Tag Archives: AIDS

Editorial: Time To Change Marijuana Laws

http://www.ctlawtribune.com/getarticle.aspx?id=39356

Editorial: Time To Change Marijuana Laws
Connecticut Law Tribune
Monday, January 17, 2011
Copyright 2011, ALM Properties, Inc.

 

Commentaries appearing above are produced by the Editorial Board of the Connecticut Law Tribune. The opinions are voted on and passed by at least one third of the members of the board. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of every member of the board, nor of the newspaper. 

Editorial: Time To Change Marijuana Laws

There are substantial arguments for and against legalizing the use of marijuana. Opponents of its use strongly believe that marijuana is addictive, leads to the use of hard drugs, impairs short-term memory and motor coordination, and irritates the respiratory system. Despite these objections, on balance, it’s time to seriously consider legalizing marijuana.

Proponents of the legalized use of marijuana believe the following:

Marijuana has some beneficial qualities. It relieves pain, stimulates appetite in AIDS patients, reduces nausea in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, is an antidepressant, and relieves anxiety.

Our present laws are out of date. That is because too many people wish to use marijuana and we know Prohibition didn’t work. The reason Prohibition didn’t work is because an overwhelming number of otherwise law-abiding citizens wished to drink, and government couldn’t afford to stop them. When a very significant percentage of the population wishes to do something, which is not inherently harmful to anyone else, then government is facing a losing battle.

Save the enforcement money and tax it. The economy would be strengthened if government saved the money they spend on enforcement of our marijuana laws, and taxed it just as they do alcohol. Jeff Mirren, a Harvard economist, has calculated that marijuana could generate approximately $8.7 billion in national tax revenue per year if legalized. He also calculated that approximately $8 billion is spent trying to fight marijuana. Those numbers can be debated, but it is clear that state governments, and the federal government, spend billions of dollars enforcing our marijuana laws and they don’t tax it (unless they catch someone who has an unreported income). That $17 billion could be better spent on other government programs. In signing a new California law that greatly reduces penalties for people possessing small amounts of marijuana, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger stated: “In this time of drastic budget cuts, prosecutors, defense attorneys, law enforcement, and the courts cannot afford to expend limited resources prosecuting a crime that carries the same punishment as a traffic ticket.” In other words, it is too expensive to enforce the present anti-marijuana laws.

Its use is not morally wrong. The use of marijuana is no more morally wrong than the use of alcohol. Therefore, it should not be a crime. It should not even be a misdemeanor. Each year approximately 750,000 Americans are arrested for possession of small amounts of marijuana. The only valid reason for its criminalization is that government needs to protect people from themselves. Statistically, it is difficult to determine what percentage of the people who use marijuana need protecting because they eventually move on to hard drugs, but one generally recognized range is between 2 percent and 9 percent. That is 2 to 9 percent of new users, because present users are still there even if it isn’t legal. Assuming that this is true, part of the tax revenue raised from the legalization of marijuana could be used for the treatment of alcoholism and drug addiction.

Marijuana laws are not enforced equitably. According to Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times, blacks and Latino men are more likely than whites to be stopped and searched, and when drugs are found, they are prosecuted. He claims that in Los Angeles black men are arrested for marijuana possession seven times more frequently than whites. It is doubtful that blacks use marijuana seven times as much as whites.

Our present marijuana laws empower gangs and violence. The wars in Mexico are an example. Of course, these drug wars also deal with hard drugs, but eliminating marijuana from the illegal drug trade would make these wars less worthwhile. There is no sense encouraging drug cartels or violence.

The time has come to treat marijuana like alcohol, tax it like alcohol, and sell it either in state-controlled stores or in private stores, like liquor or drug stores. Control of our marijuana laws should be returned to the states with the federal government having a limited role, as it does now, with alcohol.

Some states or towns may continue to make marijuana illegal or control it through zoning laws. That would be up to them. But changing the law would not be difficult since government could simply add marijuana to its alcohol statutes and regulations. Once this is accomplished, the states and the federal government could tax it as they see fit. Let’s not kid ourselves. Government has lost this argument as they did with the Volstead Act. It’s time to learn our lesson. •


ARIZONA BECOMES 15TH STATE TO APPROVE MEDICAL MARIJUANA

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PHOENIX (AP) — By a narrow margin, Arizona voters have approved medical marijuana for people with chronic or debilitating diseases.

