Monday, April 19, 2010
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Mark Blumel of Southern Cal-N.O.R.M.L. gives sound advise for any patient or co-op when dealing with “San Diego” laws.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Battle Depression and Anxiety with This Inexpensive Amino Acidby Danna Norek, citizen journalist
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(NaturalNews) Billions of dollars are spent yearly on the costs associated with depression and anxiety disorders. It`s no surprise when you consider the statistic that about ten percent of the US population suffers from depression. Most Americans are not aware that a simple, inexpensive amino acid called 5htp can help relieve many mood issues that revolve around anxiety and depression.
Much of the significant profit made by pharmaceutical companies is made through sales of various antidepressants, anti anxiety, and mood related drugs. That`s pretty amazing considering that the average patient must try at least 3 different antidepressants before they find one that actually works for them.
Most antidepressants on the market have side effects so unsavory that the symptom may be better than the treatment. That doesn`t exactly make a great case for treating depression with these hard core meds.
These are both very good reasons to research other alternative options to help kick depression instead of going the conventional medicine route. That leads us to discuss the amino acid that many aren`t even aware of. This compound can help lessen anxiety and depression naturally, with minimal side effects. Oh, and another great thing about this supplement is that it`s dirt cheap compared to prescription medications.
The amino acid is none other than 5htp. Perhaps more known in herbal and alternative medicine circles as a great sleep aid and anti anxiety aid, many are also finding solace from their depression in 5htp.
5htp is simply an amino acid compound which is a conduit, or precursor if you will, to help the body make tryptophan, which is that calming chemical that puts you to sleep after eating a turkey dinner. This in turn creates that all important mood enhancing chemical serotonin.
5htp also plays a role in helping the body produce melatonin, which is the body`s natural "sleep" hormone that is released at night. However, 5htp does much more than relax you. It has been found to be an excellent natural mood regulator, anxiety releaser, and even an appetite suppressant in many cases.
This makes sense considering binge eaters typically have low serotonin levels. It has even been reported to help those with fibromyalgia, another disorder associated with serotonin deficiency.
As you can see, 5htp can be quite a useful supplement for several reasons, not just for mood enhancement.
So, if you want to try this easily accessible natural compound for mood enhancement, how should you start? Well, it`s important to read labeling if you should suffer from other ailments such as heart disease, or if you are already on antidepressants, as it may have contraindications you need to be aware of.
Also be mindful that when starting 5htp, you should start with a low dosage, and work your way up if you find it is not working for you. Most people that take it with success say that they take their first dose in the morning, a second dose in the middle of the day, and a third at the end of the day. This way, there is a consistent release of the mood stabilizing effects throughout the day.
Potential side effects of 5htp supplementation is diarrhea, dizziness, initial sleepiness, and nausea. Allergic reactions are always a consideration with any herbal, natural, or medical remedy, so be mindful to listen to your body when first starting out.
by S. L. Baker, features writer
Click here for original article
(NaturalNews) It's not a new idea that multiple sclerosis (MS) is somehow tied to sunlight -- or, rather, the lack of adequate exposure to sunlight. For more than three decades, researchers have noted that MS is much more common in higher latitudes than in the tropics. So, because bright sunlight is more abundant near the equator and sunlight exposure results in the body producing vitamin D, some scientists have reasoned that increased vitamin D levels may lower the risk of MS.
In fact, for those who already have MS, a neurological disease marked by a deterioration in nerves' electrical conduction, vitamin D may reduce their symptoms, according to Hector DeLuca, the Steenbock Research Professor of Biochemistry at University of Wisconsin-Madison. However, in a study just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS), DeLuca and fellow researcher Bryan Becklund conclude the ultraviolet (UV) portion of sunlight could play an even more important role than vitamin D in preventing and/or controlling the MS.
"Since the 1970s, a lot of people have believed that sunlight worked through vitamin D to reduce MS," DeLuca, one of the world's top vitamin D researchers, said in a statement to the media. "It's true that large doses of the active form of vitamin D can block the disease in the animal model. That causes an unacceptably high level of calcium in the blood, but we know that people at the equator don't have this high blood calcium, even though they have a low incidence of MS. So it seems that something other than vitamin D could explain this geographic relationship."
To try to better understand the impact sunshine could have on MS, Deluca and his team worked with lab mice that are genetically bred to be susceptible to a MS-like disease. The researchers triggered the disease in the animals by injecting them with a protein derived from nerve fibers. Then the mice were exposed to moderate levels of UV radiation (UVR) for a week. After the lab rodents developed multiple sclerosis-type symptoms, they were exposed to UVR every second or third day.
