Ending the war on medical patients

SFChron:

In response to recent questions from The Chronicle about medical marijuana, Obama’s campaign – the only one of the three contenders to reply – endorsed a hands-off federal policy.

“Voters and legislators in the states – from California to Nevada to Maine – have decided to provide their residents suffering from chronic diseases and serious illnesses like AIDS and cancer with medical marijuana to relieve their pain and suffering,” said campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt.

“Obama supports the rights of states and local governments to make this choice – though he believes medical marijuana should be subject to (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) regulation like other drugs,” LaBolt said. He said the FDA should consider how marijuana is regulated under federal law, while leaving states free to chart their own course

LaBolt also said Obama would end U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration raids on medical marijuana suppliers in states with their own laws.

Ecumenical call to end “war on drugs”

Instant karma

Amnesty International can do more good in Darfur than the Bush administration.

Medical marijuana round-up

Thehim summarizes:

Already Legal: California, Oregon, Alaska, Washington, Hawaii, Colorado, Maine, Rhode Island, Vermont, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, and the District of Columbia.

New Hampshire: A bill failed in the House.

Connecticut: A bill has passed the legislature and is on Governor Rell’s desk. It’s not known whether she’ll sign.

New York: A bill may be passed by the Assembly this week.

New Jersey: Hearings have been held in the legislature but no bills have been voted on.

Maryland: A 2003 bill allows for an affirmative legal defense for medical marijuana users, but it’s still technically illegal.

Michigan: The Michigan Coalition for Compassionate Care is collecting signatures to force a vote in the legislature.

Illinois: A bill failed in the State Senate.

Wisconsin: A bill is expected to be introduced this summer.

Minnesota: A bill died in the State House.

Texas: Legislators failed to get a bill introduced.

Even in the states where it’s been legalized, though, the federal prohibition on any use of marijuana still exists and puts medical marijuana users across the country in a state of legal limbo. You can check here and here for updates.

Related post:

Medical marijuana in New York

New York Daily News:

[New York Governor Eliot] Spitzer, who during his campaign argued against making it legal to prescribe marijuana, said his views on the topic changed after he met with medical experts and patients who told him pot helped them cope with chronic ailments.

“We have taken a hard look at it over the past number of months, and I’m open to signing a bill, if it’s properly structured for appropriate use, based upon the evidence that has been presented to me,” said Spitzer, who has acknowledged he smoked marijuana as a college student.

As to his altered view, Spitzer said: “You learn, you study, you evolve. This is one where I had, as a prosecutor, a presumption against the use of any narcotic. … Now there are ways that have persuaded me it can be done properly.”

It’s a race with Connecticut to become the 13th state to end cannabis prohibition and begin a process of sensible regulation.

John Edwards for President

Finally!:

Asked by a crowd member if he would continue the Bush administration practice of conducting raids against those who use marijuana for medicinal purposes, Edwards said he would not. In those states where voters had approved medicinal marijuana, he said he would honor the democratic process.

Related post:

(And it turns out, we share a birthday.)

Correction: His birthday is the day before mine.

Witness, receive and transmit.

This state of independence shall be

Pawtucket Times, Rhode Island:

PROVIDENCE – Following in the footsteps of Wednesday’s House vote, the Senate approved legislation Thursday to make the state’s medical marijuana law permanent. The vote was 28-5, far exceeding the three-fifths vote required to survive the veto Gov. Donald Carcieri says is likely to come.

How about don’t veto it? Have some compassion. What kind of signal are you trying to send when you would want to deny safe and effective medicine to treat suffering people?

An interview, a song, and a slideshow

Equal justice for men and women

Medical procedures save lives

Abortion can be necessary.

Hat-tip Ellroon.

E pluribus unum

Sharon Astyk, via Monkeyfister:

Saying there is only one movement now does not mean that things like the struggle for economic justice or civil rights is over – it just means that every single person who believes that there is hope for a decent future, and who has some investment in that future now shares the same basic goals. We must remediate and adapt to what is coming. We must deal with peak oil and climate change. We must get over our stupid prejudices and divisions and form a whole cloth movement of universal JUSTICE. Peak oil is about Justice. Climate Change is about Justice. They are about the most basic questions of human justice – who eats? Who lives? Who has water? Who decides? Who gets health care, and to have their kids live to grow up, who gets enslaved and impressed into military service? Who decides to let someone die, and who actually does the dying?

