Legislature(2005 - 2006)CAPITOL 120

04/12/2005 08:00 AM JUDICIARY


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Recessed to a Call of the Chair --
+ Confirmation Hearing: Board of Govs of TELECONFERENCED
the AK Bar - Joseph N. Faulhaber
<Hearing Postponed>
+= HB 53 CHILDREN IN NEED OF AID/REVIEW PANELS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+= HB 96 CRIMES INVOLVING MARIJUANA/OTHER DRUGS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
*+ HB 246 REQUIRE OPT-IN FOR CLASS ACTIONS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
<Rescheduled from 4/11>
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
<Please note time>
HB 96 - CRIMES INVOLVING MARIJUANA/OTHER DRUGS                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
8:44:19 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR McGUIRE announced that the  next order of business would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL NO. 96, "An  Act making findings relating to marijuana                                                               
use  and   possession;  relating  to  marijuana   and  misconduct                                                               
involving a controlled substance;  and providing for an effective                                                               
date."                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
8:45:02 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PATRICK SHEEHAN  relayed that he  suffers from a  traumatic brain                                                               
injury and temporal  lobe epilepsy, a rare form  of epilepsy, and                                                               
because of such  also suffers from depression, and  that his main                                                               
concern is with  regard to what the state is  doing for his well-                                                               
being.  Currently,  he explained, he cannot work  and cannot take                                                               
antidepressant medication because it conflicts with his anti-                                                                   
seizure  medication.    He  said  that  he  has  discovered  that                                                               
marijuana has medical significance  for those with depression and                                                               
disorders similar to  those that he suffers from,  adding that he                                                               
has  been   consuming  marijuana  for   16  years  and   has  not                                                               
experienced any  of the  side affects  that previous  speakers on                                                               
the  bill have  suggested would  occur.   For him,  he explained,                                                               
marijuana takes the place of  antidepressant medication and he is                                                               
able to  control his  depression simply through  the use  of just                                                               
small amounts of marijuana.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
8:49:37 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MICHAEL  "WES"  MACLEOD-BALL,  Executive Director,  Alaska  Civil                                                               
Liberties Union  (AkCLU), relayed that  the AkCLU and  the group,                                                               
Alaskans  for  Marijuana  Regulation  and  Control  (AMRC),  have                                                               
provided  the committee  with a  roster of  witnesses, and  asked                                                               
that those witnesses be allowed to speak in a particular order.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
8:51:17 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BILL  PARKER,  Alaskans  for  Marijuana  Regulation  and  Control                                                               
(AMRC),  relayed  that  his  written  testimony  is  included  in                                                               
member's packets.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARA remarked:                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     The  governor has  presented this  bill;  he wants  the                                                                    
     legislature  to  make   these  extreme  findings  after                                                                    
     detailed  hearings which,  at  the end  of session,  we                                                                    
     frankly  don't have  the time  to make.   So  this bill                                                                    
     might  move,  there  might be  findings  in  it,  [but]                                                                    
     they're,  frankly, not  going to  be findings  that are                                                                    
     real,  [and] they're  not going  to [be]  findings that                                                                    
     we've had the  time to consider.  And I  just think, if                                                                    
     the governor's  going to have  a major  initiative like                                                                    
     this, he's got to expect  that we're going to need more                                                                    
     time to  deal with  it.   If it's  the administration's                                                                    
     view that it  needs to rush through, then  it will rush                                                                    
     through, but the  findings aren't going to  be real, in                                                                    
     my view.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR McGUIRE  mentioned that it  is not  her intent to  move the                                                               
bill from committee today.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
8:53:21 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JACK   COLE,   Executive   Director,  Law   Enforcement   Against                                                               
Prohibition  (LEAP),  relayed  that  he is  a  retired  detective                                                               
lieutenant  from the  New Jersey  State Police,  where he'd  been                                                               
working  as an  undercover narcotics  officer  for 14  out of  26                                                               
years.  He went on to say:                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     My  investigations  spanned  the spectrum  of  possible                                                                    
     cases,   from   street-level   drug   dealers   up   to                                                                    
     international,     billion-dollar,     drug-trafficking                                                                    
     organizations.    ...    [Law    Enforcement    Against                                                                    
     Prohibition] was  founded by  five former cops  to give                                                                    
     voice  to  all  the  members of  law  enforcement  that                                                                    
     believe  that the  war on  drugs is  not only  a dismal                                                                    
     failure but is a terribly destructive policy.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     And in  the two  and a half  years that  we've existed,                                                                    
     we've grown  to over  2,000 members  who are  no longer                                                                    
