Category: Uncategorized


Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)

RiboflavinThere was a small study of patients with hypertension (high blood pressure) who belong to a genotype found in 10% of the world population- many of whom are from Northern China (20%) and Mexico (32%). In a small but well done study their blood pressures were reduced with a small dose of Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin). The drop could be enough on its own, but it could bring blood pressures into the normal range with medications where before it was difficult to get enough control. First, it may be worth discussing this with your health care provider. If you are having trouble controlling your blood pressure with medications, there are MANY possible reasons, but a trial of B2 (remember small dose or through your diet) is not unreasonable to see if it helps.

RiboflavinRemember, you truly have little or no idea what your actual gene pool is.

This brings up another topic. I recommend Genetic Geneology. How did we end up where we are today? Where did you really come from? DNA studies have shown that people shared a common ancestor who lived in Africa between 50,000 to 200,000 years ago. As our ancestors migrated out of Africa into the rest of the world, small changes called mutations occurred in their DNA. As generations passed, each mutation links our ancestor to a specific time and place in history. The mutations that we find in our own DNA tell the story of our own ancestral past.

Genetic Genealogy allows us to trace the path of our ancestors and find out who they were, where they lived and how they have migrated throughout the world. Find the race of your ancestors by discovering your haplogroup. Were they European, and if so, which haplogroup did they belong to? Do you have a Native American Ancestry? What about African ancestry? Do you belong to the famous Jewish Cohanim line? Were you related to Niall of the Nine Hostages? You can actually find out these interesting facts and many more. You can actually get packages that trace maternal and paternal lineage. I have NOTHING to do with this program financially. This is information that will increasingly have application in the modern world as we learn more about risks of various racial and ethnic groups. Besides, it is just so fascinating to know from whence you really came. I will give you this warning:

If you are a racist you may not enjoy the results that you get. You may find that part of your make up is from Africa and then what will you do- stand in front of the mirror and hurl racial epithets at yourself? What if you curse the Chinese (Yellow Peril) for their achievements and find out that part of your heritage is from Asia? You could be anti-Semitic and find out that your blood carries lineage of the Hebrew tribes! Your blood line may have Arabic roots. Then what? So, if you want to find out how marvelous and diversified your heritage really is, then this is for you. If you want to deny reality, evolution and genetics and continue under the moronic impression that God made you pure and and that like some you want to keep America “WHITE” then I suggest you do NOT do the test and run for the Arizona legislature where you will have a lot of friends

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Thank God for the internet. A note on a Rhode Island grocer’s shelf has gone viral, informing consumers everywhere that the popular“natural” cereal brand Kashi actually contains genetically engineered grains. This is importanGenetically Modified Cerealt because the product claims to be “natural” (which is why many consumers buy it) and we are learning just what “natural” means- NOTHING!!!!!!!!!! I have done a show a while ago on GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms). The modifications, for example, in the case of soy beans used in Kashi, is genetically engineered to withstand the pesticide Roundup so that the crops are little affected by insects. Genetically engineered food products have not met the rigor of safety testing. Several tests have shown what may be a change in YOUR genetics as a result of consuming GMO foods. The FDA has sold out to the agricultural lobby which is exceptionally powerful. What this will mean for future generations or for that matter what eating this stuff will do to you is anyone’s guess. By the way, there is no requirement that food labels advise you that they are made with GMO’s !!!!!!!! BUT,there is a way to be sure that you are eating GMO free food and I will tell you that in a moment.Genetically Modified Cereal

As a result of consumer outrage, the Kashi brand, which is owned by Kellogg Company, has now pledged to use at least 70 percent certified organic ingredients by 2015—a move that may be too little, too late for many health conscious consumers. The pledge came just days after initially trying to further mislead consumers by denying the test results, which had found Kashi GoLean cereal contained 100 percent genetically Genetically Modified Cerealengineered soy. The futile but I am sure costly spin that paid public relation (PR) prostitutes for Kellogg tried to spread was impressive as it tried to discredit the testing agency and then dizzy the public with untruths. But, it has not worked I think on those of us who are GMO savvy. Of course, most of America is consuming this kind of product and thinking that it’s “natural” so it must be safe- not! Look, I want Kellogg and other companies to succeed (our economy is in a depression that we have chosen to call another name), but, good business is based on competitiveness, transparency as well as pricing. GMO products and ingredients are cheaper. That’s why they are used. The question is IF the public knew the dangers to themselves and their children and IF they knew they were consuming GMO products would they elect to buy those products or choose other brands that are safer?

