NORML's Weekly News Bulletin - February 12, 2009

NORML's Weekly News Bulletin - February 12, 2009
Posted by CN Staff on February 12, 2009 at 11:45:31 PT
Weekly Press Release
Source: NORML
 NORML Comments On Obama's Rumored Drug Czar Pick - Calls Kerlikowske a "Step in the Right Direction" and a "Clean Break" from his Predecessors February 12, 2009 - Washington, DC, USAWashington, DC: NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said today that the President's apparent pick for the position of White House ‘Drug Czar,' Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske, "is a step in the right direction" and represents a "clean break" from the ‘do drugs, do time' mentality of previous directors.
Stated Armentano: "On the positive side, Kerlikowske hails from Seattle — a city that has elected to make the enforcement marijuana crimes cops' lowest priority. And although the police chief spoke out against the initiative effort — which passed with 58 percent of the vote in 2003 — he's abided by the will of the people since then. Consequently, there are now fewer marijuana-related arrests in Seattle than in virtually any other major city in the United States."On the potentially negative side, Kerlikowske is first and foremost a cop. He's served 36 years in law enforcement, and it is foolish to assume that he will embrace our issue with open arms. That said, NORML is cautiously optimistic that Kerlikowske may bring a progressive approach to an agency that has, almost since its inception, operated in the ‘Dark Ages.'"Armentano concluded: "The day the U.S. government finally — and properly — recognizes that drug use is a public health problem and not solely a criminal justice issue will be the day that the President appoints a White House ‘Drug Czar' who possesses a professional background in public health, addiction, and treatment rather than in law enforcement."But until that day arrives, perhaps the best we reformers can hope for is a cop who appreciates that pot poses less of a danger to the public than alcohol, and who recognizes that from a practical and fiscal standpoint, targeting and arresting adults who engage in the responsible use of cannabis doesn't really make a whole lot of sense. At first glance, Obama's pick — unlike his predecessor John Walters — appears to possess both of these common sense qualities."For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500 or Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul norml.orgDL: Responds To Latest Marijuana And Cancer Fears February 12, 2009 - Seattle, WA, USASeattle, WA: The results of a recent Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research study reporting that heavy, long-term cannabis use is associated with an elevated risk of a rare form of testicular cancer are preliminary and should be interpreted cautiously, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said today. The widely reported study, published online on the website of the journal Cancer, assessed the relative risk of testicular germ cell tumors (TGCTs) in 369 men and 979 age-matched controls. Of the 369 cases, 268 reported having smoked cannabis and 97 were current users.Investigators did not find a statistically significant risk among men diagnosed with TGCT who had "ever used" compared to healthy controls. By contrast, authors did observe an elevated risk of cancer among men who were current weekly use of cannabis, particularly if their use began before eighteen years of age. Researchers said that this observed association was specific to nonseminoma tumors, a less common type of testicular cancer. Overall, nonseminomas account for fewer than one half of one percent of all cancers among American men.Investigators cautioned that their findings are preliminary, and argued that "additional studies of TGCTs will be needed to test this hypothesis."They also acknowledged that incidences of nonseminomas have not risen in the general public at rates that correspond with the climbing popularity cannabis use.Previous studies have generally failed to find a causal association between marijuana use and cancer. Most recently, a UCLA study of more than 2,200 subjects (1,212 cases and 1,040 controls) reported that marijuana smoking was not positively associated with cancers of the lung or upper aerodigestive tract – even among individuals who reported smoking more than 22,000 joints during their lifetime.A 1997 Kaiser Permanente retrospective cohort study examining the relationship of marijuana use and cancer incidence in 65,171 men and women in California found that cannabis use was not associated with increased risks of developing tobacco-use related cancers – including lung cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, or melanoma.Commenting on this latest study, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: "Advocates for marijuana law reform have never claimed that cannabis is a harmless substance. This premise is neither accurate, nor is it the standard society uses – or should use – to determine the licit or illicit nature of controlled substances. Many substances have links to cancer, including tobacco, alcohol, and caffeine. In all three cases, the public's understanding of these risks has led consumers to voluntarily reduce their intake of these products. By contrast, the acknowledgement of these potential risks has not led to a criminal ban on the use of these substances, nor should it."In short, if scientists confirm these preliminary findings in a larger, population-based study, then groups like NORML and others that represent the cannabis using community will no doubt be among the first to alert their constituency. Nevertheless, even if these potential risks are substantiated, it remains true that by any objective scientific measure cannabis remains safer – both to the user and to the public – than the use of alcohol or tobacco."For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul Full text of the study, "Association of marijuana use and the incidence of testicular germ cell tumors," will appear in the March 15 issue of Cancer. Additional information of marijuana use and cancer risk is available in the NORML white paper, Cannabis Smoke and Cancer: Assessing the Risk," available online at: NORML Foundation (DC)Published: February 12, 2009Copyright: 2009 NORML Contact: norml Website: NORML Archives 
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on February 13, 2009 at 07:42:14 PT
I Think People Are Afraid
When a war is coming to and end there will be a last person killed in the war. I hope in the not to distant future when we get a new DEA head and new Drug Czar that things will change.S.D. Cracks Down on Medical Marijuana as Feds Loosen Up
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on February 12, 2009 at 19:31:24 PT
Another Thought
President Obama will need to appoint a new head of the DEA too. 