     just cops - we are  police, judges, prosecutors, prison                                                                    
     wardens,  [and]   we  even  have  retired   [U.S.  Drug                                                                    
     Enforcement  Administration  (DEA)] officers  who  help                                                                    
     make up  our bureau  of 85 speakers.   What  LEAP would                                                                    
     like to  suggests to  you today  is that  passing bills                                                                    
     that  raise  criminal   penalties  and  assess  harsher                                                                    
     sentences for  nonviolent drug offences is  a very poor                                                                    
     public policy.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     In   1975,   Alaska   started   a   15-year   trek   of                                                                    
     decriminalizing adult  use of marijuana in  the privacy                                                                    
     of one's  own home.   And then  ... from 1990  to 2003,                                                                    
     they [changed]  back to a  de facto  prohibition, which                                                                    
     was  reversed again  in 2003  until  the present,  and,                                                                    
     again,   you've  been   able   to  use   decriminalized                                                                    
     marijuana  in your  own home.    According to  Alaska's                                                                    
     statistics, overall use of  marijuana among children in                                                                    
     grades  6 to  12 has  decreased from  the level  of use                                                                    
     before  that  marijuana  was  decriminalized  in  1975.                                                                    
     However, [in] the rest of  the United States, marijuana                                                                    
     use among  that age  group has increased;  according to                                                                    
     Monitoring the Future, the largest  survey ever done in                                                                    
     this country about  that, it says that  the increase is                                                                    
     30  percent  for  12th graders,  65  percent  for  10th                                                                    
     graders, and 88 percent for 8th graders.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. COLE continued:                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     So apparently  you have been doing  something correctly                                                                    
     in Alaska.   What  I'd like  to say  about this  war on                                                                    
     drugs is  that for 35  years, with  a budget of  half a                                                                    
     trillion dollars,  [the] United  States has  fought the                                                                    
     war  on drugs  with ever  harsher penalties  and, since                                                                    
     the  year 2000,  we've arrested  1.6 million  people in                                                                    
     this country for nonviolent drug  offences - fully half                                                                    
     of those  offenses are marijuana  violations -  and all                                                                    
     we have  to show for  all this  money so ill  spent ...                                                                    
     and all  these lives  ruined is  that today,  drugs are                                                                    
     cheaper, more potent,  and far easier to  get than they                                                                    
     were in 1970 when I started buying them undercover.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     Now,  to me,  that  is  the very  essence  of a  failed                                                                    
     public  policy.   What  I  would  like to  suggest  is,                                                                    
     please,  please  don't  pass bills  that  tie  up  more                                                                    
     police hours in projects that  do nothing to lessen the                                                                    
     incidence of death, disease,  crime, or drug addiction.                                                                    
     Let  police  get back  to  protecting  us from  violent                                                                    
     crime; we'll all be much  better.  Thank you very much.                                                                    
     ...                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
8:56:59 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DARA  AHRENS,  after  relaying  that she  has  been  a  certified                                                               
nursing assistant  (CNA) since 1987,  said that she has  been ...                                                               
taking care  of patients who  use medicinal  marijuana, including                                                               
one who got  more relief from the pain caused  by his amyotrophic                                                               
lateral  sclerosis  (ALS)  -  Lou Gehrig's  disease  -  by  using                                                               
medicinal marijuana  than by using  20 cc of morphine,  which was                                                               
the drug doctors prescribed for him.   She characterized HB 96 as                                                               
a backdoor attempt to outlaw  medical marijuana.  Noting that her                                                               
life  partner has  chronic, progressive  multiple sclerosis  (MS)                                                               
and can  now barely speak,  she also  mentioned that she  and her                                                               
adult  son suffer  from severe,  attention deficit  hyperactivity                                                               
disorder  (ADHD)   but  can't  afford  the   medication  normally                                                               
prescribed  for it  and  yet medicinal  marijuana  helps her  son                                                               
focus.   In  conclusion, she  opined  that the  use of  medicinal                                                               
marijuana should be regulated to prevent addiction.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS. AHRENS,  in response  to questions,  offered her  belief that                                                               
marijuana  should be  considered a  [schedule IIA]  substance and                                                               
require  a  doctor's  note  in  order to  use  it  for  medicinal                                                               
purposes.  She said she didn't  like to skulk around, adding that                                                               
her  years of  care  giving  have left  her  with bulging  spinal                                                               
discs,  pinched nerves  and compression  fractures, all  of which                                                               
cause  her extreme  pain; occasional  use of  medicinal marijuana                                                               
