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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Cannabis less harmful than drinking, smoking:

Cannabis less harmful than drinking, smoking: report

Thu Oct 2, 6:44 AM

LONDON (AFP) - Cannabis is less harmful than alcohol or tobacco, according to a report by a research charity Thursday, which called for a "serious rethink" of drug policy.

The Beckley Foundation, a charity which numbers senior experts and other academics among its advisors, said banning cannabis has no impact on supply and turns users into criminals.

"Although cannabis can have a negative impact on health, including mental health, in terms of relative harms it is considerably less harmful than alcohol or tobacco," says the report by the Foundation's Global Cannabis Commission.

The government is pressing for cannabis to be re-classified in law as a Class B drug compared with its current, less serious, Class C classification.

Authorities are concerned notably by the growing prevalence of the potent "skunk" form of the drug. Around 80 percent of cannabis seizures are of this strain, said to be linked to mental health problems, official figures show.

The Beckley Foundation, a charitable trust, claimed only two deaths worldwide have been attributed to cannabis, while alcohol and tobacco use together kill an estimated 150,000 people in Britain alone.

"Many of the harms associated with cannabis use are the result of prohibition itself, particularly the social harms arising from arrest and imprisonment," it said.

"It is only through a regulated market that we can better protect young people from the ever more potent forms of dope," it added.

The decision to reclassify cannabis upwards into the more punitive Class B category -- which includes amphetamines -- is a U-turn for the Labour government.

Cannabis was downgraded from Class B when Tony Blair was prime minister, but Gordon Brown announced a review of its status soon after taking over in June last year.

An earlier review of the cannabis classification, at the time of the last 2005 general election, resulted in it remaining Class C.

Mexico seeks to decriminalize small-time drug use

Mexico seeks to decriminalize small-time drug use

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican President Felipe Calderon, locked in a bloody battle with drug cartels, wants to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of street drugs in a plan likely to irk Washington.decriminalize

Calderon, a conservative in power nearly two years, sent a proposal to Congress on Thursday that would scrap the penalties for drugs including cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, opium and marijuana.

"What we are seeking is to not treat an addict as a criminal, but rather as a sick person and give them psychological and medical treatment," said Sen. Alejandro Gonzalez, head of the Senate's justice committee.

Under Calderon's plan, people carrying up to 2 grams (0.07 ounces) of marijuana or opium, half a gram of cocaine, 50 milligrams of heroin or 40 milligrams of methamphetamine would face no criminal charges.

It would also give Mexican states the power to try drug dealers in local courts instead of at the federal level.

Reviving a similar effort by his predecessor, Calderon aims to free up police to hunt for dealers and smugglers. But the plan could run into opposition in largely conservative Mexico as well as in the United States.

In a separate proposal, the president asked the Senate to shake up Mexico's notoriously inept and often corrupt police.

Calderon said poor training and a lack of coordination between forces are hindering efforts to rein in rampant drug violence and organized crime.

"They are at the limit in terms of not sharing intelligence in crime fighting, something which eventually means a lack of organization in the state's capacity to deal with the crime phenomenon," he said.

Some analysts say that up to half of Mexico's police could be in the pay of drug cartels, which offer bribes that dwarf the paltry wages of the average officer.

Former president Vicente Fox introduced a drug decriminalization measure in 2006 but ditched it after Washington objected and critics on both sides of the border said it could lure "drug tourists" from the United States.

Drug use is less common among young people in Mexico than in the United States or Europe. But consumption is creeping up with the growth of the middle class and as tighter border controls mean more cocaine stays in the country.

Calderon has deployed thousands of troops to clamp down on the drug gangs that shuttle Colombian cocaine over Mexico's northern border. But cartel violence has soared as a result, killing some 3,000 people this year.

Drug Czar Fails Spectacularly at Cutting Marijuana

Drug Czar Fails Spectacularly at Cutting Marijuana

Posted on October 8, 2008, Printed on October 9, 2008

The White House drug czar's office, aka the Office of National Drug Control Policy, has been claiming loudly and frequently for several years now that its aggressive anti-marijuana campaign has been a rousing success. As deputy ONDCP director Scott Burns put it in a recent California newspaper interview, "drug use is down in the United States dramatically since 2001 by every barometer and indicator that we use. ... Twenty-four percent reduction in marijuana use by young people 12 to 18 years old."

