VA in a difficult position - 300,000+ brain-damaged veterans may NEED to use illegal marijuana to treat stress, anxiety and PTSD

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Mon, 02/14/2011 - 07:06.

Cannabinoid

Cannabidiol - 2-[(1R,6R)-6-isopropenyl-3-methylcyclohex-2-en-1-yl]-5-pentylbenzene-1,3-diol

I was talking to my drug-dealing father, the other day, about the future of a class of drug he has never been allowed to deal - Marijuana, and its derivatives - cannabinoids patented by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, in 2003.

As a physician, in the psychiatry field, my father has prescribed 1,000,000s of doses - $1,000,000s worth - of scores of pharmaceutical toxins - many which certainly proved ineffective, over the years, and may be addictive and fatal - to humans who were not born to take such drugs... in a society now being torn apart by the consequences. But, he has never had the opportunity to prescribe one dose of natural, safe, non-addictive, organic, God-given, freely-available marijuana or a derivative.

While marijuana has consistently been found to be safe and effective for 100s of medical concerns, for over a century, and is increasingly being made legal at the local level, by enlightened communities, the use and abuse of pharmaceutical drugs has become one of our Drug Czar's greatest and most fatal crises across America... and getting worse daily.

This self-inflicted American healthcare crisis was driven home by the February 13, 2011, New York Times, which reported that well over 300,000 troops have returned from Iraq or Afghanistan with P.T.S.D., depression, traumatic brain injury or some combination of those.... and, when doctors diagnose post-traumatic stress disorder, they prescribe powerful cocktails of psychiatric drugs and narcotics, which are proving largely ineffective and often fatal - whereas safe marijuana is considered a valuable treatment for P.T.S.D..

From For Some Troops, Powerful Drug Cocktails Have Deadly Results:

Across all branches, spending on psychiatric drugs has more than doubled since 2001, to $280 million in 2010... But the response of modern day psychiatry to modern warfare has not always been perfect... Psychiatrists still do not have good medications for the social withdrawal, nightmares and irritability that often accompany post-traumatic stress, so they mix and match drugs, trying to relieve symptoms... “These decisions about medication are difficult enough in civilian psychiatry, but unfortunately in this very-high-stress population, there is almost no data to guide you,” said Dr. Ranga R. Krishnan, a psychiatrist at Duke University... “The psychiatrist is trying everything and to some extent is flying blind.”

The medical community's failure to address this crisis with pharmaceutical drugs is especially alarming and disgusting as marijuana is illegal, yet considered a valuable treatment for P.T.S.D. and anxiety. From Medical Marijuana for PTSD, November, 2009, in PsychCentral:

A new study carried out by Dr. Irit Akirav and research student Eti Ganon-Elazar, working at the Learning and Memory Lab in the University of Haifa’s Department of Psychology, suggests the use of cannabinoids may help in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder patients. According to Dr. Akirav, the results of this study show that cannabinoids can play an important role in stress-related disorders. “The results of our research should encourage psychiatric investigation into the use of cannabinoids in post-traumatic stress patients,” she concludes.

Beyond PTSD, our USA patent for cannabinoids proclaims:

"Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and HIV dementia."

And, Wikipedia writes... of the cannabinoid cannabidoil, mentioned in OUR patent:

Cannabidiol (CBD; pronounced /ˌkænəbɨˈdaɪ.ɒl/) is a cannabinoid found in Cannabis. It is a major constituent of the plant, representing up to 40% in its extracts. It has displayed sedative effects in animal tests. Some research, however, indicates that CBD can increase alertness. Medically, it has been shown to relieve convulsion, inflammation, anxiety, and nausea, as well as inhibit cancer cell growth. Recent studies have shown cannabidiol to be as effective as atypical antipsychotics in treating schizophrenia. Studies have also shown that it may relieve symptoms of dystonia. In November 2007, it was reported that CBD reduces growth of aggressive human breast cancer cells in vitro and reduces their invasiveness.

You just learned that marijuana has value treating dozens of mankind's worst conditions... and America's Drug Czar - a former Seattle Police Chief - acknowledges medical marijuana is not a negative concern, in his experience... from TheDC Interview, regarding our pharmaceutical crisis:

You know, this started in California in ‘96 and has been off the radar until the last few years. When I became police chief in Seattle in 2000, it had passed in 1999 in an initiative, and until the last year that I was there, medical marijuana wasn’t even a subject of any discussion about anything.