The UV exposure, which was equal to about two hours of direct summer sun, did not change how many mice got an MS-type illness, but it did reduce the symptoms of MS. Symptoms were especially reduced in the animals that were treated with UV light ever other day.
While the scientists found that although the UV exposure did increase the level of vitamin D in the mice, that effect by itself wasn't enough to cause such a dramatic lessening of MS symptoms. "These results suggest that UVR is likely suppressing disease independent of vitamin D production, and that vitamin D supplementation alone may not replace the ability of sunlight to reduce MS susceptibility," the scientists concluded in their paper.
In a media statement, DeLuca pointed out that the exposure to UV light might result in some reactive mechanism that blocks the autoimmune damage seen in MS. "We are looking to identify what compounds are produced in the skin that might play a role, but we honestly don't know what is going on," he said. "If we can find out what the UV is producing, maybe we could give that as a medicine. In the short term, if we can define a specific wavelength of light that is active, and it does not overlap with the wavelengths that cause cancer, we could expose patients who have been diagnosed with MS to that wavelength," DeLuca added.
Editor's note: NaturalNews is opposed to the use of animals in medical experiments that expose them to harm. We present these findings in protest of the way in which they were acquired.
For more information:
April 6, 2010, 1:42 PM
Losing the Drug War in California
By John H. Richardson
To greet the news about California's ballot initiative to legalize and tax marijuana this November, which proponents say could raise as much as $1.4 billion a year, the New York Times ran a story with comments from the president of the California Peace Officer's Association, John Standish. "We just don't think anything good will come of this," he said. "It's not going to better society. It's going to denigrate it."
Later he was quoted again: "We have a hard enough time now with drunk drivers on the road. This is just going to add to the problems — I cannot think of one crime scene I've been to where people said, 'Thank God the person was just under the influence of marijuana.'"
My jaw dropped. That's it? That's the best you've got? For that, thousands of people die every year in the drug war? For that, we arrest more than seven hundred thousand Americans a year? For that, we spend hundreds of billions of dollars on police, prisons, and international eradication efforts?
Besides, I've got two kids. To the point of driving them crazy, I tell them over and over to drive sober and stick to the speed limit. But I would five thousand times rather see them drive stoned than drunk — and I don't believe Mr. Standish could produce a single parent who feels differently.
So I called Standish. Surely the Times failed to quote his good arguments?
He told me: "The CPOA is a professional law enforcement association that develops leaders — there are four thousand members, police chiefs, sheriffs, command staff, and first-line supervisors, so all of the law enforcement associations in California are against this ballot initiative."
Also, "It's kind of misleading in that California can't legalize marijuana — state law cannot trump federal law." Then he repeated verbatim the "we don't think anything good is going to come of this" and added two more arguments: that Denmark thinks making pot semi-legal is the worst decision they ever made, and Mexico is "not going to sit idly by if we legalize it."
Then he had to rush off, so I didn't get a chance to ask him about what happened in Portugal (according to a study by the super-conservative Cato Institute) in the first five years since they legalized all drugs:
"Lifetime use of any illegal drug among seventh through ninth graders fell from 14.1 to 10.6 percent; drug use in older teens also declined. Lifetime heroin use among 16-to-18-year-olds fell from 2.5 to 1.8 percent (although there was a slight increase in marijuana use in that age group). New HIV infections in drug users fell by 17 percent between 1999 and 2003, and deaths related to heroin and similar drugs were cut by more than half. In addition, the number of people on methadone and buprenorphine treatment for drug addiction rose to 14,877 from 6,040, and money saved on enforcement allowed for increased funding of drug-free treatment as well."
A few hours later I got a call from the CPOA spokesman, John Lovell, a pleasant man who also represents the police chiefs' and narcotics officers' associations. These are the arguments he came up with:
"First off, the figure of seven hundred thousand arrested is factually inaccurate — people do not get arrested for simple possession. The most that happens is they're given a citation and release. In California, the penalty for simple possession is $100 fine."
In other words, pot isn't all that illegal, which strikes me as a weird argument for keeping the drug war going full tilt. It also suggests they don't take the stoned driver problem as seriously as their rhetoric suggests.
"Second, I think what John was trying to say is that the burden of proof is on the legalizers, because right now what you have is serious public safety problems caused by alcohol abuse, pharmaceutical abuse, tobacco that kills people. Given all that, the question is, What is the public policy good of adding another substance that alters their minds?"
Also, "this substance is a registered carcinogen."
