« March 2008 | Main | May 2008 »

April 29, 2008

WI native Dr. David Bearman running for Santa Barbara (CA) County Supervisor

Posted by Gary Storck
Tuesday, April 29, 2008

In November 2007, Dr. David Bearman, a California physician who specializes in medical cannabis, returned to his native Wisconsin and the city in which he began his long medical career to testify at an informational hearing on medical cannabis in the State Senate’s Health committee. Dr. Bearman extended his stay for several days to speak at his alma mater, the UW Medical School, click here, as well as speaking and holding a book signing at Escape Coffee.

Bearman_David_317.jpg
Dr. David Bearman.

Dr. Bearman’s testimony at the hearing was a very powerful accounting of the medical uses of cannabis and rebuttals of opposition arguments. In short, a big exclamation point at the conclusion of a very productive week for medical cannabis in WI. Dr. Bearman is currently running for Santa Barbara County Supervisor in California, with the election scheduled for June 3, 2008, and speaking only on my own behalf and not that of Madison NORML, urge folks join me in supporting Dr. Bearman’s candidacy. Having someone with Dr. Bearman’s experience and qualifications on the Santa Barbara County Board would be a big plus that would reververbate far beyond county and state borders.

Dr. Bearman speaks at the University of Wisconsin Medical School, where he began his medical career.

To learn more, visit the David Bearman for Supervisor campaign website:

A Prescription for Change!
click here

Posted by Gary at 08:19 PM | Comments (0)

April 25, 2008

WI Supreme Court ruling ends forced DARE contributions by defendants

Posted by Gary Storck
Friday, April 25, 2008

A Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling means the end of forcing defendants to make donations to groups like DARE to settle their cases. The La Crosse Tribune is reporting that effective March 27, the ruling removes the ability of judges to force a defendant to make a contribution to a crime-prevention organization as an alternative to sentencing or judgment.

La Crosse Tribune click here
Friday, April 25, 2008
JO ANNE KILEEN | Lee Newspapers

NEW COURT RULING REMOVES FUNDING SOURCE FROM DARE PROGRAM

Crime-prevention programs such as DARE — Drug and Alcohol Resistance Education — could take a hit in funding with a change in how citations can be paid.

A new law became effective March 27 that repeals the ability of judges to force a defendant or make a contribution to a crime-prevention organization as an alternative to sentencing or judgment.

In a letter to municipal court judges, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin stated, “Although the organizations that receive the funds are often valuable to the community, this funding mechanism creates the potential for inappropriate prosecutorial charging decisions, the appearance of fundraising or favoritism by the judges and a general perception by the public that favorable outcomes in criminal cases can be bought by defendants who can afford them.”

According to Pam Sharp, administrative manager for the Onalaska Police Department, the forfeitures paid to DARE in Onalaska were a significant part of the revenue sources. In addition to those funds, the city has community fundraisers and applies for grants as other sources of revenue.

“Right now, because of (the new law), we won’t get those contributions,” Sharp said. “It has the potential to be a major blow to the program. We’ll have to be creative and put alternative proposals before the finance committee and city council.”

The La Crosse Police Department’s DARE program has never received money from defendants in La Crosse Municipal Court, said Capt. Rob Abraham. The program is funded through public donations, money raised from fundraisers and grants money, with the exception of the DARE officer’s wage, which is funded through the municipal budget.

The DARE program for municipalities outside Onalaska and La Crosse — such as West Salem, Bangor and Holmen — are operated through the La Crosse County Sheriff ’s Department.

Sheriff’s Capt. Mike Horstmann said the circuit courts had stopped the contributions around 2004-05, so there was minimal impact on the countywide program from the new law.

The DARE program with the county is financed through taxpayer dollars allocated to the sheriff’s department’s budget.

The only DARE expense paid through the county budget is the salary of one DARE officer. Horstmann said supplies are minimal. Funds needed for textbooks and other materials are obtained through major fundraisers such as the annual GREAT/DARE Chili Cook-off.

