Saturday, June 21, 2003

Medical marijuana

Over at Andrew & Sasha's place Andrew Ian Dodge is holding forth on medical marijuana.

I lean toward drug legalization because currently the cure is worse than the disease in terms of civil liberties and law enforcement priorities, and IMO self-destructive people will always find a way to do themselves in. And I understand that there are known medical benefits to the use of pot (just as there are for cocaine, PCP, heroin and others).

And I'm willing to concede that drug companies would not like competition from pot. Certainly.

I'm certain that some pot legalization proponents are disingenuous in pushing for medical pot. They want it legal, period, and this is simply their angle. That they might be on the side of the angels doesn't mean they aren't opportunistic, ultimately dishonest creeps.

What might disabuse me of this idea would be if they would show how strains of pot could be grown and blended in a quality controlled way that would work consistently such that it could be prescribed quantitively. Surely sick people shouldn't use more than is necessary - it's an unnecessary expense unless there is an ulterior motive. And they ought to be able to trust that their product will deliver as needed - surely no one wants to take advantage of sick people, whether they're glaucoma sufferers, terminal cancer patients or anything in between. And sick people ordinarily aren't medical professionals, so who are they to adjust their dosages if needed because of inconsistent quality? Would doctors dare to prescribe a drug without being sure that the dose they prescribed could be delivered when the product was used as directed?

And it *is* smoking, after all. It's not the same as tobacco for sure, but then you don't hold a toke of tobacco in your lungs as long either. The issue is that it's an uncontrolled release, i.e. that great bogeyman "second-hand smoke". If my neighbor is on Prozac, hormones, Ex-Lax, etc, I can trust that I won't get a dose of it myself just by walking down the hall - what about pot? Where are the anti-smoking goons, or the folks who drove peanuts off airplanes?

Yes, all of those would be heavy regulatory and QA burdens. And it so happens that there are business sectors uniquely qualified to carry out such burdens - the drug companies, and tobacco companies. The devil in me makes me ask "would you mind if, say, RJ Reynolds and Monsanto got together and started producing pharmaceutical-grade joints from medicinal marijuana?"

You can bet that most if not all of the medical marijuana folks will scream in horror at that. And that is what exposes them not as defenders of the weak, but mere dishonest, besuited dopers.

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