Also, the initiative is badly written. "It may make it impossible for California institutions and businesses and governments to receive any federal funding." This is because the details of the initiative make it impossible to observe the standards of a "drug-free workplace," which is required by federal law for groups that get federal grants. This could cost California billions in Washington cash, he said.
Also, the ballot does not provide for a state marijuana tax, just city and county taxes. "It authorizes 420 cities to make their own laws, each with their own regulations." (My rule against drug-war-trivializing Cheech & Chong jokes forbids me to take note of that number, although I will say that later, Lovell unilaterally upped the number of cities in California to 450).
Also, pot use doubled in Alaska when they decriminalized. And the ballot doesn't forbid people with criminal records from distributing. And it doesn't specify if your license to sell is statewide or limited to a given city. And the Mexican government, mired in its war with the drug cartels, has expressed deep concern that legalizing pot will hurt their efforts to fight the drug cartels.
At that point, I had to stop him and ask the obvious question: Isn't the drug war exactly like Prohibition? Didn't the legalization of booze make Al Capone's mobsters pack their Tommy guns back in their cello cases so semi-law-abiding citizens like Joseph P. Kennedy could take over the liquor "cartels."
"That's a theoretical argument," he said.
"But isn't it true? Didn't the mobsters all go away?"
"You need to get your history from other than movies," he said. "What did happen after Prohibition is that the mob simply moved in to the legal liquor distributorships all over the country. All that came out in the Kefauver Commission in the 1950s."
But... doesn't John McCain own a beer distribution business. Are you saying that John McCain is a mobster?
"Of course not," Lovell said. "But let's not get into philosophical issues. What voters are going to be voting on isn't some philosophical debate — what they're voting on is a specific proposal. I think it's possible for the voter to say, philosophically, this should be legal, but this measure is wrong."
Then he went back to the regulatory problems. Under the terms of the initiative, 450 different cities could have 450 different rules. That means a city could make it legal to grow pot in public parks. And look at how upset the Los Angeles City Council got when a thousand medical marijuana clinics bloomed — they capped the number of permits at 70. And what if you run a bike shop and can't promise a drug-free workplace? Won't your insurance company raise your rates?
But all laws have problems, and none of this stacks up very impressively against the thousands of lives and billions of dollars. Isn't the solution to pass the damn law and fix the tangles as they come up? Just as the Los Angeles City Council did when they limited clinics?
"The initiative has a provision in it — it can only be amended to advance its purpose. That means, because one of the purposes of the initiative is local control and local taxation, you cannot change that."
So we're going to sacrifice thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of drug-war dollars so that California's cities and counties don't hog all the marijuana tax money?
"This could cost the state billions in federal money," he repeated. Really? With California on the ropes, cutting school budgets and releasing prisoners, is the federal government really going to slash its grant money over pot?
I don't buy it.
"For sure, it's going to cost every employer more in insurance," he said. "If you look at section 11340C, the only thing an employer can do is address consumption issues of an employee that actually affect their workplace performance — if you're in possession, an employer can't take any action. If you test dirty, the employer can't do anything."
So you can only punish an employee for something that "actually affects his workplace performance" – these are his words, folks. In other words, if a person gets stoned on Saturday night and comes in Monday morning 100 percent sober, there's no way to punish him? And the problem with this is?
"Tell that to the federal government when they deny your request to make bicycles for the Army."
Even if it's a perfectly good bicycle?
"Go read the drug-free workplace act of 1988," he said. Let me see if I follow this — the argument is that marijuana should be illegal because it is illegal?
What I'm saying to you is, irrespective of our differing points of view, if you read this initiative, it doesn't make sensible public policy."
By that point, we were going in circles — until he came up with one completely new argument. "In Mendocino county, the heart of the emerald triangle, there was last year — I'll have fun with it — a 'grass roots' effort that put a measure on the ballot to roll back Mendocino's liberal medical marijuana laws."
A Cheech & Chong joke! From the drug warrior's drug warrior! If you need any more evidence of how completely mainstream marijuana has become, this is it. This war is lost. The only question now is how much more blood and treasure we're going to waste before we all admit it.
P.S. If all of this makes your head hurt, relieve your stress with the best anti-drug song of modern times, Gotta Try. The band is Fifth Nation, which sounds kinda like Jeff Buckley meets Erykah Badu and includes a person who actually appears to have listened to me (see above) when I told her never to drive high. This is how they describe the song: "In a numbed culture, it's tremendously empowering not to get fucked up all the time." You can listen to it here.
