The Gateway To Common Sense

The Gateway To Common Sense
Posted by CN Staff on January 28, 2008 at 06:06:41 PT
Source: Times Argus
Vermont --  Interest in reform of the state's marijuana laws drew a sizable crowd to a Senate hearing last week, suggesting widespread dissatisfaction with current policy. But as they address the issue, senators ought to view it less as a cultural litmus test than as one piece of a larger review of state corrections and criminal justice policy.At one end of the debate are the marijuana advocates who decry the failure of "prohibition" and defend the unalienable right to get high. That is not what this debate is about.
At the other end are the hard-nosed war-on-drug partisans who believe any relaxation of the state's drug laws represents further surrender to an overly permissive culture.In between are most of us, who see prisons crowded with people whose lives were hurt by drugs and whose crimes were sometimes caused by drugs. Among these inmates are some whose crime was possession of the drug itself, a victimless crime for which they are made to pay an excessive penalty.And yet as one prosecutor stated last week, the court system already winnows out many of the small-time possession charges, directing defendants to diversion or bargaining charges down. Even so, it makes sense to bring the law into accord with practice and with common sense. That means figuring out the level that constitutes minor possession and sale and establishing civil penalties, like those for traffic offenses.Of course, if we were crafting laws from scratch, with an eye to consistency and rationality, marijuana might not be an offense at all. Who is to say that the occasional toke is worse than the occasional drink? But given our recent history with drugs, people's fears and the danger posed by other drugs, legalization is not going to happen. Is American society really ready to have legal marijuana growers selling to joint makers, with state stores supplying a public with its supply of marijuana? Indulging that fantasy is futile. So given the perceived need to keep marijuana use in check, particularly in order to keep it out of the hands of kids, civil penalties are in order.And yet the larger problem in Vermont is not the number imprisoned on petty drug charges. It is the significant percentage of young Vermonters who suffer the intertwined problems of poor literacy, lack of job skills, inadequate family support and drug abuse. It is not marijuana, the so-called gateway drug, that traps them in this miasma. It is a background of poverty, poor education and family fragmentation.These young men and, increasingly, young women have created Vermont's crisis in corrections, gobbling up an ever-expanding share of the state budget to house them behind walls. Gov. James Douglas and Sen. Dick Sears of Bennington have been leaders in addressing the drug and corrections policies that might answer the challenge posed by these troubled Vermonters.The increased role of drug courts, which guide defendants to treatment rather than to prison, has been one valuable approach. Better drug treatment inside prisons is also essential. As advocates of decriminalization argue, getting people out of prison who don't need to be there is also important, achieving the twin goals of saving the state money and improving the prospects for defendants.These changes have problems of their own. Monitoring inmates who are out on probation or furlough and providing them with housing and employment create challenges. Some cities and towns may also face the challenge of providing residences for a high concentration of convicted criminals. What impact does that have on the cities and towns?Marijuana is one small part of this larger question. Common sense on marijuana ought to be considered a gateway to common sense on the host of criminal justice issues that are burdening the state. It appears the Legislature and governor are heading in that direction. Source: Times Argus (Barre, VT)Published: January 27, 2008 Copyright: 2008 Times ArgusContact: letters timesargus.comWebsite: Related Articles:Decriminalization Bill Gets Public Airing More Sensible Drug Policy is Pot Cultivation for Personal Use Illegal?
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Comment #16 posted by NikoKun on January 29, 2008 at 05:09:28 PT
"Right to get high"
I often see the anti-legalization side say things like that, to make cannabis user's rights look less important...But do we see ourselves? How are my bodily rights and choices any less important than anyone else?
How are we free and equal, if we don't hold everyone's rights as equal? Right now, an alcohol user has more freedom to drink alcohol, than a cannabis user has, to use a drug far safer than alcohol!It's portrayed as "the right to get high" instead of "the right to control and make choices over our own bodies."I have the inalienable right, to use my own body, as I see fit. And no one else has can tell me otherwise. I choose to use a drug, which is safer than alcohol.
