Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Santa Fe Police Raid School Greenhouse: Find Tomatoes


The war on drugs strikes again, this time at the Camino de Paz Montessori School and Farm in Santa Fe County, New Mexico.

On September 21 a low flying unmarked helicopter surveyed the school's property for 15 minutes, so low that the students could see gun barrels on its outside. These students were just innocently eating outside while this was happening, not to mention that the students’ ages ranged from 11 to 14. As the helicopter disappeared a state police van arrived accompanied by a few other vehicles in the driveway of the school.

From the vehicles appeared four unmarked men wearing bulletproof vests wanting to inspect the schools greenhouses and did they find the marijuana that they were looking for? Of course not, all that was growing in the greenhouse were tomato plants.

This was a part of a number raids ran by the Region III Narcotics Task Force in Santa Fe County, of which only one was proven to be fruitful. They found a whopping 35 plants after 10 hours of surveillance, such an efficient use of time and tax payer dollars. These raids are not making local residents very happy either. They are saying that the helicopters are scaring livestock, disturbing the peace in the rural areas and resulting in invasions of private property without search warrants.

It is hard for me to believe that these raids are making the community safer if they are just angering its residents, invading their privacy and as Patricia Pantano, education director of the Camino de Paz Montessori School and Farm states "we're sitting here as a teaching staff, always short on money, and we're thinking, 'Gosh, all the money it takes to fly that helicopter and hire all those people, it would be great to have this for education. "

Steve Larson is a member of KSU SSDP

Friday, October 8, 2010

Conference time!

Hey everyone!

A few quick updates from Kent State SSDP about the midwest conference we'll be hosting on November 13-14.

First off...we got funding!!! KSUSSDP wishes to thank Greg Jarvie, Dean of Students at KSU for his assistance throughout this whole process. This conference would not be at all possible without his hard work!

Secondly, registration for the conference is now open! Go to: https://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/1259/event/midwest to sign up!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Student Movement to End the War on Drugs, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Fight the Drug War.

I was surfing youtube the other day when I stumbled across the above video and it really got me to thinking. I've been a member of Kent State Students for Sensible Drug Policy for a little over a year now, and I think it's time to take a step back and look at all of the things we as a chapter and I personally have experienced in this past year.

When I first joined SSDP, it was my first full week of classes as a new transfer at Kent State. I had heard about SSDP before my time at KSU, however, I had never participated in, or thought much about the organization. I walked into the meeting room in the student center, and to my surprise, it was packed with students that were like-minded to me.

Chris Wallis (former president of the KSU chapter), I think, was also surprised at the size of the group, considering they had only started the chapter a semester before with a total membership of 3 people. The professionalism in which Chris handled the meeting and articulated the chapter and organizational victories was remarkable.

Kent State SSDP in the year prior to my joining passed a Good Samaritan Policy, which has already saved multiple lives on campus, giving students the peace of mind and security to not be afraid to call for medical attention. The chapter also brought a large showing to the Midwest conference.

I was hooked on SSDP from the start.

However, when I joined SSDP I thought I was in for an hour long meeting every week to talk about drug policy activism and leave it at that. I couldn't have been more wrong. SSDP introduced me to my best (and sure to be lifelong) friends. Being responsible for the going-ons in SSDP (as every member somewhat is) has also helped me become a more responsible and mature adult.

And then there was San Francisco. SSDP's International Conference was held in San Francisco, California on March 12-14, 2010. It was there that my life was totally and completely changed. Meeting like-minded individuals from across the nation and world was a truly incredible experience. San Fran also allowed for my chapter to bond and solidify the lifelong friendships we had been tending the semester before. Nothing helped us more to bond than earning the Chapter of the Year award from SSDP national. It was a moment that none of us will ever forget, I'm sure of that.

Waiting in the airport for my plane out of San Francisco and back to Kent was one of the major turning points in my life. I knew that I had made great friends and. learned about nearly every facet of drug policy. And it was through that experience, I am the person I am today.

This year, the dynamics of drug policy and SSDP have begun to change. SSDP national has a new Executive Director and has experienced some changes in staffing. KSUSSDP has a new set of officers, led by Tom Zocolo and a multitude of new faces are showing up every meeting. Drug policy reformers around the nation are working hard on initiatives to bring a greater sense of fairness, sensibility and justice to our nation's drug policy. What a year to look forward to!

Now as I sit in bed, sick at 2 in the morning, I realize how much I've changed. I look at all the friends I've made and the impact we've made on our university and on the world. The future is in our hands SSDPers, now let's change the world even more!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Magic mushrooms ingredient may ease end of life anxiety

'Magic mushrooms' ingredient may ease end-of-life anxiety

By Anne Harding, Health.com
September 7, 2010 -- Updated 0047 GMT (0847 HKT)

A new study shows that psilocybin, the active ingredient in "magic mushrooms," may help terminally ill cancer patients get some relief from anxiety.
  • Terminally ill cancer patients may get some relief from a guided "trip" on the drug psilocybin
  • One to three months after taking psilocybin, patients reported feeling less anxious
  • Patients said their experience gave them a new perspective on their illness

(Health.com) -- Terminally ill cancer patients struggling with anxiety may get some relief from a guided "trip" on the hallucinogenic drug psilocybin, a new study suggests.

The study included 12 patients who took a small dose of psilocybin -- the active ingredient in "magic mushrooms" -- while under the supervision of trained therapists. In a separate session, the participants took a placebo pill, which had little effect on their symptoms.

By contrast, one to three months after taking psilocybin the patients reported feeling less anxious and their overall mood had improved. By the six-month mark, the group's average score on a common scale used to measure depression had declined by 30 percent, according to the study, which was published in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Can psychedelic drugs treat depression?

