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August 31, 2008

Willful Blindness?

Although the intensity with which our modern world prefers wishful thinking to reality has been gradually revealed to me over the past several years, there are still times I find it shocking. That’s when I need to remember that not long ago, and to the extent I thought about it at all, I assumed the drug war was a politically correct nuisance humanity could afford.

However, aggregating the histories of thousands of illegal pot smokers demonstrated the (unanticipated) degree to which a pervasively false doctrine can weaken society; also how the history of global marijuana policy, within the context of what was actually known about pot and what were asserted to be its dangers, is one of shocking dishonesty and ignorance at the highest levels of both government and Science.

That discrepancy between fact and drug war dogma has become so great that one can say with confidence the policy will be forced to change dramatically; but how soon, how quickly, and how much, are still completely uncertain.

But the longer that repudiation takes, the greater will be the embarrassment our species will have to deal with. On the other hand, just recognizing that we have to deal with it could be a very hopeful sign of progress.

To put it into a more practical focus, when Obama was listing the vexing policy issues his administration plans to address, the drug war wasn’t among them. That no one listening to the speech would have expected him to mention drugs is a measure of the honesty-in-policy and honesty-in-government problems our species must still deal with.

I can't help noting that the SF Chronicle's glowing comments on two recent press releases from the AG's office demonstrated just how little both our former "Governor Moonbeam" and our major print media outlet have understood what's been happening since he was last in Sacramento.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at 07:18 PM | Comments (0)

August 30, 2008

The Silence of the Canines (Personal)

NYT columnist Bob Herbert’s metaphor for latent American racism applies equally well to the drug war, a chronic policy failure the nation seems equally loathe to admit or even discuss.

The central stupidity supporting the world’s drug policy is one of phony morality: because certain drugs are “bad,” all commerce in them must be illegal. If only we humans were honest, that argument might have some validity, but all attempts at prohibition, from the Opium Wars of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries through the drug wars of the Twentieth and Twenty-First, have been disastrous failures.

Drug war die-hards even cite the dangers of alcohol and tobacco as reasons pot must remain illegal; some by invoking the discredited “gateway” theory, and others with the even more absurd logic that we can’t afford to add to the health problems caused by the two legal agents. Ironically, the “gateway" theory turns out to be a canard that grew out of biased interpretation of inadequate data. The oldest long term users in my study were troubled adolescents who began trying all three agents as Baby Boomers in the mid Sixties. Significantly, those eventually opting for pot have consistently reduced their consumption of both alcohol and cigarettes, a finding that both policy supporters and detractors are finding convenient to ignore for their own unstated reasons.

The most likely explanation for the reductions noted is that all three drugs treat the same symptoms, but cannabis does so more safely and efficiently, with fewer side effects; an explanation that’s also consistent with the “substitution effect” first noted by Tod Mikuriya.

The dog that isn’t barking probably explains why alleged “experts” in the Behavioral “Sciences” have yet to comment. Whether they’re part of a conspiracy, or simply following their own best interests (my preferred explanation) is moot.

It may not matter much in the long run. We’ve been lucky thus far, but the longer we are unable to acknowledge or discuss— let alone deal with— our own dishonest competitive behavior, the more likely is a catastrophe from which recovery will be difficult.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at 07:35 PM | Comments (0)

August 28, 2008

Medical Choices for the Twenty First Century

During the Twentieth Century, sweeping changes overtook American Medicine; its knowledge base was greatly expanded, how it is taught and practiced changed radically; ditto, how care is delivered and paid  for. Also, especially since the passage of Medicare, Medicine is having an increasing influence on both the nation’s demographics and its economy.

Among the more affected disciplines have been Psychiatry and Psychology, particularly as related to the classification of mental conditions and with respect to drugs, whether therapeutic or illegal. Nevertheless, our drug policy’s concepts regarding addiction, the need for abstinence, its reliance on harsh criminal penalties, and its corresponding lack of interest in clinical details remain firmly rooted in 1910 and the the possibility of a policy formulation being mistaken is never considered.

Also, despite its blatant record of failure, the disgraceful changes in our prison system, the widely acknowledged lack of drug treatment for prisoners, the beliefs underpinning America’s drug war have not been questioned or even seriously criticized by Medical Academia. Instead, the drug czar and NIDA are able to claim their policy is both rational and succeeding.

