February 29, 2008
Well Said... (Political, Logical)
One of the wonders of the modern age is the degree to which communication has been enhanced by technology; that can be true even when incarceration complicates matters. I’d read about this remarkably articulate condemnation of the drug war in fragmentary reports from the meeting at which it was delivered, but didn’t get its full impact until I was finally able to read it. What also impresses me is that I had been given the speaker’s name and affiliation by Dustin during a phone call from his Texas prison. To my great chagrin, I trashed both before I could Google them.
But all was not lost; I e-mailed the person who had sent him the text of the speech and soon had the URL.
It’s a pleasure to read such a forthright assessment; perhaps there’s hope for our species after all.
Hear no Evil; See no Evil... (Logical, Historical)
My study of cannabis use was funded by fees from the applicants themselves, plus a relatively small private donation; most medical research is far more expensive and requires funding from either government, commercial interests such Big Pharma, private foundations, or academic institutions. Beyond that, human studies involving (arbitrarily designated) “drugs of abuse” are subject to further limitations as recently spelled out in a formal NIH publication.
The lists of old and new rules make interesting reading, if for no other reason than they so conclusively demonstrate the absurdly unscientific nature of American drug policy. For example, newly added Provision 2), forbidding use of federal funds to disseminate “False or Deliberately Misleading Scientific Information.” Shouldn’t that also apply to NIDA? Also, how does one differentiate “deliberate” error from an honest mistake?
As it was, the earlier strictures against lobbying (2), and (7), “Limitation on Use of Funds for Promotion of Legalization of Controlled Substances” were already as conclusive evidence as one could wish that our policy was unabashedly unscientific. Given the evolution of these rules over the past four decades, the degree to which they are now meekly accepted by both our “Scientific” Institutions and also (to some extent) “reform” organizations, is there any realistic prospect of a policy change in the near future?
I’m now of the opinion it will take a major shock to American public awareness before the drug war is subject to any serious review. That doesn’t mean it should be meekly accepted; only that we probably shouldn’t become too optimistic that “change” is just around the corner.
February 28, 2008
Time Out for Yellowstone (Historical)
On March First 1872, President U.S. Grant signed a bill setting aside an area of nearly 3500 square miles in the Northwest corner of Wyoming, with small extensions into Montana and Idaho, as America’s first national park. The area was so remote it had been bypassed by Lewis and Clark, and when one of the Expedition’s veterans explored it later, his descriptions of its unique geothermal features had been greeted with such skepticism they were not confirmed for decades. Since the 1872 bill had not provided any money to pay its first superintendent, the newly created park was neglected by the federal government and exploited by poachers and vandals for decades until formation of the National Park Service in 1917. Even then, it had to survive further bureaucratic neglect. In a sense, it was more protected by its remote location than by the law, but after it finally began attracting hordes of visitors following World War Two, Yellowstone's public ownership was what preserved it for modern study of what is undoubtedly its most important feature: as one of the planet’s few supervolcanoes, it provides an invaluable window for study of the critical relationship between volcanism and climate change.
One may reasonably ask why a blog focused on a neglected study of marijuana users seeking to justify their use as “medical” would take notice of Yellowstone’s anniversary. For me, the parallels are simply too striking to ignore: in each instance, a bureaucratic decision made in relative ignorance created the possibility for future study of a phenomenon that was literally undreamed of by those making the decision. In both cases, the unsuspected activity had continued for decades before either it or its its significance were recognized. Finally; each, in their own way, represent fundamental threats to human human existence that, although perhaps uavoidable in the long run, we are at least obligated to study.
