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April 06, 2010

Convincing Evidence of Federal Ignorance

The science of Pharmacology was relatively undeveloped when the Marijuana Tax Act was introduced by Harry Anslinger in 1937, thus the phenomenon of getting “high” on “reefer” was relatively unknown and easily demonized. Not only was repetitive (chronic) use of cannabis by inhalation relatively unknown, the public he was misinforming about its dangers had no basis for disbelief and the federal policy he was enforcing had arrogated its authority on the basis of overblown fears of "addiction."

Not much has changed since 1937. As MTF and SAMSHA’s repetitive studies of adolescent drug initiation have confirmed, about half of of all American teens have been trying to get high by inhaling “marijuana” since 1975, thus also confirming that despite rigorous enforcement and ever-increasing felony arrests, trying marijuana remains an adolescent rite of passage on a par with trying alcohol and cigarettes. My data also confirm that not everyone who tries marijuana is able to get high the first time (some required three or four attempts). Yet everyone seeking a recommendation eventually succeeded and now expects to get high each time because, although never defined in clinical terms before, the "high" is clearly an essential element in the self-medication process.

As is evident from the current drug czar's most recent statements, federal opposition to any use whatsoever may be softening. Moreover, most of the millions of living Americans who have succeeded in getting high on "weed" since 1965 know from their own experience that it's not a phenomenon that could possibly be understood by the (approximately half) of other citizens whose drug initiations had included alcohol intoxication and the "head rush" of a cigarette, but excluded the marijuana high.

That long history of federal opposition to pot use, along with the opportunity provided by Proposition 215 to interview thousands of chronic users has provided me with enough evidence to be confident that dedicated defenders of the drug war are either woefully ignorant of cannabis basics or extremely dishonest.

One of the more convincing demonstrations of that ignorance is the complex history of Marinol, developed at considerable federal expense, only after oncologists began suggesting that severely nauseated chemotherapy patients try marijuana. That revelation is further strengthened by my low-tech clinical research among self-medicating pot users revealing some well-known differences between the effects of edible and inhaled cannabinoids that have never been elucidated or seriously investigated by either the Pharmaceutical Industry or academic pharmacologists.

Given the great potential benefits of legal cannabis, the past forty years of enforced ignorance in support of unscientific nonsense was a high price to pay; one further compounded by millions of destructive felony arrests over the same interval.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at April 6, 2010 04:22 PM