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Weed Delivers
Why can't AIDS sufferers get a pot prescription? A study says, compared to prescription drugs, smoking marijuana provides superior pain relief from AIDS or HIV-related symptoms. Yes, it was a small sample size. But, it's amazing there was any study at all, considering the hard work of the "drug warriors" to prevent them.

Of course, thanks to all the vote prostitutes in government (and, for that, blame the voters), this study -- and any study that says anything similar -- will surely be ignored. The same goes for any contention that pot should be as legal as throwing back some a couple of martinis. The study is here. And here's the Washington Post story by Rick Weiss:

AIDS patients suffering from debilitating nerve pain got as much or more relief by smoking marijuana as they would typically get from prescription drugs -- and with fewer side effects -- according to a study conducted under rigorously controlled conditions with government-grown pot.

...The White House belittled the study as "a smoke screen," short on proof of efficacy and flawed because it did not consider the health impacts of inhaling smoke.

But other doctors and advocates of marijuana policy reform said the findings, in today's issue of the journal Neurology, offer powerful evidence that the Drug Enforcement Administration's classification of cannabis as having "no currently accepted medical use" is outdated.

"This should be a wake-up call for Congress to hold hearings to investigate the therapeutic use of cannabis and to encourage more research," said Barbara T. Roberts, a former interim associate deputy director in the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, now with Americans for Safe Access, which promotes access to marijuana for therapies and research.

...Thirteen of 25 patients who smoked the regular marijuana achieved pain reduction of at least 30 percent, compared with six of 25 who smoked placebo pot. The average pain reduction for the real cannabis was 34 percent, compared with 17 percent for the placebo.

Opioids and other pills can reduce nerve pain by 20 to 30 percent but can cause drowsiness and confusion, Abrams said. And many patients complain that a prescription version of pot's main ingredient in pill form does not work for them.

That was true for Diana Dodson, 50, who received an AIDS diagnosis in 1997 after a blood transfusion.

"I have so many layers of pain I can hardly walk," said Dodson, who was in the new study. Prescription drugs made her feel worse. "But inhaled cannabis works," she said.

When it comes to drugs, there's at least one man in law enforcement with a little integrity -- a Colorado judge who resigned rather than impose ridiculously tough sentences for pot possession. From StopTheDrugWar:

An associate municipal court judge in the Colorado town of Lafayette has resigned his position in protest of the city's preliminary harsh new penalties for marijuana possession. Judge Leonard Frieling, who is also a Boulder criminal defense attorney, had served in the position for the past eight years.

Frieling said he could not remain as a municipal court judge because he was unwilling to enforce a new ordinance that would raise the fine for possession of small amounts of marijuana from $100 to $1,000 and a year in jail. Under Colorado state law, possession of under an ounce of marijuana has been decriminalized and those caught with pot face only a $100 fine.
The measure isn't a done deal yet. The Lafayette City Council gave preliminary approval to the ordinance last week, but a final vote isn't set until next week.

Frieling resigned anyway, saying since he doesn't want to enforce the law, he is ethically and morally unable to remain on the bench. Frieling also said he doesn't think marijuana should be illegal, but should instead be treated like alcohol, but he could live with the current $100 fine.

Let's see more like him.

How many of you know perfectly productive adults who take a toke every now and then -- or nightly? Every one of those people is in danger of losing everything they have for being caught with a little pot. And all because of these sleazy sellouts we continue to elect.

As one commenter on the Drug War link (above) about the judge put it:

Politicians think they can get votes by being Drug Warriors. And so far it has worked.

I don't smoke pot, but as long as you're not going to get behind the wheel while high, I support your right (that's right, your right) to go wherever you want in your head without the government throwing you in jail.

Posted by aalkon at February 23, 2007 10:51 AM

Comments

I would say reasonable people would have no problem with marijuana used for pain reduction.

The problem is, the thing gets ruined by the criminals. As soon as you let medical marijuana become okay, every pothead immediately gets chronic pain for which they need a prescription. We don't have a sufficient filtering mechanism to keep the potheads away from medical marijuana. Limiting it to a doctor's prescription does not do it.

I don't blame city officials for this situation. I blame the doobie lighting slackers.

Posted by: doombuggy at February 23, 2007 1:46 AM

Once again, the problem here is the same thing that's behind roughly 100% of all the other world's problems: Religion. In this case, it's the Christian doctrine of "longsuffering". This concept was brought to us by our invisible friend, the Lord Jesus H Christ. As with most of other absurd biblical ravings, Christian apologists claim that the term only means to "have patience". In practice, however, it champions those who suffer pain as a sure sign that the riches of heaven await them after death. Bottom line: The more pain you suffer now, the closer you get to sit next to our invisible friend when you die!

Some religious groups have gone so far as to try and stop hospice services; apparently not enough "longsuffering" going on there. Since nearly all our law makers are in the hip pocket of these idiots, don't expect much help there, either. Just sit back and enjoy our high-tech dark age!

Posted by: Bill Henry at February 23, 2007 2:29 AM

Bill, take your religion bashing and stick it an a moist, dark place.

There is one reason, and one reason alone that MJ is illegal in this country. It was made illegal because Mexicans smoked it. Yes, racism.

It has nothing to do with forcing people to suffer. If that were the case, aspirin would be illegal too.