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Comment #15 posted by museman on January 28, 2008 at 21:22:19 PT
But given our recent history with drugs
Which 'history' would that be? The one that was created by Nixon, Reagan and the DEA? The one that is 'establishment approved?'And then there are the "the marijuana advocates who decry the failure of "prohibition" and defend the unalienable right to get high"And yet this is regarded as a 'positive' article?The dances around truth and reality all for the clever twist of a phrase to make 'news' 'more interesting' -or something- has created a generation of psuedo journalists - proof of the dumbing down of America.Well I DO HAVE AN INALIENABLE RIGHT TO GET HIGH! So stop insulting those of us who actually exercise our rights with your lame attempts to be cute or whatever.Putrescent journalism. Blatant class discrimination -right along status quo parameters- and couched as liberal, with the only real liberal content being the liberally applied amount of kissing the emporers ass.But hey we're all used to accepting second rate, lesser-of-evil, compromises - look what we get to 'vote' for.
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Comment #14 posted by fight_4_freedom on January 28, 2008 at 21:00:26 PT:
Heres a video about the couple 
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Comment #13 posted by Sam Adams on January 28, 2008 at 20:44:19 PT
Elderly couple raided for med MJ
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Comment #12 posted by RevRayGreen on January 28, 2008 at 19:25:51 PT
When you think about it
kind of hard to hand-cuff that machine.
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Comment #11 posted by FoM on January 28, 2008 at 16:01:34 PT
I've always believed that Scripture. Loving money causes what we are living with now particularly under this administration. Money doesn't care. People care.
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Comment #10 posted by fight_4_freedom on January 28, 2008 at 15:55:54 PT:
You're right FoM
And we all know, "The love of money is the root of all evil".
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Comment #9 posted by FoM on January 28, 2008 at 15:52:56 PT
I believe the problem is that cannabis is a plant. It has many different benefits and it would take the place of many expensive prescription drugs if it was legal. Money always gets in the way of what is right.
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Comment #8 posted by fight_4_freedom on January 28, 2008 at 15:36:21 PT:
It drives me absolutely nuts to 
see all this coverage on the supreme court ruling and these vending machines. While just recently a study came out stating 
that marijuana compounds slowed the spread of certain cancers, and that got absolutely no coverage whatsoever. When will this country get it's friggin priorities straight??
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Comment #7 posted by fight_4_freedom on January 28, 2008 at 15:25:25 PT:
Man cycles backwards for HIV awareness
Published: Jan. 28, 2008 at 6:17 PMKEY WEST, Fla., Jan. 28 (UPI) -- A cyclist diagnosed with human immunodeficiency virus is taking a dizzying trip across the United States by unconventional means -- backwards biking.Curan Wright, 36, said his voyage, which began in California, is aimed at raising awareness for homelessness, HIV/AIDS and what he described as the need for a federal medical marijuana law, The Miami Herald reported Monday.Wright, who has ridden bicycles backwards since he was a teenager, uses his peripheral vision and experience to navigate his modified single-gear Redline bicycle without the use of mirrors.Wright said during a recent stop in Key West, Fla., that he was disappointed when he passed through Washington and could not get an audience with Capitol Hill lawmakers."They act like they don't have to hear me," he said. "I don't have money. I'm a nobody to them. I'm just a homeless man with HIV, who got it on my own because I didn't practice safe sex and used needles."Sadly, I'm sure you won't hear much about this guy in the news.
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on January 28, 2008 at 14:39:13 PT
Press Release from EurekAlert
Regular Marijuana Use Increases Risk of Hepatitis C-Related Liver Damage***Bethesda, MD (Jan. 28, 2008) – Patients with chronic hepatitis C (HCV) infection should not use marijuana (cannabis) daily, according to a study published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, the official journal of the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Institute. Researchers found that HCV patients who used cannabis daily were at significantly higher risk of moderate to severe liver fibrosis, or tissue scarring. Additionally, patients with moderate to heavy alcohol use combined with regular cannabis use experienced an even greater risk of liver fibrosis. The recommendation to avoid cannabis is especially important in patients who are coinfected with HCV/HIV since the progression of fibrosis is already greater in these patients. “Hepatitis C is a major public health concern and the number of patients developing complications of chronic disease is on the rise,” according to Norah Terrault, MD, MPH, from the University of California, San Francisco and lead investigator of the study. “It is essential that we identify risk factors that can be modified to prevent and/or lessen the progression of HCV to fibrosis, cirrhosis and even liver cancer. These complications of chronic HCV infection will significantly contribute to the overall burden of liver disease in the U.S. and will continue to increase in the next decade.” This is the first study that evaluates the relationship between alcohol and cannabis use in patients with HCV and those coinfected with HCV/HIV. It is of great importance to disease management that physicians understand the factors influencing HCV disease severity, especially those that are potentially modifiable. The use and abuse of both alcohol and marijuana together is not an uncommon behavior. Also, individuals who are moderate and heavy users of alcohol may use cannabis as a substitute to reduce their alcohol intake, especially after receiving a diagnosis like HCV, which affects their liver. Researchers found a significant association between daily versus non-daily cannabis use and moderate to severe fibrosis when reviewing this factor alone. Other factors contributing to increased fibrosis included age at enrollment, lifetime duration of alcohol use, lifetime duration of moderate to heavy alcohol use and necroinflammatory score (stage of fibrosis). In reviewing combined factors, there was a strong (nearly 7-fold higher risk) and independent relationship between daily cannabis use and moderate to severe fibrosis. Gender, race, body mass index, HCV viral load and genotype, HIV coinfection, source of HCV infection, and biopsy length were not significantly associated with moderate to severe fibrosis. Complete Article:
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on January 28, 2008 at 12:19:40 PT
It really is a good title. I love common sense. 
