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April 30, 2005

GUEST COLUMN: Pot use could cut block party problems

Posted by Gary Storck
April 30, 2005

Newshawk: Madison NORML http://madisonnorml.org/
Source: Wisconsin State Journal
Pubdate: 30 April 2005
Author: Gary Storck


By Gary Storck

Susan Lampert Smith's column on Thursday, "Mifflin block party may get a visitor to remember," about the young man who fell off a Mifflin Street balcony after having too much to drink was illuminating. One of the things that struck me most was the young man's mother's comments about the patient population at the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Center: "Half the people are in there because of alcohol-related accidents. Maybe three-fourths of them, if you count accidents where someone else was drinking and driving."

Many of these accidents are preventable. Everyone reacts differently to the effects of alcohol, and many people cannot tolerate it. In the early days of the Mifflin Street block parties, the use of marijuana was more prevalent than alcohol. Between the pot brownies and numerous joints, the party was more peaceful and safer. Marijuana prohibition forces people to turn to more harmful substances like alcohol, oxycontin, cocaine and meth, causing untold harms to the individual and society.

Twenty-eight years ago Madison voters passed Ordinance 23.20, legalizing both private possession and medical use of marijuana in the city. The daily torrent of alcohol related mayhem points to the need for harm reduction, like tolerating possession and sales of marijuana in coffeeshops, as the Netherlands has done since 1976.

Last November, Oakland California voters, by a two to one margin, passed Measure Z, directing city officials to deprioritize marijuana possession, cultivation and sales offenses and lobby the state legislature to make changes in state law that would allow Oakland to implement the measure. This implementation would be to establish licensing and regulation for outlets where cannabis would be sold and consumed.

Madison should consider a similar measure. Not only would regulation keep marijuana out of the hands of youth, but it would make Madison safer by reducing the use of alcohol and ending the current and sometimes violent black market.

Madison's problems with alcohol will not get better until city officials have the courage to explore options that would reduce the harm. Not only would regulation accomplish that, but it would also provide a means of safe and legal access for the city's growing population of patients using cannabis for medical purposes.

Storck, Madison, is a co-founder of Madison NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws).

Posted by Gary at 01:04 PM | Comments (0)

April 28, 2005

Two great articles: Waiting to inhale & Pot Laws Pain Some Elders

Posted by Gary Storck
April 28, 2005

Here are links to two recent articles about medical cannabis. The first examines why the Raich vs. Ashcroft U.S. Supreme Court decision is taking so long, while the second looks at elderly medical cannabis patients and the issue. This is said to be the article that was to appear in AARP magazine, but was scuttled due to political pressure.

"Now, people are beginning to wonder why it's taking so long for the Supremes to issue their ruling. In most circumstances, the judges issue a ruling within one to three months after hearing arguments. Courtwatchers expected the court to have issued a ruling by late March at the latest. Some thought the Court would go for irony, and issue its ruling on 4-20, perhaps even issuing the ruling at 4:20 pm on 4-20. It didn't happen. Still there is no decision in Gonzales v. Raich (it used to be Raich versus Ashcroft, but Gonzales is now the US Attorney General so his name, as new plaintiff, now goes first). Why is it taking so damned long? -- Christine Trudeau"

Cannabis Culture: Waiting to inhale
By Christine Trudeau
April 28, 2005
Supreme Court takes months in medpot case
click here


"If those guys in Washington had the pain I suffer, they wouldn't put up all these legal barriers for patients to obtain medical marijuana." -- Catherine Ballinger, 94.

"It's like any other medicine for me. But I don't know that I'd be alive without it." -- Betty Hiatt, 81

Los Angeles Times: Pot Laws Pain Some Elders
By Eric Bailey, Times Staff Writer
April 27, 2005
click here

Posted by Gary at 02:21 PM | Comments (0)

April 19, 2005

Letter to the Editor: Regulated cannabis would benefit society

Newshawk: Is My Medicine Legal YET? www.immly.org
Source: Capital Times
Pubdate: April 19, 2005
Author: Gary Storck

Letter to the Editor:

Having just returned from the annual conference of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) in the most cannabis friendly city in the United States - San Francisco - I found a bit of irony in reading about allegations of cannabis smoking in a back room at BJ's Roadside Inn in Dunn.

Cannabis, not a drug but an herb, has long been utilized as a substitute for alcohol and other widely used addictive substances. The Netherlands has tolerated cannabis possession, sales and consumption in coffee shops since 1976. Last November, by a 65 percent margin, voters in Oakland, Calif., passed Measure Z, a local initiative supporting taxed and regulated sales of cannabis at licensed outlets in the city, and its implementation is being explored.

