"Mandelbrot and Hudson“
Nearly a century before, the great French mathematician Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier had devised equations to describe the way heat spreads. Bachelier knew the fomulae well from his physics lectures. He adapted them to calculate the probability of bond prices moving up or down, and called the technique ”radiation of probability.“ Strangely, it worked.
From the UK Telegraph
The geometry of Mandelbrot
The founding father of fractal theory warns that another Great Crash is a real threat. Martin Baker meets him
Preposterous though it seems, there is something of the lone gunslinger about Benoit Mandelbrot. He is Sterling Professor of Mathematical Sciences at Yale University. And, yes, he is turning 80 next month. But if ever a man fixed the establishment in the eye and shot from the hip, it is Mandelbrot.
Next week is the 75th anniversary of the Wall Street Crash of 1929 - now consider this extract from the book Mandelbrot is publishing next month: "The financiers and investors of the world are, at the moment, like mariners who heed no weather warnings."
No, no, no. Surely it couldn't happen again? Conventional wisdom tells us that we understand risk so much better now. Those clever hedge fund chappies have got it all sewn up, surely. There has been the occasional disaster, such as the collapse of the huge US hedge fund Long Term Capital Management in the late 1990s. But we all survived. The investment industry has a sophisticated understanding of the riskiness of the market, and by using analytical tools such as chaos theory, the risks are managed and controlled.
Unfortunately not, according to Mandelbrot. And he should know. As the founder of fractal geometry and the discoverer of the Mandelbrot set (pictorially represented as beautiful, complex swirls of coral) Mandelbrot is acknowledged as the father of chaos theory. Here are his views of the current state of play: "A few fund managers have experimented with these concepts [of price dependence, whatever that is, and volatility]. They often call it chaos theory - though strictly speaking that is marketing language riding on the coat-tails of a popular scientific trend. In reality, the mathematics is still young, the research barely begun, and reliable applications still distant."
Mandelbrot has tweaked a few tails in the academic world, too. James Gleik, author of one of the many books on chaos theory, acknowledges Mandelbrot's contribution to the doctrine, while calling him "exasperating and indispensable".
So what is the principal theory of this near-octogenarian, so often described as a maverick? It was clearly a good idea to find out before having lunch with him.
Fractal geometry is a way of describing complex, irregular shapes that repeat themselves in nature. Take a leaf on a fir tree, for example. The leaf itself is a mini-me version of the whole tree. And if you look at the individual bits of the leaf, they look like the leaf that looks like the tree. So you have a complex mathematical formula that describes a pattern that keeps repeating itself. Thus a single formula describes lots and lots of data. This is the kind of thing that makes mathematicians happy.
The practical applications of the theory are that it can be used to model and describe, though not predict, a huge number of complex phenomena such as coastlines, water and air turbulence, galaxy clusters, and the fluctuations of stock markets and commodity prices (there is an hilarious passage in the book describing early research on cotton price fluctuations that reads like a comedy thriller). By describing such phenomena, fractal geometry moves on from Euclidian geometry, which is confined to smooth shapes and planes.
Armed with this very basic understanding of his work, I meet the man himself in a fantastically noisy French restaurant. Mandelbrot is tall, fairly robust, and has the thick-lensed spectacles of academic cliche. He has a Clouseau-esque accent, despite having worked at IBM in the US since 1958. But there is little of Peter Sellers about this man. His mind is like a steel trap.
It turns out the publication of The (Mis)Behaviour of Markets - A Fractal View of Risk, Ruin and Reward is not entirely designed to upset the financial community. Mandelbrot, after all, is a teacher with a didactic urge: "Part of my business may be to return mathematics and geometry to its role as an instrument to organise and understand the patterns of nature."
At this point readers may be crying out that markets are supposed to be rational phenomena, not natural ones. According to the efficient market hypothesis (a phrase coined by one of Mandelbrot's students, apparently) only rationally relevant information is priced into an asset or market. So what use is a formula that describes the natural world?
