Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Community Post: Dr. David Bearman on Medicinal MJ

For some time local authorities have raised the legitimate concern about the need for adequate regulation of cannabis dispensaries. Setting aside the allegation that former DA Thomas Sneddon refused to address this issue with the City Council, the real fault for this problem can be laid squarely at the feet of the federal government and their encroachment on states rights. (see opinions of Thomas and O'Connor in Gonzalez v. Raich ). We once had such regulations regarding medicinal cannabis. That is, until the U.S. government abrogated states rights and stepped in with the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act (declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1969 in the Timothy Leary case).

Pharmacists had been dispensing cannabis in powdered, whole leaf and tincture form, either alone or in combination with other ingredients at least since 1854 when cannabis was first placed in the United States Pharmacopeia (USP). Pharmacists continued to dispense cannabis containing drugs, under existing regulations, until 1941 when, due to the cumbersomeness of the tax, most pharmaceutical companies stopped making cannabis containing pharmaceuticals and it was dropped from the USP.

Dr. Ron Paul (R) TX, a physician and candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, has pointed out that over the last 40 years, U.S. Presidents have expanded their power at the expense of Congress, and Congress has expanded their power by impinging on states' rights.

Dr. Paul's position is consistent with the dissent in the Gonzalez v. Raich, by conservative Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O'Connor, Clarence Thomas and the late Chief Justice Rehnquest who pointed out that the 9th and 10th Amendments to the Constitution granted the power to regulate medicine to the several states. The federal government should not thwart the will of the voters by preventing doctors from writing cannabis prescriptions and pharmacists from filling them.

Recent articles in local media have strongly implied that if someone looks healthy, they are healthy. Any doctor who took such a position would be guilty of malpractice and you and I would consider them a quack.. You cannot discern if a person is disease free merely by looking at them. That is why we physicians do a history and physical, review medical records and order x-rays and lab tests where required, before making a determination of good or ill health.

PTSD, for example, is a very debilitating condition where the patient looks fine to the naked eye.. A recent federal government report estimates that over 35% of our troops returning from Iraq will suffer from PTSD. Only a small percentage of our troops with PTSD have been physically maimed in combat. All the rest suffering from PTSD look like healthy young men. Research and experience has demonstrated that cannabis is frequently effective in treating PTSD Do we deny these returning veterans an effective treatment for PTSD because they look great?

Most people with migraines, seizures, fibromyalgia, complex regional pain syndrome, failed back surgery syndrome, and many other conditions may look healthy to the casual observer. Sadly the mere fact that someone looks healthy has little bearing on whether or not they are healthy.

Frankly we must not let common sense fly out the window when discussing medicants arbitrarily labeled as illicit. If we are comfortable with existing regulations for pharmacies, pharmacists and physicians lets let them practice their professions according to the dictates of science, their experience, training and professional ethics. Right now the federal government's usurpation of our allegedly constitutionally guaranteed States Rights trumps common sense.


David Bearman, M.D.

PS: This issue has a long and interesting history. For more extensive coverage read my 132 page book "Demons, Discrimination and Dollars: A Brief History of the Origins of American Drug Laws". In November my 4X longer book "Drugs, Discrimination, Demons and Dollars: A Not So Brief History of American Substance Control Policy" should be available.



Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Thanks Dr. Bearman for submitting this post on a hot topic here -- let's see what people have to say and thanks for using your name...

7/28/2007 11:26 PM  
Blogger Michele Toreena said...

So if I read the list of ailments in your second to last paragraph---pretty much anyone I know could be diagnosed and get a "letter" authorizing them to buy "medicinal" pot. Question: isn't the very label of "medicinal" marijuana disingenous? Is that a bit like saying medicinal irish whiskey?

7/28/2007 11:34 PM  
Anonymous Third District Streetfighter said...

Is this Bearman's election platform for Third District Supervisor?

7/29/2007 9:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With all respect to Dr. Bearman, it should be obvious to anyone who reads the paper that many perfectly healthy people are getting medical marijuana for non-existent ailments, and then compounding the problem by selling it to their even healthier friends and on the street. In order for medical marijuana to have any legitimacy whatsoever, it needs to be much more tightly controlled than it currently is. As much as I hate the current federal drug policy, I find myself increasingly skeptical of the current dispensary process and am less than surprised or outraged when the feds come in and shut it down.

7/29/2007 10:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stand outside the ACME distribution center - 211 West Victoria and tell me how many of these packs of young healthy "users" and the gangs of thugs waiting on the walkways and walls outside are certified "sick".