Of course, that little realization destroys your deeply held hatred, and will be either ignored or bashed.

meh.

Posted by: brian at February 23, 2007 4:51 AM

And marijuana use will stay quasi-illegal since Marinol, available by prescription only, has been proven time and time again to have the same if not better results in treating pain, weight loss and loss of appetite.

Posted by: Pat Patterson at February 23, 2007 5:18 AM

"I support your right (that's right, your right) to go wherever you want in your head without the government throwing you in jail."

So I have a neighbor down the road who is a personal injury attorney. He can't wait for the lawsuits resulting from lung damage, as a by-product of this usage.

Want to convince me that this is really about relieving pain, and not about flipping "the Man" off? Show me the active ingredient in pill form. That would be cleaner and less hazardous, also.

Posted by: Radwaste at February 23, 2007 5:43 AM

I do not now smoke pot either but know many people who are considered professionals who do. I don't smoke pot, mainly, because I have children, and I won't risk losing any of my time with them because of a high. Having said that, it has been my experience that people who smoke are generally more enjoyable toward the end of the evening than people who drink. How many times have you seen a person smoke decent mid all night long and go into a violent rage that they don't remember in the morning? When people smoke too much weed, they just eat a box of Little Debbies and go to bed. We as a society have accepted the use of recreational drugs, so why not choose one that is not physically addictive? MJ needs to be legal. We are going to need a creative way to fix the economic chaos our country is in as a result of this war. Why not make pot legal and use the massive tax the government will put on it to reduce the debt? Imagine the savings in the criminal justice system! In many places, a person who molests a child will get less time than the mandatory sentences we have for people who smoke. I can see it now....PurpleScentz Inc., Hydro Growing Co., Presidential, George Bush. I'd support that tax every Sunday before Bible School.

Posted by: kg at February 23, 2007 5:44 AM

Bill, I think you might be on to something. I have a sneaky suspicion that the authorities of the western world have rejected all drugs except for alcohol, because alcohol induces so much built-in punishment, i.e. the hangover. Americans especially can't tolerate the idea of pleasure without dire consequences.

My take is this: the whole point of perscribing a narcotic is that it makes the patient feel better, nothing more. Narcotics don't cure disease, they just makes sick people feel better. So if sick people think that an inexpensive, home-grown plant with negligible side-effects makes them feel better than an expensive, addictive opiate drug, why not let them have it?

And for the record, I don't smoke pot myself--the last thing I need is a drug that makes me even lazier.

Posted by: beansworth at February 23, 2007 5:46 AM

The regulation of drugs has been a long tedious, but mostly futile attempt by Congress.

Prior to 1914 (Harrison Narcotics Tax Act) Congress believed that every American had the Constitutional right to put whatever they wanted into their body. The Harrison Act was the first attempt of a national law on drug regulation through an absurd tax/license system.

As we can guess the outcome of future laws in the name of public health. It has roots in a certain form of Christianity… Puritanism. But this philosophy is less religious and more secular, but the outcome is the same... social control. Name me any other 'in the name of public health' crusades??? Tobacco? Junk food? Obesity? Alcohol?

Let us remember the old H.L. Mencken quote on Puritanism:

"Puritanism. The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy."

Posted by: Joe at February 23, 2007 6:09 AM

"I have a sneaky suspicion that the authorities of the western world have rejected all drugs except for alcohol, because alcohol induces so much built-in punishment, i.e. the hangover."

I drink alcohol occasionally. I don't get drunk. At the level I drink, alcohol actually is likely to improve my health. The same is not true for heroin, cocaine, LSD, etc. etc. While I'm a libertarian and all in favor of drug decriminalization, the less you punish use of such drugs, the more people you'll have using them, ODing on them, ending up jobless and unproductive because of them, etc. I'm okay with this, but not everyone is going to be.

And I'll point out that nicotine is also quite legal and likely to remain so.

That having been said, of course the laws against pot are asinine. The only problem I see with making it legal is the "driving under the influence" thing that Amy suggested. I can drive legally and safely after having one glass of wine. I can drive legally and safely after smoking one cigarette. I cannot drive safely, IMHO, after smoking a joint. Of course, I can't drive safely on codeine even if I've taken it legally, so maybe the best structure here is to start by making it prescription-only. But please, let's start erring on the side of allowing some people who shouldn't have a drug such as pot or narcotic painkillers getting them so as to ensure that people who *need* them have them, as opposed to erring on the side of allowing people to suffer physical pain to make some healthy politicians and moralists feel superior.

Posted by: marion at February 23, 2007 6:23 AM

I drink alcohol occasionally. I don't get drunk. At the level I drink, alcohol actually is likely to improve my health. The same is not true for heroin, cocaine, LSD, etc. etc. While I'm a libertarian and all in favor of drug decriminalization, the less you punish use of such drugs, the more people you'll have using them, ODing on them, ending up jobless and unproductive because of them, etc. I'm okay with this, but not everyone is going to be.

I have a renowned professor friend who's now dead (from a disease, not a drug overdose). He used coke to write his journal articles (to have more energy). He was not an addict. He was a seriously productive guy whose work was very pioneering and is still mentioned whenever articles are written about what he did. All drug use is not abuse.