Mandelbrot's point is that, whatever the causal factors that go into price movements, markets and prices behave as if they are natural phenomena. He says: "My purpose is always to observe the symptoms and have a model of what is being seen. In the case of markets, it is frightening because there are so many people of great brilliance and extraordinary greed who work there. They don't understand the market, but they understand the numbers."
It is easy to see why Mandelbrot has a reputation for arrogance. He is, simply, very clever indeed, and is impatient with those who aren't. His fractal theory identifies three states of randomness - mild, slow and wild - and he believes that this model describes market behaviour far better than any other theories of randomness.
If he is hard on the financial community, it is because he believes investment managers and advisers are failing investors: "A stockbroker wrote me a very plaintive letter asking why I was giving stockbrokers such a hard time. His argument was that what he did was right 98 percent of the time. Why bother about the events that occur in the rest of the time? The answer is that those events are the ones that really count."
It is said that no one hurries like an old man, and Mandelbrot knows that at 79, time is precious. This only exacerbates his impatience with the financial community: "It is quite clear that some portfolios that were declared to be free of risk turned out not to be. They are very good for 90 percent or more of the time, but at the critical moment, they fail. They are just dreadful. Given the inter-connectedness of things, they may lead to very, very embarrassing complications for the whole world."
His best attempt to save the world, or at least make society aware of its incomprehension of the riskiness of the markets it depends on so much, is probably contained in a book that is surprisingly entertaining (much credit must go to Richard Hudson, the former European bureau chief of The Wall Street Journal, and co-author).
Now Mandelbrot is writing his memoirs - "purely what I remember. I won't research and check dates unless I absolutely have to". They should make compelling reading. Born in Warsaw in 1924, his family moved to Paris in 1936. As a Jew he was lucky to survive the Nazis, and had to move constantly. One possible benefit was the lack of a conventional education (he was tutored by an artist uncle who was also a professor of mathematics).
Mandelbrot says he inherited his independent tendencies from a father who saved his own life by refusing to stay on the road with fellow Jews who had been liberated from an internment camp during the war. Mandelbrot senior set out on his own and took refuge in a wood; those who stayed on the road were strafed by Stuka fighter planes. Following his father's untimely death, the youthful Mandelbrot also learned about the market, selling the crude clothing his father had made to eke out a living at distressed seller prices. "It put food in our mouths," he says.
Mandelbrot was a brilliant student and held a variety of academic positions, before resigning a post in France in 1958 in order to work in IBM's famous ideas factory (a group of oddball intellectuals paid to come up with great innovations). He was already seen as a cross-disciplinarian and a maverick and had created for himself "a very hostile intellectual environment. France does not like people not to belong".
For the last five years he has been at Yale, feted for the long-delayed publication of his paper on fractal geometry. And now, in his memoirs, he's turning those fearsome analytical powers on himself: "There are many things I begin to understand better now."
