Monday, November 16, 2009

Why I Love Ethan Nadelmann

Back in July I wrote a post featuring Ethan Nadelmann's moving speech from the last NAACP Conference: Ethan Nadelmann Delivers the Truth: Human Rights, Racial Justice and the War on Drugs. Last week at the opening of the 2009 Drug Reform Conference Mr. Nadelmann once again gave a rousing speech, proving he is a true leader in the movement to reform our draconian drug laws. One of my favourite parts of the speech? Calling out Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper for following down the failed path of US Mandatory Minimum Sentencing.

The video is a little over half an hour, but well worth the time! I think all politicians should listen to it, so they know that we are here raising our voice and we will never, ever stop fighting to end prohibition!

Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance at the 2009 Drug Reform Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico: "Right now the wind is at our back" from Hungarian Civil Liberties Union. Thank you to the HCLU for filming, please visit their link for more pictures and info about the conference.

UPDATE: And even more awesomeness from Ethan Nadelmann, I really just can't say enough about how much I respect and admire all of the work Mr. Nadelmann puts forth towards reforming our drug laws and ending prohibition.

Leading drug reformer from U.S. visits injection site

Mexican Drug Policy Reform Movement Takes Shape

Update #2 - My Testimony to Congress on the War on Drugs By Ethan Nadelmann

"The U.S. House Domestic Policy Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), held a hearing Wednesday April 14th. on the White House's drug war budget and forthcoming 2010 National Drug Control Strategy...." Read Mr. Nadelmann's testimony, as always, he's brilliant.

You can also "Follow" Ethan Nadelmann on Twitter.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I Got A Little Snarky...

Reading such ignorance I had no choice but to tell how I really feel.

Read the Letter: No such thing as 'medical marijuana'

I'm not sure the comment moderator will post my reply or not, so here it is:

I suppose all the scientists and doctors are wrong then Joe?

Next you'll be saying all this medical marijuana is going to cause black men to step on the shadows of white men - oh wait, that's how Anslinger got cannabis prohibited back in 1937.

Cannabis has been used by humans for medicine since before we even started to record our history, it's only been in the last hundred years that POLITICIANS have outlawed it, not doctors.

Cannabis saved my life - it's not about getting high, it's about trying to live our lives in less pain with fewer side effects - I personally don't want to take meds where the side effect is DEATH.

Cannabis isn't for everybody, but there is no way that it should be outlawed from people who it will help. If you don't believe in it, don't use it. Alcohol is legal but I probably have a drink once a year. Freedom of choice cannot be denied when people's lives are at stake.

Government prohibiting people from ingesting a substance means they own your body. Ownership is slavery. Just the very fact that people are thrown in jail for using it proves that. Prohibition laws are draconian and that is why more and more people are fighting to change these laws, in spite of people like you.

I'd rather go to jail for using cannabis than to merely exist bedridden in pain. I usually pride myself on being a very polite Lady, but from the bottom of my heart, screw you, Joe.

"An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law" ~ Martin Luther King

This is relevant to my post: Breaking News

AMA Calls for Review of Medical Marijuana's Legal Status

New Policy Marks Historic Shift From Prior Stance

(HOUSTON, TEXAS) - In a move considered historic by supporters of medical marijuana, the American Medical Association’s House of Delegates today adopted a new policy position calling for the review of marijuana’s status as a Schedule I drug in the federal Controlled Substances Act. (Read the whole article on Salem News)

How Hemp Seed Oil Can Help Your Arthritis

Great article: How Hemp Seed Oil Can Help Your Arthritis

Posted using ShareThis

Stoner Etiquette - Code of Ethics for a Cannabis Vaporizer Party

Brilliant. :-)

(Yes, I just put a smiley-face on my usually serious blog)

vaporizerexpert - Code of Ethics for a Cannabis Vaporizer Party

UPDATE: The original WordPress blog where this article was published is no longer online, but I have found it reposted here.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Sky Didn't Fall

Reuters reports that the Dutch are among the lowest cannabis users in Europe. "The policy on soft drugs in the Netherlands, one of the most liberal in Europe, allows for the sale of marijuana at "coffee shops", which the Dutch have allowed to operate for decades, and possession of less than 5 grams (0.18 oz)."

Judge Jim Gray writes in a blog post Treating pot like alcohol

"For example, in Holland, where anyone 16 or older can use marijuana and hashish, the minister of health reported that his country has only half the marijuana usage per capita than we do here — both for adults and for teenagers." "Then he went on to explain why, when he said that “We have succeeded in making pot boring.”