Read more: http://www.esquire.com/the-side/richardson-report/california-legalize-pot-040610#ixzz0kXDL2dQq
From acupuncture to marijuana and more.
By R. Morgan Griffin
Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD
If you have chronic pain and are looking for alternatives to medication and surgery, you have a lot of options. Alternative pain treatments that doctors once scoffed at are now standard at many pain centers.
"That phrase 'alternative pain treatments' doesn't mean much to me," says Seddon R. Savage, MD, incoming president of the American Pain Society. "I think the line between them and mainstream treatment is pretty blurry now."
However, not all alternative pain treatments work. Some can even be risky. Some alternative treatments may help with pain from bad backs, osteoarthritis, and headaches, but have no effect on chronic pain from fibromyalgia or diabetic nerve damage.
"You have to do your homework when you're considering alternative treatments for pain," warnsAnne Louise Oaklander, MD, PhD, an associate professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and director of the Nerve Injury Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston."Make sure that you're trying a treatment that is likely to work in your case." And always discuss any alternative pain treatments you want to try with your regular doctor.
Here's a rundown of the most commonly used alternative treatments for chronic pain.
* Acupuncture. Once seen as bizarre, acupuncture is rapidly becoming a mainstream treatment for pain. Studies have found that it works for pain caused by many conditions, including fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, back injuries, and sports injuries.
How does it work? No one's quite sure. It could release pain-numbing chemicals in the body. Or it might block the pain signals coming from the nerves.
"I think there's good scientific evidence for acupuncture and I prescribe it," says F. Michael Ferrante, MD, director of the UCLA Pain Management Center in Los Angeles. "The nice thing is that even if it doesn't work, it doesn't do any harm."
* Marijuana. Setting aside the controversy, marijuana has been shown to have medicinal properties and can help with some types of chronic pain.
There's strong evidence that marijuana has a modest effect on certain types of nerve pain -- particularly pain caused by MS and HIV, says Steven P. Cohen, MD, associate professor in the division of pain medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore. Since it also relieves nausea, marijuana can help people who are suffering side effects from chemotherapy.
However, marijuana does have risks. For some people, Cohen says, those risks can be serious, including addiction and psychosis. Because of the dangers and the obvious potential for abuse, experts generally only turn to marijuana when all other treatments have failed.
On a practical level, you also need to be aware of the laws regarding the use of medical marijuana in your state. Could you be arrested for smoking marijuana for medical reasons? Talk to your doctor. There are also two prescription drugs, called pharmaceutical cannabinoids, that are derived from the active ingredient of marijuana. They are sometimes used for pain, although they are only FDA-approved for nausea caused by chemotherapy and HIV-related weight loss.
* Exercise. Going for a walk isn't a treatment, exactly. But regular physical activity has big benefits for people with many different painful conditions. Study after study has found that physical activity can help relieve chronic pain, as well as boost energy and mood.
If you have chronic pain, you should check in with a doctor before you start an exercise routine, especially if you have any health conditions. Your doctor might have some guidance on what to avoid, at least as you get started.
* Chiropractic manipulation. Although mainstream medicine has traditionally regarded spinal manipulation with suspicion, it's becoming a more accepted treatment. "I think chiropractic treatment works reasonably well for lower back pain," Oaklander tells WebMD. "Studies have shown that it's comparable to other approaches."
* Supplements and vitamins. There is evidence that certain dietary supplements and vitamins can help with certain types of pain. Fish oil is often used to reduce pain associated with swelling. Topical capsaicin, derived from chili peppers, may help with arthritis, diabetic nerve pain, and other conditions. There's evidence that glucosamine can help relieve moderate to severe pain from osteoarthritis in the knee.
But when it comes to supplements, you have to be careful. They can have risks. Oaklander says that high doses of vitamin B6 can damage the nerves. Some studies suggest that supplements such as ginkgo biloba and ginseng can thin the blood and increase the risk of bleeding. This could lead to serious consequences for anyone getting surgery for chronic pain.
"Supplements can cause real harm," says Ferrante. He points out that people with chronic pain can be at higher risk of side effects from supplements. Why? They're more likely than the average person to be taking other medications or getting medical procedures or surgeries.
So treat supplements and vitamins warily, like you would treat any drug. Always check with a doctor before you start taking supplements, especially if you have any medical conditions or take other medication.
* Therapy. Some people with chronic pain balk at the idea of seeing a therapist -- they think it implies that their pain isn't real. But studies show that depression and chronic pain often go together. Chronic pain can cause or worsen depression; depression can lower a person's tolerance for pain.
