Governor Misrepresenting Effects of Marijuana

  Governor Misrepresenting Effects of Marijuana

Posted by CN Staff on April 10, 2005 at 07:39:06 PT
By Kelly L. Drew, Ph.D. 
Source: News-Miner 

Alaska -- As a longtime Alaskan, a scientist and the mother of a teenage daughter, I am worried about how Gov. Frank Murkowski and Alaska legislators are approaching the marijuana issue. By ignoring the scientific data, they may be about to make our problems a whole lot worse.Alaska's courts have said that our constitution's right to privacy includes the right of adults to possess small amounts of marijuana in their home.
The governor and his allies have tried to evade this privacy protection by drafting their bill to include a series of "findings" claiming that marijuana is so dangerous that it must be banned. This is a field I know something about: My scientific specialty is neuropharmacology, the study of how drugs affect the brain. And the statements about marijuana contained in this legislation simply are not true. They contradict a mass of scientific data, including reviews by at least half a dozen government commissions that spent literally years reviewing thousands of pages of documents and interviewing hundreds of experts.For example, the legislation claims, "There is evidence that (marijuana) has addictive properties similar to heroin and other similar illegal controlled substances."In fact, both human and animal data show that marijuana is markedly less addictive than alcohol and tobacco, much less cocaine and heroin. About a quarter of the individuals who try heroin become addicted ("dependent" in scientific terms). For alcohol, the figure is about 15 percent. But of those who try marijuana, less than 10 percent become addicted. Unlike these other drugs, even heavy marijuana users commonly stop their use without significant symptoms of withdrawal.The governor's bill goes on at length about dangers supposedly due to increased potency of modern marijuana. The claimed increase seems to be greatly exaggerated. Even more important, it's not at all clear that higher potency--that is, higher levels of THC, the component that produces the "high"--adds any danger at all.People (and animals) typically take less of a drug if the drug is more concentrated, and this appears to be as true of marijuana as it is for other drugs. This means that more potent marijuana will likely cause people to smoke less, decreasing risk of respiratory problems associated with smoking.And research is showing that THC has some beneficial properties. It activates what are known as cannabinoid receptors throughout the body, and studies suggest that such activation may prevent brain damage caused by Alzheimer's disease. It may also have therapeutic potential in other illnesses, such as Parkinson's disease and strokes.In some places, the authors of this legislation have stood reality on its head in order to imply harm from marijuana that the drug simply does not cause. For example, one of the bill's findings notes with alarm, "A high percentage of adults arrested in this state for domestic violence test positive for marijuana at the time of arrest."That's supposed to make you think that marijuana causes violence. But because detectable traces of marijuana can be picked up by tests hours or even days after the effects have worn off, the fact that arrestees "test positive" means nothing. The scientific data on this point are remarkably clear and consistent: Marijuana intoxication doesn't cause aggression and violence, it reduces them. Alcohol, on the other hand, unmistakably can induce aggression.As a mother, I want to protect my 14-year-old daughter. I want her to know the difference between the risks associated with marijuana and far more addictive and life-threatening drugs like cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. Accurate information--as opposed to the unscientific nonsense in this bill--could save her life.There are lots of dangers out there, and protecting a teen from them is never easy. We don't need the governor and the Legislature to make that job even harder.Kelly L. Drew, Ph.D. is associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.Complete Title: Governor, Legislators Misrepresenting Effects of MarijuanaSource: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (AK)Author: Kelly L. Drew, Ph.D.Published: Sunday, April 10, 2005 Copyright: 2005 Fairbanks Publishing Company, Inc.Contact: letters newsminer.comWebsite: Related Articles & Web Site:Regulate Marijuana in Alaska Stand Firm Against Marijuana Bill Would Overwhelm Police Less Harmful Than Alcohol or Tobacco 