provides  her with  more  relief  from that  pain  than does  the                                                               
Percocet she has been prescribed.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
9:02:37 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
STEVE  ANDISON mentioned  that his  wife  has multiple  sclerosis                                                               
(MS) and  asked that he be  allowed the time to  testify for them                                                               
both.  Characterizing the issue raised  by HB 96 as a complicated                                                               
one, he said he sees two  categories of marijuana use:  medicinal                                                               
use and social use.  He  offered his belief that rather than curb                                                               
marijuana  use, passage  of  HB  96 will  only  result in  higher                                                               
retail  prices,  heavier  competition   among  sellers,  and  the                                                               
development of an  increasingly potent product.  He  said that in                                                               
obtaining marijuana  for his  wife to use  in order  to alleviate                                                               
her chronic pain, he discovered  that the product available today                                                               
is entirely different  than that which was available  in '60s and                                                               
'70s, and  thus he  does have some  concern, given  the increased                                                               
potency  levels of  today's product  and  the fact  that most  of                                                               
those in  his generation  are only  familiar with  what marijuana                                                               
was like three and four decades ago.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR.  ANDISON mentioned  that although  the  testimony he's  heard                                                               
from present-day  experts on  the subject  has encouraged  him to                                                               
pay more  attention to the  issue, he  is not convinced  that the                                                               
evidence  upon which  that  testimony is  based  has reached  the                                                               
level of being  a preponderance of the evidence,  nor reached "an                                                               
interval of confidence" showing that  marijuana is addictive.  Is                                                               
alcohol  addictive?   Perhaps to  some, but  not universally,  he                                                               
remarked, and  then posited that much  the same could be  said of                                                               
marijuana.  Furthermore, even though  the prevailing sentiment is                                                               
that  children   should  be  prevented   from  getting   hold  of                                                               
marijuana, it should  be remembered that children  could also get                                                               
hold of  any other  medication that  is being  kept in  their own                                                               
home.   With regard  to the fears  expressed that  people driving                                                               
under the influence of marijuana  present an increased danger, he                                                               
pointed  out  that  there  are   already  laws  that  govern  and                                                               
criminalize such behavior.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  McGUIRE  asked   Mr.  Andison  whether  his   wife  has  a                                                               
prescription for medical marijuana.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR.  ANDISON  said no,  adding  that  technically, doctors  could                                                               
write  a prescription,  but  doctors  tend to  want  to know  the                                                               
dosage that  they are  prescribing, and  currently there  isn't a                                                               
controlled  product  available  on  the  street.    Additionally,                                                               
doctors have not  been trained in this modality,  they don't know                                                               
much about  the drug, and they  certainly don't think of  it as a                                                               
legitimate drug  to prescribe -  they haven't been trained  to do                                                               
so.  Then, in addition to  the challenge of finding a doctor that                                                               
will prescribe marijuana, there is  also the challenge of getting                                                               
that  prescription filled.   Theoretically,  he acknowledged,  he                                                               
could grow the marijuana  in his own home, but since  he is not a                                                               
horticulturist and  doesn't have the  room or finances to  do so,                                                               
he really can't grow it.  Instead,  he would prefer to be able to                                                               
take a prescription to a legitimate source.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. ANDISON  opined, therefore, that  if the government  is going                                                               
to legitimize  the use of  medicinal marijuana, it also  ought to                                                               
get involved and help in  the regulation, licensing, control, and                                                               
standardization  of  medicinal  marijuana.    Currently,  though,                                                               
there is  no real legitimacy  in obtaining medical  marijuana and                                                               
so he still  winds up skulking around, buying it  off the street,                                                               
and trying to  look for someone with integrity who  does not deal                                                               
"death  for a  dollar."   So  even though  on  paper there  might                                                               
appear to  be a legitimate process  to follow, in reality  such a                                                               
process doesn't actually exist.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
9:08:13 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA   asked  whether  the   government  provides                                                               
medicinal marijuana  to those who  have a valid  prescription, or                                                               
whether there is a regulated way to get medicinal marijuana.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. ANDISON said that if such a  way exists, he has not found it.                                                               
He  acknowledged that  there is  Marinol  - a  synthetic form  of                                                               
tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)  - but  pointed out  that it  does not                                                               
have the  same effects as the  actual plant.  He  relayed that he                                                               