It illegal to drive impaired. What you're impaired on isn't the problem -- simply driving while clonked is.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 23, 2007 6:55 AM

What Joe introduced about the Harrison Act is good information. Prior to such regulation it was commonplace for people around the U.S to order heroin and syringes from the Sears&Roebuck catalog. Not only was it legal, but it was accepted. A moral argument did not evolve until some time later.

Now, the argument of drug use is approached using morality - that people who smoke weed (I have tried it, and wasn't wow-ed) are somehow weaker or less worthy than those who don't. Somehow there is an assumption that because a person uses drugs that s/he is automatically an abuser of the drugs. That for some reason the person is incapable of functioning normally. For some drugs, like heroin, this is probably true.

I am not sure if this means we must approach different drugs with different attitudes. But what I am sure of is that the moral arguments are invalid. Self-abuse is a right. To tell others what they can do with their own bodies is an egregious departure from the original, unbiased and fair attitude this country held. Call it Darwinism. Call it Libertarianism. I just call it minding your own bee's wax.

Tschüss

Posted by: Gretchen at February 23, 2007 8:06 AM

Hey doombuggy, if we didn't have such stupid laws against weed in the first place, people who smoked it wouldn't BE criminals and ruin it for those who need it for medical reasons. Who cares if some "pothead" gets stoned? It makes no difference to me.

Brian is right that racism was a primary motive behind making marijuana illegal, but Bill Henry hits on something as well - the puritanical influence behind it. You hear echoes of it when someone says, "Hey, it's okay for cancer or AIDS patients to smoke pot, but you can't have people out there just doing it for fun!" Well, why not? If pot is harmless - and it essentially is - why NOT do it simply for fun? People jump out of airplanes just for fun, right? And we don't make that illegal.

People have weird, repressive, totally irrational ideas about recreational drugs the same way they do about masturbation. I'm not a cheerleader for Europe, but they have much healthier attitudes toward both of the above. And I think their lack of religiosity might have something to do with it. Anyway, it's just asinine to lock people up and destroy their lives over a little pot. Yeah, let's give them all criminal records for doing something that doesn't harm anyone, then we'll see how great they do in life when it's harder to get a job. And why not throw millions of tax dollars at them for their prison upkeep costs, too!

This rant has been brought to you by the letter S and by the number 7.

Posted by: Pirate Jo at February 23, 2007 8:12 AM

Amy,

I could not agree with you more about your right to use chemicals is a right that the government has no business interfering with, short of public safety issues.

The comments about the motivation of many of the advocates of legalized drug use do need to be taken into account insofar as they see right through the smokescreen the same way I do, but see the issue in a different light than we do.

Granted, one can no more tell the motive of a speaker than one can tell the motive of a running dog. All you know is what you see and hear from them. Still, many of the advocates, if they speak long enough, reveal that their motive is just to get high, "stick it to the man" or they are hopelessly anti-industry. Other reasons too, those just happen to be the ones that I notice.

For some reason many of the pot advocates I meet are anti-tobacco. Somehow, the exact same chemicals from cigarettes are "pollution" and it does not matter how much I advocate that they should be allowed to smoke pot I am somehow just a tool of big industry. Oh, and I must not be sincere about pot because I have never tried it.

When other methods of introducing THC, or other chemicals, into the body in more effective ways, like in pill form for whatever the hot ailment topic is, the argument is that big drug companies are just trying to keep pot from being legal. That certainly does not sound like an argument for better health; it is an argument for smoking pot.

For some reason many of the pot advocates are against legalizing “hard” drugs, but can still say with a straight face that their advocacy is a freedom issue. Sounds more like an argument for legalizing the narrow range of things they like rather than true freedom. Especially since the only time they seem to want tobacco legal is if they smoke that too.

Even over at Reason, whenever these discussions come up, if you point out any health hazard to breathing smoke into your lungs from something besides tobacco the rabid pot crowd throws a collective tantrum as if their sacred cow is being gored. If they were actually for a freedom then they would not be denying that people can damage themselves with smoke and arguing that we should be free to do so.

I guess this is just a long winded way of saying that the pot crowd would sound more sincere if they would stop hiding what they really want. They might actually have more support if they had the same attitude that we share on this topic too.

Posted by: Guy Montag at February 23, 2007 8:18 AM

I'm with Pirate Jo on fun being okay. And, I assume, with a lot of you on that.

My one problem with Reason is the ridiculous (and irrational) denial that smoke is harmful for your lungs. Cigarette smoking remains legal. People who smoke pot take a lot less smoke into their lungs than many chronic smokers. Furthermore, I believe there was a study recently showing pot to be protective against Alzheimers.

If you're not me (pot makes me exhausted and famished) pot is fun. There's nothing wrong and plenty right with fun. As long as your fun doesn't run people off the road and leave them paralyzed, it's nobody's business whether you have it going to a church social, sodomizing somebody or being sodomized, or smoking a doobie.

Personally, I find the sodomites much more fun to hang around with than the church social-goers.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 23, 2007 8:38 AM

Hey, Pat Patterson - can you provide a link, showing us where Marinol has 'time and time again' been proven to be as effective, never mind better, than inhaled MJ?
That is 180 degrees from what I've been told by actual cancer and HIV patients, who say that Marinol doesn't come close.