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Comment #19 posted by FoM on April 12, 2005 at 19:09:01 PT
Related Article from
Legislators Take Testimony on Anti-Pot LawMonday, April 11, 2005 By Bill McAllisterJuneau, Alaska - Politicians and judges could be headed for another collision over marijuana laws. Legislators are taking public testimony this week on a bill by Gov. Frank Murkowski to recriminalize the at-home possession of small amounts of pot by adults. The new bill institutes misdemeanor penalties for possession of under 4 oz. of marijuana.Last year the Alaska Supreme Court stood by its landmark ruling in the 1975 case called Ravin v. the State of Alaska. The Ravin ruling established that the right to privacy in the Alaska Constitution permits possession of small amounts in the home. 
 Now the Department of Law is submitting what it says is proof of the greater potency of marijuana since the Ravin decision, in hopes of changing the minds of justices. Assistant Attorney General Dean Guaneli said marijuana in Alaska now often has a greater than 10 percent level of THC, the main intoxicating ingredient in the drug. “Even in 1975, the Supreme Court recognized we're dealing with 1 percent marijuana here,” he said. “If we start talking about some of the forms that are available elsewhere, that could be a serious health problem.” “It's not a different substance,” said former state lawmaker Bill Parker, now with Alaskans for Marijuana Regulation and Control. “It's not more dangerous or more addictive. And the governor's case and the bill's case, it doesn't stand up to scientific scrutiny.” Guaneli also told lawmakers the average age when young people first try marijuana is now alarmingly low. “Nationally, about 40 percent of high school students have tried marijuana," he said. "In Alaska, it's about 50 percent. The breakdown of that is interesting: About 40 percent of non-Native high school students have tried marijuana. For Native students, the percentage is 69 percent.” Parker argues that regulating marijuana would help keep it away from children.“When children smoke marijuana, there's a problem, just like when they drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes, and we want to stop that,” he said. “The point is, our current system does not stop it. In fact, the kids tell us it's easier to get marijuana than it is to get beer or cigarettes now because we regulate and control beer and cigarettes.”Parker describes state residents as split on whether or not pot should be legal. He notes that a majority of voters favored medical marijuana in the 1998 election but rejected complete legalization last year. In a letter to legislators, Murkowski says he hopes to debunk what he calls the myth that marijuana is a harmless recreational drug.
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Comment #18 posted by ekim on April 11, 2005 at 18:29:17 PT
any truckers seen or heard of Howard and Misty
Howard and Misty have made it into Phoenix. They'll take a break from the road for a few days and rest their road-weary bones. They've traveled over 385 miles and have been on the American roadways over a month.If you find yourself along their path, Howard and Misty could use your support. Come by with a picnic lunch and a cold beer for Howard and a few carrots for Misty, it would make their day, or just ride along to ease the boredom. Look here for up-to-date details on their ride. See a map of their progress.See this recent news article in the Arizona QUARTZSITE TIMES and PALO VERDE TIMESMan with a mission travels through town
Former police detective wants an end to war on drugsThere are numerous volunteers across America that are willing to host Howard and Misty on their groundbreaking trek across America. Over the next 7½ months, Howard and Misty will spend the bulk of that on the American highways moving at about 3 miles an hr, 25 or so miles each day. It’s boring and it’s dangerous; it’s very quiet at times and roaring with semi tractor trailers riding so close you can touch them. Many nites he’ll sleep on the ground alongside the road. Some days it’ll be raining and miserable. We can’t share in all of these conditions, but we can certainly do our part to make them worth the effort.
Please Volunteer
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Comment #17 posted by FoM on April 11, 2005 at 17:47:25 PT
Thanks The GCW!
I have The Corporation in my wish list I keep on Amazon. I think I want to buy Supersize Me too when I place an order which will be soon.
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Comment #16 posted by The GCW on April 10, 2005 at 20:28:43 PT
From Cannabis Culture / valuable insight...
Partnership for a Drug-Free America and Corporate Drug Wars. by Christine Trudeau (08 Apr, 2005) Corporations profit from anti-drug propagandaIn a compelling movie called The Corporation, we learn that courts in capitalist countries have given corporations "human rights," but they don't require corporate "citizens" to honor moral or legal obligations. Instead, corporations are chartered to make as much money as possible as quickly as possible. If a corporation goes wrong in pursuit of money, it cannot be thrown in jail; some of its employees might go to jail, or The Corporation might pay a tax-deductible fine, but The Corporation lives on, no matter what crimes it commits, unless it is dissolved by its owners or by losing customer support.The Corporation movie asserts that if corporations were people, they would be diagnosed as having severe, anti-social mental disorders that make them a dire threat to society. CONT. *Warporations*Corporate drug pushers*In bed*Drug war partners*Corporate criminals*Family values?*Failing the test*Take action*Partnership for a Drug Free America Corporate Sponser List 
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Comment #15 posted by ekim on April 10, 2005 at 20:18:19 PT
calling Ethan 
Dr. Russo would you do a live call in cable access show in Kal on the value of the cannabis product.
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Comment #14 posted by ekim on April 10, 2005 at 20:15:47 PT
calling Ethan 
Dr. Russo would you do a live call in cable access show in Kal on the value of the cannabis product.
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Comment #13 posted by ekim on April 10, 2005 at 19:38:49 PT
funny thing -------nottttttttttttttttttttttttttttt
when money is mentioned ------no mention of marijuana-
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Comment #12 posted by goneposthole on April 10, 2005 at 17:55:53 PT
The politicians have hidden agendas
