Category Archives: Drugs

Brutal press release from Health Canada shows their disdain for cannabis medicines and patients in need

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By Dana Larsen
Vancouver Sun Blog Network: March 14, 2014

In a notice posted on their website earlier today, Health Canada shows why they cannot be trusted to act in the best interest of Canadians who need cannabis-based medicines.

The notice was issued on a Friday afternoon so that it would not get much media coverage. But patients are already in an uproar as it has spread through social media.

The essence of the press release is that patients who had been growing their own cannabis are now legally obligated to send Health Canada a letter confirming they have destroyed all their home-grown medicine by mixing it with kitty litter, and also killed all of their plants.

If Health Canada doesn’t get this notice, then they will call the RCMP in an effort to have patients arrested for cultivation.

The press release begins by saying “Health Canada does not endorse the use of marijuana.” What an odd statement to come from the organization which is overseeing the creation of a national medical marijuana program!

The very first sentence reminds us that Health Canada doesn’t believe in the medical use of cannabis, and that the only reason there is a medical cannabis program at all is because it was “ordered by the Courts.”

Patients across Canada registered with Health Canada in good faith, to protect themselves against arrest for cultivating their own medicine. Now they are being threatened with police action if they continue.

Many patients will have perfectly good, medical grade cannabis at home. Some grew it themselves, others paid a Designated Grower to produce it for them. Either way, Health Canada wants them to throw it away and then buy new cannabis from one of these new companies.

(Read the full article at Vancouver Sun Blog Network)

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The Terrifying Substances Prohibition Adds To Cocaine

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The Terrifying Substances People Put in Cocaine

By Kim Gosmer, as told to Morten Vammen
Vice: March 10, 2014

I specialized in cocaine research during my time at the Section for Toxicology and Drug Analysis at the Department of Forensic Medicine, Aarhus University, Denmark. The cocaine I worked with included everything from small, impure street samples to high-grade bricks straight from the source. The latter was the most interesting, as it revealed the “science” used to enhance the effect of cocaine by adding adulterants. Most people know that cocaine is often diluted with fillers like as sugars and creatine, and that these dilutions are disguised with caffeine, lidocaine, or benzocaine to mimic the stimulating and local anesthetic properties of cocaine. But only a few are aware that even more chicanery goes into what ends up in your baggie.

Levamisole is an anthelmintic drug, meaning it can be used to kill parasitic worms. The drug was previously used to deworm both humans and livestock, but since it was discovered to cause agranulocytosis (a severe depletion of white blood cells that leaves the body susceptible to infection), it’s only been used to treat worm-infested cattle. In addition to being a popular cow dewormer, it has become a very popular cocaine adulterant.

All over the world, forensic chemists report finding levamisole-tainted cocaine in increasing frequency from every level of distribution, ranging from the street to huge multi-ton shipments. This means that the adulterant is added in South America before the cocaine has been exported. So the question is, why bother diluting high-grade cocaine that costs almost nothing to produce (compared to street prices) with a compound that’s more expensive than other adulterants and diluents? The amount of levamisole found in cocaine is typically not that large, so it’s not to add weight, and it’s neither a stimulant nor a local anesthetic. But it is known that one of the metabolites of levamisole is a compound called aminorex, which has amphetamine-like stimulation properties.

Another possibility could be the fact that levamisole increases the amount of dopamine released by raising glutamate levels in the brain. Since cocaine gets most of its euphoric effect from blocking the dopamine transporter protein—which then increases the available amount of dopamine to interact with the dopamine receptors of the brain—levamisole could potentially increase the effect of cocaine through its release of dopamine. Some people even suggest that levamisole can pass cocaine purity tests, but frankly why would any coke producer care about that? They’ve already been paid by the time the drug hits the market. To me, the aminorex and dopamine releasing theories are by far the most likely explanations, simply because I haven’t heard of any other plausible theories. Essentially, levamisole enhances the rush.

In 2005, levamisole was found in almost 2 percent of the cocaine seized by the DEA. In 2007, the frequency went up to 15 percent, and by 2011 a staggering 73 percent of all cocaine seized by the DEA had been cut with levamisole. The same tendency is seen in Europe and in the samples I have analyzed myself. From 2008 to 2009, the frequency was around 66 percent, and from 2011 to 2012 it had gone up to 90 percent in Danish cocaine. The side effects from levamisole are not necessarily something the average user should worry about, since their exposure is not on a daily basis. Yet the more habitual consumer should definitely take it into consideration.

