Tuesday, August 31, 2010

EDITORIAL: Legalization for Medication

On Saturday, members of Alabamians for Compassionate Care -- a group that supports the use and legalization of medical marijuana – were at the Vulcan Performers "Revamped" Night of Arts, Dance, and Attitude.

They were there to educate others about the Michael Phillips Compassionate Care Act (MPCCA).

They expect the MPCCA will be introduced to the Alabama Legislature sometime in March. It is modeled after the laws that are in effect in 14 other states and the District of Columbia, and it would allow doctors to recommend marijuana to patients who suffer from seizures, have chronic pain, have been diagnosed with cancer and other chronic illnesses.
It is beyond reason that people would seek to deny a person medicine that would help them with their ailment, especially when there is absolutely no reason for them to do so.

Marijuana has been used as a medicine for centuries. The people of India have been using ganja (its Indian name) since the 11th century to treat headaches, muscle spasms, chronic pain and more. Native Americans used it for mental illness, and it was the staple in most of their herbal recipes for the cold and flu, childbirth and relaxing wounded warriors as well as easing their pain. Even Queen Victoria of England smoked marijuana to lessen the effects of menstrual cramps.

Now I can tell you from personal experience that it works not only for chronic pain, but also for the other ailments that chronic pain creates. For 16 years, I have suffered from chronic low back pain, sciatic nerve pain in my right leg and muscle spasms in my back and buttocks.

The modern medical establishment chooses to treat a condition like this in one of two ways: first, they will do nothing, and you just have to deal with the pain, or they put you on narcotic pain pills like Percocet and strong muscle relaxants like Robaxin or Valium.

Neither of these is acceptable. The combination of 30 to 40 mg of Percocet with 3,000 mg of Robaxin causes depression, respiratory depression, anaphylactic reaction, allergic reaction, malaise, asthenia, fatigue, chest pain, fever, hypothermia, thirst, headache, increased sweating, hypertension, jaundice, nausea, vomiting, amnesia, confusion, insomnia and seizures.

Considering that marijuana usually helps more, and your biggest worry is that you are going to drink a gallon of milk and eat three bags of Oreos: which would you rather take?

Now granted, marijuana has more side effects than that. According to familydoctor.org, the primary side effects of marijuana are slowed reaction time, difficulty concentrating, sleeplessness, anxiety, paranoia, altered time perception, tremors, nausea, headaches, decreased coordination, breathing problems, increased appetite and reduced blood flow to the brain.

I think most reasonable people would agree that if you could choose between the side effects of narcotics and the side effects of marijuana, pot is the way to go.

Furthermore, with commercially grown marijuana you would be able to accurately measure the level of cannabinoids. Marijuana high in cannabinoids, also known as giggle weed, creates a euphoria that can aid in dealing with the depression and anxiety that so often comes with chronic pain.

When you have chronic pain you have to stay physically strong, you cannot allow yourself to weaken because chronic pain is one of those conditions that if you do not fight it, you will succumb to it and essentially give in.

The problem is that when you are in pain you usually do not want to eat, and this can cause you to deteriorate physically. That is where the gallon of milk and three bags of Oreos come in handy.

I cannot personally testify to its affects on seizures and cancer. I do not suffer from those ailments. However, there are many more ailments, other than the ones that we have mentioned, that patients say is helped more by marijuana than by prescription drugs.

It helps conditions such as migraines, digestive diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, fibromyalgia and dozens more. Recent studies show that it slows the onset of Alzheimer's disease, reduces the chances of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and helps reduce the tremors and muscle rigidity associated with Parkinson's disease.

So, the question is not "Why should medical marijuana be legal?" The question should be "Why in the world is it not legal already?"

Marijuana is the closest thing out there to a miracle drug because there are few if any other drugs that can be used to treat so many different ailments.

The problem, like with so many things in society, is that it has been deemed unacceptable by a small number of the population, so they start the propaganda machines. They go to the conservative press and church organizations, and they poison the minds of the public with half-truths and outright lies.

Propaganda such as Reefer Madness, Assassin of Youth posters and comics and articles published by people like William Randolph Hearst, whose articles claimed smoking pot caused young black men to commit murder, polluted the minds of the public in the early 20th century.

The reasons that marijuana should be legal are too many to list, but we will list a few.