The ONLY label that can protect you against genetically engineered ingredients, synthetic pesticides, and other harmful additives is the USDA 100% Organic label.

Genetically Modified Cereal

ZithromaxA study with azithromycin (you all know the famous Z Pak or one of the brand names Zithromax) showed a slightly higher rate of death among adult patients taking the drug compared to those on other antibiotics. (There have been other studies suggesting dangers to children as well by the way.)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA said it was aware of the study, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, comparing Zithromax to Bayer’s Cipro and Johnson & Johnson’s Levaquin.(Neither of these drugs are without serious side effects as well by the way.) Pfizer’s Zithromax showed a slightly higher rate of death due to heart complications- sudden death that may be associated with an altered heart rhythm.

All drugs can and do have serious side effects. Sometimes they are necessary evils. Most doctors prescribe medications and certainly antibiotics far too quickly. I have a bunch of patients that say they need antibiotics because they have been sick “for a while” or their previous doctor would always prescribe it when_________________________ (fill in the blank- “I had a sinus infection in the Fall, Spring, Summer, Winter”; “I had a sore throat like this one every year around this time”; blah, blah, blah…..). When I speak about the possibility of drug resistance and that we could be contributing to resistant strains, they typically could care less in that it is too abstract and they do not believe that this will directly affect them! Now if they (you?) demand an antibiotic- know that one might suddenly drop dead from the antibiotic that probably was not really needed anyway. I will duke it out with a viral sore throat using salt water gargle and some tea and honey rather than take an antibiotic that could kill me and will not treat the virus anyway. You? Here’s the prescription pad…………………………………..Prescription Pad

 

We have seen these faces- beautiful children without food- hungry. Starving for knowledge and education, health care and shelter. Whether the need is around the world or right here at home there are many legitimate causes that are worthy of your consideration and if possible, your charity. The problem is which ones are legit and which are not. How do you know that your money is going to the people or cause that you have intended for your hard earned cash.

Not So FastFirst, DO NOT assume that since the cause is linked to your church, a friend, a celebrity, a relative, a “sister” program in your neighborhood, etc. that it is actually reaching the people or communities that it was intended for!  I have worked and lived for a long time internationally in other countries and in the ravaged parts of America (I worked and was raised in the South Bronx.) There are whole industries preying upon the generosity of Americans and those who really need our charity. First, you may have NO idea of how money is being diverted to foreign banks accounts and not converted to food, education, shelter and health care of those who need it most. But, by far the way that most soaks up money BEFORE helping the target group is “overhead”! This is the cost of doing business as a charitable organization. Not So FastI remember one very popular and powerful charity (name is withheld to protect my butt) whose overhead in the name of God was 75%!!!! That means for every dollar that was donated, 75 cents went to the “cost” of operations. So, my first point is be skeptical. However, I am not suggesting that you should not give to charities if you can. Trust me, it is a really good feeling to know that your contribution will feed some hungry child or family, maybe help them sleep on a mattress with a roof over their heads rather than in the street, etc. Even if what you do helps just one soul, it counts!!!!!!!!!! If there is a heaven, then your act echoes through its fields- an act of love. For the giver, it is a good feeling- a feeling of being complete. It is important lesson for your children (i.e. the act of caring for others- not just for yourself).

So what to do when considering where to place your charitable donation:

From e-How Money:

Ask for literature. It doesn’t matter if you’ve gotten a phone call from a charity or you’re researching a charity on the Internet — always ask the organization to send you literature in the mail. This gives you the opportunity to investigate the charity before you make a donation.

