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The Grey Lady Turns Green

10:52 am in Uncategorized by patrick devlin

cross posted at mLaw

The federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana

On the day after the day the NYT finished its internal discussions about the failures of cannabis prohibition the Grey Lady comes out as a green lady.

We at mLaw can’t disagree with the NYT’s reasons as stated and welcome this opinion maker to the world of compassionate and sensible people who abhor unequal application of the law, though it did take time to do all of that internal discussing. The NYT themselves report in their editorial that more than 600,000 US citizens were arrested as criminals in 2012 due to the war on cannabis.

We are reminded on the occasion of the grey turning green of all the years that have passed since Jimmy Carter said to the American people nearly 40 years ago in 1977:

Marijuana continues to be an emotional and controversial issue. After four decades, efforts to discourage its use with stringent laws have still not been successful. More than 45 million Americans have tried marijuana and an estimated 11 million are regular users.

Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself; and where they are, they should be changed. Nowhere is this more clear than in the laws against possession of marijuana in private for personal use. We can, and should, continue to discourage the use of marijuana, but this can be done without defining the smoker as a criminal. States which have already removed criminal penalties for marijuana use, like Oregon and California, have not noted any significant increase in marijuana smoking. The National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse concluded five years ago that marijuana use should be decriminalized, and I believe it is time to implement those basic recommendations.

Therefore, I support legislation amending Federal law to eliminate all Federal criminal penalties for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana. This decriminalization is not legalization. It means only that the Federal penalty for possession would be reduced and a person would received a fine rather than a criminal penalty. Federal penalties for trafficking would remain in force and the states would remain free to adopt whatever laws they wish concerning the marijuana smoker.

Today the grey lady becomes green and exclaims with mLaw and all who call for an end to cannabis prohibition: “The federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana (cannabis),” and we go further with a call for amnesty for the victims of the war on cannabis.

Nothing to see here – move along…

5:33 pm in Uncategorized by patrick devlin

cross posted at mLaw

SWAT team

SWAT

When a gang of armed men smashed through the doorway of the 600 square foot home of 29 year old Jason Westcott’s partner, 22 year old Israel Reyes, Westcott acting upon directives he received from the Tampa Bay police, grabbed his weapon and was killed in a rain of semi-automatic gunfire.

Westcott had called the Tampa police earlier this year after being threatened by another citizen. As a result of Westcott’s complaint to the police; the person who had threatened Westcott was confronted by the police, but no arrests were made, and the police advised Westcott to avail himself of one of modern America’s most protected rights, not the right to privacy, not the right to a fair trial, not the right to not have the modern version of Caucasian American Christianity (that Christ himself would find objectionable) shoved into your face – but rather the ‘god given’ right to blow the crap out of anyone you feel threatened by with your concealed and carried and beloved human killing machine. The exact quote from the police to the frightened Westcott when he reported the threat was, “If anyone breaks into this house, grab your gun and shoot to kill.”

Westcott was an armed drug dealer and was treated as such by the Tampa Police. The Tampa police sent a SWAT team to bring down the drug king pin of Seminole Heights – using whatever force they deemed to be required. Westcott’s evil drug dealing existence was terminated by Tampa’s finest (whose only goal in their action was to protect the community – especially the children, from the evils of cannabis). The police recovered two dollars worth of the dangerous narcotic.

Reyes has not denied in media interviews he has given since Westcott’s killing that he and his partner occasionally sold small amounts of cannabis to friends – but he maintains that this was not their sole source of income and, as Reyes framed it, “There weren’t people coming in and out of the house every day. It wasn’t paying the bills. We were still broke.”

The police dispute that characterization, as they described the SWAT team raid to the media after the shooting.

They first said that the decision to raid the home was prompted due to complaints from neighbors. When reporters were unable to find such complaining neighbors, the Tampa police admitted that the raid was spurred by an investigation where an undercover Tampa police officer made cannabis purchases at the home. A freedom of information request was filed with the department regarding the incident, and the actual truth of the matter is that the inspiration to SWAT raid the Seminole Heights home came instead from an “confidential informant”, and in police work this could include a criminal who is trying to broker a deal after being arrested to get a lesser charge or not be prosecuted.