The drug war is indeed asinine. If we legalized weed, and the govt. sold and taxed it, we'd have so much money coming in, it'd be incredible (see 'major cash crops of HI and WA'). A president who signed off on this law, however, would probably get a bullet in the head, as he'd be chopping into the profits of organized crime drastically.

Posted by: Cat brother at February 23, 2007 8:51 AM

And Amy's right -
1. MJ is the most effective anti-Alzheimer's treatment, at this time.
2. The sodomites are more fun to hang out with.

Posted by: Cat brother at February 23, 2007 8:53 AM

Reputable research has found that smoking pot, even heavily doesn't increase cancer risk. But apparently is bad in conjunction with cigarettes is bad.

My take on all of this reactionary stuff is that it represents a losing fight against who we are. Some people are inclined to do stuff to excess. The same people who are heavy potheads (or who love popping their xanax with red wine, or who are addicted to vicodin, or whatever) would be alcoholics or something else (porn addicts, whatever) if that were all that was available. If no drugs existed whatsoever, they'd engage in dangerous thrill-seeking behaviors just to get the adrenaline high. There's a fundamentally addictive personality. The rest of us (see many posters above) can dabble a bit here and there with booze, weed, coke, etc. and be OK. There's no fundamental, intrinsic difference between booze and most other drugs (I'd there IS some difference w/r/t to meth and heroin) that necessitates their being illegal. Just history, really.

Posted by: justin case at February 23, 2007 9:08 AM

Also, wasn't Hearst/DuPont/Paper Industry influencing the government also a factor? A reference here:http://blogs.salon.com/0002762/stories/2003/12/22/whyIsMarijuanaIllegal.html Not sure how credible that specific reference is, but it's one of many googleable links.



Plain, good-old American corporate greed and government graft. Good to know that some traditions are still around. Meh. Personally, I have no issues with people recreationally/medically using pot. I find that people that are stoned are far less prone to violence, less likely to throw up, and far more agreeable than drunk people. It's great that people find medical benefits for it. To me, that's icing on the cake.

Posted by: Jamie at February 23, 2007 9:21 AM

All this intellect, and nobody touches the real reasons why we have cruel and unusual laws to punish private acts? The least facile minds in our society vote en masse, old people. Scare the old folks, and you have a winner. Secondly, thanks to their fears, we now have more cops chasing pseudo crime instead of real criminals. For one thing, it's easier. Add in the fraud that is the DEA and the ATF, and you have the status quo. I blame George Washington for going after the bootleggers during the Whiskey Rebellion. The state is a nasty beast. Every trespass against the constitution to give more power to the government is another link in the chains that bind us as "free" people.

Then again, who wants a world full of tweakers? They're a real menace to society, but usually get swept up for their whacko real crimes.

Posted by: Casca at February 23, 2007 9:25 AM

Casca, we clearly disagree about many issues. But you're right on in your post above. Well said.

Posted by: justin case at February 23, 2007 9:29 AM

"So I have a neighbor down the road who is a personal injury attorney. He can't wait for the lawsuits resulting from lung damage, as a by-product of this usage."

I think that the majority of people who use medical marijuana (for legitimate medical reasons) aren't going to be around long enough to file a lot of lawsuits.

Posted by: Lena at February 23, 2007 9:35 AM

No, Lena, they might not be. But like the estates of those who got lung cancer and assume that it was caused by their smoking suing the tobacco companies and winning, expect the estates of people who die after smoking weed to do the same.

Posted by: brian at February 23, 2007 9:42 AM

If politicians were serious about solving the illegal immigration problem one step would be to make drugs legal. But I wonder why I never hear this.....

Posted by: PurplePen at February 23, 2007 9:46 AM

Brian - see my post above. PI attorneys might have a really tough time making the case that weed causes cancer. Evidence appears to contradict this claim.

Posted by: justin case at February 23, 2007 9:52 AM

Governments are full of people who want to run other people's lives.

I wouldn't blame religion; the last time I looked the Mormons couldn't lock me up for drinking a beer in my house.

For the record, I don't use illegal drugs. I have no problem with putting the pushers and distributors in jail. However, the current war on drugs is the very definition of quagmire. Take the profit out of distribution, and treat the addicts.

Posted by: MarkD at February 23, 2007 10:21 AM

If we legalized weed, and the govt. sold and taxed it, we'd have so much money coming in, it'd be incredible (see 'major cash crops of HI and WA').

Here we go again with the tax-everybody-to-death approach.

How about taxing it at the same rate as everything else? Same as gum. Actually, let's drop the stupid "sin taxes" completly.

At least that comment did not contain the usual phrasing "tax the hell out of it" line that is so common. I really don't understand why so many of the pot advocates are also high tax advocates. No, I am not accusing the commentor of that. It is just so common that it can not be far behind here.

Next item, I loved the paper conspiracy comment! Don't forget the cotton lobby one too! No tinfoil hat pot discussion is complete without the cotton lobby quashing hemp!

Posted by: Guy Montag at February 23, 2007 10:55 AM

Weed fucks people up; I'm agin' it.

