« Pot Docs | Main | Treatment of Anxiety; an historical perspective »

November 07, 2006

More Politics...and a Prediction

Given San Diego's notorious anti-pot sentiment, I wouldn't have anticipated the generally even handed treatment Proposition 215 received in Jeff McDonald’s Union-Tribune article marking the initiative's tenth anniversary. In fact, his treatment of known facts is so even handed that the only major objection I had was the following:

“Unscrupulous and profit-minded dispensary operators have taken advantage of the absence of uniform rules, opening storefronts anywhere they can and selling marijuana to unqualified patients.”

Granted, some operators have been overcharging, but the main reason for the absence of "uniform rules” has been the political failure of government at all levels to come up with enabling legislation of the type usually written after initiatives pass unexpectedly.  That said, the absence of rules has also been a boon to medical users, for a series of complicated reasons. One is the hostility to any medical use whatsoever usually exhibited by the same minions of law enforcement, who get to enforce most of society's rules. How else does one explain the visit from ‘drug agents’ to uproot three pot plants being grown by a man in severe chronic pain and confined to a wheelchair? Were they protecting ‘kids’ against pot by ‘sending them a message?’ If so, what was their message?

What one gleans from McDonald’s article is that the attempted invasion by police and prosecutors into the physician-patient relationship began as a ploy by the notoriously pot-hostile Dan Lungren, who was State AG when 215 passed. It was fortunately thwarted by a little known victory; a state appellate court rebuffed a subpoena from the Medical Board of California based on a complaint from a park ranger who disagreed with a pot doc's medical judgment. Sadly, it’s also clear from this article, as well a from what's usually written about 215,  that the default is still to see 215 as a (reasonable) excuse for ‘sick’ people to do something that should normally (pun intended) be illegal; even though no coherent definition of ‘sick’ has ever been offered by any of the intereted parties.

The present stance of local law enforcement: admitting to some benefits of pot for very ill and dying patients; then arguing vigorously against business licenses for any distribution facilities whatsoever, has been justified by allegations that the younger patrons of existing clubs (ABYM) are all ‘cheating’ the system. Sadly, that position has been tacitly endorsed by medically ignorant reformers on the basis of their own personal beliefs and in the face of evidence they refuse to consider: most of those youthful users either have already received, or could easily qualify for, a prescription for one or more of the many psychotropic agents now being loosely prescribed by psychiatrists, internists, and GPs who demonstrably know even less about pot than I did before I began asking searching questions of applicants and compiling their answers in a database.

What Does the Future Hold?

The initiative is safe from repudiation in court and California’s adolescents will continue to have access to illegal pot. After an unknown (but larger than realized) fraction of them eventually become chronic users, it will behoove them to obtain ‘recommendations’ as protection against arrest for amounts of up to an ounce and to justify small personal gardens in compliance with local rules. Distribution will have been pushed back out on the street in all but the few communities which have agreed to license distribution facilities. It appears that the present level of guerrilla warfare could continue for another decade until (or unless) enough Americans wake up to the reality of drug war hypocrisy. One thing that could help is the arrival of the first large bolus baby boomers at medicare-eligible age in about five years. If that doesn't do it, then the huge number of users that eventually follow them into retirement certainly should.

However, for the foreseeable future, the development of a viable exit strategy from Iraq seems much more likely than coming up with one from the drug war; simply because the longer one has been committed to a folly, the more dificult it is to admit.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at November 7, 2006 03:14 AM