Doggone it anyhow, these jokers never, ever stop. Just so you know:
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Comment #11 posted by WolfgangWylde on April 10, 2005 at 16:44:46 PT
The beauty of it all... that no matter how much the Legislature lies, we'll get our day in Court. And there will be reams and reams of actual scientific evidence presented to counter the BS that Murkowski is spouting. As to whether or not the justices will pay attention to it, I don't know.
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Comment #10 posted by ekim on April 10, 2005 at 16:38:14 PT
Murkowski is carring fed water&appointed his kid 
Local company to help with trials on cannabis productSunday, April 10, 2005 By Michelle Mironmmiron 388-2733 Kalamazoo's Apjohn Group LLC has been hired to help bring a cannabis-based analgesic drug closer to market by early next year. British biotechnology firm GW Pharmaceuticals recently announced that it will work with Apjohn to gain U.S. approval to do clinical trials on Sativex, an oral spray derived from cannabis or hemp plants. "We're excited about this one," Apjohn Managing Director Donald R. Parfet said. "They (cannabis-based drugs) were sold as medicinals until the 1930s, and now people are re-evaluating the medicinal effects of cannabis. GW has done a really nice job of advancing the science and medicine associated with it." Because some varieties can be illicitly turned into the psychotropic drug marijuana, the growing of cannabis is illegal in the United States, Great Britain and many other countries. But since 1998, GW has had special permission from the British government to cultivate a form of Cannabis sativa that doesn't contain the active substance that causes intoxication, according to GW Pharmaceuticals' Web site. Sativex has been shown to reduce cancer pain, multiple sclerosis-associated spasticity and other symptoms in patients who do not respond to standard therapies, according to the company. Sativex has achieved preliminary approval in Canada and is still being considered for approval in Great Britain. BayerHealthCare is under contract to market it in both countries. Parfet said confidentiality clauses prohibited him from providing details of what Apjohn has done to help bring the product to market, other than "assisting in the pursuit of an NDA (new drug application) in the U.S." Mark Rogerson, a spokesman for GW, said Apjohn was chosen for its "extensive experience in U.S. clinical development, regulatory affairs and public policy." Cannabis regulated Asked if there is a controversy or stigma associated with the product, Parfet replied: "Of course everyone has their own bias. But what attracts us is how GW has approached this from a traditional medicine standpoint. We think that our task will be pretty straightforward." A similar drug called Marinol, made by Brussels, Belgium-based Solvay Pharmaceuticals Inc., has an ingredient that is a synthetic or chemically derived version of cannabis, said John J. Abbott, an independent pharmaceutical consultant based in Pittsburgh. Marinol, which achieved 2004 sales of 63 million euros, has been on the U.S. market for the last several years and is used as an analgesic for cancer patients and to reduce blood pressure in the eye in glaucoma patients, according to the Solvay Web site. "There's no question that cannabis is a very analgesic agent," Abbott said. "Most scholars in the field feel that the natural substance is much better than the synthetic, but most people who take it are prescribed Marinol because it (cannabis) is illegal to grow or possess in the U.S." He said Apjohn could face a challenge when it comes to promoting Sativex, since the U.S. government has very strict regulations about narcotic, stimulant or depressant drugs categorized as "CII" that have a high abuse potential. MS, arthritis targeted As a public company, GW doesn't make financial forecasts, Rogerson said, but its target market for Sativex encompasses MS, cancer or rheumatoid-arthritis patients. In the United Kingdom alone, 85,000 people have MS, he said, while in Canada 50,000 have the disease. "MS and rheumatoid arthritis are big markets in both Europe and North America, and cancer pain is a significant problem," he said. "Ten to 20 percent of MS sufferers say they have already experimented with illegal cannabis to treat their symptoms. We think it is a reasonable assumption that many more will wish to take a legal prescription medicine." Abbott said that larger pharmaceutical firms like Pfizer Inc., Merck and Co. Inc. and Abbott Laboratories Inc. don't take on such projects. "Most companies wouldn't get into this area because there's probably not enough money in it for all the work that's going to be involved," he said. "But Apjohn is dealing a lot with 'orphan drugs' in what I would call peripheral situations where they have something unique."
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Comment #9 posted by Sam Adams on April 10, 2005 at 16:24:07 PT
What's his problem? I'm sure some of his oil corporation buddies enjoy the herb. Are the cops really pressuring him to criminalize it? I'd be surprised if they were, it's been legal for years, what do they care? They're not losing any existing overtime work or anything.The lies about MJ in the bill are most disturbing - since when is it the governments job to define truth? They're basically rolling back the Renaissance, they want to decree truth, not research it.I would think that if reformers get the various government reports & other accurate MJ date into the record, Murkowski & company will get smoked in court within a few years. 
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Comment #8 posted by rchandar on April 10, 2005 at 16:22:45 PT:
I have a theory! I have a theory! 
Let's see--You make marijuana illegal. You make it a criminal offense, with the possibility of jail time. All of a sudden, everyone who smokes grass wants to prove how "tough" they are, how they smoke people for breakfast, kill their children, rape their women--and it becomes a multimillion industry (hip-hop, I guess). Everyone who smokes weed at some point cheats their wife, steals money, embezzles money, or is a member of some nefarious criminal gang. Criminal theory confirmed.But so many of us aren't that. If anything, lots of us are more law-abiding than the thug law-abiding citizens.So sad. I hate living in this country. They're gonna kill us like rats before it's all done.--rchandar
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Comment #7 posted by global_warming on April 10, 2005 at 14:08:59 PT