has asked a  couple of neurologists and some  other experts about                                                               
this issue and has been told  that the most comfort - surcease of                                                               
pain -  will be derived through  the use of the  actual marijuana                                                               
plant that has been subjected to  heat and the smoke thereof then                                                               
inhaled.    Additionally,  Marinol   is  cost  prohibitive.    So                                                               
although  medicinal marijuana  is  not  a cure  for  MS, it  does                                                               
provide some  quality of  life; therefore, if  members know  of a                                                               
legitimate source  of medicinal  marijuana, he relayed,  he would                                                               
like   that  information.     He   predicted   that  because   of                                                               
socioeconomic issues in rural areas,  simply drying up the source                                                               
of marijuana  will not result  in a decrease in  substance abuse;                                                               
in  rural areas,  if marijuana  is not  available, people  simply                                                               
resort to abusing other substances as a form of escapism.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. ANDISON, in  response to a question, offered  his belief that                                                               
for his wife, an ounce  of marijuana for medicinal purposes would                                                               
be an  adequate amount  to possess; that  marijuana -  along with                                                               
guns, alcohol, and  all prescription medication -  should be kept                                                               
out of the  hands children; and that there  should be culpability                                                               
for those that don't hold the  fragility of youth in high regard.                                                               
He went on  to remark that marijuana is actually  a business, and                                                               
whether it's considered  a legitimate business or not,  it has to                                                               
reach certain  scales of economy;  there is a need  to legitimize                                                               
the business of medical marijuana so  that those that need it can                                                               
afford it.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. ANDISON, with regard to Ms.  Ahrens's comment that HB 96 is a                                                               
backdoor way of shutting down  medicinal marijuana, surmised that                                                               
if  the amount  of medicinal  marijuana that  one may  possess is                                                               
decreased too much, then those that  are providing it will not be                                                               
able to  maintain a viable  business interest, and this  will, in                                                               
effect, dry up the sources  of medicinal marijuana for those that                                                               
need it.   In response  to a  comment, he reiterated  that simply                                                               
growing  marijuana  for medicinal  purposes  is  not a  practical                                                               
solution; marijuana is not simple to  grow and it is expensive to                                                               
get  into the  art and  science of  growing it.   He  offered the                                                               
analogy  that people  are not  having  to resort  to peeling  and                                                               
boiling their own birch bark in  order to make their own aspirin;                                                               
instead there  are legitimate sources  of aspirin  available, and                                                               
there  should   likewise  be  legitimate  sources   of  medicinal                                                               
marijuana available.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
9:13:54 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MITCH  EARLEYWINE,  Ph.D.,  Associate  Professor  of  Psychology,                                                               
University of Southern  California (USC), relayed that  he is the                                                               
author of  the book titled, Understanding  Marijuana, and teaches                                                             
substance  abuse treatment  to  USC's  clinical psychologists  in                                                               
training.  He went on to say:                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     I'd  like to  emphasize that  it took  me 15  months to                                                                    
     review this  literature and write a  book that reported                                                                    
     on  all  this work,  and  so  I  have to  commend  [the                                                                    
     legislature] for trying to do  such a difficult task in                                                                    
     such a  short period.   The recurring themes I  seem to                                                                    
     see concern  some of the potency  issues, stories about                                                                    
     cannabis  being linked  to  aggression, it's  addictive                                                                    
     propensity,  its impact  on driving,  and  I'd like  to                                                                    
     address these as quickly as possible.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     You're  going  to  hear  quite   a  few  stories  about                                                                    
     individual cases where somebody  may have used cannabis                                                                    
     and been involved  in an aggressive act, but  I want to                                                                    
     emphasize  that   laboratory  research   suggests  that                                                                    
     cannabis  does not  increase aggression.    A study  by                                                                    
     "Myers  Coffin Taylor"  (ph) has  shown  that when  you                                                                    
     bring  people  into  the   laboratory,  have  them  use                                                                    
     cannabis, and  then actually provoke them  and irritate                                                                    
     them, they  still do not  get more aggressive  than the                                                                    
     folks  who have  used  a placebo,  and that  individual                                                                    
     cases  where   we  see  [that]  somebody   has  behaved                                                                    
     aggressively  after using  cannabis  are,  in a  sense,                                                                    
     just  a  spurious  result -  something  that  may  have                                                                    