Agranulocytosis is comparable to a chemical form of AIDS, where the immune system is so severely inhibited that even small infections and scratches can develop into life-threatening diseases. Because you contract an illness from a secondary infection, it is impossible to make a list of symptoms, and agranulocytosis is therefore very difficult for a doctor to diagnose—unless they know what to look for. It’s therefore difficult to put an exact figure on the number of lives taken by this tainted cocaine. Several deaths are known to have occurred, and there have been many more cases of agranulocytosis that were discovered before it was too late.

When it comes to the chain of production, this starts at ground level (or level one), with the farmer, who is also typically responsible for the initial extraction of the coca leaves, using a mixture of gasoline and cement to make crude cocaine paste. The paste is more easily transported than large quantities of leaves, but it has a short life span, so the farmer sells it to the second-level “collector.” This guy is either a wholesale dealer operating on his own, or a collector employed by a jungle lab (level three). The cocaine paste is purified by either level two or three to increase the stability of cocaine. A common method for this is the oxidizing of the paste’s impurities with potassium permanganate, a very strong oxidant with a vivid purple color.

In an attempt to impede this part of cocaine production, the DEA began Operation Purple in 2000, the purpose of which was to monitor the world’s shipping and distribution of potassium permanganate in an attempt to prevent cocaine production. To some extent, the operation has been successful. Yet inevitably, the multibillion dollar cocaine industry came up with a way to substitute potassium permanganate, and—surprise—there’s still plenty of cocaine on the market.

At the third level, hydrochloric acid is added to the base cocaine to convert it to the corresponding salt, which is then precipitated to what we know as crystalline, high-grade cocaine. From here, the exporters and importers come into the picture as level four. If you’re lucky enough to know an importer, this is where you might get the good stuff—unless the supply came through Africa. This is a common smuggling route, as it’s easier to traffic cocaine into Europe from Africa than trafficking it directly from South America. But it’s also a place where additional dilution of the product is highly likely. The same goes for Eastern Europe. The opportunities to interfere with the purity and content of the cocaine are almost limitless and really depend on the creativity of the smugglers.

One thing is certain, though: Because there’s so much money to be made in dealing the drug, each level of the supply chain adds some sort of white powder to the cocaine to maximize profits. This usually spirals out of control when the cocaine has arrived at its destination country and is being divided into smaller portions. Everyone wants a piece of the cake, whether it’s the gang members responsible for the “primary” import or their supporters distributing the gear to the dealers.

The average purity of English cocaine is no more than 20 to 30 percent. Given the chemical diversity of available diluents and adulterants used in cocaine, it’s very difficult for a user to assess the quality of a street-level bag. Of course, if you are—or know—a chemistry student, it’s possible to do a purification test, but at that point you’ll have already spent your savings on a sketchy product, and it would take at least ten grams of the stuff to make it worthwhile.

(Read the full article at: Vice)

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Study says LSD psychotherapy can reduce anxiety

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By AlternativeFreePress.com

A double-blind, randomized, active placebo-controlled pilot study found that when administered safely in a methodologically rigorous medically supervised psychotherapeutic setting, LSD can reduce anxiety. The study was conducted to examine safety & efficacy of lysergic acid diethylamide(LSD)-assisted psychotherapy in a dozen patients with anxiety associated with life-threatening diseases.

Treatment included drug-free psychotherapy sessions supplemented by two LSD-assisted psychotherapy sessions 2 to 3 weeks apart. The study concludes: “This pilot study in participants with anxiety associated with the diagnosis of a life-threatening illness has demonstrated safety in 22 psychotherapy sessions assisted by 200µg of LSD with no drug-related severe adverse events. Group comparison results support positive trends in reduction of anxiety after two sessions of LSD-assisted psychotherapy, with effect size estimates in the range of 1.1 to 1.2. In view of promising historical studies with adjunctive LSD treatment in this population and a recent promising study using psilocybin (Grob et al., 2011), as well as the urgent need for more effective treatments of anxiety in these participants, further study is warranted into the potential of LSD-assisted psychotherapy”

The study found no acute or chronic adverse effects persisting beyond 1 day after treatment or treatment-related serious adverse events. The Discussion section notes: “In our study, using appropriate inclusion/exclusion criteria, detailed participant preparation, and a carefully supervised experience in a supportive psychotherapeutic setting, psychological side effects were mild and limited. There were no AEs often attributed to LSD such as prolonged anxiety (‘‘bad trip’’) or lasting psychotic or perceptional disorders (flashbacks). Congruent with studies in the past (Hintzen and Passie, 2010), the few mild somatic effects of LSD such as changes in heart rate and blood pressure were of no clinical significance.”

The LSD was supplied by Lipomed. Capsules were prepared by Bichsel Laboratories. Quality control, randomization, and blinding were performed by R. Brenneisen, PhD, at the Department of Clinical Research, University of Bern, Switzerland. Doses consisted of 200µg or a 20µg active placebo.

