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September 04, 2009

Cannabis and Insomnia

Michael Jackson’s funeral reminded me that on December 30, 1996 drug czar Barry McCaffrey went on national TV to deliver the federal government’s rejection of California’s medical marijuana initiative. Among other things, he ridiculed the idea that insomnia could possibly be an indication for pot use.

The initiative survived his threats against California physicians, but only because the Ninth Circuit of the Supreme Court saw it as a First Amendment violation and issued an injunction. Thus did Proposition 215 narrowly survive and ultimately allow me to gather data explaining why millions of American adolescents have continued trying pot year after year and why so many have continued using it as adults despite the risk of felony arrest and other harsh penalties added during forty years of unrelenting drug war.

As for insomnia being trivial, Michael Jackson, perhaps the most famous (and poignant) insomniac on record, was interred yesterday. His initials are not only shorthand for “marijuana;” they should remind us he might still be alive if it were legal; instead he was given a fatal sequence of legal benzodiazipines to help hm sleep. If his unfortunate physician is ever charged, it won't be because of the the drugs he prescribed, but because of the way they were administered.

Only occasionally in the weeks of uninformed discussion since Jackson's untimely death, was his well-known childhood abuse at the hands of his biological father linked to the obvious symptoms of anxiety he manifested throughout his adult life. While there may be no better illustration of the tragic consequences of dysfunctional parenting during childhood; Jackson is by no means, the only shy celebrity remembered for a troubled childhood, problem drug use, and a premature drug-related death.

I don't know if Michael Jackson ever tried pot, but I'm fairly certain he was subject to too much scrutiny to self-medicate with it. By the time his early success and that string of electrifying music videos made him a huge international icon, he was already trapped by childhood demons and limited to dangerous, but legal drugs for his intractable insomnia.

Have you been paying attention, General McCaffrey?

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at September 4, 2009 03:47 PM