Monday, February 18, 2008

Docs say: Fire up that doobie!

The federal government says the debate is over and that "[m]arijuana has no medical value that can't be met more effectively by legal drugs." Actual physicians say otherwise. According to the American College of Physicians, the nation's largest organization of doctors of internal medicine:

Marijuana has been smoked for its medicinal properties for centuries. Preclinical, clinical, and anecdotal reports suggest numerous potential medical uses for marijuana. ...

ACP strongly supports exemption from federal criminal prosecution; civil liability; or professional sanctioning, such as loss of licensure or credentialing, for physicians who prescribe or dispense medical marijuana in accordance with state law. Similarly, ACP strongly urges protection from criminal or civil penalties for patients who use medical marijuana as permitted under state laws.

Sounding just a tad desperate, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy's Bertha Madras (Bertha? People still name their kids Bertha?) promptly accused the country's second largest doctor's association of trying to "drag us back to 14th-century medicine."

With the ACP's break from the government over medical marijuana, the feds are becoming increasingly isolated on the issue. It's hard to maintain a pseudoscientific stance of medical concern while raiding pot clubs when a significant percentage of the country's medical personnel publicly say that you're full of shit. The way things are going, White House shills will soon find themselves reduced to shrieking "because we said so" when asked why cancer patients and MS sufferers are being hauled away for seeking relief in a bag of grass.

The big question, though, is whether the growing consensus that marijuana should be available as a medicine will help the larger argument that people should be free to consume whatever they please for whatever reasons motivate them. Medicalizing marijuana may help to normalize the idea that substances ought not be forbidden just because a few politicians get a burr under their butts -- or it could just firm up the popular delusion that we should have to give the government a good excuse before we're allowed to pass a substance into our bloodstreams.

It looks like we'll find out, one way or another.



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