« Duh; It’s a War on Emotions, Stupid! (Logical, Historical, Personal) | Main | Lies of Omission (Personal, Historical Logical) »

January 28, 2008

A Change in Tone (Personal, Medical Political)

A recent change in the tone of this blog probably calls for an explanation. Although never reluctant to criticize America’s drug war, I’ve become much more direct since publication of what is hoped will be the only the first of several papers enabled by an ongoing study of California pot smokers. A major reason behind that change in tone has been the continuing insistence of reform stalwarts that “valid” medical use is limited to obviously physical indications, as opposed to those generally regarded as “mental” or “emotional.”  Such thinking panders to a bias still pervading popular belief: symptoms of emotional origin, especially when exhibited by men, are politically incorrect.

Once it was understood that Proposition 215 could induce pot users to answer systematic questions about their adolescent drug experiences, there was simply no reason for rejecting such evidence with dead silence, a denial tactic the DEA was employing when the reform movement welcomed me thirteen years ago. As I’ve indicated, that movement is dominated by male pot smokers of the NORML persuasion who've been seeking to legitimize their own use as “recreational”  since 1970, a distinction which— for several reasons— the public continues to have trouble with.

There are several reasons a policy based on so many lies for so many years could become a bit murky, but the issues here aren’t that complicated, especially to anyone who knows the relevant history. Reform’s continued silence following publication of my paper only adds to my certainty they are in denial, long a favorite technic of humans whenever their cherished beliefs are challenged by “inconvenient" truth.

Although the concept wasn't articulated until 1982, we were probably closest to “nuclear winter”  in 1962; while not completely eliminated by the collapse of the Soviet Union, it seems to have been replaced as the major threat to survival by rapid climate change, from uncontrolled CO2 emissions.

My last entry claimed the drug war has denigrated the validity of human emotions, a view I’d come to only recently. What encouraged me to articulate it publicly was Jerome Groopman’s book review in today’s New York Times. I’d first mentioned Groopman, Harvard Professor of Medicne and media darling, back in April when I took issue with his less than rational analysis of Bipolar Disorder in the New Yorker. Now he’s being less than candid about issues raised by an
articulate non-medical Harvard colleague in her book on emotions and medical practice.

To cut to the chase, what exposes Groopman’s bias is his failure to even mention the endocannabinoid system, first recognized over 15 years ago, and now being investigated by Big Pharma in its search for a monomolecular agent with enough moral authority to placate the FDA. Groopmans’s neglect of endocannabinoids is made even more obvious by his references to the history and pathophysiology of stress as articulated by Cannon and Selye. In that respect, his ultimate cop out; the implication that emotions are simply not precise enough for serious (male) scientists like himself, seems especially lame.

The (unasked) question becomes: if chronic emotional stress can ultimately damage the brain, heart and kidneys enough to kill us, why not treat it with the most effective agent available? The collateral question becomes how can either the government or the nation's most responsible intitutions
justify their support of sucn a disingenuous policy as cannabis prohibition?

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at January 28, 2008 12:42 AM