Last week brought the feds’ vestigial – as in no longer of use – thinking and behavior around marijuana use to the surface once again.
In moves that could have been orchestrated by J. Edgar himself, DEA officials have begun cracking down on physicians involved in medical marijuana dispensaries in states that have legalized it. At the same time the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) issued a desultory review of the “state of the science” regarding marijuana’s supposed “adverse effects”.
Of course, even they had to admit there isn’t much science to back up their hype of alleged adverse effects – choosing to trump the scientific standard of causality with mere associations with no actual proof of causation.
Since when does that qualify as scientific rigor? I’d call it supposition and bias instead, as did most of the physicans commenting on their ludicrous “report” at MedPage Today.
It’s heartening to see physicians respond so forcefully – and rationally – when presented with such propaganda.
The NIDA report read like Reefer Madness Redux and was about equally based in science. How is it no one screened this for its shameful and blatant proselytizing?
Between this and the DEA crackdown on docs working with medical marijuana dispensaries in states where it’s been made legal, Obama’s got some ‘splainin’ to do.
Is it reefer remorse? Ganja guilt?
Whatever the explanation, it’s a whole bong of wrong.
Even the Republican-controlled House of Representatives is more progressive on this count than the Obama Administration – and when was the last time those words were used in the same sentence? Check this out…
Imprisoned For Pot?
Now we should know by now that Presidents don’t really control much of what the federal government actually does. Government bureaucracies take on a life of their own. Civil service employees nod off when presidents proselytize – and go their merry way, content in knowing they’ll outlast whoever the current occupant of the Oval Office may be.
Despite their campaign rhetoric, the government continues its spread under Democrats and Republicans alike. Bureaucratic inertia and ineptitude are bipartisan afflictions.
I get all that. But really, are we forever consigned to fighting yesterday’s battles, perpetuating yesterday’s misguided policies, wallowing in yesterday’s mistakes?
The so-called “War on Drugs” is a joke by any rational measure. Its biggest legacy is the ballooning of our prisons with victimless “criminals” incarcerated – if they’re of the wrong complexion – for possessing a few joints. And the corporate beneficiaries of our privatized prisons are fine-and-dandy with that, as are the politicians to whom they contribute to keep it so.
As much as all that sucks – big time – it’s especially bizarre now that it’s being applied to medical marijuana that’s been legalized in 22 states to date.
These states have been convinced of the efficacy, and safety, of marijuana for select medical conditions. The federal government, however, remains mired in a vestigial, and preposterous, categorization of marijuana as a drug more dangerous than heroin.
The conflict between these opposing views casts renewed attention on the need to bring federal drug policies into the 21st century – preferably before the 22nd century.
And nowhere is this need for modernity more compelling than with marijuana’s application for medical needs that are poorly met by current medical alternatives. I’ve written before about the silliness – and the human costs – of denying patients relief from pain, tremors, and a host of other conditions for which marijuana has proven more beneficial, and less harmful, than traditional medication regimens.
Nowhere is the wrongheadedness of current electoral – and medical – politics more dismaying than in the continued resistance to medical marijuana’s legitimacy. This is made all the more galling in its context of a blind eye being turned to the casual medical reliance on deadly and cancer-promoting opioid medications that are too freely prescribed for long-term use (see “Medical Marijuana vs. Prescription Opioids – Misplaced Perceptions and Priorities“).
The federal government should be leading the charge to correct this blatantly distorted prescribing imbalance. Instead, it’s stuck in retro mode with hyped-up delusions about marijuana more befitting 1914 than 2014.
This doesn’t mean they should be jumping full-bore into marijuana legalization – that’s too much modernity to expect despite majority public support for just that. But they could at least stop demonizing doctors who are trying to professionally integrate medical marijuana into medical practice in their states.
It would be governing malpractice for our first admitted-pot-using President to continue presiding over this ill-conceived witch hunt.
The solution is obvious and long overdue. Remove the legal justification for these DEA shenanigans by reclassifying marijuana/cannabis from its current Category I (most dangerous) rating that has absolutely zero basis in medical science.
Too many patients need the relief that medical marijuana can provide them to perpetuate this misguided policy driven by politics rather than actual scientific evidence. Let’s turn our attention instead to the opioid and other medications that actually are harming, even killing, patients.
Or are we too far gone – too wasted – to expect such reality-based governance in the 21st century?
John Lynch: John Lynch was founder and CEO of Medical Diagnostics, Inc. - twice named to Business Week's "Best Small Companies" in America. He's since founded MedSmart Members to publish consumer health education publications.