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March 10, 2011

Annals of Duplicity

Since 1970, a stoutly defended principle of America’s war on drugs has been that no “drug of abuse” listed on Schedule 1 of the CSA, especially marijuana or LSD (the first listed), could possibly be “medical.” In fact, the adamant refusal of the DEA to reschedule cannabis was what eventually led to a series of 15 successful “medical marijuana” initiatives or state laws now allowing a disputed modicum of medical (“medicinal”) use. This blog has been reporting informally on what thousands of Californians have been telling me since 2001 about their own use of pot. Proposition 215, the first such state initiative to pass (1996) is what allowed the necessary access, but first it had to survive determined federal opposition, before becoming operational throughout the state. There is, to be sure, still strong resistance from both local law enforcement and the federal bureaucracy.

In the past 24 hours, I've come across two unusual items relating directly to the medical marijuana controversy; both to the study just referred to and to an interesting facet of the stubborn federal opposition.

Starting with the study: an e-mail alerted me to a report from the Rand Corporation with a title that is uncannily like that of the paper we'd published in 2007, but which, on comparing the full text of the two papers, proved remarkably different.

No sooner had I obtained a pdf of the Rand paper and started comparing those differences than Google led me to a discovery that was even more surprising: The US Patent Office, also a branch of the federal government, has been issuing patents for cannabinoid agonists since at least 2001.

For those unfamiliar with agonists, they are compounds which enhance the action of a drug by acting at receptor sites. No one had the foggiest idea of either agonists or receptor sites when the Marijuana Tax Act was passed in 1937 or when it was intensified by the Controlled substances Act in 1970. In fact, the relevant concepts only became known about the time endorphins were discovered in the mid-Seventies a discovery that quickly led to the formulation of potent opioid agonists such as Fentanyl and Sufenta.

The discovery of a homologous endocannabinoid system (ECS) followed in the late Eighties and early Nineties.

What puzzles me is how different agencies of the same government can become so ensnared in cognitive dissonance that one is busy issuing patents for drugs that two others insist must always remain illegal.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at March 10, 2011 08:25 PM