Posted by: Crid at February 23, 2007 10:59 AM

I might have missed it in all of these posts, but there is the fact that it is illegal that keeps more people from using it. When I was in high school the jocks would drink up some beer but a joint was out of the question. Because it was illegal. You may not agree with me but I believe this to be a good thing. Pot is not always a "stepping stone drug" but sometimes it is. It was in my case. I moved on to harder things from Coke to Crystal Meth. I have been clean for twelve years and will be for the rest of my life. That I can say with out a doubt. I can also say that I have no problem with it being used for medical use. That is if it really helps. But for the general public, I like it the way it is in Cal. a ticket for under an ounce and time for over or if it is packaged for sale. Let the punnishment fit the crime. It seems the only people who want it legalised are current users for obvious reasons and people who have never used it because by some kind of convaluted reasoning they believe it will lower their taxes. Us converts by and large would like to see it stay illegal. I think from experience.

Posted by: pvm at February 23, 2007 11:28 AM

pvm, that's just nuts. "I foolishly abused one substance and several others, so I want the police to lock up anyone else who uses it, so as to protect me from my own stupid decisions." If you think pot is bad, don't smoke it. No one should be punished by the law for doing something that, at most, only harms themselves. Why don't we lock up the fat people, since they eat too much?

Pot smoking is already incredibly widespread - meaning that no, making it illegal isn't really preventing anyone from doing it. I don't believe there are hordes of current non-users who would rush out to try it if it was legalized. I think pretty much the same people would be smoking it then as smoke it now, but at least they wouldn't be harrassed by the cops over it.

I think it is true, though, that a lot of people who want it legalized just because they like to smoke it are hiding behind the "medical use" banner. And I don't see why they feel like they should have to. If you are enjoying something that is harmless fun, it's the people who want to put you in jail for it who should be justifying their position, not you.

Posted by: Pirate Jo at February 23, 2007 12:12 PM

Most medical marijuana users actually smoke very little. The point isn't to get high. It's to ease the pain, end the nausea, whatever. They're not sitting around doing bongs or finishing off a joint in a sitting. Oftentimes one hit is all you need. So I'm doubtful of this lung damage claim.

Posted by: AAA at February 23, 2007 12:19 PM

I remember reading a story about some poor old lady dying of cancer who got busted for pot possession. In the article, she mentioned that she put it in her eggs everyday, so one can assume that you don't necessarily have to smoke it to get some helpful benefits.

Posted by: Stacy at February 23, 2007 12:45 PM

http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffler/hemp/medical/marinoll.htm

http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/ongoing/marinol.html

First reference is to the most recent medical Marinol studies and the last is the DOH/DEA commentary plus reference to another Marinol and marijuana studies that are ongoing.

As long as their are studies and case studies showing the efficacy of Marinol then the legalization of marijuana for widespread use in pain management and as an anti-emetic will just not happen.

Posted by: Pat Patterson at February 23, 2007 12:53 PM

DOJ not DOH(as in Homer).

Posted by: Pat Patterson at February 23, 2007 12:54 PM

pvm, it is attitudes like yours that irk me nearly to death. As Pirate Jo said, just because you (and others) have/had a bout with a lack of self-restraint, doesn't mean the rest of society should suffer. So, you've been sober 12 years and will be forever? Great. Lemme guess? You kicked one habit for another...AAA or NA or whatever. So now, instead of doing drugs on a daily basis and in excess, you attend meetings until you weekly calendar is nothing but a blur. No offense (really), but there are a whole load of people in the world who can comfortably have one glass of wine with dinner and be through, smoke one joint a week and still be productive, or snort a line or two before the big dead-line and still have money in the bank. Think outside your own life experiences. There's a big world out there.

Posted by: kg at February 23, 2007 12:55 PM

"Here we go again with the tax-everybody-to-death approach"

Good points.

I'd also like to disagree with the idea that "taxing marijuana to death" would produce a huge influx of tax revenue. A recent Reason article pointed out that prohibition, itself, makes marijuana a cash crop. Black market costs and so on.

The big economic incentive to marijuana legalization is in the money we would not spend on prohibiting the hated weed (prisons, probation, court costs, stings, wasted time for FBI agents, DEA infrastructure costs, etc.).

I personally think the leftover money would be better spent by leaving it with the taxpayers in the first place.

Or, if that's so loathesome to the crooks in Washington, maybe it's time to start training our codebreakers at the NSA in Arabic, since, you know, maybe that might be the tiniest little bit, well, important?

Posted by: Steven at February 23, 2007 2:23 PM

Bad things happen whether it's legal or illegal. If it's legal, more people use it and become addicts. If it's illegal, there's more crime and violence. The difference is, when it's legal, the bad things mainly happen to people stupid enough to overdo it; when it's illegal, more bad things happen to the rest of us.

When it's illegal, to the dealer the punishment is the same if he deals to kids or adults. In fact, kids are less likely to be undercover cops. (Jonny Depp notwithstanding.) If it's legal, a dealer would lose his licence if he sold to kids, and would have incentive to sell only to adults, like a liquor store.

I've never used illegal drugs, but I still say make it all legal.