In follow-up interviews with the researchers, some patients said their experience with psilocybin gave them a new perspective on their illness and brought them closer to family and friends.

"We were pleased with the results," says the lead researcher, Charles Grob, M.D., a professor of psychiatry at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, in Torrance, Calif.

Notably, the psilocybin did not aggravate the patients' anxiety or provoke any other unwanted effects besides a slight increase in blood pressure and heart rate.

Health.com: 7 types of therapy that can help depression

Grob's findings are "important because he's showing that you can administer these compounds safely to cancer patients with anxiety," says Roland Griffiths, Ph.D., a professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in Baltimore.

"They're not substances that should be used recreationally or casually, but nonetheless it appears that we can conduct research with these compounds safely," adds Griffiths, who was not involved in the study but has researched the therapeutic effects of psilocybin. (He and his colleagues are currently enrolling patients in a similar study that will use larger doses of the drug.)

Researchers investigating the therapeutic potential of psilocybin and other hallucinogens have been keen to demonstrate the safety of the drugs in clinical settings.

Health.com: Supplements for depression: what works

Psychiatrists and psychologists began exploring the effects of hallucinogens on the mood and anxiety of dying patients in the 1950s, but the research stopped abruptly when psilocybin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), and other mind-altering drugs were outlawed in the 1970s.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a handful of small studies involving hallucinogens since the 1990s, but the field is still emerging.

Grob's study is the first of its kind in more than 35 years. It was funded by private foundations and the Heffter Research Institute, a nonprofit organization based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, that has been a major sponsor of the second-generation hallucinogen research.

The patients in the study were all close to death (10 of the 12 have since died), and they had all diagnoses of anxiety or acute stress relating to their prognosis.

"We were really looking for people who were really struggling with the predicament that they found themselves in," Grob explains.

Health.com: What an anxiety disorder feels like

During the psilocybin sessions, which lasted six hours, the patients lay on a couch and listened to music through headphones.

Although they spoke only briefly to the therapists while under the influence of the drug, they continued to meet periodically with the research staff for six months to discuss their experience and to fill out questionnaires assessing their mood and anxiety levels.

"I think we've established good grounds for continuing the research," Grob says. "That's the goal right now, just to develop more studies."

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Pro Wrestling Drug Abuse and the Cannabis Healing

Literacy Practices and Interpretations of Professional Wrestling

In our daily lives there are many forms of entertainment that distinguish themselves through particular literacy practices. Some forms of entertainment make us use our emotions based on our own interpretations. The way we interpret events can make us react in laughter, sadness, shock, and even anger. To understand the form of entertainment there may be literacy practices or rules that must be followed for others to understand what is happening. Professional Wrestling is a form of entertainment that follows a set of literacy rules for an audience to understand what is happening. Professional Wrestling is very much like a play we may see in the Broadway scene following similar literacy practices like catering to an audience and dialogue incorporating storylines in matches just like there are storylines taking place in a play. The audience watches and cheers clapping for their favorite wrestlers just as they would clap for an actor’s performance in a play. The actions that a professional wrestler does must impact the audience and make their actions seem important to the audience just like an actor draws their audience in by their actions. In professional wrestling a wrestler’s main stage is the wrestling ring commonly a four sided platform with three layers of rope surrounding each side of the ring tied to four poles at each corner surrounded by an audience while in a play it the actor’s main performance area is the stage.

While it is a form of entertainment and Professional Wrestling may have similar qualities to actual plays they are not the same. There are specific rules to Professional Wrestling matches. Pinning an opponent for the count may be a confusing message for one who is not familiar with professional wrestling. One would have to understand the action of pinning an opponent and holding down enough weight on the opponent so that they can’t lift their leg or arm up showing that the opponent’s force is not enough to counter the pin for a referee’s 3 seconds count. A submission is another literacy practice in professional wrestling. A submission is a hold or maneuver used to lock an opponent’s limb in place while applying pressure so that they cannot escape making them helpless and forcing them to give up to save themselves from enduring more pain from the hold. However if there is enough might left within the opponent’s strength to reverse or counter the hold, they can be released. If the opponent does not have enough strength to counter the submission hold than the opponent must tap out by tapping their hand on the wrestling ring canvas, signifying that they lost the match. Another literacy practice in professional wrestling is called a rope break. To an individual who is not familiar with professional wrestling a rope break could be misunderstood for the act of physically breaking or tearing a rope or wrestling ring rope, but that is not what that literacy practice means. A rope break happens when an opponent is being pinned or in a submission hold. If the opponent can reach the wrestling rope with their arms or legs then they must be released from the pin or submission hold continuing the match. A disqualification is a literacy practice where a wrestler is penalized for using a weapon on his opponent when he is not allowed to or bringing in other wrestlers to help weaken an opponent when they are not scheduled to be in the match. Disqualifications can only be counted when a referee sees the unfair action-taking place, but if the referee doesn’t see it than it can go unnoticed and heels usually take advantage of this. If the referee does notice the action taking place then he can call for a disqualification and the opponent who did not break the rules of the match can be awarded with the win.