Review the charity’s financial reports. Every legitimate charity should make its financial reports available to potential donors. This report may be available upon request, or it may be posted on the organization’s website. The report should tell you how much of the charity’s money is actually being donated to the cause and how much goes toward operating expenses such as administrative salaries. The best charities tend to give a large percentage of their funds to the actual cause and use a smaller percentage for administrative costs.

Ensure that the charity is non-profit. An organization must submit Form 990 to the IRS to be considered a non-profit. Ask the charity for a copy of this form. Choosing a non-profit organization helps ensure that your donation is tax deductible.

Check with your local Better Business Bureau. The national Better Business Bureau rates some of the larger charities, but if the charity you’re considering is local, find the local Better Business Bureau (BBB) in your Yellow Pages. The BBB will tell you if the organization has any negative reports.

Tips & Warnings

  • The best charities tend to give a large percentage of their funds to the actual cause and use a smaller percentage for administrative costs.I would look for an overhead in the 10-20% range.
  • Choosing non-profit organization helps ensure that your donations are tax deductible.
  • The national Better Business Bureau rates some of the larger, national charities.
  • In many cases, choosing a local charity will allow you a chance to learn more about the organization. You’ll be able to ask friends and neighbors about their experiences with the charity.
  • Never give out your credit card or bank information to a charity solicitor who calls you on the phone. This is a common scam tactic.

One Other Thing

Not So FastWhether it is the South Bronx (where I grew up), Guadalupe here in Phoenix Metro, Watts in Los Angeles, etc. there are plenty of really good folks who could use some help. We have lots of kids who are starving and without clothes right here in the U.S. There are moms who have been beaten; dads who can’t get jobs and could use retraining. Churches in the trenches are working overtime with limited resources in terrible places right here in America where the poverty and the horror matches anything we have seen in other parts of the world. I have worked all over the world and there is so much to do- agreed, but what about right in your backyard? Wherever and whenever there is a soul in pain, it hurts us all, but do not forget our fellow Americans. I lived in the South Bronx and I can tell you first hand charity can help restore health and dignity. I want the same for everyone. It would just be terrible if we forgot about our own!!!

We Live in a Crazy WorldReparative therapy is a psychologic therapy to “help” gay men “unlearn” the bad habits that have violated the “rules of God”. Much of what this crazy therapy is, is based on a study of “sissy” men done in the 70’s at Columbia University. You can read the researcher’s most recent comments below. I do not understand the genesis of homosexuality, but, to make gay men (and women) suffer through a process to “unlearn” their sexual preference is absurd! Most gay men and women (heterosexual men and women as well) that I speak to will explain they did not choose their sexual preferences. Several of my friends who are gay men in very high professional positions have admitted to me on more than one occasion that being gay would NOT have been their “choice” were they to have had the option because of all the pain and ostracism they have had to endure in their lifetimes. By the way, one of my gay friends (a wonderful person and an ophthalmologist at Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Hospital) attended to my wife’s cornea just before our wedding which had been traumatized by a strip of metal. Each day he saw her and attended to her eye so that Janet and I could walk down the aisle without her wearing an eye patch and bandage around her head. Each day he talked to us and reassured us. He never discussed his own needs, you see, he had AIDS and he died before he could see us wed! I must ask you: What are we making such a big deal about? Why are we soooo primitive? I judge people by their integrity, intellect, compassion for others, respect for God, respect for the law and their commitment to those that they love and who love them. Why should I worry or even think about who is their preferred sexual partner?  We have come not very far. Oh, by the way, when I hear that homosexuality is against God, when did YOU speak to the Lord last? Can I have his/her telephone number? I have a few questions I need answered!

Researcher Apologizes For Study Of Gay Therapy

by The Associated Press

NEW YORK May 18, 2012, 05:42 pm ET

NEW YORK (AP) — A prominent retired psychiatrist is apologizing to the gay community for a decade-old study that concluded some gay people can go straight through what’s called reparative therapy.

Dr. Robert L. Spitzer, formerly of Columbia University, now says he no longer believes his work showed that.

For the study, Spitzer had interviewed 200 people who’d claimed some degree of change. The “fatal flaw” is that there is no way to judge the credibility of their accounts, Spitzer says in a letter he submitted last month to a journal that published his work in 2003.