La Crosse Tribune reporter Anne Jungen contributed to this report.

Posted by Gary at 10:01 AM | Comments (0)

April 20, 2008

4/20 in Madison: See you at 4:20?

Posted by Gary Storck
Sunday, April 20, 2008

While public 420 celebrations will occur in some locations this Sunday, members of Madison’s cannabis culture will likely be confining most of their revelry to small private gatherings, despite good outdoor inhaling weather. At least a couple of local nightclubs are hosting events Sunday night, but of course, any herbal celebrations must happen clandestinely, given cannabis prohibition.

And yes, I’m a little bitter about cannabis prohibition, particularly after having to return to it after a week in California earlier this month. A little freedom can really have a dramatic effect on a prohibition-weary soul like myself.

Madison will not be like Boulder, Colorado, for example, where medical use is legal and possession for other use decriminalized. In Boulder, the annual 4/20 "smoke-out" will be held on the Colorado University (CU) campus.

"4/20 is our largest activist event of the year. We expect over 10,000 people to be at this year's 4/20," said Alex Douglas, a member of the NORML board of directors for the CU chapter told the Colorado Daily. "It's more than a smoke-out this year, its going to be more of an activist rally where people are holding signs."

NORML at CU, who does not support anyone smoking marijuana at the 4/20 event, will also host guest speakers and a concert, all part of activities that will take place from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., the Daily reported.

Unfortunately, UW-Madison not only lacks a NORML chapter but a SSDP chapter that once held a regional conference has become nearly dormant due to graduation attrition. Throw in apathy and fear and it seems that more beer than 420 will be consumed on 4/20 here.

All is not lost. Us graybeards out in the community will make sure there is a Harvest Fest 38 this October.

Meanwhile, check out these 4/20 events in Madison on Sunday!

4/20 celebration with Natty Nation, Nama Rupa, Tropical Riddims Sound System will be at the Majestic Theatre starting at 8 pm.

At the High Noon Saloon: Jose & Sumlimes (Sublime tribute) Copper Still Foundry (as Drive-By Truckers) and Baghdad Scuba Review (Beatles tribute). 9:00 PM / $6 cover / 21 and up.

As for cannabis activism on a regional/global level, on May 3, 2008, there will be a march in Stevens Point WI in support of cannabis law reform. The march is part of a global effort involving cities across the globe. Eau Claire is also listed, but Madison NORML has been unable to verify and details as to time/location, etc.

Here’s the details for the Global March in Stevens Point: Saturday, May 3, 2008, 1:00pm - 3:00pm, Gather at K mart parking lot, Business 51 Stevens Point, WI

See you at 4:20.


Posted by Gary at 12:34 AM | Comments (0)

April 19, 2008

Meow! Key WI lawmaker questions creation of K-9 unit

Posted by Gary Storck
Saturday, April 19, 2008

Good to see Rep. Kitty Rhoades (R-Hudson), letting a little fur fly in ensuring legislative oversight of state agencies. The article also gives the public an interesting oversight/overview on how the State Patrol uses K-9 units on state highways.

Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel click here
Pubdate: April 20, 2008
Author: Steven Walters swalters@journalsentinel.com

LAWMAKER QUESTIONS CREATION OF K-9 UNIT

State Patrol did not seek legislative approval

Madison - A key lawmaker says the State Patrol should have sought legislative approval before it decided to create a K-9 unit in which dogs have been sniffing out illegal drugs in trucks and other vehicles for more than a year.

Rep. Kitty Rhoades (R-Hudson), co-chair of the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee, wants State Patrol Superintendent Dave Collins, or another state Department of Transportation official, to explain how the K-9 unit got started without legislative oversight in 2006, how it has been paid for so far and what it will cost in the future.

"No one is questioning the value of the program," said Rhoades, who learned of it last week. "But how many other programs are there out there that state agencies, or state officials, started on their own?"

Collins said he made an enforcement decision to start the K-9 unit, which will have seven dogs - one for each regional Patrol post. Five dogs are already on the job, and two others are being trained with their handlers. Federal highway-safety funds are paying 80% of the costs, including salaries of the officers involved.

