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August 2014
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Debating Drugs

Transform has come out with yet another useful publication: Debating Drugs: How to Make the Case for Legal Regulation

In it, they’ve assembled all the standard prohibition arguments with effective responses to each of them in a variety of areas. Very handy tool for those looking for well-crafted responses.

I’m not always in agreement with Transform – sometimes the degree of regulation they seem to desire goes a little far for me – but they’re doing absolutely wonderful work.

debating-drugs-risk

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Open Thread

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Life-saving medical marijuana?

Study: Medical pot might reduce drug overdose deaths

This is really going to piss off Kevin Sabet…

Access to medical marijuana appears to have saved thousands of lives over the past few years by reducing accidental overdose deaths from drugs like Vicodin, Percocet and OxyContin, a new study says.

States with legalized medical marijuana saw, on average, 1,700 fewer deaths a year from prescription drugs than they would have otherwise, says the study led by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Oh, wait. It already has…

Kevin Sabet, director of the Drug Policy Institute at the University of Florida College of Medicine, said he has many concerns about how the study’s authors collected and analyzed the data. He said they failed to differentiate between states with strict and lax medical marijuana laws, and didn’t examine emergency-room admission and prescription data, and failed to see what impact methadone clinics might have had. He said it’s hard to believe there was such an across-the-board reduction in predicted deaths.

“In today’s supercharged discussions, it could be easily misunderstood by people,” he said

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Barthwell watch

Just because we have a time-honored tradition here of not letting her get away with it…

Barthwell maintains call for tough-minded drug policy

Former federal drug policy official Andrea G. Barthwell, MD, who now directs addiction treatment centers in Illinois and North Carolina, pulled no punches in an Aug. 24 talk at the National Conference on Addiction Disorders (NCAD) when discussing today’s policy landscape. While Barthwell’s talk sought to make sense of the many changes occurring in substance use service delivery and payment systems, she left no doubt that she sees harm reduction and legalization initiatives as a significant threat to the field and the families it serves.

Citing data about the negative consequences of marijuana use among young people, Barthwell used several stages of her presentation to criticize initiatives to legalize marijuana for medical or recreational use.

Of course, she did.

She said the mindset of legalization supporters can be summed up as, “We intend to legalize all drugs.”

Well, yeah. As opposed to what? Supporting the unregulated black market like she does?

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Madras summit canceled

Sponsors cancel drug summit in Madras after facing criticism from marijuana legalization advocates

Good for them. Apparently somebody realized that a taxpayer-funded “educational” summit about the evils of marijuana just before a vote on legalization might not appear… ethical.

The sponsors of the legalization initiative, Measure 91, charged this week that it was wrong for summit organizers to use federal funds to help pay for an appearance by Kevin Sabet, a former White House drug adviser who has formed an organization opposing marijuana legalization.

Sabet was also scheduled to appear in 12 other Oregon cities as part of an “Oregon Marijuana Education Tour” following the summit. Sabet had said that, at the request of organizers, he would not talk about the ballot measure at either the Madras event or on the tour.

Rick Treleaven, the executive director of BestCare Treatment Practices and the organizer of the Madras summit, said he decided to cancel the summit because he “could see from an outside perspective that it could look like a conflict.”

Time for the other cities to cancel as well.

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American Spectator’s idiot founder

R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.: Marijuana vs. Scotch and a Low IQ

Wow. How can a founder and editor-in-chief write something so ridiculously idiotic?

This is an anti-marijuana article presumably aimed at readers who never tried marijuana, never read anything about it, and never had any friends who used it.

Rather small target audience.

I’d take it apart, but Jacob Sullum has already done a fine job: Because Bob Tyrrell Prefers Scotch, Marijuana Should Be Banned

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Ferguson on my mind

I find myself fairly consumed recently with the events in Ferguson. It certainly does seem to be a defining moment, connecting a whole lot of puzzle pieces — militarization of police, racially unbalanced enforcement, the drug war, lack of accountability of authorities, a dysfunctional justice system — all things we’ve discussed here on a regular basis.

And from reading my Facebook news feed, it appears that it’s getting some major traction with the general public (finally). I’ve also been sadly chuckling a bit with some of the developments – progressive sites taking on the charge of fighting over-militarization as if they discovered it… and today, news that the SWAT lobby has approached Congress saying, essentially: “please don’t take away our toys – how about if we agree to better training and policies?”

I wrote a general piece of Ferguson and policing for my Facebook friends, which you can read if you’d like…

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Visualization of the inappropriateness of criminalization

This infographic on drug use and problematic drug use is nothing new to us, but helps to visually point out how criminalization is a broad sledge hammer that is wrong in two ways: 1. It mostly punishes those who are non-problematic users, and 2. Those who are problematic users need something more helpful than a sledge hammer.

image

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Going to ridiculous lengths

What do they think they’re licensing?

Patients face ‘hoop-jumping’ to gain medical marijuana

Yet now that the state has enacted a medicinal cannabis law and just this month began distributing applications for would-be patients, the Chicago woman is still deciding whether to go through that process or simply continue to use the drug outside of the new legal channel.

She’s particularly concerned about having to submit her fingerprints to the state — Illinois is the only state that requires that of medical marijuana applicants — along with documentation of her Social Security disability insurance, proof of age and residency and a recent photo.

She’s never had to submit such information for the narcotics prescribed to her in the past, she noted.

“Boy, this is a lot of hoop-jumping to go through,” said Falco, 49.

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Ferguson and the war on drugs

Connecting the dots…

In The New Republic: There Is Only One Real Way to Prevent Future Fergusons: End the War on Drugs by John McWhorter.

So, what will really make a difference? Really, only a continued pullback on the War on Drugs. Much of what creates the poisonous, vicious-cycle relationship between young black men and the police is that the War on Drugs brings cops into black neighborhoods to patrol for drug possession and sale. Without that policy—which would include that no one could make a living selling drugs—the entire structure supporting the notion of young black men as criminals would fall apart. White men with guns would encounter young black men much less often, and meanwhile society would offer young black men less opportunity to drift into embodying the stereotype in the first place.

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