Sources for this article:

1. Safety and Efficacy of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide-Assisted Psychotherapy for Anxiety Associated With Life-threatening Diseases http://journals.lww.com/jonmd/Documents/90000000.0-00001.pdf

Written by Alternative Free Press
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Study says LSD psychotherapy can reduce anxiety by AlternativeFreePress.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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U.S. Government & Mexican Cartel Partners in Drug Plot?

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By Clarence Walker
Gangsters Inc.: February 25, 2014

The recent capture in Mexico of Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the world’s richest, most dangerous and powerful drug lord labeled by U.S. Government as Public Enemy Number 1. Guzman’s high-profile arrest has triggered a worldwide news media frenzy as government authorities here in the U.S. and abroad work together to take down the remaining Mexico’s Cartel leaders and their henchmen. Responsible for thousands of drug-related murders and once considered the most elusive wanted outlaw behind Osama bin Laden, Joaquin Guzman is the biggest story in the drug world.

But there is another story with links to Guzman’s empire that is expected to take center stage in trial later this year in Chicago involving one of Guzman’s top operatives, a trial that will bear Guzman’s bloody hands in the dope trade, and expose him as one of the world’s worst turncoats to enter the narcotic game.

Recent allegations circulating in the global media allege that Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and other federal agents had forged a secret alliance with top level Sinaloa drug cartel members by permitting the narco gangsters to traffic drugs into the U.S., and in a reverse sting, the DEA is accused of allegedly allowing the dealers to ship U.S. made weapons into Mexico without facing prosecution. All this work was done on behalf of the U.S. government to achieve the government’s grand mission to play one cartel off another to destroy feuding narcotic organizations.

These allegations have triggered a firestorm of controversy and conspiracy theories in the Mexican nation and throughout the United States as well.

Informants from the Sinaloa Cartel who once worked for the federal government by snitching off on other cartel groups now feel betrayed by arguing the U.S. Government reneged on a promise to grant the Sinaloa immunity from prosecution as long as they provided secret information on their rivals.

“I was an informant for U.S. Federal Agents, and the agents cut a deal with (me), and members of the Sinaloa Cartel that allowed us to traffic tons of narcotics into the U.S., and to traffic illegal guns across the Mexico-U.S. Border without fear of prosecution under an immunity agreement,” said Vicente Zambada-Niebla in a bombshell court filing in federal court in Chicago Illinois.

As the logistical coordinator for the Sinaloa, the sweeping indictment against Zambada-Niebla and 36 co-defendants, allege that the traffickers conspired to import tons of cocaine and “multi-kilo” quantities of cocaine, heroin and marijuana into Chicago Illinois and throughout other U.S. cities between 2005 and 2008. Zambada (right) coordinated the drug loads by using trains, ships, Boeing 747 cargo jets and even submarines.

Extradited from Mexico to Illinois in February 2010 where he is confined in maximum security lockup under 24-hour security awaiting trial, Zambada-Niebla made quick attempts to get off the hook by filing multiple motions in late 2011 to present a “Public Authority” Defense.”

According to federal statue, to mount a Public Authority Defense, the court must find the defendant, “knowingly committed criminal acts but did so in reasonable reliance upon a grant of authority from a government official who had actual authority as opposed to merely authority.”

The major distinction between “actual authority” and “merely authority” boils down to this: If DEA or FBI agents told Zambada-Niebla that he could traffic drugs into the U.S. without facing arrest by snitching on other cartel groups this “merely authority”, as opposed to the higher echelon of “actual authority”, which such agreements are similar to immunity, must first be approved by Justice Department officials.

Federal prosecutors fired back. They suggested during court hearings on the matter that “even if Zambada-Niebla was an informant that he was not authorized to commit the drug crimes as alleged in the indictment.”

The almighty Feds added that Zambada should not be allowed to use the Public Authority Defense unless he can provide the names of agents or officials who approved his illegal activities.

Here’s where things get sticky. Most of the Sinaloa Cartel communications with the DEA were through the Sinaloa’s lawyer identified as Humberto-Loya Castro, according to Zambada Niebla.

Zambada-Niebla is the son of Ismael Zambada-Garcia who is second in charge of the Sinaloa cartel behind top boss Jose “El Chapo” Guzman (right). Sinaloa lawyer Humberto Loya-Castro became a DEA informant in 1995, after being indicted on cocaine conspiracy charges along with top boss Joaquin Guzman. These ongoing controversial stories follow years of suspicion that Guzman who controls the Sinaloa has only succeeded in eluding capture because of his fellow members cooperating with U.S. federal agents, and Mexico authorities.

Guzman is well known for using government authorities against his enemies like he did against rivals within his own organizations identified as Alfredo Beltran and Ignacio “El Nacho” Villareal.