Collins bristled at the idea that he should have asked the Legislature before calling out the dogs.

When the Legislature gave the State Patrol permission to spend Federal Motor Safety Carrier Administration money, lawmakers lost the right to dictate exactly how that cash is spent, he said.

"That enforcement decision doesn't rise to the level of a Joint Finance (Committee) vote," Collins said. "My question if I was Kitty Rhoades or a taxpayer is, 'How come the State Patrol wasn't doing this in 1979 or '89?' "

The dogs are just another crime-fighting tool - such as new radar units or video gear - that troopers and truck inspectors need to do their jobs, Collins said. It costs about $12,000 to buy each dog and to train it and its handler.
Legislative review

Rhoades said the real issue is oversight by legislators, who are required to monitor state spending.

"Any time we're taking in revenue, expending revenue and starting programs, some elected official ought to be aware of it," Rhoades said. "I would suggest that they get here quickly and explain how this happened, and what they are doing."

Rhoades also asked whether Gov. Jim Doyle - Collins' boss - knew the State Patrol was using drug-sniffing dogs.

Doyle "isn't involved in the day-to-day administration of the State Patrol," Doyle spokeswoman Jessica Erickson said. The governor trusts Collins "to make these decisions," she said.

Collins said the dogs have worked out well and been used by local law enforcement agencies. Over the past 15 months, the dogs have searched 650 vehicles, leading to drug seizures in 81 cases.

"These are only seven dogs, spread across 72 counties," Collins said. "It's also an outstanding tool for local sheriffs and police chiefs, who maybe can't afford a (dog). Our dog is in the area, can do a walk-around, when requested, or a sniff for narcotics."

One German shepherd, Ella, sniffed out 1,048 pounds of marijuana in a truck stopped Nov. 20 at the West Salem truck scales, for example. Another dog assisted in a Milwaukee Amtrak station investigation on March 17 that resulted in the confiscation of $32,000 in cash, said Patrol Sgt. Paul Matl, field coordinator for the K-9 unit.

Matl was Ella's handler when the marijuana was found in West Salem.

He said troopers and truck inspectors don't routinely call in the drug-sniffing dogs, but follow a specific protocol that identifies suspicious vehicles.

Vehicles on Wisconsin highways "should be hauling legitimate cargo across the United States - not transporting illegal drugs that are the scourge of our communities and our neighborhoods," Collins said.

In 2007, State Patrol officers made 1,611 drug arrests - a one-year increase of about 19%, he said.

When a dog finds drugs, it is rewarded with its favorite toy - and usually a tug-of-war game with its handler, Matl said.

"They live for playing tug-of-war with that toy," he said.

The State Patrol's unit includes five German shepherds, one Dutch shepherd and a Belgian Malinois.

Patrol officers are troopers and truck inspectors. Most of the dogs will be assigned to inspectors.

State troopers in neighboring states had K-9 units before Wisconsin. Minnesota has 11 dogs; Iowa has four.

Posted by Gary at 11:11 PM | Comments (0)

April 17, 2008

Major papers endorse MN medical cannabis bill -- A win in MN can only help WI patients

Posted by Gary Storck
Thursday, April 17, 2008

The drama continues in Minnesota with several major papers endorsing the medical cannabis bill. If he vetoes the bill, MN Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty now faces defying not only an overwhelming majority of the people he represents, but the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Pioneer Press and other leading state papers. Meanwhile, in Michigan, the initiative that would legalize medical cannabis has now officially qualified for the Nov. ballot, with the legislature's refusal to vote on the issue. Legislation is also pending in Illinois.

From the Minneapolis Star Tribune: click here.

Editorial: Medical marijuana merits state support

April 16, 2008

At a time when researchers are plunging into the rainforest in search of new medicines, there's growing consensus that a humble herb easily cultivated here may help patients struggling with cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis and other painful, difficult-to-manage conditions.