• The (Mis)behaviour of Markets: A Fractal View of Risk, Ruin and Reward by Benoit B Mandelbrot and Richard L Hudson is published by Profile Books, £18.99
His death, while not quite exemplary, has always thrown a certain poetic light on his nature. In his late eighties, believing he was close to his end, he one morning summoned his little wife to his bedside and told her to bring the young rabbi. And indeed he looked to her as he had never looked in their seventy years together. As soon as she could, she brought the rabbi, apparently a new one to the 114th Street synagogue, who sat with the old man and accompanied him in prayers until he fell asleep, whereupon the rabbi left. Hours passed while my distraught greatgrandmother summoned her children to the Harlem apartment two stories up in a brownstone. The old man slept and slept. The doctor who was brought in examined him without waking him and could only confirm what everybody knew, that like everybody else, but sooner than most, he was on his way to Abraham's bosom. The doctor left, and so did the children, who all had their lives to attend to. As the sun was setting, the old man awoke. His wife asked him how he felt, and he lay there trying to understand, apparently, why his head seemed lower than it had before. He slowly turned on his side, massive fellow that he still was, felt under his pillow and felt again, sat up and lifted the pillow and the bedclothes, and finally faced his uncomprehending wife, asking, ”Who took them?“
Following custom in those roughriding years, Great-grandfather kept much of his assets in the form of diamonds, which took less space than cash and were easier to hide. He was apparently in that large minority who did not consider any financial institution a hundred percent honest or safe, along with W. C. Fields, another turn-of-the-century man who made no bones about his cold-eyed view in many a quip and script motif, as well as in his near paranoid distribution of his own money in an enormous number of banks across the country, against the inevitable day when some of them would abscond or plead a fake bankruptcy. In point of fact, just at the time Great-grandpa was reaching under his pillow for his life's savings, colorful or absurd as it may seem, Richard Whitney, head of the New York Stock Exchange and widely esteemed leader of the financial community, was quietly stealing enough to earn him a sentence in Sing Sing-he would not lack for colleagues thereonce the Great Crash had confirmed the suspicions of my greatgrandfather and Fields and exploded the illusions of the trusting majority.
Ill as he was, Great-grandpa definitely remembered stashing his whole little fortune under his pillow and now demanded to know who had been to visit him. His trembling wife reeled off the list, plus, of course, the new rabbi. Commanding her, despite her protests, to help him dress, he took his oak walking stick and, refusing her touch on his elbow, plodded up Madison Avenue from 112th to 114th and into the synagogue, where he found the rabbi seated at a table writing. He said to the rabbi that he would like to have his jewelry back. The rabbi looked up and with a blank expression repeated, ”Your jewelry?" With which the old man raised his stick and brought it down on the rabbi's neck before the poor man could dodge out of the way. Bedlam. But new life had sprung into the old man's sinews as he pursued the rabbi around the room with people trying to grab his flailing rod of righteousness. At last the rabbi faced him, both of them gasping for breath, and with hands raised he backed to the coat draped over his chair, reached into a pocket, and produced a knotted linen cloth. The old man unknotted it with his bent fingers and after a glancing count stuffed it into his own coat and walked out. He got home but barely made it back upstairs through the narrow brown-painted hallway and into his bed. The news had flown, and my mother and her father and a whole troop of heirs quickly assembled and watched as from his pillow he distributed his life among them, then sighed and closed his eyes, never to wake again.
M1: Technically defined this is the sum of: the tender that is held outside banks, travelers checks, checking accounts (but not demand deposits), minus the amount of money in the Federal Reserve float.
M2: The sum of: M1, savings deposits (this would include money market accounts from which no checks can be written), small denomination time deposits (where small is less than $100,000), retirement accounts.
M3: M2 plus the large time deposits (for any of you with more than $100,000 deposits you add to this...). Eurodollar deposits, dollars held at foreign offices of U.S. banks, and institutional money market funds.
Robert K. Musil, Executive Director of PSR wrote:
Torture—much in the news these days—is fundamentally a medical procedure that hangs the Hippocratic Oath, medical ethics, and military law by their heels. The Hippocratic Oath embodies the deepest, ancient moral values of the medical profession in its statement: “to the sick I will do no harm or injustice.” Torture inverts medical disciplines—internal medicine, orthopedics, trauma, psychology and psychiatry, cardiology, neurology—to inflict premeditated harm on a vulnerable human being. The usual practice is to cause sufficient suffering and bodily injury, short of death, to induce a patient to relinquish private information or confess. Torture is not only illegal; it is, in a word, abhorrent.
