The Shifting Medical View on Marijuana

The Shifting Medical View on Marijuana
Posted by CN Staff on August 17, 2003 at 07:44:22 PT
By Dr. Lester Grinspoon
Source: Boston Globe 
In a recent poll conducted by Medscape, a website directed at health care providers, 76 percent of physicians and 89 percent of nurses said they thought marijuana should be available as a medicine. That's a big change from the attitude in the medical community a decade ago, when few health providers believed (or would acknowledge) that cannabis had any medical utility. That was not surprising; physicians receive most of their new drug education from journal articles or from drug company advertisements and promotions, and neither of these sources provides information about medical marijuana.
The dramatic change of view is the result of clinical experience. Doctors and nurses have seen that for many patients cannabis is more useful, less toxic, and less expensive than the conventional medicines prescribed for diverse syndromes and symptoms, including multiple sclerosis, Crohn's disease, migraine headaches, severe nausea and vomiting, convulsive disorders, the AIDS wasting syndrome, chronic pain, and many others.A mountain of anecdotal evidence speaks to marijuana's medical versatility and striking lack of toxicity. Even the federally sponsored Institute of Medicine has grudgingly acknowledged that marijuana has medical uses.However, the government itself refuses to learn. Its official position, as stated recently by the new DEA administrator, is that "marijuana is not a medicine."When it is at last obliged to acknowledge the medical value of marijuana, the government will be faced with the problem its present attitude has allowed it to avoid. How can it grant access to marijuana for medical purposes while prohibiting its use for other, disapproved purposes? One solution is what I would call "pharmaceuticalization": the development of prescription medicines derived from the therapeutically active components of cannabis and synthetic variants of these molecules.This process has already begun in a small way. The Food and Drug Administration, under pressure from a growing number of physicians and patients, approved Marinol for the treatment of the nausea and vomiting of cancer chemotherapy. Marinol is synthetic tetrahydrocannabinol, the primary active cannabinoid in marijuana, packed in a capsule with sesame oil so that it cannot be smoked.But relatively few patients have found Marinol useful. It is less effective than marijuana for several reasons. Because it must be taken orally, the effect appears only after an hour or more. That eliminates one of the main advantages of smoked or vaporized inhaled cannabis, which works so quickly that the patient can adjust the dose with remarkable precision. Furthermore, Marinol is more expensive than marijuana, even with the prohibition tariff that raises the price of illicit cannabis.Several other products, including extracts of marijuana, are in the pipeline, but they are unlikely to be any more useful or less expensive than plant marijuana. Even if pharmaceutical companies invest the many millions of dollars it will take to develop useful cannabinoid products, they will not displace natural marijuana for most purposes. And because the primary, and for many the only, advantage of these drugs will be legality, their manufacturers will have an interest in vigorously enforced prohibition that raises the price of the competitive product, street marijuana.The realities of human need are incompatible with the demand for a legally enforceable distinction between medicine and all other uses of cannabis. Marijuana not only has many potential medical uses, but can also safely enhance many pleasures and ease many discomforts of everyday life. In many cases what lay people do in prescribing marijuana for themselves is not very different from what physicians do when they provide prescriptions for psychoactive or other drugs.The only workable way of realizing the full potential of this remarkable substance, including its full medical potential, is to free it from a dual set of regulations -- the laws that control prescription drugs, and the often cruel and self-defeating criminal laws that control psychoactive substances used to for nonmedical purposes. These mutually reinforcing laws strangle marijuana's uniquely multifaceted potential. The only way to liberate the potential is to give marijuana the same legal status as alcohol, a far more dangerous substance.Marijuana should be removed from the medical and criminal control systems. It should be legalized for adults for all uses.Dr. Lester Grinspoon, an emeritus professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, is author of "Marihuana Reconsidered" coauthor of "Marijuana, the Forbidden Medicine."Source: Boston Globe (MA)Author: Dr. Lester GrinspoonPublished: August 17, 2003Copyright: 2003 Globe Newspaper CompanyContact: letter globe.comWebsite: Article & Web Site:Marijuana The Forbidden Medicine Doctor Praises Marijuana as Miracle Drug Medical Marijuana Archives 
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Comment #10 posted by Lehder on August 17, 2003 at 16:26:25 PT
Privatize the roads. Drug check points are legal on private, drug-free property. Highway usage fees should be based on need, with expensive fast lanes for the wealthy, slow lanes and drug check points for the poor and those who are expected to fail.
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Comment #9 posted by afterburner on August 17, 2003 at 15:11:20 PT:
Re Comment #6 - global_warming - Decentralize! 
Kyle Datta of the Rocky Mountain Institute was just on CNN, speaking of microgrids: decentralized, able to easily disconnect from the grid, and run by fuel cells, wind, and small hydro. The giants of industrial technology, gasoline-power and electricty, can now be more effectively provided by biomass, including hemp oil, and affordable, small-scale appropriate electrical generation.ego transcendence follows ego destruction, let's move forward into the light of the future instead of turning backward to the "dark satanic mills."
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Comment #8 posted by afterburner on August 17, 2003 at 14:36:47 PT:
Commment #4 - The GCW - Denver Post Poll
Should the U.S. Supreme Court uphold this ruling? 
Total Votes = 232 Yes, it aids law enforcement (38) 
 16% No, it's illegal entrapment (188) 
 81% Unsure / no opinion (6) 
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Comment #7 posted by E_Johnson on August 17, 2003 at 14:29:45 PT
It doesn't make sense
To say, "In God We Trust", and then give the police the right to tell bear false witness in order to thwart supposed sin that isn't even mentioned in the Bible.