The herb, whose slim, multi-pronged leaf makes it instantly recognizable, is marijuana. The Minnesota Senate has already approved a measure that would make Minnesota the 13th state to legalize its medical use. The House will likely vote this spring. Lawmakers, as well as the governor, should give the bill careful yet open-minded consideration and make it a reality.

For those in whom marijuana conjures up Cheech and Chong movies, support for the measure may come from surprising corners. Well-known Republican Steve Sviggum was a coauthor in 2007. Now leading the fight is Andover Republican Rep. Chris DeLaForest, who rightly believes it's a matter of keeping government out of the exam room.

There's solid and growing data on the medical benefits of marijuana and its active compound for treating neuropathy (which causes extremity pain), multiple sclerosis, ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) and chemotherapy-induced nausea and appetite loss. While other treatments are available, there are situations in which marijuana may work best. Doctors should be able to make this call.

The New England Journal of Medicine has editorialized in favor of marijuana's medical use. In January, the nation's second-largest group of physicians, the American College of Physicians, weighed in, also in favor.

Still, some respected Minnesota law-enforcement organizations vehemently oppose the measure. Among them: the Minnesota Chiefs of Police, the Minnesota Sheriffs' Association and the state's County Attorneys Association. A main objection is that unscrupulous physicians will green-light virtually anyone's use of marijuana. That's a valid concern. Reporters for ''60 Minutes" found one Californian who got the OK to smoke pot because of pain from high heels.

At the same time, California's original law was 11 lines long; Minnesota's is nine pages, and written more tightly to limit abuse. Unlike California, it requires qualifying patients to register and carry an ID card. Patients, who must have a health professional's approval to qualify, are also not allowed to grow their own; they'd buy marijuana from a registered nonprofit. There's still potential for abuse. But as Oxycontin illustrates, that can happen with any prescription drug.

Most western states and a handful in the northeast protect patients whose doctors have decided marijuana is the best treatment option. For the most part, the laws have worked well, without the worst-case scenarios feared by law enforcement. It's time for Minnesota to ensure that its sickest patients have all the treatment options they need.

© 2008 Star Tribune. All rights reserved.

Posted by Gary at 10:02 AM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2008

Minnesota television ads urge state's Republican governor, Tim Pawlenty, not to veto medical marijuana bill

Posted by Gary Storck
Monday, April 14, 2008

Minnesota medical cannabis advocates are running television ads to attempt to convince that state's Republican governor to refrain from vetoing medical cannabis legislation that is poised to pass in the legislature.

Ad urges Pawlenty to allow medical marijuana use

Associated Press click here

April 14, 2008

ST. PAUL - A new TV ad features a woman suffering from extreme back pain tearfully asking Governor Tim Pawlenty not to stand in the way of a medical marijuana bill.

The Washington-based Marijuana Policy Project says it's spending more than $100,000 to air the message statewide starting later this week.

A bill that would make Minnesota the 13th state to allow medical marijuana use is headed for a House vote. The Senate approved the legislation last year.

But Pawlenty says he stands with law enforcement in opposing the bill.

The woman in the ad, Lynn Rubenstein Nicholson of Minneapolis, says she's tired of being a criminal.

Nicholson says she broke her back as a child and currently can't use marijuana because she is required to take drug tests as a condition of receiving other pain medications.

Posted by Gary at 02:35 PM | Comments (0)

April 13, 2008

University of Wisconsin researchers helping to prove Marijuana can treat cancer, not cause it

Posted by Gary Storck
Sunday, April 13, 2008

Lanny Swerdlow, a resident of Palm Springs, CA, a registered nurse and director of the Marijuana Anti-Prohibition Project, a California-based medical marijuana patient support group and law reform organization, writes how UW researchers are helping to prove cannabis is a potent anti-cancer treatment.

Investigators at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health reported in January 2008 that the administration of cannabinoids halts the spread of a wide range of cancers, including brain cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, skin cancer, pancreatic cancer, and lymphoma. The report noted that cannabis offer significant advantages over standard chemotherapy treatments because the cannabinoids in cannabis are both non-toxic and can uniquely target malignant cells while ignoring healthy ones.

