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Get High, Feel Better, Be Arrested: The Medical Marijuana Battle

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The American Medical Marijuana Association on its website declares that it “recently received official recognition by the United States government as one of the top organization websites promoting medical marijuana law reform. This recommendation appears in a briefing by the White House and is available online at the official web site for the White House Drug Policy.”

I think that would be wonderful but why, I wonder, am I plagued by doubts of the validity of this assertion? But that is the reason for the link on “website.” Check it out.

This is one of those stories which, in America, should not be touched with that stick I have been missing… a 10 or longer foot pole.

It is similar to Steven Hart’s article here on Blogcritics, Politics Kills: Clean Needle Exchange Blocked in NJ. The answers seem simple: allow people to be safe and free of disease, allow freedom of choice, and provide access to medical needs. Oddly, there are those who disagree.

Imagine this: you have been told that you are dying of cancer. It is rotting away one of your organs – perhaps your brain. They will try valiantly to save your life. You will try chemotherapy and radiation treatment and some new drugs that interfere with the immune system. The physicians mention that you may see some side-effects. Nothing much. Nausea, fatigue, vomiting. They don’t explain how bad it will be.

Mostly they don’t explain that there is a drug to make it more tolerable. It doesn’t matter. You aren’t allowed to take it.

Imagine you suffer chronic, unbearable pain from this or that cause. It hurts. Now imagine that they have a drug to help ameliorate the agony. It doesn’t matter. You aren’t allowed to take it.

Imagine you were a photographer or a painter and you have developed glaucoma. While you wait for high-tech treatments terrified for your sight there is a drug that might help the disease and the fear. Don’t worry. You aren’t allowed to have it.

Imagine one of those digestive ailments that leave people wasting away and unable to eat, lacking appetite. There is something that might save your life by giving you the munchies. Don’t worry. It is illegal.

Better yet: In those sovereign states that have democratically voted to allow the use of marijuana for medical use, the federal government — your government — is ready to arrest those who do what the state allows them to do to help ameliorate their suffering. This was understandable when some states insisted on enslavement of human beings. Studying the action of an herb and its medical uses is not quite the same thing.

Canada, at least, is far more civilized and maintains a site The Medical Use of Marijuana. They have shown up America by allowing medical testing and prescription use of the needed substance. There are other ways of looking at drugs, medications and the need for compassion in the law. America needs to look elsewhere for a model of drug control, investigation of medicinal herbs and plants, and the overwhelming importance of caring for people rather than concentrating on castigation.

The American Medical Marijuana Association also declares that,

Scientists now say that Cannabis, the third most popular recreational drug after alcohol and tobacco, could boost brain power.
Canadian researchers found that experiments on rats which were given a potent cannabinoid, showed the drug stimulates the growth of new brain cells. It appears that the drug caused neurons to regenerate in the hippocampus, an area that controls mood and emotions, after one month of treatment.

You can take that one with a grain of salt or, better yet, surf on over and take a look. That is the whole idea. The Internet offers a wealth of information and arguments on both sides of the question. American media appears cowed into avoiding the subject when possible to avoid the wrath of the central government.

Researchers are probably ready to initiate research projects and there is little question that there will be those ready and willing to volunteer for the studies. The missing link is a vengeful and wrathful government still held enthralled by the specter of Reefer Madness and the nameless, racist fears of drug-maddened perverts waiting to ravage our womenfolk.

There are exceptions. Drug War Facts notes that there are important organizations that have endorsed medical access to marijuana. These include,

the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Family Physicians; American Bar Association; American Public Health Association; American Society of Addiction Medicine; AIDS Action Council; British Medical Association; California Academy of Family Physicians; California Legislative Council for Older Americans; California Medical Association; California Nurses Association; California Pharmacists Association; California Society of Addiction Medicine; California-Pacific Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church; Colorado Nurses Association; Consumer Reports Magazine; Kaiser Permanente; Lymphoma Foundation of America; Multiple Sclerosis California Action Network; National Association of Attorneys General; National Association of People with AIDS; National Nurses Society on Addictions; New Mexico Nurses Association; New York State Nurses Association; New England Journal of Medicine; and Virginia Nurses Association.

They mention editorial boards that endorse medical access: “The Boston Globe; Chicago Tribune; Miami Herald; New York Times; Orange County Register; and USA Today.”

Other groups have “favorable opinions” on accessible research “(e.g., unimpeded research) on medical marijuana. These groups include: The Institute of Medicine, The American Cancer Society; American Medical Association; Australian Commonwealth Department of Human Services and Health; California Medical Association; Federation of American Scientists; Florida Medical Association; and the National Academy of Sciences.

The F.D.A. is not in agreement and cannot be ignored completely. Their website makes the report available: “Inter-Agency Advisory Regarding Claims That Smoked Marijuana Is a Medicine”. Yahoo News also links to an article “FDA Opposition to Medical Marijuana Fuels Controversy” Don’t ignore the opposition.

The President was recently quoted in a press conference now disseminated by The White House that he is against legalization of Marijuana even for medicinal use. At least it is one of the things on which he seems quite clear. There is no hemming and hawing about the amelioration of suffering or the need to learn as much as possible. In a press conference where he was represented by Ari Fleischer the subject was covered,

Q Did you ever find out if President Bush supports medical marijuana?