As with specific rules of professional wrestling there are also literacy practices used to identify a wrestler. Professional wrestling journalists who write about wrestling news and are not typically employed by a wrestling promotion as well as a number of wrestling promoters use the term baby face or face to describe wrestlers who are playing the role of a fan favorite or a “good guy”. The baby face’s goal is to play off the audience’s emotions and generate a reaction of cheering from the audience. The term heel is used to describe a wrestler who is playing the role of a villain or “bad guy”. The goal of a heel is to generate a heated reaction from the audience against that wrestler so that the audience’s support is behind the baby face. The term neutral is used to describe a wrestler who is neither baby face nor heel. They may not have developed their character yet and are not well known making it hard for the wrestler to draw reactions from the audience, or the wrestler’s reaction from the audience might be mixed with some fans supporting him and others booing. A wrestler does not always remain a baby face, heel, or neutral. They change their character direction in the interest of drawing the audience into new story lines. In my own observations I’ve seen wrestlers such as AJ Styles who currently wrestles in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling go through many character changes where he started out as a baby face in the company always showing off acrobatic moves that looked hard to pull off, but also using a clean style of wrestling. Using a clean style of wrestling means that the wrestler is not using unfair tactics like striking in the foreign areas, using weapons for an advantage when the other wrestler is not, or using other wrestlers for back up protection so they can get involved in the match when they are not scheduled to take part in it. Years later the same AJ Styles that had been playing the role of a baby face and using clean tactics to win his matches switched to the role of a heel and began using unfair tactics without the referee seeing him. He would use chairs as weapons and use them on his opponent when the referee was not looking in order to avoid a disqualification of the match. He would bring in allies to help inflict more pain and damage to his opponent to make it easier to get the win by pin or submission. However there where times where his dirty tactics cost him the match because of the disqualification he received for using a weapon when the referee saw him.

While disqualifications are a piece of a literacy practice in professional wrestling some organizations change the literacy practice by catering to different age groups of wrestling fans. One organization called Extreme Championship Wrestling from 1992-2001, which was more of a regional urban wrestling organization catering to older teenagers and adults decided to ignore disqualifications completely and add a new style to the wrestling ring. Their style was barbaric using dangerous weapons like staple guns, fire, barbed wire, flaming tables, and much more. This graphic hardcore wrestling style does not match the modern Extreme Championship Wrestling from 2006-present, that is under a different ownership today than it was years ago as they cater to younger fans now by watering down the violence. The reason that the new ownership of today’s Extreme Championship Wrestling has been toned down compared to the previous owner might be because the new owner may be avoiding the confrontation of the media about increasing violence in schools. Participatory culture is seen in and outside wrestling when a fan might emulate a move on their friends that they saw on television and they might put it on youtube or somebody might get hurt in the process of the move. Participatory culture can be seen in skateboarding too when a person might want to attempt to do a move that his favorite skate boarder does. He might record it on video and broadcast it on youtube of his attempt of the move. Participatory Culture is responsible for individuals who may not have experience in how to do something properly and as a result of lack of experience might cause serious issues attempting to perform an act based off of another individual’s achievement. When tragedies happen because of these participatory culture related events a mainstream company could be blamed and risk judicial affairs to be involved. As a result the company might not be as willing to show the same graphic content and in the process of toning down the content might have to face catering to younger age groups. Another organization in the independent wrestling scene is Ring of Honor. Their literacy practice regarding their organization is not necessarily about violence, but putting on competitive wrestling matches, showcasing the art of professional wrestling and featuring experienced, skillful in ring action. In this organization I’ve seen fans cheer for wrestlers that could put on great matches and shaking hands before and after the matches following a literacy practice of the organization called “the code of honor” and not messing up moves. The code of honor is the literacy practice of Ring of Honor where wrestlers are required to shake hands before and sometimes after the match, although heels sometimes break this literacy practice. One well-known mainstream wrestler under the name Jeff Hardy, who wrestled for the World Wrestling Entertainment, an organization seen on television around the globe, went to Ring of Honor for a brief period and messed up a certain amount of moves. In the mainstream company he wrestled for it would not be a huge issue for him to mess up a small amount of moves, but in Ring of Honor when he messed up the moves he was booed out of the building by the audience causing an ordeal just like if a comedian was to have objects like tomatoes thrown at him if he delivered a poor performance on stage. I think that this incident tests Ring of Honor’s literacy practice of performing great matches and showcasing the art of wrestling because it doesn’t matter who you are or whom you work for. When a wrestler steps into a Ring of Honor wrestling ring and delivers a poor match their performance determines the reaction they will receive in Ring of Honor. Is a wrestler at fault for messing up a move when their working schedule requires such a large amount of time of their lives and when each performance is a risk that the wrestler takes by putting their body on the line and crippling themselves for the appreciation of the fans?

Unlike the literacy practice of baseball or basketball, the literacy practice of the professional wrestling industry does not have an off-season. This may force the wrestler to continue working, further damaging his body, continuing to possibly abuse drugs both legal or illegal so he can keep up with his work, and missing his family as he travels to the next show, or finding a new occupation away from the wrestling industry. Having been a wrestling fan for many years, I saw many experienced veteran wrestlers like Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero have their lives taken from them at an early age through the hardship of having to work without an off-season, turning to legal and illegal drugs affecting their in ring performance, and resulting in serious injury and death.


In my previous assignment I discussed the literacy practices of professional wrestling. I also made interpretations based on my observations of the culture and structure of professional wrestling and how its seasons hold no limits allowing for drug abuse to take place leading to fatal tragedies as well as social concerns in the lives of families. First I will explain and back up my claims as to how the content in professional wrestling leads to social concerns in the lives of families.

In the previous assignment I talked about how participatory culture is influenced by professional wrestling using the example of an individual without any experience and often imitating a wrestler’s move on another individual who also lacks experience of professional wrestling resulting in one or both of the individuals getting hurt. To back up my claim I will use the case of Lionel Tate, a twelve year old boy at the time who was imitating moves he a had seen on a professional wrestling television show and performing the moves on a six year old girl who he had accidentally killed. According to CBS News, a television news program, “the defense in the Lionel Tate court case wanted to argue that professional wrestling, a theatrical entertainment sport populated by cartoon like characters in colorful costumes, promoted violence without regard to the sport's influence over children.” I believe that the tragedy that took the life of a six-year-old girl in the Lionel Tate case was negatively influenced by professional wrestling’s violent content. However it is the parents of the child who are to blame for allowing their child to watch violent content without concern for the consequences of how the content will influence their child. What if the individual is of college age and there is nobody who has the responsibility to watch for the negative consequences of the violent content? According to Richard A. Serrano, Bob Drogin and David Zucchino, staff writers from the Los Angeles Times the student responsible for the Virginia Tech Massacre was a television wrestling fan, watching it night after night alone by himself. While Seung-hui Cho, now labeled the Virginia Tech Killer was not body slamming his innocent victims, could he have been negatively influenced by the violent content that he observed from television professional wrestling shows or was the media simply attempting to blame a vulnerable industry?