Read entire article: click here.

Posted by Gary at 10:17 AM | Comments (0)

April 10, 2008

Minnesota Medical cannabis bill nears House vote, Gov. Pawlenty vows to veto it

Posted by Gary storck
Thursday, April 10, 2008

Wednesday at the Minnesota Capitol, the state House Ways and Means Committee voted 13-4, with 12 members absent, to advance a state medical cannabis bill. As with last session, MN Gov. Tim Pawlenty has promised to veto this bill that would protect sick and dying Minnesotans from arrest for using their medicine.

However, with Michigan voters set to vote on medical cannabis this November, the tipping point for legal medical cannabis in the Midwest is getting closer. Pawlenty may be able to get away with defying the will of the people again, but really, how can this man sleep when there are people in his state suffering because they cannot get their medicine? Maybe John McCain will pick Pawlenty to be his running mate on a 2008 compassion-free GOP presidential/vice-presidential ticket and clear the way for a MN governor with a heart and some integrity.

Medical marijuana bill nears House vote
Don Davis Bemidji Pioneer
Published Thursday, April 10, 2008

ST. PAUL — More than 10,000 seriously ill Minnesotans could control pain with marijuana legally if a bill headed to the full House becomes law.

The House Ways and Means Committee voted 13-4, with 12 members absent, Wednesday to advance the measure. But Gov. Tim Pawlenty is likely to veto it if the House passes the measure.

“Gov. Pawlenty stands with law enforcement in opposition to this bill,” Pawlenty spokesman Brian McClung said. Rep. Tom Huntley of Duluth listens Tuesday to a technical change made to his bill allowing some patients to use marijuana to ease pain. The bill awaits action by the full House. Pioneer Photo/Don Davis Rep. Tom Huntley of Duluth listens Tuesday to a technical change made to his bill allowing some patients to use marijuana to ease pain. The bill awaits action by the full House. Pioneer Photo/Don Davis RELATED CONTENT
Don Davis Archive Even if the bill faces a veto, sponsor Rep. Tom Huntley, DFL-Duluth, said it is important to pass it as a message to Minnesotans.

The issue has arisen several times over the years, but has failed to pass the House. It passed the Senate last year, so if the House passes the measure – as Huntley expects – it heads directly to Pawlenty.

Many legislative committees heard testimony last year, so none was accepted on Wednesday.

Huntley said there are two changes from a year ago. One is that the College of American Physicians has endorsed medical marijuana use.

The other change, he said, is that “some of the people who testified last year have died.”

The bill allows doctors to approve marijuana use to reduce chronic pain. Patients could have up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana at any one time.

If the bill became law, state officials predict at least 10,000 Minnesotans would use marijuana.

Public Safety Commissioner Michael Campion, a Pawlenty appointee, said in an interview that medical marijuana decisions should be made by the federal Food and Drug Administration, which approves other drugs.

“The Legislature is going to replace this process,” Campion said. “It doesn’t make sense.”

“How do you regulate it?” he asked. “Who tests it?”

A dozen other states allow medical marijuana use, and Neal Levine of the Medical Marijuana Policy Project said it is important to those with chronic pain.

“The states are trying to protect their own citizens because the federal government arrests sick people,” Levine said.

Federal authorities have arrested people using marijuana for medical reasons, citing laws outlawing the practice.

“The overwhelming majority of the public supports it,” Huntley added.


Posted by Gary at 11:24 AM | Comments (0)

April 09, 2008

Wisconsin Medical Cannabis bill sponsor Rep. Frank Boyle won't run again

Posted by Gary Storck
Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Just back from Northern California and the Patients Out of Time Conference and was very surprised to read that longtime medical cannabis bill sponsor Rep. Frank Boyle (D-Superior) will not seek reelection this fall. Rep. Boyle has been the principal sponsor of every medical cannabis bill introduced since 1993, first with then-State Rep. Tammy Baldwin and later with her successor, Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison). Frank Boyle has been the conscience of the Assembly for many years and his absence will be deeply felt by progressives at the Capitol. I thank Rep. Boyle for his compassion and willingness to be an advocate for medical cannabis, a controversial issue politically despite overwhelming public support. Thank you Frank Boyle!

