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Drug Czar Says War on Drugs National Health Issue
Posted by CN Staff on May 26, 2009 at 11:53:45 PT
By Kimberly A.C. Wilson
Source: Oregon Live
Seattle, WA -- During nearly a decade as Seattle's top law enforcement officer Gil Kerlikowske was confronted with concerns about corner drug dealing almost daily."I would meet with community folks and they would say 'about two blocks from here,' or 'over in Belltown near where I live,' or 'down the street from my house, there's people selling drugs on the corner at all hours.' "
Kerlikowske's response as chief was playbook police work -- deploying officers to the scene, arresting players along the illegal drug trade food-chain and seizing territorial, if temporary, victory on the drug corners.But a week into his new assignment as President Barack Obama's drug czar, Kerlikowske is using the platform to recast the "War on Drugs" as a matter of national public health and not simply the domain of the criminal justice system."I'd be happy if I can change the conversation about drugs. We recycle people through the criminal justice system but it's more than that," Kerlikowske said Thursday during a visit to Seattle before wrapping up his move to Washington, D.C., to direct the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.He sat in a small meeting room at the Four Seasons Hotel that overlooked ferry traffic in Puget Sound on a cloud-free afternoon. Two weeks earlier, the interview might have taken place under those blue skies, checking out a nearby drug corner or dropping by one of the city's needle-exchange sites.But new constraints -- including advance teams and a cadre of U.S. Marshals -- come along with his new leadership role within the Executive Office of the President. So instead a deluxe setting served as the backdrop for a one-on-one conversation with The Oregonian on the linguistics of the war, the ravages of addiction and the social cost of drug incarceration.The office may only be 20 years old, but the war it has waged was declared four decades ago, when President Richard Nixon outlined the federal government's illegal drug prohibition campaign.  "Pill Mills" in Florida  No one claims the war has been won. While fewer high school seniors say they've been offered marijuana or amphetamines than they were a generation ago, nearly 2 million people are arrested every year for nonviolent drug offenses.And abuse of steroids and designer drugs has mushroomed, as have "pill mills" like the ones Kerlikowske visited in South Florida -- storefront, walk-in facilities that dispense millions of addictive prescription pain medications to people who flood in from other states. Think OxyContin for out-of-towners, or Vicodin for visitors.To combat the problem, Kerlikowske said he will push all states to adopt the sort of prescription-monitoring databases already in place in 30 states, including Oregon and Washington, where police, pharmacists and physicians can track prescriptions for addictive drugs.Without a national system to monitor abuse, "the cost to society," he said, "is huge."A statistic that haunts the new "drug czar" may come as a surprise: more people in the United States die from pharmaceutical and illegal drugs than from gunshot wounds."In the past few weeks, we've had three deaths from swine flu or the H1N1 virus, and, in the same period, we've had thousands of people overdose and die," he said. "This a public health issue."  Police Background  Kerlikowske, the sixth drug czar since the position was established in 1989, is only the second to come from a background in law enforcement. That perspective -- rooted in jobs as police chief in Buffalo and coastal Florida cities -- was honed over nine years in Seattle.But missed opportunities in Seattle also may shape Kerlikowske's focus as federal drug policy chief. Take needle-exchange programs, for example.Although the Obama administration's 2010 budget does not lift the ban on federally-funded needle exchanges, as a candidate, Obama strongly favored such efforts, and Kerlikowske said he supports law enforcement officials working alongside treatment providers to solve drug issues."I think needle exchanges can be part of a larger health care issue. Police chiefs know judges and prosecutors, but I don't think they're shoulder-to-shoulder with the treatment community," he said. Kerlikowske said he admits he didn't foster such relationships with service providers in Seattle, including the city's needle exchange near Pike Place Market."We have a chance now to forge relationships with our treatment colleagues," he said. "You can increase the impact because you're collaborating."  Will Soon Talk Policies  Kerlikowske expects to meet soon with Attorney General Eric Holder to talk drug policies. Matters of special interest to the Pacific Northwest are high on the agenda, he said, including medical marijuana and the scourge of methamphetamines.He is keeping in mind the words of fellow West Coast police chiefs, who were raising red flags about meth long before federal officials began to listen."It wasn't being heard," he said. "We're gonna be a lot faster to look at things on a regional basis. Meth is one thing. Medical marijuana is another."In Seattle, Kerlikowske followed but didn't embrace city direction to ignore medical marijuana crimes.Still, if pot legalization supporters haven't exactly found a vocal ally in Kerlikowske, advocates for medical marijuana -- on the books in 13 states -- may be pleased with his track record."Whether it's the Drug Enforcement Agency or the Seattle Police Department, you use your resources to go after the most violent offenders," Kerlikowske said."Medical marijuana doesn't pose that threat."Source: Oregon Live, The (Portland, OR)Author: Kimberly A.C. WilsonPublished: Tuesday, May 26, 2009Copyright: 2009 Oregon Live LLC.Website: http://www.oregonlive.com/Contact: newsroom news.oregonian.comURL: http://drugsense.org/url/04mkYBLGCannabisNews Justice Archiveshttp://cannabisnews.com/news/list/justice.shtml
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Comment #43 posted by greenmed on May 28, 2009 at 20:28:58 PT
John Tyler
That was something, wasn't it... it looked like Mr. Moran was taking a big whiff! Last I checked his ad was gone... I wonder if that isn't a message in itself. No feedback yet from any of the campaigns...