I have been proud to represent and speak for PSR at national events denouncing torture and actively opposing the nomination of Judge Alberto Gonzales—the author of the Administration’s pseudo-legal justifications for its torture of prisoners—for Attorney General of the United States. PSR has been joined in these efforts by other activist public health organizations, such as Physicians for Human Rights, as well as by the American Public Health Association, and even the venerable American Medical Association. All these groups have spoken out sharply against torture, in response to credible reports of its use by American military and intelligence personnel at Guantanamo Bay, in Abu Ghraib, and elsewhere. Indeed, the use of torture by the United States has for more than two years occupied the articles and commentary of leading medical journals such as The Lancet and The New England Journal of Medicine, where it is roundly condemned on legal, medical, and ethical grounds.
What the American public and policy makers must understand is that physicians, nurses, medics, and other medical personnel who serve in the Armed Forces have an obligation to refuse to participate in torture, and to report such unethical and illegal behavior when they observe it or treat its victims. To date, to our knowledge, this has not happened. Instead, we have reports of doctors called to treat dislocated limbs and bruised genitals; of a nurse, asked to treat a detainee undergoing a panic attack, who observed piles of hooded, naked detainees, yet failed to report the abuse until after investigations began; and of physicians who have used medical records of detainees to help design effective interrogation techniques. Shockingly, the Department of Defense still maintains that doctors who cooperate in interrogations are not practicing medicine and are therefore exempt from the rules of warfare pertaining to physicians and the Hippocratic Oath. There is absolutely no precedent for such a view. Again, recent commentary in medical journals condemns it.
Given the nature of the psychological stresses and humiliations, beatings, other bodily injuries, and some resulting deaths that we now know about, the torture of detainees in American custody could not have occurred without being observed, condoned, or participated in by medical personnel. In his landmark study The Nazi Doctors, Dr. Robert Jay Lifton describes the process by which physicians in Germany were socialized to more extreme forms of torture. The habit of responding to command and authority—first in the medical profession, then in the military, and, ultimately, as leaders in the death camps—turned compassionate, even idealistic doctors into practitioners in a system of atrocities. That is why the Geneva Conventions are so explicit about the need for doctors to treat all parties humanely, to uphold the human dignity and worth of detainees, and to recognize as illegal any orders to do otherwise.
Physicians for Social Responsibility will continue to actively oppose torture and the war policies that give rise to it. We have joined with Veterans for Common Sense in a national letter campaign, and with MoveOn, Amnesty International, Win Without and War, and others in national media campaigns. We will not rest until this fundamental assault on human dignity, and the on core concepts of medical treatment and trust, is halted.
Robert K. Musil, Ph.D., M.P.H. http://www.psr.org/home.cfm?id=exec
"David Sarasohn, for The Oregonian“
A new word on Mayfield, the Patriot Act Friday, April 08, 2005 David Sarasohn A year after he was released from prison with an FBI apology, Brandon Mayfield recently learned some more things about his arrest as a terrorist.
At the same time, Congress — holding hearings on the reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act — learned a little more about the act, and about what happens when Congress gives government vast new powers without stopping to think about it.
Ever since the arrest and awkward release of Mayfield, on the mistaken grounds that his fingerprint was found on an item connected with the terrorist train bombing in Spain last March, the Justice Department has insisted that the Patriot Act had nothing to do with his arrest. That insistence continued through the opening of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' testimony Monday to the Senate Judiciary Committee — and then ended a few hours into the testimony, when Gonzales said that, well, yes, a couple of the Patriot Act powers had been involved.
Gonzales told the senators that the FBI had indeed used new powers of electronic surveillance, as well as another section of the act, in its investigation of the Beaverton lawyer -- based on a mishandled fingerprint and, implicitly, his identity as a Muslim convert. Agents collected quite a bit.
