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RainDog

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9 Huge Blows to the War on Drugs in 2011

http://www.alternet.org/story/153298/9_huge_blows_to_the_catastrophic_war_on_drugs_--_will_we_have_sane_drug_policy_some_day/?page=entire

most all of these have been covered here in different posts.

Four that don't have their own thread here include:

#3 Gallop Poll Shows Historic Support: 50% of Americans Favor Ending Marijuana Prohibition

For the first time a Gallup poll has found that 50% of Americans support making marijuana legal. Public support for making marijuana legal has shifted dramatically in the last two decades, particularly in the last few years. Gallup has been asking Americans since 1970, “Do you think the use of marijuana should be made legal, or not?” Forty years ago support registered at 12%, rose to 28% percent by the late ‘70s, dipped slightly during the 1980s, and then rose gradually to 36% in 2005. The past six years, however, have witnessed a dramatic jump in support, with important implications for state and national marijuana policy. Majorities of men, liberals, 18-29 year-olds, moderates, Independents, Democrats, 30-49 year-olds, and voters in Western, Midwestern and Eastern states now support legalizing cannabis.

#4. NYPD Commissioner Directs Police to Stop Improper Marijuana Arrests

In 2010, the New York City Police Department arrested 50,383 people for low-level marijuana offenses. Arrests for low-level marijuana possession offenses are the number one arrest in New York City, making up 15 percent of all arrests. What makes these record number of arrests even more outrageous is that under 7/8 of an ounce of marijuana is supposed to be decriminalized in New York and a non-arrestable offense. The only reason people should be arrested with under an ounce is if they are smoking it in public or it is in plain view. The NYPD has been stopping and frisking 100,000’s of black and Latino youth and then tricking them to emptying out their pockets. Once the person pulls out the joint or small bag of marijuana, the NYPD says it is “in public view” and arrests them. A campaign led by the Drug Policy Alliance, the Institute for Juvenile Justice Reform and Alternatives, and VOCAL pounded away at Mayor Bloomberg and the NYPD for the racist enforcement of marijuana arrests – and in October, NYPD Commission Ray Kelly issued an internal order commanding officers to follow existing New York State law by ending arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana – as long as the marijuana was never in public view.

#5. Thousands in Mexico Take to Street to Protest Drug War

This summer tens of thousands marched across Mexico to protest the drug war and the 50,000 drug prohibition related deaths since President Calderon launched his “surge” against the drug cartels five years ago . The protests were led by journalist and poet Javier Sicilia, whose son was killed in drug prohibition-related violence. Sicilia has galvanized Mexican society and stirred up international debate. Former President Vincente Fox has been passionately calling for an to drug prohibition as the only way to reduce the carnage in Mexico – and even President Calderon has acknowledged that we need to consider legalization.

#6. Colorado and Washington to Vote on Legalizing Marijuana in 2012

In 2010, Californians voted on Proposition 19, the initiative to control and tax marijuana in California. Prop. 19 both elevated and legitimized public discourse about marijuana and marijuana policy. More people knew about Prop. 19 than any other measure on the ballot this year -- not just in California, but nationwide. In the end, Prop. 19 received more than 46% of the vote, more votes than Republican candidates for governor and U.S. Senate, Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina. Next year the issue will again be brought to the voters in Colorado and Washington State. Demographics, economics and principle all favor the ultimate demise of marijuana prohibition. Now, the debate is shifting from whether marijuana should be legalized to how.

D.E.A. Launders Mexican Drug Cartel Money (N.Y.Times)

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/04/world/americas/us-drug-agents-launder-profits-of-mexican-cartels.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

(Dec. 2011)

The agents, primarily with the Drug Enforcement Administration, have handled shipments of hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal cash across borders...officials said, to identify how criminal organizations move their money, where they keep their assets and, most important, who their leaders are.

...The officials said that while the D.E.A. conducted such operations in other countries, it began doing so in Mexico only in the past few years. The high-risk activities raise delicate questions about the agency’s effectiveness in bringing down drug kingpins, underscore diplomatic concerns about Mexican sovereignty, and blur the line between surveillance and facilitating crime. As it launders drug money, the agency often allows cartels to continue their operations over months or even years before making seizures or arrests.


This operation has expanded into Mexico in spite of the recent reports from the summer of 2011 from the Global Commission on Drugs and a Senate subcommittee that indicated the WoD was a failure after 40 years and untold billions. As Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight, said in a media advisory. "Without adequate oversight and management we are wasting tax dollars and throwing money at a problem without even knowing what we're getting in return."