Tampa police spokesperson Laura McElroy told Tampa, when confronted with the cover-up the department orchestrated after the shooting that, “Each time the informant was at this house, he saw pre-packaged marijuana.” McElroy also claimed that the “confidential informer” had claimed to have seen a weapon in the home.

The chief of police in Tampa, Jane Kastor, took to the airwaves herself after the community questioned the actions of the department when it became clear that a young Tampa citizen was mowed down by officers over two dollars worth of cannabis, where she spoke a ritualistic incantation as if memorized that all TV news watchers in all American cities have heard and themselves been mesmerized by: Read the rest of this entry →

Black Law Enforcers Take a NOBLE Stand Against the War on Cannabis

5:54 pm in Uncategorized by patrick devlin

cross posted at mLaw

Police Chief John Dixon III

The Grand Rapids Press and MLive Media reported Tuesday on the annual meeting of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) where conferees leveled a unified and scathing critique of the national ‘war on cannabis’ that is driven by self-serving local police, federal and state level prohibitionist politicians, private prison owners and purveyors of bigoted pseudo medical justifications, which has, according to attendees at this year’s NOBLE conference, “ruined the lives” of countless African American youths, stood as a force against medical treatment of addiction, intensified racial inequality and served to burn bridges of understanding and cooperation between law enforcers and the communities in which they serve.

Chief John Dixon III, police chief of Petersburg, VA, speaking at a session at the NOBLE conference titled, “Decriminalizing the Black Community”, characterized the continued federal prohibition of cannabis bluntly for conferees, stating, “It’s insanity. We know,” adding that after 40 years of prohibition’s failures, “The results haven’t changed.”

Dixon said that while police often view marijuana arrests as victories that ostensibly assist the user come to grips with their use of the illegal substance, the stark fact is that, “locking people up for a dime bag, for a joint,” and putting them into the criminal justice system “pretty much ruins the rest of their lives.” “We, as law enforcement professionals, we need to really take a look at how we can decriminalize marijuana, especially user amounts,” Dixon told the gathering, “Sometimes, we’ve got to say the things that most of law enforcement isn’t going to say.”

Dixon remarked on the devastating effects that criminalized cannabis has had on communities of African Americans across the US and noted that his real-life experiences had led him to conclude that drug addiction is best spoken to as a community health matter rather than as a law enforcement program.

The director of the organization Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Major Neil Franklin, a 34 year veteran of the Maryland State Police and the Baltimore Police Department, reminded the assembled law enforcement officials of the disturbing statistics associated with America’s failed drug war, stating that between 1990 and 2005 the size of the prison population incarcerated for drug offenses grew from 415,000 Americans to over 1.9 million convicts.

Franklin also expressed his concerns that the war on cannabis is driven by private prison owners who are seeking to have their jails filled with non-violent young minority men caught up in the drug war, and supported by law enforcement agencies which have come to rely upon drug forfeiture laws to extract cash and property from arrested drug users to support their departments in a time of reduced funding of public services across the country as politicians refuse to tax the wealthy and businesses to pay their fair share in supporting America’s communities. Franklin concluded, “Marijuana is one of the biggest money makers for law enforcement agencies today.”

Franklin asked his audience pointedly, “Who do you want to (control the flow of drugs) in your neighborhood? The cartels? The 20,000 gangs we have around the country? Or do we take control of it, regulate it?” Franklin echoed the comments of Chief Dixon when he challenged the audience of law enforcers, “There’s no more powerful voice than the people in the trenches.”

The 38th annual NOBLE conference, which was open to the public and presented sessions on all aspects of law enforcement and a job fair, took place in Grand Rapids Michigan between July 13 and 17.

-this is part three of the mLaw series, “Time to Reschedule, President Laughy-boy

Note: this news-opinion piece relies heavily upon the reporting of John Agar of the Grand Rapids Press and MLive and mLaw expresses its sincere appreciation for bringing this important event to our attention.