Kelly L. Drew, Ph.D. a Hero
"In some places, the authors of this legislation have stood reality on its head in order to imply harm from marijuana that the drug simply does not cause. For example, one of the bill's findings notes with alarm, "A high percentage of adults arrested in this state for domestic violence test positive for marijuana at the time of arrest."..That's supposed to make you think that marijuana causes violence. But because detectable traces of marijuana can be picked up by tests hours or even days after the effects have worn off, the fact that arrestees "test positive" means nothing. The scientific data on this point are remarkably clear and consistent: Marijuana intoxication doesn't cause aggression and violence, it reduces them. Alcohol, on the other hand, unmistakably can induce aggression."Show us "we the people" the science, this new generation, can read and understand, show us the science, blusstery rhetoricians and weighty politicians, can no longer hide behind self gratifying pomp and purple majesty, show us the
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on April 10, 2005 at 14:01:18 PT

I know how important this is to you and I'm sorry about the decrim bill. Maybe the MMJ Bill will make it. I believe that if a state has marijuana as a minor issue by decriminalizing it sets up the way the law is enforced. Ohio has had decent laws since the 70s. Eradication is what they do more then anything else. Someone locally got caught with a lot and I mean a lot I read in the newspaper. I was shocked at the volume that they found. They made him pay a close to $100,000 fine and took his tractors and large equipment but didn't take his house or land and he served 4 months. That is the worst case I ever heard of in our area. 
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Comment #5 posted by mayan on April 10, 2005 at 13:47:46 PT