The former officials said that the drug agency tried to seize as much money as it laundered — partly in the fees the operatives charged traffickers for their services and another part in carefully choreographed arrests at pickup points identified by their undercover operatives.

And the former officials said that federal law enforcement agencies had to seek Justice Department approval to launder amounts greater than $10 million in any single operation. But they said that the cap was treated more as a guideline than a rule, and that it had been waived on many occasions to attract the interest of high-value targets.


Contractors in the Middle East cannot wait to be able to move their operations out of that part of the world and into Mexico. With military equipment now going to local police depts in the U.S., no doubt it would benefit some to be able to sell equipment to Mexico, as well.

Rather than recognize that the war on drugs is a failure, it seems the U.S. is gearing up to reek havoc in our neighbor's house. Few at the centers of power are willing to consider the damage the failure of the drug warriors have created - but, when the top beneficiaries of the war on drugs are military contractors, this reality is no surprise.

If conservatives are concerned about immigration now, just wait until the military contractors ramp up the WoD in Mexico. They'll have no one to blame but themselves.

Personally, I would rather have that 10 million in illegal profits going to the states and nations in which they are laundered, rather than going to criminals and military contractors. But that's just me. Obviously there are bigger issues than health and safety at $take here.

Cost Savings: Jeffrey Mirons - senior lecturer in economics at Harvard on the WoD

This study was widely publicized last year. http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=12169

Jeffrey A. Miron is a senior lecturer in economics at Harvard University and a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. Professor Miron earned his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and chaired the economics department at Boston University prior to joining the Harvard faculty. Katherine Waldock is a doctoral candidate at the Stern School of Business at New York University.

Miron's study looks at legalizing all drugs, not just cannabis.

This report estimates that legalizing drugs would save roughly $41.3 billion per year in government expenditure on enforcement of prohibition. Of these savings, $25.7 billion would accrue to state and local governments, while $15.6 billion would accrue to the federal government.

Approximately $8.7 billion of the savings would result from legalization of marijuana and $32.6 billion from legalization of other drugs.

The report also estimates that drug legalization would yield tax revenue of $46.7 billion annually, assuming legal drugs were taxed at rates comparable to those on alcohol and tobacco. Approximately $8.7 billion of this revenue would result from legalization of marijuana and $38.0 billion from legalization of other drugs.


After Miron's study, 500 economists signed a letter in support of legalization.

http://economics.about.com/od/incometaxestaxcuts/a/legalize_pot.htm

We, the undersigned, call your attention to the attached report by Professor Jeffrey A. Miron, The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition. The report shows that marijuana legalization -- replacing prohibition with a system of taxation and regulation -- would save $7.7 billion per year in state and federal expenditures on prohibition enforcement and produce tax revenues of at least $2.4 billion annually if marijuana were taxed like most consumer goods. If, however, marijuana were taxed similarly to alcohol or tobacco, it might generate as much as $6.2 billion annually.


Time Magazine/Joe Klein weighs in: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1889166,00.html

...there are big issues here, issues of economy and simple justice, especially on the sentencing side. As Webb pointed out in a cover story in Parade magazine, the U.S. is, by far, the most "criminal" country in the world, with 5% of the world's population and 25% of its prisoners. We spend $68 billion per year on corrections, and one-third of those being corrected are serving time for nonviolent drug crimes. We spend about $150 billion on policing and courts, and 47.5% of all drug arrests are marijuana-related. That is an awful lot of money, most of it nonfederal, that could be spent on better schools or infrastructure — or simply returned to the public.

At the same time, there is an enormous potential windfall in the taxation of marijuana. It is estimated that pot is the largest cash crop in California, with annual revenues approaching $14 billion. A 10% pot tax would yield $1.4 billion in California alone. And that's probably a fraction of the revenues that would be available — and of the economic impact, with thousands of new jobs in agriculture, packaging, marketing and advertising...

Reagan's Greatest Economic Legacy: Indoor-Grown Hybrid Cannabis

Ronald Reagan may have claimed that evolution is only a theory, but evolutionary genetics and the Reagan-ramped WoD created the new American cannabis and made the cannabis market more lucrative and professionally organized than would have seemed possible before the conservative mindset decided to "fix" it.

Life is full of ironies.

From Michael Pollan in The New York Times magazine, 1996:http://michaelpollan.com/articles-archive/how-pot-has-grown/

...in little more than a decade, marijuana growing in America had evolved from a hobby of aging hippies into a burgeoning high-tech industry with earnings that are estimated at $32 billion a year. That makes it easily the nation’s biggest cash crop. Unlike corn ($14 billion) or soybeans ($11 billion), however, modern marijuana farming depends less on soil and sunlight than technology, allowing it to thrive not only in the fields of the farm belt but in downtown apartments and lofts, in suburban basements and attics, even in closets.