The work made headlines when he presented it at a 2001 meeting of the American Psychiatric Association. One reason for the attention was that Spitzer had played a leading role 30 years before in removing homosexuality from the list of mental disorders in the association’s diagnostic manual.

Spitzer’s study was attacked by critics who questioned the reliability of the accounts from the people he interviewed. At the time, Spitzer acknowledged that he had no proof their stories were accurate, but said several aspects of their accounts suggested their statements could not be dismissed out of hand.

Now he says his reasoning was wrong, and that “there was no way to determine if the subject’s accounts of change were valid,” he wrote in a letter to the editor of the Archives of Sexual Behavior. Spitzer, who lives in Princeton, N.J., sent a copy to The Associated Press after a reporter interviewed him about his change of heart.

“I believe I owe the gay community an apology for my study making unproven claims of the efficacy of reparative therapy,” Spitzer wrote. “I also apologize to any gay person who wasted time and energy undergoing some form of reparative therapy because they believed that I had proven that reparative therapy works with some ‘highly motivated’ individuals.”

 

It is definitely worth considering acupuncture when you are trying to stop smoking. Smoking is a difficult addiction to quit and the options are limited:

  • Chantix- more dangerous than smoking- suicide, heart diseaseNicotine patches, sprays, etc. – limited but some effectivenessH
  • Hypnosis- definitely worth a try but of limited success
  • Herbal and Homeopathic Treatments- just a joke and a waste of money

Acupuncture which may be employed alone or along with either hypnosis or nicotine supplementation is safe and often effective. I said often because there is NO guarantee, but I have had a great deal of success.

About 50 million Americans smoke. You already know the health risks and how much the habit costs

Acupuncture  has turned a growing number of cigarette smokers into permanent ex-smokers. Treatments take all of your symptoms into account and aim at balancing the energy within the body to optimize health.

The acupuncture treatments focus on jitters, cravings, irritability and restlessness; all symptoms that people commonly complain about when they quit. It also aids in relaxation.

In one study conducted at the University of Oslo, Norway, acupuncture was found to significantly reduce the desire to smoke up to five years after the initial treatment. Subjects of the study also reported that cigarettes tasted worse than before treatment and that the treatments had effectively reduced their taste for tobacco.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

The acupuncture needles that I use are hair-thin. Treatment is NOT painful. They are superficially inserted into various points in the ears and body to assist with smoking cessation. In between treatments, I sometimes insert small pellets that are taped to the acupuncture points on the ear. When a cigarette craving hits, gently pressing on the pellets stimulates the acupuncture points to calm the mind and eliminate the craving.

Frustrated Dr

 I just finished seeing a woman who is 70 years old and complaining of intermittent abdominal pain and nausea for 6 years. She also has constipation for 4 years or so. She sees a general cardiologist, an arrhythmia expert (also a cardiologist), a gastroenterologist (“stomach”), a family doctor and a general internist. They have no explanation for her onset of constipation which makes her VERY uncomfortable. They have spent oodles and boodles to work up her abdominal pain and nausea. Each visit lasts for 14.38 seconds (approximately). She was placed on drugs to decrease the acid in her stomach. She has been on them on and off for 3 years!!!!!!! The gastroenterologist told her it “takes time” for the drugs to work! (Would that be a century, half a century- perhaps a millennium!????) So, I spent some time with her. After reviewing her meds, I found out that her pain symptoms pretty much correspond with the statin drug (simvistatin) she is taking. The constipation corresponds to one of the heart medicines she is taking.

This was like a revelation to the patient. NO ONE ever spent the time I did reviewing her case! Second, no one ever explained the logic that they used in making the tentative diagnosis. I asked if the medicines she was given to cut stomach pain and nausea helped. She said, “I don’t know.” “Well, has it made the symptoms better?” “No!” “So why are you taking them?” “Because my doctor told me to do so.”