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Comment #42 posted by John Tyler on May 28, 2009 at 20:16:11 PT
Biran Moran's ad
That is so weird. When I checked out the article there was Brian Moranís political ad on either side of the article. I thought why would a politician want to place an ad right next to an article about cannabis unless, he was trying to send out some type of message to the voters that he was somehow cannabis friendly. None of the Democrats have mentioned anything, which I can find, about cannabis, or what their policy might be. I was thinking, whom should I vote for, and there he was right next to the article. Thanks for noticing it too greenmed.
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Comment #41 posted by rchandar on May 28, 2009 at 07:34:37 PT:
Kerlikowske
I'd say we should support him if he goes after crystal meth, coke, heroin. The first one is a real problem, it's epidemic like, and millions of white kids pop up in halfway houses saying they just love speed, which is more potent and non-toxic than it's ever been. Heroin poses a different problem: a literally invincible supply side from Afghanistan which poses a big threat in the inner cities and among people wanting to "experiment." If we can work with them to make the Dutch separation between "hard" and "soft" drugs, it might work.Still, our main concern should be the # of arrests every year. If that goes down, we are definitely doing well.--rchandar
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Comment #40 posted by FoM on May 27, 2009 at 13:11:35 PT
 greenmed
Very good question. I think I will need to ponder on that for a while! LOL!
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Comment #39 posted by greenmed on May 27, 2009 at 12:59:45 PT
FoM
And which one will you be voting for? LOL!
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Comment #38 posted by FoM on May 27, 2009 at 12:49:40 PT
greenmed
Thank you. I got a Progressive Insurance and a Chevrolet Ad! LOL! 
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Comment #37 posted by greenmed on May 27, 2009 at 12:45:38 PT
VA Governor's race
I should have typed 'nominee' rather than 'candidate' - the primary is June 9.http://www.loudountimes.com/news/2009/may/27/governor-primary-still-anybodys-race/The ads are probably inserted, or not, according to the location one is browsing from, according to IP address.
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Comment #36 posted by greenmed on May 27, 2009 at 12:03:02 PT
John Tyler
I saw one ad - for Brian Moran for Governor of Virginia. Was that one of the ads?Your post prompted me to place calls to the local offices of each of the three Democratic candidates (Creigh Deeds, Terry McAuliffe, and Brian Moran) asking about their candidate's policy position on medical cannabis. Each person I spoke with said they would check and get back to me, so if and when I hear, I'll post their responses on this thread.
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Comment #35 posted by FoM on May 27, 2009 at 09:32:48 PT
John Tyler
I didn't see any political ads. 
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Comment #34 posted by John Tyler on May 27, 2009 at 09:25:06 PT
Re Comment #31
Thanks for the link. The article was interesting, but for me, the political ads on either side of the article were even more interesting. Now I have an idea of who to vote for in the Democratic primary.
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Comment #33 posted by FoM on May 27, 2009 at 09:09:51 PT
rchandar 
I agree.