Posted by: Jon Tyken at February 23, 2007 2:25 PM

KG no meetings. Never been to one have no reason to start. I work I have a few hobbies, I have a family. Just your everyday average productive member of society. You and Pirate Joe misunderstand my point. Pirate joe, unless I misunderstand thinks I want to put them all away out of some kind of vindictiveness. Not the case, I believe strongly that drug use by one person tends to affect several other people, rather it be the fact that watching that person go down that path hurts anyone who cares about them, or the person that looses there car to the hype who is hurting and wants a fix bad enough to put a gun in your face for it. You seem to think I am just some kind of addict whether it be meetings or drugs and I am down on who ever uses them. Again not the case. I realize there are many normal productive people that smoke a joint now and then, and aparently according to Amy a more than productive person who did coke as part of there work regime. Their buisness not mine, do it in the privacy of your own home don't operate a vehicle on the same street I am. But realise it is illegal and that you should face the penalties that the law has in place. I am not concerned about those people, I am more concerned with one of the sadder things I run into now and then a fourteen or so old kid who is not seasoned enough or educated enough to make an intelligent decision making that mistake. Which doesn't always but can lead to a whole lot of other poor decision which end whith them pointing a gun in my window so they can get what they at this point NEED. It is worse case scenario I know, but all to often it happens and we all pay for it. Whats car insurance in California's inner cities I haven't been ther in a while? What finances the street gangs in LA? Wasn't there a freeway accident in Orange county last year where some kid ran a whole family off of an overpass driving while high on harmless pot? I am more concerned about those who don't stay productive members of society. I know they are ruining it for the rest of us but that is how things are in this world.

Posted by: PVM at February 23, 2007 2:26 PM

Again, all drug use is not abuse. Drug use by my professor friend made him...more productive! This affected many people -- many who were helped by his work.

I use drugs to work. Ritalin. Helps me focus. Some people abuse Ritalin. I don't. Should I be denied Ritalin because others snort it or sell it on the playground?

The penalties under the law are wrong and unconstitutional and need to be challenged.

As far as 14-year-old kids go, the way you keep them off harmful drugs is by being honest with them about which drugs are harmful, and why, and not pretending all of them will ruin your life, which is bullshit. My friend Simon did this with his kid, and he's never had a drug problem, even though he grew up in a neighborhood where they were available nearby.

More people run people off the road on alcohol than on any other substance. Would you ban alcohol? That worked really well the first time around, huh? Furthermore, people who smoke pot tend to use it to relax, not become Mario Andretti on the freeway.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 23, 2007 2:40 PM

Never suggested all drug use was abuse. But there are people out there and always will be who do and will abuse it. No, useful drugs should not be banned, but when you show me a good use for acid, crystal and PCP. I'll agree that we should have them available by perscription. As for pot, as I stated earlier if it has medicinal value I am all for making it available by perscription. Should it be made available to the general public in my opinion no. But that is my opinion no less no more. I'm glad your freind helped people on coke but your selling your freind short if you believe that was why he helped people. You must admit in the majority of the society of regular coke users they do much more damage than good. I have been part of that society, and in my experience that is the case. I would say your freind is the exception to the rule. My expereince with drug users and abusers is probably a little closer to the reality of the situation than most. I don't say this to sound arrogant or pompous. I grew up in one of those inner city neighberhoods in LA. So I guess most of what I saw was worst case senario. But my experiences are what they are and they helped to create the opinions that I have. I also know speaking to that fourteen year old can work and does work in alot of cases but in some it doesn't, way too many in fact.

Posted by: PVM at February 23, 2007 2:57 PM

PVM thinks drugs ruin people's lives and that harmless fun isn't a good enough reason to do something. I have no problem with that. It's the nanny-state view of government that I have a problem with. The founders of our government did not list "protect the stupid from themselves" as a legitimate reason for state control over people's lives. We did just fine without a drug war for a long time and had no more heroin addicts (as a percentage of the population) than we do now. Now our prisons are just more full.

Posted by: Pirate Jo at February 23, 2007 3:22 PM

The big economic incentive to marijuana legalization is in the money we would not spend on prohibiting the hated weed (prisons, probation, court costs, stings, wasted time for FBI agents, DEA infrastructure costs, etc.).

Don't count on those cost savings if it is heavily regulated like pharmaceuticals, alcohol or ammunition.

Expect more if the “government drug store” model of the Honorable Charles Rangel (C-NY) goes into effect. For some reason, the same people who advocate out military be composed of slaves are the same ones who advocate the government supply all goods and services.

Posted by: Guy Montag at February 23, 2007 3:35 PM

What I like is how many seem to be ok'ing drug use but are careful to say that THEY don't use drugs. I don't use drugs... but...

I'll say it. I don't use drugs (anymore) but sometimes I wish I did. I seem to recall having a lot more fun. Wish I wasn't such a lightweight.

Posted by: Christina at February 23, 2007 4:00 PM

I've smoked pot (ech), and used LSD once (a little too strong for me), taken mushrooms a number of times (fabulous!), and taken coke once (did nothing for me). I'm not using any drugs these days, other than wine and prescription Ritalin, if this matters to anyone.

FYI, I just said I don't smoke pot because I thought it made my defense of potsmoking a little stronger.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 23, 2007 4:55 PM

I've done the usual suspects. Except junk. My present drugs of choice are the classics: coffee and alcohol.

The one unusual drug I did use overseas was Qhat/Khat. The plant the Somali militias used to fight US soldiers in Mogadishu. It's all over North Africa and the Middle East.

I hated the bitter taste. It also took about 2 hours to kick in. Great appetite suppressant though. Like drinking 5 gallons of coffee in a hour. The high was great. I used it out in the sticks in on the border between Egypt and the Sudan. The first time, I was wired for 72 hours straight. I drove the locals crazy.

