Sunday, June 3, 2012

Medical Marijuana, An Oxymoron.

I’ve been watching the debate over medical marijuana, on how the Obama Administration once again promised one thing in 2008 but did the exact opposite once power was gained. I have also watched Obama try to have it both ways on the issue.  Obama claims the Justice Department is not going out its way to prosecute the smaller dispensaries, but is going after other dispensaries that are nothing more than cover for large scale crime. This dog won’t hunt.

If marijuana is real treatment regime for real disease, then it benefits from economies of scale. Larger dispensaries covering a larger population are just capitalism doing what is always does-- getting the product out faster, cheaper and better.

Capitalism is going to act like capitalism, the only difference I can see is the pot growers have not set up PACs to influence Obama’s decision making process. Without that lobbying clout the Pot dispensers are at a disadvantage.

But that is besides the point. I have never had much love for the notion of medical marijuana. First, I think it is merely an illegitimate way of getting the camel’s nose in the tent. I feel it is just a sub-Rosa way to gain acceptance for the plant; a dishonest bait and switch.

This is not to say there might be legitimate uses for marijuana.  I can see that some distillates from the plant being medical useful. I can not see the entire plant being useful.

To accept medical marijuana in its present state is to throw away over a century of sound practice on the creation and distribution of drugs. It is to throw away the whole notion of safe and effective drugs dispensed in a controlled manner. It is to throw away the notion of controlled dosages targeted for a specific pharmacological effect.

Despite all the scrips being issued for marijuana, there is still no real data showing that it is safe and effective for treating any disease. There is no proof that it can safely be used as an adjunct in any legitimate course of treatment.

There is anecdotal evidence of all sorts of wonderful things that cannabis sativa can do. It is implied that the leaf can treat, or at least provide palliative relief from a whole smorgasbord of illnesses. It’s a real wonder drug; or at least its proponents claim it to be. Color me unimpressed.

What is lacking here is any double bind studies. What is lacking also is a single, distilled, chemical. What is doing all this wonderful stuff? THC? Maybe, but the only disease that THC is proven to treat is glaucoma. There we do have a dosage and administration. Too bad that it happens to be drops placed in the eyes; no party time possible there.

Even when grown by  “legitimate” means, there is no way to dial in the dosage of a plant. Results are going to be all over the map. There will be no real way to insure purity, consistency or efficacy of the drug. It not like you can stamp a lot number on a growing plant.

The only real way to medicalize pot is for it to be processed, purified and standardized. You have to find the real active pharmacological agent and distill it out. Process the weed, toss out everything that is not useful, and find your one active chemical. Then take that one chemical and run it through the standard drill. That means double-bind studies, testing for toxic levels, and finding out the adverse reactions; dial it in as a safe and effective treatment for specific ailments.

I can see THC passing all the hurdles with flying colors. I can see it being prescribed as an anti-anxiety drug. I can see it being prescribed as an adjunct to Chemotherapy to counter-act the loss of appetite Chemo brings about. As for other treatment regimes, who knows? I doubt that Mary Jane can treat all the illnesses it is being used for.

As it stands now medical marijuana is nothing more than 21st Century quackery. It is nothing more that a repeat of late 19th Century patent medicine. It has far too much in common with other forms of quackery littering the landscape today.

From acupuncture to chiropractic adjustment we are swimming in junk medicine. We are adrift in bizarre notions of diet and nutrition. We consume all sorts of herbal remedies that have zero efficacy. We toss around concepts like “food allergies” as if we had a notion of what we talking about. We allow yammering fools to advise us on critical health care issues while disregarding the real experts. We are awash in foolishness and ignorance.

Medical Marijuana is part of that vast pool of ignorance. It is a McGuffin. It a false flag operation. Marijuana is not medicine, it’s a plant that when smoked releases a substance that gets you high. Nothing very wrong there gentle reader. Nothing in the epidemiology that shows a cause for concern.

Epidemiologically speaking reefer is pretty tame stuff. The Boomer generation has been part of a long test that indicates that reefer is amazingly mild stuff. We are no way near finding a lethal dose, despite the efforts of many a brave man and woman to find the LD50. Even with the much stronger weed doing the rounds today nothing epidemiological has raised its head. If there had been something of note, the government would be shouting it to the rooftops. Instead, we have the same old tired “studies” that get ripped to shreds on first contact with peer review.

Why the stuff is illegal is a tangled tale beginning in the Depression going forward to the present day. Weed stays illegal because of the Boomer culture wars; not because of any great danger to public health. 

Still that does mean that marijuana is useful in the treatment of disease; there is no proof of this. Granted, the powers that be are in no great rush to allow THC or other possible derived substances from the weed to be studied. The government, the anti-drug status quo has far too much invested in the notion of cannabis being useless for that. We can not even do the research to find useful medicines from marijuana--it’s illegal; that is how rigid the status quo is.

Can we find safe, effective, and standardized uses for the drug(s) that cannabis sativa can provide? Most likely we can. We should have that option. Unfortunately, I don’t see common sense prevailing anytime soon. The zero tolerance crowd will not budge from their “no fun allowed” stance. The zero tolerance crowd will not even allow the possibility that marijuana could be useful. In this they are joined by the NORMAL crowd in their obstinacy. Neither wants medically effective drug(s) derived from marijuana. NORMAL and the dispensaries want to be able to dispense the full leaf and nothing but the full leaf. The Zero Tolerance crowd wants to keep the leaf illegal, to continue in the over-long sport of hippy kicking. Real medicine will not come out of such considerations, only more quackery.
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