The headline should read..."Murkowski LYING About Marijuana" 
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Comment #4 posted by Taylor121 on April 10, 2005 at 12:57:54 PT

Grits on Texas pot bills; hb 254 stalls :(
I was out of town when HB 658, which would create an affirmative defense for medicinal marijuana use with a doctor's recommendation, was heard last Tuesday in the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee. The hearing got decent media coverage.(You can watch the hearing if you like. Go here for the video, and under the Regular Session Broadcasts section click on the link dated 4-5-05 with the time running from 2:07 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. Once the broadcast is up and playing, you can skip ahead 46 minutes to the beginning of the hearing for HB 658, which lasts about an hour.)Committee chairman Terry Keel is a joint author of the bill, so they should get an opportunity to vote on it.So far, the same can't be said for HB 254 by Dutton, which would restructure sentences for low level marijuana possession to require stiff fines for possession. That bill has been hung up in the same committee for weeks now, which is never a good sign. They're approving new laws increasing prison sentences they can't pay for -- most recently, a bill Chairman Keel carried for the Motion Picture Assocication of America making it a felony to even turn on a camera phone in a movie theater. (More on that TK.) But legislation that would give needed relief to county jails and, ironically, probably boost enforcement, so far can't get an up or down vote. Frustrating. appears HB 254 is not going to move from its present condition. If you haven't, please send letters and phone calls in the committee and tell them to call it up for a vote promptly. Thank you for everyone that attempted to move this bill to the governor's desk. It has been a frustrating ride. Please get behind HB 658. 

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Comment #3 posted by FoM on April 10, 2005 at 10:57:45 PT

Oh yes you are so right. I said after hoping that Kerry would win and he didn't my interest in voting stopped but then I found out Blackwell is running for Governor. I'll vote one more time now. 
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Comment #2 posted by afterburner on April 10, 2005 at 10:06:15 PT

RE Vampires and Vultures 
I nominate Governor Bob Taft of Ohio and his first lady Hope Taft who both campaigned tirelessly against a state bill to provide treatment instead of incarceration for drug offenders. Medical Marijuana Activist Claims Ohio First Lady Manhandled Her at Debate 
By Daniel Forbes- for
November 4, 2002

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Comment #1 posted by unkat27 on April 10, 2005 at 09:07:38 PT

Murkowski is a Vulture
I'm making a list of all the anti-pot people who campaign against cannabis reform and continue to push for criminalization. It's a list of "Vampires and Vultures".
Murkowski, as Governor of Alaska, like all powerful politicians in high positions, stands to profit from the continual criminalization of cannabis, by profiting directly from the destruction of the lives of people who grow it and use it. As head of the state, when people are busted for growing and using cannabis, he profits from the liquidation of their assets, including the seizure of their property. That is what a "Vulture" does under current policy. Know him for what he is. Does he care about people who grow it and use it? No, he does not. He cares only that whenever the law punishes such people, he picks their bones and makes himself stronger. That is what a vulture does. Vultures should not be the heads of governments. The list will be alphabetic, and states like Alabama and Alaska will be first. Murkowski will be at the top of it, along with any other governor or powerful politician with a base in states starting with "A". If anyone has information about such "Vampires and Vultures" and wants some anti-pot person of power to be included on the list, feel free to pass it on.
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