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Comment #32 posted by rchandar on May 27, 2009 at 09:05:02 PT:
Kerlikowske
We're at the starting point. We see what we can do on our side, continue to press for reform. The statements about MMJ are potentially good ones, but we'll get a clearer picture by November how much strength we can put behind law changes. Then there's the # of arrests, which should go down. If it doesn't, then we'll have to hit them harder.--rchandar
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Comment #31 posted by FoM on May 27, 2009 at 08:23:00 PT
dongenero 
I think the pressure is on and we aren't seeing it right now. I love this new direction from the Obama Administration.Under The Radar: US Democrats Overseas Pass Marijuana ResolutionMay 26, 2009URL: http://rawstory.com/08/news/2009/05/26/under-the-radar/
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Comment #30 posted by dongenero on May 27, 2009 at 08:00:49 PT
limbo
Most things do not move at the hyperspeed of our 24hr news cycle or at twitter speed. I think momentum is in the right direction for cannabis law reform at this point in time. Funny, the momentum kind of moves like the push and pull of the markets and economy currently are.There is no time to become complacent but, my hope is that we are moving toward some significant, positive change for this cause in the near future. The time is right. We must keep the pressure up and keep the issue upfront.
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Comment #29 posted by FoM on May 27, 2009 at 07:49:07 PT
dongenero
Thank you for the links. All I can think about today is where we are currently and I call it Limbo. Good things are coming though I believe.Jerry Garcia & David Grisman - Sitting Here In Limbo - Warfield Theatre - 12/7/91http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vj5gUSZ9A0
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Comment #28 posted by dongenero on May 27, 2009 at 07:33:44 PT
couple of updates on Illinois here
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/05/26/medical-marijuana-vote-de_n_207827.htmlhttp://ucimc.org/content/illinois-police-argue-sick-and-dying-citizens-need-sensible-marijuana-law
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Comment #27 posted by FoM on May 27, 2009 at 06:02:55 PT
Just a Note
News is very slow but it's a time of year where people are getting out more and enjoying the summer. I'll keep looking. Have a great day!
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Comment #26 posted by FoM on May 26, 2009 at 19:22:13 PT
bionic man
I took high doses of pain medicine that my only doctor prescribed. He was a sports doctor and was very liberal with pain medicine. He got hassled by the DEA and left the practice and moved far away. That was what forced me to go to de-tox. I knew withdrawal without supervision could cause death. 
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Comment #25 posted by bionic man on May 26, 2009 at 19:05:32 PT
FOM
You are so right about the dr. hopping. That is one thing that has made it so difficult on legitimate pain patients.
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Comment #24 posted by FoM on May 26, 2009 at 18:57:37 PT
bionic man 
I don't think it will get worse as long as people aren't doctor hopping. 
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Comment #23 posted by FoM on May 26, 2009 at 18:53:21 PT
greenmed
My 3 day de-tox was terrible. I went in voluntarily had a few gran mal seizures I was told, couldn't call my husband and they told me almost everyone returns to drugs. The patients were the kind ones. They got me thru it. It was bad. There was no empathy something Obama wants in the new Supreme Court Justice. The woman he picked to fill the spot today referenced her mother and she worked in a Methadone Clinic. I found this info on DrugWarRant.***Excerpt: The daughter of a factory worker who died when she was a child, Sotomayor -- who diagnosed with diabetes as an eight year old -- was raised by her mother, a nurse at a methadone clinic. If I could work in a honest to goodness re-hab with EMPATHY I would do it in a hearbeat. Drug addicts are real people with real pain.http://www.thenation.com/blogs/thebeat/438510/obama_s_pick_sonia_sotomayor_reflects_america?rel=hp_picks
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Comment #22 posted by bionic man on May 26, 2009 at 18:44:31 PT
chronic pain meds
It is already difficult to get adequate pain relief as it is. I have a compassionate doctor who cares about my quality of life and prescribes adequate meds, but the looks and attitude that the pharmacists give me makes feel like a criminal. Sometimes I just wish I could let them spend a day in my shoes and see what it is like to live a life of never ending of pain. Unfortunately many legitimate pain patients suffer because of the abusers that game the system. My scripts are already monitored by state and federal agencies. I hope it does'nt get any more difficult to get adequate pain relief than it already is.
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Comment #21 posted by greenmed on May 26, 2009 at 18:41:42 PT
FoM
I understand. A couple of hours after my last pill, the pain broke through. I picked up the phone numerous times intending to ask for a refill but did not dial.I'm glad you were able to de-tox with guidance and assistance; that help should be available to all who ask for it. Kind of puts things into perspective... and why it annoys me when prohibitionists (especially the physicians and scientists, who should know better, no doubt do, but who are bought and paid for) claim cannabis is addictive, when it is less so than caffeine.
