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April 2009
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The Return of Barthwell, and Police Chiefs Just Make Sh*t Up

The opposition is getting desperate and pathetic simultaneously. And yes, Andrea Barthwell has returned like some thrice-dead zombie.

But opponents of the idea, which included various Illinois law enforcement groups, say the bill is narly impossible to enforce and that even three plants would produce more marijuana than patients need.
They say this makes it more likely the drug will end up on the streets, especially in the hands of Illinois‰ youth.
‹The health and welfare of our children and the safety of our communities are the ultimate victims when the marijuana legalization lobby has its way,Š said Andrea Barthwell, CEO of the Human Resource Development Institute.
Opponents have become even more vocal since the Marijuana Policy Project launched an ad campaign earlier this month touting the proposal.
Eric Smith, president of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, said drug cartel members posing as medical marijuana growers ‹are difficult, if not impossible, to detect in states with medical marijuana laws.Š
‹As a consequence, they can easily expand their influence and extend their reach into other communities,Š Smith said.
Barthwell, a physician, said the prescription medicine Marinol, which harnesses the active ingredient in marijuana for relieving pain and easing nausea, is sufficient for those who want the benefits of marijuana.

One of the things that amazes me about Barthwell is that she keeps coming up with new organizations to head up that mostly seem to exist to give her cover for making outrageous statements, and also to raise money to pay her. I already shot down her Illinois Marijuana Lectures (it was nice to see someone in comments at this article refer to that) and End Needless Death. I’ve seen her as head of several others as well.
Of course, Barthwell’s comment is totally devoid of content — just the usual for-the-children scare tactic.
And Eric Smith? This notion that “drug cartel members posing as medical marijuana growers ‘are difficult, if not impossible, to detect in states with medical marijuana laws’” is just… bizarre. It’s also convenient. I suppose if we asked him for proof that cartel members are posing as medical marijuana growers, he’d say he can’t provide it because they’re “difficult, if not impossible, to detect.”
Maybe they’re difficult to detect, because they exist only in your mind.
When you read the comments (and the update to the piece) you see how quickly irrelevant these idiots are becoming.
Update: see also Medical marijuana debate heats up

“There are many casualties in the Marijuana Policy Project’s campaign; the first is the truth,” Dr. Andrea Barthwell, chief executive officer of the Human Resource Development Institute, said in a news release.

Funny. Andrea said the word “truth.” Saying the word is about as close as she ever got to it.
Speaking of lies…

“It’s a fact that today’s marijuana is much more powerful and much more addictive than it was a generation ago,” Barthwell said. “Over seven million Americans suffer from illegal drug dependence, and more than 60 percent are dependent on or are abusing marijuana.”

Medical Marijuana News

“bullet” New Hampshire Senate passed its medical marijuana bill 14-10.
“bullet” Illinois religious leaders call for medical marijuana

More than 60 religious leaders in Illinois are calling on state senators this week to pass a bill that would allow patients to use medical marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation and without criminal consequences.
“Medical marijuana is an issue of mercy and compassion,” said Rev. Bill Pyatt of the First United Methodist Church of Carthage. “We pray that the Illinois legislature will have the compassion to stop this war on patients.”
Many religious leaders also hope the discussion about easing restrictions on marijuana use will widen the conversation about treating illegal drug use as a public health issue instead of a crime.
Religious proponents of the Senate bill, which is expected to be decided before Thursday, say although medical marijuana use and decriminalization of drug use are related, they are separate issues.

“bullet” Minnesota:

Minnesota‰s Senate just followed its New Hampshire counterpart with a medical marijuana victory of its own, passing its medical marijuana bill 36-28. The process in Minnesota is a little complicated: Today‰s vote was technically made by the Senate‰s Committee of the Whole, and needs an official vote that will probably take place later this week. But today‰s victory is a very good sign.

“bullet” Rhode Island

We just got word that the Rhode Island Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill, 35-2, that would establish ‹compassion centersŠ to provide medical marijuana to qualified patients, making access for the seriously ill far safer and more reliable.

Some good news

Washington Post

Justice Department officials this morning endorsed for the first time proposed legislation that would eliminate vast sentencing disparities for possession of powdered versus rock cocaine, an inequality that civil rights groups say has disproportionately affected poor and minority defendants. Newly appointed Criminal Division chief Lanny A. Breuer told a Senate Judiciary Committee panel […]

A Proclamation

Eugene, Oregon

WHEREAS: Thirteen states have passed laws allowing for chronically and seriously ill patients to use cannabis with the approval of their physicians; and,
WHEREAS: On September 6, 1988, Drug Enforcement Administrations (DEA) own Administrative Law Judge, Francis L. Young, ruled that Marijuana, in it˙s natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known; and,
WHEREAS: There are over are over 17,000 published scientific studies on the therapeutic values of cannabis and cannabinoids in the National Library of Medicine, and, there are over 2,600 patents filed for the medical use of cannabinoids in the United States Patent office; and,
WHEREAS: Pre-Clinical and Clinical trials indicate that cannabinoids are useful in controlling Alzheimer˙s Disease, Cancer, Chronic Pain, Diabetes, G I Disorders, Hepatitis C, Multiple Sclerosis, Osteoporosis, Pruritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Sleep Apnea; and,
WHEREAS: Marijuana has a history of thousands of years of safe use without any recorded deaths attributed to its use, and, all citizens deserve to know the truth about cannabis,
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Kitty Piercy, Mayor of the City of Eugene, Oregon, do hereby proclaim the Week of April 30th, 2009 to May 6th, 2009 as Medical Marijuana Awareness Week in the city of Eugene, and encourage all citizens to join in this observance.
Kitty Piercy, Mayor
Dated this 22nd day of April 2009