Boyle won't run again

Shelley Nelson
Superior WI Daily Telegram
Published Friday, April 04, 2008

State Rep. Frank Boyle, D-Summit, announced this morning that he won’t be seeking re-election in the fall.

Boyle has served as the 73rd District Assemblyman for the last 22 years.

“It has been a tremendous run, and I have enjoyed it immensely,” Boyle wrote in a prepared statement. “But the time has come for me to retire and enjoy each and every day with my family.”

Boyle was known by many as a political maverick — a straight shooter who didn’t mince words and didn’t change his position just because he traveled from Superior to the state’s Capitol. He was never afraid to take on the controversial issues in which he believed.

He was among the founders of northern Wisconsin’s annual grassroots “Superior Days” lobbying effort and helped organize the Wisconsin Coalition for Peace and Justice when the President George H.W. Bush went to war with Iraq.

His first bill after taking office, based on an experiment taking place in Duluth, made arrest mandatory in cases of domestic abuse. But his proudest accomplishment in 22 years in office was the state’s biodiversity bill, which redefined how state forests are use.

Boyle stood firm on controversial issues, from medical marijuana to death with dignity and campaign finance reform.

Failing to achieve campaign finance reform, he said, is among his biggest disappointments after watching how the people’s business is now being auctioned to the highest bidder because of paid lobbyists.

Leaving office is “a bittersweet decision,” he said this morning. But he’s making plans to spend time climbing mountains — literally — before his legs give out, collect shells along the Atlantic coastline and spending time with his family, including his granddaughter, Mary.

“I didn’t stay with him for 22 years because he’s a jerk,” Boyle’s Madison assistant, Mary Lou Kelleher, said this morning. “He truly cared about people, and I think that’s what I saw most in him. … He preferred people just call him ‘Frank.’ He was down to earth, easy to talk with. He was always upfront about how he felt about things. It was common for me to tease him and tell him ‘why don’t you be a little more upfront with people.’”

Kelleher said she considers Boyle a friend.

Boyle gained a reputation for being the “flower man” at the state Capitol, Kelleher said. He would stop at the local farmer’s market or a flower shop and come back with flowers he would pass out to men and women alike at their offices.

“It’s been a pleasure working with Frank Boyle,” said Mayor Dave Ross, a Republican. “I have respected Frank because he plays no games, he doesn’t have two messages,” one for the district and one for Madison.

“Frank has never not fulfilled a promise he’s made when it comes to a number of issues,” Ross said.

While Ross and Boyle couldn’t have differed more on core political views, and have had a number of differences of opinion, they worked together on a number of issues, including payday lending, a statewide smoking ban and Leah’s Law.

“He got it. He understood it. And fought hard for us in Madison to get Leah’s Law as far as it has gotten,” Ross said.

The bill, a result of a grassroots effort by surviving friends and family of Superior murder victim Leah Gustafson, would create a violent offender registry similar to the similar one for sex offenders.

In late February, the bill cleared the Assembly Committee for Criminal Justice.

“Frank has been a real friend,” Ross said. “I’ve enjoyed my relationship with him … I’m going to miss Frank. He’s a straight shooter.”

It’s one of the things Kelleher said she is going to miss about Boyle when he steps down in January, following the next election.

“I have enjoyed meeting and working with the people of the 73rd Assembly District,” Boyle said. “While some of us didn’t always agree, it is my hope that the citizens appreciated the fact that I was clear about my stance on the issues, rather than sitting on the proverbial political fence.”

“I’m proud of the issues I have taken on, whether those issues became law or simply needed to be discussed in the public arena,” he said.

