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November 06, 2006

Pot Docs

I began blogging after realizing it was a way to gradually post  a coherent public explanation of my study of pot smokers away from the (mostly unspoken) disapproval it had been greeted with by the drug policy discussion groups I was naively attempting to 'educate.' In other words, when I finally realized that my reform colleagues are just as attached to their personal beliefs about recreational and medical use as the drug czar is to his claim that all use is 'wrong' under any circumstances.  

The corollary is that very few professional reformers were going to agree with me for quite a while because although federal dogma is far more clueless than theirs, both positions are being sustained by a level of ignorance comparable to the one that allowed Harry Anslinger total authority over drug dogma in the pre-hippie era. The rapid growth of both the pot market and the drug war since then required drastic changes in how the requisite level of ignorance was sustained because one man's sweeping assertions were no longer enough.Thus starting in 1973, aggressive DEA dogma was gradually fused with NIDA control of 'science' (1975) and the doctrinal support of all other federal agencies (the odd secret CIA caper notwithstanding) under the watchful eye of a drug czar; traditionally a non-physician since Reagan I and a cabinet level appointee since Bush 1.

That evolutionary changes must have also taken place in both the illegal American pot market after 1967 and California's gray 'medical' market after 1997 would seem a no-brainer; yet, as noted yesterday, ONDCP and reform are still arguing about the same  issues; the biggest of which is pot use by adolescents.

Facts that should dominate that discussion: nearly simultaneous initiations of alcohol, tobacco and pot quickly became adolescent rites of passage  after the mid-Sixties,  and an illegal pot market has been a fixture in American High Schools since the mid-Seventies, are clearly either  unknown to, or being denied by, both sides; yet they have been the most easily demonstrable findings to emerge from my study. That they could have been confirmed by any other pot docs willing to share demographic data is also obvious; all of which requires some references to the 'pot doc' phenomenon that has also been evolving for the past ten years.

Because I am trying to keep complexity and controversy to a minimum, I will end this by simply citing examples of three current  physician attitudes toward pot for the moment. The first, and by far the most common,  from media doctor Sanjay Gupta, is a disappointing expression of authoritarian drug war propaganda. Gupta, an apparently well-trained neurosurgeon, makes a lot of sense when discussing other medical issues; yet his recent screed in Time is woefully uninformed and leans heavily on NIDA assumptions.

Mollie Fry, on the other hand, was 'guilty' of a different naive assumption; the same one that tripped up several of the earliest physician advocates of medical use: namely that a 'law' passed by 56 % of the voters would protect them from a dishonest and malevolent state bureaucracy determined to frustrate that law. Although I have never taken her history, she falls within the same demographic as most chronic users.

Finally, there is Doctor Eisenberg, whose 'practice' was  recently chronicled in a recent hit piece *that left out the some of the most important aspects of the story; first, that  so many young people are willing to pony up his fee because their use of pot is apparently so important to them, and second, that similar commercialization their signatures by other physicians during the First World War was precisely what induced the Holmes Brandeis Court to foolishly transfer total authority over some drugs to a medically untrained federal  bureaucracy.
That the same policy still depends on unsubstantiated 100 year old beliefs about 'addiction' may be the greatest lunacy of all...

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at November 6, 2006 05:08 AM