Back here in Wisconsin, each day brings more sad stories of alcohol-induced mayhem: sexual assaults, car crashes, hit and runs, fights, etc. It is counterproductive to society as a whole to arrest people for offering a safer alternative to alcohol and other drugs.

Regulated cannabis offers the opportunity to make Dane County a safer place while providing tax revenues to fund social services and other programs. In addition, it would make access easier for medical users while keeping it out of the hands of children. Rather than spend the $10,400 NORML says it costs for each marijuana arrest, isn't it time to think outside the box?

Gary Storck

Posted by Gary at 09:53 AM | Comments (0)

April 15, 2005

Column: Raising medical marijuana from the dark ages

Posted by Gary Storck
15 April 2005

Newshawk: Is My Medicine Legal YET? www.immly.org
Source: Core Weekly (Madison, WI)
Pubdate: 14 April 2005
Contact: ncomp@coreweekly.com
Website: http://www.coreweekly.com/
Address: 222 State St. 2nd Floor, Madison WI 53703
Copyright: 2005 Core Weekly
Author: Gary Storck


Born with glaucoma, I stumbled upon marijuana as a way to save my eyesight at age 17 in 1972. In 1997, after surviving a life-threatening infection following my third open-heart surgery, I decided to dedicate the extra time I was given in this life to work to make medical marijuana legally available to patients who can benefit. That same year I met Jacki Rickert, a Mondovi, Wis. resident who had suffered for years from symptoms of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and other ailments. Jacki had led a 210-mile wheelchair "Journey for Justice" to lobby for a state medical cannabis law from Mondovi to the state Capitol, but the legislature would not listen.

Jacki and I began working together at both the state and federal levels and in 2000 founded, "Is My Medicine Legal YET?". IMMLY's website at www.immly.org lays out our efforts, including a poll we commissioned in February 2002 that not only found 80 percent support statewide among Wisconsinites for legal access to medical cannabis with a doctor's note, but also 92 percent in Dane County. I am also a co-founder of Wisconsin NORML and Madison NORML, and post on Madison NORML's new weblog at www.madisonnorml.org.

Cannabis is an ancient medicine utilized for more than 15,000 years by humans for medical purposes. It was a legal medicine in the United States up until 1937, when Congress voted to prohibit marijuana without debate and against the wishes of groups including the American Medical and American Bar Associations. Before 1937 pharmaceutical companies, including Merck and Parke-Davis, distributed cannabis in a wide variety of forms. Advertised uses included appetite stimulation, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory for rheumatism, migraine, dental pain, corn relief and more.

Despite federal prohibition, 11 states have now passed workable medical marijuana laws that allow patients or their designated caregivers to use, posses and cultivate marijuana for medical use. Anecdotal and clinical evidence demonstrates cannabis is useful for treating symptoms of a wide range of ailments including cancer, AIDS, glaucoma, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, ALS, arthritis and many more.

Recent scientific evidence is very promising; cannabis' powerful antioxidant and neuroprotectives properties can halt or slow the progression of diseases like multiple sclerosis, and block the formation of plaque in arteries, protecting the heart and brain from stroke.

As I write this, a ruling is expected any day from the U.S. Supreme Court in the blockbuster medical marijuana case, Raich v. Ashcroft. If affirmed, the case could mean the federal war on medical marijuana patients is over. If not, existing local and state medical cannabis laws, like Madison's Ordinance 23.20 and California's Prop 215, will still stand.

We hear a lot of talk out of Washington about freedom, liberty and democracy, but here in America today patients do not have the freedom under federal law to legally access this medicine even with their physician's recommendation. Generations of sick and dying Americans and their families have been forced to sneak around like criminals to help a loved one feed themselves, ease pain, sleep and get back a little quality of life. It is time to err on the side of life and allow patients to utilize this gentle therapy if they so choose.

Two related articles from the 420 Core Weekly:

US WI: OPED: Madison Embraces Marijuana
click here

US WI: Many Alders Soft On Weed
click here

Posted by Gary at 01:31 PM | Comments (0)

April 13, 2005

At the 2005 NORML Conference in San Francisco

Posted by Gary Storck
Wednesday April 13, 2005

Several Madison NORML members were among a near record crowd of 500 attendees at the 2005 NORML Conference in San Francisco California from March 31-April 2.


The City as viewed from the 52nd floor of the Bank of America building, the Carnelian Room.

