A little while back, we held our third annual Party at the Playboy Mansion. During the party, a film crew produced a short documentary, which we're proud to present. See what celebrities think about marijuana policy reform, MPP, and our mission.
On July 30, 2008, MPP's Rob Kampia joined Congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) to discuss the benefits of HR5843, the “Personal Use of Marijuana By Responsible Adults Act." If you'd like to encourage your legislator to support this bill, visit https://www.mpp.org/federal-action/.
Okay, "must" may be a bit strong, but before heading off on vacation for two weeks (and leaving you in the capable hands of my fellow bloggers), I want to mention two new books that deserve attention from anyone interested in marijuana and marijuana policy.
Despite the awful title, "Dying to Get High" is one of the most interesting books yet written about medical marijuana. Authors Wendy Chapkis and Richard J. Webb focus on the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM), a patient-run collective in Santa Cruz, Calif., that was the subject of a notorious federal raid in 2002. But they also take a broader look at the issue, including how modern medicine evolved its current distaste for "crude plant products," as medical marijuana is sometimes termed.
Also worth a serious look is "The Science of Marijuana" (second edition) by Leslie L. Iversen. Iversen, an Oxford University professor of pharmacology and member of the British government's Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, gives a thorough and thoughtful overview of what science knows about marijuana and cannabinoids -- not a brief for any side in marijuana policy debates but a solid, straightforward review of the data, in reasonably non-technical terms. If you're attracted to the idea that policy should be based on actual facts, "The Science of Marijuana" belongs on your shelf.
Good news for people who don't like their local governments wasting time and money challenging laws they don't like in futile court battles: For the second time, a California court -- in this case, the Fourth District Court of Appeals -- has tossed challenges to the state's medical marijuana laws by the counties of San Diego and San Bernardino.
San Diego has refused to offer any idea how much they've spent on this boondoggle, but according to a January 2006 Evans/McDonough random poll of 500 likely San Diegan voters MPP commissioned, 80% of telephone respondents agreed the Board of Supervisors was wasting money on the lawsuit.
Theoretically, they could take the case to the state Supreme Court, but wouldn't be nice if they just obeyed the law, issued the required medical marijuana I.D. cards to qualifying patients, and stopped throwing tax dollars down the sewer?
So police discover a package of marijuana apparently shipped to the mayor of a small town in Prince George's County and respond by sending a SWAT team to pounce on the unarmed man as he returns from work, killing his two Labradors for good measure. The police then handcuff him and his mother-in-law next to their pets and interrogate them for hours as blood pools on the floor. And a PG police spokesman says the raid was carried out properly according to their policies.
I'm sure it was. Does anybody else see anything wrong with our policies?
We distributed MPP Foundation's new radio public service announcements today to stations nationwide, aiming to educate the public about the effects of U.S. marijuana laws, and about recent developments regarding medical marijuana. The ads feature Gary Johnson, the former Republican governor of New Mexico, and California Superior Court Judge Jim Gray.
The new spots follow a previous set of MPP Foundation radio PSAs released in 2005, featuring TV talk show host Montel Williams, author Tom Robbins, and U.S. Supreme Court medical marijuana plaintiff Angel Raich. That series of spots received over 11,000 plays on stations in all parts of the country, including seven of the top 10 markets.
This morning's press conference, at which MPP and other marijuana policy reformers joined U.S. Reps. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) to call for an end to federal criminal penalties for marijuana possession, was a rousing success, as this CNN story shows.
And apparently it got under the skin of our overlords at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Having not gotten much media pickup on their preemptive press release issued yesterday -- filled with the usual half truths and deception they're rightly famous for -- ONDCP sent David Murray and two other staffers to the news conference to try to convince everyone that marijuana is "the greatest cause of illegal drug abuse." That CNN seems to have ignored him can't be a good sign for ONDCP, but Raw Story has this rather amusing take on Murray's appearance.
A new study just published in Archives of Internal Medicine shows a 360.5% increase in the death rate from fatal medication errors (FMEs) from 1983 to 2004, vastly outstripping most other causes of death. Notably, most of the increase in deaths took place at home, not in medical settings or other locations. FMEs are defined as deaths from mistakes involving medications: accidental overdoses, the wrong drug being taken, etc. They do not include deaths from "adverse reactions" (side effects) involving drugs taken correctly.
While the sharpest increase was among medication errors in which alcohol and/or street drugs were also involved, this figure was still well under half the number of FME deaths without alcohol or street drug involvement. While the data analyzed by researchers do not include the exact medications or other drugs involved, the researchers note that use of illicit drugs did not rise during theperiod studied, and the death rate from alcohol or street drugs increased only modestly in the period studied.
So exactly what is going on here is uncertain, but one possibility, suggested by the sharp increase in such deaths occurring at home, is noted in the Associated Press story on the study:
"The amount of medical supervision is going down and the amount of responsibility put on the patient's shoulders is going up," said lead author David P. Phillips of the University of California, San Diego.
Simply put, more patients are being sent home with powerful narcotics and other drugs to administer themselves.
Clearly, an important lesson here is that legal drugs can be deadly. Even if they're prescribed. Even if they're over-the-counter (acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol, is responsible for about 500 U.S. overdose deaths each year). Even if they're legal recreational drugs like booze.
Marijuana is strikingly absent from this picture of deadly drugs. Unlike narcotic painkillers or alcohol, marijuana does not suppress breathing. As an editorial in the British Medical Journal noted, marijuana use has not been linked to higher death rates, and no fatal marijuana overdose has ever been documented. Indications of life-threatening interactions between marijuana and legal medicines are notably absent from the medical literature.
Some drugs are indeed deadlier than others, and marijuana is not among them.