« Follies Based on Invalid Theories | Main | An Abundance of Ironies »

April 30, 2011

Pimping for Prohibition

Medicine has been overtaken by the technological advances of the Industrial Revolution to a greater extent than most other professions. Perhaps no historical event epitomizes the ignorance that clinical medicine has overcome since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution than the death of George Washington in the last month of the Eighteenth Century. The iconic “father” of his country died suddenly in his 68th year, while still vigorous; probably of epiglottitis a rare specific bacterial infection of the larynx. His demise was undoubtedly hastened by repeated phlebotomies performed by his physicians at a time when Medicine had relatively little but ignorance to offer seriously ill patients. Compare that with today’s modern “miracles,” ranging from the non-invasive imaging of diseased organs to their actual replacement, both of which have been made possible through modern science (but would be unavailable to America’s uninsured).

As medical practice has become increasingly technology dependent, it has also been increasingly divided and subdivided into specialties and sub-specialties, three of which have developed in response to US drug policy. They are “Pain Medicine,” Addiction Medicine,” and “Cannabis Medicine.” The latter is by far the newest and least well organized. So far it exists only in those states with “Medical Marijuana” laws, but the recent popularity of such legislation; to say nothing of the emergent popularity of cannabis itself in the gray markets that pot laws gave rise to, offer abundant evidence that its underground medical use had become far more common than had been either realized or admitted. In other words, passage of California’s Proposition 215 is slowly becoming the Drug War’s Achilles Heel through the legalized (albeit disputed) production and sale of a drug the feds continue to insist must remain absolutely Verboten.

Hopefully, Proposition 215, by also allowing for the first-ever systematic recording of medical histories from chronic users of a “drug of abuse,” has also made possible the ultimate exposure of American (and International) drug policy's intrinsic fatal weakness: it relies on the honesty and integrity of a species that, historically, has been committed to their very opposites.

My personal workshop for arriving at that conclusion has, ironically, been the opportunity I have had to take histories from people seeking to take advantage of Proposition 215. The information they provided me with has disclosed two salient realities: first, it confirms that "herbal" cannabis is an amazingly safe and versatile medicine. Second, many of its chronic users have been confused; primarily because it has been illegal and condemned by society's authority figures, but also because its therapeutic effects vary so much, depending on mode of ingestion, as to have confused both proponents and opponents of "legalization" to the extent that those important differences have not been recognized, let alone systematically investigated.

I will have much more to say about that issue in future entries, but first I'd like to point out that so pervasive is the human dishonesty referred to above, that all three of the medical organizations I mentioned have either sold out the patients they claim to serve (pain and addiction medicine), or are in the early stages of doing so (cannabis medicine).

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at April 30, 2011 07:57 PM