First, there is no reason to for Americans to suffer when there is a remedy that will help them with their ailment, especially when that remedy has fewer and less dangerous side effects than the drugs that doctors prescribe and does a better job. It could be argued that pot has fewer side effects than Extra Strength Tylenol. There is no argument that it has fewer side effects than narcotic pain medication, NSAID's (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and high-powered muscle relaxants.

Second, through the proper legal and regulated growth and sell of marijuana it can be far less expensive than the cost of the drugs that it replaces. Marijuana is relatively inexpensive, but if it were grown legally and treated like a legal drug, the cost of production would drop. As it is now, the price is inflated due to the risk that people take and the cost of smuggling.

Third, in a free country there is no reason for it to be illegal to anyone in the first place. It is one thing to pass laws regarding its use -- not smoking it in a public place, for example. However, what someone does in his or her own home that does not harm society is not society's business.

Fourth, the truth is that there is a big lobby fighting the legalization of marijuana. Do you think that Budweiser wants Bud to be legal; do you think Jack Daniels does? No, they sell far more harmful substances that anyone over the age of 21 can pick up at almost any convenience or liquor store.

Fifth, we have been fighting and losing a drug war for longer than any of us can remember, and a large reason that we are losing is marijuana. If this relatively safe substance were legal, it would remove more than half of the problem. This would allow the drug agencies to focus on real drugs like methamphetamines, cocaine and heroin, and then we could finally make some progress towards taking these dangerous drugs of the streets.

Sixth, everyone needs an excuse for drinking a gallon of milk and eating three bags of Oreos.

Finally, for those of you that say it would make it easier for children to get their hands on marijuana, that is just BS or stupidity. When I was in high school, it was easier to buy unregulated marijuana -- I could usually find a bag between the front of the door of the school and my locker --than it was to buy a regulated bottle of Jack Daniels. Dope dealers do not check IDs.

The truth is that the war on marijuana is almost over; the stigma is gone. The lies about it have been largely disproven, and there has been so much research done on cannabis that the anti-pot establishment is finding it hard to pass off new lies about it.

For that reason, the legalization of marijuana will happen sometime in the not so distant future.

The question is: should we deny people medical marijuana now when we know it is eventually going to be legal for all?

HUD to Evict Dying Man from His Home

Hendersonville, Nevada – A man is facing eviction from HUD housing for consuming marijuana, even though the medical use of marijuana is legal in Nevada and the man has a qualifying doctor’s recommendation.

Reggie Morgan has lived at Espinoza Terrace for 18 years and has never had problems with the previous management. However, earlier this month the new management gave him a notice of eviction for his involvement in “drug related criminal activity.”

"I take a lot of medication for my illness, and the pills upset my stomach in the morning when I first wake up," says Reggie Morgan who is dying from liver cancer. "Once I smoke a couple and sit down, it will settle my stomach."

The Southern Nevada Regional Housing Authority has issued a statement in which they state that they are only following national guidelines issued by HUD.

"Our policy is zero-tolerance for drugs of any kind irrespective on whether or not they are licensed to use medical marijuana," Carl Rowe with the Southern Nevada Regional Housing Authority.

However, The Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington D.C. has issued a statement in which they state that:

"Local housing authorities have the discretion to evict a tenant for using medical marijuana...they can evict, but they don't have to evict."

Therefore, with both organizations seemingly refusing to take responsibility, once again the patient suffers the sting that is caused by the beaurocracy between state and federal governments.

University of Arkansas Equalizes Marijuana and Alcohol Penalties

The University of Arkansas has announced that it will be the first college in the country to equalize the penalties for alcohol and marijuana possession on campus.

In the past, misdemeanor possession would result in the offender being required to submit to a mental health evaluation, perform 50 hours of community service, suspended parking privileges, one-year probation and a $200 fine.

Under the new policy, the same possession charge will require a drug education class, 15 hours of community service and a $50 fine. The same penalty as a misdemeanor alcohol offense.

Students for Sensible Drug Policy were the main force behind the change in policy. For the last year, they have negotiated with college administrators and collected over 1,700 student signatures.

“The university made a very intelligent decision,” said Rob Pfountz, University of Arkansas Students for Sensible Drug Policy chapter president. “They (UA) pioneered the way to a sensible marijuana policy and (are) basically ensuring a safer campus.”

Arkansas may be the first to address this problem, but they are not the only ones being afflicted by the problem. On average, marijuana possession on campus carries a penalty greater than six times that of misdemeanor alcohol charges.

