Archive for February 13th, 2007
How do you change the minds of people who won’t look at facts or evidence?
In a randomized placebo-controlled trial, patients smoking cannabis experienced a 34 percent reduction in intense foot pain associated with HIV—twice the rate experienced by patients who smoked placebo.
“This placebo-controlled clinical trial showed that people with HIV who smoked cannabis had substantially greater pain reduction than those who did not smoke the cannabis,” said study lead author Donald I. Abrams, MD, UCSF professor of clinical medicine. “These results provide evidence that there is a measurable medical benefit to smoking cannabis for these patients.”
The study, published in the February 13 issue of the journal “Neurology,” looked at 50 HIV patients with HIV-associated sensory neuropathy, a painful and often debilitating condition that is the most common peripheral nerve disorder that occurs as a complication of HIV infection. Occurring usually in the feet and characterized at times by tingling, numbness, the sensation of pins and needles, burning, and sharp intense pain, severe peripheral neuropathy can make walking or standing difficult.
Patients participating in the study were randomized into two equal groups—one assigned to smoke cannabis and the other assigned to smoke identical placebo cigarettes with the cannabinoids extracted. The patients smoked the study cigarettes three times a day for five days under supervision as inpatients in the General Clinical Research Center at San Francisco General Hospital Medical Center.
“Even though antiretroviral treatments have reduced the prevalence and severity of many HIV-related neurological complications, neuropathy continues to affect up to one of every three patients,” said co-author Cheryl A. Jay, MD, UCSF professor of clinical neurology. “There are no FDA-approved treatments for HIV-related neuropathy. This study suggests new avenues to manage neuropathic pain in this setting.”
Medical researchers need more marijuana sources because government supplies aren’t meeting scientific demand, a federal judge has ruled.
In an emphatic but nonbinding opinion, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s own judge is recommending that a University of Massachusetts professor be allowed to grow a legal pot crop. The real winners could be those suffering from painful and wasting diseases, proponents believe.
“The existing supply of marijuana is not adequate,” Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner ruled.
The federal government’s 12-acre marijuana plot at the University of Mississippi provides neither the quantity nor quality scientists need, researchers contend. While Bittner didn’t embrace those criticisms, she agreed that the system for producing and distributing research marijuana is flawed.
“Competition in the manufacture of marijuana for research purposes is inadequate,” Bittner determined.
Bittner further concluded that there is “minimal risk of diversion” from a new marijuana source. Making additional supplies available, she stated, “would be in the public interest.”
The DEA isn’t required to follow Bittner’s 88-page opinion, and the Bush administration’s anti-drug stance may make it unlikely that the grass-growing rules will loosen. Both sides can now file further information before DEA administrators make their ruling.
“We could still be months away from a final decision,” DEA spokesman Garrison Courtney said Tuesday, adding that “obviously, we’re going to take the judge’s opinion into consideration.”
Still, the ruling is resonating in labs and with civil libertarians.
This week, the House of Representatives is debating a resolution opposing President Bush’s Iraq escalation. The resolution is just 58 words long, and has only one purpose: “Disapproving of the decision of the President announced on January 10, 2007, to deploy more than 20,000 additional United States combat troops to Iraq.”
But a leaked letter obtained today by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s (D-MD) office reveals that conservatives have formulated a strategy to avoid talking about the central question of the debate.
In the letter, leading conservative Reps. John Shadegg (R-AZ) and Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) inform their allies: “The debate should not be about the surge or its details. This debate should not even be about the Iraq war to date, mistakes that have been made, or whether we can, or cannot, win militarily.” Shadegg and Hoekstra warn, if conservatives are forced to debate “the surge or the current situation in Iraq, we lose.”
Instead, they write, “the debate must be about the global threat of the radical Islamic movement.” The problem is they lose that debate too.
From Eschaton, the remarks made by Patrick Murphy, D-Pa:
Congressman Patrick Murphy’s Remarks, AS DELIVERED:
Thank you Mr. Speaker and thank you Mr. Chairman, I appreciate it.
I take the floor today not as a Democrat or Republican, but as an Iraq war veteran who was a Captain with the 82nd Airborne Division in Baghdad.
I speak with a heavy heart for my fellow paratrooper Specialist Chad Keith, Specialist James Lambert and 17 other brave men who I served with who never made it home.