The Drug Czar does have horrible things to say about America's addictions to pharmaceutical drugs, on the other hand:

When I talk to physicians, when I talk to pharmacists, that quest for those opioid painkillers is significant... Things like Dilaudid and Percocet have always been subject to abuse, but OxyContin is the one that’s gotten so much attention... Next week I’m making a swing through Appalachia, where the problem is most significant right now. Then-Gov. Manchin, now Sen. Manchin said he can’t go anywhere without people bringing up prescription drug problems... there isn’t a lot of training, and often times there’s no training, about prescription drugs for physicians. There’s no training for recognizing dependence and addiction... The advertising is unbelievable. People say, “Are we becoming a pill nation?” They turn on the TV, and there’s something out there to fix almost every problem we have... I’m thinking more about actual pill mills... these are MDs! People who are paid a lot of money to write a lot of prescriptions for pain... And it’s not like buying heroin off the street, where you don’t know the purity... You know what the dosage is, you know it’s been manufactured, the purity levels, the cleanliness... You’re not buying it out of the back of a gas station in a piece of tin foil.

As a psychiatrist, with an aging patient base, my father has certainly had to deal with many cases of stress and dementia, including from PTSD and Alzheimer's... including with his mother-in-law... my grandmother. Like with PTSD, science has not come up with pharmaceutical drugs to address Alzheimer's.... because government outlawed marijuana.

My father should have been allowed to prescribe medical marijuana to my grandmother.

Perhaps medical marijuana would have helped my grandfather, as well, after his stroke... in his early 40s.

Perhaps medical marijuana may help my sons, who are lead poisoned, as I believe lead poisoned victims self-medicate with marijuana because is is an effective treatment for permanent brain damage from exposure to toxic metals, like lead... as I believe may be supported by research published in 1978 (and probably not researched further since):

Acute plumbism include recurrent seizures, cerebral palsy and mental retardations. The impairment of the central nervous system (CNS) with increased lead absorption is of paramount concern which remains unsolved because of the lack of specific and sensitive neurochemical/biochemical indicators of the effect of lead on the CNS. In our experimental acute lead-zinc poisoning, significant increase in noradrenaline and slight decrease in dopamine have been found in the brains of rats, which suggest that there is change in neurotransmitter metabolism in lead poisoning.

It is highly disturbing to me that America's incompetent healthcare "industry", and our foolish American society and corrupt government, made and kept all forms of the natural cannabis plant effectively illegal in America for over 70 years, causing my grandparents and 1,000,000s of other Americans unnecessary physical, social, economic, environmental and emotional harm... perhaps denying my sons and 1,000,000s of Americans effective care for their lead poisoning... and absolutely denying 100,000s of injured troops with a viable treatment for anxiety and PTSD today... all to benefit a few greedy, corrupting champions of industrial special interests, as is now well understood by the informed:

Some parties have argued that the aim of the Act (1937 Marijuana Tax Act) was to reduce the size of the hemp industry largely as an effort of businessmen Andrew Mellon, Randolph Hearst, and the Du Pont family. With the invention of the decorticator, hemp became a very cheap substitute for the paper pulp that was used in the newspaper industry. Hearst felt that this was a threat to his extensive timber holdings. Mellon, Secretary of the Treasury and the wealthiest man in America, had invested heavily in the Du Pont families new synthetic fiber, nylon, which was also being outcompeted by hemp. In Western Europe, nobody banned the cultivation of hemp in the 1930s but the commercial cultivation ceased almost anyhow in the decades after the 1930s. Hemp was simply ousted by artificial fibres.

The American Medical Association (AMA) opposed the act because the tax was imposed on physicians prescribing cannabis, retail pharmacists selling cannabis, and medical cannabis cultivation/manufacturing; instead of enacting the marijuana Tax Act, the AMA proposed cannabis be added to the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act. The bill was passed over the last-minute objections of the American Medical Association. Dr. William Woodward, legislative counsel for the A.M.A. objected to the bill on the grounds that the bill had been prepared in secret without giving proper time to prepare their opposition to the bill. He doubted their claims about marijuana addiction, violence, and overdosage; he further asserted that because the word Marijuana was largely unknown at the time, the medical profession did not realize they were losing cannabis. "Marijuana is not the correct term... Yet the burden of this bill is placed heavily on the doctors and pharmacists of this country."

