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.
Labels: Medicinal Marijuana