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Marijuana Legalization and Public Health

Marijuana Legalization and Public Health

This year saw a strange overlap of holidays.  Easter corresponded with the pot smoker celebration of 420.  Perhaps even more significant is the fact that this is the first 420 where marijuana can be purchased legally (in Colorado and Washington state).  The Diane Rehm Show recently discussed marijuana legalization and its public health effects. 

Here is a description for the segment from the show’s website: 

Across the country, public attitudes towards legalizing marijuana have shifted and state legislatures are responding. No state has gone as far as Washington State or Colorado—where marijuana sales are legal—but many are moving to decriminalize the drug or make it available for medical use. And cash strapped states considering legalization are closely watching Colorado where the governor recently predicted a tax windfall. But while politicians are more eager to get on board, public health officials continue to raise alarm bells about the safety of lighting up. Guest host Susan Page and her guests discuss the business and changing politics of marijuana.

 

Marijuana Legalization and Public Health

Marijuana Legalization and Public Health

This year saw a strange overlap of holidays.  Easter corresponded with the pot smoker celebration of 420.  Perhaps even more significant is the fact that this is the first 420 where marijuana can be purchased legally (in Colorado and Washington state).  The Diane Rehm Show recently discussed marijuana legalization and its public health effects. 

Here is a description for the segment from the show’s website: 

Across the country, public attitudes towards legalizing marijuana have shifted and state legislatures are responding. No state has gone as far as Washington State or Colorado—where marijuana sales are legal—but many are moving to decriminalize the drug or make it available for medical use. And cash strapped states considering legalization are closely watching Colorado where the governor recently predicted a tax windfall. But while politicians are more eager to get on board, public health officials continue to raise alarm bells about the safety of lighting up. Guest host Susan Page and her guests discuss the business and changing politics of marijuana.

 

Should Addicts Be Paid Not To Have Kids?

Should Addicts Be Paid Not To Have Kids?

Several months ago, WNYC’s Radiolab ran a story about Barbara Harris and her daughter Destiny. Barbara Harris is the founder is the founder of a controversial organization, Project Prevention.  Project Prevention pays drugs addicts to be receive vasectomies or tubal ligation.  

Here is a description of the story: 

When Barbara Harris was 37, she started wishing she could have a daughter. It was 1989, and by that time only two of her six sons were still at home. So she filled out all the paperwork, and later that summer got a call about an 8-month-old baby girl. As soon as Barbara met her, she knew that was it — this was her daughter. She named her Destiny Harris. But before she could take her home, the social worker told Barbara that Destiny had tested positive for crack, PCP, and heroin. Her mom was addicted to drugs, and doctors said Destiny was delayed mentally and physically as a result, and always would be.

Producer Pat Walters flew down to North Carolina to meet Barbara and Destiny, who’s now 22 years old. And Barbara tells Pat, a few months after she brought Destiny home, she and her husband got another call. Destiny’s mom had given birth to another boy. They went to the hospital to pick him up, and he was going through withdrawal from heroin. Then Barbara got another call: a little girl. And a year later, another little boy. By 1994 she’d adopted four kids from the same woman. And she was feeling angry — how could this be allowed to happen? She decided to take a stand by trying to get a law passed for longterm birth control. And when that failed, she decided to take matters into her own hands. She founded an organization called Project Prevention, and began paying women with drug addiction to get IUDs, or get sterilized.

Lynn Paltrow, the Executive Director and founder of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, argues that Project Prevention is misguided and harmful, and articulates many of the objections raised by Barbara’s critics.

Mendocino County Marijuana Regulation v. Federal Prohibition

Mendocino County Marijuana Regulation v. Federal Prohibition

 

A recent episode of This American Life discussed the interaction between federal law, which prohibits marijuana growing; California law, which permits it in limited circumstances; and a Mendocino County regulation that attempted to reconcile the two.

 

Here is a description of the story:

 

Under California law, it’s legal to grow marijuana for medicinal purposes if you have a doctor’s recommendation. A few years ago, Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman was trying to find a way to deal with the proliferation of marijuana in his county. Allman wanted to spend less time dealing with growers who were growing small, legal amounts, so he could focus on other problems — including criminals who run massive marijuana farms in the Mendocino National Forest. So he came up with a plan to allow the small farmers to grow, if they registered with his office. Growers would pay for little zip-ties they could put around the base of their marijuana plants, and the cops would know to leave them alone. It saved time and generated revenue. Reporter Mary Cuddehe tells the story of how the county and the nation responded to the sheriff’s plan. (18 minutes)

 

The House I Live In

I recently watched “The House I Live In” a documentary about the cost of the War on Drugs. “The House I Live In” won the Grand Jury Prize: Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival. The documentary is available from multiple outlets, including Netflix.

Here is a description of the documentary:

Why We Fight director Eugene Jarecki shifts his focus from the military industrial complex to the War on Drugs in this documentary exploring the risks that prohibition poses to freedom, and the tragedy of addicts being treated as criminals. In the four decades since the War on Drugs commenced, more than 45 millions of addicts have been arrested — and for each one jailed, another family is destroyed. Meanwhile, the prisons in America are growing overcrowded with non-violent criminals, and illegal drugs are still being sold in schoolyards. By examining just where it all went wrong, Jarecki reveals that a solution is possible if we can just find it in ourselves to be compassionate, and see past the decades of paranoia and propaganda.