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Of Tea Parties, Pot, and Lysenko

Original date: 12 Dec 2010, updates Jan 23, 2011

Ain’t democracy wunnaful? In older systems, the king or dictator could rule his reality into truth. The Popes ruled the solar system into a geo centric orbit. Canute ruled the tides not to come in. Stalin ruled DNA out and dialectical materialism in. Democracy is just as good as any of these! Our system, coming not from God but from the people, can unwarm global warming, reignite wealth by faith in the wealthy, and make a drug effective by rule of law!

Update: This is the sort of thing the Tea Party is trying to do with history, but emulation of King Canute or of Roman emperors claim to be gods, is not confined to the far right.

On my favorite blog, Horsesass, Lee Rosenberg posts at least once a week on some poor patient who has been prosecuted by police or doctors because of her need for “medicine,” that is for pot. These stories, if pot is really a magic medicine, would be horrendous. Often, however, under Lee’s outrage there is another story. The illnesses treated by the weed may be psychosomatic or marijuana may have no proven effect. The “patient” may have other problems .. social issues or an income from selling pot. No matter, in Lee’s world these patients have a prescription!

As a scientist, I have seen no evidence that marijuana is harmful This is why people buy weed online Canada from great companies like West Coast Supply, but isn’t it wonderful that a political movement can define an easily grown plant as a prescription medicine! Could we use this political approach to cure psychosis? Perhaps we should legislate tobacco as a cure for cancer?

Over at Huffington, Dr. William Foster, President and CEO of The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University has a well written article on the magical way the Medical Marijuana movement has created an effective drug.

Legislating the Truth, from Huffington:

Through our nation’s democratic political processes voters will have functionally certified the clinical effectiveness and “do no harm” character of a psychopharmacological treatment for both acute and chronic maladies, rather than through the use of our existing scientific review processes and well understood procedures of our Food and Drug Administration.

No carefully designed and implemented controlled clinical trials, no need for health-risk assessments, no encompassing epidemiological evidence required. We will have replaced them, in the case of medical marijuana, with some good doses of political rhetoric, numerous provocative “talking head” media debates, many formal legislative and pubic hearings and a final certification of medicinal safety and efficacy by majority vote.

I find this fascinating! It is certainly a legitimate question to ask as to whether marijuana has clinically therapeutic and/or curative characteristics. There is nothing wrong with a serious consideration as to whether this easily grown plant has merits as prescription medication for a select number of illnesses and health conditions, acute or chronic. When you hear the benefits that the use of medical marijuana can have on many people’s health, it comes as no surprise that people opt to use distillate infused inhalers as a way of managing the symptoms they are dealing with. It can be hard for many people, but if the use of medical marijuana can be of assistance, what’s the harm?

For many years now one of the plant’s key ingredients, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, has been available to prescribers and patients in the form of the cannabinoid pills Marinol and Cesamet. A major complaint of patients, however, has been the inefficiency and ineffectiveness of the means of delivery of these medications. They are swallowed and as a result are slow to act and depress both the psychoactive and medicinal effects of the pill’s THC.

In contrast when marijuana is smoked, as provided by voter authorized medical marijuana dispensaries, the active components of the plant are efficiently inhaled directly into the lungs and immediately into the blood stream — purportedly providing both the psychoactive as well as the medicinal effects of the marijuana.

So, let’s pretend for a moment that an efficient, clinically effective respiratory means of delivering only the medically beneficial components of marijuana were to be developed in some pharmaceutical laboratory. Wouldn’t it be reasonable for us to expect that because of its therapeutic import, such a new medication, with its unique respiratory delivery system, would require FDA review and approval, subsequent prescriptive distribution and then clinical management through on-going medical supervision, as is currently the case with Marinol and Cesamet?

Then we could retreat from our peculiar practice of authorizing prescription medicines through the ballot box. And we could avoid the unintended consequences of our emerging medical marijuana distribution system — a system vulnerable to concerns such as uncontrolled dose amounts; poorly monitored treatment protocols, on-going exposure to high levels of carcinogens, higher than any commercially sold cigarette; heightened probability of accidents due to intoxication; and almost certain diversion and subsequent increased availability for recreational rather than medicinal use. Prescribed, distributed, smoked medical marijuana may have its clinical value. But it does have its downsides — some potentially serious ones.