February 27, 2008
America’s Tax Dollars at Work; Report from Yolo County, California 2008
This is being written on a Tuesday, which is already unusual because Tuesday is normally a clinic day. The reason it isn’t is that I’d been ordered, to be in court at 9AM yesterday in Woodland, a town of about 50,000 just outside Sacramento and roughly 120 miles from where I live. I’ll spare the tedious details except that I was subpoened months ago to appear as a persipient (factual) witness in a four year old case. I’d objected strenuously on the grounds that the only information I could supply as a persipient witness was already a matter of record. I then (unwisely) ignored a subpoena and was promptly served with a “show cause” letter that was softened considerably by an offer let me off the hook for Contempt and to pay me as an expert if I would just agree to show up. Reasoning that I might have a chance to do some good by explaining Prop 215 to the Court, I agreed to appear and thus found myself outside the metal detector protecting a picturesque mid-Twentieth Century Court House from terrorism at precisely 8:55 AM yesterday.
In a scene reminiscent of both airport security since 9/11 and my own trips to Fresno during Dustin Costa’s federal trial and sentencing in late ‘06 and early ‘07, a squad of burly uniformed deputies was busy screening the people trying to get into court. It was very busy, but inside, there were little movement, no signs, and little help. I finally located the correct courtroom and was told that the judge had come down with pneumonia, so the trial was being postponed. From then on, it took about thirty minutes for relatively informal proceedings to schedule a trial setting conference for March 4th (I won’t have to attend), so that negotiations can begin about when the half finished trial can be completed. At issue for my one-time patient who had received my recommednation to continue smoking cannabis back in January of 2004, and then been arrested for growing pot in June of that year was his freedom, but beyond that, I still learned almost nothing.
The lawyer (public defender) who had been my intermediary with the now-sick judge was friendly. She told me they were seeing quite a few such cases and they are costing the county a lot of money, but no one seems to understand them very well. On that we can certainly agree...
February 22, 2008
Pot’s Delayed Popularity Part 2 (Historical, Logical, Scientific)
Part 1 of this entry dealt with the fact that cannabis, in its inhaled form, wasn’t experienced by large numbers of young Americans until the mid Sixties, an historical event that marked the first stirrings of today’s huge illegal market and pushed Richard Nixon, the clever, insecure and and famously paranoid Thirty-Seventh US President, into declaring “war” on drugs as a way to both punish his perceived political enemies and give his administration the police powers it coveted.
Although far more advanced by the Sixties compared to 1937 when the MTA was drafted by Anslinger, Pharmacology was still quite primitive in terms of what is known today. Also, John Mitchell’s rewrite of the MTA as the CSA doesn’t seem to have involved any “research” beyond what Anslinger relied on. Finally; although specific knowledge of human responses to designated “drugs of abuse” has always been their blind spot, NIDA-sponsored drug studies are, nevertheless, among the most sophistcated being done. There are two general reasons for that apparent contradiction: one is that NIDA has control over all research involving “drugs of abuse” and is thus positioned to automatically block any in which the study design might challenge drug war dogma.
Tending to balance that restrictive power and cast the agency in a more enlightened role as a promoter of science: the initial funding of cutting edge techniques in many disciplines has become a federal function by default; at least until potential commercial applications and economies of scale entice industry to take them up. Such was the case with the in-vivo microdialysis techniques that have become both routine and a mainstay of animal studies in both neuroscience and neuropharmacology: in return for NIDA funding, individual researchers often allowed NIDA spokespersons considerable latitude in spinning their results.
Beyond that, the fact that emphasis on such techniques has focused both psychiatric and pharmacologic research on species other than humans has tended to keep studies of human behavior severely resticted. In addition, discouraging clinicians from discussing drug use with patients denigrated as “addicts,” or “criminals” has been effective since the Twenties; further stigmatizing clinical research as “anecdotal” (and therefore unscientific) was enough to dissuade physicians from undertaking them, at least until Proposition 215 made my own ad-hoc effort possible.
