anything if you don't have anything? Opportunity or Intervention is the only thing that can jar people out of this mental hell. Sometimes even that isn't enough. This illness is passed on to the next generation when no "social programs" exist to really DEAL with the situation. Just throw money at it. Form a study and spend a few million in taxes acting like they are doing something about it, till the study funds run out, and the interest along with it. Simply having enough money to pay your rent/mortgage, Utilities, car note, insurances, food, clothing, Cable, Internet, cell phone, Income taxes, Sales taxes, and the common emergencies we all face without outside assistance is so far beyond the grasp of the "Poverty Stricken" (as in illness) that Despair is their WAY of life. Even Brilliant people have succombed to this illness after financial ruin knocks them into the pits of Despair.Imagine no Possessions.I wonder if you can.Toke.  
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Comment #20 posted by The GCW on March 05, 2007 at 15:11:24 PT
I may have reacted too fast.
I don't see a poll site; it looks a few days old...
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Comment #19 posted by The GCW on March 05, 2007 at 15:07:17 PT
IMPORTANT POLL.First, backround and news article from the Rocky Mtn. News:US CO: Routt County sheriff pulls agency from drug task force   
 Pubdate: 5 Mar. 2007 Source: Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO)
 Contact: letters rockymountainnews.comWebsite:
Author: Ellen MillerViewed at:,1299,DRMN_15_5394900,00.html 
Routt County sheriff pulls agency from drug task force
Newly elected Routt County Sheriff Gary Wall has removed his agency from a joint drug task force in northwestern Colorado, saying investigator tactics have violated individual rights and seized a "shockingly low" amount of illegal drugs. 
"I ran to protect the citizens of Routt County," said Wall, whose county abuts Wyoming. "We will enforce drug laws, but it's going to be done right." "Their investigation and arrest tactics are violations of individual rights," Wall said, speaking of the task force. "They try to get people to do things for them by intimidating them. When somebody says they want to see what their attorney thinks, as far as I'm concerned, the conversation is over." Wall's pullout from the Greater Routt and Moffat Narcotics Enforcement Team, known as GRAMNET, will cost the task force about a quarter of its funding, but the remaining agencies of Craig, Steamboat Springs and Moffat County plan to continue, said Garrett Wiggins, an employee of the Steamboat Springs police and the task force commander. Wiggins said Wall "just doesn't want us to be working in Routt County, and it opens the floodgates for drug dealers. He says he'll continue drug enforcement, but I have my doubts." Wall said the task force spent about $450,000 last year, of which $115,000 came from the Routt County sheriff, and netted a small amount of cocaine, 11 ounces of mushrooms, 8.9 grams of methamphetamine and small quantities of marijuana, Ecstasy and illegal prescription drugs. "That's not much for the money spent," he said. "The war on drugs has been a failure no matter how you measure it." Wall is the third Western Slope sheriff to be publicly leery of drug task forces. Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis has long expressed his belief that undercover operations and other tactics erode public confidence, and San Miguel County Sheriff Bill Masters wrote a book questioning the war on drugs.-0-IMPORTANT POLL (at the Craig Daily Press) Poll: Do you agree with Routt County Sheriff Gary Wall's decision to pull out of GRAMNET? 
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Comment #18 posted by FoM on March 05, 2007 at 14:43:28 PT
Dan B
I'll try to say how I see it. People and families are different. There isn't a one way only to parenting. This incident was very upsetting to me but it didn't make me angry just really sad. I say sad because besides what I saw in the video I saw poverty. Sometimes people have been so affected by their home situation that the ability to reason what is right and what is wrong becomes blurred. I didn't see the color of their skin but I did see hopelessness.
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Comment #17 posted by Toker00 on March 05, 2007 at 14:41:48 PT
OT: No New Nukes! Destroy the old ones!
Petition to stop New Nukes.
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Comment #16 posted by Dan B on March 05, 2007 at 14:16:24 PT
For The Record
I do not condone the comments of that "michaure" person in the comment section of the "Teens Charged with Teaching Tots to Smoke" article. What an absolute jerk that person is! That person is absolutely, categorically wrong in his/her opinions (not to mention the facts), particularly where race is concerned. I said that the people in that video were stupid because of what they did, not because of the color of their skin. I would say the same about anyone who videotapes him- or herself breaking the law. As stated in another comment, ethnicity has nothing to do with it.Dan B
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Comment #15 posted by FoM on March 05, 2007 at 14:11:55 PT