At the end of March, as part of his lawsuit against the federal government, Mayfield's attorney received a statement:
”Mr. Mayfield is hereby notified that the following property was seized, altered or reproduced during (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) searches of his residence: three hard drives of three desk top computers and one loose hard drive were copied; several documents in the residence were digitally photographed; ten DNA samples were taken and preserved on cotton swabs and six cigarette butts were seized for DNA analysis; and approximately 335 digital photographs were taken of the residence and the property therein . . . Mr. Mayfield is also hereby notified that he was the target of electronic surveillance and other physical searches authorized pursuant to FISA.“
Nobody at this point thinks any of the material seized has any national security significance. Nobody now thinks the secret evidence behind the search meant anything.
People do know that anything collected can now be widely shared.
”There is no idea,“ says Steven T. Wax, federal public defender who first worked with Mayfield, ”how many hundreds and hundreds of people, in intelligence offices around the world, now have access to private materials on Mr. Mayfield, his children and perhaps some of his clients.“
Plus his family's DNA.
In fact, Mayfield can't know exactly what's out there.
”Worse still,“ says Rep. John Conyers, ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, ”the department still refuses to give Mayfield a full accounting of what searches were conducted, when they were conducted and what exactly was seized. When an innocent man can't even find out the extent to which his rights have been violated, something is very, very wrong with our system of checks and balances.“
That fear, that something has gone off the rails, is why Gonzales was called to testify this week before the Senate and House judiciary committees, considering whether to reauthorize or amend the Patriot Act. It's why a bipartisan group of senators, led by Larry Craig, R-Idaho, has reintroduced the Security and Freedom Ensured Act, which would limit the government's powers to make secret searches without showing probable cause.
”I think we've got a chance to get some of it done,“ says Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., the only senator to vote against the Patriot Act in 2001 and now a SAFE Act co-sponsor. Feingold notes that now even Gonzales is open to some limits — although the administration also wants other changes to expand its powers even more.
The Mayfield case, Feingold says, ”had a big effect on the whole attitude that anybody who criticized the law really wasn't concerned about terrorism.“ When Gonzales changed course and admitted a Patriot Act role in the case, ”That was noticed at the hearing.“
The case resounds in other places. In Salem this week, a Patriot Act-driven House bill to require state employees to stay within the Oregon Constitution was referred to committee. Last session, the state Senate passed a resolution calling for changes in the act, 23-2, the most bipartisan thing that happened there all year. Last month, the Montana House passed a similar bill, 88-12.
”The Mayfield case certainly does touch a red button for people here,“ says Rep. Peter Buckley, D-Ashland, co-sponsor of the House bill. ”It's one way we make the case that the Patriot Act has led to actions unacceptable to the state."
Last week, we learned more about the Mayfield case.
And just how far the Patriot Act can go.
David Sarasohn, associate editor of The Oregonian, can be reached at 503-221-8523 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
1903.02 Requests for copies other than additional certificates. Requests for copies of records, indexes, material from the authorization file, correspondence, and deposits should be made to the Certifications and Documents Section. Fees are charged for making copies, for any searches required to find the material, and for certification. Failure to provide a registration number and year date, or volume and document number for a recorded document, may result in a search charge to find the material. To minimize search fees and expedite copying, the request for copies should include the following information when available:
1) A clear identification of the type of records or deposits to be copied (for example copies of deposits, correspondence, catalog entries, etc.).
2) A specification of whether the copies are to be certified or uncertified.
3) A clear identification of the specific records to be copied including, where possible, the type of work involved (for example a novel, song lyrics, technical drawing), the registration number, if any, the year date or approximate year date of registration or submission to the Office, the complete title of the work, the author(s) including any pseudonym, the claimant(s), and if the requested copy is of an assignment, license, contract, or other recorded document, the volume and page number of the recorded document.
4) The telephone number and address of the requester.
See 37 C.F.R. 201.2(d).
April 21, 2005
The Canadian government this week approved the prescription sale of a liquid marijuana extract to treat symptoms of multiple sclerosis, the Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project reports. Sativex, produced by U.K. firm GW Pharmaceuticals, is a whole-plant extract that contains all of the naturally occurring compounds called cannabinoids that are found in marijuana plants. MPP did not report when the product would be available in Canada, or whether health authorities would seek wider approval of Sativex to treat symptoms of other diseases, including HIV and cancer.
