In the marijuana reform movement, one of the comments I often overhear in conversations, see posted in online message forums, or read in blog comments relates to the Netherlands and their treatment of marijuana. "Treat marijuana like the Netherlands does" seems to be the rallying cry for lots of misinformed people.
Jeffrey Stinson recently did a short piece on how marijuana is treated in the Netherlands for USA Today. Though brief, the story zeroes in on one important fact: Marijuana in the Netherlands is illegal; the government simply chooses to ignore its sale and use.
I respect that the Netherlands treats marijuana more in accordance with the potential harms than America does, but I still strongly believe that as Americans we should work toward creating sensible policies to tax and regulate marijuana rather than making a conscious effort to ignore it. Let's look for solutions, not stopgaps.
Could marijuana be helpful for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)? The possibility is raised by a newly published case report in Cannabinoids, the journal of the International Association for Cannabis as Medicine. Doctors from the Heidelberg University Medical Center in Heidelberg, Germany, report on an adult ADHD sufferer who exhibited classic ADHD behavior -- pushy, impatient, having trouble focusing or responding to questions appropriately -- and who had not been helped by Ritalin, a standard ADHD treatment, but whose symptoms essentially disappeared after smoking marijuana. The authors also discuss animal research that suggests cannabinoids may be effective against ADHD, as well as a human study suggesting that moderate marijuana use may have helped ADHD patients with cocaine dependence stay in treatment.
Some studies have found an association between marijuana use and ADHD symptoms, often drawing the inference that marijuana is worsening ADHD, or that ADHD sufferers are at risk for "drug abuse." But what if they're self-medicating and -- in at least some cases -- actually helping reduce their symptoms?
The show, which streams live at www.rnntv.com, will feature advocate Glenn Amandola, a medically retired New York City police officer who suffers from chronic pain after being injured on the job, and Rep. Richard Gottfried, who sponsored a medical marijuana bill that passed the Assembly this year, 89-52.
The show will also feature a discussion that allows phone calls and e-mails from viewers, so be sure to make your opinion known. Just be nice!
Those of us working to reform marijuana laws often criticize government officials and the news media for using inaccurate or misleading terminology, but occasionally we pick up some of those bad habits ourselves. I just fell into this trap myself, in a column I just wrote for AlterNet about a recent WHO study and its implications for our drug laws. I used the phrase "whenever a state considers liberalizing its marijuana laws," to refer to proposals to tax and regulate marijuana like alcoholic beverages.
But, as a colleague pointed out, there is nothing either liberal or conservative about laws that simply make sense, and plenty of people on the political right, such as the late Milton Friedman, have supported such proposals. In addition, "liberalize" may be taken to mean "loosen" or "give up control," when taxing and regulating marijuana would increase control -- taking a market that's now completely unregulated and establishing commonsense rules and licensing of marijuana businesses.
Recently, the ACLU, with the help of travel guru Rick Steves, began airing a 30-minute television program in Washington state to address the issue of marijuana in America. The program, titled Marijuana: It's Time for a Conversation, briefly covers some of the history of marijuana's legal status in America, the problems associated with our treatment of it, and the reasons why we should reconsider how we approach marijuana. Today we present part one of that video, and later this week we'll have parts two and three available as well. Enjoy.
The following video we think is interesting and noteworthy. It is not the property of the Marijuana Policy Project though, and as such does not necessarily reflect our views and opinions.
The drug czar's office wants us to believe that marijuana causes or worsens depression. Too bad science keeps moving in precisely the opposite direction, as noted in two articles just published in Cannabinoids, the journal of the International Association for Cannabis as Medicine. In one, Viennese physician Kurt Blass discusses successful treatment of depression with dronabinol (Marinol), the THC pill. In the second, University of Texas researcher Regina A. Mangieri discusses the animal studies in which cannabinoids have shown antidepressant-like activity. No one is arguing that depressed teens should self-medicate with marijuana rather than seek professional help, but one-sided, misleading "information" from our government doesn't help parents navigate these complex situations.
Medical marijuana patients in Washington state are allowed to have a 60-day supply of medicine. A process to define what that means in practical terms, overseen by the state Health Department and based on expert input from doctors, researchers, and patients, was going just fine until Gov. Christine Gregoire stepped in, apparently trying to override science with politics. Having tossed out science-based recommendations in favor of a political compromise, it now seems the mess is only worsening and may even lead to a lawsuit. Why must it be so hard to base health policy on facts and data rather than posturing?
Tom Riley's nonchalant statement about the relationship (or lack thereof) between tough drug laws/enforcement and rates of use, cited in Dan's earlier post, contradicts just about everything ONDCP has been saying for years whenever a state considers loosening its marijuana laws. In a March 19 press release, deputy Drug Czar Scott Burns railed against a New Hampshire proposal to decriminalize marijuana, saying such a move "sends the wrong message to New Hampshire's youth, students, parents, public health officials and the law enforcement community," and would lead to "more drugs, drug users and drug dealers on their streets and communities."
But then, intellectual consistency has never been ONDCP's strong suit.