If any of this seems revelatory to you, if it has never before occurred to you that poor black women in Kenya or New Orleans are like you, and are the face of your future and your potential allies, time to wake up! If you’ve never thought of peasant farmers and people who are shot for trying to unionize in Ecuador as your brethren, people whose rights and needs should be a part of your focus, it is time to wake up. If you don’t see the problem of immigration and the loss of manufacturing jobs for poor white people in the south as linked to each other and to you, wake up. If you don’t recognize that Justice for everyone means justice for you, it is time to WAKE UP!

There are a lot more regular people than there are rich folks, politicians and corporate powers. So of course they want us to be balkanized, divided, debating. They want feminists to see poor southern white men as their enemy, instead of allies and victims of corporate greed. They want peak oil tarred as something only for “liberals” and climate change advocates to be “hippie environmentalists.” They want churches to fight over whether or not to deal with climate change and Jews and Moslems to wonder if they have any common ground at all. Guess what – we do – and it is the simplest common ground in history.

We want to live, to go on, to prosper, to have enough, to live in a just society, to have peace, and hope for the future. That depends on unity. Getting over our differences and finding common ground will be hard work. The only reason to do it is because it is so necessary. Those in power are terrified of ordinary people and their anger, their fear and their passion for justice. Of course they want as many ordinary people as possible fighting over things like gay marriage and Don Imus. Of course they don’t care if poor people die, or go hungry – hungry people are too weak to fight, and dead people can’t call out for justice.

Sooner or later we’re all going to wake up and notice, because the future will be slapping us in the face. I vote sooner. I vote now. I vote today. I vote we scare the fuck out of them, and save the world.

Press release

From the Drug Policy Alliance, today:

Your work is paying off–Connecticut’s Compassionate Use medical marijuana legislation, House Bill 6715 (HB 6715), passed the Joint Judiciary Committee in March and will be considered by the General Law Committee tomorrow

Let’s make sure the committee passes the legislation tomorrow morning – please take action now!

HB 6715 would allow seriously ill patients access to medical marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation. A 2004 University of Connecticut poll found that 83% of Connecticut residents support allowing patients to access medical marijuana for relief of symptoms associated with debilitating conditions such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, and multiple sclerosis. Of particular note, three legislators who voted “no” in 2005 actually voted “yes” this year. This is a strong indication that your faxes, letters, and testimonies are having a positive effect. Great work!

Support for Compassionate Use legislation continues to be strong, largely due to the continued pressure we have been applying to the CT legislature. We hosted a a successful press conference with Montel Williams in March 2007 and Connecticut Governor, M. Jodi Rell, has indicated possible support for Compassionate Use legislation. In addition, the Hartford Advocate recently featured Compassionate Use activist Mark Braunstein, in an article decrying opposition to HB 6715.

Help move HB 6715 forward! Please send a message to the Connecticut General Law Committee members, urging them to support this important legislation.

The General Law Committee will vote on HB 6715 tomorrow, Tuesday, April 24, at 10:30 AM, in Room 1D of the Legislative Office Building, 300 Capitol Ave., Hartford, CT. Please take action now, and forward this email to five people you know today-the more of us who take action, the more likely we’ll win Compassionate Use in Connecticut this year.

Thanks for all you do.

Gabriel Sayegh
Drug Policy Alliance

Saturday night movie

Right fucking now.

Little Amsterdam

for RAINN.

For the want of a reply…

Cannabis is neither physically addictive nor toxic in any demonstrated way, it is beneficial to health for people who have conditions that it treats, and no possibility of overdose fatality exists. It is, in short, perhaps the safest medicine known to humankind.

Those who, like myself, suffer from chronic pain, and use cannabis under a doctor’s recommendation, will use it every single day, because we benefit from having pain relief, and it does not impair our function. To the contrary, we are less functional without it because we then have untreated pain.

You cannot honestly say that it would be better to take some prescribed opiate or over-the-counter drug that causes liver damage. Cannabis does not cause organ damage.

Those who have no pain to begin with will have no need of cannabis, but those who are addicted to other drugs would be well advised to switch, were it only legal to do so. Cannabis can treat cocaine, heroin and other dependency, by helping make withdrawal less difficult. Those other drugs can kill, and have very serious withdrawal symptoms that can be dangerous, making their addictiveness truly horrific.

Cannabis is benign, it is beneficial, it is good. It is not for everyone, some will dislike it (and I dislike broccoli, so there). I would not give it to children unless a doctor thought it was appropriate to recommend. There is no real harm in adults using cannabis, except for the harms consequent to prohibition. These are points you may wish to contest, and the social consequences of cannabis are important considerations as well. I’m looking forward to having that conversation with more of you.

