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August 29, 2007

Three Hot Items (Legal, Medical, Political)

The long-overdue resignation of Alberto Gonzales, in conjunction with the framing of a particularly  appropriate question by Maia Szalavitz in today’s Washington Post offers yet another an opportunity to point out just how groundless  and  destructive America’s policy of making “war” on drugs has become without anyone ever seeming to notice. To begin with the role of Attorney General, that post is always filled by a lawyer; yet, as a direct result of two critical misinterpretations of the 1914 Harrison Act by the Holmes Court in 1917 and 1919, the nation's AG has become the official solely responsible for treatment of “addiction,” a condition that has never been considered a disease by Pathologists, the medical specialists most concerned with the detailed study of disease.

It should also be pointed out that although Harrison and the similarly disingenuous Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 were combined into a sweeping  omnibus prohibition law by Nixon’s Justice Department under John Mitchell in 1970, the need for a revision had been triggered by a Constitutional challenge to the MTA from the Leary Case; thus neither law has ever received any scientific validation, even by 1914 standards; let alone  those of 1969. Beyond that, anyone familiar with the roles NIDA, the DEA,  and ONDCP play as in-house drug war lobbyists must also realize that those agencies have never been neutral.

As Maia Szalavitz points out, a “disease model” of addiction isn't required to explain its usual course as an undesirable behavior. Many who have become addicted to various substances  become abstinent on their own; often without any treatment at all. Beyond that, the “disease" label may encourage defeatist thinking and even facilitate relapse in some. In addition, what I've learned from cannabis users is that pot, although not a cure-all, clearly plays a positive role in helping addicts overcome substance dependency, probably because it also treats the same symptoms that led them to experiment with multiple drugs to begin with. The use of pot as a adjunct to treating various addicitions is clearly beyond the scope of current orthodox discussions of addiction, but I predict it will eventually become a standard, especially in the case of alcohol.

My mood was then heightened even more when I clicked on this link in an e-mail and was delivered to a blog suggesting that California’s pot smokers may finally have a way to compel presidential candidates to take an unequivocal public position on their favorite issue.  I would predict that candidates with unfavorable stances on cannabis would struggle in Califronia; in any event, an early primary would be a way for them to receive that message

Could it be that internet is finally ready live up to some of the extravagant promises made on its behalf in the Nineties?

Doctor Tom   

Posted by tjeffo at August 29, 2007 08:47 AM