June 27, 2012
Questionable Practices by State Licensing Boards; Questionable Medical Assumptions by Federal AgenciesI was recently surprised to learn that physicians in the Eastern US are being punished by their state licensing authorities for opting to treat a controversial form of Lyme Disease in patients who remain symptomatic after a standard course of antibiotic therapy. Two groups are being punished: the doctors whose licenses were suspended and the patients they were treating. The latter have been told that because their symptoms are psychosomatic, the only therapy they are eligible for is psychiatric. Although not identical to a similar controversy over the benefits of “Medical Marijuana,” the parallels are striking nevertheless.
One important difference is that at least some of the state officials disputing the treatment of Lyme disease are physicians, whereas he federal provenance for “marijuana” legislation has always lacked professional standing.
The 1937 Marijuana Tax Act was sponsored by Harry Anslinger, a bureaucrat without medical credentials long before there were any peer reviewed studies of inhaled cannabis, clinical or otherwise. Thirty-two years later, the Marijuana Tax Act was declared unconstitutional on legal(First Amendment) grounds; yet the same assertions were repeated and expanded to include other drugs by lawyers (John Mitchell and Richard Nixon) who were just as unqualified to rule on what constituted "acceptable American Medical practice" in 1970 as Anslinger had been to condemn "reefer" in 1937. Even more unwarranted was assignment of the statutory power to make such decisions to the Attorney General.
Given the enormous amount of published evidence supporting the efficacy of both inhaled and orally ingested herbal cannabis as medicine over the past 42 years, the continuing insistence of the DEA, NIDA, and other federal agencies to the contrary is ludicrous, unwarranted, and self-serving.
To base such a destructive and expensive policy on empty rhetoric is disgraceful. That most of the post hoc behavioral research supporting the drug war has been sponsored by NIDA, and how compliant "research" relies on the erroneous assumptions of policy supporters who should know better will be the subject of future posts.
June 24, 2012
Discrediting the Drug War: Part 1The United States has been pursuing an intellectually dishonest policy of criminal drug prohibition ever since the Harrison Act was signed into law by Woodrow Wilson in December 1914. Never remotely successful at achieving its stated goals, the policy survived the demise of alcohol prohibition in 1933; primarily because it was not based on a Constitutional Amendment and the markets for opiates (now opioids) and cocaine it was assumed to "regulate" never became large enough to attract very much attention.
In 1937, the reach of American drug prohibition was expanded to embrace cannabis by Harry Anslinger's Marijuana Tax Act. Like Harrison, the MTA was a deceptive transfer tax that expanded federal police power, but with two important differences. First, Anslinger used the then-rare slang term "marijuana" as an all-inclusive generic for all products of the hemp plant, a detail that has had both a crippling effect on their commercial development and increasingly significant negative economic and environmental consequences. Second, also unlike Harrison, the MTA made no allowance for any possible medical use even if, as Doctor Woodward presciently suggested at the brief Congressional hearing, one or more therapeutic benefits were later disclosed by research.
What "Beat" writers would discover when they became the first authors to both inhale "marijuana" and write about their drug experiences were the instant anxiolytic effects of inhaled cannabis. Unfortunately, they were not able to describe their experiences in medical terms for a variety of reasons. Rather, the effects of inhaled cannabis became known collectively as the "high" produced by "weed," an eventuality that made it easier for John Mitchell's and Richard Nixon's Controlled Substances Act to demonize all "illicit" drug use after the MTA was unexpectedly declared unconstitutional by the Warren Court in 1969.
Thus was a critical dichotomy established between Baby Boomers and their elders, one that has been maintained and exploited by drug policy defenders since passage of the CSA in 1970. Whether originally based on bureaucratic ignorance (as seems likely) the stubborn defense of their destructive policy by an obviously self-interested federal bureaucracy in the face of mounting contradictory evidence is a disturbing abuse of power that tends to negate all the claimed benefits of democratic government.
Ironically, whether President Obama realizes it or not, he is an exemplar of the typical cannabis user profiled by my study: male, biracial, born after 1946, an unknown father, raised by a single mother with or without an assist from grandparents. The only intensifying circumstance would be an early adoption in which both parents remain unknown to the child.