Two More Reasons to Reschedule, President Laughy-Boy

5:48 pm in Uncategorized by patrick devlin

cross posted at mlaw

Part 1

A collection of cannabis leaves

More medical evidence demonstrates why the USA must reschedule cannabis.

Scientists in England are reporting what could be a significant breakthrough in the treatment of all forms of cancer stating that their research suggests that cannabis’ psychoactive component, known as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), could act to shrink cancerous tumors in patients stricken with the deadly disease.

Researchers from the University of East Anglia, in the UK, have found that THC appears to effect two receptors found in cancer tumors called cannabinoid receptors, helping to shrink the deadly growths.

The scientists bombarded human cancer cells in mice with doses of THC that were isolated into compounds for the research study. The compounds were found by the researchers to help shrink tumors. The scientists hope that their discovery can lead to the development of a synthetic form of the compound that can eventually provide relief for patients who have been diagnosed with cancer.

The UK researchers’ discovery supports the opinion of the US medical establishment. Although medical researchers and the community of cancer patients in the US are laboring under an embargo on researching the possible medical benefits of cannabis that is coordinated by politicians and the scientists who are beholden to them, the nation’s medical researchers from the National Institutes of Health reported in July of 2012 that the “evidence accumulated during the last decade supports that cannabinoids, the active components of Cannabis sativa and their derivatives, possess anticancer activity.”

The scientists cautioned that the cannabinol compound that has the diminishing effect on cancer tumors was specially synthesized for the experiments and was targeted directly at the cancerous tumors in specific concentrations – a medical application that cannot be achieved by cancer patients by self-administering cannabis using common methods of cannabis ingestion.

Part 2

A team of scientists from Canada, New Zealand, The United Kingdom and the United States has reported that even heavy users of cannabis have no greater chance of contracting lung cancer from their use of the substance than casual cannabis users or, remarkably, even non-cannabis users.

The study, which is to be published in the International Journal of Cancer, analyzed data from six case studies involving more than 5000 participants and found that there is “little evidence for an increased risk of lung cancer among habitual or long-term cannabis smokers.”

The review of research echoed previous medical studies, reported in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society in 2013, that revealed that “habitual use of marijuana alone does not appear to lead to significant abnormalities in lung function…Overall the risks of pulmonary complications of regular use of marijuana appear to be relatively small and far lower than those of tobacco smoking.”

The journal actually went further, as another article from 2013 posited that “cannabis smoking does not seem to increase risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or airway cancers. In fact, there is even a suggestion that low doses (of) cannabis may be protective for both conditions.”

The findings support the conjecture of many in the medical community that cannabis contains “anti-cancer properties” including the ability to inhibit the growth of lung cancer tumors, but no studies have been performed on human subjects due in part to the embargo against researching the medical benefits of cannabis’ as the substance is considered by law enforcement and the White House to be amongst the most dangerous illegal drugs, as dangerous and medically non-useful as LSD and peyote, but less safe and less medically useful than methamphetamine, cocaine and synthetic heroin.

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HillBilly on the Same Page as Prohibitionist-in-Chief

6:19 pm in Uncategorized by patrick devlin

 

Over the course of the past couple of weeks and culminating recently in an interview on Meet the Press, it appears that the woman who would be king and her first-mate to be, the HillBilly (sm), have laid out their dry-doper vision for speaking to the concerns of both Americas’ dire-medication needers and its life changing arrest-recorded-pocket-carrying weeders – “Who cares what you think”, in a manner of speaking and referencing a quip of the highly quotable GWBush.

What we have heard from the HillBilly is language that they know is crowd tested to seem mildly progressive in tenor and even hopeful (tm – Barack Obama), that cannabis may be medically useful and that the states are “laboratories of democracy”.