The decision makes Arizona the 15th state to have approved a medical marijuana law. California was the first in 1996, and 13 other states and the District of Columbia followed.

The ballot measure on the issue, Proposition 203, won by just 4,341 votes out of more than 1.67 million ballots counted, according to final tallies announced on Saturday.

The approval came as something of a surprise. At one point on Election Day, the measure trailed by about 7,200 votes. The gap gradually narrowed until it edged ahead during counting on Friday. The final tally was 841,346 in favor and 837,005 opposed.

“We really believe that we have an opportunity to set an example to the rest of the country on what a good medical marijuana program looks like,” said Andrew Myers, campaign manager for the Arizona Medical Marijuana Policy Project.

The Arizona measure will allow patients with diseases including cancer, AIDS, hepatitis C and any other “chronic or debilitating” disease that meets guidelines to grow plants or to buy two and a half ounces of marijuana every two weeks.

The patients must obtain a recommendation from their doctor and register with the Arizona Department of Health Services. The law allows for no more than 124 marijuana dispensaries in the state.

Backers of Proposition 203 argued that thousands of patients faced “a terrible choice” of suffering with a serious or even terminal illness or going to the criminal market for marijuana. They collected more than 252,000 signatures to put the measure on the ballot, nearly 100,000 more than required.

The measure was opposed by all of Arizona’s sheriffs and county prosecutors, the governor, the state attorney general and many other politicians.

Carolyn Short, chairwoman of Keep AZ Drug Free, the group that organized opposition to the initiative, said her group believed that the law would increase crime around dispensary locations, lead to more people driving while impaired and eventually lead to legalized marijuana for everyone.

She said that the major financial backer of the new measure, the Marijuana Policy Project, based in Washington, makes its ultimate goal clear: national legalization.

“All of the political leaders came out and warned Arizonans that this was going to have very dire effects on a number of levels,” Ms. Short said after votes for the measure pulled into the lead late Friday. “I don’t think that all Arizonans have heard those dire predictions.”

— MAP Posted-by: Richard Lake
URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v10.n935.a04.html


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The Most Revolutionary Act: Memoir of an American Refugee

* Dr. Stuart Jean Bramhill wrote a comment on one of my recent posts. I decided to promote her book here as her story is very telling. Her struggles with American Intelligence are frightening and should give all of us pause. This country has been taken over by liars, thieves and thugs. At some point the American people will come to see it. Hopefully, it will not be too late. What follows is a review from Amazon. I am providing links to there as well as to her publishers’ site if you prefer to purchase direct or want an e-book version. Please purchase her book if these types of things interests you at all . Whether you agree with her politics is irrelevant since we are supposed to live in a free country where one is free to choose one’s political and religious beliefs. Her experiences should awaken us all that we need to act. (E) Clicking on the image will take you to the Amazon page. *

Follow this link if you prefer the e-book or want to buy directly from the publisher: Strategic Publishing Group Her is the link to her blog: http://stuartbramhall.aegauthorblogs.com/

*

Finally here is a review from Amazon:

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A Psychiatrist Searches for Sanity in a Crazy World,

August 12, 2010

By Michael David Morrissey (Germany)
This review is from: The Most Revolutionary Act: Memoir of an American Refugee (Paperback)