Posted by Gary at 09:10 PM | Comments (0)

April 02, 2008

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Rimonabant: You'd be thinner, but possibly sad

Posted by Gary Storck
Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Interesting article out of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel about what happens when you fool with Mother Nature by tampering with our bodies' endocannabinoid receptors.

Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Pubdate: April 2, 2008
Author: John Fauber

YOU'D BE THINNER, BUT POSSIBLY SAD

Pill helps weight loss, not mood, study says

Chicago - Would you take a pill that would make you lose 10 pounds, but would do nothing for your heart health and might make you anxious or depressed?

The latest saga in the endless quest to find a magic bullet for weight loss was released Tuesday.

"It is the Holy Grail of pharmacology," said Marc Shelton, an Illinois cardiologist who moderated a session at which the new research was presented.

The study involved the diet drug rimonabant, which is available in Europe but has yet to get approval in the United States, though several Web sites sell the prescription medication.

In a clinical trial of 839 obese people, the drug failed to show any improvement in the health of their coronary arteries, though over a period of 18 months, participants who took the drug lost an average of 9.5 pounds and nearly 2 inches from their waists compared with those who got a placebo. Members of the placebo group lost an average of about 1 pound and less than a half-inch from their waists.

However, 43% of those who took rimonabant had adverse psychiatric effects, mostly anxiety, depression and insomnia, compared with 28% of those who took the placebo. One patient in the rimonabant group committed suicide, and one patient in the placebo group attempted suicide.

Rimonabant is an endocannabinoid receptor antagonist, meaning it works in the brain in the opposite way that marijuana makes people hungry.

"It reverses munchies," said Anthony DeFranco, a cardiologist at Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center in Milwaukee who took part in the rimonabant study when he worked in Michigan.

Results of the trial were presented at the American College of Cardiology meeting and published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Some improvements seen

The typical person in the study weighed 228 pounds and had a waistline of 46 inches at the start of the trial.

In addition to the modest trimming experienced by those on the drug, they had significant improvements in their HDL cholesterol (the good kind) and triglycerides, a type of unhealthy fat found in the blood.

Despite those improvements, when researchers used a type of ultrasound catheter to look at the arteries of their heart, they found no improvement, though a secondary measure suggested that there might be a favorable effect.

"Something was happening," said lead author Steven Nissen, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic.

However, Nissen said more research is needed, and he noted that two other large clinical trials of the drug now are going on in the U.S.
Drug's future

Doctors had differing opinions of what the study's findings will mean for the drug.

DeFranco said the high rate of psychiatric side effects is a bad sign.

"It's unlikely that the (Food and Drug Administration) will ever approve it," he said.

But he said several other drugs that work in a similar manner are being tested, and eventually one of them will get approved.

"That's why all sorts of drug companies are investing billion of dollars to down-regulate appetite," he said. "It may be five, seven or 10 years down the road, but we will find something."

Russell Wilke, a physician who works in the weight loss clinic at Froedtert Hospital in Wauwatosa, said he was excited by the findings.

"It's a good drug, and it's really promising," said Wilke, an associate professor of medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Wilke said the class of cannabinoid receptor drugs has beneficial metabolic effects such as improving HDL cholesterol and lowering triglycerides.

The rimonabant study was funded by the maker of the drug, Sanofi-Aventis.
Trial for another drug

In a separate trial presented at the American College of Cardiology meeting, researchers with Merck reported unpublished results from a one-year study of its cannabinoid receptor drug, taranabant.

The trial of 2,502 obese people showed that they lost nine to 12 pounds more than those taking a placebo.

Psychiatric side effects occurred in 20% of those taking a placebo and in 28% and 40% of those taking different doses of the drug.

Those on the drug had improvements in waist size, as well as HDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Coronary artery plaque measurements were not taken.

Wilke, of Froedtert Hospital, noted that there are few drug options for treating obesity. He said more study is warranted.

James Stein, a cardiologist with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said the rimonabant findings are "nothing but bad news. I think we need to get back to what really works - exercise and diet."