Tell me also how many of the rest of the burned-out middle age users sitting around inside a toked-out haze are not benefiting one bit from their daily abuse of this "drug".

If this is a drug, sell it at a pharmacy with all dispensing regulations intact.

And then tell me how many "pharmacies" are allowed to exhaust illegal substances out into the surrounding neighborhood, if you want to talk about regulations of these modern snake pits.

7/29/2007 11:13 AM  
Anonymous Second District Beach Walker said...

Please, save us from Bearman---with a platform like that, who needs a Firestone campaign budget.

I was on a non-profit board here on the south coast, and recently resigned--official reason being the tepid "just too busy" but the reality being--- two or three fifty-something people who think of themselves as 'in the know' and oh so wise, who would show up at meetings or committees with red eyes, wafting of recent pot-smoking, and basically waste all of our time with their inane ramblings. I'm sure they are among the people who believe marijuana hasn't effected them. Ok--but come on, it sure effects the rest of us. I stopped smoking pot in my twenties when I realized what it was doing to my relationships, motivation, and professional life. I've got scores of friends and relatives who never stopped smoking, and whose lives are but a mere fraction of what they could have been without this medicine that bearman promotes.
please. we know its not politically correct to say it but, please stop the proliferation of these speakeasies.....last thing we need is to help create another generation of burned out shells of once-bright souls

7/29/2007 12:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

no one is getting a prescription for mj, buying it from a club and then re-selling it on the street to a kid.

the reason:

no kid would pay the club price -

the legal stuff is considerably more expensive that getting it from a thug-hoodlum-gangbangin-homeless-rv driving-westside/westdowntown destroying-burned out dealer and often the quality is better.

or uhh umm so i've heard from my police friends

7/29/2007 7:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How dare you say the ACME junk customers don't pass their stash on to the thugs loitering on the streets. All you have to do is walk by and look.

7/29/2007 8:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree, anyone but Bearman. He has already done enough damage to our city. Don't let him loose in the county.

He has a snowballs chance and will waste everyone's campaign contribution if anyone supports him.

Where do I send in my Firestone contributions? And I am life-long greenie Democrat.

7/29/2007 8:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting facts below about the refusal of numerous reputable medical and research groups to endorse "smoked marijuana" as "medicinal".........

Myth: Marijuana Is Medicine

From Karen P. Tandy, DEA

Reality: Smoked Marijuana Is Not Medicine

The scientific and medical communities have determined that smoked marijuana is a health danger, not a cure. There is no medical evidence that smoking marijuana helps patients. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved no medications that are smoked, primarily because smoking is a poor way to deliver medicine.

Morphine, for example has proven to be a medically valuable drug, but the FDA does not endorse smoking opium or heroin.

Congress enacted laws against marijuana in 1970 based in part on its conclusion that marijuana has no scientifically proven medical value, which the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed more than 30 years later in United States v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative, et al., 532 U.S. 483 (2001).

Marijuana remains in schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act because it has a high potential for abuse, a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision, and no currently accepted medical value.

The American Medical Association has rejected pleas to endorse marijuana as medicine, and instead urged that marijuana remain a prohibited schedule 1 drug at least until the results of controlled studies are in.

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society stated that studies done to date "have not provided convincing evidence that marijuana benefits people with MS" and does not recommend it as a treatment. Further, the MS Society states that for people with MS "long-term use of marijuana may be associated with significant serious side effects."

The British Medical Association has taken a similar position, voicing "extreme concern" that downgrading the criminal status of marijuana would "mislead" the public into thinking that the drug is safe to use when, "in fact, it has been linked to greater risk of heart disease, lung cancer, bronchitis, and emphysema."

Smoking Is Harmful
In 1999 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) undertook a landmark study reviewing the alleged medical properties of marijuana. Advocates of so-called medical marijuana frequently tout this study, but the study's findings decisively undercut their arguments.

In truth, the IOM explicitly found that marijuana is not medicine and expressed concern about patients' smoking it because smoking is a harmful drug-delivery system.

The IOM further found that there was no scientific evidence that smoked marijuana had medical value, even for the chronically ill, and concluded that "there is little future in smoked marijuana as a medically approved medication."

In fact, the researchers who conducted the study could find no medical value to marijuana for virtually any ailment they examined, including the treatment of wasting syndrome in AIDS patients, movement disorders such as Parkinson's disease and epilepsy, or glaucoma.

Only Temporary Relief
The IOM found that THC (the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana) in smoked marijuana provides only temporary relief from intraocular pressure (IOP) associated with glaucoma and would have to be smoked eight to 10 times a day to achieve consistent results. And there exists another treatment for IOP, as the availability of medically approved once- or twice-a-day eye drops makes IOP control a reality for many patients and provides round-the-clock IOP reduction.