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Comment #20 posted by FoM on May 26, 2009 at 17:56:28 PT
greenmed
Pain medicine is sneaky I was told by the doctor when I went into de-tox. I said how will I deal with my back pain. He said that most people start using pain medicine for a legitimate reason like a back injury but slowly the injury begins healing but the narcotics trick your brain and send pain to the site of the original injury and then you take another one and on and on. Then before you know it you have a monkey on your back.
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Comment #19 posted by greenmed on May 26, 2009 at 17:40:01 PT
FoM
Thanks for the link. That is an eye-opener for certain. Percocet? Wow. I received that for just a week after surgery and then felt uncomfortable withdrawal for almost as long.
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Comment #18 posted by FoM on May 26, 2009 at 17:29:31 PT
Video: Pill Mills And Bad Doctors
Only On The Web: Pain specialist Dr. Andrea Trescot explains the concept of pill mills and how to identify a bad doctor: they don't have credentials at a hospital and accept only cash.http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/05/31/cbsnews_investigates/main2872219.shtml
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Comment #17 posted by FoM on May 26, 2009 at 17:24:40 PT
greenmed
Thank you. It's very sad to see her so dependent on pain medicine. I was at one time but went thru de-tox (withdrawal) and have stayed away from narcotics since 94. What is so bad about pain medicine addiction is you need more and more just to keep the pain in check. I don't know how buying pills on line works because I turned my back on drugs for pain and don't even want to look. Maybe they will try to stop the drugs from coming in from other countries. 
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Comment #16 posted by greenmed on May 26, 2009 at 17:18:44 PT
FoM
I am sorry to hear that your relative has serious pain to treat. Untreated chronic pain, even mild, can have a serious impact on quality of life.I am unaware of any online domestic suppliers of pharmaceuticals that could be reasonably considered "pill mills." Has that been a problem in the past?There is however a thriving internet market in pharmaceuticals from foreign suppliers. Orders are filled and mailed from outside the U.S. - all legal under the laws of their countries, where they are not scheduled, as they would be here - mostly III and IV, some not yet FDA approved.
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Comment #15 posted by FoM on May 26, 2009 at 17:11:06 PT
observer
Thank you for fixing it. Matt is kind and always gets back with me but since he didn't respond I thought I should mention it to you. 
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Comment #14 posted by kaptinemo on May 26, 2009 at 17:07:40 PT:
Some reason to smile
"The office may only be 20 years old, but the war it has waged was declared four decades ago, when President Richard Nixon outlined the federal government's illegal drug prohibition campaign."An editorial Freudian slip perhaps? The last four words are music to this strict Constitutionalist's ear. For from a strict interpretation of the Constitution, it is indeed illegal. No matter..Remember how, just five short years ago, the very words 'drug prohibition' were never, ever mentioned in any news article? Not until we began to make that point, in LTE's on the radio, on the Tube, etc. Now it's everywhere, and the news media have just reminded the DrugCzar of the nature of what he has been chosen to administer. Namely, a failed, bankrupt (and bankrupting) policy. And, I think he knows it, too.
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Comment #13 posted by observer on May 26, 2009 at 16:57:14 PT
counter should be ok now
FoM, thanks for letting us know about that - should be all fixed now!This page accessed 8072481 times since Dec 1998.
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Comment #12 posted by FoM on May 26, 2009 at 15:29:44 PT
greenmed
This is what I thought might be a pill mill.***Illegal Drug Business on Internet is ĎThe New FrontieríMay 24, 2009People canít buy heroin or cocaine online, but a few clicks of the mouse get them darned close. For every CVS, Walgreens or Costco filling legitimate prescriptions over the Internet, dozens of shadowy Web sites sell painkillers and other powerful drugs to addicts, pushers and kids looking to get high.URL: http://www.bradenton.com/news/breaking_news/story/1460608.html
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Comment #11 posted by FoM on May 26, 2009 at 15:24:18 PT
greenmed
I have a relative that goes to a pain clinic because of serious pain. When I think of a pill mill I think how  drugs have been sold online. I don't know if that is still done or not. 
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Comment #10 posted by Sam Adams on May 26, 2009 at 14:53:39 PT
on the corner
Here's my comment - why can Mr. Liquor man sell his wares at the corner store while the government sends police thugs to jail me for cannabis? He's ready to crack down even harder on pain medication, great, now all the sick and dying people will have to pee in a cup in order to get their pain meds. Primitive and disgraceful.This is why small government is the only way to go. We never should have ceded the authority to medicate ourselves to the government. Terrible, terrible mistake. Now we're left with a Katrina-Brownie-you're-doing-a-great-job bumbling for drug policy. Pathetic. If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny." 
