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December 12, 2006

More Government Medical Practice

As previously noted, the critical foundation of our modern drug war goes back to a pair of 5-4 SCOTUS decisions in 1917 and 1919 which interpreted the 1914 Harrison Act, ostensibly a tax measure, as empowering federal Treasury agents to second guess medical prescriptions for drugs derived from the opium poppy and the coca bush. In 1937, the even more devious Marijuana Tax Act placed an absolute ban on all products of the hemp plant. The CSA of 1970, which is the basis for today’s war on drugs, simply asserted a different basis for what had originally been the very devious usurpation of our original Constitution’s assignment of regulatory power over Medicine to the various states.

It is from that background that one should interpret the latest Congressional tinkering with Medicare, a measure claiming to reward physicians who practice ‘quality’ medicine (as defined by the government) by paying them more than those who do not. The most distressing aspect of the long-winded NYT report on the legislation is that while some of those who opposed the measure cited the obvious danger implicit in medically untrained politicians setting standards for medical practice, there was no recognition that the process had started with our drug laws. It’s also fairly clear that had any of the quoted authorities  recognized the association, they wouldn’t have had the courage to say so.

In the meantime, the most obvious and odious legacy of that long forgotten Harrison Act, the aggressive criminal prosecution of both prescribing physicians and patients in severe pain at both state and federal levels, is still with us.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at December 12, 2006 04:30 PM