In fact, her internist and family doctor (why she needs both God only knows) are encouraging her not only to take the stomach acid drugs which in her case are useless, but to take the statin drug (probably the culprit of her abdominal pain to begin with) for her elevated cholesterol . They told her that it is “good” for her!!!!! (No matter that it increases cognition issues in women, causes the symptoms she is complaining of, predisposes her to diabetes and may not be particularly effective in decreasing the cardiovascular risks associated with her elevated cholesterol to begin with because she is a woman).

One of the heart drugs she is taking (and she needs to take) is well known to cause constipation and its’ use is temporally related to when she began to have constipation.

I explained my logic, my plans, the branching logic tree of how WE (she and I) will get to the bottom of this and it was, she said, the first time she had hope.

Her major complaints are caused, I am certain, by iatrogenesis (caused by the very drugs she has been given for other issues). So why am I upset? First, the “quality measures” set down by Obama’s Federal Team (Meaningful Use) does not even touch what has gone on here. All of the docs in this case who have been negligent in my opinion would pass through the Obama “quality” standards. Next, ALL of these guys are paid 2-4 times my income and spend a FRACTION of the time I have with the patient! The gastroenterologist is a “specialist”!!!!! Sounds like he is a specialist in getting out of rooms early!! The needs we have in health care- compassion, time, listening, reasoning, looking up data (I did while I was with the patient.), etc. has not and WILL NOT BE FIXED by the Feds or Insurance companies! The paradigm is the same.

Whether it was when I was on the faculty at Stony Brook Medical School, working at Catholic Healthcare West or just every day encounters, I have met a fair number of fellow physicians (and their wives or husbands- true believers in their spouses) who criticized integrative medicine because it was not “evidence based”- meaning that it had not met the scrutiny of the “scientific” method. THEY practiced medicine that met the muster of testing while I was practicing charlatanry.

Now I could have dispensed with them as just prejudiced, ignorant schmucks (which they were), but you might think that I was just upset that they caught me at my game (a snake salesman?).

First, when I provided well researched information in support of various therapies (nutritional supplements, diets, etc.) They never read the data. They just dismissed it as “it can’t be”. The data is flawed. (After all, it did not come from a pharmaceutical company delivered in the office by a cute chick or presented by a crony (er…. colleague) in a pharma sponsored national conference. “In my study, I found that taking Feverfew whole leaf extract, is cheaper, safer and as effective as many prescription products in preventing migraines…..” (I don’t think you will ever hear that!) . In fact not long ago, I sent data about how to help diabetics with neuropathy (see a previous blog post) with more than 100 citations to a cardiologist I know and several endocrinologists in town. I am on the Editorial Board of an international research group (NaturalStandard.com) that comes out of Boston and is one of the key resources for top academics around the world with regard to complementary and alternative medicine. This data came from that team. I asked to meet with the docs and explain the therapy. They did not read a damn thing (OK I admit that I did not use pictures with three words on a page and misleading colored bar graphs and pies to dazzle. I also did not leave free pens and cups for the staff and buy lunch for the office crew.) They continue to use crappy, far more toxic treatments that are prescription based. I never even got the courtesy of a call back. Why? We will get to that in a moment.

These true scientists- cardiologists, internists and dentists, by the way you know who they are, the ones that called me and others like me charlatans because we had “no evidence”, have been scaring the hell out of people explaining that gum disease increased your risk of heart attack and stroke. So:

From CNBC – For 20 years, researchers have reported a link between gum disease and heart attacks or stroke, but a new analysis finds that claim seriously flawed – so much so that the American Heart Association (AHA) issued a rare “scientific statement” on Wednesday concluding that gum disease has not been shown to raise the risk of, let alone cause, cardiovascular illness.

Moreover, the statement continued, treating gum disease either professionally or by regular brushing and flossing has not been proven to reduce the risk of heart disease or stroke.

The statement, published in the AHA (American Heart Association) journal Circulation, reflects a three-year analysis of about 600 studies by an expert committee, led by a dentist and a cardiologist. It was endorsed by The American Dental Association Council on Scientific Affairs.

There is a lot of confusion and misinformation, with many in dentistry and cardiology developing a strong opinion that there was a connection,” said Peter Lockhart, professor and chair of oral medicine at the Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, N.C., who co-chaired the expert panel. “That’s a distortion of the facts. The scientific evidence points in the other direction.”

