Maptalk-Digest Sunday, December 9 2001 Volume 01 : Number 325
Here is the article Re: Pat on the back
From: Richard Lake <>
Good article from the Mormons: Stop Spraying
From: Josh Sutcliffe <>
Chat with Dr. Grinspoon Sunday!
From: Richard Lake <>
RE: Mother Jones prison series
From: Beth <>
LTE's on Eric Voth article
From: "kim hanna" <>
Subj: Here is the article Re: Pat on the back
From: Richard Lake <>
Date: Sat, 08 Dec 2001 17:13:30 -0500
Pubdate: Sun, 29 Jul 2001
Source: St. Petersburg Times (FL)
Copyright: 2001 St. Petersburg Times
Author: Susan Taylor Martin, Times Senior Correspondent
U.S. POLICY NOT LIMITED TO BORDERS
Faced with a serious heroin problem in the 1990s, Australia considered a
daring new approach -- prescribing heroin to addicts who had failed to kick
their habits with other forms of treatment. Faced with a serious heroin
problem in the 1990s, Australia considered a daring new approach --
prescribing heroin to addicts who had failed to kick their habits with
other forms of treatment.
The idea had shown promise in clinical trials in Switzerland, reducing
drug-related crime and slowing the spread of AIDS and hepatitis. But when
the United States got wind of Australia's plans, it was not at all happy.
Bob Gelbard, President Bill Clinton's international drug chief, flew to the
Australian state of Tasmania. Pointedly, Gelbard noted that the United
Nations licensed Tasmanian farmers to grow opium poppies, to be made into
morphine and codeine for medical purposes.
If Australia went ahead with its heroin trials, Gelbard strongly suggested,
Tasmania might lose its U.N. license and thus its $81-million-a-year legal
Australia got the hint. Afraid of angering the world's only superpower, the
Australian government killed the heroin plan in 1997.
Tasmania's experience "is a reminder that this country is not free to take
radical action to solve its drug problems," Australian journalist David
Marr wrote. "Wherever a nation breaks ranks, the U.S. will be there,
cajoling or threatening."
Since President Richard Nixon declared the "war on drugs" 30 years ago, the
United States has vowed that no ground will be surrendered in its efforts
to crush the $400-billion-a-year global industry in illicit drugs. Because
of its wealth and power, America's zero-tolerance policies are not limited
to its borders but greatly influence the United Nations and its 189 members.
The best-known and most controversial example is Plan Colombia, a
$7.5-billion, U.S.-backed effort to wipe out cocaine and heroin production
in Colombia, Peru and other Andean countries.
But even highly developed nations feel the long arm of U.S. drug policies.
Australia and other countries that try to deviate from the U.S. course are
yanked back in line by fear of losing U.S. military or economic support.
Countries such as the Netherlands that experiment with different approaches
are subject to harsh public criticism. The United Nations has to toe the
U.S. line or risk losing money.
"America is the Taleban of drug policy," said Peter Cohen of the University
of Amsterdam's Center for Drug Research. Despite the pressure, even some of
America's closest allies are bucking the U.S. line and trying different
approaches to drug use and abuse. Canada, Belgium and other nations have
decriminalized marijuana possession or are considering it. The Swiss,
Dutch, Germans, British and Portuguese use heroin maintenance programs to
help hard-core addicts.
"Almost everywhere in the Western world, countries are inching away from
the punitive policies of the United States," said Craig Reinarman, a
California sociologist who has researched drug issues.
* * * "The global war on drugs is now causing more harm than drug abuse
"Scarce resources better expended on health, education and economic
development are squandered on ever more expensive interdiction efforts.
Realistic proposals to reduce drug-related crime, disease and death are
abandoned in favor of rhetorical proposals to create drug-free societies."
- - -- from an open letter in 1998 to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan,
signed by more than 800 influential people from around the world.
Among them: former U.S. Secretary of State George Schultz, former U.S.
Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders and Nobel Prize winning economist Milton
Even President Bush has indicated he is uncomfortable with some aspects of
the U.S. approach.
"I think a lot of people are coming to the realization that maybe long
minimum sentences for first-time users may not be the best way to occupy
jail space and/or heal people from their disease," he said in January.
