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June 28, 2009

Lessons from Pot’s Past; Implications for Its Future

The major unexpected benefit flowing from my curiosity about pot culture and leading me to interview applicants seeking a “recommendation” to use cannabis medically was a study challenging a US policy based on popular misconceptions and targeting a population falsely characterized as deviant and criminal for over seventy years.

That study, now over seven years old and still in progress, did so primarily on the basis of emerging applicant demographics and by uncovering multiple shared characteristics suggesting that the pot market’s steady growth was based on marijuana's safety and efficacy in self-medicating a wide variety of physical and emotional symptoms.

With respect to the demographics, the lurid Hearst-Anslinger “reefer “madness” campaign preceding the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 had been so famously camp that few seem prepared for one of the study’s most important implications: whatever illegal market for “reefer” existed in 1937 must have been tiny. Also, it had remained that way for another three decades before exploding in the Sixties. That it was tiny is confirmed by infrequent news about busts; however such negative evidence tends to be overlooked; particularly in a world overburdened by information and anxiety.

However that may soon change in ways that will be hard to ignore. A seldom-acknowledged characteristic of the silent majority responsible for electing Richard Nixon in 1968 has been their pot avoidance. Although small compared to the boomers they sired and nurtured throughout the late Forties and the Fifties, they have been relatively long-lived, thanks to modern medicine. What has always distinguished them has been the relative infrequency with which they try pot themselves.

A clinical observation I’ve made just often enough to have some confidence in (but have no statistics to support) is that older adults who never tried pot tend to resist using it, even after developing conditions that it should help. They will refuse to try it until late in the game; if they do so at all, it’s only after all other measures have failed and it’s been recommended by someone they trust.

People who tried pot as adolescents, on the other hand, seem to have given themselves permission to use it if they need it; even if they haven’t been recent users. In other words, adolescent pot initiation seems to carry with it lifetime permission for medical use. Thus does my demographic profile of the applicant population suggest that when the first Boomers reach Medicare age in about three years, we should see a steadily increasing demand for “medical” marijuana for the same reasons they eventually came to dominate American society: so many were born after World War II.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at June 28, 2009 04:15 AM