Also interesting to note, the Netherlands are closing prisons due to lack of criminals.

In 2001, Portugal decriminalized all drugs and the results are in. Excerpts from The Economist article Portugal's drug policy Treating, not punishing reports:

"The evidence from Portugal since 2001 is that decriminalisation of drug use and possession has benefits and no harmful side-effects

“none of the nightmare scenarios” initially painted, “from rampant increases in drug usage among the young to the transformation of Lisbon into a haven for ‘drug tourists’, has occurred.”

"the incidence of other drug-related problems, including sexually transmitted diseases and deaths from drug overdoses, has “decreased dramatically”.

"...offenders in Portugal are sent to specialist “dissuasion commissions” run by the government, rather than into the judicial system. “In Portugal,” he says, “the health aspect [of the government’s response to drugs] has gone mainstream.”

"The aim of the dissuasion commissions, which are made up of panels of two or three psychiatrists, social workers and legal advisers, is to encourage addicts to undergo treatment and to stop recreational users falling into addiction. They have the power to impose community work and even fines, but punishment is not their main aim. The police turn some 7,500 people a year over to the commissions. But nobody carrying anything considered to be less than a ten-day personal supply of drugs can be arrested, sentenced to jail or given a criminal record."

"Officials believe that, by lifting fears of prosecution, the policy has encouraged addicts to seek treatment. This bears out their view that criminal sanctions are not the best answer. “Before decriminalisation, addicts were afraid to seek treatment because they feared they would be denounced to the police and arrested,” says Manuel Cardoso, deputy director of the Institute for Drugs and Drug Addiction, Portugal’s main drugs-prevention and drugs-policy agency. “Now they know they will be treated as patients with a problem and not stigmatised as criminals.”

"Portugal has one of Europe’s lowest lifetime usage rates for cannabis. And most notably, heroin and other drug abuse has decreased among vulnerable younger age-groups."

Read the Cato Institute Report “Drug Decriminalisation in Portugal: Lessons for Creating Fair and Successful Drug Policies.” By Glenn Greenwald.

Since August of this year, in an attempt to lower drug use and prohibition related crime, Mexico (Mexico’s Drug Decriminalization Law Effective Today) and Argentina (Argentina Decriminalizes Personal Drug Consumption) are also giving decriminalization a go. According to some reports, Brazil and Ecuador are considering similar steps.

The Netherlands and Portugal have been approaching drug policy realistically and with compassion .... Canada should indeed take a closer look at what is working for them, instead of following down the same doomed path of the U.S.

"The United States, with 5 percent of the world's population, houses nearly 25 percent of the world's prisoners. As Webb explained it,

"Either we're the most evil people on earth, or we're doing something wrong."

We incarcerate 756 inmates per 100,000 residents, nearly five times the world average. At this point, approximately one in every 31 adults in the United States is in prison, jail, or on supervised release. Local, state, and federal spending on corrections now amounts to about $70 billion per year and has increased 40 percent over the past 20 years."

~Senator Jim Webb

Canada meanwhile, ignores such important experience and is trying to fall deeper into the Drug War Abyss.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Science Trumps Ideology

The comment I left after the article:

Mental health fears over cannabis may be ‘misguided’

From: International Researchers Reveal Medical Cannabis Breakthroughs!

Excerpts from:

International Association for Cannabis as Medicine
IACM 5th Conference on Cannabinoids in Medicine
2-3 October 2009, Cologne
Program and Abstracts Copyright by
International Association for Cannabis as Medicine
Am Mildenweg 659602 Rüthen Germany


In recent years much concern has arisen over the possibility that cannabis smoking in adolescence may be a risk factor for schizophrenia in adult life, although this remains a controversial issue. In contrast, considerable interest in the potential role of the non-psychoactive naturally occurring cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) as an anti-psychotic medicine has also developed. The anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects of both THC and CBD are well established. A systematic literature review has suggested the intriguing possibility that habitual cannabis use may protect cognitive function in schizophrenia patients, and CBD has been shown to improve a marker of this in healthy subjects.

There are preliminary data to suggest that cannabinoids may have beneficial effects on abnormal stress reaction, metabolic dysfunction and dyslipidaemia. Since the mechanism of action for the anti-psychotic effects of CBD and other cannabinoids almost certainly differs from all existing agents, synergistic combinations withboth typical and atypical antipsychotics are a possibility. Taken overall, these observations lead to the hypothesis that an appropriately formulated medicine containing a combination of selected cannabinoids may have the potential to target all the major components of the schizophrenia syndrome and thereby significantly reduce the need for polypharmacy. (Read More:

In Layman's terms, Cannabis can help the symptoms of schizophrenia and cuts down the number of prescription drugs a person has to take.