So consider giving therapy a try. Cohen says he's seen particularly good results with cognitive behavioral therapy, a practical approach that helps people identify and change the thought and behavior patterns that contribute to their unhappiness.
* Stress-reduction techniques. "Reducing stress is really crucial in pain management," says Savage. There are number of approaches, including:
o Yoga. There's good evidence that yoga can help with chronic pain, says Cohen -- specifically fibromyalgia, neck pain, back pain, and arthritis. "I've been including yoga as part of the treatment that I prescribe since the mid-1980s," Savage says.
o Relaxation therapy. This is actually a category of techniques that help people calm the body and release tension -- a process that might also reduce pain. Some approaches teach people how to focus on their breathing. Research shows that relaxation therapy can help with fibromyalgia, headache, osteoarthritis, and other conditions.
o Hypnosis. Studies have found this approach helpful with different sorts of pain, like back pain, repetitive strain injuries, and cancer pain.
o Guided imagery. Research shows that guided imagery can help with conditions like headache pain, cancer pain, osteoarthritis, and fibromyalgia. How does it work? An expert would teach you ways to direct your thoughts by focusing on specific images.
o Music therapy. This approach gets people to either perform or listen to music. Studies have found that it can help with many different pain conditions, like osteoarthritis and cancer pain.
o Biofeedback. This approach teaches you how to control normally unconscious bodily functions, like blood pressure or your heart rate. Studies have found that it can help with headaches, fibromyalgia, and other conditions.
o Massage. It's undeniably relaxing. And there's some evidence that massage can help ease pain from rheumatoid arthritis, neck and back injuries, and fibromyalgia.
Risky Alternative Pain Treatments
Obviously, you need to be skeptical of any unproven or risky alternative pain treatments. What else should you be wary of?
Experts say you should keep your expectations for alternative pain treatments modest -- especially when it comes to "miracle cures." Controlling chronic pain is not simple. A single supplement, device, or treatment is not going to make your chronic pain disappear. Good chronic pain management usually requires time and the collaboration of experts, says Savage.
Savage says you also need to be suspicious of anyone pushing a treatment when the financial motive is blatant. That doesn't only apply to pain treatments advertised on dubious web sites asking for your credit card number.
"I think people should be careful whenever a person is making a living off of an untested pain remedy," says Savage. "So I'm concerned whenever I see providers selling their own expensive and unproven remedies. You need to be very careful."
Alternative Pain Treatments: Working With Your Doctor
If you're living with chronic pain, considering alternative treatments makes a lot of sense. But remember that even if a treatment is alternative, it has to be integrated with your overall pain management plan.
Don't try out these techniques on your own without your doctor's knowledge. Instead, you and your doctor should talk over the pros and cons of different approaches. What's most likely to help in your case? What will complement your other treatments?
Experts say that you should try to keep up to date with research into alternative treatments for chronic pain. The options for people with chronic pain are always growing -- and some of the odder treatments of today might become the mainstream treatments of tomorrow.
Click here for original article
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
This is part of an ongoing series featuring women who are leading the movement for the elimination of marijuana prohibition and the reform of laws governing its use in the United States. They are making history in law reform advocacy, cannabis related business and politics and in the field of medical research and patient care.
In May 1929, Pauline Sabin founded the Women’s Organization for National Prohibition Reform (WONPR). It was a platform for women who were demanding the repeal of the 18th amendment forbidding the manufacture and sale of alcohol. Known as the Sabin women, the leadership of the WONPR consisted primarily of the nonpartisan wives of leaders of American industry. In a little over a year, almost 1.5 million Sabin Women were publicly calling for an end to prohibition-inspired violence and political malfeasance related to the illegal production of alcohol.
"We believe that there are multitude of women who are opposed to national prohibition who welcome an opportunity as a body to voice their opposition and work for such a change in the law." –Pauline Sabin
In 2010, concerned female scientists, politicians, mothers and working women all over America are fighting with equal passion to end the prohibition of marijuana. They are following in the footsteps of Pauline Sabin, M. Louise Grosse (Founder of the Molly Pitcher Club), Mary T. Norton (the first female Democrat elected to serve in the house and member of the WONPR Advisory Council), and other female leaders of the 1930’s anti-prohibitionist movement. Like their predecessors, these women are the true change makers who are working to normalize, legalize, tax and regulate the use of a substance currently used by tens of millions of Americans. They are inspiring women from all social circles and political spheres to speak up and publicly support sensible, responsible cannabis policies based on science, reason and compassion.