I rise to give voice to hundreds of thousands of patriotic Pennsylvanians and veterans across the globe who are deeply troubled by the President’s call to escalate the number of American troops in Iraq.
I served in Baghdad from June of 2003 to January of 2004. Walking in my own combat boots, I saw first hand this Administration’s failed policy in Iraq.
I led convoys up and down “Ambush Alley” in a Humvee without doors – convoys that Americans still run today because too many Iraqis are still sitting on the sidelines.
I served in al-Rashid, Baghdad which, like Philadelphia, is home to 1.5 million people. While there are 7,000 Philadelphia police officers serving like my father in Philadelphia, protecting its citizens, there were only 3,500 of us in al-Rashid, Baghdad.
Mr. Speaker, the time for more troops was four years ago. But this President ignored military experts like General Shinseki & General Zinni, who in 2003, called for several hundred thousand troops to secure Iraq.
Now Mr. Speaker, our President again is ignoring military leaders. Patriots like General Colin Powell, like General Abizaid, and members of the bi-partisan Iraq Study Group who oppose this escalation
They take steps to protect the environment:
Urban tumbleweed. Bag hawks. Shoppers’ kites. Whatever you call them, plastic grocery bags are discarded by the billions each year in the United States and end up floating in waterways, dangling from trees and crowding landfills. But soon there will be fewer pesky plastic bags overtaking California’s landscapes, thanks to state assemblyman Lloyd Levine. Levine introduced a bill—recently signed into law—that requires supermarkets and large stores to implement an in-store plastic bag “take-back” and recycling program.
After the law kicks into effect (in June of this year), California stores will only be permitted to distribute plastic bags imprinted with instructions to return them to participating stores. The stores then will send them off to recycling centers. Plastic bags can be used to make new bags as well as traffic cones and patio furniture, according to reusablebags.com. Stores also will be required to fund campaigns educating consumers about how to recycle bags (i.e., via store, not curbside, programs) and to offer sturdy reusable bags for sale. Levine sees the bill as a step in the right direction, but says curbside recycling (which requires the least effort of consumers) would be the “gold standard.”
Levine first became aware of the bag problem during his regular runs along the Los Angeles River. “I come across thousands of plastic bags,” he says. “Some of the trees look like Christmas trees, only with bags in place of ornaments.” Levine discovered that Californians use 19 billion bags a year, creating 147,038 tons of trash and killing thousands of marine animals who ingest the bags or become entangled in them. Global production of these bags is estimated at about 1 trillion annually, consuming 12 million barrels of oil.
As for that perennial check-out question, “Paper or plastic?”, according to reusablebags.com the pros and cons are roughly equal. Visit the website to learn about recent legislation (or to shop for products that help cut bag consumption).
I continue to love my resuable grocery bags. I am still surprised at how much more convenient they are than disposable/recyclable bags.
“We’re heralding volunteerism here today. It is a really important aspect of American society. I’m proud of our fellow citizens who have answered the call. I encourage you to continue on.”
Bush loves praising volunteerism. In his 2002 State of the Union address, Bush called on “every American to commit at least two years, 4,000 hours over the rest of your lifetime, to the service of your neighbors and your nation.”
But Bush also loves cutting funding for AmeriCorps, which President Bill Clinton created in 1993 “as a kind of domestic counterpart to the Peace Corps.” Since that time, more than 200,000 Americans have served in AmeriCorps. A look at Bush’s real “commitment” to volunteerism:
2003: “The president promised to expand AmeriCorps by 50 percent, from 50,000 volunteers to 75,000 volunteers. But in 2003, he signed legislation that cut AmeriCorps’s operating budget by 30 percent.”
2004: “The President in his FY 2004 budget request proposed $324 million for AmeriCorps, a $40 million decrease from FY 2003.”
2005: Bush’s budget included $442 million for AmeriCorps, which was “level funded from FY 2004.”
2006: Bush’s budget proposed to “reduce funding for Americorps from $287.7 million in FY ‘05 to $275 million in FY ‘06.”
2007: “Beginning next year , the White House would reduce funding for the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps from $27 million to $5 million with the goal of closing it down, according to the president’s budget. About 81 full-time staff members would lose their jobs.”
2008: The Bush administration’s fiscal 2008 budget would allocate about $480 million to AmeriCorps programs — more than $25 million less than what’s called for in the 2007 spending plan that Democratic Congressional leaders have crafted and significantly less than the fiscal 2006 enacted total.