This is a frightening book. Much of it reads like a thriller, but unfortunately it is a true story. Dr. Stuart Jeanne Bramhill, a woman (despite the unusual first name) and a psychiatrist, describes her 15-year long mental, emotional and physical ordeal resulting from her involvement in leftist activist politics in Seattle, Washington. Beginning in 1986, says Bramhall, “for some unknown reason, some faceless higher-up in one of the eleven federal agencies that spy on American citizens decided I posed a threat to national security,” and from then on she was subjected to phone harassment, wiretaps, break-ins, and even attempts on her life. Since she was never able to prove any of this (and how does one prove it?), she was also confronted with the disbelief of her own professional colleagues, who were quick to diagnose her as “psychotic” and gave her the choice of losing her medical license or spending a week in a locked ward at a mental hospital for observation. She chose the latter, though she continued to be misdiagnosed and over-medicated, which exacerbated her mental torment and had serious physical side-effects that lasted for years afterward. Bramhall learned the hard way that her fellow medical professionals were the last people in the world she could be honest with about her feelings of persecution: “The moment I mentioned the CIA, my psychiatrist decided I was psychotic and refused to listen anything else I said… Nelson’s erroneous diagnosis stemmed from pure political naiveté. He had no reason to come in contact with political or union activists, unemployed whistleblowers or the low-income street people that the police, and, I believed, U.S. intelligence, recruited as informants. Nevertheless, I had no confidence in any of my colleagues to objectively assess my mental state. I practiced in a totally different world from other Seattle psychiatrists, who automatically turned away patients who couldn’t afford their one hundred dollar fee.” Bramhall was never more than a “lukewarm radical”: “I was a very late bloomer politically. Despite my early disenchantment with the “establishment,” as we called it in the sixties and seventies, it never occurred to me to blame political factors for my chronic sense of loneliness, alienation, and unmet emotional and social needs.” At thirty-five, she “fell into Marxism almost by accident” when a medical colleague invited her to join CISPES (Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, formed in 1981 to protest Reagan’s covert war against El Salvador). Marxism helped her “make sense for the first time of a political system riddled with contradictions,” but she “never accepted the need for violent revolution to overthrow capitalism.” This would have been enough, I think, to have alienated her from most of her colleagues, since it must be as almost as hard to be a “Marxist” psychiatrist in the U.S. as it was to a “capitalist” one in the former Soviet Union, where political deviance was routinely equated with psychosis. But Bramhall crossed a number of other tripwires in her efforts to combine political activism with her profession, the most conspicuous one being the color line. As a white woman who actively pursued her profession, as well as social and political associations, in the African American community, she became involved with other activists whose motivations, she came to suspect, were not as innocent or transparent as her own. One of her early acquaintances, a former Black Panther called Jabari Sisulu, put it succinctly: “White professionals who fraternize with black radicals are at much greater risk than I am.” Bramhall’s story is testimony to the truth of this statement. Over the years, as she continued to participate in local activist projects like the effort to turn an abandoned school building in Seattle into an African American museum and cultural center, Bramhall broadened her political consciousness by reading about the assassination of the Kennedys and Martin Luther King, Cointelpro, AIDS, and more recently, 9/11 — in short, by delving into the immense body of literature dealing with the facts and evidence about such topics that continues to be systematically suppressed by the mainstream press and dismissed as “conspiracy theory” but which is now readily accessible on the internet. At some points, her activities at the “micro” level intersected, perhaps with consequences, with the “macro” level (my terms), such as her association with Edna Laidlow, who claimed to be the lover of the “umbrella man” at Dealey Plaza who supposedly gave the signal to begin the shooting of JFK. She also suspects that her effort to publicize an ulcer drug called “Tagomet” [sic, presumably Tagamet] as a treatment for AIDS may have triggered a covert response. The reader, like Bramhall herself, waits in vain for any resolution of the question of who was harassing her and why. This is hardly surprising, since none of the issues at the “macro” level have been resolved either. Despite the ever-increasing mountain of evidence of government involvement in multitudinous conspiracies (“plans by more than one person to do bad things”) against “the people,” both domestic and foreign, the steadfast response of both government and mainstream press, which are in this respect identical, remains the same. It is not denial — which would require facts and arguments — but silence. Thus Bramhall leaves us, at the end of the book in 2002, having emigrated to New Zealand in hope of starting a new life at a healthy distance from the “insidious pseudo-culture” of the U.S. public relations industry and “stranglehold of the U.S. military and U.S. intelligence.” I wish her luck, and as an longtime ex-pat myself I can say that she made a rational decision. I too am a kind of “American Refugee,” as Bramhall subtitles her memoir. Fortunately, I never experienced the kind of personal harassment she did, but reading her book gives me a strong sense of “there but for fortune.” I could have easily gone the way of Stuart Bramhall, just as I could have ended up in Vietnam or (more likely) in Canada fleeing the draft. But I got lucky. First of all, I was lucky enough to realize early on that the Vietnam war was insane, and secondly, I found a psychiatrist who shared my view. (He called it a “mass neurosis,” which I thought a gross understatement, but it served my purpose of escaping the draft.) I did not leave the U.S. for political reasons, however. I left, in 1977, because even armed with a Ph.D. (in linguistics), I couldn’t get a decent job. So I guess I was an economic “refugee.” (Part of Bramhall’s motive for emigrating was also economic, her medical practice having suffered under cutbacks in Medicare and Medicaid in the Reagan, Bush, and Clinton administrations.) I was, obviously, opposed to the Vietnam war, but I did not become “radicalized” until much later, in 1988, when I was older than Bramhall was when she turned to Marxism, so I too was a late bloomer, politically. The catalyst for me was, I am almost ashamed to say, a TV program: Nigel Turner’s documentary about the assassination of President Kennedy (The Men Who Killed Kennedy). I saw this in Germany, after I had been living here for almost 11 years. This was the major turning point for me, but it all happened in my head. In Bramhall’s case, despite the opinion of her bourgeois colleagues, I don’t think it was in her head. Maybe some of it was, but her story is much too detailed to be dismissed as paranoia. So the irony of our two stories is complete. On the one hand, we have a psychiatrist who is persecuted for political reasons and falsely judged by her colleagues to be insane. On the other hand we have a linguist who opposes an insane war and is correctly judged by a “renegade” psychiatrist (as I’m sure his colleagues would have described him in those days) to be sane and therefore unfit to “serve.” Both of us end up leaving the country. But not everyone can leave. Vietnam did not end. It’s here again under a different name: Afghanistan/Iraq. In fact, things are much worse now, much more insane, than they were in the sixties. There was at least some attempt to lie convincingly about the reasons for the Vietnam war. The “communist threat” was more convincing than the the blatant lies about non-existent weapons of mass destruction, retaliation for 9/11, and bringing “freedom and democracy” to those unfortunate countries. A very large portion of the population, probably close to one half, disbelieves the government’s story of 9/11, and a clear majority does not support the ongoing war (read “military engagement”). There is a huge disjuncture between what people think and what the government and the mainstream media tell them. If societies were people, the U.S. would have to be locked up with the criminally insane. No person could remain sane harboring so many violently conflicting ideas. Societies are not people, but people do have to live in this insane society. How do they do it? I think there are three alternatives: 1) denial, 2) acceptance, and 3) fighting back. 1) and 2) are themselves psychotic states. How can you deny or accept insanity without becoming part of it? 3) is the only sane, reasonable and honorable alternative. This is what Bramhall did, and what many of us try to do, each in our own way. It is wrong to see her story as negative or her struggle as futile. It is part of the ongoing struggle. P.S. Dr. Bramhall mentions me as the “translator” of AIDS researcher Jakob Segal, but in fact I only proofread the English edition of his book “AIDS Can Be Conquered” (Verlag Neuer Weg, 2001; “AIDS Ist Besiegbar,” 1995). I did translate a couple of shorter pieces, which are accessible on my homepage (mdmorrissey.info) and in my book “Looking for the Enemy.” The latter and my more recent book “The Transparent Conspiracy” (on 9/11) are available on Amazon.com. *