Newspaper Story Controversy and Past Government Corruption

According to a story in the January issue of El Universal, Mexico’s leading newspaper, the team writers reported in an investigative expose that after interviewing numerous sources and reading voluminous court records documented by Mexico and the U.S., that the American Feds worked closely with the Sinaloa Cartel from 2000 to 2012—as part of a “divide and conquer” strategy to eliminate dope rivals competing against the Sinaloa in exchange for the Sinaloa players to provide the government with damaging information on targeted rivals like the blood thirsty Zetas and the La Familia groups.

To prove the government engaged in previous similar practices, court filings by Zambada-Niebla’s attorneys also pointed out: “The United States Government and its various agencies have a long history of providing benefits, permission and immunity to criminals and their organizations to commit crimes, including murder, in return for receiving information against other criminals,” the court motion said.

Attorneys compared Zambada-Niebla’s case with another high-profile case: “Perhaps no better example, is the celebrated case of Whitey Bulger, the Boston Irish crime boss and murderer, who, along with other group members of criminal organizations were given “Carte Blanche” authority by the FBI to commit murders to help the FBI take down the Italian Mafia in the New England area.”

Subsequently Whitey Bulger was convicted of several murders, drug trafficking, racketeering and obstruction of justice.

Government complicity in the drug trade is not new.

During the early 1990’s, the American-based CIA and cabinet members of then-President Ronald Reagan participated in the Iran-Contra scandal by allowing cocaine to be sold throughout America’s ghettos.

To fund the Contra Rebels war against Nicaragua’s socialist government the CIA teamed with Colombian Cartels to traffic drugs into Los Angeles California and throughout the nation, with the profits shipped back to Central America.
Utilizing every trick in the bag to get off the hook, Zambada Niebla unloaded another bombshell by disclosing another secret the Sinaloa had with the government.

He insisted that himself and cartel allies were in cahoots with the Fast and Furious investigation orchestrated by the ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearm), a gun-walk program responsible for agents allowing informants to traffic into Mexico a cache of American purchased weapons in efforts to build federal weapons charges against targeted cartel organizations.

Zambada’s court depositions further stated that a second part of the immunity agreement,” the ATF armed the Sinaloans with several high-caliber assault rifles to use the firepower to destroy rival drug dealers.”

Led by Senator Darrell Issa (R-Calif), Fast and Furious later became the target of critical Senate hearings to determine which members of the Justice Department authorized the gun-walk operation that reeled in only 34 gun traffickers.

Referring to ATF’s Fast and Furious investigation, Zambada’s attorneys, George Panzer and George Santiangelo further argued in court that if the government will allow guns to be transported across the Mexico-U.S. Border and tried to cover-up the botched scheme then the government is capable of allowing the Sinaloa Cartel to ship illegal drugs into the United States. ATF lost track of approximately 1,700 guns as part of the ill-fated operation including the recovery of an AK-47 used by a Mexican National in December 2010, to murder Brian Terry, a Customs-Border Protection Agent.

Aside from his drug immunity claim, Zambada’s version about his role in “Fast and Furious” raise suspicion for a number of reasons, the most obvious being is that Zambada was arrested in March 2009–more than six months before ATF initiated Fast and Furious.

Despite this red flag, it didn’t stop news blogs and conservative online media from reporting Zambada’s claim about his part in the gun-walk program. Nor has it stopped El Universal stories from inferring that DEA was guilty of granting immunity to the Sinaloa cartel, but once the government used the members to achieve their goal they reneged on the immunity deal.

Even without a written immunity agreement, crack lawyers for Zambada-Niebla went a step further by invoking the Classified Information Procedure Act (CIPA). CIPA is a law focused on showing the government is hiding evidence to exonerate a defendant. No hearing has been set on this matter.

Following El Universal’s big scoop story, many news agencies scrambled to write a titillating spin to vilify the government as conspirators with drug cartels. What sounded like a great story but either the reporting team honestly forgot or downplayed the significant decision of Illinois Federal Judge Ruben Castillo who has already ruled in 2012, that Zambada’s evidence heard in court failed to prove the government granted him immunity from prosecution.

So why did the El Universal story slant its piece to infer that newly released U.S. Government documents suggested a conspiracy between the Sinaloa Cartel and DEA agents simply because DEA admitted meeting with Zambada-Niebla and Sinaloa lawyer Humberto Loya-Castro to discuss information that Zambada wanted to give up on other narco traffickers.

Here are excerpts of the release of U.S. Government documents which firmly refute Zambada’s immunity claims:

(1) DEA agents and Justice Department officials met with Sinaloa and Gulf Cartel top-level members to gather information on other rivals.