As much as politicians love to use the "Tough on Crime/War On Drugs" platform because it resonates with the sheeple, the unmistakable reality is that drug policy will only be its most successful if we let those experts most knowledgeable about drugs guide our drug policy. Science, along with addressing the root causes of addiction (such as poverty, mental illnesses, lack of education and health services and being a victim of sexual abuse) are the pillars of successful solutions to reduce drug abuse (because all users are not abusers, we don't call people alcoholics because they like to have a few beers on a Friday night) and the crime that results from prohibition.

Illegality automatically inflates prices for drugs which of course attracts organized crime and causes violence in a black market. We learned this valuable lesson during the prohibition of alcohol. Prohibition will never be the answer. Taking drugs is a personal decision and people will use them regardless of law. Most people regulate their behavior due to personal belief, we don't steal or murder not because it is against the law, but because we personally think its wrong. If drugs were legal it would be the same, those who want to experiment will, and those who don't, won't. Regulation will also make it harder for kids to get because proof of age will be required to buy - news flash parents - drug dealers don't ask your kids for ID!

And just imagine, all those police officers that must waste their time, energy and resources chasing down plants will now be able to focus on preventing and solving violent crime. Taxpayers should also be happy to know that it costs less for rehab programs than it does to maintain overflowing prisons. And people who beat addiction will contribute to the economy through employment, whereas released convicts can't get a job easily with a criminal record leading to increasing rates of recidivism.

Thank You, Professor Nutt, for being brave and speaking the truth, you are right, the people are on your side and support you. We need science and compassion based drug policy and governments around the world must put their ideology aside and recognize that prohibition is unrealistic and harms society more than actual drugs ever could. Education and regulation is the key.

Update ~ CBC aired a "Let's Scare the Bejeezus out of Parents"" documentary about "super strong pot" and schizophrenia. Here's my response as well as additional valuable info:

I went right to the RCMP website to find that THC content really isn't as high, pardon the pun, as many people would like us to believe. According to the RCMP the the average levels of THC in cannabis grown in Canada is 9.96-10.25 per cent. (2005/06) I also read the 4 studies that were used as evidence for the documentary. The recurring theme in all research was that they were not all "Cannabis only users" - many people also used amphetamines, alcohol, nicotine, etc. and many had a predetermined genetic link to schizophrenia (psychosis liability) a history of childhood trauma and/or other environmental factors.

What I honest to goodness took away from these studies is that the cannabis/schizophrenia link is the genetic predisposition and the subjects were going to possibly develop schizophrenia regardless of cannabis use. While some surmise that cannabis may trigger symptoms of schizophrenia I conclude that if anything what this proves is that if we regulate the sale to adults like we do for alcohol then less young people would have access to it at too early an age, thus delaying a possible eventual onset of schizophrenia.

THC-content in Dutch Cannabis. (aka the "Killer Dutch Bud" Frenzy...)