Moving away from my interpretation of the participatory culture of professional wrestling negatively influencing individuals and families, I would now like to look at my interpretation of professional wrestling lacking seasons, contributing to serious injuries and drug abuse. First in order to understand what leads wrestlers to serious drug abuse one would have to understand the literacy practice of the hidden role of a professional wrestler. This role is known to professional wrestlers, but is not aimed at fans. According to research conducted by R. Tyson Smith a Ph.D. candidate of Sociology at Stony Brook University, he says that in professional wrestling, solidarity and dominance through pain is involved. He explained how in a wrestling ring the responsibility by the professional wrestlers is to make sure that each of them is protecting their opponent from pain and injury. This determines if a wrestler is experienced to be able to perform a move or land a move being performed on oneself. If that wrestler cannot fulfill this responsibility than they should not be in that ring. However there are instances where another literacy practice called a “shoot” takes place where a wrestler works on his opponent stiffly ignoring this responsibility in order to make an example of a cocky, over confident rookie, or make sure that a rookie wrestler is paying their dues in the eyes of a veteran wrestler who went through the same pain when they were rookies. This could be seen as a bully tactic, but it is engraved in the tradition and literacy practices associated with professional wrestling. This type of shoot can lead to respect amongst other wrestlers showing that a wrestler can take pain. Tyson explained how a shoot may also take place when a wrestler accidentally throws a real strike and their opponent losing trust in their competitor, revolts by a legitimate attack back at them. This is often dangerous, but rarely happens. In an intentional shoot both wrestlers are expected to work stiff in order to gain respect from their peers in the business. Tyson also mentions that if one wrestler doesn’t defend themselves by working stiff against their opponent than the other wrestler will push them around and manhandle them. I think this is a perfect example of dominance through respect and pain in the ring because one who does not defend themselves is bound to face pain. In his research Tyson acknowledged speaking to a wrestler that told him about several injuries he received in the past causing him to miss multiple weeks of wrestling. When he returned he would avoid medical assistance at the first sign of pain or injury. Tyson mentions how this avoidance of medical assistance at the first sign of pain or injury becomes routine for wrestlers that work through the pain ignoring their injury. Keeping in mind that wrestling does not have an off season like professional sports such as basketball and football where athletes can finish their season and rest their bodies, imagine the routine procedures of pain and its long term effects on a wrestler’s body. How can human beings take this kind of beating, and make it a routine procedure without burning themselves out?

In 2003 a documentary on HBO called Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel: Deaths in Pro Wrestling showed the nightmare of a pro wrestling lifestyle as Louie Spicolli stumbled around a hotel hall way looking for his room while on many prescription medicines. Two years later he passed away at age 27 of an overdose from mixing the pills with alcohol. In the same documentary wrestling legend Roddy Piper explained how he has seen wrestler after wrestler break into the industry and leave their fans, friends, and families at early ages. Piper explained how he has outlived 30 of his closest friends as a result of the pro wrestling number one killer, drug abuse of steroids and pills.

In the same documentary Vincent Kennedy Mcmahon, Chairman of the World Wrestling Entertainment denies any responsibility for the deaths of his fallen former employees who passed away as a result of their drug abuse. Vince stated that the World Wrestling Federation, the company he ran before they changed their name to the World Wrestling Entertainment had a drug testing policy from 1992-1996. The drug policy at the time was criticized as only being established for public relation reasons, but the policy was stopped because it was too costly.Vince claimed the drug testing policy was banned at the time because he had not seen any more syringes and roid rage. The policy was eventually brought back after more wrestlers died and the World Wrestling Entertainment's drug problem was the talk of many evening news programs.

According to Jon Saraceno, a sports reporter from USA Today said, “from 1997 to 2004 more than 60 wrestlers under 45 died. More than a third did so from coronary-related causes.” Jon lists several deceased wrestlers who passed away at early ages as a result of drug abuse. Eddie Guerrero, 38, Davey Boy Smith, 39, Rick Rude, 40, Curt Hennig, 44, Bam Bam Bigelow, 45, Sensational Sherri, 49, and Chris Benoit, 40. This list shows that drug abuse lead to their early deaths, but what lead the wrestlers to taking the drugs? The answer can be found in the diary of Chris Benoit. According to Jon Swartz, a sports reporter in USA Today, the contents of Benoit’s diary described painful hits to the head, a hectic endless traveling schedule on the road that isolated him from his family, and a cryptic message foreshadowing his own death to his best friend Eddie Guerrero who died in 2005 two years before Benoit as a result of drug abuse. Regarding the cryptic message from his diary, Benoit wrote "I will be with you soon." Moments later he killed his seven-year-old son, his wife, and hung himself as a result of drug abuse.