The international silence with which drug war failures are greeted had also told me that other governments lack a realistic drug policy, but I was unprepared for the profound denial that would greet a cautiously worded clinical study raising questions about pot use, or that I’d be scolded by reform veterans for “medicalizing recreational use.”

 I now see the intensity with which bias may be exerted to protect such an obviously bad policy as our species' most dangerous cognitive flaw. Unless we can learn to minimize our innate dishonesty, I fear for our future. Given our relatively short life expectancy, a substantial move towards a sustainable level of population in a less competitive setting might just be possible, but the hour is late, and continued dithering in pursuit of cheaper gasoline is clearly unacceptable. 

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at 08:12 PM | Comments (0)

August 27, 2008

Malthus was Right

Our brains are the organs with which we humans compete, both with “nature,” and each other. We are intensely competitive and also pride ourselves on our fairness. Nevertheless, the most important and least assailable revelation of my study of pot smokers may be that there is no such thing as a completely honest human being, let alone a completely honest politician; we all have a price and prove corruptible all too often.

That statement might easily be dismissed with a shrug and the question, “so, what else is new?” Yet it really challenges a default that’s been guiding collective human behavior since Christianity appropriated the basic doctrines of Judaism, thus propelling some form of monotheism into global dominance and automatically incorporating the (false) belief that human nature is intrinsically moral and we prize “justice” above all.

To return to the population concerns Malthus expressed a little over two centuries ago: not only were they reasonable and accurate for their day, they still apply. But we also have to remember that because his knowledge of Science was primitive by modern standards, Malthus couldn’t possibly have anticipated the degree to which Science and the Industrial Revolution would affect his final reckoning. Both the degree of population growth and its rate of increase literally took the entire world by surprise following World War Two. While I agree that Professor Sachs states the case for Malthusian catastrophe and its possible solution very clearly, I still see a need to offset the endemic hypocrisy that underlies virtually all human behavior and is critically intensified by competition.

This is obviously not a simple subject, however the basics aren’t that complicated: so long as the comforting notion of an omnipotent jealous god dominates global political thought, there’s great risk that regional human replacement rates won’t decline rapidly enough to reduce the dangers global overpopulation will continue to pose through some combination of climate change, disease, nuclear war, and economic melt-down.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at 06:51 PM | Comments (0)

August 25, 2008

A Bit of Welcome Optimism

In the most recent issue of Scientific American, regular columnist Jefrey Sachs revisited the thinking of Enlightenment scholar Thomas Malthus to make some of the points I’ve been belaboring in this blog. When I finally had enough time to read his column at leisure, my delay was rewarded by finding that not only had an extended version been published on the SciAm web site since my print edition was delivered, but it represents such an ideal summation of my own thinking that I can unhesitatingly urge everyone to read it carefully while I compose a short essay to explain how the additional information supplied by my patients creates the basis for some optimism.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at 07:26 PM | Comments (0)

The Cognitive Roots of Endless War

Monotheistic religions assert that an anthropomorphic supreme being created the universe, presumably for a specific purpose, and will either punish or reward individual humans on the basis of their behavior during life. Although the concept of an afterlife exists in fundamentalist Judaism, it, like the fate of non-Jews, isn’t explored in as much detail as in either Christianity or Islam, where the primary goal of human existence seems to be entering heaven.

Most atheists believe that because consciousness ceases with death, there is no afterlife. In terms of what a majority of humans may believe at any given moment, it’s safe to say that even if a majority were to believe in some form of afterlife, the pertinent details would vary considerably, are essentially unknowable, and— as a practical matter— cannot be usefully enforced by the criminal code (probably what was intended by “separation of Church and State” in the American Constitution).

An understanding of teleology, the implicit assumption that all natural phenomena fulfill a purpose, can be helpful in avoiding the traps of Creationist rhetoric. Once one becomes alert to such arguments it’s surprising how often they can be found in the logical formulations of people who should know better. A common example is the extrapolation of specific motivation from a generic objection; i.e., assuming that all critics of the drug war either want to use drugs themselves or sell them to “kids.” Such arguments are so obviously specious that those offering them can be safely dismissed as either hopelessly doctrinaire or completely cynical.

Thus such arguments also serve as litmus tests for cognitive competence: whatever their “real” basis, their endorsement, even passively, by our entire species suggests that human cognition is seriously flawed. It also guarantees the drug war, endorsed by UN treaty, will remain both national and global policy for at least a while longer.