But Bush's picks for key jobs reflect the hard-line U.S. position. Attorney
General John Ashcroft vows to "escalate the war on drugs." John P. Waters,
Bush's nominee for drug czar, favors a similarly tough approach.
The Partnership for a Drug-Free America, a non-profit organization that
conducts public service campaigns, agrees with the philosophy of U.S. drug
policy: It is better never to use illegal drugs.
But spokesman Howard Simon said there is increasing recognition, even in
the United States, that no single approach -- prevention, interdiction,
punishment or treatment -- is adequate to solve the nation's drug problem.
"The one truly encouraging thing is that people are talking about the issue
again," he said. "It went away for a while, people didn't discuss it.
There's no way we're going to make any progress on this unless people start
talking openly and honestly about what we can do to convince kids not to
start using drugs. That's where the problem starts."
'Get rid of drugs, pushers, users' Mounting global opposition to U.S. drug
policies stems from evidence they have done little to curb drug use in
America, the world's biggest consumer of illegal drugs.
In the past 25 years, federal spending on the drug war has soared from less
than $1-billion to almost $18-billion a year. The Drug Enforcement
Administration now has operations in 79 cities in 56 countries to stop the
flood of drugs into the United States. But the most recent surveys show:
The use of illegal drugs by American youth has doubled since 1992.
Americans' use of heroin has tripled since 1993.
The rate of marijuana use in the United States, where the drug is banned,
is far higher than in the Netherlands, where possession has been
The United States imprisons more people for drug offenses than European
Union countries imprison for all offenses, even though EU countries have
100-million more citizens.
In 1998, fewer than 16,000 people in the United States died from heroin,
cocaine and other illicit drugs. At least 33 times as many, 531,000, died
of causes related to alcohol and tobacco.
"I see this as a bizarre economic and cultural war of sorts in which the
U.S. is trying to get its drugs disseminated worldwide even though they are
more dangerous, and at the same it is trying to block through criminal
means the distribution of drugs such as cannabis," said Neil Boyd, a drug
policy expert at Canada's Simon Fraser University.
"The real pushers in terms of drugs are American alcohol and tobacco
Critics say U.S.-backed global drug policies are following the same doomed
course as America's experiment with banning alcohol from 1920 to 1933.
Prohibition did nothing to quench the demand for liquor, but it created a
huge black market and criminal underclass.
One of the chief enforcers of alcohol prohibition went on to play a major
role in the international fight to stamp out illegal drugs. Harry
Ainslinger, the first head of what was to become the DEA, considered "all
dope" equally dangerous: "The answer to the problem is simple: Get rid of
drugs, pushers and users. Period."
In the early '60s, Ainslinger became U.S. representative to the U.N.
Narcotics Commission. There he added his insistent voice to international
drug policies already strongly influenced by the United States, thanks to
its victory in World War II.
It was only after the war "that the United States . . . had the political
clout to internationalize these ideas of prohibition," said David
Bewley-Taylor, a Welsh professor and author of The United States and
International Drug Control 1909-1997.
Decades later, the United Nations and affiliated agencies continue to
reflect U.S. views. One example: the Vienna-based International Narcotics
Control Board, charged with implementing U.N. drug treaties.
In its 2000 report on global drug trends, the board refers to any illegal
drug use as "abuse," the word favored by the United States. The board also
is selective in summarizing a 1999 report by the Institute of Medicine, a
U.S. scientific panel, on the medical uses of marijuana.
The narcotics board cites the report's negative findings, including that
marijuana smoke contains "various harmful substances." But it doesn't
mention the more positive findings, among them that "the adverse effects of
marijuana are within the range of effects tolerated for other medications."
U.N. officials acknowledge American influence over global drug policies,
especially in the international drug control treaties or "conventions" that
pledge cooperation in the fight against illicit drugs.
"U.S. views and approaches are implemented in the conventions on drugs and
since the United Nations operates based on those conventions, the U.S.
presence is strongly felt," said Kemal Kurspahic, spokesman for the
narcotics control board.
The U.S. influence was strong enough to kill years' worth of research.
In 1995, the World Health Organization was about to publish the results of
"the largest global study of cocaine ever undertaken," a four-year project
covering 22 cities in 19 countries.
