Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Reefer Madness Redux: Big Pharma and DEA vs Medical Marijuana.... Buying Academia

I connected with a dear friend - a true sister of the cosmos -  yesterday just to catch up.  This sweetest and most enlightened of women and I chatted for nearly an hour covering just the basics of our existence.  You know -  life, death, love, peace and.........medical marijuana (no idle gossip for us!)

Her sister-in-law is dying - diagnosed not long ago with lung cancer. Her doctors kept saying it was merely "an infection" and bronchitis but after multiple courses of antibiotics didn't work, they decided to get a chest X-ray.  As the story goes, she underwent 3 courses of chemo to no avail - she couldn't eat, she is in constant severe pain and now on her way to hospice.  She has wasted away - unable to eat, sleep or build any strength for the fight of and for her life.

Knowing that the woman lived in a state that has not allowed Medical Marijuana,  a knowledgeable and deeply caring relative provided her with a secret stash of marijuana candies designed specifically to treat the nausea and pain associated with chemotherapy.  Unfortunately, the woman and her husband refused to use them.  It's illegal!  It's dangerous!  We can't have THAT!

This is only the most recent tale of someone under-going such pain... and another tale of fear and ignorance preventing the relief of suffering and medically valid treatment of disease.

It is no surprise to me that the old Reefer Madness is still so virulent.  Ignorance, fear and misinformation (bullshit) create a very fertile bed from which it grows - much like kudzu.

Who is responsible for that ever pervasive bullshit that leaves people in horrific pain and suffering that can actually be alleviated by a powerful medicine?

The "Drug War" has been raging for decades and has left prisons filled and people dead in its wake. It has created cartels and made trillions of dollars for drug lords and criminals around the world; it has greased the palms of dictators and politicians (even in the US); and it has assured the oppression of millions of people across the planet.

As Americans continue to embrace pot—as medicine and for recreational use—opponents are turning to a set of academic researchers to claim that policymakers should avoid relaxing restrictions around marijuana. It's too dangerous, risky, and untested, they say. Just as drug company-funded research has become incredibly controversial in recent years, forcing major medical schools and journals to institute strict disclosure requirements, could there be a conflict of interest issue in the pot debate?

VICE has found that many of the researchers who have advocated against legalizing pot have also been on the payroll of leading pharmaceutical firms with products that could be easily replaced by using marijuana. When these individuals have been quoted in the media, their drug-industry ties have not been revealed.
It isn't just Big Pharma, the DEA is promoting misinformation as well (not at all surprising since their livelihood depends on keeping the Drug War alive and well funded). From an article for VICE News, by Mary Emily O’Hara, last June:

... the Drug Policy Alliance and the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies released a report titled “The DEA: Four Decades of Impeding and Rejecting Science.” Using case studies from 1972 to the present, the report argues the ways the US Drug Enforcement Administration has suppressed research on the positive benefits of marijuana for medical use.

The crux of the report is this: The DEA has worked to paint marijuana into an inescapable corner by both repeatedly (and falsely) stating that marijuana has no proven medical use and by systematically impeding clinical research that would prove such medical benefit. This refusal to either acknowledge or study the drug allows it to continue being classified as a Schedule I drug, the most heavily regulated illegal substance.

Schedule I drugs, according to the DEA itself, are those with no medical use and “the most dangerous” with “potentially severe psychological or physical dependence.”

Marijuana is classified as Schedule I along with heroin, LSD, ecstasy, and peyote. But drugs that are classified as Schedule II and considered to have “less abuse potential” include cocaine, methamphetamine, and opium.  
Is it any wonder that otherwise sane and intelligent people still  color their medical, and even life, decisions with that old tired Reefer Madness paradigm?

UPDATE:  For those of you who have evolved beyond Reefer Madness, good for you!  You beat many State and the Federal Government as you move along  your enlightened path.
Be safe and be aware - From, a word of caution.  In an article published last April, “'Can Registering for Medical Cannabis Get You Fired?' and Other Important Questions Surrounding Privacy":
Will Your Employer Find Out?

The good news: With few exceptions, unless you allow them to check your status on the state registry, your employer won’t have access to it.

“Why would I allow them to check my status”, you ask? Because sometimes positive enrollment can protect you…

Of the 21 states that passed medical cannabis laws, five included safeguards for medical cannabis patients.

Connecticut, Maine and Rhode Island have provisions preventing discrimination against employees and potential employees (read hiring and firing) who are medical cannabis patients and in Arizona and Delaware you can’t get fired for failing a drug test as long as you’re in the registry. Just make sure you’re not using cannabis while at work.

The bad news: In any of the other 15 states, you’re on your own. We advise researching your employer’s policies on medical cannabis and being discreet about your status to co-workers and on social media.

Will Cops Know You’re on the Registry?

The good news: If you’re registered and within the possession limits set by your state, you don’t have to worry about getting arrested. Law enforcement can’t access the registry just to see who’s on there or target you because you are.

Also remember that police have no right to search either your home or vehicle without probable cause.

That being said…

The bad news: According to Safe Access Now, only a handful of states–Vermont, Michigan and Nevada, to be exact, claim their registries are completely confidential. Most states allow law enforcement some access to registries as long as the right criteria are met.

And rules can be broken…

An August 2013 audit of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment found that over 5,000 registry patients’ private information was leaked to law enforcement officials.

Can Your Landlord Evict You?

The good news: The fact that almost all medical cannabis registries are off-limits to the general public means that your landlord can’t search for your name in a database.

The bad news: could find no state that has set up specific legal protections for medical cannabis patients who get caught growing or using in the their homes. If you have a good relationship with your landlord, your best bet would be to discuss your medical needs and/or your plans to grow cannabis and get an OK from them before hand.

If you worry that growing cannabis will get you evicted, it might be worth it to buy from a collective or have a caregiver grow for you.

Will Health Insurance Cover You or Penalize You?

The good news: Is Blue Cross/Blue Shield going to kick you off your plan because you’re a medical cannabis patient? Not likely. Just like landlords and employers, insurance companies have no access to most medical cannabis registries and the details of your medical records will always be private under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA).

The bad news: Health insurance companies refuse to cover medical cannabis because of its continued categorization as a Schedule I substance under the controlled Substances Act. Until the Federal Government Tells the Truth! that Cannabis IS Medicine! and reschedules it, patients are on their own when it comes to covering the cost of their treatment.

Non-coverage from health insurance policies is one of the reasons a lot of patients opt to culitvate their own medicine and why it’s vital to support the right to grow in any medical cannabis program.

Better Safe Than Sorry

Although we hope this helped answer some of your basic questions about registries and privacy, this is only a general guide. Regulations vary from state to state and the onus is on you as a patient to know the laws and stay within your legal rights. Call the state agency in charge of the registry and ask them all your privacy questions directly.

It’s time to know your rights and protect yourself from any negative consequences related to treating your ailments with medical cannabis.

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