Minnesota Network for Progressive Action

About Comments
The mnpACT! blog welcomes all comments from visitors, which are immediately posted, but we also filter for spammers:
  • No active URLs or web links are allowed (use www.yourweb.com).
  • No drug or pharma- ceutical names are allowed.
  • Your comment "Name" must be one word with no spaces and cannot be an email address.
You should also note that a few IP addresses and homepage URLs have been banned from posting comments because they have posted multiple spam messages.

Please be aware we monitor ALL comments and reserve the right to delete obvious spam comments.



 
Politics Blogs - Blog Top Sites

Listed on BlogShares

 
site search

Site Meter
 
  Progressive Political Blog

Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Gen Kelly, Head of DHS, Gets It on Marijuana

Category: Medical Marijuana
Posted: 04/16/17 22:32

by Dave Mindeman

I found this somewhat interesting....

Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said Sunday that marijuana is "not a factor" in the war on drugs and that solving the nation's drug problem does not involve "arresting a lot of users."

I have been convinced for some time now that marijuana is less of an abuse problem than alcohol and not a so-called gateway drug. At least Kelly seems to be moving in that direction.

We spend so much time and energy with marijuana law enforcement, its trafficking, and the incarceration of users that we failed to examine why we consider it illegal....and as near as I can tell, we no longer know why. I have long held the belief that if marijuana was simply legalized and law enforcement could spend their time and effort on more important things, and if we could keep purchasers from using illegal sources that place them in the illegal drug culture, then marijuana would virtually cease to be a "drug" problem.

In 2015, the number of arrests for drug law violation was 1,488,707. The number of people arrested for a marijuana law violation was 643,121. That is 44% of the total. And 89% of those 640,000, were for POSSESSION ONLY. In addition, the % of offenders who are black or Latino is 57%....even though use and sale are done at the same rate as whites.

Here are some other statistics of note....

Over 200,000 students have lost federal financial aid eligibility because of a drug conviction.

Number of states that allow the medical use of marijuana: 28 + District of Columbia.

Number of states that have approved legally taxing and regulating marijuana: 8 (Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington)- as of 2015.

Tax revenue that drug legalization would yield annually, if currently-illegal drugs were taxed at rates comparable to those on alcohol and tobacco: $46.7 billion.

The annual cost for the "war on drugs" in the US is $51 billion. And this is while drug treatment programs are being cut at the Federal level.

We have all of this so backwards. But at least Gen. Kelly has started to get the proper context. What he needs to do next is to convince our nation's police and law enforcement that it is in everybody's interest to end this useless war on drugs - especially when it comes to marijuana.

When Minnesota takes up marijuana law changes, it is police departments that put up the most strenuous objection. Maybe they should be learning what General Kelly is learning...because they need to change their mind. It will be of great benefit to their ability to do their job.
comments (0) permalink

Let's Get Past The Marijuana Stereotypes And Use It For Pain

Category: Medical Marijuana
Posted: 09/06/16 14:14, Edited: 09/07/16 12:27

by Dave Mindeman

OK. I am going to ask for a huge mental exercise right now.

Let's pretend that you have not been conditioned by the "drug war" mentality. Let's ignore the 50 years of negative reinforcement from law enforcement about the drug culture. Let's pretend that you have never seen a Cheech and Chong movie or think of street purchases as your context to marijuana.

Assume all of that (a lot to ask) and take an unbiased look at marijuana as a treatment venue.

In today's Star Tribune there is an article about medical marijuana being allowed as a pain treatment...starting August 1st. There has been a lot of sign-ups - much more initial sign-ups than for any of the indicated medical reasons already in the program.

Here are some relevant points to consider on marijuana - and remember we are trying to start without a biased viewpoint.

As the article states, "a recent survey of patients in Minnesota's program found that 90 percent reported some relief from the drug." That is hard to correlate to a placebo effect...or wishful thinking. That is real results.

A medical marijuana patient (Cassie Traun)...."told the lawmakers, patients, law enforcement and medical experts who make up the task force that it would cost her thousands of dollars a month to buy her medicine legally, so she has returned to buying it off the street." A legal program has much higher cost than street purchases? That is just messed up.

Medical marijuana has been legalized in half the states now, and in most of them, it's a booming industry. Legal medical and recreational marijuana sales topped $5.4 billion in 2015, according to an analysis by ArcView Group, which tracks the cannabis industry. In most states with cannabis programs, pain patients make up the bulk of the customer base.

******************************************************

So let's get back at our initial premise. What if we take an open eyes look at marijuana.

Look at it without a DEA that refuses to take marijuana off the restricted list and states the ridiculous reason "because it's illegal".

Let's look at it without a law enforcement history that encourages marijuana use stereotypes and only deals with the criminal elements that have the access and means to sell it on an illegal basis.

Let's look at it with the knowledge that for generations, marijuana has been in private, illegal use and few deaths have occurred from overdose or medical side effects. It would be nice to study that as a way to know for sure, but DEA restrictions won't allow for proper scientific experimentation.

Let's look at the data in Colorado...where legalization has resulted in no increase in teen marijuana use - and that since the move to legal recreational use, prices have dropped considerably and continue to do so.

When you look at all of this information, marijuana should, at the very least be no different than alcohol in societal use. And from a medical standpoint, medical marijuana needs to be readily available - and physicians need to be educated in use and benefits.

Why is this so important? In two words really - opioid deaths.

