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April 14, 2012

Annals of Federal Delusion

A common delusion of several US federal agencies has been slowly, albeit erratically, exposed since California voters defied conventional wisdom by approving Proposition 215 in 1996: namely that arresting enough violators of the Controlled Substances Act should “control” the illegal markets it has produced and thus make us all safer and healthier. In other words, the CSA is simply tough Public Health, as practiced by Law Enforcement. What makes that belief delusional is the failure of those who support it to recognize that it's simply Prohibition by another name. Those of us capable of critical thinking know how spectacularly the "Noble Experiment" flamed out; that there are so many humans apparently incapable of critical thinking comes as a bit of a surprise, but should be obvious to anyone paying even a modicum of attention to the Republican Presidential "debate."

The concept of how to redefine drug prohibition as the CSA was born in the fertile brain of John Mitchell in 1969; it soon earned the approval of Richard Nixon and was promptly passed as the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Next, it was successfully defended against any modification when Nixon summarily buried the Shafer Commission report in March 1972. The next steps on the road to policy disaster were critical: creation of two entirely new agencies by Executive Order. The first, in 1993, created the DEA as a dedicated federal police force to enforce what amounted to a new prohibition. The second Executive Order in 1994 was truly diabolical it created NIDA as another dedicated agency charged with articulating and protecting the policy's (non-existent) "scientific" theory, a move that has had debilitating consequences for Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences for over four decades.

Given its provenance, the CSA’s failure as legislation should not surprise us; on the other hand, its continued ardent support by a substantial minority of Americans is critically important to understand; as is its acceptance as reasonable global drug policy (via UN Treaty) by the an overwhelming majority of nations on our troubled planet. Tangible proof of that acceptance: even a small personal “stash” of cannabis will result in a traveler’s arrest in virtually every international port of entry.

Narrowing the balance of this essay to the US, my systematic questioning of cannabis applicants reveals some important contradictions in the basic assumptions made by federal policy. One of the more cherished is that any drug that has to be “smoked” can’t possibly be medicine, an idea specifically articulated by the FDA on April 20, 2006.

That it was simply a press release, suggests it was pure propaganda; beyond that, its release on an April 20th, suggests a not-so-subtle dig that went over the head of the mainstream media that dutifully reported it as “news.”

However, a consideration that has become important to me, one revealed only by my questioning of users, is that there are significant differences between smoked "marijuana" and "edibles." Also that those differences are both clinically important and have not been adequately addressed by either side in the largely rhetorical "debate" that's been in progress since 1996.

I now think I've differentiated both the important therapeutic differences and the physiologic reasons behind them sufficiently to describe them in some detail and speculate about the reasons they haven't been addressed by either side in the "debate."

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at April 14, 2012 10:56 PM