But the United States took issue with some of the findings. Among them:
that chewing coca leaves, as Andean farmers have done for centuries,
appeared to cause no health problems, and that cocaine appeared to be less
harmful than alcohol and tobacco.
"The United States government has been surprised to note that the (study)
seemed to make a case for the positive uses of cocaine," according to
minutes of a meeting in Geneva where the U.S. representative, Neil Boyer,
raised the American concerns.
Boyer warned, "If WHO activities . . . failed to reinforce proven drug
control approaches, funds for the relevant programs should be curtailed."
Under U.S. pressure, the World Health Organization withheld the study and
agreed to appoint a committee to review the findings. In the end, no report
on global cocaine use was ever issued.
In a recent interview, Boyer said the United States considered the study an
attempt to undermine international drug-control treaties.
"I think there were suspicions that the experts who did the study were
selected because their views on the subject were known in advance," he said.
But those involved in the study say it was based on objective research.
Among the internationally known experts were a top AIDS researcher at New
York's Beth Israel Medical Center and the founder of the Center for Alcohol
and Addiction Studies at Brown University. "The original panel consisted of
a number of people who had done cocaine research that had been
scientifically vetted, funded, published and peer-reviewed -- all the usual
standards," said Patricia Erickson, a University of Toronto professor who
was among the researchers.
"Of course, many of the findings have gone totally against the image of
cocaine as this evil drug that enslaves people. This is 1920s mythology.
Sure, cocaine can get people in trouble and there are reasons to be
concerned about it, but we found that people who otherwise are working and
doing other things could use it recreationally. The study was not aimed at
making cocaine look bad but getting a sense of the whole spectrum of how it
was used in other countries."
Tasmania, beware Since 1961, the United States and most other nations have
signed three major drug treaties. They are aimed at eliminating the global
trade in illicit drugs and keeping the personal use of marijuana and other
drugs criminal offenses throughout the world.
The treaties have prompted a high degree of cooperation in fighting drug
trafficking and money laundering. But they pose obstacles for countries
that want to move away from the punitive U.S. model and treat drug use as a
public health issue.
Not surprisingly, the country that has taken the most radical approach to
dealing with heroin addictions is Switzerland, which is not a member of the
United Nations and has not signed the most recent treaty, adopted in 1988.
"Switzerland has more leeway to innovate," said Cohen, the Dutch researcher.
The Netherlands takes the world's most tolerant approach to marijuana use
but has stopped short of legalizing and regulating it because of treaty
Likewise, Australia has been constrained in trying to develop new
approaches to dealing with a heroin problem that critics say was caused in
part by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
After the Vietnam War ended in 1975, the U.S. government was determined to
keep American troops from returning home with Southeast Asian heroin. So
"the DEA in effect compelled the syndicates to sell heroin originally
produced for American addicts in alternative markets," Alfred McCoy wrote
in Drug Traffic, Narcotics and Organized Crime in Australia.
"In short, the DEA simply diverted Southeast Asian heroin from the United
States into European and Australian markets."
Over the next two decades, Australia's heroin problem mounted, resulting in
high rates of addiction, overdose deaths and drug-related crime. In 1991, a
legislative committee endorsed a novel concept: giving pure heroin and
clean needles to addicts, who would inject under medical supervision. By
getting hard-core addicts off the streets, the theory went, the heroin
prescription program would reduce crime and cut the spread of AIDS and
Various committees reviewed the idea and recommended clinical trials.
That's when Gelbard, the U.S. international drug chief, interceded. He gave
a "very heavy hint" that Tasmania's opium poppy industry could lose its
U.N. license if Australia proceeded with the trials, according to David
Pennington, chairman of one of the committees.
"He said the United States was supportive of Australia keeping the poppy
crop because Australia was keeping a hard line in respect to illicit drugs
and upholding international treaties," Pennington told the Australian. "The
implication was that the two were linked and he very much hoped we weren't
going to muddy the waters with recommendations that might not be acceptable."
Then as now, Tasmania had high unemployment and trouble attracting new
industry. If the United Nations were to pull the license, Tasmania would
lose a key industry to rival legal poppy growers in Turkey and India. With
so much at stake, the Australian federal cabinet killed the heroin
prescription plan, saying it would send the "wrong message" about drug use.
