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November 18, 2005

More Dots

When I first tumbled to the fact that passage of California's 1996 medical marijuana initiative had provided a serendipitous opportunity for a clinical study of chronic pot use, I was actually embarrassed that it had taken me so long to come to that realization (it was then about mid-March 2002, and I'd been seeing twenty or thirty applicants each  week from mid-November of 2001).
What has since become more than a bit frustrating have been my vain attempts to get self-proclaimed drug policy 'reformers' to  even recognize that such an opportunity exists- along with the stubborn quality of their denial. In fact; my need to understand that denial became a major preoccupation for the simple reason that as the scope of the study has grown, the effort required to complete it has expanded to a point where it now exceeds the resources, time, and technical expertise one individual can bring to bear. Thus, without some key help, further data acquisition may have to either be stopped or severely curtailed.

A limited evaluation of what's already been learned from standardized interviews of cannabis users suggests very strongly that an accurate and unbiased clinical analysis of the appeal cannabis has for humans may well offer the single most effective route to understanding both our urge to use all psychotropic agents and the parallel urge governments have to 'control' such use.

 A long article in today's New York Times on the increasingly sophisticated and aggressive polypharmacy being practiced by a set of educated, computer literate twenty-somethings is both timely and helpful in making my point: the mix of symptoms they are addressing is almost identical to those treated (often unwittingly ) by the pot smokers I have been interviewing. Beyond that, the medications are the same mood stabilizers and psychotropic agents many of my candidates have already had prescribed for them; not surprisingly, many are increasingly being directly advertised to the public  in Big Pharma's "ask your doctor" TV ads.

Although the full text of the Times article may require a (free) sign-up for those not already registered, the effort is worth while. I plan refer to this article in future posts aimed at 'connecting the dots' as promised on November 7.

Dr. Tom O'Connell

Posted by tjeffo at November 18, 2005 09:47 AM