Madison NORML/IMMLY/WI NORML co-founder Gary Storck and IMMLY founder Jacki Rickert were among four recipents of NORML's Peter McWilliams award for “outstanding achievement in advocating the cause of medical marijuana, access to a safe effective medicine and equity under the law” on April 1 at the group's annual conference in San Francisco California March 31-April 2. The other recipients were Angel Raich and Diane Monson, of the Raich v. Ashcroft medical cannabis case now before the U.S. Supreme Court with a ruling expected any day as of this writing.

02-Award 1-1

Gary and Jacki proudly display their awards with fellow “Commando Squad” member Jim Miller.

03-Allen Award

The award presentation, delayed by technical problems from the night before, was by NORML's new director Allen St. Pierre.

04-Jim Award Intro

Allen's presentation was preceded by Jim Miller, who talked about Gary and Jacki and their activism.

05-Rick Steves

The luncheon then proceeded on to the main event -- an amazing talk from travel writer Rick Steves, who wowed the packed room with his sensible observations on cannabis and beyond from the view of a world traveler. You can read the text, thanks to Fred Gardner, at the link at the bottom of this page.

03-Md Panel

California medical cannabis physicians pose after presenting a very informative panel: Bottom, from left, Dr. David Bearman, Dr. Frank Lucido, Dr. Tod Mikuriya, Top, from left, Dr. Tom O'Connell, Dr. Mollie Fry, Dr. Phillip Denney, Moderator, Fred Gardner.

More to come...


Additional Reports:

04/05/05 - NORML Conference Special
29 minutes. 2.5 minute Gary Storck interview at 25:00.
Photo courtesy of Fred Gardner
MPEG: http://drugtruth.net/MP3/FDBCB_040505.mp3
REAL: http://drugtruth.net/ram2rm/to040505.ram
ARCHIVE: http://drugtruth.net/

The Vancouver Sun: Oakland's Noble Pot Experiment

FRED GARDNER: Rick Steves: a Voice of Sanity "Getting High is a Little Like Cuba: When the Government Says 'No', You've Just Got to Go There"
click here

Posted by Gary at 10:54 PM | Comments (0)

April 06, 2005

Pot Ingredient Slows Heart Disease in Mice

Yahoo! News - Pot Ingredient Slows Heart Disease in Mice:

Low doses of the main active ingredient in marijuana slowed the progression of hardening of the arteries in mice, suggesting a hint for developing a new therapy in people.

Experts stressed that the finding does not mean people should smoke marijuana in hopes of getting the same benefit.

“To extrapolate this to, `A joint a day will keep the doctor away,' I think is premature,” said Dr. Peter Libby, chief of cardiovascular medicine at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital.

The mouse work is presented in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature by Dr. Francois Mach of Geneva University Hospital in Geneva, Switzerland, and colleagues. He said in an e-mail that he believed future work will focus on finding drugs that mimic the benefit without producing marijuana's effects on the brain.

Hardening of the arteries sets the stage for heart attacks. Inflammation plays a key role in the condition, characterized by a progressive buildup on the inside walls of blood vessels. So Mach and colleagues explored the anti-inflammatory effects of marijuana's main active ingredient, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.

They fed mice a high-cholesterol diet for 11 weeks. About halfway through that period, they started giving some of the mice very low, daily oral doses of THC — too low to produce any marijuana-like changes in behavior. At the end of the experiment, mice that had gotten the THC showed less blood vessel clogging than did mice that got no THC.

Related work showed no additional benefit from higher THC doses, such as a person would get from smoking marijuana, Mach noted.

Researchers found that the benefit came from THC's effect on immune-system cells. It reduced their secretion of an inflammation-promoting substance and their migration to the vessel wall, researchers found.

It apparently did that by binding to proteins called CB2 receptors, which are found mostly on immune-system cells. THC also targets CB1 receptors, found mostly in the brain. So the work suggests scientists should try to develop a drug that works on CB2 receptors while ignoring the brain receptors, Mach said.>

Libby, who did not participate in the study, said the work was valuable for identifying the CB2 receptor as a potential target for treatment in hardening of the arteries, and showing that a natural substance could help.

But he noted that controlling one's weight, exercising and eating right have already been proven to reduce a person's risk of heart attacks and strokes from clogged arteries.

Dr. Edward A. Fisher of the New York University School of Medicine said THC's impact on artery-clogging in the experiment was relatively modest, and that it's not clear that results would apply to people.

Posted by Jude at 07:44 PM | Comments (0)