Because there have been hundreds of studies on the subject, Lockhart said, “If there were a strong causal link between atherosclerosis and periodontal disease, or if atherosclerosis could be cleared up by treating periodontal disease, we’d know it by now.”

OK what does that mean folks? It means it was all BULLS**T – NOT BASED IN ANY EVIDENCE AT ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was so bad that the American Heart Association, finally, had to call it like it is!!!!!

So why do they do it- act like such hypocritical buffoons you might ask?

  1. The mainstream of American medicine fears loss of control. Nonprescription products take them out of control and put YOU in the driver’s seat.(Everyone knows that doctors are smart and you are stupid.) That will be fought till their last breath. THAT is an ego issue.
  2. If you do not need them, they make less MONEY! Academics will not get research money. Private doctors will lose office visit money, and if you do not come into the office then they will not be able to order profitable, mostly useless and often dangerous tests. You might be admitted less to the hospital, etc.
  3. The mainstream doctor is brain washed. When they finish training most have virtual blind folds on (sort of like on horses) so they can ONLY have tunnel vision. They do not want to get off the mainstream highway.
  4. MOST mainstream doctors learn very little after their training. They are overloaded trying to survive in a rapidly changing medical system and they take the line of least resistance. They are part of Team Prescription.

Evidence based medicine is a legitimate goal. It’s just that there is a lot of dung out there. The problem is not with a couple of herbs, it’s with the hundreds of billions spent in conventional medicine that masquerades as evidence based and most of it – IS NOT!!!!!!!

By Alicia Caldwell
Editorial Writer, DenverPost.com

I can’t say I was surprised to see this New York Times story conclude Florida gleaned no savings from drug-testing welfare recipients.

In fact, after benefits savings and drug-testing expenses were accounted for, the policy ended up costing Florida’s state government nearly $46,000.

But the facts haven’t gotten in the way of retribution politics in Georgia, where a similar law was instituted this week. It’s an idea that unfortunately has gotten traction in two dozen states, including Colorado, where it ultimately was shot down.

In an editorial in February, we called the idea irresponsible policy that would run roughshod over the privacy rights of poor people.

It also was projected to cost Colorado money, were it to have been enacted. An analysis by the non-partisan Colorado legislative council found that when costs and savings were accounted for, the policy change would have added $219,520 to Colorado’s budget, and it would have forced counties to spend $482,600.

There are also significant civil rights concerns, and the Florida effort has been held up in federal court on a temporary injunction.

So, bottom line is that these efforts cost money to implement and raise serious questions about whether they violate constitutional protections. Why, then, are they so popular? Sadly, it seems, financially difficult times motivate some to take out their frustrations on the most vulnerable among us.

MY TURN !

I am amazed that people like Caldwell get paid to write such rubbish. I never saw these laws as ways of cutting costs or “retribution” and PLEASE do not try to smear me with one political agenda or another. As a physician, I believe that we cannot and should not support those that use public monies to purchase illegal drugs. It means that the money intended to provide shelter and clothing and food beyond food stamps for families and in my head – especially for children is being diverted to get high. Maybe drugs should be regulated and legalized- maybe not, but, no matter, bucks to drugs are bucks taken away from children and other needy members of a family. This is not an “irresponsible policy that would run roughshod over the privacy rights of poor people.” If you take public money, then you should be ACCOUNTABLE.

C’mon Alicia! Why would you support taking resources- food, shelter and clothing from poor people when they most need it in a disastrous economy?! People are out of work and cannot get jobs. Why give money to drug users? Why do we have to support their habits? We need to continue to support programs like WIC and we need to determine how to BEST use public dollars to grow a strong American youth and to help those that are TRULY in need and realistically there is hope for them in the future. There is a limited amount of resources available and they should not be squandered on drug users who are diverting funds we award them for subsistence. I am not blaming drug users. I do not want to “get even”. I just want welfare to go for WELFARE. Get real Alicia. You and your “kind” are of the same cut as the far right. You are turning around the issues to work within your agenda. This is and should be about helping those who need it. You know employees in government and industry get periodic testing. You can’t even get a job in many places today without a drug test. Why should welfare recipients be any different? You want help? You need help? Let’s help, but, you have to live by certain rules. I support fighting in the courts any legal battle that is intended to overthrow accountability in our country.