Thus the most important related questions to be answered at this point would seem to be: is resetting humanity’s moral default even possible, would it make a difference in our collective behavior, and could it happen fast enough?

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at 04:26 PM | Comments (0)

August 24, 2008

Science and Population; a troubling relationship

Cognitive powers are to humans what teeth and claws are to other predators, or speed and quick reflexes to prey animals: their main survival tools in a universe that’s been increasingly revealed by Science to be vast, impersonal, and essentially timeless. Given the relatively recent origins of our species, the technology miracles our scientific skills have been producing, and our recent narrow escape from nuclear catastrophe during the Cold War, one might have expected our contemporary world to be happier and more optimistic.

But that would obviously be a mistake; although most commentators are suitably circumspect, the pessimism abroad in today’s world is impossible to miss; after all, diminished confidence in the future is a not unreasonable response to continued uncertainty about abrupt climate change, the stability of global petroleum markets, a looming threat of global water scarcity, and the increasing disparity between wealth and poverty. That’s particularly so as the violent response to that disparity becomes ever more institutionalized as a US-led transnational “war on terror.”

Against that backdrop, it’s worth remembering that our population quadrupled in the Twentieth Century, it's still growing, and the mere consideration of dire possibilities can be so unpleasant that many humans avoid thinking about them at all. The generic term for such avoidance is denial; its practice by world leaders may havs never been more blatant than it is today.

In that context, while my criticisms of cannabis prohibition are evidence based, the rising confidence with which I assert them is based almost entirely on the refusal of those with an avowed interest in drug policy to admit, or even discuss, certain key issues such as the efficacy of cannabinoids at relieving anxiety syndromes. Likewise the obvious evidence that it was their efficacy as an inhalable anxiolytic that jump-started pot's first spurt of popularity with Baby Boomers, while (ironically) frightening Richard Nixon into declaring “war on drugs.”

As the fortieth anniversary of Nixon's unlikely ascent to the Presidency approaches, increasing attention will be directed at key events responsible for that catastrophe. Between the daily follies of our contemporary world and the ease with which they can be logically connected to our failing drug war, I should have a lot to write about over the next several months.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at 04:54 AM | Comments (0)

August 21, 2008

Thinking about the Unthinkable

If we understand that the generic term evolution, quite apart from its Darwinian implications, can be understood as any progressive directional change in whatever entity is being considered, we can also understand that Darwin’s theory has undergone its own evolution since it was first published in 1859.

Evolution, as biological theory, didn’t spring fully formed from the mind of Darwin. Rather, it began with an insight gleaned during a short stopover in the Galapagos and quickly became a lifelong obsession he pursued in academic publications, discussions with others, and further detailed observations, particularly on the process of selection by domestic breeders.

Darwin’s first published report in 1859 consisted of observations suggesting that some sort of selection process, working over very long intervals had been modifying the structure of modern animals. However, it would take the independent work of Gregor Mendel to discover the physical mechanism by which that was happening. Genetic theory, which began with Mendel, was later fleshed out in much greater detail when the molecular structure of DNA was elucidated, a step that quickly led to both both cloning and genetic engineering; even as creationists began trying to impede those investigations politically for what they insist are God’s reasons, and the medical industry has launched its own pusuit of a perceived therapeutic bonanza for what it insists are humanitarian reasons.

From a simplified historical perspective, the process of accelerated scientific development that began in the late Fifteenth Century, although owing much to important Asian and Middle Eastern roots, was largely a European phenomenon. Advances in navigation and weaponry were exploited almost immediately by voyages of disccovery and plunder from the Atlantic maritime nations of Portugal and Spain. Portuguese explorers hugging the East Coast of Africa, eventually reached India and Japan, but were ultimately unable to protect their early holdings from the Dutch, and later, the British. By sponsoring Genoese explorer Columbus, Spain went in a different direction and opened a hitherto undiscovered “New World” to aggressive European colonization, an event that would that not only dramatically change the course of history, but also plant the seeds of post colonial resentment flowering so violently today in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

Those developments all suggest that our emotions are critical determinants of our behavior; however that’s an idea that’s currently rejected so uniformly and emphatically that it leads me to suggest that our very reluctance to admit it (denial) is playing a key role in our present dilemma.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at 05:46 PM | Comments (0)

August 17, 2008

What the Drug War Reveals about Human Nature

In the words of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, certain agents can be designated as “drugs of abuse,” and placed on Schedule One by the Attorney General because:

(A) The drug or other substance has high potential for abuse.