     happened  simply by  chance -  that  cannabis does  not                                                                    
     play a causal role in aggressive acts.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     The   addictive  propensity   of   cannabis  has   been                                                                    
     overestimated.   I have new  data suggesting  that when                                                                    
     you  ask clinicians  how  addictive  is cannabis,  they                                                                    
     rank  it   in  a  wave  comparable   to  the  addictive                                                                    
     propensity of caffeine;  [and] that this is  not a drug                                                                    
     that is  used by itself, often,  and so a lot  of times                                                                    
     problems with alcohol or problems  with other drugs get                                                                    
     attributed to cannabis, ... so  that people assume that                                                                    
     cannabis  is the  source  of  these addictive  problems                                                                    
     when, in fact, it often stems from other drugs.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
DR. EARLEYWINE continued:                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     The  issues  about  potency,  I  understand,  are  very                                                                    
     complex.   The bottom  line is  that yes,  cannabis has                                                                    
     increased in  potency over  the years,  but it  has not                                                                    
     increased  as much  as we've  often heard.   So  I will                                                                    
     occasionally read things that  suggest that cannabis is                                                                    
     25 times stronger  or a 100 times stronger  than it was                                                                    
     in the 1970s.   These estimates are usually  based on a                                                                    
     misunderstanding  of  the   way  cannabis  potency  was                                                                    
     assessed back in  the 1970s:  we  didn't understand how                                                                    
     THC worked  back then  and so, a  lot of  times, [when]                                                                    
     police officers confiscated cannabis,  they put it in a                                                                    
     hot  evidence  locker  where  the   THC  -  the  active                                                                    
     ingredient -  would degrade, and then  they would later                                                                    
     send it down  to the University of  Mississippi to have                                                                    
     its potency assessed.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     And, what  a surprise,  a lot of  the THC  had degraded                                                                    
     and we would  get estimates [of] around  1 percent THC.                                                                    
     Well, when  1 percent  THC is  used in  the laboratory,                                                                    
     people report that it's a  placebo - they don't get any                                                                    
     effect  at all.    Surely in  [the]  1970s people  were                                                                    
     getting  some effect  from this  drug or  they wouldn't                                                                    
     have used it, [so] obviously this  is an error.  And so                                                                    
     when we say  it's 25 times stronger than it  was in the                                                                    
     1970s, it's  because we have an  inaccurate estimate of                                                                    
     how strong  it was in  the 1970s.   The other  thing to                                                                    
     consider in  the potency issue is  that people actually                                                                    
     smoke  less  now  than  they  did  in  the  times  when                                                                    
     cannabis was generally less strong.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     So ...  when you look  at data from the  Monitoring the                                                                    
     Future study  or things along those  lines, people tend                                                                    
     to report  only getting  a certain level  of subjective                                                                    
     effect, and  no more, for the  last 35 years.   So it's                                                                    
     not  as if  people  are getting  higher simply  because                                                                    
     they  smoke  more  potent  cannabis.     Also,  in  the                                                                    
     laboratory,  we find  that people  adjust the  way they                                                                    
     smoke  cannabis when  it's more  potent,  so that  they                                                                    
     take small  inhalations and hold those  inhalations for                                                                    
     a shorter  period in  order to  get the  desired effect                                                                    
     without creating  any kind of aversive  effect, so that                                                                    
     stronger cannabis need not  be more dangerous cannabis,                                                                    
     and, in  fact, the cannabis  of today is not  as strong                                                                    
     as we've been led to believe.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
DR. EARLEYWINE concluded:                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     Finally,  [with regard  to] the  issues about  driving,                                                                    
     and obviously no  one in any state wants  to see people                                                                    
     drive while they're impaired under  any drug, but a lot                                                                    
     of  this data  had  been confounded,  where people  are                                                                    
     reported  to have  cannabis in  their system  when they                                                                    
     were driving and  had an accident, but a  close look at                                                                    
     those  data   reveal  that   these  people   were  also                                                                    
     consuming  alcohol.     And  obviously  alcohol  really                                                                    
     contributes   to  driving   problems,  and   those  get                                                                    
     neglected  when  we're   sometimes  interpreting  these                                                                    
     data.   As an  expert in this  field and  someone who's                                                                    
