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June 09, 2008

Pertinent Questions (Political)

The last entry frankly acknowledged using Nicholas Carr’s complaint in Atlantic about Google-induced symptoms as a vehicle for calling attention to evidence that admitted pot users have provided: that they’ve been successfully self-medicating for Carr’s list of symptoms for years. In fact, the weight of their evidence, plus data yet to be published, is so convincing and was so easily obtained that I know my fellow “pot docs” have, by not asking the right questions,  been missing the prevalence of anxiety among their patients, to say nothing of the various anxiety syndromes they were either diagnosed with or treated for in the past.

Also; given the American scientific community’s reluctance to challenge our drug policy, I might perhaps be dissuaded from my increasingly radical (and lonely) position on pot prohibition, were it not for three discrete phenomena. First, the unanimity with which most reformers avoid discussing my findings; it tells me that, like the feds, they are also in denial and just as bereft of evidence supporting their notion of “personal” use as  the government is for its claim that their archaic, never-validated notions of “addiction” confer legitimacy on an incoherent policy.

 Then there’s the intense interest of Big Pharma in cannabinoids following discovery of an intrinsic (“endocannabinoid”) signalling system in the early Nineties, even as it curries favor with the same dishonest federal policy with a genuflection toward “drugs of abuse” in their scientific abstracts. That the only agent the industry has developed for human use without a federal subsidy was an antagonist is further  evidence of compliance with federal supidity; ordinary logic should have told them that agonists of a helpful substance would be safer and more likely to offer therapeutic benefits than an antagonist. Sure enough: the antagonist is proving troublesome and one is left to wonder whether its developers were greedy as well as stoopid.

 The third phenomenon reassuring me I’m on the right track is sustained federal opposition to any cannabinoid research with a human application, along with their punishment of marijuana activists in California to the full extent of federal law. While not quite so blatant as the Nazis’ continuation of the Holocaust, it signals the same die-hard mentality.

In any reasonable system of government, particularly one claiming to honor the canons of Science, NIDA and ONDCP should have long ago been forced to bear the burden of explaining the intellectual gap between the drug war’s never-validated assumptions about addiction and the growing mountain of evidence challenging those assumptions. The ability of Congress, acting through NIDA and the DEA to block human research for four decades has been crucial in protecting that policy; as has their ability to prosecute people self-medicating with marijuana as ‘druggies” or “addicts” while respected “researchers” callously promulgate  “truth” for profit and receive a slap on the wrist.

What makes US policy even more reprehensible is that its enforcement automatically encourages troubled youth to use more dangerous agents. Thus it has both juvenile and adult blood on its hands and blights other lives by unjustly sending people to prison. Almost as an afterthought, it also creates violent markets that kill people, corrupt society, and siphon tax money from worthwhile projects.

Given current US  political calculus and the likelihood other glaring policy errors will be exposed, a change in attitude toward the drug war could come about at any time between now and election of our next  President.  Which of the two survivors is likely to win? An additional question: will the chaos of the modern world America has helped to create be enough to get us past the racism embedded in our original Constitution and still openly practiced after all efforts at correction?

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at June 9, 2008 07:22 PM