Finally; in the Anslinger era, his effort to block tenure for Alfred Lindesmith for daring to ask questions about policy didn’t excite much interest from academia; achieveing a similar effect in today’s more complex environment requires (far) more expensive methods. Hence (more or less) coordinated federal propaganda in support of the drug war that extends to all agencies under the nominal control of a drug czar. As for the scientific quality of that control, I can only offer the names of the last four czars in rebuttal: William Bennett, Lee Brown, Barry McCaffrey, and John Walters,
February 21, 2008
Pot's Delayed Popularity, Part 1 (Historical)
For a long time after the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 (MTA) had changed its name from "reefer" to "marihuana" and made it illegal, the product now known as “pot,” “dope, ” or “grass” generated surprisingly little interest from the American public. Although destined to become the single most popular illegal drug ever, it would be another thirty years before that even began to happen. By then, the United States had emerged from the Great Depression, fought in World War Two and Korea, built Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway system, experienced of JFK’s assassination, passed the Civil Rights Act, and started implementing LBJ’s Great Society. It was only about then that the early stirrings of today’s giant marijuana market were first noticed; and that only happened after hundreds of thousands (soon milliions), of Baby boomers had inhaled enough to get “high.”
Ironically, the age at which the first Boomers were discovering pot, places them in exactly the same demographic the MTA’s sponsors had warned about in 1937. However, rather than murder and mayhem, young hippies in the early Seventies quickly became known for the munchies and unfocused conversation that were quickly and devastatingly parodied by Cheech and Chong.
More seriously from the standpoint of Public Policy: although the phenomenon of pot’s delayed youth market didn’t elicit any curiosity from the Behavioral Scientists of the day, they quickly hypothesised a “gateway effect” on the basis of limited studies of its first initiates and then spent the next twenty five years vainly attempting to confirm it.
In retrospect, and in the light of abundant demographic and other data, the non-existent intellectual bases upon which both Anslinger’s and Nixon’s “marijuana” policies were justified were clearly without merit and their quick acceptance by the medical establishments of their day was disgraceful. That’s particularly true of the Nixon era in the early Seventies; before either NIDA or the DEA were created. By some curious coincidence, the first directors of both agencies have since built a hugely successful business for the merchandising of drug testing protocols.
Part 2 will point out some other glaring drug war realities that have mysteriously escaped notice: not only from politicians, but from “experts” on both sides of the issue; also the media and academics.
February 17, 2008
Better Late than Never (Political)
The position just adopted by the American College of Physicians calling for less opposition to the medical use of cannabis and more studies of its potential benefits, although predictably timid and long overdue, was nevertheless a big surprise to this observer because it comes at a time when the the unholy alliance that has developed between feds and local cops since the 2005 Raich decison was exerting maximum pressure on retail distribution facilities.
Perhaps the most reasonable interpretation is that when it comes to medical pot, nothing is quite as it seems and the developments taking place offstage have become more important than ever. The big question is why a normally cautious representative of the Medical Establishment would take a position backers of federal drug policy will be sure to find very troublesome and are increasingly unequipped to deal with.
It’s also interesting that the harm reduction wing of reform has been quick to hail the announcement as a victory, well in advance of knowing just what new clinical evidence and/or political considerations might have been responsible.
February 16, 2008
The Amygdala, Guilt by Association, the War on Drugs, and the Presidency (Personal, Historical)
My first encounter with the amygdala was when we studied Neuroanatomy as first year medical students. Far less was known then about its function than is now readily available on the internet. ironically, that first encounter took place during the Army-McCarthy hearings, a televised Senate investigation in which “guilt by association” figured prominently. At the time, amygdala was simply an exotic word for part of the brain; little did I realize it would eventually designate an entity that would also be discredited by the same tactic, employed not only by an alcoholic US Senator promulgating his personal brand of anti-communism, but also as a hard-drinking President’s personal aversive reaction to a newly emergent counterculture.
McCarthyism was spiked by the exposure that attended those Senate hearings in 1954. Although Nixon's political fate was eventually sealed by the remarkably similar political theater of Watergate twenty years later, the drug war had already been institutionalized by amazingly uncritical legislation (the CSA of 1970) and bolstered further by the federal police and scientific agencies (the DEA and NIDA), created during the caretaker interregnum of Gerald Ford between Nixon's departure in 1974 and the election of populist newcomer Jimmy Carter in 1976.
