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Archive for the "Op-Ed" Category

Stoners Still Demonized by Hypocritical Minority

May 27th, 2009 by Russ

Drug Testing

As the medical marijuana movement gains traction in the West, some formerly reclusive smokers are boldly revealing themselves to an intolerant minority. This week, Steve Elliot’s moving piece in the SFWeekly targeted some of the “anti-marijuana zealots” most popular tactics against medical herb patients.

One tool of the intolerant is the business community practice of mandatory drug testing. Workplace drug testing practice has spread exponentially since the early 1980s despite a complete lack of evidence proving any effectiveness at all. In fact, the most cited statistics used by the drug testing purveyors appeared in a 1972 anti-drug newsletter. There has never been a proven link between workplace drug testing and increased productivity.

In fact, most businesses spend upwards of $77,000 per test, despite the fact that the process is rife with false positives, false negatives, and makes no distinction between at home drug use and on the job drug use. Most often, drug testing simply encourages drug users to switch from more easily detectable drugs (weed, which can be detected for six weeks after use) to much more dangerous substances (cocaine and meth pass through the body in two days or less.)

It is simply by virtue of an effective drug testing industry marketing campaign that businesses have been duped into creating a climate of discrimination against weed smokers. Much like the rest of the anti-drug lobby, facts, evidence, and critical thinking don’t come into play.

It’s time for the business community to realize that medical marijuana users are not only backed by the state government, but completely righteous in their use. There is no moral or legal distinction between them and other workers who may take antidepressants, high cholesterol pills, or an evening brandy.

The only distinction is a physiological one; that is the weed smokers are less likely to be addicted to their medicine than virtually any prescription-toters in the company.

Former Drug Free America Director Flipped It

March 31st, 2009 by Rick

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David E. Krahl, Ph.D., former Drug Free America Deputy Director, is now in support of medical marijuana.

There was a point in my professional career as Deputy Director of the Drug Free America Foundation when I supported the prohibition of marijuana as medicine. But then, I experienced a change of heart, if you will; a moment of clarity, an epiphany. After seriously investigating the issue, and getting beyond the rhetorical arguments of both sides, I began to realize that the prohibitionist viewpoint against the use of marijuana as medicine largely ignored three things, which are so embedded in the fabric of American society and reflective of our cultural values that their truth is almost self-evident.

Krahl believes that the issue of marijuana as medicine should be left up to the states.

From a purely Constitutional point of view, individual states are empowered to chart their own legislative courses, and act as autonomous, self-determining governing entities that are best suited to adopt laws regarding the health and welfare of their citizens.

Krahl brings up a good point. After all, 13 states now have already enacted medical marijuana laws either by ballot initiative or legislation. There are even more following suit and pushing medical marijuana bills through their legislation.

Krahl also believes that it’s an issue of the relationship between physician and patient and that the government has no business intruding on a patient’s prescribed or recommended course of treatment.

Based on long-standing tradition, custom, and practice, the relationship between doctor and patient is sacrosanct. Fundamentally, the treatment regimen prescribed or recommended by the physician is a private matter.

Krahl knows that the new Administration’s apparent willingness to change an outdated policy is not enough. The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) needs to reverse their 2006 position that “marijuana has no currently accepted medical use.”

In fact, not only has the FDA approved several studies that highlighted the medical efficacy of marijuana, but many other studies conducted abroad have also come to the same conclusion: marijuana, indeed, has therapeutic value.

Krahl says he hopes a new White House policy position means a new thoughtful, more deliberate, compassionate, and rational approach to the issue of medical marijuana. With more people like Krahl, now influencing a possible change in their stance and beliefs on medical marijuana, and more states defying federal law to bring the issue to legislation, it’s become necessary the White House tread lightly when dealing with the American public.

MMJ Called into Question by N.J. Rep

January 21st, 2009 by Alex

greetings-from-new-jersey.jpg

In response to the approval of the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (in a 6-1 vote no less), Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini (R-Monmouth) recently published an editorial in the Trenton Times that pleaded with her constituency to think twice about the potential harm of medical marijuana.

Angelini asserts that any medicine ingested by smoking is counter-intuitive, and that the committee-approved legislation was reckless, because of the “unforseen and unintended consequences” of the bill’s provision – which includes the cultivation of up to six plants or obtaining MMJ from a state-authorized personal caregiver.

As far as op-eds against marijuana go, this one is actually written without the use of scare tactics or ‘the law is the law’ reasonings. Angelini makes her case against the “pothole” ridden legislation while still being clear that she is compassionate towards those that suffer.