This problem is getting increased attention. Several states put it in the epidemic category. And it is not just about illegal opioids - too many deaths come at the hands of simple prescription painkillers.

We hear people say we need to do something about this - and the answer is right there - on the street and potentially in the garden. Marijuana is a less dangerous and sometimes more effective answer to that opioid problem. There is a good chance that marijuana is much less dangerous and probably less addictive.

Yeah, it probably should be heavily regulated - but Minnesota's medical marijuana is too restrictive, too timid, and too costly.

Get beyond the Doritos joke or the 60's image of bongs and headbands and stoners.

Marijuana is a real potential solution to a troubling societal problem.

Get over those Cheech and Chong movies - please.
comments (0) permalink

Marijuana And The Drug Czar

Category: Medical Marijuana
Posted: 06/06/16 01:31

by Dave Mindeman

On 60 minutes they repeated a story they did with Michael Botticelli, Obama's appointment as Drug "Czar". Now Botticelli is doing a great job. He has moved the conversation from drug incarceration to drug treatment. And this is absolutely the best change in drug policy that we can have. He is a recovering alcoholic who has had a wide range of experience in dealing with drug treatment issues and government drug policy at the state and Federal level.

But there is one segment of this 60 minutes interview which I have to take issue with....and it is in regards to marijuana. Here is Botticelli's response about marijuana as a legal drug:

"I'm not a fan. What we've seen quite honestly is a dramatic decrease in the perception of risk among youth around occasional marijuana use. And they are getting the message that because it's legal, that it is, there's no harm associated with it. So, we know that about one in nine people who use marijuana become addicted to marijuana. It's been associated with poor academic performance, in exacerbating mental health conditions linked to lower IQ."

Now although Botticelli is doing great things and his focus on treatment is a vast improvement in our drug policy, he is not an expert in the science of this field. His education consists of a Bachelor of Arts degree from Siena College and a Master of Education degree from St. Lawrence University.

His background is essential for educating the public about drug policy but he does not have any background in the science of medicinal pharmacology.

So let's look at some factual errors in the above statement. First, he says that one in nine marijuana users become addicted. It is disappointing that Botticelli would use the wrong terminology in this regard. Here is the science of the matter:

Estimates of the number of people addicted to marijuana are controversial, in part because epidemiological studies of substance use often use dependence as a proxy for addiction even though it is possible to be dependent without being addicted. Those studies suggest that 9 percent of people who use marijuana will become dependent on it, rising to about 17 percent in those who start using young (in their teens).

Notice the word dependent. There is a clinical difference between dependency and addiction. As Botticelli pointed out in the 60 minutes segment, addiction changes the brain chemistry and the ability to stop using the drug. That is a disease which only responds to medical treatment and counseling. Dependency is different. A coffee drinker can become dependent on caffeine. Those people who say they can't do anything until they have had their cup of coffee are stating a dependency symptom. Our bodies get used to this state of being and feels more normal when an infusion of caffeine happens. But outside of some minor withdrawal symptoms (in the case of caffeine - irritability and a headache), we can stop our infusion of caffeine. It might take a few days to reacquaint our bodies to a caffeine free state, but we will soon function normally.

Marijuana can create a similar dependency.

Now marijuana can also move into an addiction phase if doses become too high for too long a period of time. Abuse like that can happen with almost any drug, but to classify marijuana as narcotic is just as ridiculous as classifying alcohol in the same manner.

And Botticelli repeats another oft cited marijuana issue - links to lower IQ.

There was a classic study published last January which used sound scientific research involving twins and marijuana use. The conclusion?

After taking environmental factors into account, the scientists found no measurable link between marijuana use and lower IQ.

It was a strong conclusion and published in reputable science journals.

Now, nobody is saying that marijuana doesn't have risks and usage issues. I have little doubt that we will have our share of marijuana abusers developing in states that allow cannabis for recreational use. It needs to be dealt with in the same manner as any mood altering drug. But the evidence continues to grow that marijuana has less addictive properties and more medicinal potential than anything already in legal use.

Mr. Botticelli has concerns that, because marijuana has been legalized in some states, that young people are going to assume that it is harmless. That is certainly a possible outcome and we need to be sure to address that with proper education. Cannabis needs to be regulated and people who use it should be made aware of their risks and responsibilities.

But education on the product is the key - not making incorrect claims about its properties or its effects.

And one of the places that needs the most education is the law enforcement community. They are still locked into the "war on drugs" mentality and have convinced themselves that marijuana is some kind of gateway drug to harder narcotics. And as I keep trying to point out, it is not a gateway drug, but its Schedule I classification puts it into the hands of dealers and smugglers that expose users to other addictive drugs.

I hope that Michael Botticelli continues his effective work. That he continues to push forward drug policies that makes treatment our main weapon against addiction - and that legal penalties and incarceration can be reduced and made more fair.

The science of marijuana is out of Botticelli's purview and he needs to let the science determine how we classify marijuana. And, at the same time, maybe we can make the penalties in regards to marijuana more reasonable and fitting for the ramifications of the drug itself.

More education is the key - for everyone.
comments (1) permalink
« First « Previous

Calendar

« July 2017 »
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
31


Latest posts


Archive

(one year)

Categories


Comments



Links


RSS Feeds

RSS 0.91
RSS 2.0

 
 
 
Powered by
Powered by SBlog
 
Copyright © Minnesota Network for Progressive Action. All rights reserved. Legal. Privacy Policy. Sitemap.