Pictures of beautiful women

Don Imus is more despicable than anyone I can think of. Not only does he have the need to be insulting and rude to his audience and guests, he thinks that in the life of a young woman who has achieved some accomplishment deserving praise, she ought to be cussed at with racist and sexually offensive terms. Don is a wealthy, wealthy man. He’s got everything money can buy, doesn’t he? And all he’s got for it is hatred and disgust for himself and everyone on the planet.

Yeah, I’m big pimpin’ alright. I’m telling you. These are women who deserve respect.

But you gotta go read the General, so you know what this is about. Inform yourself about the people you see on television and listen to on the radio, see the victims of their hatred, and be disgusted. I won’t demand anyone be fired, no. If his employers intend to convey the message he conveys, they should keep him on, and they should wear him as a badge of pride, such as cometh before the fall.

Update: MSNBC has reportedly fired Don Imus. No word on CBS yet.

Update 2: CBS has also canceled his contract. Hat-tip Waveflux.

War. What is it good for?

Absolutely nothing.

Hat-tip Nicole Belle.

Eurocentric, but good.

My generation remembers, and we do not forget the terrible price inflicted. We need a time to heal.

The times in which this was made and broadcast, we were children, they could say no more than this much. We can say more now. We need to learn to live in peace with one another and to respect our different traditions, while allowing our children to go outside our old traditions. We need to acknowledge that the sins of our forefathers are visited upon their victims, and make our own apologies for having the fruits of injustice. Yet the good that our fathers did may outweigh any incidental harm if we can all find a way to share the fruits of joy and love with one another.

I ask forgiveness of all who may think I have done them a harm by existing, or by accepting any gift which helps to sustain my life, if it ever occurred at your expense and without permission. I do not wish to be led astray from the truth by hopes of wealth, but I wish to preserve and protect that which is valuable to all of humankind.

If you feel I have done a greater harm, or if I have done one that could not be avoided that requires more explanation, I will ask that I be told. This is not the place for putting personal grievances which require knowledge of who I am, but to what you see before you. If you feel I am unjust or wrong, tell me so.

Save this city.

Hat-tip D.R. Scott.

Microfinance

We wanted to do something to help the developing world. We figured out what we could afford to spare and divided funds equally between two choices: Kiva lets you make no interest loans to individual people in developing countries, and the Grameen Foundation has a completely novel approach to microcredit that earned a Nobel Peace prize for itself and founder, Muhammad Yunis of Bangladesh. If you invest in someone through Kiva you get your money back eventually; if you give to Grameen you are donating to the developing world.

I thought it worth blogging in case others are interested in doing something like this.

On blogonomics

Melissa McEwan, my friend who runs Shakesville (formerly Shakespeare’s Sister), has an excellent post about how we as a blogging community might sustain ourselves. Obviously we can do this out of our pockets and free time for only so long, but we do not want to become compromised by anyone for the sake of a coin. Advertisers will limit what you can or cannot say. Mimus Pauly wrote a long but very good post about this the day before yesterday. For him this must be always a part-time endeavor, his advice — don’t quit your day job (he hasn’t).

But good writers should have a way to write full-time. Good bloggers should be able to make this a profession, and afford to feed themselves and their families without selling out. The alternative is that you will have no good bloggers that do it for a long time, and eventually our whole ecosystem will be corporate shills like we have on the mainstream media today.

We need patronage, we need to do some things to make a network of bloggers that can rate one another in terms of worthiness, and help new bloggers get connected with a source of funding. We need a structure that is more than each of us having a donation box, as patrons may not know about more than a few of the larger blogs, and some of us blog semi-pseudonymously for good reasons.

Cannablog is a blog about cannabis, and I am a medical marijuana patient in California. This is information I have made public and I feel no great concern about my safety in saying so. California law protects patients. The federal government may have other ideas, and that is something that needs badly to change. Though I feel safe now, I am not safe forever, if it does not. But in other states, medical patients who are living and not dying because they take cannabis are constantly at risk of arrest and imprisonment by local and state officials now. If they want to be bloggers and honestly talk about how cannabis helps them, they cannot use their names. This needs to change.

I want to ensure that they can be funded somehow, to be given help so that they can afford to live, so they can feed their families. They are capable of being great writers and bloggers, and if you think otherwise, if you think this blog is substandard in any way, then I would ask you to please leave a comment and tell me what you’d like to see me do better.

This is, for me, a labor of love. I do it because I must do it. I do it because it is more important to try to stop war than anything else I can do, and this is how I can help to achieve that objective. But I must eat. All must eat.

Yesterday was the third anniversary of the death of Casey Sheehan.