In November of 2007 after the tragedy of Chris Benoit, CNN ran a documentary similar to HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel: Deaths in Pro Wrestling, called Death Grip: Inside Pro Wrestling. The Chris Benoit tragedy put Vince Mcmahon and the World Wrestling Entertainment back into the radar of fishy business practices. Vince Mcmahon had been charged by the United States Federal Government in 1994 during an investigation of his business in a steroid scandal. He was under investigation for distributing steroids to his own wrestlers. Terry Bollea, former World Wrestling Entertainment employee and current Total Nonstop Action Wrestling personality who wrestled under the name Hulk Hogan admitted in the 1994 investigation that he used steroids, estimated that at least 80% of the talent on Mcmahon's roster where using steroids, and claimed Mcmahon knew that his wrestlers where on steroids while Mcmahon himself was taking steroids for his own personal use.

According to an article reported on ESPN.Com by senior writer Greg Garber, former WWE wrestler and Harvard graduate, now founder of the Sports Legacy Institute diagnosed the death of Chris Benoit and Test "Andrew" Martin as CTE also known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. The Sports Legacy Institute is an organization dedicated to furthering awareness of and research on sports-related head injuries, while also increasing the safety of contact and collision sports worldwide. Chris Benoit was known as the first case of CTE, Andrew Test Martin became the second case of CTE findings. This does not only affect Professional Wrestling, but universally any sport where head trauma is associated. In the same ESPN report it was acknowledged that, "Terry Long, a Steelers guard, died in 2005 at age 45 after drinking antifreeze. He was Dr. Omalu's second confirmed case of CTE in an NFL player. Philadelphia Eagles safety Andre Waters, who died of a self-inflicted gunshot to the head, was the third in 2006." The WWE's response to these findings came from Vince Mcmahon who tried to deny the findings of CTE in Chris Benoit and Andrew "Test" Martin where real claiming that his company had been asking for the research for years, yet Nowinski invited him on countless times to review the data. The NFL's response was the same as McMahon’s. I believe this is an issue for the risk of the players and wrestlers lives. Back in the day when Professional Wrestling was much different it toured through the carnivals. Wrestlers were treated like freaks and promoters only cared about making money. Wrestlers do not have a Union looking out for their safety. As of right now the only piece of a Union that they have is Wrestler's Rescue founded on September 14, 2008 by former WWE and ECW female wrestler Dawn Marie who formed the nonprofit foundation that looks after retired wrestlers. Dawn Marie who was close friends with both Andrew "Test" Martin, and Chris Benoit said, "I grew up with these people," Dawn Marie said. "It's devastating to think that their career choices -- and their passion, which is the same as my own -- destroyed them from the inside out, literally." She also mentioned that in the Professional Wrestling business, wrestlers are often experiencing head pain and while she hasn't wrestled as much as wrestlers like Benoit and Martin she still feels the pain every day and can not imagine what it was like for them.

While the contribution of steroids and other drugs have been an issue in professional wrestling for countless years I feel that the case of Chris Benoit has elevated the situation to a level where more is being done about the problem, but not enough is being done.

Another wrestler had passed away on Friday December 4th. According to Emanuella Grinberg from an article on CNN former WWE and former TNA wrestler known as Umanga passed away from a double heart attack at the age of 36. It was reported that his contract with the World Wrestling Entertainment had been terminated on June 11th, 2009 after his second WWE wellness policy violation and refusing to enter a drug rehab after being advised to do so by the WWE. When his wife found him after passing out in front of the television after returning from Hulk Hogan’s Australia tour he was not breathing and bleeding from his nose.

According to a US Government document written by Henry Waxman, California Democrat formerly the Chairmen of the House Oversight Committee. Now the Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee wrote a report after investigating the drug problem in professional wrestling to John Walters, Director of the President’s National Drug Control Policy. Mr. Waxman stated, “Chris Benoit’s testosterone levels were ten times the normal level when he committed suicide.” This piece of evidence alone clearly shows that Benoit had been abusing the use of the drug. Another piece of shocking evidence in the report was that when the World Wrestling Entertainment began their drug-testing program in March of 2006, 40% of their 186 wrestlers tested positive for drugs including steroids even with the knowledge that they would be tested later. The report also showed the World Wrestling Entertainment’s competitor Total Nonstop Action Wrestling with 15 out of 64 of their wrestlers at 25% testing positive for steroids and 11 others for different drugs. In the conclusion to his report Mr. Waxman stated, “over 3 million children and teenagers watch professional wrestling and there is a widespread use of steroids in professional wrestling that sends the wrong message to youth.”

While I believe that Mr. Waxman’s attempt to stop the drug problem in professional wrestling was a much-needed start to rid the industry of this conflict, I also believe that it is a long overdue outcry as more wrestlers have been passing away at younger ages. I agree with Mr. Waxman’s position on being concerned with public figures, in this case professional wrestlers sending the wrong message to youth regarding pill drug abuse because it is another negative influence from professional wrestling that could be picked up by youth. At the same time I feel that not enough was done and that during the period of time that many of these wrestlers passed away, the media was only there to exploit the industry at the expense of television ratings on shows like Nancy Grace. According to an interview conducted by Micahel G a writer for The Heyman Hustle.com former WWE and TNA wrestler Shelly Martinez recalls her experience when she realized that she was addicted to prescription pain medicine. She said, "I realized I was an addict after I had a near-fatal overdose. I almost died," and I am here to give credit to what saved my life. Cannabis saved my life!" Shelly states in the new video entitled The Weed Chronicles seen below. After battling her pain killer addiction and replacing it with cannabis Shelly said, "I was going to die," Shelly stated, "No doubt about it. I was on the wrong path. Now, I'm healthy, happy, pain free, and here to sing the praises of how my life is so much better today because of Cannabis!" In the Shelly Martinez's Weed Chronicles directed by LZ Bowie and Mike Hall, Shelly Martinez explained why she chose cannabis over her prescription pain medicine. Shelly also takes us around Los Angeles, California and shows us around the Cannabis Clubs of L.A.

