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Oaksterdam's Future

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Within a few blocks of Broadway and 18th Street in Oakland, at least six
cannabis clubs are thriving -plus a plant store that sells supplies for
growers. The anchor tenant in the 'hood now known as Oaksterdam is Jeff
Jones's original Oakland Cannabis Buyers Co-op, transformed by federal
injunction into a hemp store and registration service that issues cards to
doctor-approved patients on behalf of the city. Two doors down is the
Bulldog, a sidewalk cafe named and modeled after a famous club in
Amsterdam. Around the corner on Telegraph is the high-volume Third Floor,
and the Lemon Drop, which carries a fine line of pastries and serves the
best coffee, and the newly opened 420 Cafe, which has a brick wall worthy
of the Village Gate.

Buildings that stood empty are getting tenants, nearby restaurants and
surrounding businesses are benefiting from the foot traffic -an estimated
thousand patrons a day- and Oaksterdam seemed like an unmitigated
urban-renewal success story until last month, when City Council President
Ignacio De La Fuente declared the cafe cluster to be in violation of city

According to De La Fuente, the city ordinance authorizing the OCBC to
distribute cannabis envisaged the operation of only one club. On Sept. 23,
at De La Fuente's urging, the City Council Public Safety Committee began
discussing whether Oaksterdam requires regulation. A stream of articulate
and/or passionate cannabis users, business owners, and concerned citizens
lined up to argue for the multi-club model. "If you have only one club it
will be a target for John Ashcroft," seemed like a key point.

And, of course, "competition lowers prices..."

The only opposition came from members of the Sexual Minority Alliance of
Alameda County, a youth group that occupies a building in close proximity
to several clubs. Youth from SMAAC must constantly observe the cannabis
consumers. Sometimes the odor of pot wafts into their building.

Sometimes, they say, customers coming out of the clubs offer to sell them
pot. The flamboyant head of SMAAC threatened the Oakland officials with "a
federal lawsuit in two weeks" if the gay, lesbian, transgender and
"questioning" youth in his group were still being exposed to cannabis.

I could see his point but I kept thinking "Eek, a mouse!"

The City Council member friendliest to the cannabis purveyors was Nancy
Nadel. At one point she scolded a speaker for using the term "Oaksterdam,"
saying it undercut the image that medical dispensaries should project.
Cousin Nancy meant well, I suppose, but does a provider of healing herbs
have to project sadness and solemnity? Can't a cafe be a place that
promotes well-being? And isn't there something different about marijuana,
given the legacy of prohibition and continued unavailability through
regular channels?... Lighten up, Cuz. There's the letter of the law and the
sprit of the law. The spirit of Prop 215 -what the voters were trying to
tell the government, basically, was, "Marijuana? Big deal." Oakland ought
not to take umbrage at a comparison to charming, prosperous Amsterdam. Next
time you're feeling reverent towards a medical facility, recall that the
employees of Seton Hospital in Daly City call it "Our lady of 280."

Councilwoman Jean Quan claimed the responsible center position at the Sept.
23 session. "I'm not comfortable with one club," she said, "but I'm not
comfortable with the concentration." Quan implied that she had special
expertise on the subject of cannabis clubs "as the wife of a
physician." She ought to ask her husband exactly how much he learned
about cannabis in medical school?

And did he try to make up for what he missed by taking any continuing
education courses on cannabis therapeutics? The medical establishment and
its auxiliary members such as Jean Quan ought to show a little humility in
this area. The docs are taught many Latin terms in med school, but not "mea

Downplaying the Harm of HRT

The U.S. government -guided by the pharmaceutical corporations- continues
to downplay the dangers of Hormone Replacement Therapy. In late September
the FDA, the NIH, and the DHS issued a fact sheet on the subject claiming
that HRT prevents hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and osteoporosis. FDA
director Mark McClennan announced it to the media with a statement
emphasizing the positives: "Postmenopausal hormone therapy is a major
personal decision for women, and they should be armed with the latest key
facts and useful tools to make the best decision for their needs... Our
recommendation is that if that if you choose to use hormone therapy for hot
flashes or vaginal dryness, or if you prefer it to other treatments to
prevent thing bones, take the lowest dose for the least duration required
to provide relief." The right-wingers have at last found a question on
which they support a woman's right to choose!

Meanwhile the German FDA -the Commission on the Safety of Medicines- issued
guidelines on HRT instructing doctors that the dangers far outweigh the
benefits and they should cut way back on prescriptions. (The combination of
estrogen and progestin has been found to greatly increase the risk of
breast cancer and significantly increase the risk of heart attacks, blood
clots, strokes, dementia, and other problems more serious than hot
flashes.) The head of the German Commission, Bruno Muller-Oerlinghausen,
called the widespread use of HRT "a national and international tragedy" and
compared it to the "naove and careless use" of thalidomide in the 1950s
(which resulted in thousands of babies being born deformed).

Professor Eberhard Greiser of the Institute for Prevention Research in
Bremen attributes 5,000 cases of breast cancer and 2000 cases of uterine
cancer annually to HRT use. And the supposed benefit in warding off
osteoporosis has now been disproven!

As the dangers of HRT become known, SmithKlineBeecham, the makers of Paxil,
are scavenging for customers among the millions of women who are quitting
but still want a drug to cope with hot flashes.

An item in the Oct. 4 British Medical Journal asserts "other effective
alternative treatments for menopausal symptoms, especially hot flushes, are
needed" and cites a recent study involving 165 women.

Some 58% of those taking 12.5 mg of Paxil reported a 50% reduction in the
frequency and severity of hot flushes (as they're called in England). Some
43% of those taking placebo also reported a 50% reduction in frequency and

So, if you factor in the counter-placebo effect, the impact of the Paxil
was nil! (The counter-placebo effect is the result of the test subjects'
desire to let the doctor know that they weren't duped by an inert pill,
that they're aware of having been given a chemically active substance.)

60 Minutes Does Tulia

60 Minutes started its new season with a terrible segment on Tulia, the
small Texas city where 46 black people were falsely tried, convicted,
sentenced, and imprisoned as cocaine dealers in 1999 and 2000. The NAACP
and anti-prohibitionists in West Texas publicized the injustice and in
June, Governor Rick Perry pardoned the 35 men and women still behind bars.

From Ed Bradley's report you would have thought the extreme injustice was
the sole doing of a white rogue cop named Tom Coleman, who was hired to
work undercover in Tulia after losing several other police jobs. Coleman
was given ample opportunity to defend his vile behavior, and even got a
final softball lob from Bradley: "How has this all affected you, personally?"

It's been tough, said the narc, fighting back the tears, but he's managing
to support his family "and not selling dope to do it."

60 Minutes did not credit those who first shed light on the scandal, or Bob
Herbert, the liberal NY Times op-ed writer, who devoted several columns to
the shocking details.

Bradley credited the governor of Texas with reversing the injustice -as if
he and the whole political and legal establishments of that misbegotten
state hadn't ignored the situation for years!

Except for a West Texas NAACP leader, nobody provided political analysis.
She said that the mass arrests in Tulia revealed the War on Drugs as a
mechanism for racist oppression, and that plenty of Texas lawmen knew all
about Coleman's bad record and had kept quiet while the prosecutions were
taking place. (The Attorney General named Coleman "outstanding officer of
the year.") She also noted that the feds give billions to local "task
forces" that operate with no supervision or standards. But her time on
camera was very brief and I didn't get her name. The focus was entirely on
Coleman. They even showed him on horseback -simultaneously whipping and
reigning in the poor horse.

Speaking of undercover agents...

Everybody's got their panties in a twist because Robert Novak outed a CIA
agent. We say, give that man -repulsive though he may be- a prize.

In fact, an annual award could be established -the Robert Novak Prize- for
citizens exposing undercover agents.

If ever there was a waste of taxpayers money... and an excuse not to
work... and a perversion of traditional American values ("Don't be a

Pubdate: Wed, 08 Oct 2003
Source: Anderson Valley Advertiser (CA)
Column: Cannabinotes
Copyright: 2003 Anderson Valley Advertiser
Contact: ava@pacific.net