     written  an entire  book on  the behavioral  effects of                                                                    
     cannabis,  I really  want to  encourage you  to take  a                                                                    
     great deal of time to look at this complex literature.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     I  want  to  emphasize  that  criminalizing  possession                                                                    
     isn't going  to fix any cannabis-related  problems, and                                                                    
     I'd also  like to make  myself available to  answer any                                                                    
     question at all  on any of these  behavioral or medical                                                                    
     effects of  this really complicated substance.   Thanks                                                                    
     very much.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
9:18:54 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  McGUIRE, referring  to Dr.  Earleywine's book,  asked what                                                               
the THC levels were in the tests that he reviewed.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
DR.  EARLEYWINE  said  most  of  those  laboratory  studies  used                                                               
marijuana with  either 4  percent or 2  percent THC,  since those                                                               
were  the varieties  of marijuana  that were  available from  the                                                               
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR McGUIRE  noted that  testimony at  the bill's  last hearing                                                               
indicated that  the average  THC level  of the  marijuana samples                                                               
from Alaska  is higher than  that of  the samples from  any other                                                               
state, and that the THC level  in Alaska's samples has reached as                                                               
high as 14 percent.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
DR.  EARLEYWINE said  although  there is  cannabis  that is  that                                                               
strong, laboratory studies have shown  that people don't smoke as                                                               
much marijuana when it has a  higher THC level.  Using an analogy                                                               
involving alcohol,  he pointed  out that  a person  who generally                                                               
drinks beer would not simply consume the same volume of whiskey.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR McGUIRE said she is  concerned about children having access                                                               
to marijuana, and with the  fact that unlike alcohol, the potency                                                               
of which can often be determined  simply by its odor, there is no                                                               
way of  knowing the THC level  of a particular kind  of marijuana                                                               
without first consuming it.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
DR. EARLEYWINE  concurred, but  noted with  regard to  the latter                                                               
point  that this  same point  is often  used as  an argument  for                                                               
creating  a legal  market for  cannabis with  the dosage  and THC                                                               
level  specified  so  that  people   don't  have  to  go  to  the                                                               
underground  market and  purchase marijuana  of unknown  potency.                                                               
He  relayed that  in  his and  a  colleague's ongoing  prevention                                                               
efforts, they are  explaining to folks that  this argument should                                                               
be  kept in  mind,  and are  emphasizing that  the  way to  smoke                                                               
cannabis is  to do  it in very  small doses,  keeping inhalations                                                               
brief and  small, and allow for  time to pass in  order to assess                                                               
the effects before consuming more;  he and his colleague have had                                                               
good  luck with  that  approach among  [medicinal]  users in  Los                                                               
Angeles.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  McGUIRE, with  regard to  the issue  of driving  under the                                                               
influence of marijuana, relayed that  she is bothered by the fact                                                               
that the courts in Alaska  are routinely denying the introduction                                                               
of evidence that  marijuana is present in  a driver's bloodstream                                                               
at the  time of a vehicle  accident, and are doing  so because of                                                               
the  view  that the  prejudicial  value  outweighs the  probative                                                               
value.  She asked Dr. Earleywine  to comment on whether he thinks                                                               
marijuana has any impact on a person's driving abilities.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
DR.  EARLEYWINE   relayed  that  in  the   Netherlands,  [studies                                                               
conducted  by] Professor  Roby (ph)  have shown  that individuals                                                               
who smoke  cannabis but don't  have any alcohol in  their systems                                                               
don't show really dramatic impairments  in their driving, such as                                                               
in turning or in following another  car, though the one domain in                                                               
which they  do show problems is  in not staying perfectly  in the                                                               
center  of the  lane.   He  pointed  out, too,  that  one of  the                                                               
problems with relying on blood  and urine samples for the purpose                                                               
of showing whether  a person is under the  influence of marijuana                                                               
is that  he/she may no  longer be feeling the  subjective effects                                                               
of the  marijuana but could  still test positive  for metabolites                                                               
in  the  blood and  urine  even  if  the marijuana  use  occurred                                                               
several days  before.   So if  laws are based  on urine  or blood                                                               
analyses, people  would essentially  be discriminated  against if                                                               
they used cannabis even up to 14 days prior.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR McGUIRE noted that in one  of the chapters of his book, Dr.                                                               
Earleywine speaks  to the issues of  perception, complex reaction                                                               
time, and recall, and said  she hopes that those skills/abilities                                                               
