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October 21, 2009

A Dishonest Forum

in conjunction with the spate of interest in “Medical Marijuana” generated by the Justice Department’s Sunday memo on pot raids, KQED, the Bay Area's NPR station devoted the first hour of Tuesday's Forum to the issue. I wish I could report it was enlightening or helpful, but it was just the opposite. I happened to be on my way to Oakland for a clinic and became so distressed after listening for a few minutes that I had to turn off the radio and wait to download the broadcast for more leisurely (and safer) listening.

That demonstrated the panel to be remarkably unqualified; its participants were long on uninformed opinions, but short on actual experience, clinical or otherwise. It was bad enough that a former federal prosecutor and a current police chief were given an opportunity to assert non-existent clinical expertise, but the people who were apparently supposed to balance them were timid and uninformed.

Worst of all, however, was the self appointed "medical" expert, a USC professor in a new and highly suspect discipline who quickly demonstrated that he is just as bereft of pharmaceutical and economic knowledge as he is of intellectual honesty.

That he could compare cannabis to both alcohol and tobacco and claim it is equally dangerous is simply wrong; beyond that, my study of California applicants published two years ago, shows that pot initiates consistently exhibit sharply reduced use of both once their use of cannabis becomes chronic. Dogmatic assertions contrary to published evidence do not deserve much respect, especially when made by an industry shill on behalf of the most lucrative products of the most inflationary segment of the Health Care Industry.

A good case could be made that chronic marijuana use has been a potent force in reducing health care expenses and might be even more helpful to Public Health if the unjustifiable witch hunt against it were to be replaced with a more rational and evidence-based policy.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at October 21, 2009 10:25 PM