Tag Archives: urge
The personal use of illegal drugs, including heroin and crack cocaine, should be decriminalized as part of a federal-provincial strategy to tackle drug abuse, a B.C.-based national coalition of drug policy experts argue.
In a report to be released Thursday, the coalition denounces the Harper government’s aggressive war on drugs, which puts the emphasis on law enforcement while steering money away from harm-reduction initiatives like Vancouver’s supervised injection site.
“While countries all around the world are adopting forward-thinking, evidence-based drug policies, Canada is taking a step backwards and strengthening punitive policies that have been proven to fail,” states a summary of the 112-page report from the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, which is based at Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addiction.
The “stunning display of unimaginative thinking” has failed to decrease the flow of drugs into Canada while hampering efforts to deal with drug-related health problems.
“Despite Canada’s significant investment in drug control efforts, drugs are cheaper and more available than ever,” the report notes.
Among the recommendations is a call to legalize, regulate and tax the sale of marijuana to adults, taking advantage of an underground business that generates an estimated $ 357 million in annual sales in B.C. alone, according to the authors.
By far the most controversial recommendation calls for the end to prohibition of not only “soft” drugs like marijuana, but products like heroin, cocaine and methamphetamines.
The report notes that at least 25 jurisdictions in the world have moved to decriminalize at least some drugs, with Portugal (in 2001) and the Czech Republic (in 2010) ending criminal bans for all drugs.
“After decriminalization and similar to Portugal, drug use (among Czechs) has not increased significantly but the social harms of drug use have declined,” the report stated.
“In Portugal, decriminalization has had the effect of decreasing the numbers of people injecting drugs, decreasing the number of people using drugs problematically, and decreasing trends of drug use among 15 to 24 year olds.”
The coalition lists as its “partners” more than 70 organizations, including the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, the Central Alberta AIDS Network Society, the Canadian Cancer Survivor Network, and the Canadian Association of Nurses in AIDS Care.
Its report is harshly critical of the federal government’s anti-drug and tough-on-crime policies introduced since Stephen Harper became prime minister in 2006, including minimum mandatory sentences for certain drug offences.
Among the targets is the five-year National Anti-Drug Strategy, which was renewed for another five years in 2012 at a cost of $ 528 million. The program devotes most of its money (roughly 70 per cent) to law enforcement, according to the report.
It also goes after the Canadian Forces’ substantial investment in counter-narcotics missions in the Caribbean Sea and the eastern Pacific, involving warships and aircraft operating with U.S. forces.
It complains about the lack of support of, and in the case of the Vancouver supervised injection site aggressive opposition to, “harm-reduction” programs like needle exchanges that “save lives and protect everyone’s health,” according to the Newfoundland AIDS Committee.
The Harper government has never flinched from its strong support for get-tough measures against drug offences, often sneering at academic studies suggesting that its measures, while popular among many Conservative party supporters, had debatable or even counterproductive results.
In 2007, for instance, then-health minister Tony Clement declared that the “party’s over” while speaking of his party’s contempt for the former Liberal government’s approach to illicit drug use.
The coalition report cites 2011 Health Canada statistics indicating that B.C. has the highest percentage of people who have used marijuana at least once in their lives, with the B.C. rate of 44.3 per cent well above the national average of 39.4 per cent.
Health Canada said 12.1 per cent of British Columbians said they smoked pot over the past year, second to Nova Scotia’s 12.4 per cent and well above the national average of 9.1 per cent.
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2013 The Vancouver Sun
Author: Peter O’Neil
Nine former heads of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration urged Attorney General Eric Holder on Friday to take a stand against possible legalization of recreational marijuana in three western states, saying silence would convey acceptance.
The former officials said in a letter sent on Friday that legalization would pose a direct conflict with federal law, indicating there would be a clash between the states and the federal government on the issue.
Voters in Colorado, Washington state and Oregon are due to decide in November whether to legalize marijuana for recreational use and to regulate and tax its sale.
“To continue to remain silent conveys to the American public and the global community a tacit acceptance of these dangerous initiatives,” they said in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters. A spokeswoman for Holder declined to comment on the letter.
The letter is similar to one they sent Holder in 2010 urging him to oppose a recreational pot legalization ballot measure in California. It was defeated with 53.5 percent of voters rejecting it.
Holder opposed the California measure before the vote, warning that U.S. officials would enforce federal laws against marijuana in California despite any state legalization.
Kevin Sabet, a former senior adviser on marijuana issues to President Barack Obama’s administration, said he would not be surprised if Holder took that same position again.
“Essentially, a state vote in favor of legalization is a moot point since federal laws would be, in (Holder’s) own words (from 2010), ‘vigorously enforced,’” Sabet said. “I can’t imagine a scenario where the Feds would sit back and do nothing.”