Thanks HillBilly, but we were already aware that the National Institutes of Health said in 2003 that cannabinoid “compounds have been shown to inhibit the growth of tumour cells in culture and animal models by modulating key cell-signalling pathways,” and then went further in 2012 when the NIH stated firmly that the properties of cannabis have “anti-cancer activities.” And, that in states such as Illinois where cannabis has been made legal for medicinal purposes, politicians agree with the medical establishment that asserts that cannabis is medicine that helps patients who are suffering from a long list of crippling and permanent medical maladies including these diseases that the HillBilly most assuredly do not have or do not want to contract or become afflicted with:

Cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency, syndrome, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, agitation of Alzheimer’s disease, cachexia/wasting syndrome, muscular dystrophy, severe fibromyalgia, spinal cord disease, including but not limited to arachnoiditis, Tarlov cysts, hydromyelia, syringomyelia, Rheumatoid arthritis, fibrous dysplasia, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury and post-concussion syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis, Arnold-Chiari malformation and Syringomyelia, Spinocerebellar Ataxia (SCA), Parkinson’s, Tourette’s, Myoclonus, Dystonia, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, RSD (Complex Regional Pain Syndromes Type I), Causalgia, CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndromes Type II), Neurofibromatosis, Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy, Sjogren’s syndrome, Lupus, Interstitial Cystitis, Myasthenia Gravis, Hydrocephalus, nail-patella syndrome, residual limb pain,” as well as “any other debilitating medical condition” recognized by Illinois Department of Public Health as being treatable with the useful and important medicine called cannabis.

Hooray for the forward march of science.

And, HillBilly (sm), we are also aware that the states can indeed be “laboratories of democracy” – as we have seen over the past decades, where obstructionist politicians who are keenly concerned with pandering to the rubes (so as to keep their jobs) have labored to reduce Americans’ access to abortion, enable citizens to carry high powered rifles into restaurants and shopping malls, forestalled equality in marriage and voted over and over to ensure that we do not follow “shria law” in places like Oklahoma and Florida. And we have seen even in the past year, in states that have legalized cannabis usage for medical and recreational purposes, state level prohibitionists and suburban township cultural custodians effectively stymie the will of the people by imposing ridiculous “home rule” restrictions on the sale of cannabis for no other reason than to make it difficult for the citizens who they represent to use the legal substance.

Hooray for small “d” democracy.

When I hear the HillBilly talking like this, it’s hard for me to say hopefully that the statements that have come from both of the soon-to-be first couple reflect a growing “evolution” on matters related to cannabis. I think rather the stance is nothing more than self-serving dry-doper kick-the-can cowardly narcissistic bullshittery.

I am certain that the cynical liars HillBilly know full well that the current dry-doper in the White House has used this exact fake-assed framing throughout his tenure (when he wasn’t actually publically making fun of those Americans who understand the medical usefulness of cannabis and are cognizant of the bigoted pogrom that is the war on cannabis in America, by using his ‘bully pulpit’ as a dais from which to be a bully), as in when Obama told a New Yorker writer earlier this year that, “it’s important for it to go forward…And the experiment that’s going to be taking place in Colorado and Washington is going to be, I think, a challenge.”

Hooray for “evolving.”

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Dopey Prohibitionist Could Accidentally Legalize Cannabis in DC

6:10 pm in Uncategorized by patrick devlin

Cross posted at mLaw

Portrait f Andy Harris

Andy Harris hates cannabis so much he may legalize it by accident.

A republican end-around to derail cannabis decriminalization in Washington DC seems to have backfired. A neo-prohibitionist lawmaker who sponsored a bill to remove funds from DC that it might have spent to carry out the decriminalization effort inadvertently created a situation where cannabis could be technically legal in our nation’s capital.

The DC decriminalization measure established that police can only give $25 dollar tickets (i.e. as opposed to arrest records) to people caught possessing small amounts of cannabis in the city. The measure to decriminalize cannabis possession was enacted by the city council because treating cannabis possession as a crime in DC resulted in the arrests of great numbers of minorities and very few white people. 9 out of 10 cannabis possession arrestees in DC were African Americans – a significant statistic due to the fact that the percentage of cannabis use across all races is similar.