One of the latest prohibitionist scare tactics is to claim that the THC of Cannabis has increased 10 to 30 times. Some people, (including Australian parliamentarians) were even claiming Cannabis now had 45% THC!! The sub text of this was a desperate appeal to baby-boomer parents who may themselves have smoked Cannabis: "Cannabis isn't the harmless old drug you may have smoked in the sixties at university, oh no, its now mutated into an evil-killer- insanity causing drug that turns good kids bad, splits families and ruins lives... etc, etc".
Into the middle of this debate comes the cold hard light of day... at last.
The following communication was originally posted to the ADCA Update list on Wed, 5 Jul 2000.
Dear reader,
There has been a lot of anecdotal information about the THC-content in Dutch Cannabis products sold in coffee shops. A colleague of mine at the Netherlands Institute of Mental Health and Addiction, Dr Raymond Niessink (the renown alcohol and drugs toxicologist and writer of the book 'Drugs of Abuse and Addiction: Neurobehavioural Toxicology') just finished a study about the THC-content in cannabis products sold in Dutch coffee shops.
This is the abstract of his study:
"The policy on cannabis use in The Netherlands is substantially different from that in many other countries. It is based on the idea that separating the markets for hard drugs and soft drugs prevents soft drug users to resort to hard drug use. Over the years so-called coffee shops emerged. Coffee shops are alcohol free establishments where the selling and using of soft drugs is not prosecuted, provided certain conditions are met. Many of the cannabis products sold in these coffee shops originate from Dutch-grown grass called nederwiet.
A number of critics of the Dutch drug policy have recently claimed that the THC content of nederwiet has increased between 10 and 30 times over the last decade. However, the THC content of cannabis products as sold in coffee shops has not systematically been tested. On request of the Ministries of Health and Justice, the potency of cannabis products as sold in coffee shops in The Netherlands was investigated.
The aim of this study was to investigate the concentration of D9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marihuana and hash as sold in Dutch coffee shops. In addition we wanted to know whether there are differences between the cannabis products originating from Dutch grown hemp (nederwiet) and those derived from foreign hemp. The names and addresses of 50 coffee shops were randomly selected from a list of 845 Dutch coffee shops. For the purpose of this study, 126 samples of nederwiet, 56 samples of foreign marihuana, 18 samples of Dutch hash and 90 samples of hash prepared from foreign hemp were anonymously bought in the selected coffee shops. As a rule samples of 1 gram were bought.
The average THC content of the marihuana samples was 7,5% and that of the hash-samples 12,6%. The average THC content of nederwiet (8,6%) was significantly higher than that of foreign marihuana (5,0%). Hash derived from Dutch hemp contained more THC (20,7%) than hash originating from foreign hemp (11,0%). These THC percentages do not deviate much from the percentages that have been reported by the Dutch Forensic Institute in the middle of the nineties about confiscated marihuana and hash samples.
The prices that had to be paid for nederwiet and Dutch hash were higher than the prices for foreign marihuana and hash. The price for nederwiet in Amsterdam was higher than in the rest of the country. There is a significant correlation between price and THC content of the cannabis products. When the THC concentrations in nederwiet are compared with the THC concentrations in marihuana from foreign studies we must conclude that the concentrations in nederwiet are nothing out of the way.
The THC-content of nederwiet is comparable with the THC content of sinsemilla samples as measured in the US between 1980 and 1997.
Continuation of the systematic collection of data on the THC content of samples of cannabis consumed by regular users should have a high priority. Apart from that, it is necessary to have factual information about the relation between high THC content of cannabis products and the actual body-burden as well as scientific information on acute and chronic toxicity from regular high THC-blood concentrations."
From: Jaap Toet
Trimbos-institute (Netherlands Institute for Mental Health and Addiction)
Dept. of Monitoring and Epidemiology Postbus 725 3500 AS Utrecht The Netherlands
And from Essays & Articles, Dr. John Jiggens

Does Cannabis Use Cause Schizophrenia? ~

This study shows that incidence of schizophrenia has not increased with increased numbers of Cannabis users:

"The evidence that schizophrenia levels have remained constant is overwhelming, not just in Australia, but right throughout the world.

People Living with Psychotic Illness: An Australian Study 1997-98, published as part of the National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing, found that the prevalence for schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorders in urban Australia was about 3 per 1000 in 1998. This was in the middle range of a world-wide prevalence of 2 to 5 per 1000.

The report commented:

"Epidemiological studies estimating the prevalence of schizophrenic and related psychotic disorders have been conducted since the early decade of this century [i.e.Twentieth Century]. The results of studies carried out at different times and different parts of the world ... suggest that, notwithstanding cultural and biological differences between populations, and the different methods used to ascertain morbidity, the prevalence of schizophrenia is remarkably similar around the world (in the range between 2 and 5 per 1000 according to the majority of studies) and stable over time."

This conclusion—that schizophrenia levels have been stable over place and time for as long as they have been measured—was based on an examination of 28 surveys into the incidence of schizophrenia conducted throughout the world over several decades. One of these surveys was a 1993 World Health Organisation study on the incidence of schizophrenia in which standardised methods of case detection, interviewing and diagnosis were applied simultaneously in 7 countries. Like the other surveys, this found little variation in the incidence rates of schizophrenia across the different populations and cultures.

Countries which had extremely high cannabis use (Jamaica in 1995] had the same schizophrenia rates per 1000 as countries with zero cannabis use (Norway in 1926-1935).

Q: Does cannabis use cause schizophrenia?

A: No. Over the past four decades most countries in the Western world have experienced rapidly increasing cannabis use. None of these countries has experienced any accompanying “Madness” plague. Countries like Australia and Jamaica which have the highest levels of cannabis use have levels of schizophrenia similar to the rest of the world.

We’ve smoked the “Reefer” for four decades, and “Madness” levels have remained steady, not just in Australia, but all over the world. Where does that leave the “Reefer Madness” theory?? --- ~


Along with Science, let's just throw in "Life" too.