Fewer than 20 years ago, virtually all the marijuana consumed in America was imported. “Home grown” was a term of opprobrium—”something you only smoked in an emergency,” as one grower old enough to remember put it. Today, thanks in no small part to the efforts of the people assembled in this hall—as well as to the Federal war on drugs, which gave the domestic industry a leg up by protecting it from foreign imports and providing a spur to innovation—American marijuana cultivation has developed to the point where the potency, quality and consistency of the domestic product are considered as good as, if not better than, any in the world.

In an era of global competition, the rise of a made-in-America marijuana industry is one of the more striking—if perhaps least welcome—economic success stories of the 1980s and 90s. Domestic growers now dominate the high end of a market consisting of at least 12 million occasional users; on Wall Street, in Hollywood, on colleges campuses, consumers pay $300 to $500 an ounce for the re-engineered home-grown product, and even more for the “connoisseur” varieties grown by the kind of small, sophisticated growers on hand for the Cannabis Cup. Peering through the haze at the conventioneers milling in the Pax Party House, Brian R. declared in a tone of deep reverence, “There are a lot of true pioneers in this room.”


Portugal's Drug Laws Show Results 10 Years On, Experts Say

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5g9C6x99EnFVdFuXw_B8pvDRzLqcA?docId=CNG.e740b6d0077ba8c28f6d1dd931c6f679.5e1

Health experts in Portugal said Friday that Portugal's decision 10 years ago to decriminalise drug use and treat addicts rather than punishing them is an experiment that has worked.

"There is no doubt that the phenomenon of addiction is in decline in Portugal," said Joao Goulao, President of the Institute of Drugs and Drugs Addiction, a press conference to mark the 10th anniversary of the law.

The number of addicts considered "problematic" -- those who repeatedly use "hard" drugs and intravenous users -- had fallen by half since the early 1990s, when the figure was estimated at around 100,000 people, Goulao said.

Other factors had also played their part however, Goulao, a medical doctor added. "This development can not only be attributed to decriminalisation but to a confluence of treatment and risk reduction policies."

Portugal's holistic approach had also led to a "spectacular" reduction in the number of infections among intravenous users and a significant drop in drug-related crimes, he added.

Marijuana Use Studies - A History, with Ethan Russo, MD

Peer-reviewed journal finds no link between cannabis and schizophrenia

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19560900

This paper investigates whether this (a predicted increase in schizophrenia and/or psychosis among cannabis users) has occurred in the UK by examining trends in the annual prevalence and incidence of schizophrenia and psychoses, as measured by diagnosed cases from 1996 to 2005.

Retrospective analysis of the General Practice Research Database (GPRD) was conducted for 183 practices in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The study cohort comprised almost 600,000 patients each year, representing approximately 2.3% of the UK population aged 16 to 44.

Between 1996 and 2005 the incidence and prevalence of schizophrenia and psychoses were either stable or declining. Explanations other than a genuine stability or decline were considered, but appeared less plausible. In conclusion, this study did not find any evidence of increasing schizophrenia or psychoses in the general population from 1996 to 2005.


Studies that claimed schizophrenia cast in doubt (Sept. 2009):
http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2009/09/01/2673334.htm

Previous research has suggested cannabis use increases the risk of being diagnosed with schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders.

This latest study, led by Dr Martin Frisher of Keele University, examined the records of 600,000 patients aged between 16 and 44, but failed to find a similar link. Frisher and colleagues compared the trends of cannabis use with general practitioner records of schizophrenia.

They argue if cannabis use does cause schizophrenia, then an increase in cannabis use should be followed by an increase in the incidence of schizophrenia. According to the study, cannabis use in the UK between 1972 and 2002 has increased four-fold in the general population, and 18-fold among under-18s.

...But the researchers found no increase in the diagnosis of schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders during that period. In fact some of the data suggested the incidence of these conditions had decreased.

"This study does not therefore support the specific causal link between cannabis use and the incidence of psychotic disorders," the authors say. "This concurs with other reports indicating that increases in population cannabis use have not been followed by increases in psychotic incidence."


Minimal Link Between Psychosis and Marijuana (Oct. 2009):
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091022101538.htm

Scientists from Bristol, Cambridge and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine took the latest information on numbers of cannabis users, the risk of developing schizophrenia, and the risk that cannabis use causes schizophrenia to estimate how many cannabis users may need to be stopped to prevent one case of schizophrenia. The study found it would be necessary to stop 2800 heavy cannabis users in young men and over 5000 heavy cannabis users in young women to prevent a single case of schizophrenia. Among light cannabis users, those numbers rise to over 10,000 young men and nearly 30,000 young women to prevent one case of schizophrenia.