The move to stymie decriminalization was made by Andy Harris, a Republican representative from Maryland, who appended a rider to a broad financial services bill that prevents DC from spending money “to enact or carry out any law, rule, or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with possession, use or distribution” of cannabis.

The prohibitionist law maker, however, failed to replace the decriminalization rule creating a circumstance where police could not ticket cannabis possessors, as this would violate the prohibition of spending monies to “carry out” the decriminalization rule, and DC could not act to re-criminalize cannabis, as doing so would also violate the provisions of the law.

The situation may lead to, as Dr. Malik Burnett the Policy Manager for the Drug Policy Alliance described it to the DCist news organization, the “de facto legalization” of cannabis possession in the district.

Although the legal catch-22 will certainly be spoken to by Congress with future legislation, as it stands today (technically) the citizens of the District of Columbia may be able to thank Rep. Andy Harris for ensuring that they can’t be profiled or arrested for holding on the hill.

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Pope says nope to dope; I say, extend the metaphor

8:03 am in Uncategorized by patrick devlin

Pope Francis - Caricature

Pope Francis – Caricature

The high priest of the Catholic branch of the Abrahamic school of religions has cast his lot amongst the neo-prohibitionists by dismissing the bold experiments of the denizens of Colorado, Washington and Uruguay to end the nightmare scourge of the prohibition of one of the gods’ most appreciable gifts, cannabis, calling the movements to legalize the biblically referred to substance “highly questionable”.

Speaking to the International Drug Enforcement Conference in Rome (a group of law enforcement officials and policy makers who are seeking guidance as they face a new world where many have realized that they have been lied to by self-interested money-swillers and bigoted jailhouse-fillers for eighty years about what is arguably the world’s oldest cultivated plant who invited the insights of the spiritual leader of the sect of Abrahamic monotheism that claims that Jesus, the barefoot wandering preacher of the first century who challenged his adherents to care for the sick and remember those who are imprisoned, is their messiah) Francis said that cannabis legalization movements “however limited, to legalize so-called ‘recreational drugs,’ are not only highly questionable from a legislative standpoint, but they fail to produce desired effects.” The pontiff continued, “The scourge of drug use continues to spread inexorably, fed by a deplorable commerce which transcends national and continental borders.” Francis told his audience of law enforcers that, “Drug addiction is an evil, and with evil there can be no yielding or compromise.”

The Pope, having ministered to addicts for years as a priest and even as he rose through the ranks to become the Provincial Superior of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) in Argentina during Argentina’s dirty war, has surely seen, as many of us have, the hollowed frame of someone we knew who has become addicted to any one of the body eating and mind destroying drugs that are truly a scourge; such as heroin and pharmaceutical opiates, crack and meth – possibly one of gods’ most appreciable evils, addiction. And, I submit, Jorge Mario, who, having had a front passenger’s seat during those Hieronymus Bosch-ian days in Argentina in the 1970′s, when liberation theologists had their babies stolen to be entrusted to ‘true Catholic families’ for proper rearing as the parents were board-walked out of flying helicopters, can be trusted here when he says that drug addiction is truly evil in his view.

It is quite clear, however, that Pope Francis has been getting his information on the addictive properties of cannabis from our president’s go-to neo-prohibitionist, Dr. Nora Volkow who is the Director of our government’s National Institute on Drug Addiction (an agency within the National Institutes of Health) who has in recent years been the public face of the president’s determined, disgraceful and misrepresentational program to continue the prohibition of cannabis. Volkow is the lead author of a recent report that blazed across the headlines of America’s media outlets reminding the ill-informed and timorous that “Marijuana is addictive!” Because these reefer madness reports failed to mention that scientists say that cannabis is as addictive as caffeine, not heroin or crack, I aver that Francis may just be, you know, taking the word of the experts because they are scientists, and addiction is evil, and any way, why would any government agency that is entrusted with protecting safety of the citizens go out of its way to ignore science and willfully pursue an agenda of supporting misinformation about cannabis, destroying lives and forestalling the comfort of the sick over the course of generations? It doesn’t make sense, might as well go with the experts.

