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Aspects of Criminalization

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[Dec. 12th, 2004|05:20 pm]
Aspects of Criminalization
Administration Exploits Safety Concerns to Make Case Against Imports

The Bush administration has again found itself on the wrong side of a hot-button political issue. This time it's prescription drug importation, which a majority of Americans and members of Congress support. Without a compelling argument to support their case against drug importation, the administration has resorted to a familiar tactic in their political playbook: fear.

In hopes of swaying Americans from the truth, the administration and its allies in the drug industry are out making phony and scary claims. They warn that drug importation is inherently unsafe, that imported drugs aren't subject to the same rigorous safety standards as in the United States, and that allowing importation will flood the market with dangerous counterfeit drugs.

But the facts and just plain common sense belie their scare tactics.


Europe's Experience Shows Strong Safeguards are Needed

The U.S. presidential election saw re-importation of prescription drugs become one of the major dividing lines between Republicans and Democrats.

President Bush says the jury is still out on whether re-importation is safe, while most Democrats say there is no reason that Americans shouldn't import cheaper medicines from abroad if it lowers costs for patients.

Meanwhile, the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health recently released results from a survey that found 80 percent of Medicare beneficiaries supported legalization of drug re-importation from Canada if it would lower costs.


More Than Half Of Police Chiefs Oppose Legalizing Medicinal Marijuana, Survey Says

Fewer than one in two police chiefs support the use of medicinal cannabis by authorized patients, according to the results of a survey of more than 300 police chiefs nationwide conducted by the Police Foundation and the think-tank Drug Strategies.

Fifty-one percent of respondents said that local laws permitting "medical marijuana to be used for seriously ill individuals" are a "step in the wrong direction." Only 38 percent of respondents favored such a policy.

The result sharply contrasts with national opinion polls, which demonstrate that 80 percent of Americans believe that it should be legal to dispense medical cannabis to qualified patients. However, the finding is similar to a previous 2004 survey conducted by the National Association of Chiefs of Police, in which 60 percent of respondents answered "no" to the question: "Should marijuana be legalized in the United States for those who have a legitimate medical need for the drug."


Federal Bill Introduced Calling For Meta-Analysis Of Marijuana Research

Federal legislation introduced last week seeks to require the US National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to develop a "meta-analysis of the available scientific data regarding the safety and health risks of smoking marijuana and the clinically-proven effectiveness of smoking marijuana for medicinal purposes, and to require the Food and Drug Administration to promptly disseminate the meta-analysis." The bill, H.R. 5429, was introduced by longtime medical cannabis opponent Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN), along with Reps. Henry Bonilla (R-TX), Jack Kingston (R-GA), Pete Sessions (R-TX), and Christopher Smith (R-NJ).

NORML Foundation Executive Director Allen St. Pierre said that the scientific record shows definitively that cannabis has medical utility, and criticized Rep. Souder's "longstanding and willful ignorance" of the subject.

"NORML suggests that Rep. Souder and his colleagues begin their analysis by reviewing the National Academy of Sciences 1999 report, 'Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base,' which verified that cannabis is efficacious in the treatment of a number of symptoms, including nausea, appetite loss, and chronic pain," St. Pierre said.