MR. FLEISCHER: Yes, let me — I have something on that. You remind me of the campaign. The President is opposed to the legalization of marijuana, including for medicinal purposes and he strongly supports the current federal law that’s in place.

Q Why?

Q Why not trust the people?

Q Give us a reason as to why.

MR. FLEISCHER: I’ve not discussed it at length with him about his reasons why, so I can only tell you that is his position.

Q Ari, on medical marijuana, several times during the campaign early on he said he was in favor of letting states decide for themselves about marijuana. Has he changed that position?

MR. FLEISCHER: No, the President’s position is always on state referenda and things like that. That is a process question where the states have the right to follow their own processes. But as the President has said, and as you know — as discussed by campaign spokespeople with you directly during the campaign — the President opposes it, he supports federal law. On the personal level, he opposes medical marijuana, but he supports the federal law.

In Hawaii the group Patients Without Time discusses and counsels those who need marijuana for medical use in the Hawaii how to proceed at their website.

If you, or someone you love has a qualifying medical condition and you want to find out about the benefits from using marijuana, an ancient herbal medicine that has been badly maligned and criminalized, contact PatientsWithoutTime to explain how marijuana can help.

I have not read or heard that marijuana is or might be good for severe congestive hear failure or coronary artery disease. Except for making one high, which might have some positive points, smoking is, of course, deadly in such cases and brownies are too fattening. Maybe tea but probably count me out of the party. The recent joke, after all, about cardiac diets is “If it tastes good don’t eat it.”

However, when my mother, who is now dead from cancer or from the cure for it, was suffering desperately from the side effects of chemo- and radiation- therapies and complaining of the horrible nausea; I tried to convince her to try marijuana which could help her feel better. The massive propaganda campaign in America against marijuana totally negated the possibility that she would even try it let alone be able to get it in her blue-haired-lady social set.

One Blogcritic who has written about his fight against chronic pain might be helped. He is wise enough to live in a more civilized country and, hopefully, is able to take advantage of any substance that might help.

Keep abreast of the controversy. One day instead of wanting a joint to watch Harry Potter; you might need it to make it through the night.

More importantly, support study and testing with controlled use rather than investigation and castigation.

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About hfdratch

  • Howard, great piece. If marijuana had a stronger lobby than the drug companies, maybe adults would be allowed to make their own health and recreation decisions. We could also move some of people fighting the war on drugs to the war on terror. I don’t know of any Deadheads that want kill, although the album “Blues for Allah” might make the misinformed nervous. Using a water pipe cuts out some of the carcinogens.

  • Rick Steeb

    Cannabis prohibition is an abomination.

    Most of prohibition’s unintended consequences, e.g. our pernicious nark & gulag industries, are evil.

    There are several exceptions– one being the discovery of cannabis’ effective lowering of intra-occular pressure (while looking for ways to detect and bust users). Thanks for THAT one!!

    In 1974 a study, funded by NIH, looking for immune system damage by THC– found suppression of three types of cancer. Unfortunately, the study was quashed by DEA and buried. Ponder the atrocity!

    While “marijuana” may not medically help congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease, [hulled] hemp seed and its oil’s EFAs are effective at maintaining good cholesterol and reducing arterial plaque!

    The FDA should restrict itself to assuring purity and potency of pharmaceuticals, and not presume to restrict our unalienable rights.

  • gonzo marx

    Factoid: the Declaration and Constitution are written on paper made of hemp

    1 acre of hemp produces more paper pulp than 4 acres of trees

    also, a type of plastic can be made form the resin (instead of…:gasp: using oil)

    it was oen of the largest cash crops until Dow Chemical spent some lobbying money to make it illegal so they could sell nylon rope to the Navy

    NEVER believe me, or anyone else…go and look it up


  • Ryan

    The Constitution and Declaration are NOT written on Hemp paper. Jefferson’s DRAFTS of these documents were written on hemp paper. The official documents were written on animal skin parchment.

    Nylon rope is stronger than hemp rope, which rots from the inside out.

  • Lumpy

    With marinol available by prescription there’s no legit medical excuse for smoking marijuana.

  • Lumpy, tell us more about Marinol. Thanks everyone for the comments.

    InterestinglyThe Economist has a
    on its website (and SciTech Daily) called Reefer Madness from April 27.

    IF CANNABIS were unknown, and bioprospectors were suddenly to find it in some remote mountain crevice, its discovery would no doubt be hailed as a medical breakthrough. Scientists would praise its potential for treating everything from pain to cancer, and marvel at its rich pharmacopoeia—many of whose chemicals mimic vital molecules in the human body.

    Their extremely complete article includes this tidbit from a California researcher along with it informative discussion.

    Donald Abrams, a professor of clinical medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, has been working on one such option. He is allowed by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (the only legal supplier of cannabis in the United States) to do research on a German nebuliser that heats cannabis to the point of vaporisation, where it releases its cannabinoids without any of the smoke of a spliff, and with fewer carcinogens.

