My dear congressional Republicans, there is a problem in this country which needs your action. Right now, Federal bureaucrats are preventing doctors from making medical decisions regarding their patients. A specific treatment which has proven beneficial and cost effective is being blocked by big government, and some committee which thinks it know better than physicians how patients should be treated. Seeing as how that's one of the major arguments Congressional Republicans have against the Public Option, I am looking forward to seeing some brave Conservative get up and say it:
It's time to repeal the Federal ban on medical marijuana.
Seriously, regardless of my Centrist views, I also do NOT want some committee deciding who gets particular treatments. However, if we're not going to let a death panel decide an 80 year old can't have a new liver, then why are we still allowing the FDA to say doctors can't prescribe marijuana? I am not talking about legalizing it for recreational use (that's another argument). I am talking about a doctor prescribing to his or her patient who is undergoing chemo, or suffers from glaucoma, or has breast cancer, or even as some studies show, Alzheimer's- a natural remedy which is easy and cheap to produce, and has far less ill effects than the pharmaceutical alternatives.
I'm talking about a treatment supported by the American College of Physicians, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Psychological Association, and of course Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes.
I'm talking about an easily delivered treatment which some evidence shows may treat or alleviate up to 250 different ailments.
Now, let's be fair- this list was assembled by a doctor who may not be totally objective about this subject, but if it works for even ten things on this list, isn't it worth using? Five? Even one, if it can bring relief for a single ailment, and doctors want to use it, why are we letting the Federal government say otherwise? They're the doctors right? And not just some quacks, but real doctors (see the list above).
So, what is the government's argument against it? The hazards of smoking. No really, you can't have relief for your nauseous reaction to the chemo you have treating your cancer because the period you smoke the MJ might give you lung cancer. Well, what if it becomes a gateway for the patient? According to the Rand Corporation, the Gateway concept is bunk, and so say these doctors.
Even the 1999 study the FDA cites on usage in general only says:
"The gateway analogy evokes two ideas that are often confused. The first, more often referred to as the 'stepping stone' hypothesis, is the idea that progression from marijuana to other drugs arises from pharmacological properties of marijuana itself.
The second is that marijuana serves as a gateway to the world of illegal drugs in which youths have greater opportunity and are under greater social pressure to try other illegal drugs." (Institute of Medicine in its Mar. 1999 report titled "Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base")
Not really a damning statement. Here's how Lynn Zimmer, PhD, Professor Emeritus at Queens College at the City University of New York put it:
"In the end, the gateway theory is not a theory at all. It is a description of the typical sequence in which multiple-drug users initiate the use of high-prevalence and low-prevalence drugs.
A similar statistical relationship exists between other kinds of common and uncommon related activities. For example, most people who ride a motorcycle (a fairly rare activity) have ridden a bicycle (a fairly common activity). Indeed, the prevalence of motorcycle riding among people who have never ridden a bicycle is probably extremely low. However, bicycle riding does not cause motorcycle riding, and increases in the former will not lead automatically to increases in the latter.” (his 1997 book “Marijuana Myths - Marijuana Facts”).
More than that, 13 States have voted to use medical marijuana- aren't the Republicans the party of State's Rights? Why aren't Republicans screaming about the Federal Governments insistence on imposing their will over these States' decisions? Who's going to be the brave Republican to get up and call for the end of these laws? John McCain, whose state is one of those who passed a local proposition? Sarah Palin, who is vehemently against Federal controls and bureaucratic interdiction in medical decisions? Joe Wilson, who obviously feels very passionately about health care. Who?
I am not trying to be a smart ass here- this is exactly WHY I want to see two parties in government. Any argument however must follow to the logical consequences. Opposing Government Health care on the grounds of bureaucrats not being allowed to countermand doctors has to apply to any reasonable medical decision. The facts are in- MM is reasonable, with the FDA's stats being spurious at best. Further, wanting to shrink Federal power in favor of State power means allowing States to make certain decisions on their own. The tenth amendment says they can do that, if there is not an existing Federal law- Federal Laws came from the control of recreational use- you know what? I can't use Vicodin for recreational use either, but no one in the Federal Government is asking to ban it as medicine.
So as a citizen, I ask a Republican to take advantage of the argument about health care right now and do the right thing. You would have doctors, States, facts, and logic on your side. Be the party of Smaller Government and put this tool back in the hands of doctors.