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on February 12, 2009 at 18:41:56 PT
I think from what I've been reading that he is a feeling type person. I call that a compassionate person. Politically I don't know. We are in for a change of direction. My opinion is until the new drug czar is approved and I guess sworn in as drug czar business will be conducted as usual. I don't believe he could do anything until he is officially the drug czar. 
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Comment #4 posted by ezrydn on February 12, 2009 at 18:29:13 PT
One Cravet However
Once he takes the oath of office, sub-paragraph 12 of the ONDCP Act kicks in and he immediately sells his soul to the Devil and becomes the world's most prevalent liar. There's still some change that needs to take place. Will he be himself or will be follow the "rules" of the office? Or, will those rules be changed? It sure gets to be a waiting game, doesn't it? And what of the DEA raids? Any decisions voiced there yet? Is this becoming a "chess game?" "What's on Second?"
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on February 12, 2009 at 13:04:19 PT
Pot Advocates Love Seattle's Top Cop As Drug Czar
Thursday, February 12, 2009 SEATTLE -- While President Barack Obama still hasn't made it official yet, the next U.S. drug czar is very likely going to be Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske.That news has local and national marijuana advocates very excited because they believe pot laws could soon become far more lenient.Advocates said if Kerlikowske is the next drug czar, pot laws will be re-examined.“He'll be a 100 percent improvement over anyone who has held the position previously, that's for damn sure," said Douglas Hiatt, a defender of medical marijuana.Hiatt is a well-known Seattle attorney who defends users of medical marijuana full time. Hiatt worked with Kerlikowske on implementing Initiative 75, which made marijuana enforcement one of the lowest priorities for his officers on the streets.Hiatt said he believes Kerlikowske could bring the same lenient philosophy on pot to his new job. He says Kerlikowske will change the way the DEA now targets users of marijuana, especially for medical use.“I think he understands marijuana is medicine and I think he understands for a lot of people, it's very good medicine. I think he will treat those people fairly and I think he'll be progressive on that subject," Hiatt said.Complete Article:
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Comment #2 posted by paul armentano on February 12, 2009 at 12:21:54 PT
Does Obama’s Pick Signal ‘Change’ At The Drug Czar
My full commentary on Obama's Drug Czar nominee is on The Obama’s Pick Signal ‘Change’ At The Drug Czar’s Office?February 12th, 2009[excerpt]President Barack Obama was elected to the office on a platform that promised “change” inside the Beltway. One federal office where ‘change’ is both needed and is long overdue is the Office of National Drug Control Policy, commonly known as the ‘Drug Czar’s’ office.America’s former Drug Czar John Walters embodied everything that is wrong with today’s so called ‘war’ on drugs — particularly as it pertains to the medical and personal use of marijuana by responsible adults. In the nearly eight years that he held the post of America’s top anti-drug cop, Walters staunchly refused to apply science or logic to U.S. drug policy.... On the positive side, Kerlikowske hails from Seattle — a city that has elected to make the enforcement of marijuana crimes cops’ ‘lowest priority.’ And although the police chief spoke out against the initiative effort — which passed with 58 percent of the vote in 2003 — he’s abided by the will of the people since then. Consequently, there are now fewer marijuana-related arrests in Seattle than in virtually any other major city in the United States.At first glance, Kerlikowoske also appears to take a tolerant approach toward the medical use of marijuana. Since 1999, Washington state law has allowed for the possession, cultivation, and doctor supervised use of marijuana under state law. (Twelve additional U.S. States have similar laws.) Whereas Kerlikowske’s White House predecessor refused to even acknowledge that cannabis possessed even the slightest hint of therapeutic value, Seattle’s exiting police chief accepted the law and has made few, if any, efforts to undermine it.
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on February 12, 2009 at 12:10:02 PT
Change We Can Believe In
Those words are powerful. Just when I think that President Obama can't surprise me anymore he does it again. He picks a progressive person to be our new drug czar. The Seattle Hempfest is proof to me that it can work. I don't know where our country is headed but I think the journey is going to be very interesting. I'm glad to be able to experience it all. 
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