In the episode of the Weed Chronicles with Shelly Martinez, Shelly mentions a co-worker from the WWE who told her about cannabis being able to save her life and stop her pain killer abuse. Former WWE/ECW wrestler Rob Van Dam has been known to be outspoken over cannabis reform. Rob was busted for possession of 18 grams of marijuana on a police stop in Ohio. He advocated cannabis use on Fox New's Geraldo Show in a video recently removed by youtube. Rob Van Dam also supports NORML having attended the 2009 NORML Conference joined by MMA fighter Toby "Tigerheart" Grear, and former NFL Dallas Cowboys player Mark Stepnosk as they discuss the negatives of the failing US Drug War and how it has affected them in the video below.

On November 27 2006 wrestling legend Roddy Piper was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a cancer that attacks blood-filtering tissues. Doctors discovered the cancer early on while performing back surgery after Piper suffered an injury while on a wrestling tour overseas at age 52. The surgery also revealed a damaged disc that threatened to end his wrestling career. Piper commented on the life threatening situation, "This doctor put me on the slab, and it turned out, I had a bone about the size of a potato chip, and about that thin. And it was starting to cut the nerves inside my spine. It was just a matter of me moving too much one way or the other, and I would have been paralyzed.” Piper quickly began radiation therapy. Piper continued “I’ve got a 30 per cent chance of the radiation not working. Well shoot, those are good odds to me. This radiation treatment, it kicks the stuffing out of you a little bit, but I’m a fighter. It’s picked on the wrong guy this time.” Piper’s official web site confirmed that Piper finished radiation therapy on January 15, 2007. In 2008 a video spread around the internet showing Piper smoking marijuana from a bong in front of a crowd cheering him. He later commented on his use of medicinal marijuana, “To alleviate the symptoms associated with cancer. That’s funny tasting tobacco, man!”

Finally the literacy practices of professional wrestling help individuals understand key terms that are imperative to fully understand the subject, and there are other literacy practices used to demonstrate how its brutal schedule included with its culture among wrestler’s lives inside the industry are affected.

Works Cited

CBS. "Wrestling' Case Draws Life Sentence May Punch Hole In Mandatory Sentencing Laws.” 9 Mar. 2001. CBS News. 5 Dec. 2009 .

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Medical Marijuana Advocacy Project

Medical marijuana is controversial issue to many individuals as a result of several complications. One problem about the controversies of medical marijuana is the lack of education and understanding regarding its use as a medicinal option. Another issue is the stigma that it currently has as a result of cultural beliefs, misinformation, and the consequences of geographic isolation. According to procon.org there are currently fourteen medical marijuana states in the United States of America as of January 26, 2010. These states include Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. There are some states like Arizona and Maryland that have favored medical marijuana, but the big picture is the contradictions between state laws and federal laws. According to Marijuana Medicine & the Law Volume II by R.C. Randall despite the fact that the Drug Enforcement Administration's own administrative law judge Francis Young attempted to change the stance on medical marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule II, medical marijuana still remains a schedule II substance in 2010. A schedule I controlled substance like medical marijuana is paired with drugs like mescaline, heroin and other Schedule I drugs that the Drug Enforcement Administration does not consider the substances of having medicinal benefits. As a result each of the Schedule I controlled substances are given penalties in the form of a felony by federal law. While medical marijuana does not have medical benefits and is considered a felony by Federal law, Schedule II drugs that do have medical benefits include cocaine, methamphetamine, morphine, several opium substances, and more. According to the documentary The Union: The Business Behind getting High, directed by Brett Harvey and produced by Adam Scorgie, the Drug Enforcement Administration's Law Judge Fracis Young stated, "Marijuana in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man, however despite this the Drug Enforcement Administration overruled Francis Young's decision to reclassify medical marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule II controlled substance. There are however synthetic THC capsules that are meant to mimic the effects of medical marijuana and are approved by pharmaceuticals. This drug is called Marinol and is a schedule III controlled substance according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. THC is one of the main ingredients in marijuana that gives its patients psychoactive effects. As explained in The Union: The Business Behind Getting High pharmaceutical companies can not make money off natural forms of medicine which is why the smoked use of medical marijuana is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. As a result of smoked medical marijuana being a natural form of medicine pharmaceutical companies could not patent medical marijuana in its natural form.

As a result of the Drug Enforcement Administration's unwilling decision to reclassify medical marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule II substance patients like Greg Cooper who suffers from multiple sclerosis and ataxia risk prosecution by federal law even though his state's law may accept medical marijuana as a medicinal option. As seen in the independent Showtime film in, Pot We Trust directed by Star Spice, Stock Broker Irvine Rosenfeld explained how ironically there is a federal medical marijuana program and he receives his medicine in pre-rolled marijuana cigarettes every 25 days directly from the federal government. As a result of being in the official medical marijuana federal government ran program Mr. Rosenfeld does not risk being prosecuted by the federal government even though federal law does not consider medical marijuana as a medicinal option. Mr. Rosenfeld was diagnosed with a congenital disease. Medical Marijuana helps Mr. Rosenfeld's condition by relaxing his muscles so that they do not tear. Mr. Rosenfeld became the second person ever to receive medical marijuana directly from the federal government as a result of this program. Mr. Rosenfeld explained how George Bush Sr. closed the federal program down, but grandfathered the existing medical marijuana patients of the official Federal medical marijuana program in an effort to protect the federal government from a lawsuit.