(2) During a series of meetings U.S. Officials succeeded in establishing a network of cartel informants.

(3) DEA passed the obtained information from the cooperating cartels to Mexican authorities who used the intelligence to execute narcotic raids.

(4) Mexican authorities never revealed to Mexican media exactly where the information came from that took down high-level dealers and killer squads.

The Mexican government emphasized in their written court response that meeting with cartel members to get information only represents normal intelligence gathering procedure.

(Read the full report at Gangsters Inc.)

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The Entrapment of Jesse Snodgrass

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He was a friendless high school loner struggling with autism. So why did an undercover cop target him as a drug dealer?
By Sabrina Rubin Erdely
Rolling Stone: February 26, 2014

Jesse Snodgrass plodded around yet another stucco corner, searching for Room 254 in time for the second-period bell, only to find he was lost yet again. Jesse felt a familiar surge of panic. He was new to Chaparral High School and still hadn’t figured out how to navigate the sprawling Southern California campus with its outdoor maze of identical courtyards studded with baby palm trees. Gripping his backpack straps, the 17-year-old took some deep breaths. Gliding all around him were his new peers, chatting as they walked in slouchy pairs and in packs. Many of their mouths were turned up, baring teeth, which Jesse recognized as smiles, a signal that they were happy. Once he regained his composure, he followed the spray-painted Chaparral Puma paw prints on the ground, his gait stiff and soldierly, and prayed that his classroom would materialize. He was already prepared to declare his third day of school a disaster.

At last, Jesse found his art class, where students were milling about in the final moments before the bell. He had resigned himself to maintaining a dignified silence when a slightly stocky kid with light-brown hair ambled over and said, “Hi.”

“Hi,” Jesse answered cautiously. Nearly six feet tall, Jesse glanced down to scan the kid’s heart-shaped face, and seeing the corners of his mouth were turned up, Jesse relaxed a bit. The kid introduced himself as Daniel Briggs. Daniel told Jesse that he, too, was new to Chaparral – he’d just moved from Redlands, an hour away, to the suburb of Temecula – and, like Jesse, who’d recently relocated from the other side of town, was starting his senior year.

Jesse squinted and took a long moment to mull over Daniel’s words. Meanwhile, Daniel sized up Jesse, taking in his muscular build and clenched jaw that topped off Jesse’s skater-tough look: Metal Mulisha T-shirt, calf-length Dickies, buzz-cut hair and a stiff-brimmed baseball hat. A classic suburban thug. Lowering his voice, Daniel asked if Jesse knew where he might be able to get some weed.

“Yeah, man, I can get you some,” Jesse answered in his slow monotone, every word stretched out and articulated with odd precision. Daniel asked for his phone number, and Jesse obliged, his insides roiling with both triumph and anxiety. On one hand, Jesse could hardly believe his good fortune: His conversation with Daniel would stand as the only meaningful interaction he’d have with another kid all day. On the other hand, Jesse had no idea where to get marijuana. All Jesse knew in August 2012 was that he had somehow made a friend.

Though it smacks of suburban myth or TV make­believe, undercover drug stings occur in high schools with surprising frequency, with self-consciously dopey names like “Operation D-Minus” and, naturally, “Operation Jump Street.” They’re elaborate stings in which adult undercover officers go to great lengths to pass as authentic teens: turning in homework, enduring detention, attending house parties and using current slang, having Googled the terms beforehand to ensure their correctness. In Tennessee last year, a 22-year-old policewoman emerging from 10 months undercover credited her mom’s job as an acting coach as key to her performance as a drug-seeking­ student, which was convincing enough to have 14 people arrested. Other operations go even further to establish veracity, like a San Diego-area sting last year that practically elevated policing to performance art, in which three undercover deputies had “parents” who attended back-to-school nights; announcing the first of the sting’s 19 arrests, Sheriff Bill Gore boasted this method of snaring teens was “almost too easy.”

The practice was first pioneered in 1974 by the LAPD, which soon staged annual undercover busts that most years arrested scores of high schoolers; by the Eighties, it had spread as a favored strategy in the War on Drugs. Communities loved it: Each bust generated headlines and reassured citizens that police were proactively combating drugs. Cops loved the stings, too, which not only served as a major morale boost but could also be lucrative. “Any increase in narcotics arrests is good for police departments. It’s all about numbers,” says former LAPD Deputy Chief Stephen Downing, who now works with the advocacy group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and views these operations with scorn. “This is not about public safety – the public is no safer, and the school grounds are no safer. The more arrests you have, the more funding you can get through federal grants and overtime.”