(B) The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.

(C) There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.

Possession of any listed agent by anyone other than a peace officer licensed to handle them thus becomes presumptive evidence of criminal behavior and grounds for immediate arrest.

Since 1970, various Attorneys General have added other agents to Schedule One through administrative procedures allowed by the CSA. Congress is not required to vote and the decisions have usually been made “in house” by the DEA with prompt approval from HEW and the FDA

Ironically that same list really constitutes a powerful argument for repeal of the CSA, particularly as it applies to cannabis (“marijuana") because:

A) The reasons given lack supporting clinical evidence; and have recently been shown to be directly contradicted by medical histories taken from long-term cannabis users.

B) The CSA’s 1970 ban on cannabis simply reinstated the ban contrived by the MTA without any review of the reasons provided in 1937 or the “logic” behind them (which was ridiculous, even by the standards of 1937 Pharmacology).

C) Although the CSA includes a provision for rescheduling cannabis, the history of such efforts, beginning with Nixon’s summary rejection of the Shafer Commission’s report and continuing for 38 years, is one of grotesque bureaucratic dishonesty on behalf of a failing policy.

D) In that setting, and the facts that American policy had already been been globalized by UN treaty when the CSA was passed, and has since remained the unquestioned international standard, should raise serious questions about the intellectual honesty and leadership qualities of the entire species.

In other words, our penchant for lying to ourselves and to each other, together with our continued acceptance of the adverse consequences of our dishonesty, may have already compromised our ability to deal with rapid climate change, whether produced by nuclear war or our relentless demands for polluting forms of energy.

The reason is easy enough to understand: there may be too many of us to change course fast enough.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at 06:39 PM | Comments (0)

August 15, 2008

Timely; or what?

Just few days after I’d cited nitrogen fertilization as an example of how expansion of the human population may have unwittingly placed the planet in danger, it was cited on the first page of the San Francisco Chronicle in another one of those now familiar “scientists are alarmed” items that seem to excite less interest than the latest sexual scandal.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at 04:19 PM | Comments (0)

August 14, 2008

Update from Beijing (Personal)

To a degree I couldn’t have imagined as recently as a year ago, current events are confirming what my ongoing experience with pot smokers has been revealing about the way we humans think, and how our beliefs are shaped, both individually and collectively.

Not that I’m necessarily the only one to have reached such conclusions; just the only one I’m aware of; which is the main reason I continue to push my admittedly far-out ideas in a blog relatively few people have discovered and even fewer read on a regular basis. All I'm trying to do at this point is record notes for a book that may never be written, at least in my lifetime. However, because I firmly believe the observations I’ve made through my interaction with pot users are both unique and as unbiased as I’m capable of, I think the effort is worthwhile.

To return to current events: last Sunday, two days after our American President attended the Opening Ceremonies in Beijing, his visit to China was briefly interrupted by an interview with veteran sports reporter Bob Costas, whose probing questions revealed just how dishonest and poorly informed our prez really is. Four days ago, I was in the frustrating position of being able to watch the interview, but unable to hear it, because dinner conversation was drowning out the sound and the other guests weren't the least bit interested. Thus it wasn’t until this morning, when I was trying to decide what to write about, that I saw the video.

In the meantime, the world hasn’t stood still; it's caught up in a frightening Cold War echo in Georgia; even as none are mentioning (and thus denying) the fact that both the US and Russia have enough nuclear weaponry to end civilization as we know it. Since my study has convinced me that a) all religious thinking is dangerously flawed, b) human emotions are far more important determinants of behavior than we care to admit, c) we have a history of resorting to violence (war) to obtain what we crave (or destroy what we fear?), and d) the planet has become dangerously overpopulated with stressed out humans in the past two hundred years, I'm more apprehensive than ever.

To me, it all suggests we are sliding down a slippery slope towards inadvertent catastrophe produced by an (unacknowledged) internal conflict between our emotions and our cognition. Until Science had provided us with the necessary tools, the danger was nil; in the last century the capacity for self destruction seemed to come exclusively from nuclear weapons, but in this one, the focus has been enlarged to include climate change produced by uncritical human pursuit of energy as the road to national wealth and power.

Are we reassured that Bush and Putin are now cast in the roles Kennedy and Kruschev played in 1962, or that the game pieces have been expanded to include petroleum and refining capacity?

For me, the cherry on the sundae of human dishonesty was when Bush cited our failing effort to drive "illegal" drugs from sports as a reason to persist in our irrational behavior...