It is evident that there needs to be more progression in the rescheduling of medical marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule II controlled substance with attempts made by numerous medical organizations including The New England Journal of Medicine. Is the federal government's unwillingness to reschedule medical marijuana result of a cultural stigma? Oftentimes when one thinks of the word marijuana images of a hippie with long hair who is unshaven wearing Tye dye shirts are depicted. This stigma needs to be changed in order for the opposition to accept it. Individuals like actor and comedian Tommy Chong who was arrested by federal agents in Operation Pipe Dreams lead by former Drug Enforcement Administration head Karen Tandy have been targeted as a result of their involvement in the marijuana culture. Tommy Chong explained in The Union: The Business Behind Getting High that he was arrested for shipping paraphernalia to one of two states that criminally punish for this offense. Those two states are Pennsylvania and Iowa. Mr. Chong explained how it was not his company though he let the company use his name for the family business. In Karen Tandy's official statement of the raid it was written that Tommy Chong should be sent to jail because his popular films have been influencing children for over thirty years.

Then Karen Tandy set her focus on a Canadian Citizen who never entered the United States of America. She targeted cannabis activist and entrepreneur Marc Emery. Mr. Emery had been paying federal taxes that the Canadian government knew all about for his marijuana seed selling business. There were several similar marijuana seed selling businesses throughout Canada that unlike Emery's business did not pay federal taxes. Medical Marijuana patients in Canada turned to their government to find their medicine, which they were then sent to Marc Emery's business. Once the United States Drug Enforcement Administration pressured the Canadian government to do something about Mr. Emery, the Canadian government raided his store. Mr. Emery also ran a glossy magazine company called Cannabis Culture magazine and used the majority of the money he made from his business endeavours to donate to numerous legalization organizations in countries around the world. The Drug Enforcement Agency has attempted to extradite Marc Emery to the United States of America for life in prison with the intent to hurt the marijuana legalization community. In fact in the official statement of the raid Karen Tandy wrote "Today's Drug Enforcement Administration arrest of Marc Scott Emery, founder of a marijuana legalization group is a significant blow not only to the marijuana trafficking trade in the United States and Canada, but also to the marijuana legalization movement. Drug legalization lobbyists now have one less pot of money to rely on." This statement alone clearly shows that the Drug Enforcement Agency is not after Marc Emery for his crimes, but rather for political reasons, which is illegal to extradite an individual for political reasons according to the US-Canada Extradition treaty.

It is apparent that the Drug Enforcement Administration does not consider medical marijuana as a viable medicine and seeks to go after individuals who leave long lasting affects in our culture that oppose the federal government's view of marijuana. With many states already having their own medical marijuana laws and some opening facilities where patients can have access to their herbal medicine called dispensaries. One has to wonder if there is a stigma also associated with it. I decided to do my own research and attend the 11Th annual Student for Sensible Drug Policy International Drug Conference in San Fransisco, California. Students from all around the globe came to the conference to learn about marijuana as an initiative from recreational use to medical use in terms of education of drug policy reform. While hearing from several politicians including Tom Ammiano; who showed that the resulting stigma of medical marijuana is not a political career suicide, but rather an opportunity. Oftentimes we hear a politician asked the question about medical marijuana. There are many politicians who have tried to dodge the question by using tough on crime stances afraid of what their constituents might do if they support the issue.

Representatives from CannBe, an organization that works with dispensaries to properly serve medical marijuana patients in cooperation with state law work with dispensaries and other individuals on how to become a legit business. Representatives like James Anthony and Steve DeAngelo explained that when dispensaries originally started popping up in California after voters passed medical marijuana in 1996 they were not properly ran. Many had inappropriate use of bouncers as if it was a nightclub, barbed wire was used for security purposes, and other issues needed to be considered like not being a nuisance to the community. Steve DeAngelo, C.E.O. of Harborside Health Center, a medical marijuana dispensary explained how these issues needed to be handled. For security purposes Harborside Health Center is equipped with many cameras to ensure who is on the property and that the medicine is not being used in the wrong locations. Many of these dispensaries are located nearby a daycare center or other businesses in the community and dispensaries like Harborside Health Center must operate as good neighbors to the community. There is a business plan that identifies dispensaries as non profit organizations. This ensures that the dispensary is about catering to the patient to provide them with their medicine and not take advantage of them financially. Those who break these rules are not complying with state law in California. One thing I found fascinating was that of all the herbal medicine Harborside Health Center is equipped with the majority of their product is not used because it fails the satisfactory condition of the product regulation. Medical marijuana that contains spider mites, mold, or has been grown with pesticides will not be sold in the facility and will be discarded to ensure that all the products are up to standard code. Imagine a state without medical marijuana where individuals consume marijuana without knowing what is in the product. This is a problem that is caused by our own federal government's decision to continue a prohibition on cannabis, the scientific term for marijuana. Individuals who do not live near a medical marijuana state are misinformed of how they operate and this is contributed to geographic isolation.

With this new information I have discussed the stigma against medical marijuana, which is becoming a property of the past like outdated ideas of the Earth being flat. Do dispensaries only offer medical marijuana as a service to their patients? When speaking to representatives of the Berkley Patients Group, a full service dispensary that allows cannabis to be sold and used in designated areas of the dispensary also provides a range of other services not commonly thought of in regards to services that most dispensaries offer. Such services that the Berkley Patients Group provides includes literacy workshop programs, several forms of therapy from massage to art, and much more as seen on the Berkley Patients Group February calendar. Like Harborside Health Center, the Berkley Patients Group also strives to be a good neighbor of the community. On April 20th, 2010 the Berkley Patients Group worked with other organizations of the community to hold a food and fund drive for several women's shelters in the area. Many dispensaries including the Berkley Patients Group and Harborside Health Center raised money to renovate an old theater in the community and ran a concert inside raising more money for the community. This is another example of how dispensaries are giving back to the community and doing so are operating as good neighbors.