sitting man in jail

We are not losing the war on drugs, we have lost! In many jails, half of the inmates have been incarcerated after being found guilty of drug related crimes. Many of them have been found guilty for minor infractions- not large scale sales. There are lots of young adults who have been jailed for possession of marijuana or for having distributed some to friends and classmates. Our jails are overflowing and private companies are cleaning up by managing and/ or building new jails across the country under contract with state, federal or local governments. We, in the U.S. are the most jailed population in the world. At year-end 2009 it was 743 adults incarcerated per 100,000 population.

Accordinging to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) 2,266,800 adults were incarcerated in U.S. federal and state prisons, and county jails at year-end 2010 — about .7% of adults in the U.S. resident population. Additionally, 4,933,667 adults at year-end 2009 were on probation or on parole. In total, 7,225,800 adults were under correctional supervision (probation, parole, jail, or prison) in 2009 — about 3.1% of adults in the U.S. resident population. In addition, there were 86,927 juveniles in juvenile detention in 2007.

On January 1, 2008 more than 1 in 100 adults in the United States were in prison or jail. In 2008 approximately one in every 31 adults (7.3 million) in the United States was behind bars, or being monitored (probation and parole). In 2008 the breakdown for adults under correctional control was as follows: one out of 18 men, one in 89 women, one in 11 African-Americans (9.2 percent), one in 27 Latinos (3.7 percent), and one in 45 Caucasians (2.2 percent). Crime rates have declined by about 25 percent from 1988-2008. 70% of prisoners in the United States are non-whites. In recent decades the U.S. has experienced a surge in its prison population, quadrupling since 1980, partially as a result of mandatory sentencing that came about during the “war on drugs.” Violent crime and property crime have declined since the early 1990s.

In 2006, about $72 billion was spent on corrections. This went up to $74 billion in 2007. In 2005, it cost an average of $23,876 dollars per state prisoner. State prison spending varied widely, from $45,000 a year in Rhode Island to $13,000 in Louisiana. In California in 2009, it cost an average of $47,102 a year to incarcerate an inmate in state prison. From 2001 to 2009, the average annual cost increased by about $19,500.In 2001 among facilities operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, it cost $22,632 per inmate, or $62.01 per day.

Housing the approximately 500,000 people in jail in the USA awaiting trial who cannot afford bail costs $9 billion a year.Most jail inmates are petty, nonviolent offenders. Twenty years ago most nonviolent defendants were released on their own recognizance (trusted to show up at trial). Now most are given bail, and most pay a bail bondsman to afford it. 62% of local jail inmates are awaiting trial. To ease jail overcrowding over 10 counties every year consider building new jails. As an example Lubbock County, Texas has decided to build a $110 million mega jail to ease jail overcrowding. Jail costs an average of $60 a day nationally. In Broward County, Florida supervised pre-trial release costs about $7 a day per person while jail costs $115 a day. The jail system costs a quarter of every county tax dollar in Broward County, and is the single largest expense to the county taxpayer.

All of this would be acceptable I suppose except it has made not an iota of difference in the use of illegal drugs or the crime and health issues associated with their distribution and use. It has, in an economy that has failed, added an enormous expense to society with a very poor Return On Investment (ROI).

Estimate of the size of the international drug market range from $300-$500 billion dollars, making up approximately 8% of global trade. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimated that in 2010, the international drug market has a value of over $300 billion, making it larger than the gross national products of all but twenty-one nations. It is GROWING!!!!!!!

As a physician, I do not want to see kids who experimented in school end up with HIV or Hepatitis B and C as a result of the use of illegal drugs and dirty needles. An adolescent “experiment” could end up in a lifetime of pain and anguish. Likewise, it seems ridiculous to me to criminalize the use of marijuana. The laws have not changed anything! It is readily available across the country in schools, on the street, etc. The only thing is that the illegal marijuana may be laced with anything from cancer causing pesticides to cocaine or crystal meth. Oh yes, and the notion that marijuana is a drug that opens the door to other drugs (a “gateway drug) has never been proven. It is just another piece of worthless conjecture.