--Thomas JeffersonToo bad we didn't listen.
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Comment #9 posted by greenmed on May 26, 2009 at 14:46:22 PT
good news...
... regarding Mr. Kerlikowske's stand on medical cannabis. But, although they are off-topic, some of his ideas trouble me.The "pill-mills" mentioned exist in every state and territory in the nation. They usually go by the term "pain clinics" and are as a rule staffed by physicians who actually write prescriptions for opioids for those in extreme intractable pain. Sometimes they are located in a hospital, but often they are independent, and despite their characterization as "walk-in store-front" operations - as if they're tucked-in between the 7-11 and Baskin-Robbins - they are a last resort for patients who are referred there because most physicians don't want to jeopardize their careers by prescribing adequate medication and attracting the attention of the DEA. The same principle holds, so maybe it's not OT after all: law enforcement should not practice medicine without a license.
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on May 26, 2009 at 14:43:39 PT
observer
I sent an e-mail to Matt but maybe he isn't around now but the hit counter on the front page of CNews is broken. Maybe you could take a look and see what might be wrong. I record it daily for my records. Thanks for any help.
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on May 26, 2009 at 14:40:27 PT
 josephlacerenza 
I hope you had a nice holiday weekend. I can't answer your question but treatment rather then jail is a great step forward for hard drug addiction in my opinion. Usually people who are strung out on hard drugs and get caught do something as off the wall as Robert Downey JR did and could use a little help. 
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Comment #6 posted by josephlacerenza on May 26, 2009 at 14:31:05 PT
Glad to be back!!
Good to see all here at C-News!! Just want to say I have not read ALL the posts, but it sounds as if all had a good weekend. I wanted to pick-up on the health care thread. It kind of leads into this piece as well. If drugs become a health care issue, does this mean a person could go seek treatment without having it in the public record, like when one gets arrested on a marijuana charge and placed in jail and is made to seek treatment. That does become part of the public record, but if it was a public health issue who would need to know? Could this also be a reason prohibs don't like the drug issue looked at as if it were a health care issue, they will not be able to through it in your face, lost of job prospects, lost of college funding, and an all around bad stigma? Can't pick on the sick!!!!Better yet, who would have VALID access to that info? To be clear, I am all for privacy, and if I can keep my discretion's to myself, like drug treatment, I would prefer that!!
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Comment #5 posted by observer on May 26, 2009 at 14:18:47 PT
change the conversation 
"I'd be happy if I can change the conversation about drugs. That's a start. But more than good words alone, we need actions to match. America needs to stop jailing people for cannabis. It is a plant, it isn't a demon or a scapegoat. And people who grow and folks who enjoy the cannabis plant, they aren't demons or scapegoats, either. People who use cannabis are our grandparents and sons and daughters and parents and kids and relatives. We recycle peopleCorrection. We recycle garbage and trash. People are not "recycled" (unless one believes they are rubbish) - people are educated. Criminals may be rehabilitated (we wish that were the plan at least). But to recycle people? through the criminal justice system but it's more than that," Kerlikowske saidIn other words, same old? Continue to arrest and imprison them for cannabis (through the criminal justice system)? 
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Comment #4 posted by Question Authority on May 26, 2009 at 13:51:46 PT
Sounds like doubleplusungoodspeak to me
It would have been nice if they had explained how these
"pill-mills" work. Sounds like another "Mexican Cartel"
straw-man argument without any facts to support the story.
Then the author starts down that road of having Johnny
Law sticking his big nose into personal affairs, prescription 
drugs or no.Also, lumping in "pharmaceuticals" and "illegal drugs" together did nothing to point out the danger of pharmaceuticals as OPPOSED to "illegal drugs". Any story
that does not point out the actual number of deaths per drug is intellectually bankrupt.Even when they try to tell the truth, they lie.
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on May 26, 2009 at 13:21:18 PT
Me Too!
We really are heading in a good direction after all these terrible years.
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Comment #2 posted by dankhank on May 26, 2009 at 13:18:15 PT
I'll say it , too
Medical marijuana doesn't pose that threatsays our new drug czar.
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Comment #1 posted by MarijuanaSavesLives on May 26, 2009 at 13:02:21 PT
"Medical marijuana doesn't pose that threat."
O M G! hehe I had to say it...
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