Via.

Related post:

This is my church.

Related post:

Hello. Hello. Hello. Hello.

Story of Rabbit

Hat-tip Neil Gaiman.

Recommended viewing:

Taxonomy

It is because we were hunters, because
we killed for a living, because we matched
wits against the whole of the animal world,
that we have the wit to survive even in a
world of our own creation.

—Ardrey

Homo domesticus.

Ron Paul for president

I will not support this nomination for reasons that I can set forth at length, but I suggest to the remnant Republicans who want to save your party in some form: support his candidacy. He has earned trust and respect for his own integrity.

Montel, today

Montel Williams From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch today. Hat-tip Cannabis News.

Medical use of marijuana should be legalized
By Montel Williams
04/03/2007

You probably know me as a talk show host and, perhaps, as someone who for several years has spoken out about my use of medical marijuana for the pain caused by multiple sclerosis. That surprised a few people, but recent research has proved that I was right: right about marijuana’s medical benefits and right about how urgent it is for states to change their laws so that sick people aren’t treated as criminals. The Illinois General Assembly is considering such a change right now.

If you see me on television [10 a.m. weekdays on Channel 4 in St. Louis], I look healthy. What you don’t see is the mind-numbing pain searing through my legs like hot pokers.

My doctors wrote me prescriptions for some of the strongest painkillers available. I took Percocet, Vicodin and Oxycontin on a regular basis, knowingly risking overdose just trying to make the pain bearable. But these powerful, expensive drugs brought me no relief. I couldn’t sleep, I was agitated, my legs kicked involuntarily in bed and the pain was so bad I found myself crying in the middle of the night.

All these heavy-duty narcotics made me nearly incoherent. I couldn’t take them when I had to work, because they turned me into a zombie. Worse, these drugs are highly addictive, and one thing I knew was that I didn’t want to become a junkie.

When someone suggested I try marijuana, I was skeptical. But I also was desperate. To my amazement, it worked after the legal drugs had failed. Three puffs and within minutes the excruciating pain in my legs subsided. I had my first restful sleep in months.

I am not alone. A new study from the University of California, published in February in the highly regarded medical journal Neurology, leaves no doubt about that.

You see, people with MS suffer from a particular type of pain called neuropathic pain: pain caused by damage to the nerves. It’s common in MS but also in many other illnesses, including diabetes and HIV/AIDS. It’s typically a burning or stabbing sensation, and conventional pain drugs don’t help much, whatever the specific illness.

The new study, conducted by Dr. Donald Abrams, looked at neuropathic pain in HIV/AIDS patients. About one-third of people with HIV eventually suffer this kind of pain, and there are no FDA-approved treatments. For some it gets so bad that they can’t walk.

This was what is known as a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, the “gold standard” of medical research. And marijuana worked. The very first marijuana cigarette reduced the pain by an average of 72 percent, without serious side effects.

What makes this even more impressive is that U.S. researchers studying marijuana are required to use marijuana supplied by the federal government, marijuana that is famous for its poor quality and weakness. So there is every reason to believe that studies such as this one underestimate the potential relief that high-quality marijuana could provide.

In my case, medical marijuana has allowed me to live a productive, fruitful life despite having multiple sclerosis. Many thousands of others all over this country — less well-known than me but whose stories are just as real — have experienced the same thing.

Here’s what’s shocking: The U.S. government knows marijuana works as a medicine. Our government actually provides medical marijuana each month to five patients in a program that started about 25 years ago but was closed to new patients in 1992. One of the patients in that program, Florida stockbroker Irvin Rosenfeld, was a guest on my show two years ago. If federal officials come to town to tell you there’s no evidence marijuana is a safe, effective medicine, know this: They’re lying, and they know it.

Still, 39 states subject patients with illnesses like MS, cancer or HIV/AIDS to arrest and jail for using medical marijuana, even if their doctor has recommended it. It’s long past time for that to change.

Illinois state Sen. John Cullerton, D-Chicago, has introduced a bill — SB 650 — to protect patients like me from arrest and jail for using medical marijuana when it’s recommended by a physician. Similar laws are working well in 11 states right now.

The General Assembly should pass the medical marijuana bill without delay. Sick people shouldn’t be treated as criminals.

Television talk show host Montel Williams is the author, with Lawrence Grobel, of “Climbing Higher” and other books.

Special to the Post-Dispatch

More than a few loose ends

Rez Dog at Mockingbird’s Medley provides a good wrap-up of some very suspicious military deaths that require investigation. I’m copying the whole thing because I don’t want you to have to go farther than necessary to find out more information about each of these cases.