For Those Interested
Thanks Dan B. I archived the drug testing article if anyone wants to comment.Drug Testing Children Fraught with Problems
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Comment #14 posted by Dan B on March 05, 2007 at 13:57:55 PT

Thanks . . . and More
Thanks to those who commented. I agree that giving alcohol to kids is a problem, and that this incident (from the article I posted earlier) is being used to further demonize cannabis. As for the comment about the ethnicity of the people having the kids smoke up, all I can say is that in this case they happened to not be white. I am sure there are plenty of white people who have done the same thing, but the people in this particular case videotaped it and then posted it online. That action has nothing to do with ethnicity; it has everything to do with flat-out stupidity.We know that there is a double standard for alcohol. Still, I don't know of any videotapes circulating online that show adults giving alcohol to children, then laughing at how they behave when they are intoxicated. I do know of plenty of incidents, though, where such behavior (giving alcohol to children) has been caught and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law--and rightfully so. But, my comments here about alcohol are off topic. To point out that alcohol is treated differently is to state the obvious. Let's get beyond griping about that and focus on the issue at hand. Cannabis doesn't force people to make children smoke cannabis; stupid people do that on their own. However, if we just let things like this go without comment, we are implying consent. If we want to be taken seriously about legalizing cannabis, we have to first show that we (as a culture) favor responsible use and do not condone irresponsible use.Here's another article to chew on:, both of these articles have come from mainstream sources. Dan B
Doctors: School Drug Testing a Bad Idea
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Comment #13 posted by FoM on March 05, 2007 at 13:43:44 PT

Medical Marijuana News from Maryland
Post-Polio Sufferer Wants Medical Marijuana Legalized
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Comment #12 posted by FoM on March 05, 2007 at 13:11:18 PT

Way to go for The Michigan Democratic Party!The times they are a changin'
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Comment #11 posted by fight_4_freedom on March 05, 2007 at 13:03:01 PT:

Michigan is on a roll!
The Michigan Democratic Party had it's state convention in Detroit last weekend. And the almost 1500 delegates in attendance decided to pass this resolution.It's official, supporting medicinal marijuana is part of the Michigan State Democratic Party Platform!Resolutions Committee Report
2007 Michigan Democratic State Convention      The Resolutions Committee recommends the following resolutions for adoption by the Convention:Resolution Opposing Criminal Penalties For Doctors
Who Prescribe And Patients Who Use Prescribed Medical MarijuanaWHEREAS, four Michigan cities (Detroit, Ann Arbor, Ferndale, Traverse City) have now overwhelmingly passed initiatives in support of medical marijuana; and
WHEREAS, public polls of Michigan residents have shown 70-80% in favor of medical marijuana; and
WHEREAS, the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine concluded, after reviewing relevant scientific literature including dozens of works documenting therapeutic value of marijuana, that “there are some circumstances in which smoking marijuana is a legitimate medical treatment”; and
WHEREAS, a scientific survey conducted in 1990 by Harvard University researchers found that 54% of oncologists with an opinion favored the controlled medical availability of marijuana, and 44% had already suggested at least one that a patient obtain marijuana illegally; and
WHEREAS, tens of thousands of patients nationwide, people with AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, chronic pain, and multiple sclerosis have found marijuana in its natural form to be therapeutically beneficial and are already using it with their doctors’ approval; and
WHEREAS, numerous organizations have endorsed medical access to marijuana, including the AIDS Action Council, AIDS Project Rhode Island, Alaska Nurses Association, American Academy of HIV Medicine (AAHIVM), American Anthropological Association, American Bar Association, American Nurses Association, American Preventive Medicinal Association, American Public Health Association, Americans for Democratic Action, Associated Medical Schools of New York, Being Alive: People With HIV/AIDS Action Committee (San Diego), California Democratic Council, California Legislative Council for Older Americans, California Nurses Association, California Pharmacists Association, California Society of Addiction Medicine, California-Pacific Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, Colorado Nurses Association, Connecticut Nurses Association, Consumer Reports magazine, Episcopal Church, Gray Panthers, Hawaii Nurses Association, Illinois Nurses Association, Iowa Democratic Party, Life Extension Foundation, Lymphoma Foundation of America, Medical Society of the State of New York, Minnesota AIDS Project, Minnesota Nurses Association, Minnesota Public Health Association, Minnesota Senior Federation, Mississippi Nurses Association, National Association of People With Aids, New Mexico Medical Society, New Mexico Nurses Association, New York County Medical Society, New York State AIDS Advisory Council, New York State Association of County Health Officials, New York State Hospice and Palliative Care Association, New York State Nurses Association, New York Statewide Senior Action Council, Inc., Ninth District Of the New York State Medical Society (Westchester, Rockland, Orange, Putnam, Dutchess, and Ulster counties), Oregon Democratic Party, Progressive National Baptist Convention, Project Inform (national HIV/AIDS treatment education advocacy organization), Rhode Island Medical Society, Rhode Island Nurses Association, Test Positive Aware Network (Illinois), Texas Democratic Party, Texas League of Women Voters, Texas Nurses Association, Union of Reform Judaism (formerly Union of American Hebrew Congregations), Unitarian Universlist Association, United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church, United Nurses and Allied Professionals (Rhode Island), Wisconsin Nurses Association, and Wisconsin Public Health Association; and
WHEREAS, a national CNN/Time magazine poll published November 4, 2002, found that 80% of U. S. adults “think adults should be able to use marijuana legally for medical purposes”; and
WHEREAS, a national Gallup poll released in November, 2005 found that 78% of Americans support “making marijuana legally available for doctors to prescribe in order to reduce pain and suffering”; and
WHEREAS, numerous other national public opinion polls have found substantial support for medical marijuana, including surveys conducted by ABC News, CBS News, the Family Research Council, and the Gallup Organization between 1997 and 2006; and
WHEREAS, since 1996, medical marijuana initiatives received a majority of votes in every state in which they appeared on the ballot: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington State; and
WHEREAS, since 2000, state legislatures in Hawaii, Vermont, and Rhode Island have enacted effective medical marijuana laws; and
WHEREAS, the May 14, 2001, and the June 6, 2005, United States Supreme Court rulings on medical marijuana dealt exclusively with federal law and do not affect the ability of individual states to allow patients to grow, possess, and use medical marijuana under state law; and
WHEREAS, the Ninth U. S. District Court of Appeals, in the case of Walters v. Conant, upheld the right of physicians to recommend medical marijuana to patients without federal government interference, and the United States Supreme Court declined to hear the federal government’s appeal of this ruling; and
WHEREAS, on September 6, 1998, after reviewing all available medical data, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s chief administrative law judge, Francis L. Young, declared that marijuana is “one of the safest therapeutically active substances known” and recommended making marijuana available by prescription; and
WHEREAS, the federal penalty for possessing one marijuana cigarette, even for medical use, is up to one year in prison, and the penalty for growing one plant is up to five years; and,
WHEREAS, the penalties are similar in most states, where medical marijuana users must live in fear of being arrested; and
WHEREAS, the present federal classification of marijuana and the resulting bureaucratic controls impede additional scientific research into marijuana’s therapeutic potential, thereby making it nearly impossible for the Food and Drug Administration to evaluate and approve marijuana through standard procedural channels; and
WHEREAS, seriously ill people should not be punished for acting in accordance with the opinion of their physicians in a bona fide attempt to relieve suffering;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that licensed medical doctors should not be criminally punished for recommending the medical use of marijuana to seriously ill people, and seriously ill people should not be subject to criminal sanctions for using marijuana if the patient’s physician has told the patient that such use is likely to be beneficial.Thanks for all the hardwork and support Michigan!
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Comment #10 posted by Dankhank on March 05, 2007 at 11:36:38 PT

