March 29, 2014
What Applicant Demographics RevealOne of several things I discovered shortly after starting to take medical histories from people seeking my "recommendation" to use cannabis medically (cannabis applicants) in accordance with Proposition 215 was their division into 2 groups based on year of birth. Fewer than 5% of all the 7200 applicants I've seen since November 2001 were born before 1946. That unexpected finding helps establish origins of the huge modern market for "marijuana" that inspired Richard Nixon's Controlled Substances Act after the Warren Court unexpectedly struck down the Marijuana Tax Act pf 1937.
That early pot smokers were so predominantly “Baby Boomers” was also unexpected and raises its own questions: what had encouraged so many "boomers" to discover cannabis, a drug that had been poorly understood when first outlawed by the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937?
We know from the dearth of press coverage devoted to "marijuana" between 1937 and the early Sixties that its market must have remained small until the Sixties when members of the newly emergent Counterculture began challenging the norms of the Eisenhower Fifties become the first ever mass market for a "Drug of “Abuse” in history and- quite likely the same young people Nixon was targeting with the "War on Drugs" implemented with the CSA in 1970. Those same applicant demographics also reveal when adolescent boomers first began trying pot in large numbers; also when they liked it well enough to begin growing it domestically.
In a word, California "medical users" reflect the huge modern market that began when the oldest baby boomers began aging into adolescence in the early 60s. It has obviously aged into Medicare right along with them as a thriving illegal market for "weed" that has been sustaining itself as it has matured into a senior market and continues to defy the best efforts of global police forces to suppress it.
Could it be that we have something to learn from questioning those satisfied customers– not as "addicts" who are defying a foolish law but as rational people with good reasons for their continued use of an illegal drug at significant personal risk?
March 18, 2014
Richard Nixon's (Almost) Perfect Crime 1An essential tenet of Richard Nixon's Controlled Substances Act is that "marijuana", as a designated Schedule One "substance" cannot possibly be medicine because it wasn't recognized as such by "American Medicine" in 1970. Thus the first question that should have been raised about the CSA is by what authority could Nixon and Mitchell, a pair of lawyers, presume to speak authoritatively on behalf of "American Medicine?" Sadly, no one in Congress or in the Medical profession had the presence of mind to ask that question. The closest anyone came was when the anonymous House drafting committee prevailed upon Nixon to appoint the Shafer Commission. Two years later, when it unexpectedly ignored Nixon's wishes by suggesting timidly that pot be "decriminalized" and "studied" the Shafer report was completely ignored by a President who had just been returned to office by an historic landslide and thus able to brush it aside. During the first two years of his second term, a triumphant Nixon was able to create the DEA (1973) and NIDA (1974) as his perpetually self-interested surrogates to prosecute "drug crime" and protect the intellectual flanks of his execrable law.
In that respect, the Trickster was far more successful than with any of his other presidential responsibilities, including his own job, from which he was forced to resign for (of all things) lying.
For me personally, it's particularly irritating that the two agencies he created to enforce and lobby for his invidious law are still active and federally funded. It's particularly galling that the White House is now occupied by a nominally black lawyer who was smart enough to be elected to the Harvard Law Review, but hasn't tumbled to the benefits he derived from his own adolescent use of cannabis.
By the way, the Cannabis Culture link on Nixon's sins is generally accurate, but contains one factual error. RMN was not appointed to anything by either Senator McCarthy. He won his red-baiting spurs as a member of of the infamous HUAC.
March 09, 2014
A Key Insight from a Surprising Source (modified)My intellectual differences with drug war supporters are rather basic: I think our failed effort to control commerce in alcohol via the 18th Amendment demonstrated the futility of trying to prohibit commerce in any desired commodity so convincingly that repeating the same experiment indefinitely with "drugs" (as our species now seems committed to do through UN treaty) has become either an act of insanity or criminal irresponsibility. However, global anarchy is such a daunting prospect, we are left with persuasion and a reliance on facts to change an obviously misguided policy.
To focus on a specific example, Sally Satel MD is an academic psychiatrist who has consistently supported the war on drugs. My first awareness of her position was a 1995 Op-ed on the evils of meth she had co-authored with Professor Mark Kleiman, then teaching Public Policy at Harvard (he has since moved to UCLA where he is considered such an authority on drug policy that Washington State hired him to advise them on how best to implement the "legalization" of cannabis!). The exclamation point indicates my surprise that Washington state officials could have been so unaware of Dr. Kleiman's prior opinions on cannabis, a subject he clearly knows little about.