 

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War on Drugs exposed as failure at world AIDS conference in Vienna

From http://www.drugsense.org

DRUG POLICY IS INCONSISTENT WITH ALL AVAILABLE EVIDENCE

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DrugSense FOCUS Alert #443 – Saturday, July 24th, 2010

Syndicated columnist Dan Gardner covers an event and provides a
historical background which has received little attention (the New
York Times did cover the story
http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v10/n583/a01.html ).

Mr. Gardner was recognized by the Drug Policy Alliance with the
Edward M. Brecher Award for Achievement in the Field of Journalism
for the series at this link  http://www.mapinc.org/gardner.htm You
may read more of his columns at http://www.mapinc.org/author/Dan+Gardner

Please read and sign The Vienna Declaration at
http://www.viennadeclaration.com/

Pubdate: Fri, 23 Jul 2010

Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)

Copyright: 2010 The Ottawa Citizen

Contact: http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/letters.html

Author: Dan Gardner, The Ottawa Citizen

WHY OUR DRUG POLICY IS ‘INCONSISTENT’ WITH ALL AVAILABLE EVIDENCE

It’s safe to assume most people have never heard of the “Vienna
Declaration.” And that simple fact helps explain why public policies
that fail — policies that do vastly more harm than good — can live
on despite overwhelming evidence of their failure.

The Vienna Declaration, published in the medical journal The Lancet,
is an official statement of the 18th International AIDS Conference,
which wraps up today in Vienna. Drafted by an international team of
public health experts, including Evan Wood of the University of
British Columbia, the Vienna Declaration seeks to “improve community
health and safety” by, in the words of the committee, “calling for
the incorporation of scientific evidence into illicit drug policies.”

