Archive for the 'Science Politics' category

President Obama Addresses Marijuana Legalization

Apr 01 2009 Published by under General Politics, Public Health, Science Politics

I"ve been following the doings of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) off and on. First there was the announcement of Gil Kerlikowske as the new Drug Czar, which pointed to a considerably more relaxed, harm-reduction type of approach to drug policy from Obama. Next I cam to the realization that Obama had reduced the Drug Czar from a Cabinet level position to something much lesser.
Checking out the ONDCP site today, I noticed a link in their policy news section:

President Obama Addresses Marijuana Legalization during Virtual Town Hall Meeting
The trial run of Open for Questions at the White House wrapped up with more than 3,606,000 total votes, and the President answered several of the most popular questions. During the meeting the President addressed marijuana legalization:

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17 responses so far

Bush's Drug Czar: The Anti-Science Gift That Keeps on Giving

The Examiner has a piece up decrying the fact that "Federal Programs Gave Addicts Street Drugs" (Bill Myers, 03-26-09).
OMG! That sounds horrible! Why on Earth would the US government be doing that?

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3 responses so far

Restoring Science to Its Rightful Place: The UK Drugs Edition

The latest round of scientists being informed, rudely, that the political process does not march in lockstep with scientific analysis or information hails from the U.K. The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs was first established under the Misuse of Drugs Act (1971). Under this Act drugs are to be classified as A, B or C category for harm with "A" being the most harmful category. MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, "Ecstasy") is in the most harmful category.
The unfortunately named David Nutt, Ph.D., Professor of Psychopharmacology, Univ. of Bristol and current chair of the Advisory Council, believes that MDMA should be downgraded to a lesser harm category. He has issued opinion pieces comparing MDMA's propensity for causing harm favorably with alcohol and waxed enthusiastic about the current clinical trials. This was all well and good but what really got him into trouble was his attempt at the absurdist ploy.

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5 responses so far

Obama Administration's Drug Czar: R. Gil Kerlikowske

During the early speculation (my brief pre-take) the name of Jim Ramsted (TierneyLab take) was raised as possbile head of the Office of Drug Control Policy. Ramsted, a Republican Congressman had a record of opposing needle-exchange programs and medical marijuana. Now Obama has apparently settled on R. Gil Kerlikowske, the Seattle Chief of Police.

President Barack Obama has selected Seattle's police chief to be the nation's next drug czar, an administration official said Thursday.
Gil Kerlikowske will lead the Office of National Drug Control Policy, a position that has in past administrations been a Cabinet-level post, according to an official who would speak only on the condition of anonymity because no official announcement has been made.
The official did not know if the position would be a Cabinet post, but said its status would become clear when Kerlikowske was announced. The official did not know when the appointment would be announced.

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10 responses so far

The Institutional Squeeze: As if the NIH budget wasn't enough bad news

It's been a rough patch over the past two or three years for many NIH-funded research programs. This is not news. The NIH budget flatlines, combined with inflation in the cost of doing biomedical research (BRDPI is a well understood acronym by now), resulted in a budget that undoubled the doubling period. The growth in the research infrastructure that was facilitated by the doubling of the NIH budget had to be pared back. Painfully.
In many ways we are starting to partially adjust. PIs have closed or slimmed their shops. Departed all-soft-money jobs for lower profile institutions with hard money. Left for industry. Decreased the size of their labs. The NIH grant pressure has (seemingly) slackened a bit. Whether because of the reduced demand, because NIH ICs finally got their houses in order and smoothed the payout stream or because some of the 5yr commitments from the end of the doubling finally started to subside I don't know. Things seem ever so slightly better in the past 6-9 mo.
And now, the other shoe is falling. The local Universities are going broke and putting another squeeze on the research scientists.

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26 responses so far

Partisan Attacks on Research

Congressmen serving on committees dealing with aspects of research...are often well disposed toward support of scientific research...they cannot become vulnerable. They must take into account tides of public opinion.
As a partisan document, the article is a triumph. Research is confused with development..downgraded by citation of examples likely to seem ridiculous to the reader and by skillful choice of guilt-connoting words--such phrases as ..."sprawling research program"..."lucrative contracts"...."getting fat at the public trough".

and it just gets worse...

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9 responses so far

Who should be the Obama administration's Drug Czar?

With the announcement that Tom Daschle has been selected as the Obama administration's Secretary of Health and Human Services speculation about the down market appointments has accelerated. For this audience, of course, everyone is nattering on about the next Director of the NIH. My nattering sources are moving in the direction of Elizabeth Nabel, M.D. current Director of NHLBI, but that's just vague speculation.
One of my correspondents reminded me of a non-HHS appointment that is VERY important for NIDA funded scientists and indeed everyone interested in drug abuse issues.
Who will be the next Drug Czar?

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17 responses so far

Talking points for NIH funded science

Since many of our US readers are feeling jazzed about politics right about now, it is a good time to discuss Talking Points. You, DearReader, whether in the biomedical science biz or merely interested in some aspect of biomedical science, are the first line of attack in advocating for the continued health of our federally funded science enterprises. As we've all learned over the past 8 or even 16 years of US politics, crafting and honing messages to convey essential themes is critical to political success. Generating a mantra-chant and drumbeat of lemming feet on a consistent and limited set of bullet point topics is the way to cut through the noise and transmit the message. Call it framing or Talking Points or whatever you like.
I have a suggestion for how scientists may wish to approach their CongressCritters.

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3 responses so far

Call Your CongressCritter: Mental Health Parity (UPDATED)

I keep meaning to do a substantive post on the issue of mental health parity legislation but US Congressional activity proceeds as it will. So I have little more than a cut and paste job of a plea from the Research Society on Alcoholism to call your Members of Congress to ask them to support "The Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act."
In very brief outline the efforts (many years in progress now with gradual improvements) for mental health parity seek to ensure that health conditions that are primarily behavioral and/or affective in nature are accorded the same respect and consideration under law as are any other health conditions.
It should come as no surprise to my readers that there is a considerable segment of the population (including some MDs and politicians and scientists) that at some level believe that certain behavioral and affective disorders are not really health care situations. That these are the province of morality or patient "will" or personality deficit or something considered to be nonmedical. And therefore not deserving of attention or, most importantly, support under health care insurance mechanisms.
This is a very deep and meaty topic from the science to the public policy to the politics to the economics to the... Well, that is why I've never stepped up to the plate on this. And I am not doing so today. I'll just leave you with the following request from one of my academic societies.

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2 responses so far

ScienceBlogs Ventures into Politics: A Vote for Science

ScienceBlogs has created a special blog focused on the US elections this fall. A Vote for Science

is a group blog that will focus on the candidates' science policies. It is managed by many interested ScienceBloggers, as well as guest blogger Ivan Oelrich of the Federation of American Scientists.

It will be new and exciting for the Borg bloggers to finally discuss the intersection of politics with our varied scientific issues!
..... .......
/wipes eyes
You may find YHN posting an entry or two.

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