On the same subject, I came across an item phrased so so vividly by Dr. Satel that I clicked on it and was rewarded with an insight that helped me understand an anomaly that had long puzzled me: how had our jails and prisons become so overcrowded with a population that had once been managed as inpatients in the nation's State Hospital system?
As often happens, just seeing a vexing question posed differently– especially when accompanied by a new fact- can jostle one's memory enough to supply an answer that had remained just out of reach, a process we call "insight." It quickly struck me that I hadn't known anything about the Community Mental Health Centers Act, (I'd had been assigned as a surgeon at a US Army hospital in Japan a few months before Kennedy's assassination in Dallas). An important consequence of that timing is that although he and LBJ clearly harbored strong opinions about the shortcomings of American Medical care, they could not have discussed their separate ideas in much detail before the assassination.
Thus, the tragedy of Oswald's personality disorder can be held accountable for yet anther another unknown outcome in addition to how JFK might have managed Vietnam. LBJ was clearly flummoxed by the war, we also know from the record he'd been deceived by MacNamara's "fog of war." We also know from the Cuban missile crisis that Kennedy– although clearly anti-communist– had been a master of urgent diplomacy who had– thankfully– allowed Nikita Kruschev, a way out after overplaying his hand.
In my opinion, Dr. Satel's frequently expressed opposition to the very idea that cannabis could be medicine is indicative of the logical flaw she still shares with Dr.Kleiman and a host of others: the belief that Richard Nixon's CSA was humane legislation deserving of intellectual respect.
Even more surprising is the illogical CSA's durability as federal law in the face of its wretched provenance and unfailingly poor results over its four decades as a global policy. New markets, often violent, for every new "substance" listed on Schedule one, not to mention the bloated US prison population Dr. Satel rightly complains about.
I will soon address her implied question: just how were asylum inmates converted so quickly into prison inmates between 1962 and 1972?
The answer to that question has such serious implications for the future of our species, that it deserves the careful consideration only an extended essay could begin to address supply. Indeed it goes right to the heart of the folly known as the "War on Drugs"
March 08, 2014
Annals of Depraved American StupidityOne would have hoped that, with timid efforts at "legalization" getting underway in Washington state and Colorado, a measure of sanity might be finding its way into America's destructive "marijuana" policy, but they'd be wrong: a fact convincingly demonstrated by a feature article in the current issue of Rolling Stone.
I immediately remembered how disgusted I had been by stories about "baby faced" narcs posing as high school students when I was editing a weekly drug policy news letter between 1997 and 2001. It simply didn't occur to me that cops would still be employing the same sleazy tactics fifteen years later; particularly in the state that passed the nation's first "medical use" law in 1996. It's almost as if the invidious Daryl Gates were still alive and setting police policy.
To return to the Rolling Stone story; I hope readers will scan in enough detail to learn that the sting's adolescent victim suffers from a severe form of autism known as Asberger's syndrome.
Just as disheartening from my point of view is that (as far as I can tell) I am the first "pot doc" to report that cannabis has been particularly effective in treating applicants who have been self-medicating for several conditions on the Autism Spectrum.
That a "sting" targeting adolescents for "drug crimes" should require prior approval by both police supervisors and school officials, would seem obvious: particularly in our litigious society, yet this one was carried out without the knowledge or consent of the victim's parents–– a circumstance I find appalling because it dramatically points out the inroads Nixon's Controlled Substances Act has made in what were once considered civil rights and Constitutional guarantees.
As usual, I'll have more to say about the warts and pimples of the worst possible public policy since the Nuremberg Laws.
March 02, 2014
The Looming Marijuana ConundrumNow that there has been a steady increase in the clamor for recognition of marijuana as medicine for almost 20 years– accompanied by overwhelming “anecdotal” evidence that its medical benefits are far greater than imagined– one would think that such pressure would auger well for pot "legalization." But one would be wrong; and for the most human of reasons: no one– especially a government official– wants to cop to such a colossal blunder.
"Marijuana" was classified as a Schedule 1 substance in 1970 because it was asserted by Richard Nixon to be "dangerous, habit forming, and of no recognized use in American medical practice," a judgment that's been upheld over and over again in state and federal courts at every level.
To admit at this late date that the assertions responsible for millions of felony arrests over an interval of 44 years were based on nothing more that Nixon's imagination and hie desire to punish would indeed be difficult, particularly since the real reason is that the authorities making and confirming them were medically incompetent, yet refused to allow pertinent evidence to be presented or heard.
Someone in the federal government has to either bite a huge bullet or invent one hell of a cover story so we can move on.