Her biggest problem seems to be the cultivation aspect:

Allowing either the patient or their caregiver to possess six marijuana plants for harvesting, or creating alternative treatment centers to dispense this product should raise a red flag to those concerned with executing sound public policy. The average marijuana plant can produce anywhere from one to five pounds of smokeable materials per year, resulting in a total harvest of anywhere between six to 30 pounds of marijuana. Who will oversee its output and ensure that patients do not over-medicate, or that the excess production is not diverted to those who use marijuana for recreational purposes? I would argue that New Jersey is opening a Pandora’s box by traveling down this road.

The only problem is, whether you legislate it or not, people are going to get their hands on pot. That’s just a fact. They can either do it on dark street corners or through a registered caregiver. Which one makes sense to you?


Cocaine Usage Ruining the Environment?

November 19th, 2008 by Perry

An author @ Treehugger is mad as hell about the effects hard drug users have had on the environment, and he’s not going to take it anymore.

Complaining about everything, from the Guatemalan forest damage caused by smuggler planes to the gradual destruction of the rainforest.

It’s a bit hypocritical since the drug traders usually don’t discern packaging based on their specific environmental effects, but the writer lists myriad harm done to the eco-system by sniffers and slammers.

The video above shows how cocaine is made in the rain forest. Although it’s in Spanish, it’s self-explanatory to understand what’s going on. I think it’s a little more alarming that the children in the video appear to be so young, and not necessarily the damage they are doing to the environment.

The Time is Right for Marijuana Law Reform

November 13th, 2008 by Perry

According to recent blog posts by NORML, never before has there been a more perfect time to push for marijuana law reform.

The election of Barack Obama, coupled with Democrat control of both the House and the Senate, presents a unique and critical opportunity for federal marijuana law reform.

A good point, and remember… electing a good politician is only half the battle. You still have to stay on top of them in hopes they don’t get too politician-y on you. Don’t forget, people liked Bush at one time too and now his approval rating is in the low 30s range.

Being the helpful and forward-thinking organization they are, NORML created three prepared statements you can send here, directly to the new administration… Something we touched on earlier in another recent post.

The statements prepared by NORML:

Statement #1: President Obama must uphold his campaign promise to cease the federal arrest and prosecution of (state) law-abiding medical cannabis patients and dispensaries by appointing leaders at the US Drug Enforcement Administration, the US Department of Justice, and the US Attorney General’s office who will respect the will of the voters in the thirteen states that have legalized the physician-supervised use of medicinal marijuana.

Statement #2: President Obama should use the power of the bully pulpit to reframe the drug policy debate from one of criminal policy to one of public health. Obama can stimulate this change by appointing directors to the Office of National Drug Control Policy who possess professional backgrounds in public health, addiction, and treatment rather than in law enforcement.

Statement #3: President Obama should follow up on statements he made earlier in his career in favor of the decriminalization of marijuana by adults by calling for the creation of a bi-partisan Presidential Commission to review the budgetary, social, and health costs associated with federal marijuana prohibition, and to make progressive recommendations for future policy changes.

[img via Flickr/Vincent Brown]

Salvia Horror Stories Assist Lead to Ban, Maybe

November 11th, 2008 by Perry

With the growing popularity of the plant’s usage, inevitably there is also the occasional Salvia horror story, this one in particular told in pretty startling detail.

The biggest concern, as with any psychedelic drug, is in users who have a history of mental illness. Even more worrisome for those individuals is if they are “dosed” with the drug, which is to say they took the drug unknowingly.

Salvia, which has been used in Oaxaca for generations as a mild hallucinogenic, can have much more serious side effects including mild to severe schizophrenia for those with a genetic predisposition.


Getting Legal, Part 1: The Day I Became Legal

October 27th, 2008 by Perry

After years of shifty go-betweens, waiting at drive-thru restaurant parking lots and sitdowns with hippies, I finally decided to apply for a medical marijuana card.

Having been in trouble with the law for possession, ironically the legal safety issue wasn’t one of the reasons I went out to get the card. Instead, the idea of being on any sort of government-sanctioned list of marijuana users made me feel uneasy, almost like a pre-approval process for a tapped phone line and an introduction to big brother society.

Nevertheless, I did it because I have every right to under California law. All I had to do was arrange an appointment via a phone number for Medicann that I found at a local headshop.

So I made the appointment – the earliest I could see a doctor was about ten days out – and as the day grew nearer I debated the issues involved in getting the card more and more. I struggled with the idea of getting a card because knowing that I was taking the same medications for anxiety, stress and headaches that people sought for glaucoma and chemotherapy recuperation made me feel some measure of guilt. Although I’m a proponent of legitimzed free use, e.g. no illness should be needed to enjoy marijuana if you’re of age, I still felt the strain of an ingrained stigma.

After a lot of internalized debate, I realized that this is the result of my subconscious associating marijuana with a Class A controlled substance. The fact is that marijuana is used by patients for a variety of maladies, but that’s not why I think marijuana should be legalized, there’s another, more personal reason…

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