While I know Anslinger's "Marijuana drives you insane!" arguement will more than likely continue on as it's literally been embedded into the minds of multiple generations now, I'll leave you with this: I believe correlation does not mean causation. Just because some people may not handle Cannabis well does not mean everyone should be punished for using it.  In comparison with all things we ingest it's totally understandable that Cannabis isn't for everyone and perhaps those with a genetic predispostion for Schizophrenia should not induldge.  Just like diabetics shouldn't dive into the dessert bar at a buffet, or maybe the children of alcoholics should avoid booze. Heck, people with balance problems probably shouldn't attempt gymnastics either.  We must apply common sense.

So many things in life come down to people making personal decisions for themselves. We don't always make the best choices, but such is life, and each experience - great or small, right or wrong, happy or sad - shapes the person we become. Everyone has regrets and can question their actions (did I really wear that top to that party back in grade 11? What was I thinking?!) and hindsight is 20/20. But that is the beauty of life, it's a journey, sometimes it's bumpy and sometimes it's smooth sailing and in the end each of us owns the road we've traveled down. There are different views of "The Meaning of Life", and no two people have the exact same philosophies and I think that's wonderful, otherwise this would be one really boring existence. What would be the point of a life with no individuality and no personal autonomy? The geek in me rejoices that we are not living in Hives of "The *Borg" - I subscribe to a more "Browncoat/Independent/Resist The *Alliance" way o' life.

"The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination." ~ Don Williams, Jr

*The Borg is a collective, meaning that they—or it—possess a single mind. That Borg mind has the single intent of “assimilating” all organic species into the collective. The Borg are utterly without mercy or compassion. In a collective society only the needs of the group as a whole are considered, and in this utilitarian calculation the needs of the unrivaled number of Borg will nearly always override any other considerations.

*The Alliance (from Firefly/Serenity)

A scene at an Alliance school, where a teacher sadly muses that it's hard to understand why the benighted Independents, the secessionists, have resisted the attempt to bring them the gifts of civilization. River Tam speaks the truth:

"We meddle... People don't like to be meddled with. We tell them what to do, what to think, don't run, don't walk. We're in their homes and in their heads, and we haven't the right. We're meddlesome."

Update August 2012
Cannabis Is Least Harmful Substance in Published British Medical Journal ‘Harm To Self And Others’ Study.
The British Medical Journal on 27th of July 2012 published an extensive study scaling the harm caused to ones self and to others due to substance use. The study looked at the 19 most commonly used drugs both legal and illicit. Heroin was ranked at number  1 whilst Alcohol sat in 4th place and cannabis came bottom being deemed least harmful in all 3 tables.
The Paper titled “Quantifying the RR of harm to self and others from substance misuse: results from a survey of clinical experts across Scotland.” published in the BMJ by a collective of 6 research bodies, five from the UK and one from our common wealth cousins in New Zealand who also operate under a policy of prohibition like ours – The Misuse of Drugs Act. This study was carried out by 292 clinical experts. -

BREAKING NEWS! (That we already knew)  The Therapeutic Potential of Cannabis and Cannabinoids

NORML reports as well: “There Is Now Clear Evidence That Cannabinoids Are Useful For The Treatment Of Various Medical Conditions”
"According to a just published review in the German scientific journal Deutsches Ärzteblatt International, scientific findings from over 100 controlled clinical trials involving either cannabis or its constituents provide “clear evidence that cannabinoids are useful for the treatment of various medical conditions.”
Investigators from the nova-Institute and the Hannover Medical School in Germany reviewed over 100 controlled trials assessing the safety and efficacy of cannabis and cannabinoids.
Researchers reported: “Knowledge about the therapeutic potential of cannabis products has been greatly improved by a large number of clinical trials in recent years. … There is now clear evidence that cannabinoids are useful for the treatment of various medical conditions,” including chronic neuropathy (nerve pain), multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, Gilles de la Tourette syndrome, and other indications."

And more from the awesome Professor David Nutt mentioned above:

David Nutt's Blog: Evidence not Exaggeration
Smoke without fire? Scaremongering by the British Lung Foundation over cannabis vs tobacco

June 11, 2012

Hypothesising an alternative: Applying the scientific process to drug policy
June 29, 2012

From The Economist: Reefer madness Plain speaking on a highly coloured issue
David Nutt Says Legalising Cannabis Would Curb Alcohol Use 'By A Quarter'

Alcohol - not marijuana - is the gateway drug, study shows