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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


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 
opium industry.

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 
other diseases.

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 
an interview.

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 
international trade.

"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
Tracknum: 10000.20011208.140720..367351.0.phinm
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

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

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 is part of the case record being 
reviewed in a Constitutional Challenge under the Canadian Charter of Rights 
and Freedoms
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  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
Newshawk: Beth
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 
letter policy.

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 
this article

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)
Harry D. Fisher   (26 November 2001)
Kirk Muse   (26 November 2001)
Otto Hauswirth   (21 November 2001)
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)

- --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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End of Maptalk-Digest V01 #325

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