I posit that the pope has fallen under the mesmerizing effects of propagandists, and given his participation in the two thousand year old propagation of the meme that there is only one god, he has to be aware of the insidious power of the constant drume-beat of propaganda messaging…perhaps muted but relentless. And in the war on cannabis, with it’s insinuations and conflations, misrepresentations and racist connotations, the eighty year pogrom has been truly compassion consciousness numbing.

So – in the hope of blowing that propaganda dust out of your cranium, Frankie – consider that cannabis prohibition is an addiction. An addiction that breeds crime. An addiction that feeds on human beings as sure as addiction to really addictive drugs can, in prisons and in hospices. An addiction that costs both dollars and lives. An addiction that haunts my president who fears for his legacy as his brethren are suffering and being discriminated against.

And, traversing in the metaphorical realms of the Christ who always sought to connect a message with reality to enhance its resonance; I propose, extend that christic philosophical framing – The bread is the body, the wine is the blood…and cannabis is the mind. I exclaim with you, il papa, “‘yes’ to life, ‘yes’ to love, ‘yes’ to others, ‘yes’ to education, ‘yes’ to greater job opportunities”. Now, let’s do that sacrament thang!
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Arizona Supreme Court Takes a Smart Approach to Stoned Driving

10:23 am in Uncategorized by patrick devlin

cross posted at mLaw

The Arizona Supreme Court has overturned an appeals court ruling that allowed police to arrest drivers who are legal medical cannabis users who are in no way impaired.

A trooper writing a ticket at a traffic stop.

The Arizona Supreme Court rules for sanity in the state’s drugged driving law.

The state’s lower court had agreed with state prosecutors who argued that Arizona’s zero-tolerance style law regarding driving with detectable remnants of cannabis use, some of which remain inactive in the blood stream for as long as 30 days after using the medicine, allowed police officers to arrest medical cannabis users who were not under the influence of the substance.

The court ruling establishes that, in Arizona, for a driver to be arrested for operating a vehicle under the influence of cannabis, the driver has to actually be under the influence of cannabis. Only after finding active cannabis metabolites in the blood of a driver can the police make a DUI arrest for cannabis.

The court’s decision arose from an incident where a driver was stopped by Arizona police for speeding. When the driver advised the officer that he had used cannabis the previous evening, the driver was blood tested and arrested.

The decision rendered by the court stated plainly that the officer’s interpretation of the law “leads to absurd results. Most notably, this interpretation would create criminal liability regardless of how long the metabolite remains in the driver’s system or whether it has any impairing effect.”

Hold-out Justice Ann A, Scott-Timmer, who remained unconvinced by the other justices’ clear-cut understanding of the matters involved in the case, wrote as the sole dissenter that, in her mind, arresting drivers whose blood stream contains inactive cannabis metabolites that in no way effect or impair drivers for DUI serves to “enhance detection and prosecution of drugged driving.”

The practice of arresting patients who are not under the influence of cannabis, a knowing misinterpretation of the intent of Arizona’s traffic safety laws, was viewed to be a form of harassment by police (some of whom do not personally agree with medical cannabis) due to the fact that simple common sense should indicate to an honest person that it is physically impossible for a cannabis user to be under the influence of a drug that they consumed weeks or even months earlier.

The questionable and aggressive interpretation of the state’s zero-tolerance rules was enshrined as standard operating police procedure when Arizona state prosecutors warned all medical cannabis users to simply stay off Arizona’s roads or risk being arrested for driving under the influence. Medical Cannabis advocates and patients, outraged over the suggestion that cannabis using patients could never drive again because they are administering legal medications, correctly analyzed that the prosecutors’ threat criminalized their usage of the legal medicine.

Across the US, 26 states have passed legislation allowing for cannabis to be used by patients as medicine. As it stands today the laws regarding how cannabis in the blood stream of drivers is measured to identify impaired drivers are inconsistent and contradict each other. Eight of these states have rules similar to Arizona, where the laws do not distinguish between active and inactive cannibidiol metabolites creating Catch 22 situations for patients; choose to use medicine and risk being arrested on criminal charges, or do without needed medications.

