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December 24, 2006

Connecting Dots

An article in the  January 2007 Scientific American magazine outlines some basic phenomena concernng recently descrbed mechanisms which should eventually explain some of the clinical observations I've been recording in my interviews with cannabis applicants over the past five years. As I've been emphasizing in this blog, this has been basic one-on-one clinical research of the type that the drug war had rendered nearly impossible before Proposition 215 induced a large population of self-medicating Californians to share their experiences with me by appling for the required physician's 'recommendation' they need to use pot. The deal has been that they had to answer a series of intrusive questions about their lifetime use of several drugs, their family relationships, and their school experiences as part of the application process.

Among the many things I've learned from systematically questioning them was that although essentially all had exhibited certain key behavioral patterns, there were a number of unexplained, yet consistent, variations in HOW those patterns had been exhibited; for example in the amounts they consumed each week, and in the daily schedules employed in that consumption. There were also obvious differences in the way cannabis affected them, as well as in some of the side effects they experienced. Among the most striking were the highly variable rates at which different racial groups had ever tried ('initiated') a standard menu of illegal psychedelics and 3 other agents: cocaine, meth and heroin.

To return to the Sci-Am article; it provides the background necessary for understanding certain related concepts which are now sweeping the suddenly-connected worlds of Genetic and Pharmaceutical research, personalized or genomic medicine to be specific.' One  surprise was discovering the rate at which such research is progressing, and my disappointment was in the (predictable) collateral discovery that no one seems to yet have thought of cannabis.

Then I quickly realized why not: it's just like other facets of cannabis research: that done by 'behavioral scientists' is aimed at validating the guilt-by-association postulates of the drug war, while that motivated by the commercial possibilities of the recently discovered endocannabinoid system has Big Pharma focused on studying the psychodynamic effects of synthetic agonists in rodents.

And if that twain have yet to meet, it's not likely those on the frontiers of 'genomic medicine' will foucus on cannabis anytime soon...

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at December 24, 2006 08:05 PM