Nearly 700,000 student assaults each year are alcohol related, 90percent of campus rapes occur when either the victim or assailant have been drinking and over 1,5oo students die each year from alcohol related incidents.

Monday, August 30, 2010

New Research Supports Marijuana Use for Neuropathic Pain

MONTREAL – researchers have released the result of a study, which finds that smoking marijuana can ease chronic neuropathic pain and help patients achieve a more restful sleep.

The study was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal on August 30, 2010, and found that most people suffering from neuropathic pain are usually treated with opioids, antidepressants and local anesthetics. These treatments are limited and can have severe side-effects.

The new study found that patients suffering from chronic pain noticed significant improvement after smoking higher-potency marijuana.

“We’re not saying that this is the final solution for chronic pain management. As with any pain strategy, especially with chronic pain, we know that the best approach is a multidisciplinary one,” said lead author Mark Ware, director of clinical research at the Alan Edwards Pain Management Unit of the McGill University Health Centre. “All that this does is open the door to the cannabinoid being another tool in the toolbox in treating chronic pain.”

The study looked at 21 adults with post-traumatic or post-surgical chronic pain. They were randomly assigned to receive marijuana with a THC content of 2.5percent, 6percent, 9.4percent or were given a placebo.

Researchers found that those who participated in the study found higher levels of relief by smoking the 9.4percent marijuana three times a day.

The study does not address the use of marijuana as a long-term treatment for neuropathic pain, but it does support its effectiveness on neuropathic pain in short term treatment. More studies will still have to be done as to its viability as a long-term treatment.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The City of Los Angeles Attempts to Close 129 Dispensaries

Los Angeles – In an effort to close down 129 medical marijuana dispensaries, the Los Angeles city attorney’s office has asked a judge to support a new city ordinance that would close those facilities.

According to the ordinance, dispensaries are not allowed to operate within 1000 feet of schools, parks, and “other meeting sites.” Medical marijuana advocates claim ordinance is so badly written that any street corner could be considered a “meeting place.”

In addition, the dispensary’s owners will have to face a heap of additional background checks, and must have their medicines tested by an independent laboratory.

The city clerk’s office has determined that only 41 dispensaries would comply with the city’s interpretation.

"They're going beyond a strict interpretation of the ordinance and doing anything they can to figure out how they can disqualify them. This is not what the city council intended. The city attorney wants to shut everyone down ," said James Shaw, of the Union of Medical Marijuana Patients.

Out of the 400 facilities ordered to close down in June when the ordinance passed, about 30 have filed their cases challenging the city clerk’s office interpretation of the ordinance.

Supporters say that the city of Los Angeles is simply trying to subvert the rights that the state constitution grants them.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Legally Growing Marijuana is Child Abuse?

Today in Colorado, a couple is facing felony child abuse charges for allegedly growing marijuana in the home where they live with their three minor children.

Amber Wildenstein and Joseph Lightfoot are facing one count of child abuse each for having a marijuana grow operation in their home where the live with their three children. Even though the couple is legally registered in Colorado’s medical marijuana program, it is still considered a felony to manufacture any controlled substance on a property where a child is found, resides or lives, and marijuana is still considered a controlled substance.

If they had a license to manufacture Percocet, would they still be facing the same charges?

Advocates of medical marijuana say this is nothing more than an attempt by the Denver Police Department and the Colorado’s District Attorney’s Office to persecute medical marijuana users because they disagree with the current medical marijuana law.

“The Denver Police are trying to send the message that you will have your children seized even if your medical cannabis is legal under state constitution,” said Riah McBee in a press release for Medical Marijuana Family Advocates Cultivating Truth.

The Colorado District Attorney’s office said in a statement by Lynn Kimbrough, “the state must carry out the laws on the books. It was pretty clear that the circumstances in that home had put the children at risk.”

Both defendants are free after posting $50,000 bond, and will be in court today for preliminary hearings.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Hemp Mobile

Motives Switch prototype: the Kestrel is expected to be this basic design
Canada’s Motive Industries plans to build The Kestrel, a new electric powered car with a body made out of hemp.

The Kestrel will be made using hemp grown outside of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The hemp will then undergo a process that turns it into an impact resistant bio-composite.