Coming down from it is not as bad. Strange dreams and some days of mild depression.

Posted by: Joe at February 23, 2007 5:50 PM

In Fiji I did Kava root. While never having actually sampled dishwater, I'm pretty sure it's that same flavor. The high was not distracting. We were told that the problem was that we were North Americans, used to a diet of intense stimulents ranging from Piper nigrum to processed sugar. The locals, with their cleaner bloodstreams, felt a stronger kick.

I did Betel nut in Yap. They love that shit... People spit the bloodlike juice so often that they eventually painted the floor of the airport red rather ask the semi-stoned locals to pull their courtesy together. Again, no particular impact here. That was when I realized that attending a Big Ten university in the late 1970's had calibrated my understanding of what constitutes a buzz.

Posted by: Crid at February 23, 2007 6:42 PM

Kava Kava was okay. Mine was a bit gritty. Even when it was mixed in tea.

Khat is making its way to North America. Its already spotted in various ethnic markets, especially in Canada.

Posted by: Joe at February 23, 2007 7:12 PM

Canada's still in North America? I thought they were one of the Norse nations now. Sort of partially French speaking suburb of Sweden.

Posted by: Pat Patterson at February 23, 2007 7:55 PM

How fun! Crid, I think that after years of sobriety, you should give it another shot. Lowered tolerance and all that. For the sake of science. Inquiring minds want to know.

As for me, I'm a wuss. I have 2 glasses of wine and I'm tipsy. Cheap date.

Posted by: christina at February 23, 2007 11:03 PM

An acquaintance once told me prohibition worked: the divorce rate went down, domestic violence went down, workplace absenteeism went down, traffic accidents, etc, all at a level that made up for increased criminality from bootlegging. I've never checked the numbers, but he's not a guy I would doubt.

Even legalizing marijuana leaves a line of law enforcement, e.g. selling to minors, bootlegging to avoid any taxes. I think public officials are loathe to cross the line into giving "public" approval of pot smoking. I would say the choice for public officials is between weathering the criticism of the cancer patient who is occasionally busted for using, or the wrath of a parent whose twelve year old was sold some MJ by the local junkie with chronic pain, who loaded up on weed from the local free clinic. Right now they would rather take the hit from the cancer patient.

Posted by: doombuggy at February 24, 2007 1:43 AM

An acquaintance once told me prohibition worked: the divorce rate went down, domestic violence went down, workplace absenteeism went down, traffic accidents, etc, all at a level that made up for increased criminality from bootlegging. I've never checked the numbers, but he's not a guy I would doubt.

Locking people in their homes also "works," but that's not the deal here -- or it's not supposed to be the deal here -- in these United States. Because people abuse something doesn't mean we should deny it to all.

Example: Many people abuse alcohol. I don't. Should I be denied a glass of wine with dinner because some people are drunks?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 24, 2007 2:20 AM

Amy -

If you ask the abolitionists at MADD, not only should you be denied that drink, you should be excoriated for daring to ask.

Don't you know that alcohol is a tool of Satan?

:)

Posted by: brian at February 24, 2007 6:19 AM

To Pat Patterson –
The first of the links you provided was to a DEA site, not real convincing as far as an honest comparison of Marinol vs. marijuana.
The second link didn’t come up, but I did go to www.druglibrary.org, where Tod H. Mikuriya, M.D., noted “Tentative and preliminary clinical findings indicate a significant difference between Marinol and natural crude cannabis preparations in favor of the crude product,” and also “Oral ingestion of either cannabis or Marinol is characterized by:
delayed onset of effects, variable level of effects, and prolonged effects. Inhalation provides quick onset of effects, consistent level of effects, and shorter lasting effects.
The inhalation route is significantly more consistently effective.”
At the same site, Dr. Debasish Tripathy notes

“…scientific and anecdotal reports consistently indicate that smoking marijuana is a therapeutically preferable means of ingestion. Marinol is available in pill form only. Moreover, Marinol contains only one of the many ingredients found in marijuana (THC). It may be that the beneficial effects of THC are increased by the cumulative effect of additional substances found in cannabis. That is an area for future research. For whatever reason, smoking appears to result in faster, more effective relief, and dosage levels are more easily titrated and controlled in some patients.”

I think you’ll agree, this is hardly ‘(proving) time and time again to have the same if not better results in treating pain, weight loss and loss of appetite.’ The overwhelming anectdotal evidence is that inhaled mj works much better.

Another researcher noted that placebo-controlled trials for smoked MJ are difficult, as you pretty much know right away you’re smoking a dummy joint. This is significant, as our (current) drug establishment really really does not want MJ legalized, and will avoid doing so until double-blind trials show it to be a lot better than Marinol, and even then I’m not holding my breath.

Most tellingly, Dr. Tripathy also says
“ 16 Many medications administered to combat cancer and other serious (potentially fatal) illnesses are far more toxic than marijuana. That is a consideration which I, as a healer, must acknowledge in caring for every patient in my practice. It defies common sense and sound medical practice to withhold any information which might minimize the effects of those treatments. The recent government threats to prosecute physicians for recommending, or even advising, their patients regarding marijuana place me in an unacceptable and unethical position: to fulfill my duties as a healer, I make myself vulnerable to legal sanctions which are not grounded in science or the healing arts. The government's recently announced policies jeopardize both the integrity of my practice and the quality of care received by the many patients who depend on me.”