Yet despite the busts’ popularity, their inner workings were shrouded in secrecy, with few details publicly released about their tactics and overall effectiveness. And as time went on, officers and school administrators became alarmed by the results they saw: large numbers of kids arrested for small quantities of drugs – and who, due to “zero tolerance” policies, were usually expelled from school. No studies appear to exist on the efficacy of high school drug stings, but the data on undercover operations in general isn’t encouraging. A 2007 Department of Justice-funded meta-analysis slammed the practice of police sting operations, finding that they reduce crime for a limited time – three months to a year – if at all. “At best, they are a stopgap measure,” and at worst, an expensive waste of police resources, which “may prevent the use of other, more effective problem­solving techniques.” The federal study concludes that sting operations reap little more than one consistent benefit: “favorable publicity” for police.

To be sure, public-relations speed bumps have appeared now and again, like when a female LAPD narc allegedly romanced a high school football player, which surfaced via her steamy love letters, or when a developmentally disabled child was swept up in another L.A. bust after selling $9 worth of marijuana to an undercover. But until now, no department seems to have gone so far as to lay a trap for an autistic kid.

(Article continues at Rolling Stone)

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Study shows THC blood tests can’t test impairment

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By AlternativeFreePress.com

Per se laws criminalize blood content rather than impaired driving. This is systemic chemical bigotry and these laws are ineffective at detecting or deterring impairment.

A new study examines the plasma and blood levels of both occasional and frequent cannabis users, before and after smoking cannabis: “Frequent and occasional smokers resided on a closed research unit and smoked one 6.8% THC cannabis cigarette ad libitum. Blood and plasma cannabinoids were quantified on admission (approximately 19 h before), 1 h before, and up to 15 times (0.5–30 h) after smoking.”

“Cannabinoid blood and plasma concentrations were significantly higher in frequent smokers compared with occasional smokers at most time points for THC and 11-OH-THC and at all time points for THCCOOH and THCCOO-glucuronide.” Both the participants’ baseline concentration levels & how much THC was in their blood when the study began did not change the outcome. The study found that the median time blood THC levels over 5 ng/ml were detectable was 3.5 hours in frequent smokers (ranging from 1.1 – 30 hours), and 1 hour in most occasional smokers (ranging from 0 – 2.1 hours). Particularly interesting is that 2 occasional smokers did not test over 5 ng/ml at all.

These results highlight how occasional cannabis users could pass a blood test even if impaired while a frequent cannabis user would fail even when not impaired at all. There is a dramatic difference in the amount of time THC remains in the blood of users that is not based on the amount of cannabis consumed, but rather on the frequency of cannabis use. Because THC remains in frequent users blood much longer than in those who consume cannabis occasionally, frequent cannabis users are significantly more likely to be charged with impaired driving despite their lower chance of impairment due to higher tolerance and experience. A first time user with no experience or tolerance would very likely pass a roadside blood test while being the most likely users to feel impaired.

The study concludes; “Cannabis smoking history plays a major role in cannabinoid detection. These differences may impact clinical and impaired driving drug detection.”

Testing drivers blood for ng/ml of THC is stupid policy which does not determine if a driver is impaired. On top of the policy being ineffective at determining impairment, decades of studies show that cannabis does not typically impair driving to begin with.

Cannabis users are safe drivers

In 1983 a study by the US National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) tested drivers on simulators, and concluded that the only statistically significant effect associated with marijuana use was slower driving. A NHTSA study in 1992 found that marijuana is rarely involved in driving accidents, except when combined with alcohol, concluding, “the THC-only drivers had an [accident] responsibility rate below that of the drug free drivers. While the difference was not statistically significant, there was no indication that cannabis by itself was a cause of fatal crashes.” A separate NHTSA study from1993 tested Dutch drivers high on THC on real Dutch roads, concluding, “THC’s adverse effects on driving performance appear relatively small.” In 1998 a study by the University of Adelaide and Transport South Australia analyzed blood samples from 2,500 accidents, and found that drivers with cannabis in their system were less likely to cause accidents than those without. A University of Toronto study from 1999 found that cannabis users typically refrained from passing cars and drove at a more consistent speed than sober drivers.

More recently, studies have found that fatal car accidents are reduced by 9% when medicinal marijuana is legalized. The rate of fatal crashes where a driver has consumed alcohol drops by 12% and crashes involving high levels of alcohol fall by 14%.