Obama administration officials have until now said little about the upcoming ballot measures, although the federal government has cracked down on medical cannabis dispensaries in several states by raiding them and threatening legal action.
In recent years polls have shown growing national support for decriminalizing marijuana. In May, an Angus Reid survey showed 52 percent of those polled expressed support for legalizing pot. The poll of 1,017 respondents had a margin of error of 3.1 percent.
Gallup saw support hit 50 percent last year, the highest number the organization had ever measured on the question.
In the swing state of Colorado, the marijuana measure with its potential to bring out young voters is seen as potentially influencing votes for president. Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling said earlier this year that marijuana “could be a difference maker” in the state.
The nine signatories to Friday’s letter included John Bartels, who ran the DEA from 1973 to 1975, and Karen Tandy, who was in charge from 2003 to 2007.
Tom Constantine, who was in charge of the DEA from 1994 to 1999 and also signed the letter, said the former administrators hoped it would send a message to voters and alter the public debate.
He said the letter had been sent so “voters would know in all fairness that no matter what they vote on in Colorado or wherever it is, that federal law still prevails.”
In response to a 2011 petition to legalize and regulate marijuana, Obama administration drug czar Gil Kerlikowske said at that time that federal officials were concerned about the drug because it was “associated with addiction, respiratory disease and cognitive impairment.”
Legalization advocates say the decades-old drug war in the United States has failed, and they compare laws against marijuana to the prohibition of alcoholic beverages from 1920 to 1933. They argue that society would be better served if marijuana could be taxed and regulated.
While no U.S. state allows recreational use of marijuana, 17 states and the District of Columbia permit its use in medicine.
“Anyone who is objective at all knows that current marijuana policy in this country is a complete disaster, with massive arrests, wasted resources, and violence in the U.S. and especially in Mexico,” said Jill Harris, managing director of strategic initiatives for Drug Policy Action, which has poured money into legalization campaigns.
Reporting By Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and David Brunnstrom
Source: Reuters (Wire)
Author: Alex Dobuzinskis, Reuters
Published: September 7, 2012
Copyright: 2012 Thomson Reuters
SUNDAY May 6, 2012 — Adults and children should be screened routinely for changes in the appearance of their skin, experts advise.
Mount Sinai Medical Center researchers point out that regular visits to the dermatologist are just as important as trips to the dentist because they can provide clues as to what’s going on outside as well as inside the body.
One in five Americans will develop some form of skin cancer during their lifetime, the Mount Sinai doctors cautioned. Although skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer, it’s also one of the most preventable, they noted in a center news release.
In honor of Skin Cancer Awareness Month and Melanoma Day on Monday, May 7, the experts offered the following advice on skin cancer prevention:
- Wear sunblock. Almost half of all UV exposure occurs between the ages of 19 and 40 years. Sunblock should be applied to the body, around the eyes, lips, ears and feet everyday year-round. Dermatologists can recommend sunscreen for infants and sensitive areas, such as the eyelids or face.
- Do not sunbathe. It may take between 10 and 20 years for the damage to show up, but the sun’s rays dissolve the collagen and elastin in your skin.
- Perform monthly self-checks. Monitor your brown spots, such as moles and freckles. If you have many of these spots, consult your dermatologist about total body photography. This preventative measure can help closely track the appearance of your spots to determine if they’ve changed over time.
- Follow the ABCDEs. Consult a dermatologist if a mole has any of the following: Asymmetry (one side is different from the other); Border irregularity; Color variation (one area is a different shade or color than another); Diameter equal to or larger than a pencil eraser; Elevation (it is raised or has an uneven surface)
Sunscreens will have new U.S. Food and Drug Administration-mandated labels beginning June 18, the experts noted. So, when looking for sunscreen, be sure its label has the following:
- Provides “broad-spectrum protection,” or UVA as well as UVB coverage measured by the given sun-protection factor (SPF) value.
- “SPF 30″ (or higher). Being protected by SPF 30 means it will take 30 minutes of sun exposure to get the same amount of UV light penetration as you would get in just one minute with unprotected skin. The Mount Sinai specialists noted anything lower than SPF 30 will have the following label warning: “Spending time in the sun increases your risk of skin cancer and early skin aging. This product has been shown only to prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early skin aging.”
- “Water-resistant.” The new FDA rules prohibit any sunscreen from being labeled as “waterproof.” Those marked “water-resistant” have been shown to pass a standard 40- or 80-minute test of water exposure followed by UV testing.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about skin cancer.
