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Herb of Compassion

November 13, 2014

With the campaign season over, we’ve been focusing on policy issues – casino gaming, fracking and now medical marijuana.

To begin, we don’t know how anyone could object to certain medicinal uses of the drug. For example, a non-intoxicating form of cannabis has been shown to help children with severe seizure disorders. It can actually allow them to lead normal lives.

But situations like this are very unusual. For other conditions and diseases, it’s probably not the case that cannabis is better than prescription drugs. In fact, most medical professionals aren’t enthusiastic about medical marijuana. For example, the cancer docs at Roswell Park say there are other drugs with superior pain killing ability, appetite stimulating properties and analgesic effects.

That said, doctors don’t know everything. In fact, with all due respect to the medical profession, health care today is like car repair, no? You go in with a problem. You’re hooked up to a diagnostic machine. The readout tells the mechanic/doctor to try certain procedure. If it works, fine. If it doesn’t, you try another procedure. The process goes on until you find what works.

So why not try cannabis, too?  Well, it’s hard to argue with that logic. And yet, we have to remember what we’re talking about here. It’s a drug that with sustained use causes diminished IQ. See the current version of the Proceedings of the Nation Academy of Sciences on that point.

In addition, this is a drug that will always be prone to diversion and misuse. Nobody lifts the methotrexate prescribed to arthritic Aunt Anne. But Aunt Bessie’s cannabis lozenges for her Crohn’s Disease will go missing when her 15-year-old nephew comes in from mowing the lawn.

No matter how restricted its use, and no matter how carefully it is monitored, this is going to happen. It’s happening now in the almost two dozen states that have authorized medical marijuana.

Is it the end of world? Probably not. The Dutch legalized marijuana decades ago and their civilization hasn’t decayed. In fact, crime rates are lower and their secondary school math and science test scores are significantly higher than ours. Per capita, they win more Olympic medals than anyone.

So what, exactly, are we at NT2 afraid of? Well, we’re actually not sure.

We’re slightly off-put by the big business aspect of medical marijuana today. You have all of these companies with names that were thought up when someone was under the influence and they are making ridiculous amounts of money. The herb of compassion is profitable indeed – with 38 publically traded marijuana stocks today.

There’s that, and there’s this thing we see happening in our society. It’s all about the pill, the shot, the treatment.  Thinking that marijuana is the answer is like thinking PhRMA is the answer.

Yeah, we’re uncomfortable with it all, but at the same time, who the hell are we to say someone who is suffering shouldn’t be allowed to try it?

And as far as recreational use, it also occurs to us that we enjoy red wine and single malt way, way too much to look down our nose at anyone who prefers a different mellowing agent.

But in the end, we’re kind of glad that Cuomo – somewhat arrogantly and obnoxiously – insisted on having sole control and oversight of the program. He doesn’t want it to get out of hand like it has in some states and he’s going to be accountable for the success or failure of the program in New York. And that’s probably as it should be.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    November 13, 2014 12:24 PM

    Dear NT2

    Marijuana is the only substance you listed that no matter how it’s used cannot be fatal. As far as accessibility, legalizing it and regulating actually makes it harder for kids to get a hold of, not easier.

    And regarding medical applications and studies of effects, we must always questions who is paying for the study in question and why, see:

    http://www.vice.com/read/leading-anti-marijuana-academics-are-paid-by-painkiller-drug-companies

    In this regard, if marijuana wasn’t effective medicine, then big PhRMA wouldn’t be sponsoring research to trash it.

    What’s more interesting to me from a policy perspective is the effect of the economy. The cost to NYS to arrest, process, and incarcerate young minorities, versus the potential revenue from taxing recreational marijuana is probably a larger economic impact than any other single policy that could be implemented by a state today. Bill de Blasio is already taking steps to decriminalize to save the city money.

    And from an ethics standpoint, there’s no moral high ground for the preferred, legal substances of our day. Alcohol is far and away more dangerous, harmful to the brain and body, and is responsible for around 88,000 deaths in the USA per year, according to the CDC.

    Tobacco? Well, you don’t even need to say anything more than the word. But even things like sugar and caffeine are capable of harming our health to a much greater degree than pot. Overdosing on caffeine can lead to cardiac arrest. Sugar might be the biggest health problem today. The health risks stemming from excess sugar are severe and many, and we are still learning just how bad sugar is for the brain, see:

    The total number of people worldwide who have died from marijuana is zero.

    The reason there has been a prohibition on marijuana in this county has nothing to do with public safety or health, and everything do to with profits for the industries and companies that stand to lose if marijuana is not restricted.

    Thank you for considering my views on this matter.

    Sincerely,

    Compassionate and practical Herb

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