As recognition of the amygdala’s role in the generation of human emotions and the storage of our emotional memories has gradually become greater and more widespread, so has use of (increasingly) weighted terms like “dopamine reward,” and ” hedonic tone.” The amygdala and mesolimbic system it is part of are now densely associated with the pejorative concept of “drugs of abuse.”
My quick googling this morning turned up ample evidence that, despite the virtual absence of any human studies of cannabis (blocked by NIDA and the DEA), most NIDA favored investigators see studying the amygdala as key to preventing “drug abuse” and “addiction,” while others aware that cannabinoids are known to modulate several of the amygdala’s very diverse functions, urge that they be studied for their potential therapeutic benefits. Still others are have taken a more focused look at how the emotions it mediates can lead to chronic hypertension and associated structural lesions.
Most evident to me from today's Google exercise and my own study of pot use is the noxious influence a blatantly moralistic drug policy has had on what purports to be scientific thought. Perhaps that concern can best be illustrated by a simple analogy: even competent explorers will be misled if limited by their sponsors to an outdated map with erroneous origins.
The drug war’s damage to society is further compounded by the media’s refusal to exercise the oversight it claims to be an essential function of any democracy. A question I’ve already asked several times since the Presidential campaign season started is, why have no candidates been asked searching questions about drug policy or marijuana prohibition?
Maybe Obama is a stealth candidate with a secret legalization agenda; if so, I certainly don’t want to jinx him at this early stage. On the other hand, it’s more likely he’s been mute for the same reasons as the others.
But we can always hope...
February 14, 2008
Generational Issues (Historical)
2008 promises to be an unusual election year; November will mark the twelfth anniversary of California’s 1996 medical marijuana initiative and may be the most important one yet. I’ve recently become a much harsher critics of the drug war, a transition that didn’t start until I began taking histories from California pot applicants in November 2001.
Before that, my rhetoric had been similar to that of other full time activists. I now realize that’s because I was one of the few pot docs able to remember the Forties, I had thus been naive enough to see the required screening of applicants as a chance to study pot smoking as a behavior and also soon discovered that, far from harmful (sinful/illegal) behavior, as the feds have always insisted, it’s a safe and helpful form of psychotropic self-medication that's long been competing successfully with alcohol, tobacco and the various psychotropic pharmaceuticals introduced since the Sixties. In fact, most users who discovered its more politically correct physical benefits had done so precisely because they were already using it for emotional symptoms.
In that respect, the discovery was similar to many others in science, in which new data challenges “conventional wisdom.” The main difference with respect to pot was that the conventional wisdom had been a lie enforced by fear of harsh punishments demanded from our highest levels of government since 1937; certainly not circumstances inspiring confidence in American Democracy.
In retrospect, the drug policy that began under the Harrrison Act of 1914; although quite dishonest in its origins and protected against scrutiny for decades, had exerted comparatively little impact before a "drug war" became policy; mostly because the illegal markets it enabled before the Sixties remained comparatively small until the profound economic, technologic, and political changes that followed World war Two.
Also in retrospect, the drug war declared by Richard Nixon in 1969 had also been delayed until new psychotropic agents appeared after the war and the Baby Boomers conceived in the wake of VJ Day were old enough to become the explosive Counterculture that scared a Silent Majority into electing Richard Nixon in 1968.
That Counterculture's drugs of choice, pot and psychedelics, became prime targets of the early drug war and suppression of the illegal pot market, which gradually became the Developed World’s most successful, also began generating the most felony arrests.
Finally; one of the more intriguing aspects of this year’s Presidential election is that it's now a three way race between a Nixon contemporary who thinks we should have won in Viet Nam, a prototypical Baby Boomer who opposed that war, and a (genuine) African-American who may become the first post-Boomer in the Oval Office because he was one of the few Senators to vote against a war in Iraq.
Typically, not one candidate has had to say anything substantive about the drug war because, tragically, they haven't been asked about it.