Gelbard, now U.S. ambassador to Indonesia, did not respond to requests for
After the heroin idea was rejected, New South Wales, another Australian
state, announced plans to try a slightly different approach: a "safe
injection room" where addicts could get clean needles and inject heroin
they had obtained on their own. Already tested in Switzerland, such rooms
had been shown to help reduce the spread of infectious diseases.
But the International Narcotics Control Board in Vienna said that injection
rooms would violate drug treaties and "facilitate illicit drug trafficking."
Michael Moore, health minister for the Australian Capital Territory, was
furious. "The American influence on the narcotics board is overwhelming and
unfortunate, and will lead to more of the same," he said.
This time, however, Australia pressed ahead. The country's first medically
supervised injecting center opened this spring in Sydney for an 18-month
Those who advocate innovative approaches to dealing with drug use and abuse
are frustrated by the United States' insistence, reflected in the
international treaties, that a "drug-free" world is attainable.
"It might be better to accept a problem and deal with it in a pragmatic way
than try for a goal that is impossible," said Anita Marxer, who runs an
injection room in Switzerland. "You will never get rid of all the drug
addicts so why not accept them and the fact they're human beings with a
With a few exceptions, even the strongest critics of U.S. drug policy don't
advocate dumping it in favor of anything goes. Instead, they suggest, drugs
could be controlled like alcohol and tobacco. Governments would regulate
the production and distribution, while continuing to support prevention
campaigns and providing treatment for those who become addicted. (Although
the number of U.S. heroin users has tripled, it is still just 0.001 percent
of the population.)
At the same time, experts say, it is important to recognize that different
social and economic conditions mean that no one drug policy is right for
all. And any drug control strategy, they say, is doomed unless it
acknowledges the futility of trying to wipe out substances used by millions
around the globe.
"The Communists learned after 70 years that ignoring powerful market forces
is a very costly business," said Dr. Alex Wodak, a leading advocate of
Australian drug law reform. "If demand cannot be suppressed and no legal
source is available, other sources almost always emerge. This other source
is now a $400-billion-a year business that constitutes 8 percent of
"The moral crusade against drug use has failed to suppress drug use," Wodak
said. "It has also been very expensive and it has increased deaths,
disease, crime and corruption. So it will suffer the same fate as
communism, the two noble experiments of the 20th century."
Subj: Good article from the Mormons: Stop Spraying
From: Josh Sutcliffe <>
Date: Sat, 8 Dec 2001 20:34:57 -0500
Newshawk: Phin MacDonald
Pubdate: Thu, 06 Dec 2001
Source: Salt Lake Tribune (UT)
Copyright: 2001 The Salt Lake Tribune
The World Wildlife Fund's request that the U.S. government suspend
its aerial spraying of herbicide on coca crops in Colombia until it
can be determined if the spraying is hurting the nation's fragile
tropics is a reasonable one that the Bush administration should heed.
While the State Department says the federal government has seen no
evidence that the spraying is causing environmental problems, reason
suggests that this claim is questionable. Spraying is a primary part
of the U.S. government effort to eradicate the illegal trade in
Moreover, there is no crying need that compels the government to keep
on with the spraying, aside from interdicting supplies to meet the
seemingly insatiable demand of Americans for illegal coca-based drugs.
Agent Orange, a defoliant the United States used widely during the
Vietnam War, ended up causing all sorts of problems no one had
foreseen. Latent medical problems that developed years after the war
among Vietnam veterans as well as Vietnamese have been in many
instances attributed to the defoliant.
Other chemicals with a specific purpose, even benign ones, like DDT,
PCBs, even asbestos, have later been discovered to cause
unanticipated environmental damage and have been proscribed.
Odds are, the herbicide sprayed on Colombia's coca crops affect other
flora, and it may well be deleterious to some fauna as well.
The World Wildlife Fund's request is a prudent one, based on lots of
experience. The federal government, armed with the knowledge that
unforeseen consequences of other chemicals have sometimes been
profound and pernicious, should stop aerial herbicide spraying and
more thoroughly determine if the practice can cause harm. If doing so
would take years, then so be it. Colombia's environment and its
people's health and lives are worth it.
