News Release

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September 7, 2000

SAMHSA Introduces Protocols For Marijuana Treatment Programs

        Washington, DC:  The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) started its 11th annual National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month by outlining five separate models for treating adolescent marijuana use.
        According to SAMHSA data, admissions for marijuana treatment increased by 155 percent between 1993-98.  The treatment protocols were used with 600 patients and their families by four separate drug counseling centers.  When asked by NORML, a SAMHSA spokesperson estimated that half of the adolescents involved in the programs were sent there by the criminal justice system, in lieu of criminal charges.
        "Let there be no doubt that marijuana is addictive," said H. Westley Clark, M.D., J.D., M.P.H., CSAT director.  "The experts who worked on this project consider it (marijuana) both psychologically and physiologically addictive.  Over 52 percent of the youthful marijuana users in this study admitted to enough problems to be considered dependent, including 38 percent reporting physiological tolerance, which is needing more to get the same high, and 16 percent reporting withdrawal symptoms."
        The data presented by Clark differs from previous statements and studies presented by the National Institute of Drug Abuse and the National Academy of Sciences have consistently reported that marijuana withdrawal, tolerance and dependence are the least serious compared to nicotine, heroin, cocaine, alcohol and caffeine.
        The treatment programs, which range from 5 out-patient sessions to 12 with four home visits, six parent education group meetings and case management, are said to cost between $105 to $244 per week, depending on the treatment model used.
        For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Foundation Executive Director at (202) 483-8751.  To learn more about the treatment program visit

State Funded Cannabis Research Center Established At UC-San Diego

        San Diego, CA:  A center aimed at researching the medical efficacy of marijuana has been established at the University of California San Diego (UCSD).
        The Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research (CMCR) is a joint venture between UCSD and the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) and received $3 million in funding by the California state legislature.
        "The politics of medicinal marijuana are behind us as we begin the important work of researching the safety and efficacy of medicinal marijuana," said Sen. John Vasconcellos (D-Santa Clara), who sponsored the marijuana research bill that provided funds for the CMCR.  "The National Institutes of Health and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences have independently called for further studies.  Now, because of the vision of the California legislature, the governor and the University of California, the issue of medical marijuana is properly in the hands of physicians and researchers."
        Serving as co-director of the CMCR is Donald Abrams, M.D., a professor of medicine at UCSF, who in July completed the nation's first clinical trial using inhaled marijuana.  His study showed HIV patients who smoke marijuana do not disrupt the effect of anti-retroviral drugs.
        "The findings from our initial safety trial suggest that studies of the possible effectiveness of marijuana should be launched now," Abrams said.  "This state funding will allow that to happen quickly so that we may finally get some needed answers."
        The center's first studies are anticipated to begin in the new year.
        For more information, please contact Leslie Franz at UCSD at (619) 543-6163 or Jeff Sheehy at UCSF at (415) 597-8165.

Hawaii County Returns DEA Marijuana Eradication Grant Of $265,000

        Hilo, HI:  A $265,000 grant that would have financed aerial marijuana eradication efforts in Hawaii was returned to the Drug Enforcement Administration after the Hawaii County Council failed to obtain an insurance policy protecting council members from impeachment.
        According to the county charter, county officials may be impeached for illegal or improper actions through the submittal of a petition containing 100 registered voters.  Opponents of Green Harvest (the marijuana eradication effort) had previously filed impeachment petitions against mayor Stephen Yamashiro and the council over allegations that the county failed to provide an adequate review of the program.  The charges were later dismissed by a circuit court judge on technical grounds.
        The bulk of the grant money was earmarked for helicopter rentals to spot marijuana grow plots.  Hawaiian citizens have complained that the air surveillance is an invasion of privacy and a noise disturbance.
        "It's harvest time now, so this is the perfect time for this to have happened," said Roger Christie, a Hawaiian marijuana advocate.  "Marijuana eradication and prohibition is on thin ice and it's global warming time."
        For more information, please contact Roger Christie at (808) 961-0488.

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