In 2013 the Supreme Court of Michigan held that medical cannabis patients have to be shown by police to actually be impaired by cannabis usage before being criminally charged with driving under the influence.

The attorney for the arrested Arizona medical cannabis patient, Michael Alarid III, told the Associated Press that the court’s the ruling on the matter and the clarity that the decision provides can “have far reaching impacts on medical marijuana patients” in that it “corrects an error in the interpretation of the law.”

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Cannabis brain study finds measurable inaccuracies

9:06 pm in Uncategorized by patrick devlin

cross posted at mLaw

Today, while tweeting our weekday twitter #cannabis headline blasts (@mLaw_news), we found an article that piqued our interest.

Brain image

More criticisms emerge of a faulty cannabis study.

Last week mLaw published a parody critique of the fawning and uncritical media reportage of a medical study of cannabis users and the pop-psychological puffery that the doctors who performed the research engaged in while engaging the press, all of which was presented with baited breath by the ‘oh so concerned for the kids’ MSM worldwide (our article focused on reports in the Washington Post and the Boston Globe).

Our parody took the form of a report on an analytic study that purported to demonstrate that scientists who receive moneys to perform studies from America’s “drug warring law enforcement/scientific agencies” have problems with emotion and decision making that were revealed in the doctor’s decisions to make claims that are not born out of their research study and are instead emotional appeals for ‘protecting our youth’ (which, obviously no one disagrees with) that are of the distinct character of those which have been made over the past 80 years by prohibitionists to help sustain the unfair and anti-science prohibition on the substance cannabis.

Today we find an analysis of the national reportage of the study and what its authors told credulous media the study demonstrates: “Does Researching Casual Marijuana Use Cause Brain Abnormalities?” wherein the author Lior Pachter, the Raymond and Beverly Sackler professor of computational biology at UC Berkeley and professor of mathematics and molecular and cellular biology with a joint appointment in computer science, in a causal effort – as opposed to a rigorous study, slammed the cannabis brain research as “quite possibly the worst paper I’ve read all year.”

Dr. Pachter breaks down his critique into 3 categories; flaws in the design of the study, flaws with regard presenting data, and that the researchers suggest correlation in their study amounts to causation.

The study’s design flaws, as analyzed by Pachter, include; the small sample size of the study from which the authors intuit the results that they reported to the press, and Pachter also questions the definition in the study of “casual user” stating that, for him an acknowledged non-cannabis user, smoking 30 joints a week (as one of the study’s participants admitted) seemed to be more than a casual cannabis user.

But beyond these criticisms, Pachter advised (as our parody analysts found) that the media statements of the researchers did not accurately describe the results of the research. One of the researchers (Dr. Hans Breiter, of Northwestern University) told the media in unequivocal terms; “People think a little recreational use shouldn’t cause a problem; if someone is doing OK with work or school. Our data directly says that is not the case.” After reviewing the research paper Pachter found that, “Breiter’s statement in the press is a lie.” Pachter states, “There is no evidence in the paper whatsoever, not even a tiny shred, that the users who were getting high once or twice a week were having any problems.”

Going deeper into the science behind the study, Pachter discovered that the findings reported by the researchers were not corrected to take into account data recorded in multiple tests. The study measured different aspects of the brains of the test subjects, including grey matter density, volume and shape. Multiple tests were taken by the researchers and brain volumes of the test subjects were estimated. Pachter says that the researchers “should have…correct(ed) the p-values computed for each type of analysis,” and not doing this led the researchers to report findings where “the extent of the testing was not properly accounted for.”

