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July 11, 2007

An Unexpected Ally?

Doctor Richard Carmona had already enjoyed an improbably successful career; even before being nominated by President Bush as the 17th Surgeon General of the US. After dropping out of a New York City high school in 1967, the son of a poor Puerto Rican immigrant family had enlisted in the US Army and served as a combat medic in Viet Nam. He then went on to earn an AA from a community college in New York and an RN from the University of California at San Francisco. Not stopping there, he was accepted by the UCSF Medical school, where he graduated at the top of his class and then trained in General Surgery. Eventually becoming an academic trauma surgeon at the University of Arizona, he’d earned a masters degree in Public Health later in his career.

I remember being duly impressed after reading that resume when he was nominated; but I quickly realized that the anti-smoking Bush appointee, was very unlikely ever to advocate the medical use of cannabis.

Now I’m not so sure;  yesterday in widely broadcast Congressional testimony, Carmona explained why Bush Administration attitudes toward science had forced his resignation after a comparatively short tenure:  "The problem with this approach is that in public health, as in a democracy, there is nothing worse than ignoring science, or marginalizing the voice of science for reasons driven by changing political winds. The job of surgeon general is to be the doctor of the nation, not the doctor of a political party."

On can hope that he really believes those stirring words and, unlike either ONDCP or the Drug Policy Reform movement, might be able to open his eyes widely enough to see beyond the long-accepted political dogma that has obscured the truth about cannabis for at least the four decades since his idealistic enlistment in the service of his country and Medicine  at the age of 17 (and long before that).

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at July 11, 2007 05:13 PM