Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Giuliani displays ignorance on medical marijuana

Just in case anyone had any doubt about the essentially authoritarian character of Rudy Giuliani, or his profound ignorance on matters other than foreign affairs, he has gone out of his way to reject the movement to permit seriously ill people to use marijuana medicinally. In so doing he declares allegiance to a number of nark myths, mainly that there are better medications available for every allegedly therapeutic purpose for which marijuana has been touted. This is manifestly not the case, as a great deal of eminently respectable scientific research makes clear. For some cancer patients (not all) marijuana is better than anything else available to alleviate the nausea brought on by chemotherapy. This is also the case for some glaucoma patients and for many with AIDS wasting syndrome.

Recent research has shown efficacy in combating and preventing certain kinds of cancers. The presence of specific cannabinoid receptors in the brain suggests the intriguing possiblity (not yet proven, and don't expect the DEA, which has veto power in the U.S., to approve the research) that human beings are "hard-wired" for cannabis.

The 1999 federal Institute of Medicine report commissioned by then-drug czar Gen. Barry McCaffrey after California passed the Compassionate Use Act in 1996, summarized its medical findings thus:

"Advances in cannabinoid science of the past 16 years have given rise to a wealth of new opportunities for the development of medically useful cannabinoid-based drugs. The accumulated data suggests a variety of indications, particularly for pain relief, antemesis, and appetite stimulation. For patients such as those with AIDS or who are undergoing chemotherapy, and who suffer simultaneously from severe pain, nausea, and appetite loss, cannabinoid drugs might offer broad-spectrum relief not found in any other single medication. The data are weaker for muscle spasticity but moderately promising. The least promising categories are movement disorders, epilepsy, and glaucoma. Animal data are moderately supportive of a potential supportive of a potential for cannabinoids in the treatment of movement disorders and might eventually yield stronger encouragement."

The IOM report strongly recommended federal research into these and other promising avenues, but of course the feds didn't do it and have prevented private parties from doing most significant research, by controlling the only legitimate supply of marijuana for research.

With all due modesty, all this and much more is in my book, "Waiting to Inhale: The Politics of Medical Marijuana."

Some day people will look back on marijuana prohibition with the same wonder with which most people view believers in a flat earth, astounded that people could have seriously believed such manifestly untrue things and supported such damaging policies. Rudy Giuliani chooses to identify with the Dark Ages on this subject.


Terri said...

I work for an organization, MAPS, that is in the final stages of a lawsuit against the DEA. We are urging that the DEA accept the recommendation by their own Administrative Law Judge to grant a license to grow marijuana for FDA approved medical testing. In an effort to put pressure on the DEA, Reps. John Olver (D-MA) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) are co-sponsoring a Congressional Sign-On Letter urging the DEA to accept the Recommended Ruling.

This lawsuit has taken years. If the DEA rules against granting the license, there’s no telling how many more years will go by and the fight over medical marijuana will continue. The way to get medical marijuana into the hands of those who need it, legally, is to scientifically prove that it has medical value. Working through the DEA and FDA is the way to get the proof. Now is the time to make it happen.

To learn more, please visit our web site at www.maps.org. Please contact your Congressional Representative – For background on the case, see MAPS' DEA Lawsuit page or a great article from the May 24 Washington Post.

Alan Bock said...

I'm aware of MAPS, which does fine work, and have had some awareness of this lawsuit. I'll see if I can get the Register to endorse the Rohrabacher/Olver effort and pass on more information to our readers.