do factor into a person's driving.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
DR. EARLEYWINE replied:                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     As  it turns  out, some  of  those tests  are not  good                                                                    
     analogs  to actual  driving, which  is  why I  actually                                                                    
     would  recommend checking  the  driving  section in  my                                                                    
     book  as well,  which mentions  Dr. Roby's  (ph) study,                                                                    
     where he actually had people  drive in city and highway                                                                    
     driving  [situations]  in  the  Netherlands  and  found                                                                    
     markedly  fewer deficits  than  you  would expect,  and                                                                    
     certainly markedly fewer than we have with alcohol.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:25:40 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  DAHLSTROM said  that she  has great  sympathy for                                                               
those that  have found  relief in  using marijuana  for medicinal                                                               
purposes, and that  she understands the inherent  conflict of not                                                               
being  able to  go  to  a pharmacy  and  get  a prescription  for                                                               
medical  marijuana  filled.   Additionally  there  is  the  value                                                               
Alaskan's place  on privacy  for actions  occurring in  their own                                                               
homes.    Her concern  revolves  around  the  fact that  all  the                                                               
information she is  currently familiar with says that  there is a                                                               
residual amount of marijuana that  stays in a person's system for                                                               
up to 26 days after use.  Given  this fact, what a person does in                                                               
his/her  own home  over the  weekend  or while  on vacation  then                                                               
becomes  her business  when  she or  her child  have  to rely  on                                                               
someone who's  consumed marijuana, such  as a school  bus driver,                                                               
or  a doctor,  or a  dentist; the  purported residual  effects of                                                               
marijuana   consumption   dramatically   changes   the   dynamics                                                               
regarding the issue of privacy.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
DR. EARLEYWINE replied:                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     That  26-day  figure  is common  for  presence  of  THC                                                                    
     metabolites  in the  urine.   So yes,  you could  still                                                                    
     detect   if  someone   has  used   the  drug   26  days                                                                    
     previously;  however,   the  subjective   effects,  the                                                                    
     cognitive impairment,  some of  these small  changes in                                                                    
     memory and  reaction time,  only last  for a  couple of                                                                    
     hours after use.   And I try to make  that clear in the                                                                    
     chapters on  cognitive effects, but that  26-day figure                                                                    
     is a diction  of metabolites in the urine, it  is not a                                                                    
     period of impairment that follows the use of cannabis.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  DAHLSTROM noted  that for  those with  a caffeine                                                               
addiction or a tobacco addiction,  the effects of withdrawal from                                                               
those substances last more than just a few hours.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
9:29:07 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DR. EARLEYWINE remarked that nicotine  addiction is markedly more                                                               
dramatic than  that of cannabis, and  that in the search  for the                                                               
effects  of withdrawal  from cannabis,  it took  60 years  before                                                               
someone was able  to develop a questionnaire  that identified the                                                               
symptoms of marijuana withdrawal.   Those symptoms are very mild,                                                               
he  remarked,  and  can  include   decreased  appetite  and  mild                                                               
irritability;  nowhere  near  the types  of  withdrawal  symptoms                                                               
associated  with nicotine,  heroin, cocaine,  and similar  drugs.                                                               
The  parallel  being  made  to  caffeine  is  that  marijuana  is                                                               
comparable to  caffeine in its  ability to produce  an addiction,                                                               
but  the  withdrawal  from  caffeine is  notorious  -  yes,  that                                                               
headache is really  terrible and can last for up  to three days -                                                               
but  people  addicted to  cannabis  who  then quit  often  report                                                               
experiencing  no  withdrawal  symptoms   at  all  or  only  minor                                                               
symptoms such as those mentioned earlier.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
DR. EARLEYWINE,  in response to  a question, said  that depending                                                               
on the dosage, if one performs  a cognitive test four hours after                                                               
marijuana consumption, short-term memory,  reaction time, and all                                                               
other cognitive abilities would have returned to normal.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:31:28 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DR. EARLEYWINE, in response to other questions, said:                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     As far  as emotional problems are  concerned, since the                                                                    
     1800s people  have been discussing the  idea that maybe                                                                    
     cannabis use  somehow increases  the risks  for certain                                                                    
     emotional  disorders.   I have  data [suggesting]  that                                                                    
     for the  case of  depression, this  is clearly  not the                                                                    
     case,  that  cannabis use  does  not  seem to  increase                                                                    