The U.S. government does not permit medical marijuana use, but 10 states--Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington--have passed measures that allow seriously ill people to legally use the drug for medicinal purposes. Maryland has a law that does not legalize medical marijuana use or stop police from arresting users, but prevents those who are arrested from being jailed. The only federally approved marijuana-related product available in the United States is Marinol, a pill containing a synthetic version of THC, an active ingredient in marijuana. The Bush administration claims there is no scientific data to show that medical marijuana offers any health benefits to patients who smoke or ingest it, and vigorously opposes state-level laws permitting its use.
But MPP says that the Canadian government's scientific review and approval of Sativex shows that Bush-administration arguments that marijuana has no medicinal value are false. ”If Sativex is safe and effective, marijuana is safe and effective,“ the organization says in a press release. MPP executive director Rob Kampia adds, ”With Canada taking such a significant step toward recognizing marijuana's safety and effectiveness as a medicine, it's becoming harder and harder for U.S. officials to defend arresting and imprisoning medical marijuana patients in our own country."
Marijuana medicine tests pot's potential Canada's approval of a cannabis-based medicine has people wondering what would be possible if a stigma could be removed.
By SUSAN TAYLOR MARTIN,
Times Senior Correspondent Published
August 1, 2005
BURLINGTON, Ontario - Since she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 13 years ago, Alison Myrden has suffered from pain so intense it feels like ”lightning going off in my face.“
To reduce her agony, Myrden, 41, has long taken dozens of prescription pills a day, including the powerful Dilaudin. Now, though, she has a new weapon in her arsenal: Sativex, billed as the world's first cannabis-based drug.
”I think it has good potential,“ says Myrden, squirting Sativex into her mouth from a small sprayer. ”It's really fabulous that the government has taken marijuana seriously and is making a medicine of it.“
This spring, Canada became the first country to approve Sativex, a prescription drug for MS that contains tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and other active ingredients of the Cannabis sativa plant. The drug went on sale throughout Canada in mid June, just a week after the medical marijuana movement in the United States was dealt a major setback by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Sativex is so new and expensive that few Canadians are using it so far. But given the timing of its debut, it has highlighted the divergent views on marijuana's therapeutic benefits.
Sativex ”is an important step, but why should this whole field be centered in Canada and England instead of the United States? It's because of the repression of science in the United States,“ says Rick Doblin, whose Sarasota-based Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies funds research of marijuana's medical effects.
But the U.S. government's Office of National Drug Control Policy, which deems marijuana a dangerous drug, says many of those touting its therapeutic use want to legalize its recreational use as well.
”Of course we would look at any medicine proven safe or efficacious,“ says spokesman Tom Riley. ”But the medical marijuana issue has been kind of larded with hype for a number of years by a lot of people with agendas in this area.“
Sativex was developed by GW Pharmaceuticals, a small British company that is trying to distance itself from the medical marijuana debate as it seeks U.S. and European approval of a potentially lucrative product.
”There is a clear distinction to be drawn between what you would call medical marijuana and Sativex, which is the name of a medicine,“ says Mark Rogerson, a GW spokesman. ”Medical marijuana is smoking a joint or baking a cake. This is a prescription medicine for MS.“
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic disease of the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord and optic nerves) that affects people in unpredictable ways. Some patients suffer from spasticity, causing the muscles to lock up; others, like Myrden, shake or have excruciating pain.
In Britain, GW has focused on Sativex as a treatment for spasticity. So far the British government has refused to approve it without more evidence it works for that purpose.
In Canada, however, Sativex has been approved for use in treating neuropathic pain, another common symptom.
Myrden, a disabled former corrections officer and one of 50,000 Canadians with MS, says Sativex helps relieve pain but is not as cheap or effective as the plant.