Let’s step back for a moment and look at what else could be going on here. Let’s stipulate that as a carefully crafted tactical first step toward someone’s ultimate objective of legalization that the medical marijuana political gambit is not a bad first act. For how many in the political arena can ultimately stand against the winds blowing in favor of helping the seriously sick and those with chronic pain?

If the end were truly better medications for patients perhaps it would be simpler and safer to just develop an efficient, effective delivery system for the clinically valuable components of this ubiquitous plant. Just like we have with medicinal derivatives from other plants such as those crafted from the poppy.

But, if legalization is in fact the ultimate intent of this current scripting of the American political psyche and landscape regarding medical marijuana, then let’s be clear. Let us distinguish ends from means. Let’s not be too naive regarding what this may actually be about. In some states, the use of medical marijuana is legal, which means that patients are able to purchase weed online, in the hopes of helping treat any ailments they have. As the law surrounding this constantly changes, many states will have to wait for the use of medical marijuana to be legalised, before they can get their hands on any product.

If the end of this political gambit is legalization perhaps we should deal with the complex public health and medical matters associated with that proposition directly and thoughtfully. Not through the smoke screen of politically approved medical marijuana distraction, a distraction that is most likely just a means to another more problematic end.

update:

Of course, this sort of legislation of truth is exactly what the Tea Party wants to do with history: a Memphis newspaper reports that the Tennessee Tea Party patriots said:

“Neglect and outright ill will have distorted the teaching of the history and character of the United States. We seek to compel the teaching of students in Tennessee the truth regarding the history of our nation and the nature of its government.”

That would include, the documents say, that “the Constitution created a Republic, not a Democracy.”

The material calls for lawmakers to amend state laws governing school curriculums, and for textbook selection criteria to say that “No portrayal of minority experience in the history which actually occurred shall obscure the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers, or the majority of citizens, including those who reached positions of leadership.”

Fayette County attorney Hal Rounds, the group’s lead spokesman during the news conference, said the group wants to address “an awful lot of made-up criticism about, for instance, the founders intruding on the Indians or having slaves or being hypocrites in one way or another.


3 Comments Add Yours ↓

  1. SJ #
    1

    Pat Robertson just came out for legalized marijuana, that makes me very uneasy.

    I wonder if we will next see a fatwa from the taliban legalizing opium as long as it is sold to non muslims?

    A fusion of interest of marijuana and religious fundamentalists , scares me. We already read endless, sobbing posts from Lee at HA about medical marijuana “patents” being tortured by doctors and cops. Those posts remind me all too much of O’Reilly’s claims that the poor American Christian is being persecuted by the government.

    Pat and his ilk REALLY scare me as a Jew. They scare me not just because of their nutty beliefs but because many Jews tolerate those beliefs in return for the Christian’s support for Israel as “our” holyland. The basis for that support? God told Pat that Israel belonged to the Jews!

    Tough times can make bad choices in allies. The US now rightly bemoans our support of the Shah of Iran. Before Mandela, Israel allied itself with Apartheid, and the uranium used for Israel’s bombs is likely the result of that alliance.

    I wish I believed that the marijuana evangelicals were rational about their drug. Frankly, I support legalization simply because the stuff is pretty harmless, perhaps totally so if it is not smoked. If chocolate or coffee had to met the safety standard of pot, the Dilletante and Starbucks could only serve me with a prescription from my doctor.

    I suspect few marijuana “patients” are getting any effect from their tokes that would not be better served by a placebo or by a more effective drug. For Lee and his ilk, however, marijuana is beyond reality.

    Like Pat, the fervent marijuana evangelicals believe in miracles. They have successfully passed legislation, over the heads of the NIH and FDA, mandating use of marijuana to treat specific diseases. No other drug or scientific fact that I know of has a similar legislative stamp of reality. That should be the job of science.

    For Pat and the radical religious right, however, scientific reality is secondary to their beliefs. Global warming is debatable, evolution is flawed, Jesus was born of a virgin but Krishna is a mythical blue man, the founding fathers were believers, God and Sperm touch Egg and a soul is born, …. In some countries, such facts are still legislated into truth.

    So how should any rational person react to Pat on pot?

  2. 3

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