     people's risk for depression, and  the idea that people                                                                    
     smoked  cannabis  before becoming  depressed  obviously                                                                    
     isn't  enough  to  prove  that   it's  causal.  ...  So                                                                    
     everybody  seems  to know  some  cannabis  user who  is                                                                    
     depressed,  and   they  attribute  the   depression  to                                                                    
     cannabis  when, in  fact, it's  often socioeconomic  or                                                                    
     family things that are  contributing to the depression,                                                                    
     not the cannabis.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     As  you can  imagine,  I have  a  hard time  publishing                                                                    
     those data,  but the bottom  line is,  cannabis doesn't                                                                    
     seem  to  increase depression.    There's  a new  thing                                                                    
     coming  out  suggesting   that  cannabis  may  increase                                                                    
     psychotic  symptoms  in  folks  who  are  at  risk  for                                                                    
     psychosis   [and]   so  if   you   have   a  bunch   of                                                                    
     schizophrenics  in  your  family, you  shouldn't  smoke                                                                    
     cannabis because  you may then develop  a schizophrenic                                                                    
     break  as well.    Schizophrenia is  a relatively  rare                                                                    
     disorder,  [it] affects  fewer than  1  percent of  the                                                                    
     population, and  I'm not  sure how big  a deal  to make                                                                    
     out  of  this,  [but]  I'd  recently  had  a  paper  in                                                                    
     "Psychiatry  Research" suggesting  that  in fact  these                                                                    
     people had  these symptoms  before they  used cannabis,                                                                    
     not afterwards.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     Some research in Scandinavia  suggests that my research                                                                    
     is wrong, we're  still going to have to  hash that out,                                                                    
     [but] the bottom  line [is that] I  don't think anybody                                                                    
     with   a  psychotic   disorder  should   go  near   any                                                                    
     psychoactive drug,  but I don't see  cannabis as causal                                                                    
     in the creation of schizophrenia.   As far as addiction                                                                    
     is concerned, as  I mentioned, yes, there's  about 7 to                                                                    
     9  percent  of folks  who  use  cannabis regularly  who                                                                    
     report  some  dependant  symptoms,  but  they're  often                                                                    
     things like tolerance or having  to spend a lot of time                                                                    
     to go  find the drug,  which may  be more a  product of                                                                    
     its illicit  stature than  anything that's  inherent in                                                                    
     the drug itself, or reporting  some conflict with their                                                                    
     family  about  their  use;  it's  not  as  if  it's  an                                                                    
     addictive  thing like  heroin or  cocaine where  people                                                                    
     are  reporting   tremendous  craving  and   turning  to                                                                    
     prostitution  to support  habits  or anything  anywhere                                                                    
     near those kinds of lines.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     And  then this  notion that  pot makes  [one] lethargic                                                                    
     actually goes  back to something  that we  probably all                                                                    
     had  in   junior  high  health  class,   this  idea  of                                                                    
     "amotivational   syndrome,"   where   somehow   smoking                                                                    
     cannabis turns you  into this unmotivated slug.   And I                                                                    
     have data  suggesting that people who  use cannabis are                                                                    
     no less motivated  than folks who have  never used ever                                                                    
     in their  lives.   Dr. Kassner (ph)  has shown  that in                                                                    
     fact,  when  you look  at  people's  sick days  or  the                                                                    
     amount of money they earn,  or the [amount] ... of time                                                                    
     they  spend  on  vacation,  cannabis  doesn't  seem  to                                                                    
     (indisc.) with that  at all, and in  one study actually                                                                    
     found that folks who made  more money were the ones who                                                                    
     were  the  cannabis  users, not  those  who  made  less                                                                    
     money.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
DR. EARLEYWINE concluded:                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     So  it's  unclear to  me  how  amotivated or  lethargic                                                                    
     these [users] are.  Again,  what happens is, we tend to                                                                    
     remember folks  who fit  our stereotypes,  so everybody                                                                    
     seems to  know one cannabis  user who is  lethargic and                                                                    
     unmotivated,  and we  remember that  one, but  we often                                                                    
     don't  know  the  other 100  million  Americans  who've                                                                    
     tried  cannabis  and who  are  paying  their taxes  and                                                                    
     doing  a great  job  meeting their  goals and  reaching                                                                    
     their dreams.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR McGUIRE relayed that HB 96 would be held over.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                

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