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         Drug War Archives    War on Drugs [Home]
Canada plans pilot marijuana project
The Associated Press, March 21, 2004
Canada plans to make government-certified marijuana available in local pharmacies, a move that would make it only the second country in the world to allow the direct sale of medical marijuana. Officials are organizing a pilot project in the British Columbia province modeled on a year-old program in the Netherlands. The Canadian government also has suggested it may decriminalize marijuana, a move criticized by U.S. drug and border agencies, which threaten more intrusive searches of cross-border travelers.
. . . Read more!

posted by An Old Curmudgeon 11:36 AM

The Hallucinogenic Way of Dying
(Judity Lewis, LA Weekly, March 19-25, 2004)
Can psilocybin reduce death anxiety in end-stage cancer patients? . . . Unlike so many other experiments in radical cancer treatment, Grob’s does not offer a cure; he merely hopes to find that psilocybin, the most potent of the many compounds in psychedelic mushrooms, ameliorates a dying person’s fear of death. . . . Participants in the study must have cancer of sufficient severity, but they must also be free of most other medical problems: high blood pressure, anemia, heart disease or liver dysfunction, brain tumors or metastases to the brain, kidney disease. . . . Psilocybin is relatively safe according to most research, you’d have to ingest your own body weight in “magic mushrooms” to poison yourself. But it’s still a Schedule I drug, regarded by the federal authorities as having a high potential for abuse and no medical application. “I had to get the FDA, the DEA, the IRB, the California Resident Advisory Panel and our research committee here [at Harbor-UCLA] onboard,” says Grob, who heads up the child-psychiatry division at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. “Along the way, the criteria we had written initially got modified and tightened.” . . . According to Dr. Charles Schuster, a former director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse, now head of Wayne State University’s Substance Abuse Clinical Research Division, the federal government sometimes objects to such studies out of concern not only for the patients but for the overall mood of the country. “If psilocybin is shown to have some medical value,” he says, “that might weaken the government’s argument against it as a drug of abuse. I understand their concerns and share them, but if psilocybin or MDMA or any of these agents were to prove to have a unique therapeutic value for something we can’t treat well currently, ethically we have a responsibility to pursue them.” . . . Grob hopes to find that, in addition to reducing psychological distress associated with impending death, psilocybin is the rare substance that can safely reduce a cancer sufferer’s need for pain medication — not because it blunts pain, as morphine does, but because it “changes one’s perception of pain.” . . . In 1962, a physician and minister named Walter Pahnke conducted a double-blind study with 20 Protestant divinity students, who were administered capsules containing either 30 mg of psilocybin or a placebo just before Good Friday services at Boston’s Marsh Chapel. Among them was the Rev. Mike Young, now a minister at the First Unitarian Church of Honolulu, who later reported having entered a mystical state in which he lost his fear of death. As he understands it now, the drug works because “human beings define their identities by this illusory thing called ego, which is constructed of memory and experience and determines who we think we are.” In a controlled setting under the influence of psilocybin, “you transcend that ego. And to the person who no longer identifies with that ‘who am I,’ the loss of that self is no longer as threatening as it was before.” The psilocybin trip was, Young recalls, “a pretty profound experience.”

[See www.canceranxietystudy.org for details about this study.]
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 6:05 PM

Welcome first move on ganja
(Jamaica Observer, February 27, 2004)
The parliamentary committee that was given the job of reviewing the report of the National Commission on Ganja has recommended the acceptance of its proposal that the personal use of small amounts of marijuana be decriminalised. . . . This matter will now go the full House for debate and most likely a conscience vote before there is any amendment to the Dangerous Drugs Act, to reflect this change. . . . there were, and are, many who warned against this limited measure of removing the use of small amounts of ganja in private as a criminal offence. For some the issue is moral, but we suspect that for most the greater concern is for the possibility of international repercussions, especially from the United States, if it is perceived that Jamaica has "gone soft" on drugs. . . . The fact, though, is that to maintain the laws on ganja use as they currently are, would be to keep legislation out of step with popular sentiment and the society's instinct for justice and fair play. . . . The point is that Jamaicans, of all social classes, hardly view marijuana as a "drug" in the way they perceive cocaine or some other narcotic. Small amounts of ganja are culturally acceptable, although most people would, if not morally outraged, would be questioning of the commercial production and export of the drug, especially if such action had the potential to hurt Jamaica. . . . The proposed change in the legislation will, hopefully, address a real imbalance in the application of the law in Jamaica. It is mainly the poor and urban youth who are subject to prosecution and penalties in the legal system for the use of ganja. It is they, who mostly gain criminal records. The police are more likely to be lenient towards middle class youth who, in any event, are more likely to use drugs in the privacy of their homes and beyond the eyes of the law. Which, of course, raises two important issues with regard to the proposed amendment to the ganja law. . . . The first of these has to do with the definition of "small quantities" of ganja for people's private and personal use. There has to be consistency in the application of the law, or you could have the police harassing someone with perhaps a pack of ganja cigarettes as opposed to a single spliff. . . . The matter will have to do with defining smoking in private. The truth is that if this is not carefully handled it could end up victimising the existing victims. Many poor urban youth hardly consider hanging on the street corner in their communities as being an overly public endeavour. Indeed, given the living conditions of many, being on the street is important social space. To put in bluntly, there is hardly anything private and personal about the tenement or a shack on the gully bank. . . . These issues, therefore, have to be seriously considered and dealt with creatively.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 2:44 PM

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