Sources for this article:
1. Phase I and II Cannabinoid Disposition in Blood and Plasma of Occasional and Frequent Smokers Following Controlled Smoked Cannabis. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24563491?report=abstract

2. Stoned Drivers Are Safe Drivers http://www.cannabisculture.com/articles/1775.html

3. Why Medical Marijuana Laws Reduce Traffic Deaths http://healthland.time.com/2011/12/02/why-medical-marijuana-laws-reduce-traffic-deaths/

RELATED : Since Marijuana Legalization Highway Fatalities in Colorado are at Near Historic Lows

Written by Alternative Free Press
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Study shows THC blood tests can’t test impairment by AlternativeFreePress.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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Canada’s new medical marijuana system will lead to widespread fraud

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New medical marijuana system will lead to widespread fraud

By Dana Larsen
Sun Blog Network: February 22, 2014

There are many problems with the new medical marijuana program being initiated by the Conservative government. Activists and media reports have already highlighted some of the biggest ones: eliminating home cultivation, potentially high prices, issues around shipping, and a lack of access to non-smoked extracts and concentrates.

But there is another big problem which has not yet received any public comment: the likelihood of widespread fraud by people pretending to have a prescription to avoid possession charges.

Difficult to verify

Under the current system, Health Canada maintains a central database of all medical cannabis users in Canada. If a police officer comes across someone in possession of cannabis, that person can show the officer his Health Canada paperwork, and the officer can then call Health Canada to verify it.

Under the new system coming into force on April 1, there is no central database of medical cannabis users. Each Licensed Producer has a list of patients who they service, but there is no standardized form or card to verify that a patient is allowed to possess cannabis.

Under these new rules, a medical cannabis user is supposed to keep their cannabis in the packaging in which it was received. The label on their prescription bottle is their proof they have a prescription and are legally allowed to possess cannabis.

I have seen the prescription bottles from a few different companies, and each has different labeling and a different look. The containers vary widely in shape, size and format of their labels.

I recently had the chance to examine cannabis and packaging provided by Peace Naturals, one of the seven companies currently licensed to provide medicinal cannabis. The patient had only had the packages for a short time, but the ink on the labels were already faded and hard to read. With a few more weeks of handling and smudges, most of the key information would be illegible.

I expect all sorts of fake prescription containers and labels to be created once the program gets going. This will become an easy way for anyone to avoid being bothered or arrested by police.

Prescription bottle for everyone!

What’s a police officer to do? When they come across a person who claims to have a prescription for cannabis and shows them a labeled prescription bottle, how will officers verify it?

These companies all have phone numbers listed on the label which the cops can call to verify a patient’s membership, but they will only be answering the phone during business hours. A police officer trying to verify a prescription at night, or on a weekend, will be out of luck.

Some of these companies are issuing ID cards for their patients, but again, each one will look different. How will an officer know if the card is legitimate or a fake?

More importantly, what is to stop someone from printing their own prescription labels and ID cards, and putting down the phone number of a friend instead of the actual company number? Or a recorded message that asks police to leave relevant info so they will get a call back? Entrepreneurs with a label-maker and voice mail could run a service providing fake prescription bottles and phone verification service.

Impossible to enforce

With dozens of different companies providing medical cannabis, each with different labels and packaging, it will be impossible for an officer to tell at a glance if the cannabis in question is really from a Licensed Producer.

(read the rest of the article on Vancouver Sun Blog Network)

Source: http://blogs.vancouversun.com/2014/02/22/new-medical-marijuana-system-will-lead-to-widespread-fraud/

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B.C judge rules mandatory drug sentences unconstitutional

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By Jeremy Nuttall
24 hours Vancouver: February 19, 2014

A B.C. provincial court judge ruled mandatory minimum sentences for drug convictions are unconstitutional and instead handed down a 191-day sentence on top of time served to an offender Wednesday.

The controversial one-year minimum sentences were part of 2012’s federal Safe Streets and Communities Act.

But in January, Judge Joseph Galati gave Crown lawyers time to come up with an argument to prove the legislation wasn’t unconstitutional after a low-level drug dealer’s lawyer applied to have the minimums ruled they were.

Crown attorneys were unable to convince the judge Wednesday and the 191-day sentence for Joseph Lloyd was handed down.

Lloyd was convicted on Sept. 13, 2013, for possession of small amounts of cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin.

He has a “lengthy string of criminal convictions over a relatively short period of time,” the judge said.

Lloyd’s lawyer David Fai said the judge found the minimum sentences were not a reasonable limit to rights infringements in a free and democratic society.

“The crime rate is down to the 1972 levels, it’s been steadily dropping since 1991 — there’s no justification for bringing in this draconian legislation except political,” Fai said. “This appeals to the Conservatives’ base — they can say they’re tough on crime.”

Fai said he expects the Crown to appeal the ruling. If an appeal is successful his client could end up having to finish the full-year sentence, even if his 191-day sentence has already been completed.

“I assume the Crown is going to file an appeal because of the national implications this could have,” he said.

In November, an Ontario judge struck down a similar sentence for a weapons offence, but B.C. is the first province to have the drug offence sentences quashed.

