« What is a Potdoc? | Main | Reform’s Wrong Turn »

March 09, 2007

An Alternative to Dr. Minot’s Evaluation of President Bush

I must say that until I began screening a steady stream of  Californians seeking my approval of their use of cannabis towards the end of 2001, I had accepted the ‘reform’ version of ‘medical’ and ‘recreational’ use as generally accurate: (valid) medical use was either by obviously sick or dying people suffering from a variety of serious conditions; most notably AIDS or cancer,  or for other conditions characterized by severe chronic pain. Included in the mix, were  a variable number other conditions known to be helped by pot: migraine, IBS, glaucoma, and a few others. All other use was, by default, to be considered ‘recreational.’

 I also should note that I’d received access to applicants after agreeing to screen them at what was then the largest cannabis club in the Bay Area. Although open less than a year, it had  become the busiest in California and its owner was intent on complying with the letter of the law by requiring all his customers to produce the required recommendation before they were allowed to buy. As I’ve already written, the mix of applicants was a surprise in that most were younger and less sick than anticipated, but all were chronic users who seemed to share several other characteristics to a surprising degree. Since many had driven a long distance, were obviously expecting a recommendation, and I didn’t have a good basis for telling them why some of their histories impressed me more than others, I decided to go along; at least until I could learn more from/about them.

Almost from the beginning, my curiosity was focused on how their chronic pot use had become established behavior; that led me to ask a lot more searching questions than the other pot docs seen by several who were merely ‘renewing’ with me.

To cut to the chase, the first analysis of results produced by a structured interview confirmed that all applicants were chronic users when first seen and shared certain behavioral patterns and other characteristics to an impressive degree.  The most logical interpretation of those early results was that the key arguments of both sides in the ‘debate’ over medical use were based on myth. Further, while nearly all their drug initiations had taken place in adolescence and tended to be sequential, they had almost certainly not been motivated by youthful hedonism. Further, those drug initiations which had later been followed by chronic use could be seen as attempts at self-medication for the same emotional symptoms so often treated with one of the many psychotropic medications approved by the FDA since the mid Fifties; and often prescribed, at various times for many of the applicants.

Finally, applying what has been learned from applicants to President Bush: although there is less behavioral data in the public record  than is provided by the  structured interview, I have enough to suggest that the President has been suffering from impaired self-esteem from an early age and has compensated for the resultant symptoms of anxiety and dysphoria in a number of ways. Parenthetically, his mild speech impediment and probable dyslexia didn’t help his self-esteem in the critial grade school interval...

He and Bill Clinton were born in 1946, and thus early baby boomers. My applicants’ demographics confirm that the 1946-1955 birth cohort was the first to initiate pot in large numbers, almost inevitably after first trying alcohol and tobacco.  Many also tried  several of the other agents introduced during the Sixties as well as cocaine and heroin. The most obvious feature of Bush’s drug history is his admission that he drank excessively until about forty when, at the behest of his wife, he became abstinent and switched to a more fundamentalist form of Christianity.

I suspect that although he may have taken a hit or two from a cigarette around the same time he tried alcohol, he never became a  chronic cigarette smoker for a significant interval because he was also an avid jogger, even before abstaining from liquor. Daily cigarette smokers rarely run for exercise.

We don’t know for sure if Dubya ever tried cannabis, but I’m reasonably sure it was available to him during his college days, if not before. However, given his family situation, chronic use of pot would have been far less likely than alcohol, which was clearly more favored by circumstances to become his drug of choice. We also know he received a DUI in 1978, and while it’s common for members of his birth cohort who drank heavily to have also tried cocaine, he has famously refused to tell.

Thus my evaluation of Dubya, although based on different criteria than Dr. Minot’s, comes to similar conclusions about his emotional state.  As to possible treatment options for Dubya’s mood disorder, I  believe that if he’d become a pot smoker while still an underage drinker, he probably would have managed his use of alcohol better an had a much different life.

Alternatively, had he switched from booze to pot instead of to Jesus at age forty, we’d all have been better off: not only would he not have been able to run for President in 2000,  he’d probably have become a better adjusted and happier person.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at March 9, 2007 04:01 PM