For two other conditions, nausea and pain, the report recommended against marijuana use, while suggesting further research in limited circumstances for THC but not smoked marijuana.

Before any drug can be marketed in the United States, it must undergo rigorous scientific scrutiny and clinical evaluation overseen by the FDA. For example, the FDA has approved Marinol (dronabinol)-a safe capsule form of synthetic THC that meets the standard of accepted medicine and has the same properties as cultivated marijuana without the high- for the treatment of nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy and for the treatment of wasting syndrome in AIDS patients.

Smoking Pot Is Not Approved
DEA has registered every researcher who meets FDA standards to use marijuana in scientific studies. Since 2000, for example, the California-based Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research (CMCR) has gained approval for 14 trials using smoked marijuana in human beings and three trials in laboratory and animal models.

This CMCR research is the first effort to study the medical efficacy of marijuana. But researchers have not endorsed smoking marijuana and instead are attempting to isolate marijuana's active ingredients to develop alternative delivery systems to smoking. Not one of these researchers has found scientific proof that smoke marijuana is medicine.

©2007 About, Inc., a part of The New York Times Company. All rights reserved.

7/29/2007 9:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Smoking pot still attacks the mouth and rots its out, just like smoking anything assualts it with hot gases and other unhealhty toxic smoke by-products.

Who is kidding whom this is a harmless activity? And it makes you stink too. And whacks everyone else out with your halitosis.

7/29/2007 10:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm so disappointed in these BlogaBarbara posts. this website no longer seems to represent the santa barbara i know!

7/29/2007 11:26 PM  
Anonymous david e said...

to 11:13am--

You are so correct. The dispensary on De La Vina, across from Taco Bell /Chubbies almost always has young people, ages 18-25, in cars loaded with friends, going in and coming out with the product.

I have no problem with the concept, but the practice is a laugh. I once read that marijuana for medicinal use is prescribed for ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder). This is something that affects a large portion of children, and especially those that would otherwise be drawn to drugs anyway.

I thought when the propositions were all the rage, illnesses like cancer, HIV/AIDS, etc were the target. Now we've extended the policy to all sorts of conditions, some of which could be dealt with by learning how to cope with life, better parenting, lifestyle changes, etc. That's headed down a wrong path, much in the same way prescription drugs are created to deal with every discomfort of human existence.

I personally believe marijuana should be legalized but regulated. I've never tried, smoked, or otherwise ingested marijuana, but regulation shows better promise than criminalization. And the disingenuous nature of policies like this are laughable-- almost as though they were written and implemented by, oh, I dunno, some pot-head.

7/29/2007 11:29 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

Since I don't smoke pot, I can only comment on how it affects my community. I live around the corner from Victoria St. Pot shop. There are always cars stopping in the middle of the street, idling, blocking traffic while people wander around aimlessly. It attracts kids who are to young to be customers, and gangbangers that the police then have to deal with. There is more garbage in the street too, mostly fast food leftovers, cigarette butts, and broken booze bottles. It was not like this before. The general feeling surrounding the place is one of indifference to anything but their own agenda. I can't think of any other business that would move into a residental area and cultivate such a miserable relationship with their immediate community. I wish they would leave.

7/30/2007 9:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glen Mower III (Son of former Pubic Defender) who runs the offending ACME dispensary was quoted in today's Daily Sound (7/30/07) as if he was a global humanitarian providing cheap pot to poor people at lower costs in hopes of using his competition to drive down pot prices for everyone.

He wants no regulations so there is not an expensive cartel that drives prices up.

What a crock. He sells to one and all and his place is a run-down mess with constant trash, open windows spewing out pot fumes to the street, toked-out zombies inside the smoky haze, smokers dumping their butts all over the sidewalk in a family neighbhorhood right next to city housing, a children's dance school and the teen center, and thugs lining up in the yards on neighboring residential properties waiting to hit.

He out and out lies when he says he keeps watch to insure no one passes on his drugs to others waiting on the street. He does nothing to protect this neighborhood and his swarmy lies about just trying to "help poor pot smokers" is a fraud.

He has a revolving door drug-den with double parking, cars in the driveway blocking the sidewalks, loaded with young healthy (and affluent looking) people who briskly walk in and out with their stash.

The guy needs to be closed down ASAP and he needs to stop inhaling the air in his smoke-filled pot shop because he is clueless and intentionally misleading everyone else about what is really going on at his business.