animals ...
I know of dogs that follow the doob around the circle to get nose hits ...I think that's informed consent ...----------------------------------------------in the context of adults giving alcohol to kids ... millions of them daily, though not many of the age of the children in the video getting tokes from some other children.bottom line, those kids weren't "hurt" by the cannabis, but hurt by the idea that kids their age should consume cannabis.
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Comment #9 posted by FoM on March 05, 2007 at 10:45:31 PT

Press Release From The Marijuana Policy Project
Illinois Medical Marijuana Bill to Receive First Hearing Tuesday
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Comment #8 posted by OverwhelmSam on March 05, 2007 at 10:18:36 PT

Getting Children and Animals High
The reason it's immoral to get my cat high is because my cat cannot give me it's informed consent to partake of cannabis. Interesting to note that this story is covered nationwide, while cops killing innocent people hardly gets a blip. A prohibitionists smear campaign to be sure.
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Comment #7 posted by Dankhank on March 05, 2007 at 10:13:56 PT

a different view of the world
Bet it would be hard to use this in an anti-war march or demo, but might it be cool???
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Comment #6 posted by Toker00 on March 05, 2007 at 09:52:30 PT

When will we see the video of white people teaching their toddlers to sip that beer and liquor? That is much more common than someone teaching toddlers to toke. Oh yeah. They aren't trying to demonize alcoholists, just cannabists. Just as some will stoop to amazing social depths, the DEA trained media stand ready to blare it forth when it pertains to cannabis. Cannabis is not the problem here. Shows like Jackass and Girls gone Wild and the like are. No sense of Social Responsibility. Yes, it is absolutely wrong for teens to do this and all the other stupid sh*t they do. I don't even know where they would get the influence to do this. Amazingly stupid.Toke. 
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Comment #5 posted by ekim on March 05, 2007 at 08:59:51 PT

