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Jack Sisson's Life Ethics Blog

We must find new ways through many ethical issues, especially regarding bioethics, medical ethics, and criminal justice. Jack Sisson's 'Life Ethics' blog focuses on numerous areas of concern, including the philosophical and ethical dilemmas surrounding stem-cell research, abortion, medical research, and health care.

From Fox News:

Catharine Leach is married and has two boys, age 2 and 8. She has a good job with a federal contractor and smokes pot most every day.

While she worries that her public support for marijuana decriminalization and legalization could cost her a job or bring the police to her door, the 30-year-old Warwick resident said she was tired of feeling like a criminal for using a drug that she said is far less harmful than the glass or wine or can of beer enjoyed by so many others after a long day's work. Like others around the nation working to relax penalties for possession of pot, she decided to stop hiding and speak out.

"I'm done being afraid," she said. "People in this country are finally coming around and seeing that putting someone in jail for this doesn't make sense. It's just a changing of the time."

Once consigned to the political fringe, marijuana policy is appearing on legislative agendas around the country thanks to an energized base of supporters and an increasingly open-minded public. Lawmakers from Rhode Island to Colorado are mulling medical marijuana programs, pot dispensaries, decriminalization and even legalization. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia now authorize medical marijuana and 14, including neighboring Connecticut and Massachusetts, have rolled back criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of pot.

Rhode Island is poised to become the 15th state to decriminalize marijuana possession. The state's General Assembly passed legislation last week that would eliminate the threat of big fines or even jail time for the possession of an ounce or less of pot. Instead, adults caught with small amounts of marijuana would face a $150 civil fine. Police would confiscate the marijuana, but the incident would not appear on a person's criminal record.

Minors caught with pot would also have to complete a drug awareness program and community service.

Gov. Lincoln Chafee has said he is inclined to sign the legislation.

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From The Health Science Institute

If you had a friend who developed a dependency on prescription painkillers or amphetamines, you might not even know it. Chances are, they’d be inclined to keep it a secret.

But if the drug were a heartburn medication, there would be no shame. In fact, just the opposite. Here’s how a 2002 Boston Globe article put it. “Prilosec is so good, and patients so attached to it, that doctors jokingly call it ‘purple crack.’”

Turns out, that little joke is no laughing matter.

Ten years ago, patients seemed to get hooked on rapid heartburn relief. But in 2012, we know there’s more to it than just relief.

The dependency is real. And it can be very dangerous.

Last year, Dr. Sidney Wolfe of Public Citizen petitioned the FDA. Dr. Wolfe wants proton pump inhibitor drugs to carry a black box warning about dependency risk. PPI drugs include Nexium, Prilosec, Prevacid, etc.

But this risk was no surprise to HSI members.

In an e-mail I sent years ago, Dr. Spreen offered a very clear PPI warning. He explained that stomach acid isn’t the problem. You NEED that acid to digest food. Heartburn occurs when acid enters the esophagus — a spot it shouldn’t reach.

That’s where the drugs come in. But relief has a price.

Dr. Spreen: “If you kill off the acid, the body saves the energy required to protect the esophagus. That weakens the GE sphincter. And that allows remaining acid to slip past and irritate the esophagus.

“So look what’s happening. The short term ‘fix’ assures the problem will continue (and even worsen).

“Is that not the most beautiful trick? The ‘cure’ assures its own increasing necessity. It’s positively brilliant. And diabolical.”

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