Please don’t stop reading. I promise this will not turn into another
of my rants about the catastrophic failure of drug prohibition. I’ve
been writing variations on that theme for more than a decade now and
everyone knows I am a crazed extremist whose views are not to be
trusted by decent folk. I’ll spare you.

Instead, I will merely present a few sentences from the Vienna Declaration:

.  “The criminalization of illicit drug users is fuelling the HIV
epidemic and has resulted in overwhelming health and social consequences.”

.  “There is no evidence that increasing the ferocity of law
enforcement meaningfully reduces the prevalence of drug use.”

.  “The evidence that law enforcement has failed to prevent the
availability of illegal drugs, in communities where there is demand,
is now unambiguous. Over the last several decades, (there has been) a
general pattern of falling drug prices and increasing drug purity —
despite massive investments in drug law enforcement.”

.  (Existing policies have produced) “a massive illicit market. …
These profits remain entirely outside the control of government. They
fuel crime, violence and corruption in countless urban communities
and have destabilized entire countries, such as Colombia, Mexico, and
Afghanistan.”

.  “Billions of tax dollars (have been) wasted on a ‘war on drugs’
approach …”

.  Governments should “undertake a transparent review of the
effectiveness of current drug policies.”

.  “A full policy reorientation is needed.”

Remarkable, isn’t it? It’s exactly what this crazed extremist has
been saying for more than a decade and yet the people who wrote and
signed it are anything but crazed extremists. Among them is a long
list of esteemed public health experts, including the president of
the International AIDS Society, the executive director of the Global
Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria, and Canada’s own Dr. James
Orbinski. There are former presidents of Brazil, Mexico, and
Colombia. And there are several Nobel laureates, including the
economist Vernon Smith. (See the full list of signatories, along with
the statement, at viennadeclaration.com).

This should be big news. Drug policies affect everything from the
local street corner to the war in Afghanistan — and here is a long
list of informed and eminent people who agree what we are currently
doing is a horrifying mistake that wastes money and takes lives. The
public should be alarmed.

But this is not big news. And the public is not alarmed. In fact,
most of the public has never heard of the Vienna Declaration. Why not?

To answer that, let me take you way back to Sept. 5, 1989. That
evening, U.S. president George H.W. Bush made a televised national
address. Holding up a bag labelled “evidence,” Bush explained that
this was crack seized at the park across the street from the White
House. Crack is everywhere, he said. It’s an epidemic. Bush vowed
“victory over drugs.”

The whole thing was a fraud. Federal agents had tried to find someone
selling drugs in the park but couldn’t. Posing as customers, they
called a drug dealer and asked him to come to the park. “Where the
(expletive) is the White House?” the dealer said. So the police gave
him directions.

This chicanery was exposed not long after but it didn’t matter.
Bush’s address was a smash. The media bombarded the public with
hysterical stories about the “crack epidemic.” Popular concern
soared. And “all this occurred while nearly every index of drug use
was dropping,” noted sociologists Craig Reinarman and Harry G. Levine.

The power to throw the switch on media coverage isn’t exclusive to
the White House, of course. In 1998, the United Nations convened a
General Assembly Special Session which brought leaders from all over
the world to discuss illicit drugs. The media deluged the public with
stories about drugs — and the UN’s official goal, signed at the end
of the assembly by all member states, of “eliminating or
significantly reducing the illicit cultivation of the coca bush, the
cannabis plant and the opium poppy by the year 2008.”

Time passed. The Special Assembly was forgotten. When 2008 rolled
around, cocaine output had increased 20 per cent and opium production
had doubled. But this spectacular failure was almost completely
ignored in the media. Why? The UN stayed mum. So did national
governments. With no major institutions putting the subject on the
agenda, the media ignored it.

This is the essential problem: If governments talk about drugs,
journalists talk about drugs; if they don’t, we don’t. And since
governments are full of people whose budgets, salaries, and careers
depend on the status quo, they talk about drugs when doing so is good
for the status quo, but they are silent as mimes when it’s not. Thus
the media become the unwitting propaganda arm of the status quo.

I’m not sure what it will take to change this. It would certainly
help if the media would stop letting governments decide what is news
and what is not. Even better would be leaders with the courage to put
evidence ahead of cheap politics, entrenched thinking, and vested interests.

But that’s not happening. And so, on Monday, the government of Canada
felt free to categorically reject the Vienna Declaration because it
is “inconsistent” with its policies — policies which have never been
subjected to evidence-based evaluation and would surely be condemned
if they were.

This is how failure lives on.


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