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at 05:50 PM | Comments (0)

August 09, 2008

Belief versus Knowledge

Although our contemporary world couldn't have evolved without Science, there have been delayed costs. For example the present human population depends on nitrogen fertilization for its nutrition and the plethora of modern technological developments that underpin a constantly expanding economy. Most of the critical discoveries date from the same (mostly European) Enlightenment that inspired the American Revolution and it’s fair to say that a majority of living humans, along with their national governments, have so little understanding of the underlying Science that they are now actively working against the long term survival of our species.

In fact, two major crises directly related to that ignorance were narrowly averted during the Cold War with shockingly little recognition of the dangers they posed and— depending on the degree to which the climate changes now recognized as underway result from human activity— a third disaster may already be in an advanced stage of development. Yet there still seems little recognition at a decision making level.

The two close calls in our recent past were the Cuban Missile crisis of 1962 and the less famous Able Archer affair of 1983. ironically, both were averted before Nuclear Winter was proposed as a more immediately deadly consequence of nuclear war than radioactive fallout, but It was another eight years before that scenario was dramatically reinforced when the eruption of Mount Pinatubo temporarily halted the Earth’s established warming trend.

Accelerated research, spurred by both new information and improving tools for exploring the past, is now recognizing that volcanism and sudden climate change have both played significant roles in biological evolution and, more recently, in human history.

Ironically (there’s that word again) this realization comes just as runaway human population growth has greatly magnified the size of all potential disasters, while simultaneously rendering effective mitigation more difficult.

It's my belief that among the list of potential disasters now considered either inevitable or quite likely, there are several that demand urgent attention because they are so directly related to irrational human behavior deeply rooted in human cognitve function, and therefore potentially amenable to correction.

I’m not proposing a cure” for the way we think, or that one even exists; only that there is evidence of serious problems that we still seem to favor treating with denial.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at 07:29 PM | Comments (0)

August 05, 2008

The Roots of Folly (Personal)

As busy members of an increasingly complex society, we are under growing pressure to concede expertise to those who claim it; particularly if they are certified as "specialists" and government exerts pressure on their behalf; however, there are several good reasons to be wary. Nazism, the Eighteenth Amendment, chattel slavery and the “Divine” Right of Kings are all relatively recent examples of policies now widely regarded as destructive follies that were once “official” and vigorously enforced (imposed) by government in "advanced" nations.

My own doubts about the wisdom of drug prohibition began in the early Seventies when some (rare) free time for browsing in local libraries was afforded by my sudden decision to leave military service for private practice. Over several months, I happened to read several then-recent books on drug policy without realizing that what prompted them was the drug-using counterculture that had blossomed while I was busy: either overseas or in residency training.

 Even so, the message I gleaned was very clear: criminal prohibition of drugs as public policy can be expected to fail. I soon became so immersed in becoming a surgical specialist in a competitive urban environment that I couldn’t return to reading about drug policy until unaccustomed spare time became a bonus of phased retirement. To my great surprise, little had changed in terms of the arguments for and against criminal prohibition, but the policy of "war" on drugs had become dominant. A combination of heightened curiosity and the perception of more spare time soon led me to the Ninth Annual DPF convention in Santa Monica and quick conversion to the cause of drug policy reform, a course that would soon do away with my “spare” time. As I’ve indicated elsewhere, my experience in the “movement” between late 1995 and late 2001 was an intense education in drug policy, the study I (unexpectedly) found myself engaged in from 2001 onward is different because it has allowed me to bring nearly fifty years of clinical experience to bear on what had long been a forbidden subject: the repetitive use of  illegal drugs by human subjects. 

Over the next several weeks, I hope to trace both the antecedents and recent history of America’s war on drugs, which I now regard as an enormous folly. Although a view now shared by many, but articulated by few, neither thought represents a new insight. What I do regard as new are certain insights afforded only by what California’s medical marijuana law has allowed: a clinical study of a human population the federal government has been treating as disposable for almost forty years: those who dare self medicate with cannabis (and other "drugs of abuse").

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at 11:24 PM | Comments (0)

August 03, 2008

A Personal Perspective

Over the past seven years, my acceptance of the idea that cannabis, a pharmacologically complex herbal palliative, is also a useful and relatively safe medication for human use has placed me at increasing odds with the world’s conventional wisdom. On the other hand, that same acceptance had enabled me to ask pot applicants the searching questions that revealed how little both the federal and reform bureaucracies know about the illegal market that’s been growing under everyone’s nose since Nixon summarily turned a failing drug policy into a “war” in September 1969.