June 21, 2012
The Human Tolerance for EvilModern humans have acquired an enormous amount of reliable information since Empirical Science began roughly five centuries ago with the brilliant work of two men: Galileo in Italy and Isaac Newton in England. However, what we don’t know is what the course of human history might have been had neither one survived the hazards of childhood. In other words, was science inevitable?
The remarkable acceleration of learning that followed is a matter of record; although opinions on the precise chronological boundaries of the Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution that followed may differ considerably, what can be appreciated is the accelerating rate at which new technologies have impacted our species and its planetary environment. Deep water navigation, more efficient weaponry, increased means of production, and gains in knowledge by the various physical and biological sciences have led to population growth, greater life expectancy, and an abundance of food and consumer goods. Unfortunately, what hasn't changed is an enduring human tendency: that of the more fortunate to use whatever means are available to exploit their less fortunate fellows
Thus the benefits of science and technology have been unevenly distributed from the outset. From our current vantage point, a convenient starting place for recognition of that situation and the discontent it produces may be early Nineteenth Century London which brought together two well known people of European heritage who chronicled the evils of inequality and whose writings can be studied: Karl Marx and Charles Dickens.
Neither man was a paragon in his personal life, but both were obsessed by injustice and railed against it. Ironically, Victorian London, where they wrote was also the capital of the first truly global empire, the breakup of which would generate a two stage "World War," the aftermath of which still divides the planet, both politically and ideologically.
Indeed, the human paradox, which has become more pressing with each passing year, was eloquently stated in a question asked by an unfortunate victim who died earlier this week.
June 08, 2012
A Sample of Reality yet to Come?Yesterday, quite by accident, I discovered Marihuana and the Cannabinoids, a book edited by Mahmoud A. El Sohly, PhD while searching the web. What caught my interest at first was the author's name; I knew Dr. El Sohly to be the director of the “Marijuana farm" operated by the federal government in Oxford, MS. In fact, it’s the only completely legal “grow” in the nation. To my surprise, I was also able to copy and paste large segments of text directly into a word processor without the need to OCR an image, thus I decided to ignore the publisher’s strict injunctions against copying. I was also motivated by the price of the electronic version: $143.00!
Here's the Preface:
"Although primarily used today as one of the most prevalent illicit leisure drugs, the use of Cannabis sativa L., commonly referred to as marijuana, for medicinal purposes has been reported for more than 5000 years. Marijuana use has been shown to create numerous health problems, and, consequently, the expanding use beyond medical purposes into recreational use (abuse) resulted in control of the drug through international treaties.
Much research has been carried out over the past few decades following the identification of the chemical structure of THC in 1964. The purpose of Marijuana and the Cannabinoids is to present in a single volume the comprehensive knowledge and experience of renowned researchers and scientists. Each chapter is written independently by an expert in his/her field of endeavor, ranging from the botany, the constituents, the chemistry and pharmacokinetics, the effects and consequences of illicit use on the human body, to the therapeutic potential of the cannabinoids." (emphasis added) Mahmoud A. ElSohly, PhD
It reads to me like the beginning a ludicrous attempt to put the best possible face on America’s failed “marijuana” policy as it evolved from Anslinger’s 1937 Marijuana Tax Act through the Mitchell-Nixon Controlled Substances Act of 1970, while completely missing the real reason for its popularity (that it was a better anxiolytic that any produced by Big Pharma) and ignoring all the nasty pot-specific extra cruelties tacked on at intervals by a frustrated Congress.
For Josef Goebbels to be magically resurrected and attempt to rewrite the entire WW2 history of Germany under the Nazis, would certainly be more traumatic emotionally, but hardly more audacious or contemptuous of the truth.
Or is there some other explanation I'm not getting?
Yet to be answered are some key questions raised by this book: does the DEA know about it? Congress? The Executive Branch? The Supreme Court? What might this mean in terms of contemporary enforcement of the CSA? or the status of the current enforcement bureaucracy?
Also, where has the nation's press been since this book was published over five years ago?