The bill was passed on the grounds of different reports and hearings. Anslinger also referred to the International Opium Convention that from 1928 included cannabis as a drug, and that all states had some kind of laws against improper use of cannabis. Today, it is generally accepted that the hearings included incorrect, excessive or unfounded arguments.

It is worth noting the Act was introduced by Rep. Robert L. Doughton, of North Carolina, who certainly would have been protecting the interests of the tobacco industry that has killed and shortened the lives of untold-millions of Americans... including my father's mother, who smoked deadly cigarettes throughout her adult life, as was encouraged back then by the tobacco industry and politicians from tobacco-country, like Doughton.

Three grandparents harmed by one corrupt government act... an act upheld and enforced by most of the ignorant, corrupt, incompetent politicians ruining America today.

The assault on good science, proper public health and the free will of Americans by corrupting businessmen like Andrew Mellon, Randolph Hearst, and the Du Pont family caused as much harm to Americans, global citizens and the environment as any industrial deceptions in history, as this outlawed the important ecology-balancing crop hemp, as well as marijuana.

Since I have taken-on the challenge to develop the cannabis economy in Ohio - and worldwide - and have been in the mainstream media for that - proposing a "New Cash Crop for Ohio" and turning that into Pot Sauce for Hot Sauce's Greg Williams - my psychiatrist dad is taking notice of medical marijuana issues, and slowly awakening to the question of why doctors in 16 states and DC may now prescribe medical marijuana, but Ohio leadership and the Federal government say he may not.

He has good reasons to question this stupidity, as in 2008 the AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION MEDICAL STUDENT SECTION Resolution for Marijuana's Medical Use and Research (below) states:

"Legal access to marijuana for specific medical purposes has been supported by numerous national and state medical organizations, including the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine, American College of Physicians, American Psychiatric Association’s Assembly, American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry, American Academy of Family Physicians, California Medical Association, Medical Society of the State of New York, Rhode Island Medical Society, American Academy of HIV Medicine, HIV Medicine Association, Canadian Medical Association, British Medical Association, and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society; and Whereas, The Institute of Medicine concluded after reviewing relevant scientific literature – including dozens of works documenting marijuana’s therapeutic value – that “nausea, appetite loss, pain, and anxiety are all afflictions of wasting, and all can be mitigated by marijuana”.

It seems medical students know better than practicing doctors, these days. Perhaps the students will grow into doctors who have the guts to act on their oaths.

I live in a community where healthcare is the #1 industry - the Cleveland Clinic is the #1 employer - yet medical marijuana is illegal and has not been raised as an issue of concern by any health professionals. 

Are they all on drugs?

In his career, my father has had to treat the anxiety of 1,000s of people. Marijuana was perhaps the best treatment for many, but illegal to them.

Now we know marijuana is an effective treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (P.T.S.D.), but illegal to veterans and active troops.

In some states where medical marijuana is legal, MMJ is prescribed for P.T.S.D.... by doctors NOT AFFILIATED WITH THE VA... to excellent reported results. From National Public Radio, in MMJ-legal New Mexico - Can Marijuana Ease PTSD? A Debate Brews:

The Department of Veterans Affairs finds itself in a difficult position because some vets want to use marijuana to treat symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Pot possession remains illegal under federal law. The VA says that as a federal agency its doctors can't recommend using it.

The problem is especially acute in New Mexico, where one-fourth of the state's more than 1,600 medical marijuana patients are PTSD sufferers.

The agency (VA) responded to NPR's questions on the matter with this statement: "Based on guidance issued by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Department of Justice, VA General Counsel has advised that completion of a state medical marijuana form is in violation of the Controlled Substances Act and subject to its enforcement provisions. Therefore VA physicians and practitioners may not participate in state medical marijuana programs. VA has addressed issues/questions regarding medical marijuana separately as they have arisen but is in the process of developing national policy."