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Comment #6 posted by global_warming on August 17, 2003 at 14:20:06 PT
Many Standards
Bush Backs Delay of Transmission Standard 
2 hours, 23 minutes ago Add U.S. National - AP to My Yahoo! 
 By H. JOSEF HEBERT, Associated Press Writer WASHINGTON - The Bush administration supports a three-year delay in a controversial proposal that its supporters claim would make it easier to run the nation's electrical system, the president's top energy adviser said Sunday. AP Photo 
  Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham (news - web sites) said the proposal would "force down the throats" a federal policy of deregulation that states with cheap power oppose. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (news - web sites) proposal would establish national standards for managing the flow of electricity through regional transmission organizations. It also would establish some new rules on access to transmission lines. Abraham said many states don't want the federal government telling them how to run their electrical systems. "The (FERC) measure ... goes to the question of whether or not we would mandate and force down the throats of regional areas of the country a federal approach to deregulation of the marketplace," Abraham said on "Fox News Sunday." The proposal faced strong opposition in Congress even before last week's massive power outage across all or part of eight states. Opponents argue that the blackout occurred in a region where just such a type of grid management has been touted. State regulators in the Northeast have strongly supported national standards, known as "standard market design." The opposition is led by southern states, where electricity prices already are low without deregulation, and those in the Northwest, where officials mistrust FERC, which they argue did nothing to prevent soaring power prices two years ago when California's deregulated system turned to chaos. "Deregulation has left us without adequate consumer protection and safeguards like reliable service and protection from market manipulation," said Sen. Maria Cantwell (news, bio, voting record), D-Wash. But FERC chairman Pat Wood said the cascading blackout Thursday showed the need for better management of the system, with national standards. "The cascading nature of the of this blackout offers an object lesson of how the electricity grid requires regional coordination and planning, a challenge the nation is still striving to met," he said. The Senate was considering an energy bill that included a two-year delay in the FERC proposal. That bill was scrapped when senators could not agree on other issues in the bill. Instead, the Senate last month approved legislation that ignores the FERC proposal. Given the events of the last few days, lawmakers are expected to debate the issue and approve some delay when they return next month to consider energy legislation. 
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Comment #5 posted by Virgil on August 17, 2003 at 09:09:58 PT
The media yields.
The coming of GW Pharma extracts to the UK and then the world easily convinces the few yet unconvinced that the world needs cannabis for pain and not a prohibition to inflict it. It will soon be like all the loudmouth politicians that echoed Patrick Henry's words after the French Revolution- "Give me liberty, or give me death."With just one major paper breaking the silence and lies technique for an attempt to regain integrity, it could all but be an honesty race. To late fellows, no more newspapers for me forever.
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Comment #4 posted by The GCW on August 17, 2003 at 09:06:13 PT
Poll (step right up...)
Following the news story, "'Fake' drug checkpoints OK'd" in the Denver Post, there is a related poll.,1413,36%257E53%257E1571398,00.html?search=filterPOLL:
Should the U.S. Supreme Court uphold this ruling?Total Votes = 201 Yes, it aids law enforcement (38) 
 19% No, it's illegal entrapment (157) 
 78% Unsure / no opinion (6) 
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Comment #3 posted by Kegan on August 17, 2003 at 08:21:02 PT
Civil Rights
When the Civil Rights movement of the 60's occurred, did the government just kind of go on TV and toss up their hands and say "Alright, FINE! Blacks can have equal rights, already.... jeez, get off our backs, will ya...".....?Or did they just eventually say "The people have spoken, and the law is so-passed."......?Eventually, the government will just change the laws, then rufuse to admit that much wrong-doing, and move on to screw us in a different way.People accuse governments of wrong-doing during the entire history. Sure, genocide of the natives was wrong, slavery was wrong, sure.... this was evil and that was underhanded, but, hey...... WHATEVER. Can we move on now?"Then get on with the business of whatever new swindles they had devised.Eventually the laws will just be changed, and we'll just look back on it as the most extremely embarassing and expensive farce in the whole of recorded history.
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Comment #2 posted by E_Johnson on August 17, 2003 at 08:10:50 PT
Doctors are catching up to nurses
Nurses are the ones who see first hand whether pain and nausea medication really works. Doctors drop in for five minutes or so to take a quick look and that's that. So it's not surprising that nurses are more ready to embrace marijuana than are doctors. But doctors are catching up, for sure.The Ashcroft administration is trying really hard to promote women to the top of their drug cartel, but let's see Andrea Barthwell and Karen Tandy try to argue with the nursing profession.Nurses are braver human beings than any narc ever born or made on this planet or any other.Karen Tandy, you are nothing compared to a nurse.Karen Tandy probably looks down on nurses, because they're nurturing and caring like women and not they're not tough and important and have power like doctors. She laid her whole value system bare when she congratulated herself for being more cruel than any man in her profession.But Karen Tandy never be tough enough to be a nurse, because the profession of healing people is a lot more demanding than the profession of destroying people that Tandy loves so much.
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Comment #1 posted by The GCW on August 17, 2003 at 08:01:16 PT
Sorry Bush... I believe Dr. Lester Grinspoon.
76 percent of physicians and 89 percent of nurses said they thought marijuana should be available as a medicine.The people that wish to cage You for using a plant are misguided. In fact they seem guided by the spirit of error. Prohibitionists are not guided by righteousness.Good stats.Bad Bush.Cannabis prohibitionists are uncivilized. 
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