Just one more item pointing out the absurdity of the Controlled Substances Act as it currently exists:

Schedule I controlled substances
The findings required for each of the schedules are as follows:
(1) Schedule I.Ö
(A) The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.
(B) The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
(C) There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.”
Drugs in this schedule include…

Marijuana
Tetrahydrocannabinols

Yeah. Right.

This won’t end well…

ZANGABAD, Afghanistan Ö American commanders are planning to cut off the Taliban‰s main source of money, the country‰s multimillion-dollar opium crop, by pouring thousands of troops into the three provinces that bankroll much of the group‰s operations.
[…]
‹I‰m very happy to see you,Š the farmer told the Americans.
‹Really?Š one of the soldiers asked.
‹Yes,Š the farmer said.
The interpreter sighed, and spoke in English.
‹He‰s a liar.Š

Bill to Assess US Drug Policy Introduced in Congress

This is… interesting

Today, Congressman Eliot L. Engel š the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere š introduced the Western Hemisphere Drug Policy Commission Act of 2009, a bill that will create an independent commission to evaluate US policies and programs aimed at reducing illicit drug supply and demand.
Rep. Engel said, ‹Billions upon billions of US taxpayer dollars have been spent over the years to fight the drug war in Latin America and the Caribbean. In spite of our efforts, since the early 1980s, the number of US lifetime drug users has steadily risen for marijuana, cocaine and heroin. Clearly, the time has come to reexamine our counternarcotics efforts here at home and throughout the Americas.Š
The Western Hemisphere Drug Policy Commission will be required to submit recommendations on future US drug policy to Congress, the Secretary of State, and the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) 12 months after its first meeting.

I haven’t been able to find this bill on Thomas (probably not available yet). If anyone has the text of it, I’d be interested in reading it.
This could be good, it could be bad. The devil is in the details (particularly the makeup of this “Commission.”)
Update: Text of the bill still not available (Thomas is a bitch to link to), but the remarks of Engel when introducing the bill are not encouraging:

Let me be absolutely clear that this bill has not been introduced to support the legalization of illegal drugs. That is not something that I would like to see, nor is it my intent to have the Western Hemisphere Drug Policy Commission come to that conclusion.

Nothing like pre-judging what the results of an inquiry can be.
And, of course, this means that the composition of the Commission will likely be such that only “proper” (ie, worthless) conclusions will be forthcoming.

Combatting Swine Flu with Cannabis?

Fascinating

Cannabis Science Inc., an emerging pharmaceutical cannabis company, reported today on the current state of development of its whole-cannabis lozenge in response to Homeland Security Administration Secretary Janet Napolitano’s declaration of a public health emergency to deal with the emerging Swine Flu pandemic. The Company’s non-toxic lozenge has properties that could alleviate many of […]

By and large, voters are not stupid

Chicago Sun Times Editorial:

In Illinois, people who suffer from cancer and smoke marijuana to stem their nausea, reduce their pain or improve their appetite — well, those folks are criminals. This must end, and fortunately a proposal before state lawmakers would bring much-needed common sense to the medical use of marijuana by legalizing it. […]

Must be some new definition of ‘winning’

AP story: Government Winning Mexico Drug War, Despite Violence

Now, after daytime shootouts and beheadings Ö 443 murders in the last three months of 2008 alone Ö Tijuana is quieter. Skeptics say the lull could be only a short-term truce among traffickers. But a top Mexican army commander says the powerful gang’s warring factions are spent.
“They wore each other down,” Gen. Alfonso Duarte Mugica told The Associated Press. “They couldn’t keep going at that pace.”

The whole article is an interesting look at the shifts in cartel powers, but has absolutely nothing to do with the government “winning” anything, let alone a drug war.
Let’s take a quick look at the situation…
Violence was relatively low and trafficking went on as usual. Government steps in and violence skyrockets and trafficking goes on as usual, with government claiming victory because of violence. After many, many deaths, there is a reduction in violence (or perhaps a lull) and trafficking goes on as usual, and government claims victory.
The laws of supply and demand are unavoidable. The governments of Mexico and the United States may capture or kill cartel leaders, they may fracture cartels into smaller groups, they may instigate infighting within the traffickers, but they will not, cannot win the drug war any more than they can repeal the laws of gravity.

Quotable

Time Magazine gives very nice play to the drug decriminalization in Portugal, thanks to this excellent article by the always outstanding Maia Szalavitz. Glenn Greenwald points out the value of the article in Time at his Salon blog, and then hits us with this paragraph:

Few political orthodoxies have more of a destructive impact than […]