Unlike the other drugs she takes, Sativex is not covered by Ontario's health care program. A small bottle, with enough sprays to last Myrden just 31/2 days, costs $125.
For Sativex to gain wider use, ”it has to be cost effective,“ says Myrden, who lives on government disability and help from her mother and boyfriend. ”It's about $1,000 a month - where am I going to get money for my next prescription?“
By comparison, it costs Myrden about $400 a month to buy marijuana from compassion clubs, the quasilegal establishments that sell it for medicinal purposes. She is also among a few hundred Canadians licensed by the government to grow marijuana and smoke it wherever tobacco cigarettes are allowed.
Despite its high price, Sativex is less effective than regular marijuana, Myrden has found. She never used marijuana before developing MS, she says, but now smokes it several times a day and eats it in oatmeal cookies.
With the right strain of marijuana, ”I can get rid of the pain in minutes for two hours. I would rely on marijuana hands down - it's the only thing that gives me quality of life.“
The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada considers Sativex ”just another“ treatment for MS-related symptoms.
That it comes in spray form and is obtainable only by prescription ”is a little more reassuring because it's less apt to be abused,“ says Dr. William McIlroy, the society's medical adviser. ”The majority of doctors in Canada don't want to be known as the primary source of smoked marijuana.“
In the United States, where MS afflicts 400,000, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society says anecdotal evidence suggests marijuana can help reduce MS-related pain. But it remains difficult to measure relief objectively: Participants in one study realized they were getting a cannabinoid-based treatment instead of a placebo when they developed the dry mouth and lightheadedness familiar to marijuana users.
”So far the studies that have purported to show the benefits of marijuana have not been well-blinded, and so people knew what they were receiving,“ says John Richert, the society's vice president for research. ”That makes it impossible to distinguish whether one is seeing a true effect of the treatment or whether it is a placebo effect.“
As for Sativex, ”there is still no good scientific study that proves its efficacy,“ Richert says.
GW Pharmaceuticals has yet to formally seek approval for Sativex in the United States, though it has ”started the process“ of talking to the Food and Drug Administration, says Rogerson, the GW spokesman. ”No disrespect to the FDA, but we would expect it be a longer process in the States.“
Advocates of medical marijuana claim the U.S. government has made it difficult to do scientific research into the plant's therapeutic effects. Researchers must get federal approval for their studies and must use marijuana from a government farm in Mississippi.
”This is the only drug in America for which the only source for research purposes is the U.S. government, and they have a reputation for producing not very good quality stuff,“ says Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, which advocates more liberal drug policies.
Availability of the Mississippi marijuana used to be limited to those studying the plant's effects on behavior and reasoning. But the government began giving it to other researchers after a federal advisory panel found enough evidence of marijuana's medical benefits to warrant additional study.
”Except for the harm associated with smoking, the adverse effects of marijuana are within the range of effects tolerated for other medicines,“ said a report by the Institute of Medicine.
Thousands of people with MS, cancer, AIDS and other diseases routinely use marijuana in California and the 10 other states with medical marijuana laws. (Florida is not among them.) In June, however, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government still can ban marijuana possession in states that have eliminated penalties for its therapeutic use.
That's unfortunate, says Myrden, who applauds the Canadian government for approving Sativex and allowing sick people to use marijuana in other forms as well.
”I'm really excited this is available,“ she says of Sativex, ”but you have to realize the natural form is just as good if not better."
--Susan Taylor Martin can be contacted at email@example.com
© Copyright 2003 St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved
'When the Hitler Youth was established, my brother was forced to become a member,' Ratzinger said in an interview in 1997. ”I was still too young, but later, when I entered the seminary, I also joined. But as soon as I had left the seminary, I never went to see them again. And this was difficult, because in order to be entitled to get a discount on the tuition fee, which I urgently needed, one had to prove that one was a member of the Hitler Youth.'
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