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Comment #4 posted by fight_4_freedom on January 28, 2008 at 12:17:45 PT:
Gotta love this headline
"Gateway to Common Sense"
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on January 28, 2008 at 11:05:17 PT
BBC: Marijuana Vending Machines in US 
January 28, 2008Vending machines distributing the drug marijuana are to begin operating in the US state of California. 
The machines can only be used by people who have been prescribed the drug for health reasons. Patients will have to provide a prescription, and be fingerprinted and photographed before being allowed to use the facilities. Eleven US states allow the medicinal use of marijuana, primarily for pain relief, but it remains controversial. Vince Mehdizadeh, owner of the Herbal Nutrition Centre in Los Angeles, where one of the two first machines is based, said it would allow patients to buy extra supplies whenever needed.
 Complete Article:
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Comment #2 posted by HempWorld on January 28, 2008 at 07:49:53 PT
"So given the perceived need to keep marijuana use
in check, particularly in order to keep it out of the hands of kids, civil penalties are in order."What is this guy thinking? That the government established black market for drugs keeps them out of the hands of children? In the government established black market for all illegal drugs, children are increasingly employed as couriers or dealers just as in the days of alcohol prohibition. On top of this the black market has no quality control and many people will die needlessly from impurities or outright poison.Thanks government for making our society better, not!
On a mission from God!
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Comment #1 posted by fight_4_freedom on January 28, 2008 at 07:41:31 PT:
Article from one of the most beautiful places in 
the world. And by far the most beautiful place I've ever been to.Source: Honolulu Star-Bulletin (HI)
Copyright: 2008 Honolulu Star-Bulletin
Contact: letters
MEDICAL POT USERS NEED JOB PROTECTIONThe IssueThe California Supreme Court has ruled that employers may fire workers for using doctor-prescribed marijuana for medical purposes.THE latest threat to ailing people who use doctor-recommended marijuana to ease their pain comes from a strange ruling by the California Supreme Court. The court ruled that employers may fire workers for using marijuana for medical purposes, which will prompt legislation to undo the ruling's damage. As one of 11 states that have legalized medical use of cannabis, Hawaii should enact similar workplace protections.In a 5-2 ruling last week, the California high court upheld the firing Gary Ross, a former Air Force mechanic who used marijuana to ease the pain from injuries to his lower back in a fall off an airplane in 1983. A doctor prescribed the marijuana, but the court ruled that California's legalization of marijuana deals with criminal prosecution, not terms of employment.Laws allowing medical use of marijuana were approved by California voters in 1996 and by the Hawaii Legislature four years later. As many as a thousand Hawaii residents have been registered with the state to use marijuana to treat their illnesses.Those laws have been attacked by the Bush administration, which won a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2005 that subjects medical marijuana users to prosecution. However, that decision does not cover workplace rules.The telecommunications company that fired Ross argued that it feared a raid by federal authorities. A state assemblyman from San Francisco said he plans to introduce a bill to provide medical marijuana users some workplace protections.Left over from last year's Hawaii Legislature is a bill that would expand the use of medical marijuana and restrict physicians' role to conform with court rulings. While the California ruling does not apply to Hawaii, a precautionary provision providing workplace-protection should be attached to that bill and enacted into law.
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