Potheads and Sudafed

Potheads and Sudafed
Posted by CN Staff on April 25, 2006 at 07:12:28 PT
By John Tierney
Source: New York Times 
USA -- Police officers in the 1960's were fond of bumper stickers reading: "The next time you get mugged, call a hippie." Doctors today could use a variation: "The next time you're in pain, call a narc." Washington's latest prescription for patients in pain is the statement issued last week by the Food and Drug Administration on the supposed evils of medical marijuana. The F.D.A. is being lambasted, rightly, by scientists for ignoring some evidence that marijuana can help severely ill patients.
But it's the kind of statement given by a hostage trying to please his captors, who in this case are a coalition of Republican narcs on Capitol Hill, in the White House and at the Drug Enforcement Administration.They've been engaged in a long-running war to get the F.D.A. to abandon some of its quaint principles, like the notion that it's not fair to deny a useful drug to patients just because a few criminals might abuse it. The agency has also dared to suggest that there should be a division of labor when it comes to drugs: scientists and doctors should figure out which ones work for patients, and narcotics agents should catch people who break drug laws. The drug cops want everyone to share their mission. They think that doctors and pharmacists should catch patients who abuse painkillers - -- and that if the doctors or pharmacists aren't good enough detectives, they should go to jail for their naivete. This month, pharmacists across the country are being forced to lock up another menace to society: cold medicine. Allergy and cold remedies containing pseudoephedrine, a chemical that can illegally be used to make meth, must now be locked behind the counter under a provision in the new Patriot Act. Don't ask what meth has to do with the war on terror. Not even the most ardent drug warriors have been able to establish an Osama-Sudafed link. The F.D.A. opposed these restrictions for pharmacies because they'll drive up health care costs and effectively prevent medicine from reaching huge numbers of people (Americans suffer a billion colds per year). These costs are undeniable, but it's unclear that there are any net benefits. In states that previously enacted their own restrictions, the police report that meth users simply switched from making their own to buying imported drugs that were stronger -- and more expensive, so meth users commit more crimes to pay for their habit. The Sudafed law gives you a preview of what's in store if Representative Frank Wolf, a Virginia Republican, succeeds in giving the D.E.A. a role in deciding which new drugs get approved. So far, despite a temporary success last year, he hasn't been able to impose this policy, but the F.D.A.'s biggest fear is that Congress will let the drug police veto new medications. In that case, who would ever develop a better painkiller? The benefits to patients would never outweigh the potential inconvenience to the police. Officially, the D.E.A. says it wants patients to get the best medicine. But look at what it's done to scientists trying to study medical marijuana. They've gotten approval for their experiments from the F.D.A., but they can't get the high-quality marijuana they need because the D.E.A. won't allow it to be grown. The F.D.A. actually wants to know if the drug works, but the D.E.A. is following the just-say-know-nothing strategy: as long as researchers can't study marijuana, they can't come up with evidence that it's effective. And as long as there's no conclusive evidence that medical marijuana works, the D.E.A. and its allies on Capitol Hill can go on blindly fighting it. Representative Mark Souder, the Indiana Republican who's the most rabid drug warrior in Congress, has been pressuring the F.D.A. to crack down on medical marijuana. Last week the agency finally relented: in return for not having to start busting anyone, it issued a statement stressing the potential dangers and lack of extensive clinical trials establishing medical marijuana's effectiveness. The statement was denounced as a victory of politics over science, but it's hard to see what political good it does the Republican Party. Locking up crack and meth dealers is popular, but voters take a different view of cancer patients who swear by marijuana. Medical marijuana has been approved in referendums in four states that went red in 2004: Nevada, Montana, Colorado and Alaska. For G.O.P. voters fed up with their party's current big-government philosophy, the latest medical treatment from Washington's narcs is one more reason to stay home this November.  Source: New York Times (NY)Author: John TierneyPublished: April 25, 2006Copyright: 2006 The New York Times CompanyContact: letters nytimes.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:IOM Report Smoke - Slate Advocates Slam ‘Politicized’ FDA Report Loses Credibility With Jab at Medical Pot
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Comment #5 posted by kaptinemo on April 25, 2006 at 15:19:45 PT:
The question is, will they pursue it?
It was said here long ago that when the media 'discovered' the medical cannabis issue, a large part of our battle would be over, if only because the antics of the antis would reveal their true agenda and and expose their biases to the public.I am hesitant to say that day is here, after so many false starts on the part of the media. They've had so much material from which to draw from for decades, but have only made skittish, glancing contact with the issue before fluttering away like startled, frightened birds.But this time, the cronyism of the present regime has become very noticeable, thanks to the literal plethora of scandals that have taken place and continue to unfold during theis Administration. There comes a time that the scandals pile so high, the elephant in the living room grows so large, that even the most determined of nay-sayers and True Believers are forced to look at the problem and admit its' existence.I can only hope that the media are awake; I've been posting like crazy the Barthwell/GW Pharma/FDA connections as far and as wide as I can, in hopes that the more tenacious of the media, in smelling red meat, will follow the trail of blood it leaves. I would suggest that those of here do the same. Get the word out about how hypocritical this is, and you may find a media type will (without crediting the source, as is usually the case) and start beating that particular drum. If that happens, things can only get worse for the prohibs, because they've made a real blunder with the GW Pharma thing, as it makes them, by association with "Dr." Barthwell, not only hypocrites, but monopolists. They've been caught with their hand in the cookie jar. Let's see how they explain this one away.
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Comment #4 posted by Sam Adams on April 25, 2006 at 12:36:14 PT
My reaction was the same as Dr. G. This article is exciting to me, because finally the "liberal" establishment is realizing that drug war abuses by the Republicans can be used against them. 
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Comment #3 posted by whig on April 25, 2006 at 09:48:51 PT
dongenero"Today is a busy day for network neutrality in the U.S. House."
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Comment #2 posted by dongenero on April 25, 2006 at 09:34:44 PT
one big difference....
......from 34 years ago Dr. Ganj , is the internet.There is much more sharing of information and ideas by individuals, all enabled by the internet. My hope is that freedom of this expanded form of communication will give more power to the ideas of The People.The government will certainly continue in their attempts to curtail dissent expressed through the internet, whenever they can find an angle to do so, such as with and, I do not believe most people will stand for censorship and freedom of cannabis will continue to make headway.
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Comment #1 posted by Dr Ganj on April 25, 2006 at 08:33:42 PT
FDA Wilts Under Pressure-Again
Wow, what a great article-and from the New York Times even!
I do wonder though, what will it finally take to get things changed.I was going through some old boxes in my house, and I found a newspaper article dated 1972, and it was asking people if they thought marijuana should be legal. All the respondents said "yes". So here we are, 34 years later, reading articles about how not enough studies about marijuana have been done to merit its use as a schedule II drug.
I'm getting pretty old now, and it seems the DEA, FDA, and the ODCP are winning through sheer attrition.
They have been absolute masters at deception, and control, and by keeping up their decades-long shell game, they have been able to keep this drug war and all its beneficiaries happily employed, while millions of others have suffered in pain, and in are jails all across our sad country.
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