The arguments around marijuana and PTSD start running in circles at a certain point. Scientists say more research is needed. Activists counter that the federal government has blocked research because marijuana is illegal. The American Medical Association has called for controlled studies to settle this and other questions about the effectiveness of marijuana.

Meanwhile, policymakers in states with medical marijuana programs have to make decisions now, and they're reaching different conclusions. While New Mexico found there's enough evidence to approve marijuana use for PTSD, next door in Colorado lawmakers recently rejected a similar proposal.

This prohibition now impacts well over 300,000 troops who have returned from Iraq or Afghanistan with P.T.S.D., depression, traumatic brain injury or some combination of those.

From the February 12, 2011 New York Times feature - For Some Troops, Powerful Drug Cocktails Have Deadly Results:

After a decade of treating thousands of wounded troops, the military’s medical system is awash in prescription drugs — and the results have sometimes been deadly.

By some estimates, well over 300,000 troops have returned from Iraq or Afghanistan with P.T.S.D., depression, traumatic brain injury or some combination of those. The Pentagon has looked to pharmacology to treat those complex problems, following the lead of civilian medicine. As a result, psychiatric drugs have been used more widely across the military than in any previous war.

But those medications, along with narcotic painkillers, are being increasingly linked to a rising tide of other problems, among them drug dependency, suicide and fatal accidents — sometimes from the interaction of the drugs themselves.

The article goes on to detail disgraceful industry and government response to the needs of the millions of veterans of war in our country, who are victims of foolish leadership on so many levels of society, and are in brain-damaged downward spirals in an uncaring place and time. Most fatal, for so many, is being put in the hands of drug-pusher Office of Veterans Affairs (VA) "psychiatrists", who are clearly no more than sales agents for pharmaceutical companies.

The military medical system has struggled to meet the demand caused by two wars, and to this day it still reports shortages of therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists. But medications have always been readily available.

Across all branches, spending on psychiatric drugs has more than doubled since 2001, to $280 million in 2010, according to numbers obtained from the Defense Logistics Agency by a Cornell University psychiatrist, Dr. Richard A. Friedman.

But the response of modern psychiatry to modern warfare has not always been perfect. Psychiatrists still do not have good medications for the social withdrawal, nightmares and irritability that often accompany post-traumatic stress, so they mix and match drugs, trying to relieve symptoms.

“These decisions about medication are difficult enough in civilian psychiatry, but unfortunately in this very-high-stress population, there is almost no data to guide you,” said Dr. Ranga R. Krishnan, a psychiatrist at Duke University. “The psychiatrist is trying everything and to some extent is flying blind.”

Thousands of troops struggle with insomnia, anxiety and chronic pain — a combination that is particularly treacherous to treat with medications. Pairing a pain medication like oxycodone, a narcotic, with an anti-anxiety drug like Xanax, a so-called benzodiazepine, amplifies the tranquilizing effects of both, doctors say.

Similarly, antidepressants like Prozac or Celexa block liver enzymes that help break down narcotics and anxiety drugs, extending their effects.

“The sedation is not necessarily two plus two is four,” said Cmdr. Rosemary Malone, a Navy forensic psychiatrist. “It could be synergistic. So two plus two could be five.”

Regarding the scope of this crisis, a General watching his troops turned into pill-junkies told the Times:

“I’m not a doctor, but there is something inside that tells me the fewer of these things we prescribe, the better off we’ll be,” Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, the vice chief of staff of the Army who has led efforts on suicide, said in an interview.

The New York Times goes on to report:

The widespread availability of prescription medications is increasingly being linked by military officials to growing substance abuse, particularly with opiates. A Defense Department survey last year found that the illegal use of prescription drugs in the military had tripled from 2005 to 2008, with five times as many troops claiming to abuse prescription drugs than illegal ones like cocaine or marijuana.

The reporter from the New York Times, covering this issue, failed to intellectualize the importance of the war against marijuana by the Federal government in causing this pill-popper crisis. That is not a big surprise, as this whole anti-marijuana mess is the fault of corrupt news men.

"Rosebud".