(read the full report at The Sun)

Source: http://www.torontosun.com/2014/02/19/bc-judge-rules-mandatory-drug-sentences-unconstitutional

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Russell Brand: Philip Seymour Hoffman is another victim of extremely stupid drug laws

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In Hoffman’s domestic or sex life there is no undiscovered riddle – the man was a drug addict and, thanks to our drug laws, his death inevitable

By Russell Brand
February 6. 2014: The Guardian

Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death was not on the bill.

If it’d been the sacrifice of Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber, that we are invited to anticipate daily, we could delight in the Faustian justice of the righteous dispatch of a fast-living, sequin-spattered denizen of eMpTyV. We are tacitly instructed to await their demise with necrophilic sanctimony. When the end comes, they screech on Fox and TMZ, it will be deserved. The Mail provokes indignation, luridly baiting us with the sidebar that scrolls from the headline down to hell.

But Philip Seymour Hoffman? A middle-aged man, a credible and decorated actor, the industrious and unglamorous artisan of Broadway and serious cinema? The disease of addiction recognises none of these distinctions. Whilst routinely described as tragic, Hoffman’s death is insufficiently sad to be left un-supplemented in the mandatory posthumous scramble for salacious garnish; we will now be subjected to mourn-ography posing as analysis. I can assure you that there is no as yet undiscovered riddle in his domestic life or sex life, the man was a drug addict and his death inevitable.

A troubling component of this sad loss is the complete absence of hedonism. Like a lot of drug addicts, probably most, who “go over”, Hoffman was alone when he died. This is an inescapably bleak circumstance. When we reflect on Bieber’s Louis Vuitton embossed, Lamborghini cortege it is easy to equate addiction with indulgence and immorality. The great actor dying alone denies us this required narrative prang.

The reason I am so non-judgmental of Hoffman or Bieber and so condemnatory of the pop cultural tinsel that adorns the reporting around them is that I am a drug addict in recovery, so like any drug addict I know exactly how Hoffman felt when he “went back out”. In spite of his life seeming superficially great, in spite of all the praise and accolades, in spite of all the loving friends and family, there is a predominant voice in the mind of an addict that supersedes all reason and that voice wants you dead. This voice is the unrelenting echo of an unfulfillable void.

Addiction is a mental illness around which there is a great deal of confusion, which is hugely exacerbated by the laws that criminalise drug addicts.

If drugs are illegal people who use drugs are criminals. We have set our moral compass on this erroneous premise, and we have strayed so far off course that the landscape we now inhabit provides us with no solutions and greatly increases the problem.

This is an important moment in history; we know that prohibition does not work. We know that the people who devise drug laws are out of touch and have no idea how to reach a solution. Do they even have the inclination? The fact is their methods are so gallingly ineffective that it is difficult not to deduce that they are deliberately creating the worst imaginable circumstances to maximise the harm caused by substance misuse.

People are going to use drugs; no self-respecting drug addict is even remotely deterred by prohibition. What prohibition achieves is an unregulated, criminal-controlled, sprawling, global mob-economy, where drug users, their families and society at large are all exposed to the worst conceivable version of this regrettably unavoidable problem.

Countries like Portugal and Switzerland that have introduced progressive and tolerant drug laws have seen crime plummet and drug-related deaths significantly reduced. We know this. We know this system doesn’t work – and yet we prop it up with ignorance and indifference. Why? Wisdom is acting on knowledge. Now we are aware that our drug laws aren’t working and that alternatives are yielding positive results, why are we not acting? Tradition? Prejudice? Extreme stupidity? The answer is all three. Change is hard, apathy is easy, tradition is the narcotic of our rulers. The people who are most severely affected by drug prohibition are dispensable, politically irrelevant people. Poor people. Addiction affects all of us but the poorest pay the biggest price.

(read the full article at The Guardian)

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/06/russell-brand-philip-seymour-hoffman-drug-laws

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Steelers Ryan Clark: “NFL Players Use Marijuana, Guys On My Team Smoke”

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark is making headlines after coming out and saying NFL players are using marijuana, including some of his teammates.

Clark made the announcement on ESPN’s “First Take” Thursday morning.

In the interview, Clark said he knows guys on the Steelers who “smoke.”

He told ESPN, “A lot of it is stress relief. A lot of it is pain and medication. Guys feel like, ‘If I can do this, it keeps me away from maybe Vicodin, it keeps me away from pain prescription drugs and things that guys get addicted to.’ Guys look at this as a more natural way to heal themselves, to stress relieve and also to medicate themselves for pain. Guys are still going to do it.”

(read the full report at CBS Pittsburgh)

Source: http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2014/02/06/steelers-ryan-clark-nfl-players-use-marijuana-guys-on-my-team-smoke/

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