February 10, 2008
The Schizophrenia of Cannabinoid Research
A major problem confronting anyone seeking to “reform” American drug policy is that both its basis and core views have been so thoroughly mistaken for so long and its authoritarian enforcement has allowed much of its true history to be either entirely forgotten or blatantly misrepresented. A good example is the degree to which I encounter amazing ignorance among younger pot smokers: almost to a person, they are surprised to learn that high school students in the Forties and Fifties would have found pot nearly impossible to obtain; had it even occured to them to look for it.
Another facet of that ignorance is the situation that now exists with respect to marijuana research: the NIDA approved studies by Behavioral Scientists involving any “drug of abuse” are seriously hampered by their obligatory design limitations, the drug’s illegaliity, and the fact that all use is a crime. For those reasons, most such studies have been school surveys based on MTF surveys and inevitably assume that all juvenile use has pejorative consequences.
Animal studies of cannabinoid agonists, on the other hand, are now of great interest to pharmaceutical companies seeking a moral molecule that will retain the therapeutic benefits of “crude” cannabinoids without their “undesirable” cognitive effects. Do they not realize that it was precisely those cognitive effects that’s made pot so popular with many who tried it in their teens and have continued to use it in therapeutic patterns for decades? Or do they know that and just pretend not to?
Who knows who to believe?
More on Bias (Scientific, Logical, Historical)
The last entry called attention to the role of bias in human decisions and ended by suggesting that the conflict between our prejudices and our cognitive function has deep evolutionary and anatomic roots. I also inferred that those conclusions were only two of the many unexpected insights resulting from clinical research enabled by the unexpected passage of Proposition 215 in 1996. By requiring applicants seeking a “medical” designation to see a physician, the new law had opened the door to what eventually became a unique inductive (bottom up) look at America’s now-huge illegal market for cannabis, one that didn’t begin expanding to its present size until millions of Baby Boomers discovered the anxiolytic properties of inhaled pot in the late Sixties and beyond.
In terms of “bias” denoting an intrinsic preference for a particular belief, we can infer that the earliest pioneers in Science, by choosing to challenge the conventional wisdom of their day, were the first to demonstrate the benefits that can accrue from questioning the bias implicit in traditional beliefs. They were all intelligent mavericks who had clearly been inspired to seek answers to questions no one else had considered asking. In one of several coincidences that have turned this project into a personal obsession, the Science Channel just aired a documentary on four iconic Physicists: Galileo, Newton, Einstein, and Hawking. What they all possessed in abundance was intelligence, mathematical precocity, the ability to immerse themselves in certain concepts for years, and a rare willingness to challenge the conventional wisdom of their day. Also of great interest to me were comments to the the effect that they’d all exhibited a quirkiness that set them apart from contemporaries and might easily have made them candidates for psychotropic medication in the modern United States.
All had (obviously) survived long enough to formally publish on their obsessions; in terms of that survival, what is known about Stephen Hawking and his ALS makes it clear that without several medical developments, unknown when it was first diagnosed in 1962, his survival beyond a few years wouldn’t have been possible.. As it is, his attainment of 66 years is a tribute to both modern science and the power of devotion.
To return to the Science Channel program; its (understandable) focus on physicists left Darwin out; however, his intuition of Evolution was clearly of similar significance and the segue from Physics to Life Sciences allows me to observe that the reduction of bias in Biology, although just as important as in Physics, is typically more difficult; either because the self-appointed guardians of conventional wisdom are slower to spot trends in the “harder” sciences or tend to monitor “soft” ones more militantly. As I’ve also pointed out in a number of ways, tacit acceptance of US drug policy by Medicine and the Behavioral Sciences is a major reason it has remained ascendant for so long. The obvious question then becomes: what does it take to “reform” the bias now preventing a more balanced understanding of “medical” marijuana by both our policy’s critics and its supporters?
Everyone seems to be looking to the new field of Neuroscience for answers to man’s behavioral problems. The problem is that it's far from a single entity and just below its (apparent) surface conformity with drug policy, lurks a deep abyss which is either unrecognized or, more likely, simply not discussed.