(snip) blockquote>


Posted by Gary at 03:54 AM | Comments (0)

April 01, 2008

The Fifth National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics is April 4-5 at Asilomar in Pacific Grove CA

Posted by Gary Storck
Tuesday, April 1, 2008

This is no April Fool's joke. Tomorrow, I plan to travel to Pacific Grove CA for the The Fifth National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics. This cutting edge conference on medical cannabis is presented every two years by the group, Patients Out of Time click here. I am a member of their advisory board. I was last able to attend their 2004 conference in Charlottesville VA, having missed the 2006 event in Santa Barbara, and am looking forward to the opportunity to update my knowledge and reconnect with other advocates. Below you can find the agenda for this historic conference.

The Fifth National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics

Asilomar Conference Grounds - Pacific Grove, CA

April 4&5, 2008

"Cannabis: Re-Entering Mainstream Medicine"

Agenda Thursday, April 3

7:00pm Reception at Asilomar, Exhibits, Music, Early Registration, Faculty Registration.

Friday, April 4

7:00 Breakfast - Registration

8:00 D. Abrams MD Welcoming Remarks, Medical School, University of California, San Francisco

8:20 D. Burger, RN Welcoming Remarks, California Nurses Association

8:30 J. White "Conceptual Quagmires & Epistemic Privilege"

9:00 S. Hosea, MD "Cannabis From A Physician's Perspective"

9:20 D. Tashkin MD "Does Regular Marijuana Smoking Lead to Pulmonary or Pulmonary-Related Disease (COPD, Lung Cancer, Pneumonia)?: Cohort and Population Based Studies"

10:00 Break

10:15 C. Conrad "Cannabis Yields and Dosage"

10:35 M.L Mathre, RN, MSN "Cannabis:When Not Recommended"

10:55 M. Krawitz (pain), "Patients Experience with Cannabis" A. Raich (tumor), Crow Turnbull (pain).

11:25 M. Dreher, RN, PhD, FAAN "Cannabis Use and Pregnancy"

11:45 G. Leson, D. Env. "Cannabis (Hemp)Seeds for Nutrition"
12:00 Lunch

1:30 N. Kogan, PhD "Clinical and Laboratory Medicinal Cannabis Results from Israel"

2:00 M. Ware, MD, MSc, MRCP "Effects of Smoked Cannabis on Chronic Neuropathic Pain"

2:30 M. Guzman, PhD "Cannabis and Brain Tumors"

3:00 Break

3:15 J. Sanchez-Ramos, PhD, MD "Cannabinoids and Movement Disorders"
4:00 G. McMahon (pain), I. Rosenfeld (pain), E. Musikka (glaucoma) "Federal Patients and Cannabis" 4:30 Adjourn

6:30 POT Benefit Dinner -Auction- Live Band- Comedy

Saturday, April 5

7:30 Breakfast - Registration

8:00 A. Byrne Opening Remarks

8:20 D. Abrams, MD "Cannabis in Pain and Palliative Care"

8:50 R. Musty, PhD "Marijuana and Mental Health"

9:10 L. Badzek, RN, JD, LLM, MS "Nursing, Ethics and Cannabis"
9:30 D. Ostrow, MD, PhD Medical Cannabis: "The Challenge of Educating Mainstream Medical Professionals"

10:00 Break

10:15 A. Hazekamp, PhD "Cannabis Tea in The Netherlands"

10:40 A. Reiman, PhD "Compassion Clubs of California"

11:00 P. Lucas, J. Braun, P. Fourmy, V. Corral "Putting Compassion in Compassion Clubs"

11:40 R. Doblin, PhD "DEA/NIDA and the Obstruction of Privately Funded Research"

12:00 Lunch "Press Moment"

1:30 F. Gardner, P. Armentano, A. Harrison "Cannabis: Re-entering Mainstream Journalism"

2:15 Break

2:30 J. Gettman, PhD "Medical Cannabis and the Public Policy Process"

3:00 M.L. Mathre, RN, MSN "Faculty Q&A Session"

4:30 Adjourn

Posted by Gary at 09:31 AM | Comments (0)