While any attempt to identify the most impressive female leaders of the marijuana legalization movement is guaranteed to miss many of those who have toiled long and hard to move this cause forward, the women listed here were selected for their outspoken activism and media outreach. They are presenting a new public face to the reform movement and serving as inspiration for like-minded women everywhere. If there is a sister in the movement you would like to see recognized by the NORML Women’s Alliance, please email Sabrina Fendrick with her name and a bio of her accomplishments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The NORML Women’s Alliance would like to honor all of the female NORML Directors who are paving the way toward rational cannabis policies and are setting a wonderful example as women who have actively taken on leadership roles (this year and last) within the NORML family. Thank-you ladies, you are making history:
NORML Women Chapter Leaders
- Dawn Dunlap Central Ohio NORML – (OH)
- Terri Zeman Greater St. Louis NORML – (MO)
- Trena Moss Hillsdale County NORML – (MI)
- Elizabeth Brandt Iona County NORML – (MI)
- Apryl Coleman Kent County NORML – (MI)
- Carol Reed Macomb County NORML – (MI)
- Kim Schmidt Ohio NORML – (OH)
- Norma Sapp Oklahoma NORML – (OK)
- Kandice Hawes Orange County NORML – (CA)
- Madeline Martinez Oregon NORML – (OR)
- Lori Duckworth Southern Oregon NORML – (OR)
- Melissa Posecznick Tennessee NORML – (TN)
- Lacey Viviano Upstate NY NORML – (NY)
- Linda Adler US Virgin Islands NORML – (USVI)
- Melody Karr Wexford County NORML – (MI)
- Dee Duffy Virginia NORML – (VA)
- Cheryl Shuman Beverly Hills NORML – (CA)
- Emily Busalacchi Mile High NORML – (CO)
- Christeen Landino Michigan NORML – (MI)
- Sarah Zenk-Blossom Minnesota State University NORML – (MN)
- Anne Davis New Jersey NORML – (NJ)
- Ruth Liebesman Martiniuk Empire State NORML – (NY)
- Crystal Caudebec Hudson Valley NORML – (NY)
Madeline Martinez is the co-founder of the United States’ first Cannabis Cafe which opened in late 2009. She is the Executive Director of Oregon NORML, NORML’s largest and most succesful chapter affiliate, boasting more than 2,000 dues paying members. Currently, she isco-chief petitionerfor the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act, a statewide initiative for 2010, which seeks to tax and regulate cannabis for adult consumption, allow farmers to grow industrial hemp and fund state social service programs. Madeline is a retired police officer and grandmother of five. Martinez is also a member of NORML’s Board of Directors as well as NORML’s Pauline Sabin Winner in 2007.
Jeanne Kohl-Welles is a State Senator from Washington. Representing Seattle in the State Senate, Kohl-Welles has a long history of supporting marijuana legislation, including efforts to expand patient access to medical marijuana and to depenalize adult use. In addition to her chairmanship of the Sen. Labor, Commerce & Consumer Protection Committee, Sen. Kohl-Welles sits on the Senate Ways & Means and Judiciary Committees. She has been representing her district in one capacity or another for almost 20 years.
Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson is a State Representative for the city of Seattle and many of its neighboring communities. Representative Dickerson has been a major advocate for marijuana law reform in Washington and was a primary sponsor of 2010 legislation that sought to regulate the use of marijuana for adults.. She was also a co-sponsor of the House bill to decriminalize marijuana (a companion bill to Kohl-Welles’ Senate decriminalization bill) and a cosponsor of the House version of the medical marijuana expansion bill (also a companion bill to Kohl-Welles’ Senate version).
Dr. Julie Holland is a board certified psychiatrist in New York City whose appearance on The Today Show’s Stiletto Stoners broadcast helped introduce America to the growing phenomenon of responsible, successful women using who use cannabis instead of alcohol. Her eloquent and intelligent commentary on this nationally broadcast segment not only shed a positive light on female cannabis consumers, but was also a major inspiration for the creation of the NORML Women’s Alliance. Dr. Holland is also a published author and outspoken advocate for sensible marijuana policies. From 1996 to 2005, Dr. Holland ran the psychiatric emergency room of Bellevue Hospital on Saturday and Sunday nights. A liaison to the hospital’s medical emergency room and toxicology department, she is considered an expert on street drugs and intoxication states, and lectures widely on this topic. She published a paper in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, describing a resurgence of the drug phenomenon smoking marijuana soaked in embalming fluid, which may be a carrier for PCP.