7/30/2007 12:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the choice is between ALCOHOL promotion, Firestone, and Medicinal MJ information, Bearman, let better health prevail.

If people don't know the death and destruction of alcohol they are unwilling to face the truth. Those brain cells won't regenerate.

7/30/2007 2:08 PM  
Anonymous curious said...

<< Anonymous said...

i'm so disappointed in these BlogaBarbara posts. this website no longer seems to represent the santa barbara i know!

7/29/2007 11:26 PM>>

How do they differ? What's the Santa Barbara you know?

7/30/2007 5:11 PM  
Anonymous allegro805 said...

Anonymous 11:26: Why don't you pack up then, and start your own blog? Please?

(By the way: I suspect "the santa barbara you know" stopped existing in about 1967.)

7/30/2007 5:39 PM  
Anonymous Herschel Greenspan said...

Brothers and Sisters let us turn our Bibles to Genesis chapter one verse 29: "And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat." I will follow the law of the Almighty. What the Lord has given us as our birthright let no man take away Fight on Jah Warriors!

7/30/2007 6:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The people I know who use medical marijuana eat it in cookies & brownies, they don't smoke it.

7/30/2007 7:11 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

12:43 -- this was a statement in a newspaper so I let your comment go as a response to that...still, let's be more thoughtful about how we respond.

7/30/2007 7:32 PM  
Anonymous free the herbs said...

A brownie, cookie shop would be nice. Robert, I agree cigagettes and booze bottles are a blight. Def things could be worked out to rid the areas of debri.

When marijuana is an herb, we can grow our own. When the price is down, more can afford to cook with it.
I hear Afganistan is the best place to grow hash and marijuana, they transport it all over the world. That has to do with our war on drugs. So why do we want to buy foreign crops? Is it our gov doesn't know? Or is it another failed deadly policy? The point is, marijuana will NOT go away (like alcohol didn't)It with be purchased from around the world. Why does anyone want the drug cartels and governments to control a simple herb so criminals earn money?

7/30/2007 8:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For some insight into the "medicinal" needs motivating customers of ACME collective, check out this string of posts on a blog...

7/30/2007 9:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pretty soon you won't be able to get into ACME on West Victoria Street because of all the cigarette butts dumped on the sidewalk and ground into the dirt.

Or get past all the trash they leave in front of it. Or the parked cars blocking the driveway.

That is just the beginning of what is wrong with this place. And that has nothing to do with whether smoking pot is good or bad for you.

ACME is simply bad for the neighborhood. They are not a welcome business even if they were selling Barbie dolls.

7/31/2007 8:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks 9:34 for the surfline link telling everyone to come to ACME in Santa Barbara for the easists hits. Close this place and all other ones in town, now!

A lot of good it does telling these pot shops they can't "advertize". This link should scare anyone who loves this town, and the way it used to be.

7/31/2007 8:15 AM  
Anonymous Herschel Greenspan said...

With all due respect, this nation was founded with the mission statement of "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." If a bite of a pot brownie or a hit off of a pipe makes you happy you should be allowed. In the name of the Almighty, if you are in pain you should by any one's calculation have that right. People, please stop the worry about what others are doing. Look in the mirror and ask yourselves if YOU are clean the the eyes of YHWH.

7/31/2007 9:33 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

people have been quoting from the bible for forever to rationalize slavery, racism,polygamy,incest, etc. Your not the first Stoner to get all theological.
Free the Herbs- why not get all the users benefiting from the non-profit Acme to clean up their trash, use parking spaces like the rest of us, and discourage kids from hanging around the neighborhood.

7/31/2007 10:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So medical MJ patients just trade one illness for another? "Dr." Bearman for Supervisor? Sounds like John Davies will have a field day with that--say good bye forever to the 3rd district folks! If it looks like a duck--

Tue Jul 31, 3:27 AM ET

LONDON (Reuters) - Smoking one cannabis joint is as harmful to a person's lungs as having up to five cigarettes, according to research published on Tuesday.

Those who smoked cannabis damaged both the lungs' small fine airways, used for transporting oxygen, and the large airways, which blocked air flow, the researchers said.

It meant cannabis smokers complained of wheezing, coughing, and chest tightness, the study by experts at the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand found.

The researchers tested 339 people -- those who smoked only cannabis, those who smoked tobacco, those who smoked both and non-smokers.

The study found only those who smoked tobacco suffered from the crippling lung disease emphysema, but cannabis use stopped the lungs working properly.

"The extent of this damage was directly related to the number of joints smoked, with higher consumption linked to greater incapacity," said the authors of the report published in the medical journal Thorax.