A petition worth your attention is one on behalf of PFC LaVena Johnson whose death in Iraq was ruled a suicide despite obvious signs of a beating. Read the whole story at Welcome to Pottersville. I found the story at Shakespeare’s Sister where Waveflux has been blogging the story for a while.

Here’s yet another suspicious set of circumstances that masks the reality that the chain of command would rather ignore. Here in Arizona, we have a similar military death, SPC Alyssa Petersen of Flagstaff, whose suicide came after she was displayed too much empathy with detainees and was unable to interrogate them as directed.

Arizona, of course, has the well-known case of fabricated events in the death of SPC Pat Tillman but everybody knows that. The less well-known are easily overlooked by the electronic circus that passes for news in this country. All the more reason for citizens to speak out and ask questions.

High society

Copyright be damned, and torturers go to hell real quick

Terry Jones Here is Terry Jones. Via Why Now?

Call that humiliation?

No hoods. No electric shocks. No beatings. These Iranians clearly are a very uncivilised bunch

Terry Jones
Saturday March 31, 2007
The Guardian

I share the outrage expressed in the British press over the treatment of our naval personnel accused by Iran of illegally entering their waters. It is a disgrace. We would never dream of treating captives like this – allowing them to smoke cigarettes, for example, even though it has been proven that smoking kills. And as for compelling poor servicewoman Faye Turney to wear a black headscarf, and then allowing the picture to be posted around the world – have the Iranians no concept of civilised behaviour? For God’s sake, what’s wrong with putting a bag over her head? That’s what we do with the Muslims we capture: we put bags over their heads, so it’s hard to breathe. Then it’s perfectly acceptable to take photographs of them and circulate them to the press because the captives can’t be recognised and humiliated in the way these unfortunate British service people are.

It is also unacceptable that these British captives should be made to talk on television and say things that they may regret later. If the Iranians put duct tape over their mouths, like we do to our captives, they wouldn’t be able to talk at all. Of course they’d probably find it even harder to breathe – especially with a bag over their head – but at least they wouldn’t be humiliated.And what’s all this about allowing the captives to write letters home saying they are all right? It’s time the Iranians fell into line with the rest of the civilised world: they should allow their captives the privacy of solitary confinement. That’s one of the many privileges the US grants to its captives in Guantánamo Bay.

The true mark of a civilised country is that it doesn’t rush into charging people whom it has arbitrarily arrested in places it’s just invaded. The inmates of Guantánamo, for example, have been enjoying all the privacy they want for almost five years, and the first inmate has only just been charged. What a contrast to the disgraceful Iranian rush to parade their captives before the cameras!

What’s more, it is clear that the Iranians are not giving their British prisoners any decent physical exercise. The US military make sure that their Iraqi captives enjoy PT. This takes the form of exciting “stress positions”, which the captives are expected to hold for hours on end so as to improve their stomach and calf muscles. A common exercise is where they are made to stand on the balls of their feet and then squat so that their thighs are parallel to the ground. This creates intense pain and, finally, muscle failure. It’s all good healthy fun and has the bonus that the captives will confess to anything to get out of it.

And this brings me to my final point. It is clear from her TV appearance that servicewoman Turney has been put under pressure. The newspapers have persuaded behavioural psychologists to examine the footage and they all conclude that she is “unhappy and stressed”.

What is so appalling is the underhand way in which the Iranians have got her “unhappy and stressed”. She shows no signs of electrocution or burn marks and there are no signs of beating on her face. This is unacceptable. If captives are to be put under duress, such as by forcing them into compromising sexual positions, or having electric shocks to their genitals, they should be photographed, as they were in Abu Ghraib. The photographs should then be circulated around the civilised world so that everyone can see exactly what has been going on.

As Stephen Glover pointed out in the Daily Mail, perhaps it would not be right to bomb Iran in retaliation for the humiliation of our servicemen, but clearly the Iranian people must be made to suffer – whether by beefing up sanctions, as the Mail suggests, or simply by getting President Bush to hurry up and invade, as he intends to anyway, and bring democracy and western values to the country, as he has in Iraq.

· Terry Jones is a film director, actor and Python
www.terry-jones.net

Please help

I need some advice on how to continue to blog as I have been and still make a little bit more than nothing with two clients across the country one of whom may soon cease to be able to afford me due to the financial condition of his main client. I am in no risk of starving, between my wife’s graduate stipend and a bit we got for our condo when we moved we are okay, but we’re thinking we might want to have kids sometime and it can’t happen if we’re already running a small deficit every month.

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