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October 22, 2005

A Stupid Editorial-- and the Reply Reform Can't Offer

Reform's present disarray  is-- as usual--  expressed by an omission.
Earlier today, Dale Gieringer posted  Debra Saunders' entire column
from the SF Chronicle as further  evidence that a rabid Bush apologist
is undergoing a slow, irregular and highly improbable epiphany on
medical use; but he only tangentially referred to the smug, terribly
uninformed editorial on the opposite page. Within the current context
of law enforcement's vicious campaign against medical use throughout
California, San Francisco's ill-advised restrictions will be a huge
setback to the cause. It's nothing less than the triumphant
culmination of the campaign featuring the "Able Bodied Young Men"
canard which began with the "Oaksterdam" flap of 2004 and has spread
from one community to another throughout the state.

My reply; -- too long for an LTE , but which I soon hope to expand
into an Op-Ed:

What have the Chronicle's editorial writers been smoking?

As a physician who supported Proposition 215 in theory long before
November, 1996, and began interviewing applicants for the required
'recommendations,' at local buyers' clubs 5 years later, I've had a
unique perspective on the law's complex nine year evolution.  The
most important thing I've learned is that nearly everyone involved in
the process remains as confused now as they were then. A closely
related phenomenon is how stubbornly humans tend to cling to
uninformed political beliefs.

Space restrictions  limit me to pointing out a single critical  error
at the beginning of your editorial and then pointing out the
absurdity of the assumptions underpinning the platitudes in its last

Californians didn't vote "in favor of the palliative use of marijuana
as a painkiller" in 1996.  Pot's ability to control nausea in AIDS
and cancer victims was its most cited benefit during the campaign.
Its use as a chronic pain reliever wasn't widely reported until
police throughout the state began arresting disproportionate numbers
of the relatively few people receiving recommendations from the
relatively fewer physicians willing to even talk to them.  That was
the situation I encountered when I began interviewing applicants at a
busy Oakland club in November 2001. Suffice it to say that since
then, it has changed dramatically as fierce law enforcement
opposition has continued unabated, Supreme Courts at both state and
federal levels have muddied the water with cowardly non-decisions,
and the ranks of "pot docs" were augmented by a few very prolific
"scrip docs" who then blanketed the state and thus produced a rapid
rise in the  number of people with recommendations.

What I would gradually discover over ensuing months was that all
parties- including most of the applicants themselves, were-and still
are- confused about who uses pot and why. That's a conclusion which
is inescapable from now-voluminous clinical evidence which no one
with firmly held political beliefs on the subject seems willing to
even look at.

As for the hopeful beliefs expressed in your last paragraph: given
the public record of cruel prosecution of obviously sick people at
the hands of both state and federal systems of "justice" over the
entire history of medical marijuana in California since 1996, how
could you possibly think such an embattled concept "will get a fair
chance to work"  if the City most responsible its very survival past
infancy passes restrictive regulations in response to a fundamentally
dishonest political campaign?

Another (clueless, yet popular) way to ask that question might be:
what have you guys been smoking?

Tom O'Connell MD

Posted by tjeffo at October 22, 2005 04:46 AM