Additionally, and importantly, Pachter found that “many of the (study’s) results were not significant.” An example Pachter points to is a “volume analysis (that) showed no significant associations for any of the other four tested regions.” Pachter says that, in one of the brain volume tests, for the left nucleus accumbens, if the researchers removed the “outlier at a volume of over 800 mm3” the study would have possibly revealed no effect whatsoever (“flatten the line altogether”) in the brains of cannabis users…a theory that would be of interest to test, but, as Pachter points out in frustration, “the authors did not release any of their data.” (bold in original)

Further – and even more bizarre in an academic study, is that for some of the charts that the researchers use as examples in the study, “the authors did not report the p-values at all” or only reported them where “they were significant or not” and even in these instances “without correlation.” (italics in original)

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Fed Scientists Choose Deception, Because Young People

8:27 pm in Uncategorized by patrick devlin

cross posted at mLaw

Brain image

When will a study examine the effect of federal anti-drug money on scientist’s brains?

A recent study of the how funding sources of scientific studies impact the emotional honesty and decision making abilities of scientists revealed that researchers make fantastical presumptions, unfounded deductions and engage in deceptive conflations that are not supported by scientific evidence when speaking to the media about studies performed using monies provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Counterdrug Technology Assessment Center.

Recent research funded by America’s drug warring law enforcement/scientific agencies found that 20 casual cannabis users brains had measurable differences when reflected against a group of 20 subjects who were not casual cannabis smokers.

The scientists did not seek to discover if the differences that were measured resulted in any behavioral changes in the subjects, whether for good or for bad. The scientists did not attempt to understand if the changes measured equated in any way scientifically with addictive or criminal behaviors. The study did not attempt to qualify or quantify how the measured differences effected the study’s subjects decision making or emotional reactions or even if the measured changes were transitory or permanent – the researchers simply did not seek answers to these questions.

Analysts reviewed the statements of the doctors who performed the research to find, strikingly, that although the scientists (from well-respected medical learning institutions including Harvard, Northwestern University and the University of Massachusetts) had not sought in any way in their study to understand the implications of the different brain measurements or the possible consequences for casual cannabis users whose brains reflected the different measurements from non-cannabis users brains in their study, reported in their statements to major US media outlets that their study demonstrates the dangers of even casual cannabis use – especially in young people.

The lead researcher of the study, Dr. Jodi Gilman told the media outlet the Boston Globe that her review of the results of the study led her to conclude that America should be concerned because, as the Globe reports, though the “researchers did not study whether (the) changes (found in the tested subjects brains) were linked to corresponding declines in brain function,” we have to be worried because: young people.

Gilman, careening wildly from scientific researcher to self-appointed cultural custodian opinion maker, responding to questions about the results of her scientific” study reminded the credulous Globe reporter of : young people, when, not speaking about any matter the researchers studied, she told the Globe;

This is when you are making major decisions in your life, when you are choosing a major, starting a career, making long-lasting friendships and relationships.

Of note, the Globe reporter did not ask the doctor if her team actually investigated topics such as selecting college majors or embarking upon long-lasting relationships relating to their discovery regarding brain measurements.

Though, as the Globe points out, the study “did not address whether the brain changes are permanent”, Gilman also made the speculative claim that the changes that the study revealed are related to addictive behavior in cannabis users stating that cannabis is, for the brain, “a sort of learning process” that allows the brain “to make connections that encourage further drug use.”

Another researcher involved in the government funded experiment, Dr. Hans Breiter, told the Washington Post that the research “raises a strong challenge to the idea that casual marijuana use isn’t associated with bad consequences,” and, “people think a little recreational use shouldn’t cause a problem, if someone is doing OK with work or school, our data directly says this is not the case.”

In actuality the study says nothing of the sort as the scientists admit that they did not study, research or in any way test Breiter’s theories that the measurable differences in the brains of the test’s subjects were related to any changes in the behaviors of the subjects – whether good changes or bad changes, or if the measured changes promote, as Breiter frames it editorially as opposed to scientifically; “bad consequences.”

To his credit, it appears that the effect of receiving monies for the study on Breiter was less significant that it was on Gilman, as Breiter did actually throw a smattering of qualifiers in his answers to the Post. In a down column quote the good doctor drops this hedge to the unequivocal-ish statements he made to the Post’s reporter; “there are still many unanswered questions.”

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