In order to create other composite materials made from glass or carbon fiber requires massive amounts of energy through heating and chemical processes, and they are very expensive to create and repair. Plastics are made from oil (enough said). Hemp is a natural material that only needs the earth, sun and water to create.

"As a structural material, hemp is about the best, as it has about twice the strength of other plant fibers. It doesn't require much water or pesticide use, and grows well in Canada, providing a high yield per hectare,” said Nathan Armstrong, president of Motive Industries.

As an electric car, the Kestrel will not only be operating on green technology, but it is also being built using green technology. The fiber material used to build the Kestrel is much lighter than traditional materials, which means that it will take less energy to propel the car down the street.

Not only will the new Kestrel be better for the environment, but it will also be better for the employees making them because the hemp bio-composite is much safer to manufacture than fiberglass or other composites.

The Kestrel is expected to seat four people, and travel at speeds of 90 kilometers per hour (55.9 Miles per hour). Prototyping and testing will begin later this month, and the first 20 Kestrels are scheduled to be delivered next year.

This is definitely a new “high” for Canada’s manufacturing sector. Unfortunately, it is illegal to import processed hemp into the United States.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Colorado Benefits from Marijuana Revenue

DENVER — Governor Bill Ritter will use $9 million in fees from medical marijuana registrations to help pay the $60 million budget shortfall that the state is currently facing.

The state predicts that there will be over 150,000 applicants for medical marijuana cards this year. That is an increase of over 100,000 from last year. At $90 per medical marijuana card, the state’s coffers stand to gain $13.5 million this year.

Supporters of both medical marijuana legislation and general legalization legislation across the nation have used the economy and the revenue that it could generate as a selling point for their cause. Colorado is helping them justify that claim.

According to a research study by Dr. Jeffery Miron, Professor of Economics at Harvard University, marijuana legalization would yield $6.3 billion in tax revenue.

That figure is just for tax savings, it does not include the savings from not having to enforcing current laws, nor the cost of incarcerating those Americans who have violated those laws. It also does not include the jobs that would be created by a legal marijuana industry, or the revenue it would create for other industries, such as agricultural products, shipping, etc.

Bears Face Death Sentence for Marijuana Grow

Earlier this month, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police discovered more than a dozen black bears guarding a marijuana grow estimated to be worth $1 million in a remote area near Christina Lake, British Columbia.

The bears are facing a possible death sentence for their actions!

The “Bear Lady,” as she is locally known, had drawn the bears to her property with food and has likely been feeding them for years. Canadian wildlife officials said that if they become aggressive, now that food is not being provided to them, they would have to be killed.

Doreen McCrindle of Calgary is behind the movement to prevent the BC government from destroying the bears. McCrindle says that her only interest is for the well-being of the bears, and they should not be put to death for this.
“The ideal situation is, given they are so docile, reassimilation into the wild,” McCrindle said. “I’m basically looking for open communication between ourselves, members of the Facebook page, and the Ministry of (Environment) to at least be open to suggestions of weaning them off the foods and providing temporary feeding stations which would be moved farther and farther into the wild.”

A petition to save the bears has received more than 2200 signatures in less than three days.

The bears were so mellow that is has led to speculation that the man and woman may have been feeding them more than just food.

According to the Vancouver Sun, police Sgt. Fred Mansveld said, "We don't have any evidence of that, but it might be reason for their laid-back attitude."

Apparently, the bears were not very good guards. When authorities came to seize the marijuana, the bears just gathered around and watched.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

EDITORIAL: Liberty and Medicine

In the next session of the Alabama legislature, the legal use of medical marijuana will once again come before the house and senate for their consideration.

The Michael Phillips Compassionate Care Act (MPCCA) would make it legal, with a doctor’s recommendation, to possess and consume marijuana for medicinal purposes.

The time has passed for us to deny patients the medicine that they need simply because marijuana has been demonized through U.S. government propaganda. Study after study has shown that marijuana is not the evil substance that we have been led to believe, and study after study has shown that marijuana has more medical uses than nearly any other substance on earth.

As a medication, marijuana is gentler than many other medicines, but because it is an herb, many people can take marijuana when they cannot take chemical pharmaceuticals. There is no other medicine that can come close to creating appetite in those with cancer, HIV/AIDS and stomach disease, the way that marijuana can.

Marijuana can be taken as an effective form of pain management. Unlike the chemical medicines, with marijuana there is no fear of death due to overdose, or any of the other life threatening side effects attributed to narcotic pain relievers such as Oxycontin, Percocet or Loritab.