Now, I have heard all kinds of opinions about the horror that will occur if we were to decriminalize illegal drugs (including “weed”). These are all opinions and let us not forget that the companies that build and operate jails, those that illegally distribute large quantities of illicit drugs, and those that still are praying that God will perform a miracle and Rick Santorum will become President still hold sway with elected officials. But, let’s take this OUT of conjecture and into reality. Let’s look at Portugal:

The drug policy of Portugal was put in place in 2000, to be legally effective from July 2001. In 1999 Portugal had the highest rate of HIV amongst injecting drug users in the European Union. The number of newly diagnosed HIV cases among drug users has decreased to 13.4 per million population in 2009 but that is still high above the European average (2.85 cases per million). There were 2000 new cases a year, in a country of 10 million people. 45 % of reported AIDS cases recorded in 1997 originated among IV drug users, so targeting drug use was seen as an effective avenue of HIV prevention. The number of heroin users was estimated to between 50,000 and 100,000 in 2000. This led to the adoption of The National Strategy for the Fight Against Drugs in 1999. A vast expansion of harm reduction efforts, doubling the investment of public funds in drug treatment and drug prevention services, and changing the legal framework dealing with petty drug offences were the main elements of the policy thrust. In 2001, Portugal became the first European country to abolish all criminal penalties for personal drug possession. In addition, drug users were to be targeted with therapy rather than prison sentences. Drugs are STILL illegal and big time dealers and distributors are STILL prosecuted but the poor schnook in the street- your son or daughter perhaps?- is not prosecuted. Possession is a civil issue- perhaps they might be fined if anything at all. Individuals found in possession of small quantities of drugs are issued a summons. The drugs are confiscated, and the suspect is interviewed by a “Commission for the Dissuasion of Drug Addiction” (Comissõespara a Dissuasão da Toxicodependência – CDT). These commissions are made up of three people: A social worker, a psychiatrist, and an attorney. The dissuasion commission has powers comparable to an arbitration committee, but restricted to cases involving drug use or possession of small amounts of drugs. There is one CDT in each of Portugal’s 18 districts. Several options are available to the CDT when ruling on the drug use offence, including warnings, banning from certain places, banning from meeting certain people, obligation of periodic visits to a defined place, removal of professional or firearms license. Sanctioning by fine, which may vary by drug involved, is an available option. If the person is addicted to drugs, he or she may be admitted to a drug rehabilitation facility or be given community service, if the dissuasion committee finds that this better serves the purpose of keeping the offender out of trouble. If the offender is not addicted to drugs, or unwilling to submit to treatment or community service, he may be given a fine. Since the start of decriminalization, illegal drug use by teenagers has declined, the rate of HIV infections among drug users has dropped, deaths related to heroin and similar drugs has been cut by more than half, and the number of people seeking treatment for drug addiction has doubled. The number of drug related crimes has dropped as well.

 Let’s look at numbers in a time that we desperately need to cut costs in America:

A Harvard economist, Jeffery Miron, estimated that ending the war on drugs would inject 76.8 billion dollars into the US economy in 2010 alone. He estimates that the government would save $41.3 billion for law enforcement and the government would gain up to $46.7 billion in tax revenue. Since President Nixon began the war on drugs, the federal drug-fighting budget has increased for $100 million in 1970 to $15.1 billion in 2010, with a total cost estimated near 1 trillion dollars over 40 years. In the same time period and estimated 37 million nonviolent drug offenders have been incarcerated. $121 billion was spent to arrest these offenders and $450 billion to incarcerate them.

Holding on to some silly, costly and simply ineffective system of making criminals out of those who possess and use small amounts of illegal drugs is a battle lost with a high price. We cannot afford expensive inaction. It’s time to make a change and quadrupling our policing of drugs and making more jails is NOT the answer. Let’s not be ridiculous!