Howard Wooldridge LEAP -Prohibition must end
Chuckle of the Week: Former Attorney General John Ashcroft was in town last
week and threw a pizza party to all his old staffers as a means to say
hello. Given the new ethics rules, most did not show up, worried about
breaking the ethics law.
This week was the opposite of last. Wow, what a week. On Tuesday , at the
request of Maryland House Delegate Anderson, I testified before 20 members
of the House Judiciary Committee in support of a bill to eliminate mandatory
minimums for low-level drug dealers. A full text of my testimony at the end
of the newsletter. Afterwards, I had two members come up and gave me a WTG
(way to go!). A plain clothes Maryland trooper whispered in my ear,
'thanks for saying what I can't.' A retired Baltimore cop now working
security for the Capitol complex engaged me in conversation and another WTG.
It was a fruitful day.
The next day I received word from the Swiss Embassy that my one page,
summary of their Heroin-Assisted Treatment Program had been approved by the
Federal Health Ministry. I will be passing it out shortly to the
Congressional offices which expressed an interest in learning more. A copy
has already gone out to all LEAP speakers to add another arrow to their
On Thursday, Friday and Saturday I spent long days attending the CPAC
(Conservative Poliitcal Action Conference).  Last year I walked away each
day w/ a dozen or so arrows in my back, a result of wearing the LEAP
t-shirt. I had almost no one agree w/ the LEAP position. This year I had
the same 75-85 conversations and the majority agreed with me and the rest
(30 odd %) were neutral. I have no idea why the change, other than it
reflects what I have seen in 11 years of being in reform i.e. attitudes are
The coming week will have me speaking to a DC rotary, meeting with Dr. Dora
Fitzli, the science and health advisor to the Swiss ambassador and
testifying again in Annapolis. In my spare time I will tackle the 6 inches
of reading material I gathered at the CPAC conference.
Testimony given to the Maryland House Judiciary Committee this week:
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for this opportunity to address the members of the
House Judiciary Committee. My name Howard Wooldridge and I am an education
specialist for LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. LEAP consists of
over 7,000 members in all 50 states and 8 countries. Our mission is reduce
crime, death, disease and drug use by repealing all laws that prohibit the
legal sale of drugs to adults. We believe a policy of government
regulation, control and management is a far superior system to the current
management team of drug dealers, criminals and terrorists. After a trillion
dollars, 35 million Americans arrested and 36 years of effort, drugs are
cheaper, stronger and readily available to our children.  The current
prohibition strategy has been a failure.
I served for 18 years as a police officer near Lansing, Michigan, retiring
as a detective. During those years I dealt with too many victims. Because
my profession was chasing the likes of Willie Nelson and Rush Limbaugh, we
had extra fatals caused by drunk drivers.  We had extra victims of child
molestation because we were forced to spend time chasing Mr. Limbaugh.  We
are a Thin Blue Line. Where do you want us to go?
I am here to urge you to support House Bill 992 which repeals Maryland's
mandatory sentences for nonviolent drug offenders.  As a new citizen of
Frederick, Maryland, I want our prisons full of people I am afraid of, not
those who provide a drug to a willing, adult buyer. Public safety is
reduced in Maryland as we seek, and lock up non-violent drug offenders
instead of VIOLENT felons.
Many years ago this legislature passed mandatory sentences for many drug
offenses. What was the difference on the streets of Baltimore, Annapolis
and Frederick? Zero. Illegal drugs are readily available to anyone who
wants them, including our children. Maryland is still awash in drugs and
drug dealers. If mandatory minimums were effective, Maryland would be drug
The MM laws you passed then and other laws gave the citizens hope. Hope
that locking up dealers for decades would make drugs hard to buy. Those
hopes are long since destroyed. Hope is not a policy. Hope should not be a
strategy. The policy which created all these dealers and their violence is
PROHIBITION.  Prohibition is the cancer that causes so many of the ills
which plague our state. I realize that advocating that drugs be sold in a
legal, regulated, government managed store might be political suicide in
2007. However, the legislature can take a step to lessen the financial and
human harm of this policy.
As you probably know, mandatory sentences, particularly for drug offenses,
are being either rolled back or are under scrutiny in legislatures across
the U.S.  In 2003 Michigan became the first state to enact substantive
changes in their mandatory sentences, primarily for drug offenses. The
bills were passed by a Republican House, Republican Senate and signed by
Republican Governor John Engler. In the next election cycle this change in
policy did not hurt one politician. It was a non-issue.
Support came from a former colleague of mine. Former Michigan State Trooper
Larry Julian now a Republican House member said, "These bills were the right
thing to do." Republican and former governor Bill Milliken who signed the
MM into law said, "The worst mistake of my career."
Why did rock solid conservatives, even a former state trooper support an end
to mandatory minimums? The trooper and all law enforcement know, drug
dealers accept as a condition of employment, death and long prison terms.
