Friday, December 16, 2005

Jane Weirick

Jane Weirick was a tireless and dedicated worker for the cause of cannabis reform. She was co-founder of the SF Patients Resource Center at 350 Divisadero, which set a model for MMJ cooperatives in SF after closure of Dennis Peron's club. She went on to found the Hayward Patients' Resource Center, working successfully with local officials to establish one of the first city agreements to permit dispensaries to operate. She was a leading advocate for responsible self-regulation of dispensaries and was known for her devotion to her friends, patients, and customers.

Last December she was stricken with a mysterious, extremely debilitating illness that may have resulted from chemical exposure, according to her Kaiser doctors. Jane was convinced the chemical assault came from Avid, a pesticide that a few growers of "medical" marijuana reportedly spray on their plants to control spider mites. Avid, manufactured by Syngenta (formerly by Novartis), is a so-called "natural" pesticide, extracted from a soil bacterium. It is applied to plants in the flowering stage. It is classified by the industry as "slightly" toxic, but by entomologists as "highly" toxic.

Tod Mikuriya, MD, thinks "presumptive delayed allergic hypersensitivity" is a reasonable diagnosis. Mikuriya has been urging since the mid-1990s that cannabis dispensed for medical purposes be screened for pesticide residue. "Patients with HIV and other illnesses that compromise the immune system are at even greater risk [than Weirick]," he observes.
Counter Punch featured a good article with information on Jane and what may have led up to her passing. If anyone has more detailed information on AVID please weigh in.

To address Mr. Steiner's comment on the "Steiner Strikes Back", I myself was surprised that there was not a post concerning Jane Weirick on our blog page. However, I am not sure if Mr. Steiner is insinuating that Marijuana, and not AVID is responsible for what happened to Jane.

AVID is not a pesticide specifically made for or used on marijuana. This page shows the current EPA approved Crops that Avid should be used on. There is no mention of specific plants that would be grown for consumption. It seems that AVID is meant to be used on Ornamentals, foliage, Christmas trees, and landscapes. Therefore, if AVID is the main cause of Jane's allergic reaction, would she not have had the same reaction if she worked at a farm, greenhouse, or worked specifically with AVID while landscaping her yard? Furthermore, if AVID were used on food products that were regularly incorporated into our diet, would that not cause a similar reaction?

The problem is how unregulated some of this medicine is. If the medical marijuana were to be regulated, AVID would not be used on it because patients prefer and expect organic marijuana. Without having a reliable source of medical marijuana, dispensaries have to obtain medicine through growers who may not have the patient's needs at the top of their list. Making sure they do not lose their grow because of an infestation of spider mites, some growers may use a pesticide and not know its effects on patients. Some growers may just altogether lie about using a pesticide at all.

The medical marijuana and drug law reform movements have lost an amazing and loving person, who dedicated her time and life to helping patients get the medicine they could not get anywhere else. She had compassion for people with illness and disease and understood that while medical marijuana might not work for everyone, it does work for some and she witnessed that.


Kris said...

Perhaps a targeted harm reduction campaign is in order– to provide growers of MMJ with information about AVID, it's dangers, and a list of pest-control alternatives. If nothing else, a public campaign would create an atmosphere of concern to counter the likely image of the RUTHLESS DOPE GROWER that will stop at nothing to take advantage of helpless terminal patients. (Sounds familiar...San Diego, high prices, firearms, etc.)

Death of others is one of the most difficult parts of life. Bless her, her family and friends, and everyone on the planet.

Now that I've said that...I'm not convinced that this episode is exactly as it seems. Certainly I'm not the only person that smells fish here.

Pesticide allergy and bacterial infections have been ongoing, yet occluded components of various DEA campaigns and investigations. (I'm not talking about the Paraquat herbicide scare of the 70's). Not to get spooky on you guys, but reference to chemical and microbial allergy, etc., has reared it's head in various botanical and "narcotic" investigations, both in case discovery and pre-warrant scare tactics. Documentable harm or death caused by a controlled substance can be grounds for significant sentence enhancements. Also, purported harm can be used as a coercive investigative tactic (ie, someoned OD'd, got sick, died, lost an arm to FEB, etc., so roll over or you'll do 25 years).

Not knowing where the suspect MMJ came from, one can only speculate what happened. From my perspective, I do not find it beyond possibility that medical marijuana could be contaminated by entities outside of the network of care providers to achieve a long list of possible objectives.

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The AVID program creates a network of support that has several different components. Each AVID district has a site team which oversees the progress of the program; this team is generally made up of faculty members, administrators, and parents, ti is so important because it is a really good help to the people!!22dd