Marijuana has been shown to reduce the number and severity of seizures among those suffering from Epilepsy. Marijuana has been shown to relieve the muscle rigidity and muscle tremors associated with Parkinson’s disease and these are just some of the many uses of medical marijuana.

As Americans, we are guaranteed certain rights, and among those rights is liberty. Should our right to liberty not include the liberty to choose the medicine that is most effective in treating our illness? Should our right to liberty not include the right to choose the medicine that is in most cases is safer than their pharmaceutical counterparts are? Should our liberty not include the right to do what is best for our families, and isn’t taking the medicine that does us the most good not what is best for our families.

The truth is that the war on marijuana is almost over; the stigma is gone. The lies about it have been largely disproven, and there has been so much research done on cannabis that the anti-pot establishment is finding it hard to pass off new lies about it. For that reason, the legalization of marijuana will happen sometime in the not so distant future.

The question is; should we deny medical marijuana to the patients that need it now, when we know it is eventually going to be legal for all?

EDITORIAL: The Real Border War

     In recent years, the problem of illegal immigration has increased dramatically, but is illegal immigration really the most important issue facing Americans in our war on the border?
     Since 1984, the United States has been fighting a drug war along its borders, in its cities and in its schoolyards, but we are no closer to winning this war than we were when it started. In fact, we are losing the war on drugs. There are more drugs coming into the country, there is more drug related violence and there are more drug cartels now than ever before.
      What would be the biggest blow to the Mexican drug cartels and their ability to export hard drugs into the United States? What one-step could we take to curtail the violence in the cities along the Mexican border? What would do more to keep drugs out of our schools and out of the hands of our children?

It is simple; end the 77-year prohibition of marijuana.
     Over 60percent of the income received by Mexican drug cartels comes from marijuana. The legalization of cannabis would allow law enforcement to focus on drugs that are actually killing our kids such as crystal meth, heroin and cocaine. Legalization and legal production of cannabis would put many criminal gangs out of business and prevent violence.
     The prohibition of cannabis is more dangerous than the legalization of cannabis. Amsterdam has already proven that when you separate marijuana users from hard drugs, you have a much lower rate of marijuana users transferring to hard drug use. With prohibition in America, it is common for dealers to sell more than one product. Cannabis is a gateway drug only in the sense that it tends to make other substances more easily available to cannabis users. Legalization would end this contact, if you want other substances you would have to cultivate other sources.
     Prohibitionist would like you to believe the fallacy that legalization would make marijuana more accessible to children, but this is just not the case. Before I reached the legal drinking age, it was much easier for me to buy an unregulated bag of marijuana than it was to buy a regulated bottle of Jack Daniels. While most liquor stores check the ID of their customers, most drug dealers do not.
     "In our current economic climate, we simply cannot afford to keep arresting more than three people every minute in the failed 'war on drugs,'" said Jack Cole, the director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). “If we legalized and taxed drug sales, we could actually create new revenue in addition to the money we'd save from ending the cruel policy of arresting users," he added.
     Director Cole is correct in his assessment of the cost of the drug war. Each year Americans spend 31 billion dollars enforcing the current marijuana laws. Prohibition also causes up to $6.8 billion in lost tax revenue every year. That is enough to pay for port security (7.3 billion), federal higher education expenditures (2.3 billion), the children’s health insurance program (13.5 billion) and NASA budget (11.8 billion).
     Aside from the fact that the prohibition of marijuana is a catalyst for violence and it over works law enforcement officials preventing them from making significant progress in the war against more harmful drugs, living in a free society means that the a person has the right to do whatever it is that makes them happy provided they are not harming anyone else.
     Yes, the government does have the right to limit its use. They can pass laws prohibiting its use in public, or to place age restrictions on its use, but what an adult does in the privacy of their own home is not the governments business. Especially when you consider that, it is less dangerous than many legal substances such as alcohol, tobacco and even acetaminophen – according to NPR yearly deaths caused by acetaminophen 458, marijuana zero.
     It is time that we stop spending billions of dollars every year on the prohibition of an organic substance that has legitimate medical benefits, is less harmful than many other legal substances and has the ability to generate billions of dollars in tax revenues. It is true that marijuana is an extremely dangerous substance, but that danger is created through its prohibition, not through its use.