Jessica Corry is a Denver-based attorney, public policy analyst, and influential political strategist. She is the leading voice for conservatives against marijuana prohibition and is one of the most high profile activists in the state. On a national level, Corry has been publicly advocating marijuana law reform and has been quoted or featured in several media-related pieces. This includes appearances on Fox News and a featured in a Washington Post editorial, "Reefer sanity: The marijuana lobby goes mainstream," written by fellow charter member of the NORML Women’s Alliance, Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker. Corry is a Republican mother of two young children who believes that marijuana prohibition is a violation of states rights and undermines the American family. She is also a regular blogger on the Huffington Post and was chosen as one of Colorado’s top political “Movers and Shakers” by the Colorado Statesman.
Mieko Hester-Perez is a brave mother and newcomer to the marijuana reform movement. Hester-Perez received national attention after being featured on ABC News, CBS News, Good Morning Americaand Fox News as a parent who uses medical cannabis as treatment for her autistic son. "At first I did some research, and I found a doctor who actually had a protocol for medical marijuana in children diagnosed with autism," Hester-Perez told "Good Morning America." Her 10-year-old son was dangerously underweight, "you could see the bones in his chest. He was going to die," she said on the nationally syndicated television morning show. “My son had self-injurious behaviors. He was extremely aggressive, he would run out of our house… he was a danger to himself and others.” A few hours after giving her son a cannabis-infused brownie she saw a major change in her son’s eating habits and behavior. “Marijuana balanced my son," says Hester-Perez. She is a wonderful mother and a proud parent who understands the importance of marijuana law reform and is fighting to normalize the movement with her public advocacy and activism. She was also a featured speaker at the hugely successful Los Angeles Hemp Conference and Medical Marijuana Expose.
Cheryl Shuman is the founder and Executive Director of the new Beverly Hills NORML chapter, one of NORML’s highest profile affiliates. For many years, Shuman ran a thriving celebrity serving business and was known as the "Optician to the Stars." She recently organized one of the most successful and widely attended gatherings of the medical marijuana community, the 2010 Los Angeles Hemp Con Medical Marijuana Show. She was presented as the key note speaker and partnered with HempCon funder Mega Productions to serve as a co-producer. As an ode to women in the marijuana reform movement, Shuman planned a full day dedicated to women speakers that included several high profile female activists. Her press conference, prior to the convention, featured cultural icon Cheech Marin of the comedy duo Cheech and Chong. The news event received significant local coverage and was picked up by major national outlets, including USA Today. She has brought considerable attention to the cannabis crusade in California, and is working to normalize the image of movement into that of a modern, mainstream fight for social justice. Shuman has been featured on several major media outlets, including Reason TV, who captured the well known standing ovation Shuman received after giving testimony to the LA City Council. She has also been featured on KTLA and in The Sacramento Bee.
Alison Chinn-Holcomb, Esq is the Drug Policy Director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington State. She has been spearheading the effort to legalize use and was the primary lobbyist for this year’s WA marijuana reform bills. She is the 2008 recipient of NORML’s Pauline Sabin Award for her continued succesful efforts in Washington as a leading woman in the marijuana reform movement. As a successful criminal defense attorney for years prior to joining the ACLU team, she has represented many clients in marijuana prosecutions and was a member of the Marijuana Policy Panel that was formed in 2003 to monitor the implimentation of voter-passed I-75.
Marie Myung-Ok Lee is another brave mother who found medical cannabis to work miracles with her son’s autism and in May of 2009 bravely wrote a long article called "Why I Give My 9-Year-Old Son Pot" in Slate Magazine. Her son’s illness had caused him to have violent aggressive outbursts, chew holes in his shirt, and suffer from other major debilitating behaviors that not only took place at home but also while he was attending school, "The teachers were wearing tae kwon do arm pads to protect themselves against his biting." As she mentions in the article the effects of the medical cannabis on her son were life changing. "Since we started him on his ’special tea,’ J’s little face, which is sometimes a mask of pain, has softened. He smiles more." Her story was also featured in the online blog Mom Logic. She is an acclaimed Korean American writer and author of "Somebody’s Daughter: A Novel" and currently a visiting Lecturer at the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in the Americas at Brown University. "When I researched cannabis the way I did conventional drugs, it seemed clear to me that marijuana at the very least wouldn’t harm J, and might help. It’s strange, I’ve come to think, that the virtues of such a useful and harmless botanical have been so clouded by stigma." Marie Myung-Ok Lee is bringing a maternal, mainstream face to the positive uses of medical marijuana. Her bravery and strength makes her a wonderful asset in the fight to give a voice to anti-prohibition parents.