Cannabis-induced schizophrenia is merely schizophrenia (Nov. 2008)
http://www.reuters.com/article/2008/11/03/us-pot-induced-psychosis-idUSTRE4A26JV20081103?feedType=RSS&feedName=healthNews&rpc=22&sp=true

In a previous study, Arendt and colleagues found that nearly half of people who had an episode of cannabis-induced psychosis went on to develop schizophrenia within the next six years. In the current study, the researchers looked at the genetic roots of both conditions by comparing the family histories of 609 people treated for cannabis-induced psychosis and 6,476 who had been treated for schizophrenia or a related psychiatric condition.

They found that individuals treated for post-pot smoking psychotic episodes had the same likelihood of having a mother, sister or other "first-degree" relative with schizophrenia as did the individuals who had actually been treated for schizophrenia themselves. This suggests that cannabis-induced psychosis and schizophrenia are one and the same, the researchers note. "These people would have developed schizophrenia whether or not they used cannabis," Arendt explained in comments to Reuters Health.

Based on the findings, the researcher says, "cannabis-induced psychosis is probably not a valid diagnosis. It should be considered schizophrenia."


Roger Pertwee, leading British pharmacologist, says cannabis is not a threat to the general population in regard to schizophrenia. Only those with existing risk factors are at risk.
http://www.britishscienceassociation.org/web/News/FestivalNews/_Rethinkingcannabis.htm

you could identify people who might be at risk of developing schizophrenia. Cannabis is one factor which increases the risk of schizophrenia, but only if it's mixed with a bad childhood environment or a genetic predisposition to schizophrenia.


...and no indication of brain damage with heavy usage (July 2003):
http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/news/20030701/heavy-marijuana-use-doesnt-damage-brain

Long-term and even daily marijuana use doesn't appear to cause permanent brain damage, adding to evidence that it can be a safe and effective treatment for a wide range of diseases, say researchers.

The researchers found only a "very small" impairment in memory and learning among long-term marijuana users. Otherwise, scores on thinking tests were similar to those who don't smoke marijuana, according to a new analysis of 15 previous studies.

In those studies, some 700 regular marijuana users were compared with 484 non-users on various aspects of brain function -- including reaction time, language and motor skills, reasoning ability, memory, and the ability to learn new information.

The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937: Background, Hearings on H.R. 6385, 6906, Letters

http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/hemp/taxact/taxact.htm

via the Schaffer Drug Library online.

Council on Science and Public Health: Use of Cannabis as Medicine

This is the full 30 page document (CSAPH Report 3-I-09), available for downloading or printing from the American Medical Association.

http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:MBn3BDjhTmcJ:americansforsafeaccess.org/downloads/AMA_Report.pdf+council+on+science+and+public+health+use+of+cannabis&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEEShWFFMyRgMvgUKQz378wuMNJI7COOyJnrPJXKMwRUuQjl_mfxRFr36DCdfViAI1WsLHUbTkyS_P2Phu5awylnc1CqhNH6uy8QAk3wDQeyA8IOeNJIT_fvzOvd5udDvRdD0w970B&sig=AHIEtbRjXmIPGCwAXDWWtl2xWU4754HFsQ

via Google Docs

Early Studies Indicate Cannabis May Shrink Tumor Cells (Studies: 1974-2010)

Project Censored, Top 25 Stories, 2001: http://www.projectcensored.org/top-stories/articles/22-us-government-repressed-marijuana-tumor-research/

The U.S. Government Attempted to Repress the Marijuana Cancer Research Going Back to 1974

...The Madrid researcher (studying the tumor-reducing qualities of cannabinoids, noted in the post immediately below) said he had heard of the Virginia study, but had never been able to locate literature on it. “I am aware of the existence of that research. In fact I have attempted many times to obtain the journal article on the original investigation by theses people, but it has proven impossible,” Guzman said. His response wasn’t surprising, considering that in 1983 the Reagan/Bush administration tried to persuade American universities and researchers to destroy all 1966/76 cannabis research work, including compendiums in libraries, reports Jack Herer. “We know that large amounts of information have since disappeared,” he says.


