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March 2007
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Good news (Rosenthal) and Bad news (Raich)

“bullet” First the good: Via TalkLeft — Link:

A federal judge threw out criminal charges today against an Oakland man accused of growing medical marijuana, ruling that authorities had vindictively prosecuted him because of remarks he made after he successfully appealed an earlier conviction. U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer in San Francisco dismissed charges of […]

HBO’s addiction

HBO opens up a big new project tomorrow night: Addiction, a 14-part documentary produced by HBO in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Now HBO has done some excellent work in the past, and I’m guessing that they have put some real effort into this piece, but, quite frankly, I’m not looking forward to it.
Grant Smith at D’Alliance has a review of the first segment and seemed to find it a mixed bag —

Despite this and other down sides to this film, HBO’s “Addiction” does manage to advocate on behalf of people who struggle with drug dependency. There are a number of sequences in the film that help to humanize drug users. Moreover, the film shines a bright spotlight on the managed care industry and its strong reluctance to provide benefit coverage for drug treatment, replacement therapies and counseling. All in all, it’s worth checking out “Addiction” and using it as a vehicle to talk about the wisdom of diverting drug offenders into low-barrier, individually tailored drug treatment.

Join Together is upbeat about it:

An upcoming HBO series on addiction is being viewed as a unique opportunity to educate the public about a disease that affects more than 22 million Americans — and many more family members — but is widely misunderstood.

… and enthuses about the series of Townhall meetings in conjunction with the documentary (the one nearest me would have required me to be approved by A Safe Haven to attend).
Siobhan Reynolds and the Pain Relief Network, on the other hand, are not at all thrilled (and I respect their opinion greatly).

The Federal Government is gearing up for what appears to be their next big crackdown on pain treating physicians. The last time we saw this much propaganda in the press, several dozen physicians were then rounded up on Federal charges of drug distribution. Panic ensued and pain care for the seriously ill has been all but shut down.
This approach of “stampeding” the population was pioneered by the Nixon Administration an event brilliantly portrayed by Edward Jay Epstein in Agency of Fear: Opiates and Political Power in America — a book on the creation of the DEA as an extra-constitutional police force at the service of the Executive Branch.
HBO is falling into line with their new series, “Addiction,” which focuses on opioid dependence as though it were a disease. Most striking is the inclusion of pharmaceutical advertisements within HBO’s announcement of “Addiction.”
Our nation’s most esteemed physicians are also lending their credibility to this public relations effort, wringing their hands at the upcoming forum on opioid addiction. Ten million Americans were struggling to live with out-of control pain prior to the Bush Administration’s attack on pain treating doctors. (Read More)
Those who found care during the flowering of the pain movement have since been abandoned by a terrified and complicit medical profession.
This kind of scientific back-peddling in the face of oppressive state authority hasn’t been seen since the psychiatrists in the Soviet Union allowed themselves to be used in government efforts to repress political dissent. Here, patients are being systematically destroyed by the government, many become “drug war” convicts, all the while, academic pain physicians float above the carnage.

I’ll be interested to see what you all think of the HBO documentary. I’m guessing it’ll be somewhere between horrid (drug war porn “stampeding” the population into a heightened fear of an addition epidemic) and mediocre (tear-jerking profiles combined with hard-hitting “exposes” regarding the lack of coerced treatment opportunities). But I don’t expect anything groundbreaking regarding real solutions, nor do I expect much mention of prohibition as the source of most problems.

[Thanks, Allan]