17
Feb
10

Acknowledging the stalking horse in the room

I had one of my infrequent migraine headaches yesterday.  Hit the vaporizer twice, and it went away.  That’s not medicine; it’s magic.

I’ve taken lots of different sorts of medicines for my migraines over the years, so I know the difference between medicine and magic.  Here’s what medicine accomplishes:  it transfers large sums of money from my pocket into the coffers of my evil insurer and my less-evil-than-greedy pharmaceutical pushers, it makes me sick to my stomach and woozy for at least a day, and (sometimes) it helps to end my headaches.

I mention all of this as a preface to a few noteworthy positive developments.  The first being that the Obama administration seems to have re-leashed the dogs of the drug war.  Following his rather bellicose threat to the entire medical marijuana community of Colorado of last Saturday, yesterday the DEA’s Jeffrey Sweetin issued the all clear, announcing: “We are not declaring war on dispensaries.”  Scott Morgan of Stop the Drug War offers his analysis, pointing out the effect of changing public attitudes on the implementation of the increasingly-anachronistic federal laws:

The point here isn’t that Obama loves medical marijuana, or that the DEA can now be counted on to behave itself. Politicians and drug war soldiers don’t change overnight, but the mere expectation that the raids have ended can easily become a self-fulfilling prophecy when the media and the public generally believe such activity is now illegal in addition to being unpopular. Imagine trying to convict a medical marijuana defendant in federal court in the current political climate. If you lose, the Dept. of Justice will look impotent during a period of surging marijuana entrepreneurship, and if you win, Obama will get skewered in the press.

It is, of course, those increasingly anachronistic federal laws that have prevented scientists and medical researchers from conducting the replicable studies that will establish beyond any reasonable doubts whether or not marijuana has medicinal value.  Assuming any of the doubts remaining are reasonable – and that seems to be a big assumption.   Bringing me to the second bit of good news, on the science necessary to establish once and for all that the innumerable anecdotal stories of medical relief are based in some real truth, and are not just the product of stoner fantasies.

Scientists working from the University of California’s Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research (CMCR) have found “reasonable evidence that cannabis is a promising treatment” for some specific, pain-related medical conditions.  My head and I agree.  Read the full report at their website.

The developing science will not only continue to make those who deny the anecdotal evidence look as silly as they really are, but it will add to the snowball effect that California’s medical marijuana industry has produced, in state after state.  Including the states that once seemed far too conservative to follow California’s lead.  Just today, the Iowa Board of Pharmacy recommended that state lawmakers reclassify marijuana for medical use, citing overwhelming public support:

Today’s decision follows a series of four public hearings last fall. Around 90% of the people who spoke at those public hearing or sent emails to the Pharmacy Board said they support medical marijuana.

When public support for the legalization of marijuana as medicine is overwhelming in Iowa – Iowa! – the end of federal prohibition can’t be far behind.

Legalizing marijuana as medicine isn’t the same thing as legalizing marijuana for recreational use, despite the fact that the medical marijuana movement is so often treated by its opponents as an open joke, a stalking horse or trojan horse (for my horse-metaphor loving readers) for recreational users seeking an unassailable front behind which to advance their advocacy.  There’s some truth to that horsey argument, to be sure, and blogs like mine can probably be seen as evidence for such claims.  And it’s true, I look at marijuana in much the same way as I look at alcohol – a drug that adults should be free to use as they decide.  And like all drugs, marijuana can be used to excess.  That’s no argument for legal prohibition, though, and it is certainly no reason to ignore the very real medicinal value that has yet to be supported by overwhelming scientific evidence only because the scientists interested in providing that support have been shackled by absurd federal laws.

It’s unfortunate that the two pro-legalization arguments – the medicinal and the recreational – are so often seen as mutually exclusive.  For my own part, I’m very glad that the state laws in California allow me to get a doctor’s prescription to use marijuana to treat my crippling migraines.  That freedom to select the mildest and most effective treatment for my headaches is one that I wish everyone had.   As the scientific community continues to take aim at the untruths that have been spread over the past few decades, the medical rationale will become undeniable.    And once that stalking horse goes, I hope there’ll be as much public support behind the idea that adults should be able to drown their sorrows any way they want.

Advertisements

0 Responses to “Acknowledging the stalking horse in the room”



  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: