• Medical Marijuana - Dr. Allan Frankel
• Thoughts on the future - Nick Napolitano
• Another View of the Ocean Front - Annette Robinson
• Say No to Permit Parking in Venice

Medical Marijuana

Dear Beachhead,

Recently the media has been covering the latest round of DEA “busts” of Los Angeles Medical Marijuana Caregiver clubs. Although Medical Marijuana is legal in California, the DEA continues in its attempts to override this decision made by the people of California in 1996. These attempts will ultimately be decided in the courtroom. Political and financial issues are driving this turf war. Unfortunately, those who lose in this battle are the legitimate qualified patients who find the greatest benefit in the use of this medicine. I’d like to leave the political situation aside and take a look at the issue as a medical one, from the perspective of a physician.

As a Board-Certified Internist, a physician licensed to practice in the State of California, I believe Medical Marijuana is a powerful yet extremely safe medication. Anything that interferes with patients getting the best possible medication compromises care and is a violation of the “Doctor Patient Privilege.” After thirty years of practice and serving two decades as a Clinical Instructor of Medicine at a prestigious University Hospital, I believe I am qualified to decide whether a given patient might benefit from Medical Marijuana. Whether suffering with cancer, AIDS, depression, anxiety, nausea, or chronic pain, all patients should have the option of discussing their symptoms and treatment plan with a physician. If this plan includes Medical Marijuana as determined by the Patient/ Physician partnership AND is legal, (as it has been since 1996 in California), any qualified “Care Giver” should be permitted to dispense the medication to this physician-verified patient. Most people don’t know that Marijuana is far safer than both Aspirin and Tylenol. It has highly predictable effects and has no known lethal dose. The “Therapeutic Ratio,” (benefits to side effects), is the highest of any known medication. There are also predictable side effects as no medication is without side effects.

Various strains of Marijuana have very different physiological and psychoactive effects. If a patient medicates with an activating form, he might become over-stimulated. If a patient medicates with a sedating strain, she may become sleepy. Knowing how to take a medication is always critical and the same applies to Medical Marijuana. The great news is that all strains of Marijuana can be effective, safe, and non-addicting when taken as directed by a knowledgeable physician. Marijuana is, in fact, a “medicine,” and should not be used without adequate professional advice.

Remember, Marijuana is a “restricted” drug for political reasons - not for medical safety or efficacy issues. The current California Medical Marijuana System is emerging as a significant force in alternative care for patients who have not been helped by traditional methods. Many individuals have dedicated their lives to this end. Without these pioneers risking incarceration to help patients who truly benefit, we would be light years behind. Although Marijuana has been used medicinally for thousands of years, it was not until recently physicians and patients learned the myriad strains of the plant have entirely different actions and therefore, diverse applications. Many Marijuana strains are mind activating and are used for conditions such as depression and ADD/ADHD.

Other strains can be as sedating as sleep medications. With the assistance of a medical doctor, various strains can be used for specific patient needs. For example: SATIVA STRAINS: The THC molecule in these Marijuana strains have been genetically altered over many years. They have stimulant, activating, focusing and anti-depressant activity. An individual medicated with a Sativa strain can achieve an increased level of focus, alertness, mood elevation and creativity. I have many patients who have unsuccessfully tried numerous other medications for mood disorders who currently use Sativa Marijuana strains to alleviate their depression. These patients do not look or act “stoned.”

Contrary to popular belief, with a properly determined dosage they function at or above their usual functioning levels. INDICA STRAINS: These strains have very different biological effects than the Sativas. Indicas are sedating, calming, and muscle relaxing. These are the strains best used for pain, anxiety, and insomnia. The patient, however, may look and feel “stoned.” These can be used at bedtime or during an acute migraine headache or acute back spasm. Even with the sedating Indicas, if the dosage is correct, this medicine can achieve its desired effect without the patient experiencing undesired psycho-physiological side effects. On the “street,” most Marijuana strains are never identified. I recently saw a Breast Cancer patient on chemotherapy who was told by her well-meaning chemotherapy nurse to go “try Hollywood Blvd....” to obtain Marijuana to treat her nausea, weight loss, and pain symptoms. Not only is it unsafe and unsavory, the patient may have no idea whether she is purchasing a stimulant or relaxant. These are major issues when it comes to proper treatment.

Who would deprive an AIDS patient with a wasting syndrome a medication proven to revive his appetite? Who would persecute a cancer center for allowing their patients a Medical Marijuana Recommendation giving them access to a gentle and non-toxic medicine to address their appetites, nausea, depression, mental anxiety and pain? What is seemingly immoral is the fact that people who could most benefit from Medical Marijuana have no idea that it is even an option - a safe, effective, and legal option in the State of California. This needs to be remedied.

- Dr. Allan Frankel and the Green Bridge Medical Team


Thoughts on the future

Dear Beachhead,

Be awake, Be aware, Be alive. This all will change, and not by some magic force, rather the people will reach that all feared breaking point and react, I think the challenge is going to be finding a way to take that energy and putting it into effective means (as in not watching major cities simply descend into rioting.)
I see a revolution of sorts coming from all sides and political spectrums and even a-political spectrums. I see people whom would normally not even associate in the same room working together to achieve a specific end by a specific means. The question that leaves me wondering greatly is “After the fall, and the inevitable civil war for power ensues, and the multiple factions that once worked together are now ripping each others throats out to be the “new kings and queens of this republic, Would the American populace not beg for a police state that would in effect end up being more brutal that the one that currently exists? Would the sheep without direction, comfort, or the ability to be complacent beg for some ultra brutal force to “restore order?”
We must have a vision and a direction to implement, otherwise we are inherently doomed to repeat history.
Empire rises>Empire falls through foreign or domestic means>Empire is restored in a similar if not more extreme manner by those same people who advocated the fall.

We cannot go from being the oppressed to being the oppressors, this cannot be sustained in any realistic manner.

The challenge has been set, how long will the masses wait to answer the call? We cannot afford to wait for someone else to do it, each and every one of us must do what needs to be done. We cannot say, “X person will come along and create a movement of massive proportions.” We need to stop waiting for some Saviour, we can save ourselves if we choose to. We must make that choice, we must take that leap onto the road less traveled.

Hope and truth are great and powerful weapons that we all possess. No human or weapon can take your hope, no human or weapon can alter what is known to be truth. The power players have greatly underestimated the sheer power of the human spirit, no matter how bad things get, things will come full circle. We are alive in quite possibly the most interesting and horrific period in American history.

We must learn to take care of one another, all we have is each other. We must learn to live and survive autonomously with one another with no help from those outside of our autonomous communities.
The old ways are becoming new again, these destructive ways that the human race has adopted must be forgotten again.

We must end the simple chatter of these ideas and start making the dream a reality. There is no better place than here and no better time than now. The future is ours if we choose to shape it. Our reality can change quicker than many would like to accept. We can be if we choose to be, the greatest generation of all. The future is unwritten, grab a pen.

-Nick Napolitano


Another View of the Ocean Front

Dear Beachhead,

The boardwalk is humming again. The craftspeople are working away. The visitors are striding along to see what comes next. Business is brisk. The police are smiling at the vendors. Everyone is content since the city officials are holed up in their offices thinking up ways to fix the ordinance of March 2006 that lead to dismay and a lackluster beachfront.

There is so much to do by the city. There are the dirty rest rooms to keep clean and the boardwalk to steam for the spots and dirt that mar the beauty of the beach. There are vendors that take up two spaces and a few, just a few who sell commercial goods. All this is the city’s job to regulate and repair.

The job of the boardwalk sellers is to serve the public and see to it that the visitors go away with a feeling of good will. The one thing that the city has done well is the lottery that insures diversity simply by chance. Any attempt of the city to regulate the makeup of vending will certainly spoil the excitement and charm of arts, crafts, performances and fortune telling strung together like 200 beads that don’t match and encouraged by the public from all over the world.

Annette Robinson


Say No to Permit Parking in Venice

Dear Beachhead,

This letter is sent in the hopes of informing people about the organized hate directed toward poor and homeless people in Venice. It is also a special request asking people to do something about it: to act with a simple email, fax, letter, or phone call.

This may sound a little odd, but I am asking you to PLEASE write the Coastal Commission a note - in your own words - asking them NOT to allow permit parking west of Lincoln Blvd. (see contact information, below) This request is an attempt to offset the efforts waged against homeless people by the Venice Neighborhood Council and others.

The Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC), for a short while, was more diverse and progressive. It had committees for affordable housing, poverty and homelessness, and it had people serving who were concerned about these issues as they relate to those suffering with the lowest “quality of life” here in Venice.

The city of Los Angeles invalidated an election using a feeble challenge and this more diverse and progressive Venice Neighborhood Council lost its ability to meet with a quorum. The city then organized a new election committee consisting of those who worked to remove the more diverse and progressive council and there’s that bit of Venice history - in brief.

Now the VNC has an on-line petition against homeless people and it has an on-line form to report people living in vehicles to the City Attorney’s office – listed right on the front page of its web site. No forms or links were found there to help people report violence or criminal activity committed by the housed people in Venice.

The VNC is not very progressive on poverty issues now, to say the least. It has a committee that has been organizing to get rid of poor people living in vehicles by creating Overnight Parking Districts (OPD). This is a permit parking system with rules and restrictions. There are charges for permits, renewals, and separate guest pass permits. It allows only so-called “residents” with matching car registrations to get the “resident” permit. It is implemented by small areas or blocks and it restricts parking in the middle of the night. This is a relatively new Los Angeles municipal law, which came from Venice property owners and Los Angeles Councilman, Bill Rosendahl, District 11.

The Coastal Commission recently denied this OPD permit parking system for the area west of Lincoln Blvd. This area is under their coastal jurisdiction. The Coastal Commission previously stated ‘beach access’ as a reason for denying permit parking.

A few “residents,” and even the council office, might pretend that the permit parking is not mainly about getting rid of poor people who are forced to live in vehicles. But a Rosendahl aide, Mark Antonio Grant, did admit at the August VNC meeting that the homeless issue is a “hot button” for permit parking.
Some of their alternative statements have been:

• The beach is closed between 10pm and 7am anyway, BUT these hours come from the county (which is contracted to manage the beach). It is my understanding that the Coastal Commission may not agree with the county on this issue for many reasons.

• People are storing cars on streets, BUT there is a 72-hour City law and easy access to a special number to call and get these vehicles cited and towed if they are not moved.

• The City is allowing parking requirement exemptions to businesses and the residents suffer when the businesses take away the residential parking. This is a problem, BUT when the City allows businesses to pay a relatively small fee so that they can get out of complying with the parking requirements, it is a separate issue.

Please also note that there is quite a bit restricted parking in Venice already: 2-hour parking signs, no-parking signs for nighttime hours, city or county-owned lots that cost money or have no overnight parking, and residential parking given away to businesses by granting variances. The many 2-hour parking, and the no-overnight parking, street signs have been initiated by anti-homeless movements in Venice that are supported by the city and paid for using our tax money.

Since the Coastal Commission denied the OPD permit system, there appears to be a VNC movement to send documentation of so-called criminal activity associated with the homeless to the Coastal Commission to help their case.

The whole concept of creating permit parking, street sign restrictions, or municipal codes specifically to get rid of homeless people from an area - essentially criminalizes the people with the lowest “quality of life” in Los Angeles. In 2005 the homeless count was 91,000. These are disabled people, war veterans, aging people not eligible for social security, working people unable to pay rent, and families.

Criminalizing these people is not humane, it is not cost effective, and it is not a solution to the homeless problem.

The time and money it takes to implement or lobby for these laws could be MUCH BETTER SPENT creating more affordable housing (not just a few token bits in big expensive developments), protecting any lower income housing left standing, and getting people more services - as opposed to the limited services forced on poor people (by using punitive methods) that help create “chronically” homeless statistics (42-percent of the 2005 homeless count was considered “chronically” homeless). Stop and ask yourself why the LA County Jail is still the largest mental health facility in the county.

I have heard politicians say that there is no political will to get more affordable housing or services. The people lobbying them are the ones who want the court system and law enforcement to remove the people living with the lowest “quality of life” out of communities suffering from heavy gentrification, such as Venice.
Please send an email or a letter to the Coastal Commission people I have listed here asking them not to allow permit parking west of Lincoln. This is nothing but an effort to eliminate poor and homeless people from the area.

Please consider sending emails to our city council, Assembly members, Senators and Congress people to lobby for transitional housing connected to services, more [real] affordable housing, and to stop the insane use of law enforcement to criminalize those living with less privilege than the property owners.

Peter M. Douglas, Executive Director
Coastal Commissioner Steve Blank
Coastal Commissioner Dr. William A. Burke
California Coastal Commission
45 Fremont St. #2000, San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 904-5200 • Fax (415) 904-5400

Jack Ainsworth, Deputy Director, Los Angeles County, California Coastal Commission
200 Oceangate, 10th Floor, Long Beach, 90802
(562) 590-5071 • FAX (562) 590-5084

Bill Rosendahl, Los Angeles Councilman Dist. 11
Mike Bonnin, Chief of Staff (mike.bonin@lacity.org)
City Hall Office: 213-473-7011
200 N. Spring Street, Rm 415, L.A. 90012

-Peggy Lee Kennedy

Posted: Sat - September 1, 2007 at 08:00 PM