Uh, not quite.

In fact, the major U.S. government study of drug use, the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health, shows that the drug czar's office has badly failed to meet its own goals for reducing use of marijuana and other illegal drugs, according to a pair of new reports by George Mason University senior fellow Jon Gettman, Ph.D. In addition, ONDCP and drug czar John Walters have misused treatment statistics to suggest that marijuana is dangerously addictive when the government's own data suggest that arrest-driven treatment admissions have wasted tax dollars by treating thousands who were not truly drug-dependent.

During Walters' tenure, ONDCP has released at least 127 separate anti-marijuana TV, radio and print ads and 34 press releases focused mainly on marijuana, in addition to 50 reports from ONDCP and other federal agencies on marijuana or anti-marijuana campaigns. Beyond doubt, this anti-marijuana blitz -- coupled with record marijuana arrests year after year, to the point where in 2007 an American was arrested on marijuana charges every 36 seconds -- constitutes the most intense war on marijuana since "Reefer Madness."

Gettman, who made international headlines in December 2006 with an analysis showing that marijuana is the top cash crop in the United States, catalogues the failures in detail. In 2007 there were 14.5 million current users of marijuana in the United States, compared with 14.6 million in 2002, while the number of Americans who have ever used marijuana actually increased.

ONDCP has not even come close to meeting its goal of reducing illegal drug use by 25 percent by 2007 in any age group. In fact, among adults, overall illegal drug use actually increased 4.7% from 2002 to 2007. Teen marijuana use is down a bit but still remains common: One in nine (12 percent) 14- and 15-year-olds and one in four (23.7 percent) 16- and 17-year-olds used marijuana in 2007.

Walters loves to cite increases in marijuana treatment admissions as proof that marijuana is addictive and dangerous. But Gettman's analysis of data from the government's Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) shows that the percentage of marijuana treatment admissions referred by the criminal justice system jumped from 48% to 58% from 1992 to 2006. In other words, most of the increase in treatment admissions was driven by people being arrested and offered treatment instead of jail. Strikingly, just 45 percent of marijuana admissions met the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) criteria for marijuana dependence.

Also arguing against claims that treatment admissions reflect dangerously addictive "pot 2.0" (yes, some officials have actually used that phrase, and some in the press have repeated it as if it meant something) is the fact that, as Gettman notes, "Use of residential detox -- a clear sign of a serious addiction problem -- is used for 24% of heroin admissions and 21% of alcohol admissions, but just 2% of marijuana admissions."

Gettman's bottom line on those treatment stats is simple and depressing: "Increases in drug treatment admissions for marijuana, often cited by officials as evidence that marijuana is dangerously addictive, are driven by criminal justice policies rather than medical diagnosis. These policies increase public costs for providing drug treatment services and reduce funds for and availability of treatment of more serious drug problems."

This is your government on drugs.

Bruce Mirken is communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project.

Redsox say NO DICE in game 1

Redsox ALCS 2008

So much for all that talk about who should be starting game 1 or 2 and 3 for that matter. Daisuke Matsuzaka (?? ??) Pitched 7+ innings of shutout baseball It doesn't get much better than that does it?

Playoff baseball is all about Pitching no more no less and like it or not the Redsox have it in spades. Tonights pitcher is Josh Beckett who was the #1 pitcher until Jon Lester Emerged as a front line starter.

Think back to last winter when the redsox "almost" traded Jon Lester and Jacoby Ellsbury for Johan Santana, While I was a Big Proponent of sending them away for Johan Santana we are now seeing why they didn't want to give up that much for such a sure thing.

I want to say tonight is the Key but the Redsox already did what they had to do and that was win 1 of the first 2 games on the road and take away home field advantage from the Tampa Bay Rays and Now they have a chance to come home with a COMMANDING 2-0 lead.
Tampa Bay won the season series between the AL east rivals 10-8, including eight of nine at Tropicana Field.

So by all rights we should have lost last night and the Redsox should have lost to the Angels of Anaheim. Too bad that the Regular Season means absolutley Nothing when the Playoffs roll around. Teams that play great defense like the Angels make little league mistakes and Lose then whine and cry how the best team didn't win. Maybe there is something in the water in California that makes all thier Players turn into Biatches when they lose.

Bring on the Phillies is what I say.

Enjoy the Game tonight.