We have learned that every drug dealer ever arrested, shot or killed is
quickly replaced.  That is because there is always someone stupid enough or
desperate enough to become a drug dealer. There is an inexhaustible supply
of such people. The trooper and I know that allowing early release of drug
dealers would have no impact on the ability of residents to buy drugs.
Those dealers had been replaced long before they were even sentenced.
We all want to spend tax dollars wisely. Michigan with roughly twice the
population of Maryland saved 41 million the first year of the new law. If
Maryland adopts this bill, the savings could be in the range of 20 million.
That buys a lot of textbooks for students.
I could summarize my philosophy in a few words; if one day you or a loved
one has a drug problem, see a doctor.
Until the failed policy of drug prohibition takes its rightful place in the
history books next to alcohol prohibition, the state of Maryland should pass
laws which save money and lives. Please support 992.
Overview: Due to the severe drug problem in Switzerland in the early 1990s,
(rising number of injection drug users, visibility of open drug scenes, AIDS
epidemic, rising number of drug related deaths, poor physical health, high
criminality) the Swiss made a fundamental shift in approaching the problems
caused by heroin addiction. The Swiss offer treatment-on-demand.  Of an
estimated 22,000 addicts, 16,500 are in treatment and 92% are given daily
doses of methadone at conventional clinics. The Swiss treat about 1300
addicts with maintenance doses of heroin via 23 special clinics operating in
cities and two prisons. The Swiss approach has resulted in lower rates of
crime, death, disease, a drop in expected new users as well as an
improvement in mental and physical health, employment and housing. The
program has been copied by six countries: Germany, Holland, Belgium,
England, Spain and Canada.
* To qualify for a heroin prescription: 1) at least 18 years old; 2) been
addicted (daily use) for at least two years; 3) present signs of poor
health; 4) two or more failed attempts of conventional treatment (methadone
or other); 5) Surrender drivers license; 6) Heroin can only be obtained at
the clinic and must be consumed on site (oral or injection). (Note: Under
strict control and specific criteria [for example full employment] a few are
allowed to take one oral dose daily away)
A. Patients can receive up to three doses of heroin per day. 60% take
the heroin via needle injection, the rest via pill. The use of the oral
pill is increasing.
B. Patients average about three (3) years in this plan. However, they
may stay in treatment indefinitely.  20% of original patients are still in
the program.
C. The vast majority of patients are satisfied or very satisfied with
the program.
D. Average age of patient: 38 years.
 *Crime Issues: 60% drop in felony crimes by patients. 82% drop in patients
selling heroin.
*Death Rates: No one has died from a heroin overdose since the inception of
the program. The heroin used is inspected for purity and strength by
*Disease Rates: New infections of Hepatitis and HIV have been reduced for
patients in the program.
*New Use Rates: Lower than expected. 1)  As reported in the Lancet June 3,
2006, the medicalisation of using heroin has tarnished the image of heroin
and made it unattractive to young people. 2) Most new users are introduced
to heroin by members of their social group and 50% of users also deal to
support their habit. Therefore, with so many users/sellers in treatment,
non-users have fewer opportunities to be exposed to heroin, especially in
the rural areas. 
*Cost Issues: 48 dollars/day: Patients pay from zero to 12 per day
depending on their ability. Note: About 30% of patients work for a living
and pay part of the costs. Note: The Swiss save about 30 dollars per day per
patient mostly in lowered costs for court and police time, due to less crime
committed by the patients.      
** Facts above not found in the enclosed report have been taken from other
documents provided by the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health and can be
verified by Dr. Dora Fitzli of the Swiss Embassy. Tel: 202-745-7954
NOTE: This summary was researched and written by Howard J. Wooldridge of
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on March 05, 2007 at 08:50:05 PT

Dan B
It is a definite problem and I hope others comment on the article.
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Comment #3 posted by Dan B on March 05, 2007 at 08:44:36 PT

Article: Teens teaching toddlers to smoke cannabis
I suggest that we get some commentary on this story: perspective: a two-year-old cannot consent to smoking anything. Regardless of my stance in favor of legalizing cannabis, the actions of these teens were irresponsible and wrong. You don't get babies high just to see what happens. If that were my kid, I would be angry.Actions like these are the kinds of things that set our movement back. It's plain stupid.Dan B
Teens Charged with Teaching Tots to Toke
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Comment #2 posted by Sam Adams on March 05, 2007 at 08:42:03 PT

Slight correction
In this situation, research is not needed to save lives! FREEDOM is needed.  REPEAL of laws is needed. Empowerment of the individual is needed.
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Comment #1 posted by Truth on March 05, 2007 at 06:44:21 PT

Thank you Doctor
"It is time to end our government's war on the sick and dying."It's also time to end the war on Mother Nature. No more illegal plants and no more global warming.
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