Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?

Our mission is to reverse the trend of mass incarceration in Colorado. We are a coalition of nearly 7,000 individual members and over 100 faith and community organizations who have united to stop perpetual prison expansion in Colorado through policy and sentence reform.

Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.

If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Medical-marijuana advocates seek society's approval - The Denver Post

Medical-marijuana advocates seek society's approval - The Denver Post

The liquid inside the test tube is neon green, the color of lime Kool-Aid or the mad-scientist potions found only in comic books. Perhaps it's fitting, then, that the contents come with a whiff of danger. They are a mixture of marijuana and solvents, stirred together in a furious swirl by a lab technician wearing protective goggles and latex gloves.

Running the concoction through a $70,000 machine, the technician can learn with scientific precision the plant's unique chemical makeup, its potency, even its growing method.

The ultimate goal? Find out how good it is.

"We're not going to be taken seriously unless we have proof," said Michael Lee, the owner of the lab and its adjacent medical-marijuana dispensary,

Cannabis Therapeutics.

This is the new science of pot, part of a fresh wave of study and innovation among scientists and cannabis advocates all seeking to solve a central dilemma: In Colorado and other states, first came the approval of marijuana as medicine. Next comes the challenge of proving its effectiveness.

The newest research leaves little doubt that marijuana — or at least its chemical components — has promise in alleviating symptoms of some ailments, while also making clear that the drug is not without its drawbacks, some potentially serious.

What is less certain is whether Colorado's medical-marijuana system of dispensaries and caregivers — where commitment to scientific rigor and compassionate patient care is largely voluntary — can maximize that treatment potential for the benefit of patients.

Some dispensaries keep detailed patient records and embrace scientific testing in the hopes of providing patients with what works best. But medical-marijuana users report other dispensaries seem interested in just slinging snazzy weed, regardless of a patient's needs or ailments. (One ad on Craigslist: "Licensed caregiver looking to trade for Widespread Panic tickets.")


mainstream medical community, meanwhile, questions whether any system that uses a raw plant as medicine can be optimally effective. Instead, conventional drug researchers see promise mostly in harvesting marijuana's ingredients for more traditional medicines and avoiding consumption methods like smoking that can hurt patients' health.

"If there is any future for marijuana as a medicine," a panel of experts wrote in a landmark 1999 report for the National Academy of Science's Institute of Medicine, "it lies in its isolated components."

Most marijuana advocates enthusiastically embrace a future in which pot is as much an accepted medicine as penicillin. But that future might not come without significant changes to the way medical marijuana is handled. New medicines require new tests and government approvals. Those lead to new regulations and new oversight. There is a focus on standardization, sterility, precision, discipline.

If there were ever a world where marijuana was available behind the counter at the corner pharmacy, the do-it-yourself independence of Colorado's — and many other states' — medical-marijuana system might not have a place. The bud could become obsolete, and dispensaries — both medically inclined and not — could go extinct with it.

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