Posted: May 2012
A hearing on New Hampshire’s medical marijuana bill, SB 409, ran past 5 p.m. Thursday evening. The Senate Health and Human Services Committee, chaired by Sen. Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro), listened to two and a half hours of testimony, nearly all of which was offered in support of the bill.
The bill’s prime sponsor, Sen. Jim Forsythe (R-Strafford), introduced the measure and made a strong case that support for the bill transcends partisan boundaries.
“I have never used marijuana in my life, but it’s clear to me that marijuana does have legitimate medical uses,” Forsythe explained. “This bill is carefully designed to protect the rights of patients and doctors while minimizing the potential for the law to be abused, and I strongly encourage my colleagues in the Senate to support this sensible, compassionate reform.”
Sen. Ray White (R-Bedford) and Sen. John Gallus (R-Berlin) are the bill’s Senate co-sponsors. Sen. White also spoke in favor of the bill, along with House co-sponsors, Rep. Evalyn Merrick (D-Lancaster), a cancer survivor, and Rep. Jennifer Coffey (R-Andover), a licensed EMT.
Several patients offered compelling testimony, including former Manchester resident Ron Mitchell, a severe pain patient who testified that his quality of life has improved dramatically since he moved to Vermont in 2010 and was legally recommended marijuana by his doctor. Ron told committee members he has dramatically reduced his use of prescription pain medicine by using medical marijuana, and he added that he and his wife would like to move back to New Hampshire but will not be able to do so unless this law passes.
I reminded the committee that a similar bill had only fallen two votes short of becoming law in 2009 and described the impact of that narrow defeat on the lives of New Hampshire patients.
“Seriously ill patients shouldn’t have to wait any longer for safe, legal access,” I told committee members. “These laws are not causing problems in states such as Vermont or Maine, or surely we would hear about them here in New Hampshire.”
The hearing’s final speaker, Bill Alleman of Weare, simply noted that while about 20 private citizens spoke in favor of the bill, the only three speakers opposed were employees of the executive branch. “Do you represent the executive branch, or do you represent the people?” he asked.
MONDAY Feb. 27, 2012 — With winter turning to spring, youth baseball will soon be starting.
Experts are warning, however, that young ball players are at risk for injuries, many of which are preventable.
“Baseball is America’s pastime. In order to minimize the risk of injury and maximize enjoyment of the game, coaches, parents and youth baseball and softball players should be familiar with ‘an ounce of prevention’ guidelines,” statement co-author Dr. Joseph Congeni said in a news release from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
The AAP has issued a revised policy statement on youth baseball and softball, published online Feb. 27 in Pediatrics.
According to Congeni, “being aware of a few issues regarding overuse, appropriate equipment, environmental factors and those rare but catastrophic injuries can help accomplish these goals and ensure kids are having fun and staying healthy playing ball.”
Throwing injuries are a major issue for young baseball players but can be prevented by teaching about proper throwing mechanics, training and conditioning, and encouraging players to stop playing and seek treatment whenever they experience signs of overuse injuries, the statement advises.
“Not everyone may know exactly when an athlete begins to show signs of overuse, but it is important to know to never pitch when one’s arm is tired or sore. Athletes must respect the limits imposed on throwing, including pitch counts and rest periods,” statement co-author Dr. Stephen Rice said in the AAP news release.
Among the other recommendations:
- All players should wear appropriate protective gear, including polycarbonate eye protection or metal cages on helmets when batting.
- Coaches and officials need to monitor extreme weather conditions (such as heat or lightning) and postpone or cancel games if players are at risk.
- Coaches should have quick access to an automated external defibrillator in case a player suffers cardiac arrest, and should be prepared to call 911.
- Since children develop at different rates, repeated instruction and practice are essential for young baseball and softball players to acquire the basic skills of the game.
Another expert stressed that kids who engage in sports have unique vulnerabilities.
“In order to better appreciate overuse injuries in children, one must understand that kids are not just ‘small’ adults,” explained Dr. Victor Khabie, chief of sports medicine at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, N.Y. “There is a significant physiological difference between a growing child and a developmentally mature person,” he added.
According to Khabie, who is also co-director of the hospital’s Orthopedic and Spine Institute, “children grow via growth plates which are ‘growth centers’ at the end of bones. When a child complains of elbow or shoulder pain because of excessive pitching or batting, the [cause] is often due to an injury to the growth plate.”
The consequences could be serious, he added. “Left untreated, an injured growth plate could lead to permanent damage,” Khabie said. “This is why it is important for parents, coaches and trainers working with young ball players to understand the signs and symptoms of overuse baseball and softball injuries and to have the child athlete be evaluated by a sports medicine specialist.”
The Nemours Foundation has more about youth baseball safety.
Posted: February 2012