February 07, 2008
Is (Human) Cognitive Dissonance Explained by (Human) Emotions?
We have enjoyed our spectacular success as a species through the cognitive power of our highly evolved brains, organs far more complex in their multiple functions than our livers and even more sensitive to nutritional interruption than our hearts. Because our brains are also our organs of cognition, it’s easy to forget their intrinsically physical nature as we use them to argue about what ideas should shape the policies governing our increasingly complex and densely populated world.
Over the last five centuries or so, the emergence of Science as a discrete— yet difficult-to-define— way of thinking about the environment has had several critical effects on human existence; effects that seem to have been as overlooked as the brain’s complexity and the fact that cognition is only one of its several functions. Another way to think about human cognition is to realize that the “artificial” intelligence of our computers can, at best, only imitate those ephemeral entities known as “emotions;” yet those same entities also have a visceral basis and have been shaped by Evolution. They also exert profound, influences on both our individual and group behavior.
With hindsight, it’s also clear that it took the sequential contributions of many individuals, of whom Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, and Gutenberg were but a few, to launch what (only later) has become Western “Science” and now dominates how certain types of “truth” are recognized. To put it as succinctly as possible, there has never been much question that Science and Religion are very different ways of thinking; what has always been at issue is how each should be defined; and by which bureaucratic agencies.
What our history also teaches us is that the more we have understood “nature’s” complexities, the more the human population has grown and the more contentious have become disagreements between the bureaucracies (nations) claiming hegemony over different parts of the planet. As modern transportation and communication have been literally shrinking its dimensions, so have our increased numbers and technologic prowess made all forms of competition for its resources more likely, more dangerous, and more difficult to resolve.
That we would, at the same time, still be clinging to an ineffective global drug policy, one that also denigrates the importance of human emotions, seems the height of folly; yet a cursory look at America’s Presidential selection process confirms that both the media and the candidates expect the usual disinterest and the public has no apparent objections.
My conversations with pot users finally led me to two separate realizations: the first, and most obvious, was the impact our emotions have always had on our cognition. Continued thinking about rejection of that concept by people with good reasons to have been more interested also suggests that our human emotional-versus-cognitive conflict is both archetypal and a major source of bias. Also, that it probably results from the continued interaction of two brain functions that have been evolving somewhat asynchronously, and in different anatomical locations. Finally; that the conflict has been misinterpreted precisely because the older moral (emotional, religious) bias of human society has (thus far) managed to retain its historical dominance over our more recently evolved cognitive prowess.
Our future as a species may now depend on how that conflict is ultimately resolved...and how quickly.
February 03, 2008
Science, Population, and Rhetoric (Logical, Historical)
That Science has become a cornucopia of wealth producing “miracles” is hardly news; but so great has been the speed with which humans have adapted, and so profoundly has uncritical incorporation of scientific technology affected life on our planet, we are only now (and very reluctantly) coming to grips with the possibility that in just the past two hundred years, the Industrial Revolution may have become a threat to our survival. Even more shocking is the realization that any realistic appreciation of today's threats was still well below the horizon in 1945, as we struggled to emerge from the double catastrophe of two World Wars within a mere three-decade interval.
Until the UN was chartered in 1945, neither the “modern," nor the “ancient” world had ever enjoyed a prolonged era of peace and prosperity.
Although the subsequent six decades have produced unparalleled prosperity for some, whatever “peace” humans have enjoyed has come at great (and delayed) cost. Not only did we have to survive the Cold War threat of nuclear destruction, we are now confronting the bitter resentments of huge populations with increasing access to modern communications and (an understandable) belief they’re still being exploited: first by Western imperialism and later by being asked to forego the (delayed) benefits of their own industrialization.
It’s only 210 years since Thomas Malthus (anonymously) published the first version of a that’s come to symbolize debate over the optimal size of the human population. Reading just some of what’s been written on the subject quickly discloses two surprises: Malthus wasn’t the first to raise those concerns and he was later forced to admit in subsequent editions, that his predecessors had already given the issue much more thought than he’d realized.
