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January 29, 2014

A Movement Still Divided

Proposition 215, California's landmark "medical marijuana" initiative is still struggling for respect, notwithstanding its passage in 1996 triggered a slow-motion (and grossly underreported) state level rebellion that has led to its "medical" use being approved by over twenty states. Two others: Washington State and Colorado, voted for full "legalization" in 2012.

Not so fast, citizens. There has still been no discernible movement at the federal level, which– because the Nixon-Mitchell Controlled Substances Act of 1970 is federal law–– has set up a classic states vs federal Constitutional conflict of the type that led to our bloody Civil War in 1861 and still clearly divides the nation along "Red and Blue" (as opposed to "Gray and Blue") political and emotional lines.

The same issues are still simmering, with one important difference: In 1857, it was Chief Justice Roger Taney's ruling in the Dred Scott case (that slaves were mere property and thus unable to sue) that infuriated John Brown to the point that he foolishly attacked the arsenal at Harper's Ferry (a federal crime for which he was– ironically– executed by a detachment of federal troops commanded by Robert E Lee).

To say I'm disappointed at the slow pace of cannabis legalization and–– especially by the most recent failure of our toker-in-chief to even mention cannabis in last night's State of the Union Message would be gross understatement

As the only nominally Black American President who was also the first candidate to admit his own (heavy) use in his pre-election biography, it's especially ironic to me that Obama is a classic example of the paternal deprivation syndrome I've identified through a study of chronic cannabis use in California with intensive interviews of applicants seeking to use it medically.

That solo study, now in its eleventh year, has been supported only by one small grant that paid for a modification of a standard database (Filemaker Pro) that has proven invaluable in collecting and analyzing applicant data.

It's a study that clearly demonstrates just how fatuous "Nixon's Law" really is; also how he and Mitchell have been posthumously snookering an entire species with empty rhetoric for over 40 years.

That's a phenomenon begging some important question of its own.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at 11:33 PM | Comments (0)

January 09, 2014

More on Dr Livio and Science

A recent entry was based on a Christmas present from my wife- Professor Mario Livio's Brilliant Blunders, which I'm still reading because it has so much to offer. Livio has a gift for oscillating between the specific problems that confronted some of our most brilliant scientists as they struggled to pin down the elusive concepts that would soon make them famous, while describing how they dealt with both the concepts themselves and the colleagues whose work they were relying on: often competitors with sensitive feelings and egos of their own.

What impressed me most was Livio's consummate scholarship in exploring these essentially human (as opposed to scientific) questions. An impressive example is his handling of the intriguing issue of how mutually aware Darwin and Mendel were of each others' work. As it turns out, Darwin was probably unaware of Mendel, whereas Mendel had certainly read Darwin in translation and made margin notes on a weakness in his thinking- a weakness Darwin later corrected on his own without having read Mendel's notes on the subject. My point is neither the weakness ("pangenesis") nor its correction, but Livio's wonderful lesson of how critcal curiosity and intellectual freedom both are for any science-based policy.

Compare it to the dogmatism and scientific ignorance of a "drug war" prescribed by "Drs" Nixon and Mitchell in 1969, and administered since 1974- with catastrophic results- by the DEA with guidance from NIDA.

I tried (unsuccessfully, as it turned out) to include a link to a short lecture by Dr Livio on the subject of "curiosity." It deserves wide attention, especially in the US. A great nation does not inflict a punitive losing war on its neighbors. A "wise" species does not knuckle under to scientific ignorance imposed by corrupt police.

I'll include the "missing link" in an email or the next entry.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at 03:46 PM | Comments (0)

January 04, 2014

Cannabis Prohibition as Human Folly

History is the written record of our human interactions with each other and with our planetary environment. Although we are thought to have evolved as a species about a quarter of a million years ago, we first had to master language and writing before we could make full use of the cognitive potential our prolonged evolutionary heritage had provided us with. Nor, for that matter, do we have any reason to believe Human Evolution is over, or that its consequences will necessarily be to our advantage as a species.

In fact the fossil record reveals that extinction has been the fate of the majority of species that have evolved since life first appeared on the planet; also that several mass extinctions have occurred in the past.

Before getting too far into the subject of Evolution, it may be helpful to realize that not only is the concept itself still rejected by a significant fraction of educated humans, there is a growing dichotomy right here in the United States: a recent Pew Research survey showed that a declining percentage of Republicans believe in Human evolution, while the percentage of Democrats who do so has increased.

Unfortunately, that news was turned up while I was distracted by two other hot items: first, the announcement that "legal" marijuana went on sale in Colorado on January 1st; also that Coloradans hoping to take advantage of their new freedom may find themselves literally out in the cold.

All of which tends to confirm a suspicion that had been sneaking up on me for several years and recently become downright intrusive: any "cognitive" species dumb enough to follow Richard Nixon over a cliff by outlawing cannabis may not have a long future.

While many have taken comfort from our many escapes from disaster; it would be well to remember that the huge increase in our population has made us far more vulnerable to the natural disasters we have long been ignoring in our pursuit of wealth and power. In fact, we may finally have become clever enough to add to them all by ourselves.

As usual, not all agree, as the comments on Hayes' article demonstrate. More on this later.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at 10:58 AM | Comments (0)