From the AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION MEDICAL STUDENT SECTION
Resolution 2 (A-08) - Subject: Marijuana: Medical Use and Research

Introduced by: Sunil Aggarwal, Aaron Flanagan, and Alicia Carrasco, University of Washington School of Medicine; Sonya Khan and Liisa Bergmann, University of California, Los Angeles, School of Medicine; Trace Fender, Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine; Leo Arko, University of New Mexico School of Medicine
Referred to: MSS Reference Committee (Despina Siolas, Chair)

Whereas, The federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970 categorized marijuana as a Schedule I substance not permitted for prescription use1, yet 12 states (AK, CA, CO, HI, ME, MT, NV, NM, OR, RI, VT, WA) have laws that permit the use of marijuana when recommended by a physician; and

Whereas, A ruling by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reaffirmed and the Supreme Court let stand the right of physicians and patients to discuss the therapeutic potential of marijuana, but patients who follow their physicians’ advice are put at risk for up to one year in federal prison for possession of marijuana, and up to five years in federal prison for growing one marijuana plant, as federal law does not make a distinction between medicinal and other marijuana use; and

Whereas, Legal access to marijuana for specific medical purposes has been supported by numerous national and state medical organizations, including the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine, American College of Physicians, American Psychiatric Association’s Assembly, American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry, American Academy of Family Physicians, California Medical Association, Medical Society of the State of New York, Rhode Island Medical Society, American Academy of HIV Medicine, HIV Medicine Association, Canadian Medical Association, British Medical Association, and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society; and

Whereas, The Institute of Medicine concluded after reviewing relevant scientific literature – including dozens of works documenting marijuana’s therapeutic value – that “nausea, appetite loss, pain, and anxiety are all afflictions of wasting, and all can be mitigated by marijuana”5; and

Whereas, Subsequent studies since the 1999 Institute of Medicine report, including randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled ones, continue to show the therapeutic value of marijuana in treating a wide array of debilitating medical conditions, including relieving medication side effects and thus improving the likelihood that patients will adhere to life-prolonging treatments for HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C and alleviating HIV/AIDS neuropathy, a painful condition for which there are no FDA-approved treatments; and

Whereas, “Given marijuana’s proven efficacy at treating certain symptoms and its relatively low toxicity, reclassification would reduce barriers to research and increase availability of cannabinoid drugs to patients who have failed to respond to other treatments”7; and

Whereas, “Only two cannabinoid drugs are currently licensed for sale in the U.S. (dronabinol [Marinol®] and nabilone [Cesamet®]), and both are only available in oral form” and while “useful for some, these drugs have serious limitations”8; and

Whereas, Reclassifying marijuana as medically useful should draw from medical experience with opiates, which indicates that “opiates are highly addictive yet medically effective substances and are classified as Schedule II substances,” but “there is no evidence to suggest that medical use of opiates has increased perception that their illicit use is safe or acceptable”9; and

Whereas, “Preclinical, clinical, and anecdotal reports suggest numerous potential medical uses for marijuana ... unfortunately, research expansion has been hindered by a complicated federal approval process, limited availability of research-grade marijuana, and the debate over legalization”10; and

Whereas, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) generally supplies marijuana for the research of harms and does not automatically provide marijuana to researchers who hold an FDA Investigational New Drug (IND) and a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Schedule I researcher’s registration for marijuana11; and

Whereas, The federal government has obstructed privately funded research through NIDA’s monopoly over the production of marijuana for research, as well as through the DEA’s refusal to license any privately funded marijuana production facilities, even though DEA-licensed, private facilities produce LSD, MDMA, psilocybin, mescaline, and other Schedule I drugs; and

Whereas, Despite these obstructions, the accumulated scientific data regarding marijuana’s safety and efficacy in certain clinical conditions and its increasingly accepted medical use in treatment can no longer be ignored12; therefore be it

RESOLVED, That our AMA support review of marijuana’s status as a Schedule I controlled substance, its reclassification into a more appropriate schedule, and revision of the current protocol for obtaining research-grade marijuana so that it conforms to the same standards established for obtaining every other scheduled drug for legitimate research purposes; and be it further

RESOLVED, That our AMA strongly support exemption from federal criminal prosecution, civil liability, and professional sanctioning for physicians who recommend medical marijuana in accordance with state law, as well as full legal protections for patients who use medical marijuana under these circumstances; and be it further

RESOLVED, That this resolution be promptly forwarded to the House of Delegates at A-08 for national action.