Indeed, the population “debate” now seems more a game of (reluctant) “catch up” since before Malthus, one that may now have become part of a greatly accelerated cycle in which the wealth produced by excess populations blinds those exploiting them to the potential dangers of such exploitation. Indeed; so avidly have the notions of wealth and private property been embraced by modern Capitalism, Religion and Economics are now as openly conflated in defense of US economic policy as they were by the Conquistadors, slave traders and sundry other adventurers who flocked to the New World in the three centuries between Colombus and our founding as a nation.
Modern Man has always been relentlessly entreprenurial; all that’s required to understand that is the realization that the “isms” invoked by uncrowned autocrats like Hitler, Mao, and Stalin were simply state religions imposed by daring entreperneurs and modern theocracies are really just devices by which political, military, and economic power is exerted.
It all depends on how one thinks about certain issues; for example, how do illegal aliens differ from illegal drugs? Perhaps Lou Dobbs and his supporters could explain how to exclude the former when the past four decades have amply documented the drug war’s failure to even slow entry of the latter.
Or am I missing something? Whatever it is, our Presidential hopefuls never mention drugs; even while pontificating about illegal immigration... nor do they mention population limits when confabulating about rapid climate change.
February 02, 2008
Centralized Law Enforcement versus Sin (Logical, Historical)
Among many issues still being overlooked by those defending their personal judgments about what represents “valid” medical use of marijuana is the difference between our centrally enforced (federal, fascist, and futile) ban on drugs, and the far more pragmatic approach taken by most local governments toward sins of a sexual nature.
Our species’ ability to circumvent laws prohibiting commercial sex is on display in all major cities for those with an interest; it has also ceased being a policy issue in the US (if it ever was). Visitors hankering for sex can almost always find a willing guide to local customs by hailing a cab at the train station or airport. Basically, local police establish zones where various levels of quality (and price) will be tolerated and use their powers of arrest accordingly. Every so often, usually in response commercial interests, there’s a scandal and a few heads roll while the trade is forced to adapt to new rules, but it inevitably continues without interruption.
What a few of the more pragmatic “reformer” are urging their more doctrinaire drug policy brethren to consider is the notion that regulation of drug sin may be heading in the same direction. Such is the politically correct nature of human self-righteousness that various harbingers of future tolerance for illegal drug markets is still being shouted down by the faithful.
How long the transition will take is still anyone’s guess, but its direction in California now seems certain.
Fan Mail from the Gulag
From: Dustin Costa #62406-097 FCI 1900 Simler Big Spring, TX 79720
To: Dr. Tom O'Connell
Thanks for sending along your latest blog entries laying out the tie-ins to the rise of anxiolytic drugs, the beginning of Medicare, the disappearance of state run mental health institutions in the 1960's, and the subsequent switch in responsibiility for "Mental Health care" to state and federal prisons that the War on Drugs has produced. The way you are developing it, your Blog is an excellent way to expand the lessons of your clinical study. Perhaps your most salient point is that the War on Drugs is a hoax.
Right now, reform is practicing a strategy based on the critically ill and dying model. But if the War on Drugs is a hoax, then in the over-all scheme of things, the critically ill or dying model is ill suited as a strategy. In fact, I believe the fruits of that model are being reaped in the form of a growing perception that the "movement" is deceptive and opportunistic. On the other hand, I also believe if reform attacks the War on Drugs for the hoax that it is, using what we have learned about marijuana to support our side, we would enjoy more credibility and probably more success in advancing our cause.
I hope that someday the lessons of your study will sink in and open up the thinking of our reform movement leaders. Will that happen? I don't know - I doubt it actually. It would be like the high priests in Jesus' time inviting lepers into the temple -or worse - embracing Cheech and Chong.
cc: Dale Gieringer, Fred Gardner, Steph Sherer, Deje Coutee, Vanessa Nelson, Chris Conrad, Steve Kubby, Mike Gray, Bill McPike