  • Rev. Don

    Lumpy, try taking a marinol pill while you are barfing your guts up… it doesn’t work if you can’t keep it down – and it makes you too ‘high’, there is no way to adjust the dose.

    It is a synthetic, and not natural THC, does not have the other cannabinoids, cannabidiols or any of the other 60 known active ingredients that work in synergy – and you don’t have to smoke marijuana for medicine, you can just eat it or vaporize it.

    Your argument is invalid.

  • Reduce tobacco farming by 50 percent and replace these cash crops with hemp! Want to see marijuana legal? Close down K Street. Take the lobbyists out of Congress. Attack the pharmeceuticals who are blackmailing Washington into submission. In the meantime, I’m packing me a bowl and toking up for a new day in America!

  • Ryan

    Not to mention Marinol costs about $25 per DOSE. It simply doesn’t make sense compared to whole cannabis unless you have an insurer that covers it.

  • Gregor

    An extremely insightful, well-written article about the vengeful squashing of medical marijuana by the federal government. The hemming and hawing of Bush’ flunky is probably hiding the fact that Bush himself, in addition to his cocaine use and alcohol abuse, has smoked a few joints in his youth.

    You fail to mention Patients Out of Time, the Virginia-based medpot advocacy group that recently organized the Fourth National Conference on Cannabis therapeutics in Santa Barbara, California. Co-sponsored by the University of California, San Francisco and the California Nurses Association, this prestigious gathering of health professionals, medpot activists, and members of the legal profession went a long way to disprove Washington’s contention that marijuana has no medicinal value, whatsoever.

    The American Medical Association accredited many of the presentations at the conference, including that of Dr. Donald Abrams on the use of cannabis therapy in palliative care. Other researchers delivered papers on cannabis therapeutics in pregnancy, in treating AIDS and multiple sclerosis patients, in countering the side effects of cancer drugs, and on the latest cannabinoid research in Israel, Brazil, the Netherlands, the UK, and Canada.

    Much of the cannabis as medicine research is taking place outside the borders of the United States, since the federal government makes it almost impossible for researchers to obtain legal cannabis. They do however supply seven remaining patients on their Compassionate Investigational New Drug (IND) program, whereby they receive tins of marijuana cigarettes from Uncle Sam, some of them for as long as 23 years!

    Now if cannabis has no medicinal value whatsoever, why is the government supplying these seven patients with it for so long? And the IND program is administered by the Food and Drug Administration, the same FDA that has recently been pushed by the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) to issue a blanket statement, without any research backup, that marijuana is not medicine.

    You could have fooled me. I’m a medpot patient living in Canada and I’m growing my own medicine, in order to insure a pure and steady supply. The government here allows me to do this, provided I have my doctor’s approval and I register with the government.

    I was diagnosed with Chron’s disease, an insidious ailment of the digestive system, usually treated with powerful drugs that have multiple side effects. Luckily, my doctor is open-minded and he read something about Chron’s being treated with cannabis in California, so he suggested it to me. Being of the age that missed out on the sixties and seventies drug explosion, I knew very little about marijuana.

    I have never smoked cigarettes, so at first I said no. Then my doctor brought up the idea of buying a vapourizer, which allows the ingestion of THC in vapour form, without the harmful effects of smoke. I agreed to try it, and found that this healing herb did more to get rid of the unpleasant symptoms of my disease than a handful of pills.

    There was a compassion club in the city where I live, but it shut down due to government harassment. It turns out that the DEA from the States came up here and talked our local law enforcement people to shut this storefront down. The long arm of Uncle Sam, or what?

    When the supply dried up, I had to make a choice. Do I obtain my medicine illegally, or do I grow my own? I did some research on the web and found a company that specializes in helping licensed medpot patients grow their own grass. The company is Advanced Nutrients Medical, and they also make wonderful products that insure robust and plentiful buds at harvest time.

    I was advised to plant in a secluded part of our back yard, where a high fence surrounds the corner. Cannabis plants sometimes get to be more than six feet tall. No use advertising the fact that I’m growing pot, even though it’s legal. There are thieves everywhere, even in Canada.

    As for plant nourishment, they recommended Heavy Harvest, a time-release three-part fertilizer system that has to be applied only three times per year, Spring, Summer, and Fall. Being early May, the days are getting to be nice and warm here so my seedlings are going out soon. I just want to avoid any early morning frost that might damage the young plants.

    Once the seedlings mature, I’ll be applying Tarantula and Piranha to my root systems. These products contain beneficial fungi and bacteria, which colonize the cannabis roots to enable them to absorb nutrients more readily.

    I’ve been growing my own for four years now and my disease is tolerable, thanks to my medicine. Marijuana has been used as a sacred healing agent through the centuries and I’m grateful that the Canadian government is enlightened enough to allow me access to this wonderful herb.

    I can’t believe Washington’s arrogance in denying patients like me in the U.S. the same healing benefits that I enjoy.

  • Gregor: Thanks for the comment that is at least as complete as my original article.

    My wife also suffers a digestive disease and we would consider living in Canada if the cold wasn’t so hard on my heart. We may yet.

    Your comment is insightful, helpful and personal and is appreciated.