Regarding personal injury suits, sure, they’ll happen. They happen with everything; if helmets for motorcycle riders became obligatory tomorrow, we’d have lawsuits within a month, claiming that someone’s crash would have been better without the helmet. It’s hard to find a safer drug than weed, though; one of the few with NO known toxic dose, that’s not even true of aspirin.

It’s not that I want MJ legalized and then taxed all to hell, it’s that a hefty tax which comes back to the govt. provides yet another reason to legalize it, and helps shut up those against its legalization. Want to fund the war on terror? There you go. Yes, it costs a lot because it’s currently illegal, that’s what prohibition does. That’s why drug lords are rich, and why peasants in other countries grow coca leaf and cannibus rather than beans.

After dealing with rich people in DC, Seattle, and now Charleston, yes, they get high all the damn time, and work hard, run corporations, hold high government office, and pay their bills. They also know it’s unlikely that they’ll be prosecuted or go to jail if caught with a joint, ‘cause that’s how it works. They’re also buying weed for their aged parents to stave off Alzheimer’s, and would buy it in a second for family members with cancer.

Lastly, anyone who hasn’t seen Afroman on Youtube doing ‘Cause I Got High,’ is missing out.

Posted by: Cat brother at February 24, 2007 7:53 AM

Finally out of the closet, eh Crid? You're a fucking Wolverine aren't you!

Posted by: Casca at February 24, 2007 7:55 AM

Thanks, Cat bro, for posting that on Marinol.

Wolverine, Casca? Meaning University of Michigan? I went there.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 24, 2007 8:03 AM

A Hoosier, babe. Never daunted, we will not falter; in the battle, we're tried and true!

Posted by: Crid at February 24, 2007 8:26 AM

Actually, khat is mostly found in Toronto (Canada), where there is a high number of immigrants from that part of the world. It's not distributed equally all over the country. And I think there are plans to annex Canada to the US, as kind of a territory like Puerto Rico, but that's mostly so they can take all our water and comedians. Canada is also useful to accuse as the source of all terrorists (they come into the States from Canada, doncha know) and of course, weed (B.C. grows the best weed!). Canada keeps trying to decriminalize or legalize weed, and keeps getting pressure from the States not to, 'or else'. Bossy bunch of babies in the government.

Posted by: Chris at February 24, 2007 8:28 AM

I just had an image of Amy at U of M, as a goof, stripping naked, donning a white shower cap, and becoming invisible against the snow...
"Hey, did you just hear something?"
"Must be your imagination. But then again, I do feel like we're being watched..."
Back to regularly scheduled programming.

Posted by: Cat brother at February 24, 2007 8:29 AM

That's funny! (Saved by my hatred of the cold, though.) Somebody once accused me of having a fight about god in Elmore's garage with a Detroit radio host. Gregg knew better. He told the person I'd never go out in the garage in wintertime, as I consider any temperature below 55 degrees sub-arctic.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 24, 2007 8:31 AM

Grow that red hair into dreads, you'd have been just like the Predator.

Posted by: Cat brother at February 24, 2007 8:43 AM

Cat brother, that is some funny shit - what have you been smoking? Have you been enjoying a Ragbrai-style "safety meeting?"

Posted by: Pirate Jo at February 24, 2007 11:30 AM

Not now, Jo...I just noticed my hands....my hands....they can touch everything but themselves....
When's the fucking Domino's guy gonna get here?

Posted by: Cat brother at February 24, 2007 1:38 PM

Since the hypothetical question referred to marijuana use in AIDS, I was referring to pain alleviation under those circumstances.

Here's the correct link to Drug Library.

www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/hemp/medical/marinol1.htm

Plus;

http://www.norml.org.pdf_files/ReviewofHumanStudies.pdf
Scroll down to Section 3.

http://www.medicalmarijuanaprocon.org/pop/appetite.htm


Posted by: Pat Patterson at February 24, 2007 7:22 PM

The first link you provided didn't open, but at the NORML site there was a pdf comparing Marinol and MJ, which concluded -
"...Marinol, only provides limited relief to to a select group of patients, particularly when compared to natural cannibis...Despite Marinol's legality, many patients continue to risk criminal prosecution to use natural cannibus medically, and most report experiencing greater therapeutic relief from it."
The same document also states that Marinol actually gives worse psychoactive effects, and is more difficult to titrate.

The second link leads to a comparison that says nothing about relative efficacy. It does mention that Marinol's effects seem to last longer, but this is hardly a problem, you take another hit if you need one. And nobody has to stay hungry for 4-6 hours.

You're, er, kind of making my point for me with these examples, Pat. Not one of the sites you pointed to has a study that says, Marinol works AS WELL as pot, never mind better. This is why people continue to risk jail time to use it, because it works better.

Posted by: Cat brother at February 25, 2007 6:03 AM

For those folks who desire a return to the unregulated past in which folks could "order heroin and syringes from Sears Roebuck":

1.Back then there were no class-action lawsuits for the damage done.

2. No publicly funded healthcare/rehab services for the truly messed up to turn to, either.

3. The stuff available was more expensive, and less potent, than the current gamut of narcotic/hallucinogenic substances.

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