Date received: 4/10/08

 

Lifetime cost providing for these veterans: around $1 trillion

As I posted on realNEO - The cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will reach between $4 trillion and $6 trillion - veteran costs peak in 40 years:


Already, we've spent more than $1 trillion in Iraq, not counting the $700 billion consumed each year by the Pentagon budget.
And spending in Iraq and Afghanistan now comes to more than $3 billion weekly

There is an important update on the cost to Americans of the war in Iraq and Afghanista, published in the Daily Beast October 27, 2010 - How the Wars Are Sinking the Economy - reporting "Nobel Prize recipient Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard budget guru Linda J. Bilmes are revising their original $3 trillion war cost estimate. As Bilmes reports, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are at least 25 percent costlier than previous projections—the cost of the wars will reach between $4 trillion and $6 trillion."

They frame these costs from the perspective of the burden the wars place on our economy, which will peak in about a half-century:

Here is what we know: the legacy of the wars will continue to drag the economy down.

The long-term costs of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan will be higher than previous wars because of higher survival rates, greater incidence of PTSD and other mental-health disorders. Additionally, a higher percentage of veterans are claiming disability benefits, and far more veterans have served multiple tours of duty.

Taken in context, history shows that the cost of caring for war veterans typically peaks 40 years after a conflict ends. The peak year for paying out disability claims to World War I veterans didn't occur until 1969; the peak for paying out World War II benefits was in the 1980s, and we have not yet reached the peak cost for Vietnam veterans. Even the Gulf War of 1991, which lasted just six weeks, now costs more than $4 billion a year in veterans' disability compensation.

Hundreds of thousands of veterans have already been treated in VA medical facilities; and many will require care for the rest of their lives. Half-a-million people plus have filed for disability compensation. And the total lifetime cost of providing for these veterans is likely to tally between $600 billion and $900 billion, as mentioned above. But of course, even these huge numbers don't include the economic costs that are borne by veterans and their families, in terms of diminished quality of life, lost employment and long-term suffering.

Read the complete story at - The cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will reach between $4 trillion and $6 trillion - veteran costs peak in 40 years

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9% of the inmates incarcerated in Ohio are for VIOLENT CRIMES

I believe one of the primary reasons Ohio, other states and the Federal government have resisted treating marijuana like the medicine it is - and respecting MMJ patients as the sick people they are - is because that requires our leadership to admit they are wrong, and do something about that. Like let minor drug offenders out of lock-up and prison, and clear them off the books against prosecution for crimes that are redefined as medicating for conditions like P.T.S.D. and lead poisoning, caused by government corruption and stupidity.

Records for 1,000,000s of mentally disturbed, self-medicating "pot-heads" - "criminals" - need to be redefined as Classified medication records and protected by HIPAA.

Our leaders clearly think it is easier to keep 1,000,000s of Americans in jail for being sick, and taxing everyone else to pay the bill.

Americans can't afford to pay the bill for such government corruption, incompetency and downright evil any longer - this war broke the people's banks, backs, brains and hearts.

Smart countries are dealing with the reduced costs of fair, civil justice and prison systems and so may America... and generate revenues for government in the process.

As I previously reported on realNEO - Cuyahoga County Building Prisons - Netherlands to Close Prisons: Not Enough Criminals.

Perhaps we may use our prisons for white-collar criminals who poisoned our air, water and land, and corrupted our government and healthcare, harming every American and living thing on Earth, for all our lives...:

Figure 1 shows projected Ohio prison inmate population growth through July 2012 (Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, July 2009)

I noticed an interesting link from a few Facebook friends to the Marijuana Policy Project website at "Netherlands to Close Prisons: Not Enough Criminals", which reports "The Dutch government is getting ready to close eight prisons because they don’t have enough criminals to fill them. Officials attribute the shortage of prisoners to a declining crime rate." MPP points out, with glee... "For years prohibitionists, including our own Drug Enforcement Administration, have claimed — falsely — that the tolerant marijuana policies of the Netherlands have made that nation a nest of crime and drug abuse."