Julie Stewart, the founder of Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), a twenty-year old advocacy group fighting for fair sentencing laws, was inspired to active after her brother, a nonviolent, first-time drug offender was sentenced to five years in a federal prison for growing marijuana. Stewart was personally affected by marijuana’s prohibition and is fighting to move criminal justice sentencing guidelines away from mandatory minimums. Stewart’s lobbying achievements and considerable media coverage has earned her major recognition, including having been featured in several Washington Post articles within the last couple of years. In 2007, Stewart testified in front of the U.S. Sentencing Commission (whose role is to set guidelines regarding sentencing defendants in federal court) and successfully advocated for them to amend the new sentencing rules in order to qualify thousands of drug offenders for release from federal prison. Her latest successes include putting an end to the sentencing disparaty between the unjust penalties for individuals prosecuted for crack cocain-related charges, a majority of whom are African American, and the more lenient punishment associated with crimes involving powder cocain, which tends to be more common among white people.
Women from Marijuana Reform History
Dr. Ester Fride (1953-2010) Israeli Scientist who showed that a newborn mammal can not suckle when lacking one of the two cannabinoid receptors. Upon receiving her doctorate in psychoneurobiology, she conducted her research in the U.S. at Johns Hopkins and the National Institutes of Health, focusing on how prenatal stress and neonatal development in the brain. In 1990 in Israel, she began work in the lab of Raphael Mechoulam, who concentrated his research on the clinical application of cannabinoids. Fride was also involved in the identification of an endocannabinoid, 2-Arachidonyl Glyceryl ether, and was co-author of a breakthrough paper describing how the newly found compound responds to the cannabinoid receptor. She is best known for her work at the College of Judea and Samaria in Ariel, where she first hypothesized that endocannabinoids played a role in the nursing process and found evidence of a third cannabinoid receptor. Fride wrote in the European Journal of Pharmacology in 2004 that, “The medical implications [that newborn mice lacking the cannabinoid receptor CB1 are unable to suckle at birth] are far-reaching…and suggest a promising future for cannabinoids [CB1 deprived puppies injected with THC promptly after birth, were able to suckle and developed normally] in pediatric medicine for conditions including ‘non-organic failure-to-thrive’ and cystic fibrosis.”
Cheryl Miller (1946-2003) was one of the first medical marijuana activists in the state of New Jersey. Miller suffered from multiple sclerosis for over 30 years and is best known for being featured in a 2002 political ad critical of then Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA) for publicly stating that she should be arrested and incarcerated for using medical cannabis. The ad was deemed the "Most Dramatic Political Ad in 2002" by the National Journal and has been credited for bringing down Barr’s re-election bid to congress. The add aired 4,000 times on major news and cable networks. From acts of civil disobedience, to public protests, to starring in several advocacy commercials, Miller acted on behalf of thousands of seriously ill patients who were desperate and dying to legally access medical marijuana. Unfortunately, Cheryl Miller did not live to see New Jersey become the Nation’s 14th state to legalize medial marijuana. However, her membory will live on through the incorporation of this hard fought new law which is fondly refered to by locals as the "Cheryl Miller Medical Marijuana Act.". A recipient of NORML’s Lifetime Achievement for medical cannabis, along with her brave and loving husband Jim Miller, Cheryl Miller has earned her place as a major player in the history of marijuana law reform.
Dr. Dorothy Whipple (1901-1995) was a pediatrician and author who didn’t actually get active in marijuana law reform until later in her senior years. She was one of NORML’s earliest supporters and a founding member of the first NORML Advisory Board in the early 1970’s. Dr. Whipple wrote "Q: Is the Grass Greener? Answers to Questions About Drugs," advocating a more compassionate alternative to the criminal prosecution of marijuana related offenses. She served as one of NORML’S star expert witnesses at state legislative hearings across the nation and was a staunch advocate for women’s rights.
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Lynn Zimmer (1947-2006) was a sociologist from Queens College who co-author “Marijuana Myths/Marijuana Facts,” one of the leading scholarly books on marijuana. To date, it has been published and translated in seven different languages. She was well known for her writing on several drug-related issues, including education, drug testing and public messaging. Zimmer was also a frequent expert guest on radio and TV programs. In 2000, Zimmer was honored by NORML as a recipient of the Lester Grinspoon Award for Achievement in the Field of Marijuana Law. Her intelligent perspecitve and insight into the issue of drugs in society solidified her place as a distinguished scholar in the area of marijuana and drug policy reform over all. For several years, she was an active and valued member of the NORML Board of Direcotrs. She was a supporter of the organization and the cause until the end.