Even though it’s quite clear that conventional wisdom still supports the drug war, I’ve been encouraged to criticize it harshly for two reasons: the first is that patients have confirmed what I’d always suspected. The second is that no one will discuss specific findings, which tells me they resonate with their own experiences.

Thus my curiosity as a physician, whetted by learning that the cannabis users I began seeing in 2001 had several features in common, eventually led to a published paper and has since been explored in over three hundred blog entries. There’s also abundant collateral evidence that pot is medicine. However, those in decision-making positions continue to deny the possibility and cling to the same misconceptions that originally inspired the policy.

The unanimous nature of their denial, together with the (to me) appalling dishonesty of those with a vested interest in banning cannabis, led to a change in focus: rather than attempting to understand why so many had become its long term users, I switched to attempting to understand why a global bureaucracy was so determined to protect a failing policy; also why, in a world more polarized than ever, the only thing all governments seem agreed on is that any traveler caught with a few grams of cannabis at an international  point of entry should immediately be arrested and treated as a felon.

The ability to search the rapidly expanding World Wide Web, together with continued access to cannabis users in California, has afforded me an overview curiously analogous to that presented to Darwin in 1831: through a completely unpredictable set of circumstances, he was privileged to observe rare phenomena from which he (quickly) intuited a simple, but revolutionary, insight, one he soon also realized would be profoundly divisive.

Thanks to the (comparatively) leisurely pace of Victorian life, his family’s relative affluence, and his connection with the still-small community of leading “naturalists,” Darwin had almost three decades to explore and develop his thoughts on natural selection before he was forced to publish them in 1859. As anticipated, they immediately proved controversial and he spent the balance of his life defending them.

It’s clear that although Darwin realized his views would be controversial, he could not have anticipated the extent to which his discoveries would be confirmed by Twentieth Century Science; nor the extent to which a human population dominated by religious beliefs would contrive to exploit Science while simultaneously opposing Evolution. In essence, the entire Twentieth Century was dominated by three wars of unprecedented size and danger to humanity, yet the scientific “miracles” they inspired were immediately pressed into military service and exploited by the global economy as soon as possible. Largely because the Cold War had (providentially) devolved into an economic contest after the Cuban Missile Crisis, we escaped from the Twentieth Century without experiencing a nuclear winter.

However, as the Twenty-First begins, our species finds itself in yet another predicament of its own making; the demands of rapid human population growth on the planetary environment may have rendered our competitive mercantile economy unsustainable; however the same mismatch between emotions and cognition responsible for our adverse impact on climate may also be be forcing us into prolonged denial of that possibility.

One of the clearest lessons of modern clinical medicine with respect to life-threatening disease: to the extent the correct diagnosis wasn’t thought of (included in the “differential diagnosis”) at an early stage, treatment is unlikely to be successful, Earth will almost certainly continue to orbit the Sun after humans go extinct, but there may be no pathologist to do our autospy; unless, of course, it’s the same entity Bishop Paley once misidentified as a watchmaker.

Doctor Tom   

Posted by tjeffo at 08:08 PM | Comments (0)

August 02, 2008

A Belated Explanation and an Example

In a happy coincidence, this week’s issue of the drug drug policy newsletter I once edited carries two articles that, when taken together, reveal both the absurd judicial arrogance that gave rise to American drug policy almost a century ago, and provide a striking example of the bureaucratic thuggery the policy enables.

In the more significant, a SF Chronicle item parsing state appellate decision turning down the bid by two counties to cancel the initiative, reveals the decision is no victory; instead,it makes things worse by endorsing the “logic” by which state and federal jurists can now excuse their failure to deal with the glaring injustice both courts should have addressed from the beginning: patients and physicians who attempt to follow the law have been subjected to outrageously unfair treatment by both federal and state law enforcement agencies.

In other words, Harrison and the MTA are finally joined by the same arcane judicial logic: whether the accused's drug use is considered to be “addiction” or “recreation,” doesn't matter any more; untrained law enforcement agents and prosecutors are now free to use their own judgment in how miscreants should be treated, even if it should require a capricious jurisdictional change.

For those who might have missed it, Costa is now serving a fifteen year term in a federal penitentiary in Texas...

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at 08:31 PM | Comments (0)