Based on a quick illustrative analysis of data provided by MPP of the prison populations of the Netherlands and California... I calculated the imprisonment rate for Ohio, with a baseline population of 11.5 million people, if we had the incarceration rates of the Netherlands. Ohio would have a prison population of about 8,000 people.

In fact, in mid 2008, Ohio's incarceration (or imprisonment) rate, which is calculated from counts of incarcerated persons per 100,000 total residents, was 445 (Bureau of Justice Statistics) - representing a prison population of over 51,000 - more than 6x the incarceration rate in the Netherlands - costing Ohio over $1.6 BILLION per year.

Worse, as posted April 27, 2010, on Crime Reporter - "Ohio prison crowding at crisis stage" - "the Ohio General Assembly allowed the state prison budget to grow this year, despite looming multi-billion-dollar budget deficits. Ohio’s statewide inmate population climbed within 128 inmates of the all-time record of 51,273 this month, prompting state lawmakers and Gov. Ted Strickland to blame one another for inaction."

What action may Ohio lawmakers have in mind for reducing the prison population and multi-billion dollar deficit of Ohio, that compares to what I propose - what the Netherlands proves right - Making Northeast Ohio the Open Source Capital of the Brightest Greenest State of Earth - which would generate $ billions per year in fresh green tax revenues for Ohio, and immediately give cause to reduce prison populations in Ohio by likely 10,000s (e.g. lock ups for marijuana-related charges).... and eliminate 1,000s of admissions a year in the future. The cost savings - and revenue opportunities - to the state and local governments will be astounding.

The Ohio State Penitentiary reports direct daily per inmate costs of $146.16, being annual costs of $53,348 PER INMATE.... being a small fraction of the justice system costs that exceed $1.6 BILLION in Ohio for the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction alone...

Obviously, these costs do not reflect the other costs and burdens on families and society from unnecessary incarceration... and still these costs to taxpayers are staggering. What a family in Northeast Ohio couldn't do with $53,348 extra per year, at home...

What the state of Ohio couldn't do with an extra 530 MILLION-DOLLARS per year saved by each 10,000 inmate (20%) reduction in the current prison population, at that daily cost. Drop it 40% - 20,000 inmates - save a cool BILLION PER YEAR in direct prison costs of government... and serve more free citizens better!

Current Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction data and projections show Ohio prisons have a rated capacity of 38,665 - meaning we are currently operating at 13,000 inmates above capacity... and are projecting to operate at 17,000 over capacity by 2018. We actually need to reduce prison populations by over 10,000 inmates just to be legal and effective... or spend $ billions more building more prison capacity (or "privatize" for the capacity, at comparable costs).

The National Institute of Corrections reports the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction operates 33 facilities, contracts with 2 private prisons, and has 13,938 employees. The agency's annual budget is over $1.6 billion. For 51,000 prisoners, that is $31,372 per state inmate per year. Of course, there are other costs included in this, and beyond this...

The NIC reports, "Throughout Ohio's 88 counties there are 118 jail facilities with a combined rated capacity of 20,052 inmates. A state jail inspection and standards program is administered by the Ohio Bureau of Adult Detention, part of the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction." And, "The Division of Parole and Community Services, part of the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, provides statewide parole services and probation services in 43 counties. In 45 counties, local court probation agencies supervise probationers. There are 260,962 probationers and 19,119 parolees."

Most important, note, NIC reports only about 9% of the inmates incarcerated in Ohio are held for VIOLENT CRIMES - JUST 9%.

And, what percentage of those 9% of crimes were committed by people who were just too toxic and damaged by society to function at the time, and really just needed to get high... or couldn't find a legal way to make a living, but would succeed and enjoy working in the cannabis industries?

Our prisons should have less than half their current populations, saving perhaps $1 billion per year.

Now, imagine the cost savings just at the city of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County levels of government, in reduced police, admissions, processing, court, incarceration and reentry costs, to be realized by legalizing and taxing cannabis here.

From NRC Handelsblad, in the Netherlands -

Read the compete story at - Cuyahoga County Building Prisons - Netherlands to Close Prisons: Not Enough Criminals

 

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