Although there is much progress for medical marijuana are patients still being ignored and discriminated? In regards to several current events that answer is yes. Patients are still being ignored, discriminated and even given the death sentence. According to Cheryl Shuman, Executive Director the Beverly Hills National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, medical marijuana patients are being discriminated over organ transplants all over the United States of America. Medical marijuana patients who live in states that have medical marijuana laws are being ignored having their lives taken from them. States that allow medical marijuana respect a physician’s authority to prescribe medical marijuana to a patient of a qualifying condition, but as a result of the strict wording in the transplant program all medical marijuana patients are still considered substance abusers and are left to die when they are in need of an organ transplant. The result of the transplant rules are blatant hypocrisy. Medical Marijuana patients are not only being discriminated from organ transplants, but employment as well. According to Tahman Bradley, from ABC News reported, Joseph Casias, a medical marijuana patient from Michigan who was fired from his employer Walmart for being a medical marijuana patient. "Casias, 29, who took great pride in his job, once earning the honor of Associate of the Year." Casias was prescribed medical by his physician treating him of his diagnosed condition. Casias was suffers from sinus cancer and a brain tumor. Individuals like Mr. Casias are being discriminated by their employers for being medical marijuana patients, being licensed by their state's medical marijuana laws, obtaining a medical marijuana card after having permission from their physician to be prescribed medical marijuana. Once again the discrimination of these cases are purely driven by hypocrisy. Unfortunately the discrimination continues in academic institutions. According to Chelsi Moy, a reporter for the Missoulian, a disabled medical marijuana patient who is licensed by the state of Montana to posses a medical marijuana card by authority of his physician that prescribed him medical marijuana was penalized by the University of Montana for growing marijuana on campus in his dorm room. As a result the university had to rethink their policy regarding medical marijuana. Like most universities, first year students are required to live in dorms on campus, but the University of Montana is allowing waivers for medical marijuana patients who are students to live off campus. Even though the student had all the requirements that make him eligible for medical marijuana the University of Montana under the Student Conduct Code does not allow any illegal use possession or distribution of any controlled substance. Allen St. Pier, Executive Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws commented on the case explaining how he is not aware of any university or college to accept medical marijuana on campus and doing so is possible to have any public academic institution's Federal funding taken away. Having studied the discrimination and hypocrisy of our medical marijuana laws I decided to explore the state of Michigan to see for myself what other type of discrimination occurred. I attended the 39th annual Hash Bash on April 3rd, 2010 in Ann Arbor, Michigan taking place on the University of Michigan. It was explained by speaker from Hash Bash that an individual with a medical marijuana card could be charged criminally if they used it on the campus of the University of Michigan, but an individual without a card just across the street in full sight of the university off campus would be issued a civil infraction equivalent to a parking ticket. I understand that the universities that must deal with issues like this because they are located in medical marijuana states act the way they do in policy because they fear federal funding being taken away, however this is only another sign that our Federal laws need to be reexamined to fix counterproductive policies that are not working.

As more states follow through on the medical marijuana issue geopolitics will become apparent. For instance the state of Michigan became a medical marijuana state in 2008 and there are more states following the steps of Michigan, even Ohio. According to the Ohio Patient Network, a medical marijuana bill was introduced into Ohio legislature earlier this year. The bill was introduced by state representative Democrat Kenny Yukko and has several other co-sponsors. The bill is currently referred to as House Bill 478 and would include cancer, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, and arthritis. Some are considering including Sickle Cell Anemia to the list which is currently treated with heavy opiod use, Dr. Rucknagel, the former director of University Cincinnati's Sickle Cell research center explained that Sickle Cell patients who use medical marijuana reduces the amount of opiods in their medication. I discussed Harborside Health Center earlier in my blog. The facility also offers a Substance Use and Misuse Clincal Services Program with Jennifer Janichek, John Caldwell Lorenz, and Jim Dickey. Each of these individuals are educated about harm reduction which has helped decrease the spread of certain sexually transmitted diseases, but also includes a practice called substitution. Using substitution patients who suffer from illnesses that require them to take heavy opiods can be countered by using marijuana to decrease the amount of opiods in their medication. The same method of substitution has been used on alcoholics to help them defeat their addiction. College students nationwide have a culture around social drinking and some believe that college students are being driven to drink. Mason Tvert, Executive Director and Co-founder of SAFER, Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation and Co-Author of Marijuana is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink explains how our current prohibition and lack of school funded education of marijuana is endorsing individuals to drink alcohol which killed 13,050 Americans in 2006 for alcohol liver diseases and killed 22,073 Americans of alcohol-induced deaths, not including accidents or homicides according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. According to Bruce Mirkin, a writer for Alternet.org explained, there have been no reported deaths directly attributed from marijuana. In an effort to spread the word of Ohio's medical marijuana bill H.B. 478 and also mentioning how college students are being driven to drink, members of the Kent State University Student for Sensible Drug Policy appeared on Action 19 News. According to Action 19 News, "Along with distributing information about the relative harms of alcohol and marijuana on campus, students will also visit the office of University President Lester A. Lefton to deliver him the "Emerald Initiative" which they will urge him to endorse the book, Marijuana Is Safer: So why are we driving people to drink?" The SAFER organization explained the Emerald Initiative as calling on college and university presidents and chancellors as well as others to support "informed and dispassionate public debate" on whether allowing students to use marijuana more freely could reduce dangerous drinking on and around college campuses. While Brian Duffy from Action 19 News painted Kent State University's Students for Sensible Drug Policy for legalizing marijuana, Chapter President Chris Wallis stated, "That is simply untrue to our entire purpose the reason we are out here is to inform students the dangers of alcohol compared to the dangers of marijuana. We're wasting billions of tax payer dollars every year locking up non violent offenders for marijuana possession. If there is one medicine that you can grow yourself making you live pain free, why should you be a criminal?"

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