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March 2005



Walters on C-Span tomorrow morning

John Walters will be on C-Span’s Washington Journal from 9-9:30 am Eastern on Monday morning. (Thanks, Bob!) If you’re going to call in, here are a few suggestions:

Write out your question and have it in front of you. Otherwise, you’ll get so anxious about being on air, that you’ll get tongue-tied. Limit yourself. Find […]

Is Pot Far More Potent Than in the Past? No.

The Ottawa Citizen comes through in this article by Dan Gardner yesterday.
Gardner takes apart all the claims of massive increases in potency, and shows that it’s a combination of different measuring techniques, and the range of higher and lower THC concentrations that have always been available, with a conclusion that there have been some overall average increases in potency due to better horticultural techniques, but not the levels claimed by prohibitionists.
He then goes on to debunk Walters’ implied link to increased treatment and emergency room statistics, and concludes with a section on how smokers automatically self-regulat:

Mr. Earleywine notes that surveys asking users how high they get show no change since the 1970s, despite the increase in marijuana potency. “It’s just that they’re smoking less of it, rather than getting higher.”

Oddly enough, this suggests that rising marijuana potency may produce a modest health benefit. “When smoking stronger pot, you smoke less and you have less exposure to tars and respiratory irritants,” Mr. Earleywine says, adding with a laugh, “so in some ways it’s worth smoking the best pot you can afford.”

Then today, Gardner finishes up with part 2: How Science Is Skewed to Fuel Fears of Marijuana in which he takes on the junk science and bad reporting that add to misconceptions about pot.
For example, recent claims that link marijuana to psychosis have gotten some major press, particularly in England. Yet, Gardner notes that the methodology is potentially suspect (subjects were not evaluated for psychosis, but merely asked a series of questions, including: feeling that other people cannot be trusted; feeling that you are being watched or talked about by others; never feeling close to a person; and having ideas and beliefs that others do not share. Some of these could be more a result of the illegality of marijuana than any indications of psychosis.
And even with this suspect methodology, the scientists who ran the study themselves are not happy with the press coverage:

“It is quite clear that media claims that our research shows cannabis use causes psychosis are exaggerated,” Mr. Fergusson says.

Science is being subordinated to politics, Mr. Fergusson feels.

Good articles.

[Thanks to Richard Lake]

NM Medical Marijuana stopped by unrelated measure

Interesting article shows how complex and silly state leglislative activities can get.

Medical marijuana was one of this session’s most glaring examples of how bills can be delayed, held hostage and even killed as a result of political spats between lawmakers.

In this case, Rep. Dan Silva, D-Albuquerque, admitted this week he was working to […]

Women and Families – Invisible Victims

The ACLU, Break the Chains: Communities of Color and the War on Drugs, and the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law have released a report on the impact of the drug war on women and families.

“We’ve gone from being a nation of latchkey kids to a nation of locked-up moms, where […]

Back from the Big Apple

I had a great (and exhausting) week in New York. Walked all over the city with my students and saw some wonderful shows (Glass Menagerie, Spamalot, Play Without Words at Brooklyn Academy of Music, Shockheaded Peter, and Upright Citizens’ Brigade) and, of course, ate a lot of fantastic food. I’ve mentioned several times the offensive […]

Gone to New York

I’m off for a week of theatre in New York, and I’m taking 26 students with me to show them the city, so I won’t be posting much for awhile. I’ll still check my email and I’ll be able to post if something big happens, but I’m going to try to actually avoid it for […]

Walters at his most offensive

John Walters spewed his vile lies at our neighbors to the north:

A surge of high-potency marijuana illegally smuggled into the United States from Canada is fuelling a rise in drug dependency among young Americans, the Bush administration’s drug czar says.

A frustrated John Walters, the director of the U.S. National Drug Control office, yesterday […]

The Field Museum, Drugs, and Stupid Bureaucrats

My friend Tim sent this one: In today’s Chicago Tribune — a fairly bizarre bit of news about Chicago’s Field Museum and Peru.
Apparently the Field Museum has a program in Peru funded in part by USAID:

Field Museum has been deeply involved in the preservation of Cordillera Azul since 2000, when museum scientists first explored the uncharted rain forest in central Peru. Since 2001, when the region was declared a national park, the museum has been a key administrator of a complex and innovative program to involve surrounding communities in the long-term conservation of the 5,225-square-mile area.

While coca production has spiked and waned around Cordillera Azul for decades, Field Museum staff members have encouraged local residents to reject drug cultivation as damaging to the long-term health of the region and have promoted growth of legal crops. The museum has never been involved in the U.S. government’s drug interdiction efforts, however.

This is a long-term project to save the rainforest and provide alternate approaches. Well, coca paste was discovered in 3 of the 66 communities in the area, so the U.S. government was going to cut the aid. Fortunately, some cooler heads prevailed for now.
Now, I don’t know enough about the project to say how valuable it is, or whether it’s a good expenditure of tax money.
It’s the knee-jerk reaction that I find all too typical. A couple of incidents and they want to scrap a long-term program that is designed to find positive alternatives to a drug economy. So what would those communities do? Probably turn to the drug business.
[Just like the Mark Souder HEA financial aid law. Made a mistake and got arrested for pot? Well, we’ll take away your financial aid so you can’t go to college and then you can.. well, sell drugs, I guess. Take action NOW to end that horrible business.]
Back to the Field Museum…

When the museum first came into the area, communities agreed to work with its scientists and staff only after receiving assurances the program would be a long-term effort, said the International Relations Committee staff member.

Many other U.S.-based programs have made, and broken, similar pledges in the region, the staff member said.

“These are poor rural areas. The Field Museum is terrified and so is the committee that we are going to break that promise to them,” the staff member said.

NORML’s New Arrest Report Data

Crimes of Indiscretion: Marijuana Arrests in the United States, compiled by Jon Gettman, PhD is a comprehensive study reporting and analyzing national arrest data between 1995 and 2002. This online version contains the original downloadable full report in PDF format, various other browser-friendly extracts from the report and NORML’s Marijuana Arrests Investigator Flash tool, a […]

Andrea’s got a new gig

For all you Andrea Barthwell fans… She has added a new organization and website to her repertoire: End: Coalition to End Needless Death on our Roadways. So far, it’s focused on alcohol, but it’ll be interesting to see if some of her past exaggerations on drugged driving will show up. [Note: While END has been […]