"The effect on the lungs of each joint was equivalent to smoking between 2.5 and five cigarettes in one go."

The British government is considering whether cannabis should be reclassified as a more serious drug because of the dangers associated with stronger strains.

"The danger cannabis poses to respiratory health is consistently being overlooked," said Helena Shovelton, Chief Executive of the British Lung Foundation.

"Smoking a joint is more harmful to the lungs than smoking a cigarette and we have just banned people from doing that in public places because of the health risks."

Last week British researchers said using marijuana increased the risk of developing a psychotic illness such as schizophrenia.

7/31/2007 3:34 PM  
Blogger Heresiarch said...

The medical pot issue is a red herring. The proliferation of SSRIs (Prozac, Xanax, and their cousins), exacerbated by widespread off-list usage, undermines the distinction between medical and recreational drug use.

How measure the efficacy of Prozac? Ask patients if they feel better. If they report that they do, then the drug is efficacious. If after singing the Star Spangled Banner a person reports feeling better, then that therapy is efficacious. Pot is efficacious. As for safe, compared to what? what's the LD50 for pot? . . . .

7/31/2007 5:29 PM  
Anonymous Shango Barbarino said...

Why are so many of you so worked up about what other people do? People have been burning the wisdom weed in Santa Barbara for years. If people need it to releive their pain, either physical or mental so be it. It will be a great day in America when we get back to the ideals of our founding fathers. You know; life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Legalize it! Get your hands off my lungs! If you prefer a more puritanical society I suggest a move to Iran or Saudi Arabia.

7/31/2007 5:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stop MJ shops from trashing up my street. Blow your lungs, brains and breath out on this junk if you want. Just keep my streets clean. Not asking for anything else.

7/31/2007 9:18 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

Quoting the bible and the Constitution?
Last year I answered questions for a phone survey that was arguing for the police to make pot the lowest priority. I said I was against that because the police do not make laws, the legislature does. You do not want the police deciding which laws to enforce.
Kinda like with the US constitution, Congress makes the laws, Exec branch enforces them. We currently have an Exec branch trampling on the Constitution, making a mockery of the Framers specific intention, and veering towards a police state. In my book that is hugely unpatriotic and un-american and I will fight it. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

7/31/2007 9:45 PM  
Anonymous Herschel Greenspan said...

There are thousands of laws on the books that the police do not really enforce. For example, when was the last time you heard of a SBPD officer giving someone a ticket for littering? Never. Police are always making judgements about what crimes to go after. The people of Santa Barbara voted to tell their employees, the SBPD, that enforcing the law against pot should have the lowest priority. That is how democracy works. Sounds like you have tasted sour grapes. Yes I did quote the Bible and the Constitution, they are two of my favorite documents.

I live in a tourist area. On Monday mornings, I can count on trash from fast food outlets scattered about in the street in front of my house. By your logic it is high time that the City Council should address the growing peril to our fair city created by Burger King, MC D's ect. In addition to the trash problem that these horrible places create,the products they push to our children have been linked to diabetes, heart disease, obesity and other illnesses. Put that on your supersized triple avocado bacon cheeseburger and eat it.

8/01/2007 10:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hershcel, if you are going to defend Measure P for Pot, get your facts straight.

The vote last year only asked the police to give lowest priority to enforcing the crime of private pot use.

Pot use is still a crime, anywhere anytime. Even in "medical" dispensaries. And there was NO de-prioritizing public pot use - that is still a major crime in this town. And I hope everyone who abuses this lands in the slammer and our of our faces. For a very long time.

8/01/2007 6:20 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

Good enough. I'm off to fatburger for a double before downtown gets too weird.

8/01/2007 6:39 PM  
Anonymous H. Greenspan said...

anonymous 6:20
I do not know what Santa Barbara you live in. Busting people for pot use has been a low priority for the police for decades. Have you ever been to a concert at the Bowl? That is not incense burning. Wake up. Posession of under an ounce of pot in California has been a misdemeanor since 1975! Sorry but no one is going to the "slammer" for burning. I do have my facts straight. On the other hand you seem to live in a bizzare 1950's parallel universe where the cops should crack down on reefer. I am sorry that the present reality conflicts so much with your puritanical ideal. The stress must be horrible. I know a doctor that can get you a prescription...

8/02/2007 9:49 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

greenspan -- that last line wasn't needed...let's reign it in a little folks!

8/02/2007 5:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For the record, the MJ snake pit ACME at 211 West Victoria Street is now closed "for remodeling". With, or without a building permit.

8/03/2007 7:31 AM  

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