From the Journal of of the National Cancer Institute, 1975. (hosted via UKCIA): http://www.ukcia.org/research/AntineoplasticActivityOfCannabinoids/index.php

Furthermore, Nahas et al. (7) showed that in chronic marihuana users there is a decreased lymphocyte reactivity to mitogens as measured by thymidine uptake. These and other (8) observations suggest that marihuana (delta-9-THC) interferes with vital cell biochemical processes, though no definite mechanism has yet been established. A preliminary report from this laboratory (9) indicated that the ability of delta-9-THC to interfere with normal cell functions might prove efficacious against neoplasms. This report represents an effort to test various cannabinoids in several in vivo and in vitro tumor systems to determine the kinds of tumors that are sensitive to these compounds and reveal their possible biochemical sites of action(s).


Researchers at Harvard published a study in 2007 that indicates cannabis cuts lung cancer tumors by 50%. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070417193338.htm

They say this is the first set of experiments to show that the compound, Delta-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), inhibits EGF-induced growth and migration in epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) expressing non-small cell lung cancer cell lines. Lung cancers that over-express EGFR are usually highly aggressive and resistant to chemotherapy.

THC that targets cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 is similar in function to endocannabinoids, which are cannabinoids that are naturally produced in the body and activate these receptors. The researchers suggest that THC or other designer agents that activate these receptors might be used in a targeted fashion to treat lung cancer.

Although the researchers do not know why THC inhibits tumor growth, they say the substance could be activating molecules that arrest the cell cycle. They speculate that THC may also interfere with angiogenesis and vascularization, which promotes cancer growth.


Research in Spain, published in 2009, demonstrated the mechanism by which cannabis induces cancer cell death: http://www.jci.org/articles/view/37948

Δ-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main active component of marijuana (7), exerts a wide variety of biological effects by mimicking endogenous substances — the endocannabinoids — that bind to and activate specific cannabinoid receptors (8). One of the most exciting areas of research in the cannabinoid field is the study of the potential application of cannabinoids as antitumoral agents (9). Cannabinoid administration has been found to curb the growth of several types of tumor xenografts in rats and mice (9, 10).

Based on this preclinical evidence, a pilot clinical trial has been recently run to investigate the antitumoral action of THC on recurrent gliomas (11). Recent findings have also shown that the pro-apoptotic and tumor growth–inhibiting activity of cannabinoids relies on the upregulation of the transcriptional co-activator p8 (12) and its target the pseudo-kinase tribbles homolog 3 (TRB3) (13).

However, the mechanisms that promote the activation of this signaling route as well as the targets downstream of TRB3 that mediate its tumor cell–killing action remain elusive. In this study we found that ER stress–evoked upregulation of the p8/TRB3 pathway induced autophagy via inhibition of the Akt/mTORC1 axis and that activation of autophagy promoted the apoptotic death of tumor cells. The uncovering of this pathway, which we believe is novel, for promoting tumor cell death may have therapeutic implications in the treatment of cancer.


California Breast Cancer Research Program (from Molecular Cancer Therapeutics): Inhibition of Breast Cancer Aggressiveness by Cannibidiol: http://www.cbcrp.org/research/PageGrant.asp?grant_id=4903


An anti-cancer agent with a low toxicity profile that can both inhibit cancer cell growth and metastasis would be extremely valuable clinically. We have discovered that cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychotropic cannabinoid constituent of the plant Cannabis sativa, can inhibit the growth, migration and invasion of aggressive breast cancer cells in culture.

Cannabinoid compounds, in general, have low toxicity profiles. Furthermore, our preliminary research demonstrated that CBD is a novel inhibitor of a protein whose activity has been closely linked to the aggressiveness of human breast cancers; called inhibitor of DNA binding-1 (Id-1). Whether CBD can inhibit the spread of metastatic breast cancer in vivo (in the body), compared to cell culture conditions, has not been determined.

However, CBD has been demonstrated to inhibit aggressive human brain cancers in vivo. Understanding the mechanisms behind the anti-cancer activity of CBD may lead to the validation of new biological targets for diagnostics and therapies for breast cancer.


Combining Cannabinoids Enhances Inhibition of Brain Cancer Cells: http://patients4medicalmarijuana.wordpress.com/2010/01/11/combining-marijuana-components-enhances-inhibitory-effects-on-brain-cancer-2/

The study was done at the California Pacific Medical Center by researchers who combined a non-psychoactive ingredient of marijauna, cannabidiol (CBD), with Δ9-tetrahyrdocannabinol (Δ9-THC), the primary psychoactive ingredient in Cannabis. The findings demonstrated the inhibitory effect of these two ingredients on brain cancer cells when used together.

“Our study not only suggests that combining these two compounds creates a synergistic effect,” says Sean McAllister, Ph.D., a scientist at CPMCRI and the lead author of the study. “but it also helps identify molecular mechanisms at work here, and that may lead to more effective treatments for glioblastoma and potentially other aggressive cancers.”


pretty interesting research, huh?



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