Subj: Chat with Dr. Grinspoon Sunday!
From: Richard Lake <>
Date: Sat, 08 Dec 2001 21:20:58 -0500
Sunday, December 9th, at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, 5 p.m. Pacific visit with Dr.
Grinspoon in the Drugsense Chat Room at http://www.drugsense.org/chat
Prof. Lester Grinspoon is a psychiatrist at Harvard. His book "Marijuana
the Forbidden Medicine" has been translated into 7 languages. He is one of
the foremost champions of the therapeutic effects of cannabis.
Check out his websites http://rxmarihuana.com/ http://www.marijuana-uses.com/
Dr. Grinspoon has published many articles in medical and other journals,
testified before committees of congress and many state legislatures, and as
an expert witness in many trials. See
The testimony and Affidavit Of Dr Lester Grinspoon - Re: Chris Clay
http://www.taima.org/en/grinspoon.htm is part of the case record being
reviewed in a Constitutional Challenge under the Canadian Charter of Rights
which is now before the the Canadian Supreme Court.
For a complete listing of scheduled guests participating in the NY Times
and Drugsense forums, please visit the Drug Truth Chat & Forum Guide at
http://www.cultural-baggage.com/schedule.htm. At this site you can also
find transcripts of prior guest visits and nominate future guests.
Subj: RE: Mother Jones prison series
From: Beth <>
Date: Sat, 08 Dec 2001 21:42:32 -0600
Archived some time ago!
US: Web: Debt To Society, Series Index
Pubdate: Tue, 10 Jul 2001
Source: MoJo Wire (US Web)
Copyright: 2001 Foundation for National Progress
Debt To Society: The Real Price Of Prison
Subj: LTE's on Eric Voth article
From: "kim hanna" <>
Date: Sun, 09 Dec 2001 22:01:00
Here's a list and link to the letters sent in to the Western Journal of
Medicine on the Eric Voth letter
"Guidelines for prescribing medical marijuana"
Pretty good of the WJM to print all these letters on the website. Nice open
Electronic Letters to:
Eric A Voth
Guidelines for prescribing medical marijuana
West J Med 2001; 175: 305-306 [Full text] eLetters: Submit a response to
Electronic letters published:
Highest danger of marijuana is brain changes
John McCabe (30 November 2001)
Physicians as proxies
Harry D. Fisher (27 November 2001)
For pot or profit?
Mike Plylar (26 November 2001)
Those who support Dr. Voth
Cliff Schaffer (26 November 2001)
Re: NOT A DRUG BUT A DECEPTION
Harry D. Fisher (26 November 2001)
WHY MARIJUANA IS CRIMINALIZED
Kirk Muse (26 November 2001)
Otto Hauswirth (21 November 2001)
NOT A DRUG BUT A DECEPTION
Malcolm K. Beyer, Jr. (21 November 2001)
Dr. Voth and his facts
Cliff Schaffer (21 November 2001)
Voth receives no government or private grants
Jerry Bergen (21 November 2001)
Hysterics of opponents strengthen Dr. Voth’s position.
Jack Miller (20 November 2001)
The Courage of a Vision
Mary Beth Hughes Palm (20 November 2001)
Medical Cannabis is the Will of the Voters
Ray Carlson (19 November 2001)
Dr. Voth's Points are Important
David S. Noffs M.P.H. (19 November 2001)
Pot's calling the kettle black?
Jack R. Lebowitz (19 November 2001)
Kudos to Dr. Voth
Calvina L. Fay (19 November 2001)
Eric A. Voth, M.D. (19 November 2001)
Tell the truth about medical marijuana
William S. Eidelman, M.D. (19 November 2001)
Mr. Voth has a "Competing interest"
Kim Hanna (16 November 2001)
Voth Ignores Science - Proposes Irrational Standards
Mark Greer (14 November 2001)
"Guidelines for prescribing medical marijuana"
Tod H. Mikuriya, M.D. (12 November 2001)
Get your FREE download of MSN Explorer at http://explorer.msn.com/intl.asp
End of Maptalk-Digest V01 #325
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